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Civil War sailors to be buried at Arlington 151 years after death

Flags stand in front of graves at Arlington National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day in Washington, DC, May 24, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Flags stand in front of graves at Arlington National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day in Washington, DC, May 24, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

ARLINGTON, Virginia (Reuters) - More than 150 years after they fought in the Civil War, two unknown crewmen of the USS Monitor, the Union ship in the first battle between two ironclads, will be buried at the Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

The Navy said the sailors, whose remains were recovered from the wreck of the landmark ship in 2002, may be the last Navy personnel from the 1861-65 war to be buried at Arlington.

All 16 crewmen who died when the Monitor went down in rough seas off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras in 1862 will be memorialized in the graveside interment ceremony at Arlington, the Navy said.

The ceremony takes place on the 151st anniversary of the battle between the Monitor and its Confederate counterpart, the CSS Virginia. Called the Battle of Hampton Roads, it was the first battle between two ironclads and ended in a draw.

When the ship was recovered in 2002, Navy divers found the remains of the two sailors in its turret.

That revolving gun turret, which housed two 11-inch (28-cm) cannons, was considered revolutionary at the time the Monitor was commissioned on February 25, 1862. The ship was powered by steam alone and was built almost entirely of iron, becoming America's first so-called ironclad.

Its battle with the Virginia marked the first clash between iron-armored ships and signaled the end of the era of wooden warships.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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