A naval battle between two large ships: the "Monitor" and the "Merrimack".



(story), (teleplay)
Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Betty Stuart
Catesby Jones
Leslie Harmon (as Reed Edward Diamond)
Lt. Guilford
Commdr. Smith
Leon B. Stevens ...
Capt. Franklin Buchanan
Lt. Joe Smith Jr.
Beatrice Bush ...
Conrad McLaren ...
Burt Edwards ...
James Getty ...
Phil Whiteway ...
Cmdr. Davis
Carl Jackson ...


A naval battle between two large ships: the "Monitor" and the "Merrimack".

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ship | american civil war | See All (2) »




Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 March 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A ferro e fuoco  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Did You Know?


If you watch carefully during the opening credits, you will see a horse fall and the ride strike his head on the ground. That was not an effect but rather a real event where the rider suffered a head laceration and required transportation to a local hospital. There were multiple cameras used for that shot and they continued to roll for about 20 seconds to capture the explosion effects before medics were clear to assess and treat the rider. See more »


When the Monitor first appears from behind the Minnesota there is nobody on deck. But in the next close-up the Monitor's captain and her officers are standing on deck. See more »


Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy: [after viewing the 'Monitor' concept] Well, gentlemen? Yes or no?
Commdr. Smith: We have information from Gosport that the 'Merrimack' will be ready to come out of the drydock in less than five months. No one can start from scratch and build us an ironclad in that short a time except Ericsson. He's promised to deliver us one within ninety days. On that basis, I say yes.
Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy: Commodore?
Union Officer: I agree with Commodore Smith.
Cmdr. Davis: I say take the thing home and worship it! It resembles nothing on the earth, or in the seas or in the...
See more »

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User Reviews

Very Good Film On Rare Civil War Episode
5 September 2013 | by (Russian Federation) – See all my reviews

That was a very interesting episode in the US Civil War when two huge ironclads, Merrimack and Monitor, clashed nearby the Cpnfederate coast, where the Union Navy was blockading the land. This TV film is rather simple as for special effects, but still, they are very well done for this decent take. Virginia Madsen is a real gem here, she is extremely feminine, beautiful, but also very smart, brave, cool and courageous in spite of all the danger, even gallows. The plot itself is very good, too, and it is a pity that the film is not long enough to make it a longer, better, greater epic a la Gettysburg. Even that, Ironclads is a very good piece of work. The scene of execution of a spy is a real powerful moment, showing real courage and valor, and the main sea battle is tense, terse, brutal, fast and ferocious, just as any real battle is. The Black slaves characters are very sympathetic, too, with Beatrice Bush really shining as Opal. The whole movie is never boring, and really very deep in depicting both sides of the war. Why only 8? Not enough character development, still, and some scenes were made real cheap.

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