Naval Order of the United States
        New York Commandery

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Samuel Eliot Morison Award For Naval Literature

2017 Winner Announced

Richard Snow


The Monitor, The Merrimack, 

and the Civil War Sea Battle


that Changed History

Richard Snow was born in New York City and graduated with a B.A. from Columbia College in 1970. He worked at American Heritage magazine for nearly four decades and was its editor-in-chief for 17 years. He is the author of several books, among them two novels and a volume of poetry. Snow has served as a consultant for historical motion pictures --- among them Glory --- and has written for documentaries, including the Burns brothers’ Civil War, and Ric Burns’s award-winning PBS film Coney Island, whose screenplay he wrote. Most recently, he served as a consultant on Ken Burns’s World War II series, "The War." 

IRON DAWN  No single sea battle has had more far-reaching consequences than the one fought in the harbor at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March 1862. The Confederacy, with no fleet of its own, built an iron fort containing 10 heavy guns on the hull of a captured Union frigate named the Merrimack. The North got word of the project, and, in desperation, built the Monitor, an entirely revolutionary iron warship. Richly illustrated with photos, maps, and engravings, IRON DAWN is the irresistible story of these incredible, intimidating war machines. Historian Richard Snow brings to vivid life the tensions of the time, explaining how wooden and ironclad ships worked, maneuvered, battled, and sank.


The RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature dinner is an annual black-tie event held by the New York Commandery, and recognizes an author "who by his published writings has made a substantial contribution to the preservation of the history and traditions of the United States Navy."

At the beginning of World War II, President Roosevelt appointed Samuel Eliot Morison as the nation's official historian of naval operations during that war. His only restriction was to safeguard information that would endanger national security. He served on eleven different ships in both the Atlantic and Pacific. The result of his work is a unique "shooting history" of 16 extraordinary volumes, the only work of its kind created to date. He was a Pulitzer Prize winning author, a Trumbull Professor of American History Emeritus at Harvard, and a Retired Rear Admiral in the United States Naval Reserve.

Admiral Morison died on 15 May 1976 in Boston. 

The credo borne on his gravestone, at his request reads, "Dream dreams, then write them - aye, but live them first.