BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – On this day 150 years ago, before Briarcliff Manor was Briarcliff Manor, one of the village’s own returned as a Civil War hero.
Admiral John Worden, who was born at Hillside off of Scarborough Road in Briarcliff Manor, then known as Sparta, commanded the USS Monitor in its battle against the CSS Virginia on March 9, 1862. While the first battle between ironclad ships, often referred to as the Monitor and the Merrimac, led to a draw, Worden walked away with two things. The first, “serious eye injuries” sustained in the battle, according to the US Navy, and the second, Worden became “a major war hero in the North.”
“It made him famous almost around the world and he was one of Briarcliff’s own before anyone knew the name Briarcliff,” said Tom Vincent, Briarcliff Manor/Scarborough Historical Society co-president. “He was a tremendously important figure here before he was ever known anywhere else.”
Vincent noted that Monday, March 12 also marks Worden’s 194th birthday.
Village author Mary Cheever noted the late admiral’s importance in her book “The Changing Landscape,” in which she detailed the demolishing of Worden’s home, later referred to as Hillside.
“Sparta can also boast of being the birthplace of Admiral Worden, who performed the gallant service of sinking the Merrimac,” Cheever wrote.
While a plaque on Albany Post Road honors Worden and his former street now bears his name (Admiral Worden’s Lane), Philip Zegarelli, village manager of Briarcliff Manor, said Worden is receiving another honor to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Monitor and the Merrimac.
“We’re going to hang our limited edition painting of the historic battle in our courtroom,” Zegarelli said. “But he was a pretty amazing guy so what I’m trying to do is get another photo of him and a plaque in our village hall to go with the painting.”