The Arkansas And The Tennessee

As part of the same ambitious program that resulted in the building of the Louisiana and the Mississippi, the Confederate Congress, in an Act dated August 24, 1861, authorized the construction of two ironclads for defense of the Upper Mississippi. Delivery was specified for December 24, 1861, and heavy financial penalties were to be imposed on the contractors for each day that completion was delayed beyond that date. Both of these ironclads were built more or less according to the standard...

Civil War Ironclads The Dawn of Naval Armor

CHILTON BOOKS A Division of Chilton Company Publishers Philadelphia and New York To my father, and to my sons, Alan and Andrew Introduction Origins of the Ironclad I. Ironclads in the United States Navy The Mississippi River Ironclads Conventional Ironclads II. Ironclads in the Confederate States Navy The James River North Carolina Charleston and Savannah Mobile New Orleans and the Yazoo River Confederate Ironclads Built in Europe The author wishes to thank the following persons for their...

The Monitors

On August 3, 1861, Congress passed a bill entitled An Act to Provide for the Construction of One or More Armored Ships and Floating Batteries and for Other Purposes. The Act authorized and directed the Secretary of the Navy to appoint a board of three naval officers to investigate plans and specifications for ironclad warships, and appropriated 1,500,000 for their construction. This was the first positive response to the ominous development already taking place at the Norfolk Navy Yard,...

Introduction Origins of the Ironclad

Although more than a century has elapsed since its beginnings, the conditions which gave rise to the ironclad warship were the same which later were to bring about the development of the dreadnought, the aircraft carrier, and the nuclear submarine the responses of a burgeoning industrial technology to the demands of particular strategic requirements. The ironclads, in fact, were among the very first products of the modern age of technology, along with the railroad and the telegraph, and they...

The Chillicothe The Indianola The Tuscumbia

Built by Joseph Brown of Cincinnati, in the spring of 1862, these three gunboats followed the same general plan as the Choctaw class, but they were somewhat smaller and rather poorly built. In a report to Gideon Welles, Rear Admiral David Porter adequately summed them up The builders never claimed that they should be considered more than temporary expedients with which to harass the enemy and taken in that sense, they certainly may be considered very good vessels, and have fairly repaid all the...

The Stevens Battery

At the outbreak of the war in 1861, there was not a single ironclad of any description in the United States Navy. There was, to be sure, the fantastic Stevens Battery, a truly enormous vessel 420 feet long and displacing more than 6,000 tons, which had been authorized in 1842 and, after several false starts, had been on the stocks since 1854. The death of its builder, Robert L. Stevens, in 1856, had brought construction to a halt, and the ship had remained in a half-finished condition at...

The Dictator Class Dictator And Puritan

With the success of the original Monitor, the Navy Department's concern was primarily with production. Contracts for monitors were spread far and wide, and as service experience indicated design modifications, they were incorporated into the ships under construction. Although Ericsson was interested in this phase, and worked on it as required (somewhat to the concern of his partners, who saw this as an effort at times competitive to their own), his real interest was in the Dictator, and its...

The New Ironsides

The same board of officers which took the momentous step of recommending the construction of the Monitor also recommended the acceptance of two other designs that of the Galena, which was a failure, and that of the New Ironsides which, practically speaking, was a complete success. The design of the New Ironsides was based wholly on that of the French Gloire and the British Warrior solid, conventional construction of wood, conventional rigging and engines, armor amidships protecting the guns and...

The Keokuk

The Keokuk in many ways represents the complete antithesis of the Monitor concept. One is tempted to wonder what would have been the result if the Keokuk had been selected as a prototype instead of the Monitor. Just possibly she might have survived an encounter with the CSS Virginia, and had a fleet of Keokuks been sent out against the Confederates . . . Whereas the hull of the Monitor was low and flat, that of the Keokuk was high and sloping instead of one heavily armored rotating turret with...

The Tennessee

By November, 1863, a prodigious construction effort was in progress. At Selma, the largest ironclad ever built in the Confederacy was well under way - the Tennessee, 209 feet long, with a beam of 48 feet and a draft of 14 feet. She was framed with 13-inch yellow pine timbers and covered with 5 1 2 inches of yellow pine and then 4 inches of oak. The armor was 5 inches thick on the sides of the casemate, 6 inches on its forward end, with 2 inches of armor on the deck. The Tennessee was built at...

The Richmond Virginia Ii And Fredericksburg

With the loss of the Virginia and of Gosport Navy Yard, the James River Command dwindled in importance. Except for a brief and hopeless flurry of activity in the fall of 1864, the area remained quiet. Three more ironclads were completed, all on the same Brooke-Porter plan. The first of these was the Richmond. On March 17, 1862, a Colonel Blanton Duncan appealed for contributions to a fund for building a second ironclad. A Ladies Defense Association was formed as a result of this appeal, and not...

Ironclads in the Confederate States Navy

In contrast to the initial hesitation in the North regarding the construction of ironclads, the Confederates, beginning with the very newly appointed Secretary of Navy, Stephen R. Mallory, were quick to see the possibilities of the new weapon. In a letter to the Chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee of the Confederate Congress, Mallory enthusiastically expounded his views I regard the possession of an iron armored ship as a matter of the first necessity. Such a vessel at this time could...

The Palmetto State And The Chicora

The Confederate response to this challenge began with the laying of the keel of the Palmetto State in January, 1862, followed by that of the Chicora two months later. Both ships were of the now standard Brooke-Porter design, 150 feet long with a 12-foot draft, which gave them the run of Charleston Harbor at least. The Chicora was built under authority of the South Carolina General Assembly and presented to the Confederate States Navy upon completion. Both ships were finished without any great...

The Cairo Class Cairo Carondelet Cincinnati Louisville Mound City Pittsburg And St Louis

Captain Rodgers was not exactly a success. When Eads located the Benton, a stoutly built salvage boat he once had owned, and proposed to convert her into a warship, Rodgers vetoed the idea. The Benton later became the most powerful ship on the river. When Eads suggested purchasing Missouri riverboats and converting them in St. Louis, thereby avoiding the uncertainties of navigation on the Ohio at low water, Rodgers vetoed that too, and proceeded to go off to Cincinnati on his own, where he...

The Eastport

On February 7, 1862, three Union gunboats the Lexington, the Tyler, and the Conestoga made a daring foray deep into Confederate territory, ascending the Tennessee River all the way to Muscle Shoals in Alabama. At Cerro Gordo, in Tennessee, the force seized three Confederate steamers without opposition. One of these was the partially completed Confederate gunboat Eastport, a splendid stern-wheel steamer 280 feet long. Not only was the gunboat captured, but the Union raiders also came away with a...

The Canonicus Class Canonicus Catawba Mahopac Manyunk Manhattan Oneota Saugus Tippecanoe And Tecumseh

Canonicus Class Monitor

Some of the shortcomings of the Passaic class were recognized early enough to be corrected in the design of the 9 ships of the Canonicus class. The side armor of the raft, made up of five 1-inch thicknesses of iron, like the Passaics, was strengthened by the addition of two armor stringers, iron belts 6 1 2 inches wide, running around the ship under the armor. For a distance of about 70 feet from the bow, these belts were 6 inches thick, and for the rest of the distance they were 4 inches...

Conventional Ironclads

British Ironclads

While the monitors and the armored river gunboats occupied the attention of Union naval authorities to a considerable degree, the sea-going casemate or broadside ironclad was not entirely ignored. The merits and characteristics of the French and British ironclad frigates were well known in naval circles in the United States. In the main, however, construction of this type of vessel received a low priority, due mostly to the enormous and more pressing requirements for other types fast wooden...

The David Class

Completely outweighed, the Confederates proceeded to develop what have since become the classic weapons of weak naval powers the mine field and the torpedo boat. The mines referred to as torpedoes during the war were of many types, from wooden barrels filled with gunpowder to quite sophisticated moored mines which could be detonated by electricity. They were used sporadically in 1861 along the James River and in the Mississippi, and later on quite systematically in all theaters. The Confederate...