A second ironclad had been laid down, the Nashville, unusual in that she was a side-wheel steamer, resembling the Lafayette class, rather than the usual Brooke-Porter type. This was apparently the only vessel of this type constructed by the Confederate Navy.
The Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, two other smaller ironclads of the Brooke-Porter design, were laid down at Mobile in the fall of 1863. Work on the three continued throughout the spring of 1864, showing little of the efficiency that marked the construction of the Tennessee. There were the usual shortages of iron plates, skilled labor, and guns. Naval Constructor Porter visited Mobile in March and recommended that the Baltics plating be removed and used on the Nashville, but even this was insufficient. The Nashville finally went into commission with only the forward end of the casemate armored with 6 inches of plate, and the aft end with 2 inches. The sides were left unarmored, like the Federal Cairo class riverboats.
The Huntsville and the Tuscaloosa did not go into commission until August, after the Battle of Mobile Bay had crushed whatever hopes the Confederates had of breaking the blockade, and it is doubtful if they were completely armored either.
The two ironclads hung on until the fall of Mobile the following April, without ever going into action, when they finally were sunk to avoid capture. The Nashville retreated upriver and was surrendered at the end of the war. So much for Mobile.
New Orleans occupied the attention of the Confederate authorities from the very beginning of the war. The naval program got off to an early start in March, 1861, when a commission, made up of Commander Laurence Rousseau, Commander E. Farrand, and Lieutenant Robert Chapt, all former officers of the U.S. Navy, was ordered to proceed to New Orleans to buy and/or build 10 light-draft gunboats of 1,000 tons.
Was this article helpful?