The Onondaga

While Ericsson continued to insist on the principle of a single turret, the advantages of multiple turrets were so obvious that the Navy Department went ahead and began to contract with other designers for multiple-turret ships. While the Roanoke was a makeshift, the Onondaga was built from the keel up by the Continental Iron Works under contract to George Quintard of New York. By all accounts the Onondaga was a thoroughly practical ship. Although hardly larger than the monitors of the Canonicus class, she had a far more powerful armament—two 150-pounder rifles in addition to two 15-inch Dahlgrens.

Commissioned in March, 1864, the Onondaga was stationed in the James River, where, with the exception of one skirmish with the Confederate James River ironclads, she had an uneventful career. After the war, Quintard, by a special Act of Congress was permitted to refund the purchase price and resell her to the French Navy at a handsome profit, an arrangement which must have had some interesting political ramifications.

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