In April of 1862, the Navy Department requested Eads to submit plans for a light-draft, fully armored vessel. He responded with a design similar to the Cairos, with a casemate and a draft of 5 1/2 feet. By this time the Monitor had burst upon the scene, and the department now wished to see turrets and still less draft. Eads then submitted a design with a turret 8 inches thick, an armored stern paddle wheel, and a 4 1/2 -foot draft. The department was impressed, but wanted even less draft, so Eads gave them a design drawing only 3 1/2 feet. This was acceptable, and the following month Eads received a contract to build two of this type, the Osage and the Neosho.
While they were designated as monitors, they did not really conform to the Ericsson pattern, although a modification of the Ericsson turret was used. The difference primarily was in the placement of the turret; it was quite far forward with a field of fire of only about 300 degrees. The armored overhang also was lacking, and the deckhouses and the conical armor on the stern wheel must have made John Ericsson gnash his teeth. But all this was necessary to achieve the shallow draft.
Admiral David Porter, who was something of a connoisseur of monitors, pronounced them satisfactory for light work, but not at all suitable for rough weather or heavy combat. He did not recommend building any more of them.
Still they did meet the light-draft requirement, unlike the more sophisticated Cascos. In fact, when they were launched, they drew only 3 feet, and so an extra 1/2 inch of iron was laid on their decks.
The WWixJGO Class
Was this article helpful?