Let’s talk Civil War Navies…
Do you have a favorite ship or ironclad from the conflict? Why?
The Cincinnati, simply because the City Class were some of the most influential vessels during the early portion of the war.
Totally agree. My favorites are of the city class ironclads, plus similar ships like the Benton and Essex. For the early part of the War, up to and including Vicksburg, they gave the Union army an amphibious capacity that the Confederates simply could not match. Flawed ships for sure, but they certainly had a huge impact in 1862 and 1863.
For a real ship, i.e., on the ocean, I’ll have to choose the Shenandoah, a beautiful clipper with a steam engine converted to a commerce raider that encircled the globe and completed a dangerous mission after it no longer mattered. For an ironclad, I like the Arkansas–thrown together under appaling conditions, she left the city-class Carondelet crippled on a mud bank in the Yazoo River and blasted through the whole Federal fleet above Vicksburg.
My wife and I took a trip down to visit the Vicksburg and Shiloh battlefields last April and for me, the surprise and unexpected added highlight to this adventure was seeing the resurfaced and partially reconstructed vessel USS Cairo at the Vicksburg National Park . It was discovered and brought back to life by none other than the legendary Civil War historian, Ed Bearss, in the 1960’s. This vessel was enormous! The design and engineering of it was first class The draft was so minimal, that it could float on “a puddle of water”. It was quite impressive.
Cairo gets my vote as well. Plus those “cotton-clads,” whatever those were. The term always makes me laugh.
Basically, what Ted said. In the middle of an enormous museum of every variety of earthworks I was studying (Vicksburg) there appeared the enormous shell of the USS Cairo and a museum dedicated to interpreting it, making an impression on me that likely won’t be surpassed.
Saw the USS Constellation in Baltimore harbor (the sequel, not the original) when Cal Ripken was still playing for the Orioles . Last of the all-sail warship built for the Navy. Did blockade duty in the Gulf of Mexico, but to slow to catch any of the steam driven blockade runners. It was being restored when I saw it. The last remnant of the pre-steam driven vessel era.
I, too, have an affinity for the diabolically slow brown water Eads boats, with their varying armaments. But since others already have weighed in, and ignoring the single and double turret blue water (in theory) imonitors I’ll go with “unique” – New Ironsides. Top that for different 🙂
Charles, I live in Baltimore and I didn’t realize that the Constellation had a career as a blockade vessel. When I was growing up we were told that this ship was a sister ship of the Constitution up in Boston. Alas that was not accurate. I’m happy to hear that she did her duty.
The team of Naval Officer Henry Walke and his crew showed exceptional bravery night of April 4th 1862 when Walke volunteered to run his ironclad past the 60-plus guns defending New Madrid Bend and deliver USS Carondelet to General John Pope, for use in defending the crossing of troop transports (the shallow draft of the unloaded transport steamers allowing their passage through Bissel’s Canal) and force the surrender of Confederate defenders adjacent to Island No.10. Taking advantage of a thunderstorm, and racing downstream at full power, Henry Walke realized that his craft would be unable to fight back to safety upstream if her mission failed, and made contingency plans to sink Carondelet in event she risked falling into Rebel hands. The hour-long passage was accompanied by the relentless booming of Rebel guns (without response from Carondelet); and at one point the carbon deposits in both stacks caught fire, briefly lighting up Carondelet like a Christmas tree. But the Rebel gunners fired too high, and as far as could be determined, EVERY shot missed. Walke and Carondelet passed safely (followed two nights later by a second ironclad). Pope’s troops made their crossing, and the thousands of Confederates defending New Madrid Bend were forced to surrender.
My favorite Civil War ship is featured via the following link:
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