Question of the Week: 9/7-9/13/20

Great answers for last week’s question with a Federal focus…today we ask the question again with a Southern angle.

What’s your favorite Confederate ship? Any craft that steams or sails, blue or brown water, qualifies in the loose designation of “ship” for the question.

18 Responses to Question of the Week: 9/7-9/13/20

  1. CSS Shenandoah. Beautiful clipper with a steam engine turned commerce raider. Circled the globe, completed the mission. Never caught. Never surrendered.

  2. CSS Alabama. The most successful commerce raider until the advent of the submarine, and still holder of the record for ships destroyed by a North American commanded-ship.

  3. No hesitancy – the CSS Virginia (in fact, it angers me anytime a writter
    uses only the name, Merrimac, without mentioning the ship’s “real” name.

    1. Right. And she was never named Merrimac either. The correct name of the Union sloop-of-war from which Virginia was constructed was USS Merrimack.

  4. We’re all familiar with Confederate Naval officers Raphael Semmes, Franklin Buchanan, George N. Hollins and Matthew Fontaine Maury. How about Isaac Newton Brown? This is the former U.S. Naval officer responsible for conversion of merchant steamers on the Western rivers into effective gunboats on behalf of the Confederacy. He almost succeeded in completing the ironclad Eastport (captured on the Tennessee River during Phelp’s Raid.) And he did succeed in completing and commanding the one-ship strike force: CSS Arkansas.
    Isaac N. Brown also provided significant input as regards the development of torpedoes deployed on the Western rivers; and acted as Engineer in their placement in defence of Fort Columbus and Fort Henry.
    Had Isaac N. Brown arrived in the South a month earlier, his efforts had potential to be much more intimidating. Perhaps even decisive in favor of the Confederacy. Timing is everything.

      1. I agree with Mike and Dwight. The valiant Arkansas surmounted multiple challenges before experiencing engine problems in a fight with the USS Essex outside Baton Rouge, La,, and being burned to avoid capture.

        The Arkansas had problems, even before she was launched. Her keel was laid in Memphis, but she was towed out of the city because of a threat from the fast-approaching enemy. Construction was completed in the Yazoo River, north of Vicksburg.

        When finally launched in June 1862, she bravely steamed past three Union gunships in the Yazoo and turned south on the Mississippi. There, she faced the combined Union fleets of Farragut from New Orleans and Davis from Cairo, IL. With guns blazing, the Arkansas again steamed past enemy warships and into safe harbor at Vicksburg. The next month, she her career ended in the fight with the Essex.

    1. Importance of the Eastport:
      Another aspect to consider in the West: the timing of Phelp’s Raid (6 – 10 FEB 1862). Had the Eastport been a completed ironclad she might have provided a different reception for the three timberclads led south by Lieutenant-commanding Phelps; and then been available to engage in an action against Pook turtles… previous to the vaunted Monitor vs. Virginia contest. Few realize (or appreciate) the arms race that took place “out West” from April 1861 thru March 1862. But 13-inch mortars, reliable torpedoes and “the first side with viable ironclad gunboats” were potential game-changers until the fall of Fort Henry.
      [As for Eastport… she was towed to Cairo, together with all her remaining building materials and armor plate, and completed in short order, to serve as USS Eastport.]

  5. The Hunley, proof of Southern ingenuity. My wife and I attended the burial of the Hunley crew In 2004. So solemn and respectful. The march from the battery downtown to Magnolia Cemetery made it feel like 1864.

  6. I have recently read some accounts about “SS Syren”, a very successful blockade runner. She made 33 successful ‘runs’ before she was captured in Charleston Harbor in the last few months of the War.

  7. As a former submariner in the USN, I’d have to say the Hunley. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to ride that little boat though. The one I spent time on was 425 feet long and had a nuclear reactor for power. It was home ported in Charleston and we probably passed very close to the Hunley each time we went to sea or returned to port in the mid to late 70s.

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