On a Hot Stove in the Old Ironclad

Cook stove recovered from the USS Cairo

Illustrating Civil War history can be challenging. Maps, photos, drawings, paintings, prints–period and modern–are tools of the trade. But addressing the complex and esoteric technology of naval vessels calls for another method: the digital graphic drawing.

Historical illustrator Jim Caiella provided excellent ship plans for my previous books, A Confederate Biography: The Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah (Naval Institute Press, 2015) and Unlike Anything That Ever Floated: The Monitor and Virginia and the Battle Hampton Roads, March 8-9, 1862 (Savas Beatie, 2021). He encountered a problem with our current project on the Mississippi River campaigns.

Jim is working on drawings covering vessels of the Union River Squadron starting with the famous ironclad USS Cairo. Developing accurate representations of this historical gunboat requires deep and detailed research combining nautical archeology, reconstruction, replication, and imagination.

When Jim encountered a particular challenge with the ship’s cook stove, he found invaluable assistance and solved the problem with excellent results as described in this fascinating blog post on the subject. Please take a look.

2 Responses to On a Hot Stove in the Old Ironclad

  1. Burton Range Company of Cincinnati (sometimes recorded as Burton Steel Range Co.) was established 1840s/1850s and was still operating in the early Twentieth Century. They were located at 317 Walnut Street and were renowned for steel and cast iron kitchen benches, ranges, steamer “trunks” (broilers) etc. for the commercial trade: hotels and restaurants.
    Burton Range Company evolved from S. H. Burton & Co. (featured on one of the medallions on the “Southern Belle” stove). John Van (also mentioned on the medallion) was a renowned designer in the Stephen Burton shop who left and went on to develop his own line of kitchen ranges, via the John Van Range Company.
    References: The Hotel Monthly (vol.14 1906 page 56) available at Hathitrust; “The John Van Range Company (Handbook of 1914)” available online at digital.cincinnatilibrary.org; “William’s Cincinnati Directory” (various years from 1859 – 1923) available online at Digital.cincinnatilibrary.org (Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library); “The John Van Range Company (trade catalog)” for 1874, available online at digitalcommonwealth.org (Massachusetts Collections Online – Historic New England) and includes some sketches.

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