On the morning of December 29, 1862, Commander John Bankhead, recently appointed commanding officer while Monitor repaired at the Washington Navy Yard, ordered his crew to prepare to put to sea. The weather finally clear, Monitor departed Hampton Roads that afternoon in the tow of the sidewheel steamer Rhode Island to join the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in offensive operations against Confederate ports. After Monitor rounded Cape Hatteras at approximately 7:30 in the evening on the 30th, the starboard tow hawser gave way in reaction to the pounding waves and current rubbing the rope against the hull. At 9pm, Commander… Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the 'Civil War' Category
This morning, UAB welcomed members of the Maryland Archaeology Conservation (MAC) Laboratory team for the transport of a Civil War iron cannon. The 3-ton cannon was made in Liverpool, U.K. in 1862 and served aboard Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama until she was sunk in 1864 by USS Kearsarge. The cannon was recovered from the shipwreck in 2002 and conserved at Texas A&M University’s Conservation Research Laboratory (CRL). It will be displayed under a UAB Loan Agreement in the MAC Lab facility at Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St. Leonard, MD until 2015, with the possibility of renewing the… Read the rest of this entry »
During the American Civil War the vast majority of guns mounted in Confederate forts not be easily penetrate the armor on Union monitors. Even so, ironclads were fragile machines, especially vulnerable when stationary and struck repeatedly by enemy fire. When these iron behemoths accidently ran aground in the shallow coastal waters of the South, it sometimes took the heroics of flesh and blood to save them from destruction. On the evening of 16 November 1863, Confederate batteries at Fort Moultrie, near Charleston, South Carolina, unexpectedly opened a very heavy, long-range fire on Federal troops in their field works on Morris… Read the rest of this entry »
The Confederate semi-submersible ship David did not have rocks and slings. Instead, its armament consisted of a single spar torpedo attached to its bow. As the cigar-shaped vessel was designed to operate in shallow water, its five foot draft allowed her to sneak up on enemies seemingly undetected.
On the night of 5 October 1863, David faced Goliath. It would not be the epic showdown of biblical times during the American Civil War, but one of explosions, iron, and rushing water under the moonlight of Charleston. USS New Ironsides, a casemate ironclad steamer boasting fourteen eleven-inch smoothbores, was at the time considered the most formidable warship in the world. It proved to be nearly impenetrable to the Charleston harbor defenses. The Union “Goliath” and its Captain, S.C. Rowan, waited for any answer the Confederates had to test the mighty ship. Little did they know its “Davidian” foe would… Read the rest of this entry »
In the middle of the Civil War, two brothers in Bristol, Rhode Island started a ship yard that would make their name, Herreshoff, one of the most respected engineering names in the world: the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. John Brown Herreshoff was completely blind at age 15. He managed his own sail-boat building company until his brother, Nathaniel, joined him in 1878. John’s blindness did not prevent him from receiving commissions for boats that were renowned for their seaworthiness, speed and beauty. He used hull models and full hull models to make suggestions to improve the performance of the vessels. Nathanael… Read the rest of this entry »
Lashed in the rigging of Hartford’s mainmast high above the deck, Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut had a bird’s-eye view of his squadron of eighteen ships as it fought past the booming guns of Fort Morgan into Mobile Bay, Alabama. Everything was going according to plan until the monitor Tecumseh suddenly rolled to starboard, her bow knifing into the water and stern rearing up with the propeller still spinning, then plunged out of sight like an arrow shot from a bow. Farragut knew instantly that Tecumseh had struck a torpedo, as mines were called in those days. As the gunfire… Read the rest of this entry »
Amidst the greatest test in our nation’s history, massive technological, political, and social change occurred on all fronts in the United States. Between these lines of conventional wisdom, a far more pressing issue occurred between policymakers in Washington and London over the threat of war. Fuller discusses these issues thoroughly from a naval perspective, examining the diplomatic and strategic goals of Britain’s budding ironclad navy in direct response to American sea power.