CSS Va. vs the three Rams.

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#1
Hi all
Taking a breather from doing a search. But not all bad, have rediscovered info forget I had. Now if I can only get my printer to stop printing out of order.......oh well.

Do not know if this has been brought up before........While digging came across a note that I wrote to my self, who knows how long ago......
Under the US set up. the Army is in charge of harbor def. Fts,batteries and also floating batteries and gunboats. There were plans long established, that were modified when steam came along. The Army then added steam rams to the defense system. First steam rams conversions of merchant ships , then newly designed rams were to be built for harbor. The row barges were now various designs of steam Gunboats ( in 1836 a attempt was made to build small sq's of 2 gun GB's) from Maine down to the south.torpedoes were also to be used.

So when the ACW came along, and northern Gov's were writing letters to Wells for Mon's to guard their harbors , he was able to keep the ships were he wanted them.(off the southern coast0.

So when the Va. came steaming out towards the Union fleet. the Army was ready. Three of their largest transports were fitted as rams, maned by special crews, all three were to attack all at once.......but as you know, no rams set out that day. They sat and watched the blood bath....

So does any one know would this plan have worked? This was before the Va. was up armored. Then if not, why? (thought just crossed my mind, if the past, there has been a lot of ink (old expression) spent on trying to fight out a war of US & UK.) A number of plans talked about attacking/fighting bow on, fitting out rams this way was talked about. The President did also, saying something like "every thing for speed". So this type would be used,
straw clads were talked about in 1836, cottonclads around 1845. The monitors were designed to be used as rams also.......... Sorry brain running on.....
Time to look up those transports. Grizz
 

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DaveBrt

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
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Location
Charlotte, NC
#2
Hi all
Taking a breather from doing a search. But not all bad, have rediscovered info forget I had. Now if I can only get my printer to stop printing out of order.......oh well.

Do not know if this has been brought up before........While digging came across a note that I wrote to my self, who knows how long ago......
Under the US set up. the Army is in charge of harbor def. Fts,batteries and also floating batteries and gunboats. There were plans long established, that were modified when steam came along. The Army then added steam rams to the defense system. First steam rams conversions of merchant ships , then newly designed rams were to be built for harbor. The row barges were now various designs of steam Gunboats ( in 1836 a attempt was made to build small sq's of 2 gun GB's) from Maine down to the south.torpedoes were also to be used.

So when the ACW came along, and northern Gov's were writing letters to Wells for Mon's to guard their harbors , he was able to keep the ships were he wanted them.(off the southern coast0.

So when the Va. came steaming out towards the Union fleet. the Army was ready. Three of their largest transports were fitted as rams, maned by special crews, all three were to attack all at once.......but as you know, no rams set out that day. They sat and watched the blood bath....

So does any one know would this plan have worked? This was before the Va. was up armored. Then if not, why? (thought just crossed my mind, if the past, there has been a lot of ink (old expression) spent on trying to fight out a war of US & UK.) A number of plans talked about attacking/fighting bow on, fitting out rams this way was talked about. The President did also, saying something like "every thing for speed". So this type would be used,
straw clads were talked about in 1836, cottonclads around 1845. The monitors were designed to be used as rams also.......... Sorry brain running on.....
Time to look up those transports. Grizz
Regarding ramming Virginia with 3 rams:
If all three went for a down the throat shot and Virginia did not turn in response, you have a good chance for all three to miss and get hard hit in return by Virginia's guns.

If all three attacked from the same side (did they know how slowly she would turn?), Virginia has a decision to make very early -- turn toward the attackers to run between them (see above) or stay on course and rely on broadside guns to stop the charge. Once a turn toward starts, the gun defense quickly ceases to be an option, as the guns will no longer bear, and if the turn is too slow, you have given the rams an easy set up. But, again, if the turn goes far enough, the ram hits will be glancing and much less effective.

If Virginia stays on course and shoots at the beam attackers, each ram can expect 2 or 3 rounds to be fired at it. Where are my quick-firers???? This is the serious problem WWI BBs faced against TBs firing 500 yd range torpedoes.
 

rebelatsea

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#3
The scenario envisages Virginia being alone, but she was accompanied by other vessels on all her sorties, so, the rams will have a very real risk of being caught before they get there.
 
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#4
Hi Dave,

Interesting
As for knowing the Ram's turning abilities, speed and impact by the tides ect, no one knew that. Even the ship's captain and crew would just be learning the abilities of the Ram, being it's first cruse outside the river.
As for what the Union forces would know, it would be very limited. There would be plenty of false tails running around. and if I was the southern high command, would send north some really "BIG" tall tails (disinformation) to make sure if anything did leak out, the Union High command would be baffled on what was true or not. ( those 2 stogies wrapped in Lee's deployment plan is a good example. Little Mac had Lee's plan in his hand but failed to believe in them).
The Union Army's Generals believed that the ram's would hit below the armored belt and disable the Va.
The bird's view painting of the battle, showed the Va, fighting the" sloop" Columbia , and the aground Congress in the distance., in the fore ground showed the aux shipping, and 3 "large" ships, identified as the 3 rams. ( dam it misplaced my notes on names and info)
Do not know what kind of ram fitted but had to be deep enough to hit low in the hull.

The draft of the "Rams would also be a factor, limiting the projected attack plans. They would also be aware of any southern batteries, and keep out of effective range of them.

So, it would be 3 ships, fast enough to be effective, possibly able to turn inside the ironclad's own turning ability. The 3 Union vessels, more than likely faster in turning abilities with a crew sailing with known qualities of their vessel.

The Va. would have the advantage of weapons and protection...but then would the armor be a help or or a limiting factor in such a battle?

,
 

DaveBrt

Sergeant Major
Joined
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Messages
2,258
Location
Charlotte, NC
#5
Hi Dave,

Interesting
As for knowing the Ram's turning abilities, speed and impact by the tides ect, no one knew that. Even the ship's captain and crew would just be learning the abilities of the Ram, being it's first cruse outside the river.
As for what the Union forces would know, it would be very limited. There would be plenty of false tails running around. and if I was the southern high command, would send north some really "BIG" tall tails (disinformation) to make sure if anything did leak out, the Union High command would be baffled on what was true or not. ( those 2 stogies wrapped in Lee's deployment plan is a good example. Little Mac had Lee's plan in his hand but failed to believe in them).
The Union Army's Generals believed that the ram's would hit below the armored belt and disable the Va.
The bird's view painting of the battle, showed the Va, fighting the" sloop" Columbia , and the aground Congress in the distance., in the fore ground showed the aux shipping, and 3 "large" ships, identified as the 3 rams. ( dam it misplaced my notes on names and info)
Do not know what kind of ram fitted but had to be deep enough to hit low in the hull.

The draft of the "Rams would also be a factor, limiting the projected attack plans. They would also be aware of any southern batteries, and keep out of effective range of them.

So, it would be 3 ships, fast enough to be effective, possibly able to turn inside the ironclad's own turning ability. The 3 Union vessels, more than likely faster in turning abilities with a crew sailing with known qualities of their vessel.

The Va. would have the advantage of weapons and protection...but then would the armor be a help or or a limiting factor in such a battle?

,
In Southern ports, shallow water might be the armored ship's main defense against rams. If there is not room to get lined up on the target and get enough speed built up to break the hull, the ram is just a fast target for gun practice.

My suspicion is that if there had been a serious ram hit on an ironclad (ie good speed built up), everyone would have been surprised at how much damage was done to the engineering systems, perhaps completely immobilizing the ironclad. Sinking may have turned out to be the ironclads least worry (see ironclad Atlanta's loss).
 
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#6
Hi John,
Good catch, but would her escort have enough firepower? Thinking that any Commander worth his salt would allow those 3 rams to be attacked without trying to support Them. (If he did not, He wold be the perfect guy to blame for the result).
. Never really checked it out, but there were other Union Navy ships around, some of them had to be superior to the 1 or 2 gun escorts the Va. had with her. Have a couple books that might give all the data ,stacked about 16'' from where am sitting, but as I am building shelves in my Den upstairs, books are piled up.
As the blockading force had Frigates, there also had to be smaller ships, sh allow draft ones to assist the rams. Fox had assigned tug boats to assist the sailing frigates. If they thought of that , they would have supplied a escort also. (If you are wounding , one tug was having her engines fixed, the other, despite orders no to, had let her fires burn out.)
Smaller Union ships would be useless against the Va. but would be useful against the aux warships of The Hampton Roads sq.

So more pieces to the puzzle. Getting somewhat complex.

GRIZZ
 
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#7
HI Dave,
Shallow water might have been a Issue for both sides. The Va trying to disrupt the rams plans to engage, while th e rams were trying to line up on the Va, while trying to keep out of effective firing range of Va. escorts,While the escorts themselves might have to engage any of the Union's small ships sent to protect their 3 rams...all the while observing, the surronding shallow waters. Mean while, the escorting war ships would have to keep a eye of the other's guys artillery batteries.''''''
Sounds like dancing in a minefield ,sorry, torpedo field, would be simple compaired to all that !

gRIZZ
 

rebelatsea

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#9
Hi John,
Good catch, but would her escort have enough firepower? Thinking that any Commander worth his salt would allow those 3 rams to be attacked without trying to support Them. (If he did not, He wold be the perfect guy to blame for the result).
. Never really checked it out, but there were other Union Navy ships around, some of them had to be superior to the 1 or 2 gun escorts the Va. had with her. Have a couple books that might give all the data ,stacked about 16'' from where am sitting, but as I am building shelves in my Den upstairs, books are piled up.
As the blockading force had Frigates, there also had to be smaller ships, sh allow draft ones to assist the rams. Fox had assigned tug boats to assist the sailing frigates. If they thought of that , they would have supplied a escort also. (If you are wounding , one tug was having her engines fixed, the other, despite orders no to, had let her fires burn out.)
Smaller Union ships would be useless against the Va. but would be useful against the aux warships of The Hampton Roads sq.

So more pieces to the puzzle. Getting somewhat complex.

GRIZZ
CSS Patrick Henry had 1 × 10-inch SB, 1 × 64 pdr SB , 6 × 8-inch SB & 2 × 32 pdr MLR. You are right as the rest of her escorts had only two guns. In this situation the opposition to using CSS Brandywine (see "The ironclad before Virginia") might well be ended, and send her as well with her 1-32pdr MLR and 8 -32pdr SB.

The USN sloops and frigates were all sailors, with the exception of USS Minnesota so would probably not get involved. The Union would have to try to get Virginia into deep water so the rams had manoevering room, but even so the actions of the CSN gunboats might disrupt their maneovering.Lt Tucker with Patrick Henry would be a dangerous opponent, as would Brandywine.
Incidentally, had they but known it, the CSN had a weapon almost as good as the British 68pdr against armour in the 64pdr SB. However the CSN got hung up on Brooke's MLR and the Union on Dahlgren's SBs.


 
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#10
In 1863 the USS ironclad Indianola was sunk by two unarmored Confederate rams.
There is no reason to think that the CSS Virginia might not have been vulnerable to this kind of attack.
 
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#12
HI guys,

Thanks John, Did think about the PH, but could not remenber if it was before or after the battle t hat she lost some to a battery.
Would still like to know why at first, the Union Commanders were so positive they would be successful?
Well for now it will have to go on my "look up List".......b ecause of the snow we just had on the east coast , school canceled and delays , had a bunch of rug rats running around, no wood working when they are around, so still no shelves.
But had to laugh, brought a couple of kids out with me to push the snow around (early still light), they did alright , in circles and lines and any which way.

GRIZZ
 

USS ALASKA

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#13
Question sirs...

Was CSS Virginia's manning complement able to fully serve the guns on both sides at the same time? Split the Union force and attack from different angles simultaneously ala 'The Battle of the River Plate'. Make the CSN commander decide who and what is the bigger threat...

If all three went for a down the throat shot...
Would an 'Up-the-kilt' shot been able to disable CSS Virginia's rudder / prop?

Was any thought ever given to boarding and / or liquid fire as a defense against her?
210

Thanks,
USS ALASKA
 
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#14
I don't think anyone here suggested she wasn't, however she did have armour where Indianola didn't.
In the naval battle of Lissa in 1866, an Italian ironclad was sunk by ramming (by an Austrian ironclad).
BTW the Indianola was an ironclad too. I assume you are referring to waterline (and below) armor on the CSS Va.
 

rebelatsea

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#15
I am familiar with Lissa ,thank you. Indianola was at best a tinclad with little or no waterline protection. Any ship is vulnerable to a ramming attack by any other, but Virginia's knuckle and the armour beneath it would offer protection against rams such as the ones the USN were preparing - unless you could get a 90 degree or near impact. A ship with a proper underwater ram bow would be a different proposition.
 
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