Ironclad Did Federal gunboats have their names painted on them?

Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Location
Nashville, TN
Here's a sketch of the New Era. I wonder if it's safe to say the Carondelet had similar markings.
depositphotos_216179260-stock-illustration-new-era-steamer-acquired-union.jpg
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
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Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
hmm.... Interesting question. The traditional place to put the vessel's name was on the stern; or, in the case of sidewheelers, very frequently on the wheelhouses (though that was a civilian thing rather than a Navy tradition). The Pook Turtles had no really good place to display the name corresponding to either. I doubt they had the names displayed prominently at all. They did have the distinguishing painted bands mentioned earlier, and at least some of them had a distinctive emblem on the "spreader bear" between the chimneys. The Carondelet's bands were red and her emblem was an anchor (in a number of places it's mentioned as a five-pointed star, but that isn't correct; Henry Walke both described and sketched her emblem as an anchor). (Which one had the star? Unclear, but my money is on Mound City. The St. Louis/Baron De Kalb's was, rather famously, a symbol much like a Masonic emblem, though whether it was actually that or not has been debated.)
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Location
Nashville, TN
hmm.... Interesting question. The traditional place to put the vessel's name was on the stern; or, in the case of sidewheelers, very frequently on the wheelhouses (though that was a civilian thing rather than a Navy tradition). The Pook Turtles had no really good place to display the name corresponding to either. I doubt they had the names displayed prominently at all. They did have the distinguishing painted bands mentioned earlier, and at least some of them had a distinctive emblem on the "spreader bear" between the chimneys. The Carondelet's bands were red and her emblem was an anchor (in a number of places it's mentioned as a five-pointed star, but that isn't correct; Henry Walke both described and sketched her emblem as an anchor). (Which one had the star? Unclear, but my money is on Mound City. The St. Louis/Baron De Kalb's was, rather famously, a symbol much like a Masonic emblem, though whether it was actually that or not has been debated.)
Thanks, Mark. I think we once met at a relic show in Dover, TN. That was before I wrote my first book.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
This question sent me on quite a quest.

Black Terror fake ironclad.jpeg

The ironclad USS Black Terror did not have its name painted on the hull.
Of course, it didn't have iron-cladding, guns or a crew, but did have a motto:
"Deluded People Cave In"
She did, however, live up to her name & did spread terror along the Mississippi River.


USS Moose.jpeg

The tactical numerals on the pilothouse of the Moose is typical of timber & tin clads.

timerclad libray of congress.jpg

The timberclads that raided up the Tennessee after the fall of Fort Henry were painted black.
The intention was to make them look threatening.
Apparently, it worked. The sight of the black monsters chuffing upstream created a panic
similar to that of a Klingon Bird of Prey landing in a Walmart parking lot.

Ellet Rams.jpeg

Ellet's Rams hung letters between the stacks for tactical identification & control.
Mississippi Squadron gunboats did something similar with geometric symbols & painting their smokestacks.


098618912.jpg

Painting Hospital on vessels like the Red Rover indicated their function but did not deter Confederates from firing on her.

Lehigh 1900 dents in turret.jpeg

This image of the Monitor USS LEHIGH with the ship's name painted amid dents from CSA cannon balls was taken post war.

Maybe gunboats did not have their names painted on them for security purposes? I don't know.
What I do know is that while civilian & auxiliary vessels often sported the name of the vessel
in a highly decorative typeface, I have not found any images of CW wartime gunboats with names.
If anybody finds one, I certainly want to see it.​
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
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Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
I'm not so certain it was security as it wasn't traditional. Mass-production of ships was mostly a thing of the future (the various Ericsson monitors and the Pook turtles pointed that way, though), and an experienced sailor could recognize many ships simply by appearance. (This also led to many misidentifications of ships by non-professionals during the war, notoriously including newspaper reporters.)

Ships still generally don't have their names very visibly displayed. The most notable feature of U.S. Navy ships is an identification number.
 

georgew

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Location
southern california
I don't believe they had names on them, but they did have different color markings on their smokestacks so that they could be told apart at a distance.
The Ellet rams apparently carried a Letter key for their names between their smokestacks. Oddly enough I've never heard of this issue being addressed regarding CSN or RDS vessels.
 

Biscoitos

Corporal
Joined
May 14, 2020
Here's a sketch of the New Era. I wonder if it's safe to say the Carondelet had similar markings. View attachment 394993
The USS Essex, which was converted from the St. Louis ferryboat New Era, had it's "name" "SX" prominently displayed for all to see.
I believe that it was the only vessel of the Mississippi Squadron to be identified by name.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Location
Nashville, TN
This question sent me on quite a quest.

View attachment 395048
The ironclad USS Black Terror did not have its name painted on the hull.
Of course, it didn't have iron-cladding, guns or a crew, but did have a motto:
"Deluded People Cave In"
She did, however, live up to her name & did spread terror along the Mississippi River.


View attachment 395049
The tactical numerals on the pilothouse of the Moose is typical of timber & tin clads.

View attachment 395051
The timberclads that raided up the Tennessee after the fall of Fort Henry were painted black.
The intention was to make them look threatening.
Apparently, it worked. The sight of the black monsters chuffing upstream created a panic
similar to that of a Klingon Bird of Prey landing in a Walmart parking lot.

View attachment 395052
Ellet's Rams hung letters between the stacks for tactical identification & control.
Mississippi Squadron gunboats did something similar with geometric symbols & painting their smokestacks.


View attachment 395053
Painting Hospital on vessels like the Red Rover indicated their function but did not deter Confederates from firing on her.

View attachment 395050
This image of the Monitor USS LEHIGH with the ship's name painted amid dents from CSA cannon balls was taken post war.

Maybe gunboats did not have their names painted on them for security purposes? I don't know.
What I do know is that while civilian & auxiliary vessels often sported the name of the vessel
in a highly decorative typeface, I have not found any images of CW wartime gunboats with names.
If anybody finds one, I certainly want to see it.​
Outstanding work, Rhea! Thank you for this. Those dents in the USS Leigh are amazing!
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
By the way, "Black Terror" is only one of the names the dummy ironclad bore. Porter called her "USS Wooden Dummy" and also "Bache's dummy," which might be a clue to who actually came up with the idea. (Porter was very quick to claim credit when it worked, of course. He would have been equally quick to distance himself from it if it hadn't.)

(Success has a thousand fathers, with Porter elbowing his way to the front of the line. Failure is an orphan, with Porter blaming Butler...)
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Outstanding work, Rhea! Thank you for this. Those dents in the USS Leigh are amazing!
Thanks, the image is from the NavSource photo archive online. It is a brilliant resource. CW monitors were in service, brought back by the Spanish American War & still lingering until the end of the 1890's. Too bad nobody thought to preserve one of the veterans like the Lehigh as a museum ship.
 

Crossroads

Private
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
This question sent me on quite a quest.

View attachment 395048
The ironclad USS Black Terror did not have its name painted on the hull.
Of course, it didn't have iron-cladding, guns or a crew, but did have a motto:
"Deluded People Cave In"
She did, however, live up to her name & did spread terror along the Mississippi River.


View attachment 395049
The tactical numerals on the pilothouse of the Moose is typical of timber & tin clads.

View attachment 395051
The timberclads that raided up the Tennessee after the fall of Fort Henry were painted black.
The intention was to make them look threatening.
Apparently, it worked. The sight of the black monsters chuffing upstream created a panic
similar to that of a Klingon Bird of Prey landing in a Walmart parking lot.

View attachment 395052
Ellet's Rams hung letters between the stacks for tactical identification & control.
Mississippi Squadron gunboats did something similar with geometric symbols & painting their smokestacks.


View attachment 395053
Painting Hospital on vessels like the Red Rover indicated their function but did not deter Confederates from firing on her.

View attachment 395050
This image of the Monitor USS LEHIGH with the ship's name painted amid dents from CSA cannon balls was taken post war.

Maybe gunboats did not have their names painted on them for security purposes? I don't know.
What I do know is that while civilian & auxiliary vessels often sported the name of the vessel
in a highly decorative typeface, I have not found any images of CW wartime gunboats with names.
If anybody finds one, I certainly want to see it.​
Not that I doubt you, but concerning your statement "The tactical numerals on the pilothouse of the Moose is typical of timber & tin clads."
It is well known that tinclads were identified as such, but I was unaware that timberclads were also.
Can you give me any information about the timberclads' numbers or guide to a source that verifies this, please?
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Not that I doubt you, but concerning your statement "The tactical numerals on the pilothouse of the Moose is typical of timber & tin clads."
It is well known that tinclads were identified as such, but I was unaware that timberclads were also.
Can you give me any information about the timberclads' numbers or guide to a source that verifies this, please?
I refer you to the NavSource.org Old Navy Steam & Sail photo archive online. It contains photos, drawings & bios of virtually all of the military vessels of the CW. The remarkable thing about the photo of the Moose, which was the flagship of the gunboat flotilla on the Cumberland & Tennessee. It is the only known & only recently discovered image of the Moose..

Zeta, patrol torpedo boat No 6.jpeg

Zeta, Patrol Torpedo Boat #6 circa 1864-5 LOC
Note the torpedo spar on her bow.
I am not sure that the Zeta is the kind of ferocious looking timberclad vessel you are looking for, but she does have a number 6 as a tactical marking.


 
Last edited:

Biscoitos

Corporal
Joined
May 14, 2020
I
I refer you to the NavSource.org Old Navy Steam & Sail photo archive online. It contains photos, drawings & bios of virtually all of the military vessels of the CW. The remarkable thing about the photo of the Moose, which was the flagship of the gunboat flotilla on the Cumberland & Tennessee. It is the only known & only recently discovered image of the Moose..

View attachment 395201
Zeta, Patrol Torpedo Boat #6 circa 1864-5 LOC
Note the torpedo spar on her bow.
I am not sure that the Zeta is the kind of ferocious looking vessel you are looking for, but she does have a number 6 as a tactical marking.
I was only referring to your statement concerning timberclads having a numerical identification.
The Conestoga, Tyler, and Lexington were timberclads.
Do you have evidence for your statement that they had their identification numbers painted on their pilothouses?

Your sarcasm makes me wonder if you are trying divert attention away from something.
 
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