Interior plan of the blockade runners?


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@DaveBrt is correct, those would all be grouped together, usually at the stern of the vessel near the head of the rudder There might be an additional binnacle (compass) and tubes on the bridge between the wheel boxes, where the all-around visibility was better. But I think that would be secondary to the primary station aft.

I'm not sure when engine telegraphs for relaying engine orders came into use, but I don't think they would be seen on (relatively) small vessels like these, regardless.

ETA: This contemporary illustration, showing John Newland Maffitt (dark clothing, center), shows a wheel positioned between the paddleboxes, but I believe that may be more conjectural than documentary.

View attachment 293915
So, didn't most of the exciting watching, waiting, etc during a run into port go on on the bridge deck between the paddleboxes? (up high where the view was excellent.) Staring at Andy's model, I do not see another helm fore or aft of the bridge helm, so I am not certain (being no sailor) which helm the bridge helm is (is this the aft helm?). Phantom's (most excellent) MA thesis on Blockade Runners mentions the aft helm as being a back up as sorts, in case the chains broke or etc at the other helm. (May seem like a persnickety little detail, but writing my current chapter with my captain at the helm during a sneak into port, I am trying to put his feet standing in the right place, with believable works/equipment around him. He is on a boat modeled after the Fergus. So thank you for letting me persist in this.)
 

DaveBrt

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I

So, didn't most of the exciting watching, waiting, etc during a run into port go on on the bridge deck between the paddleboxes? (up high where the view was excellent.) Staring at Andy's model, I do not see another helm fore or aft of the bridge helm, so I am not certain (being no sailor) which helm the bridge helm is (is this the aft helm?). Phantom's (most excellent) MA thesis on Blockade Runners mentions the aft helm as being a back up as sorts, in case the chains broke or etc at the other helm. (May seem like a persnickety little detail, but writing my current chapter with my captain at the helm during a sneak into port, I am trying to put his feet standing in the right place, with believable works/equipment around him. He is on a boat modeled after the Fergus. So thank you for letting me persist in this.)
I cannot answer your question with historical fact. But I have conned some dozen navy ships and I assure you that I would never accept the loss of forward vision that would be the result of being on the fantail with 2 paddle wheel boxes, one or two masts, one or two stacks, and a deck house blocking my view. I cannot believe that the normal conning position was anywhere but in the highest, most forward position -- between the paddle wheels.
 
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I cannot answer your question with historical fact. But I have conned some dozen navy ships and I assure you that I would never accept the loss of forward vision that would be the result of being on the fantail with 2 paddle wheel boxes, one or two masts, one or two stacks, and a deck house blocking my view. I cannot believe that the normal conning position was anywhere but in the highest, most forward position -- between the paddle wheels.
Yes, that seems logical to me, too, but as I have not had your extensive experience, I was not sure. Vision and quick reaction to what was seen were so crucial to survival in the runners.
 
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I would only add that the master, pilot, or other officer conning the ship in a critical moment would probably not be in any one spot for very long. He would be moving continually back-and-forth from one end of the bridge wing to the other, to get the clearest view.
 
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I would only add that the master, pilot, or other officer conning the ship in a critical moment would probably not be in any one spot for very long. He would be moving continually back-and-forth from one end of the bridge wing to the other, to get the clearest view.
Yes, indeed. Good, good. And ... does anyone know how quickly a blockade runner (say, the Fergus as an example) might be able to go from forward to reverse? I have written my blockade runner into a very tight corner, and they need to back out, fast. Possible??
 
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Yes, indeed. Good, good. And ... does anyone know how quickly a blockade runner (say, the Fergus as an example) might be able to go from forward to reverse? I have written my blockade runner into a very tight corner, and they need to back out, fast. Possible??
Reversing from full speed was difficult and hence unlikely. It took some time to get the command passed on, then acted upon by changing the link to reverse the engines, then slowing to a stop and reversing directions. From full speed near 20 miles an hour (Presto was the fastest runner of all) that would take several minutes. That is a long time under fire, time for at least two broadsides (3 minutes?). If all ships are at low speeds reversing engines would still take a minute or two to take effect. I don't remember reading of it ever happening. Chase narratives never mention reversing out of a problem, only turning away from them. Changing course however only took an instant to turn the wheel and a small lag while the ship starts to respond to the rudder angle.

Remember that the blockade runners had three primary assets; greater speed, stealth through low visibility, and cunning (usually better local knowledge and officer's experience). If they were twin screws they were also more maneuverable. Runners sought to always use their assets to best advantage. So in a tight spot, runners intentionally made smoke to hide a change of course from pursuers. They flew false flags. They lied when they answered hails. They figured out what flares were being used by blockaders to mark their path and shot the same color flares at an angle to the real ones. They made full circles around a slower blockader and dashed off at an angle. They used light and flag signals to confuse blockaders. They rammed small blockaders such as picket boats and then kept running. When really pressed they dashed themselves aground, set the ship on fire and ran away in the boats. Read the narratives of the guys who ran the blockade, Taylor, Wilkinson, Watson, and Usina. Rely on what they wrote, they won't lead you astray.
 
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Yes, indeed. Good, good. And ... does anyone know how quickly a blockade runner (say, the Fergus as an example) might be able to go from forward to reverse? I have written my blockade runner into a very tight corner, and they need to back out, fast. Possible??
My guess is that the engines and wheels could be stopped in under a minute, the reversing gear thrown over, and the paddles begin turning in the other direction. But the steamer is going to continue forward for quite some distance, just like a car without brakes. You can take the car out of gear, but it will continue coasting along as before for a while.

Once steam is applied to reverse the paddles, there's going to be a lot of thrashing (i.e., noisy) water, and there may also have been steam blown off from the safety valves when it was cut off from the engine -- more noise. I think that, at speed, stopping the ship, reversing engines, and "backing out" again would take multiple minutes, during which time you're a sitting duck. Not advised.

More important, there aren't many situations where a runner would "turn a corner" at speed and be surprised by something on the other side. It something loomed up directly in front of them -- say, in the darkness or fog -- they would generally open the throttles more (if possible) and keep going -- trying to stop was just too dangerous.

ETA: Tom Taylor's book includes an illustration of doing this in Banshee II here at Galveston, I believe. Keep going and cross your fingers.
 
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Thank you both!!! A re-write is in order, reversing is out, and a crashing ram through a picket's bow followed by a smoke screen just might carry the moment. Breath held that they make it... :smile:
PS -- I am forever looking for beta readers for my chapters, folks who might have knowledgeable comments on what I have done. If either of you are interested/willing I would love to send you this particular chapter's result. Not ready quite yet, but steaming forward.
 
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They probably wouldn't intentionally ram a picket boat, but there were many, many close calls, and running one down because they couldn't avoid it is not at all unlikely.
 
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Some lucky person snatched up those e-bay Fergus plans. I hope it was somebody here! :thumbsup:
That ebay seller has sold several, I bet he can reprint them. Ask! (It is not me. nor anyone I know.) Plus, the Smithsonian NMAH Maritime Transportation plan folks sell them as well. The plans from each seem identical so the ebay seller may get them from NMAH. You might call Paul Johnston or Paula Johnston in the Transportation division.
 
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First chapter of the blockade runner section of my civil war series is drafted. I am hoping for beta-readers who have a particular interest in the blockade to look at what I have written and comment. Not being a sailor, I particularly hope for corrections in any mistakes with nautical terms or technical aspects of the ship, but also hope for comment on the plausibility and thrill of the tale that I've told. If you are willing to look it over (13 pages) I would be very very grateful. Any takers? Contact me at lcmgarden@gmail.com.
 

USS ALASKA

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@Lisa Murphy

Another book that might be of value is...

'Mersey Built: The Role of Merseyside in the American Civil War' by Robert Thorp

1553026934071.png


‘Mersey Built’ chronicles the little-known commercial battle that raged between North and South during the American Civil War. The South relied on Europe for its military supplies, which the North tried to stop with a naval blockade of all Southern ports. The South retaliated by destroying Northern merchant ships on the high seas, using war ships, secretly procured from British shipyards and smuggled out of Britain by sympathetic British captains using British crews. The Charleston-based business empire headed by George Trenholm provided a conduit for Confederate finance with its Liverpool branch acting as bankers for the Confederacy’s procurement agents. Merseyside, with its extensive docks and numerous shipyards quickly became the epicenter of Confederate operations in Europe. Several British businessmen bought ships specifically to run supplies through the Union blockade, leaving relationships between the United States and Britain strained, close to breaking point.

The book relates the history of Trenholm’s commercial empire, its pre-war expansion into Liverpool and the pivotal role it played in supporting the Confederate war effort. The involvement of other Liverpool-based entrepreneurs and their successes and failures in blockade-running is described. Background histories of the Merseyside ship builders who constructed warships and blockade runners for the Confederacy are included as well as several mini-biographies of the Liverpool-based captains who smuggled out warships and braved the Union blockade. Details of each ship built on Merseyside for involvement in the Civil War are listed. The role of the United States consular service and its extensive, Liverpool-based, spy ring is described, as are the efforts of the United States ambassador in London to influence British government policy on neutrality.

The author, a direct descendant of a Liverpool ship builder, and a blockade-running captain, brings new insights and previously unpublished facts to light in this fascinating chapter of history.

Review
"The author has created an exciting amalgam of American maritime history and British business and commercial intrigue with a compendium of appropriate British shipbuilding of the day. These unlikely components are welded into a fascinating journey through the American civil war period. Well worth reading for those of diverse interests."
Alex Urquhart Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Naval Architecture – The Robert Gordon University, UK


About the Author
Robert (Bob) Thorp is a graduate of Reading University and has had a long and successful career in the international oil and gas industry. His interest in Merseyside's role in the American Civil War stems from ancestral links to Liverpool ship builders and master mariners. He is the great-great-great grandson of William Cowley Miller whose company built the C.S.S. Florida, the seized gunboat Alexandra, and a number of purpose-built blockade runners. He is also the great-great grandson of Miller's son-in-law, Captain James Alexander Duguid, who was the delivery commander of the C.S.S. Florida and captained several blockade runners, not least of which, the Lucy, was one of the most successful runners of the war. Bob has become internationally recognized as an authority on the Mersey built ships employed by the Confederacy and has been invited to present papers on the subject at the Museum of the American Civil War in Richmond, Virginia (2003) and at the prestigious McMullen Naval History Symposium at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2015). His book is the culmination of more than thirty years of research and contains many facts and insights not previously published.

https://www.amazon.com/Mersey-Built...y+built&qid=1553025093&s=books&sr=1-1-catcorr
1276

A bit pricey...
USS ALASKA
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
119
@Lisa Murphy

Another book that might be of value is...

'Mersey Built: The Role of Merseyside in the American Civil War' by Robert Thorp

View attachment 297889

‘Mersey Built’ chronicles the little-known commercial battle that raged between North and South during the American Civil War. The South relied on Europe for its military supplies, which the North tried to stop with a naval blockade of all Southern ports. The South retaliated by destroying Northern merchant ships on the high seas, using war ships, secretly procured from British shipyards and smuggled out of Britain by sympathetic British captains using British crews. The Charleston-based business empire headed by George Trenholm provided a conduit for Confederate finance with its Liverpool branch acting as bankers for the Confederacy’s procurement agents. Merseyside, with its extensive docks and numerous shipyards quickly became the epicenter of Confederate operations in Europe. Several British businessmen bought ships specifically to run supplies through the Union blockade, leaving relationships between the United States and Britain strained, close to breaking point.

The book relates the history of Trenholm’s commercial empire, its pre-war expansion into Liverpool and the pivotal role it played in supporting the Confederate war effort. The involvement of other Liverpool-based entrepreneurs and their successes and failures in blockade-running is described. Background histories of the Merseyside ship builders who constructed warships and blockade runners for the Confederacy are included as well as several mini-biographies of the Liverpool-based captains who smuggled out warships and braved the Union blockade. Details of each ship built on Merseyside for involvement in the Civil War are listed. The role of the United States consular service and its extensive, Liverpool-based, spy ring is described, as are the efforts of the United States ambassador in London to influence British government policy on neutrality.

The author, a direct descendant of a Liverpool ship builder, and a blockade-running captain, brings new insights and previously unpublished facts to light in this fascinating chapter of history.

Review
"The author has created an exciting amalgam of American maritime history and British business and commercial intrigue with a compendium of appropriate British shipbuilding of the day. These unlikely components are welded into a fascinating journey through the American civil war period. Well worth reading for those of diverse interests."
Alex Urquhart Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Naval Architecture – The Robert Gordon University, UK


About the Author
Robert (Bob) Thorp is a graduate of Reading University and has had a long and successful career in the international oil and gas industry. His interest in Merseyside's role in the American Civil War stems from ancestral links to Liverpool ship builders and master mariners. He is the great-great-great grandson of William Cowley Miller whose company built the C.S.S. Florida, the seized gunboat Alexandra, and a number of purpose-built blockade runners. He is also the great-great grandson of Miller's son-in-law, Captain James Alexander Duguid, who was the delivery commander of the C.S.S. Florida and captained several blockade runners, not least of which, the Lucy, was one of the most successful runners of the war. Bob has become internationally recognized as an authority on the Mersey built ships employed by the Confederacy and has been invited to present papers on the subject at the Museum of the American Civil War in Richmond, Virginia (2003) and at the prestigious McMullen Naval History Symposium at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2015). His book is the culmination of more than thirty years of research and contains many facts and insights not previously published.

https://www.amazon.com/Mersey-Built...y+built&qid=1553025093&s=books&sr=1-1-catcorr
1276

A bit pricey...
USS ALASKA
Thank You!! Lisa
 



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