Ironclads and blockade: Britain vs Union

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TFSmith121

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Absolutely.

So, let's return to the Atlantic. One of most important question: would it be wise to mantain Union-held strongholds on Southern territory, or the best thing would be to evacuate them (and how fast it could be done?)

The most important, of course, is Port Royal. Florida until mid-1862 could be considered as lost cause. The Albemarle Sound are close enough to the Norfolk, to make at least some supply of Roanoke garrison possible (and, the waters of Albemarle Sound clearly aren't suitable for large RN units) - or, at least, evacuation possible. But what about Port Royal?
If one goes with a historically supportable timeline, using the 1853-56 war as the template, with a causus belli in November, 1861, the declarations of war and active operations began four months after the same in 1853 (Sinope); that means the US and UK have until March, 1862 to plan, mobilize, and deploy various forces ... so, the US troops in the Gulf and on the southeast Atlantic coast could have been, and presumably would have been, evacuated, for the most part, leaving what amounts to a corporal's guard on Ship Island, Fort Pickens, and Key West in the Gulf, and the same at Port Royal and Hatteras on the southeast coast. The larger USN screw steamers would head north to the Chesapeake, Delaware, etc, escorting the troop convoys, while the ocean-going sidewheelers prepared for duty as commerce raiders and the sailing warships and smaller steamers maintained the blockade as best as possible until the balloon goes up...

Given that, historically, DuPont had landed Sherman's 13,000 successfully at Port Royal in November, 1861, and Goldsborough was to land Burnside's 15,000 at Roanoke in February using two different transport forces (the Port Royal transports were largely ocean-going vessels, the Roanoke transport group mostly coasters), and there was a fairly constant flow of supply ships, dispatch vessels, and warships going on or off station by the winter of 1861-62, withdrawing the 3,000 or so troops in the Gulf and the 13,000 or so on the South Atlantic coasts would not be a significant challenge. One obvious move would be to use the troops thus evacuated, and/or some of Burnside's forces and those of Wool in the (historical) Department of Virginia to take Norfolk during the short of war period.

Obviously, if the British could manage the Tanga and Dardanelles evacuations under fire in 1914 and 1915, hardly seems impossible for the Americans to manage something similar in peacetime, essentially, 1862.

Best,
 
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Dilandu

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//there are not enough frigates, corvettes, and sloops to relieve those initially planned for deployment, much less chase commerce raiders, escort troop and supply convoys,//

Exactly.

The light & medium units would be the most actual bottleneck. Their supply is not too large, and they aren't much superior to the Union similar units (RN gunboats actually tended to be inferior). The average RN frigate - not the unsucsessfull "Mersey"-class - are comparable in shell armament to the Union modern broadside sloops.

I could not confirm that yet, but I noted in some sources, that RN downrated quite a lot of ships-of-the-line by reducing the number of guns because of their high crew demands. They required too many sailors & gunners, for the peacetime navy.

It seems that in case of war, the liners would be first source of crew reserves for new-build and recomissioned lighter units.
 

TFSmith121

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The statement that Maitland was concerned about 20-24 gunned commerce raiders caught my eye also. If you are outfitting clippers to hunt merchants - do you really need 20 guns? Won't somewhere between 4 and 8 do the trick against the un-armed?

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USS ALASKA
Probably not even that; 90 percent of the British merchant fleet in the early 1860s were still sailing vessels, and the heaviest armament the typical merchant ship carried at this point in history were a few small arms. In addition, crews were as small as possible, given the profit margin of freight movement, so it's not like even an extemporized raider with a reinforced crew and even a single chaser is going to have any problem with the vast majority of merchant ships.

CSS Sumter was a former merchant steamer (less than 500 tons), armed with five guns (one bow chaser and two on each broadside, IIRC) and with a small crew; she took 16 US flag merchantmen over seven months in 1861-62. There were literally scores of similarly-sized vessels in the US Merchant Marine at the time, and the number of larger ships like Vanderbilt or Santiago de Cuba, many of which were already in US service as blockaders, transports, etc. by the winter of 1862, is at least 20 or more each in the Atlantic and the Pacific...

Best,
 
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TFSmith121

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Probably even 2-4 would suffice. More than 4 you need only if you supposed to fight the armed opponents.

And hey, where the guns from USS "Independence" disappeared? She was disarmed in 1857 in San Francsisco, so her 50+ guns should still be somewhere around on Mare Island Navy Yard. Of course, she have only 32-pdr, but still pretty suitable for commerce raiders & gunboats.
There's a letter in the OR from Montgomery to Welles discussing meetings he had with Wright; the Pacific Squadron and the Navy Yard had almost 90 "spare" heavy guns in the winter of 1861-62, and the vast majority were being readied to reinforce the Army's defensive positions in San Francisco Bay. Whatever was not used ashore presumably would be doled out one or two guns at a time to the fast merchant steamers available for commissioning as commerce raiders on the Pacific coast; if one looks into it, there were about 20 ocean-going steamers, mostly sidewheelers, that (historically) were on the Panama-California and California-Columbia-Puget Sound routes.

Best,
 

TFSmith121

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If I remember correctly from Gough, wasn't one of the concerns of the British during the numerous disputes in the NW the great influx of settlers pouring in to the area from the recently opened overland routes? I seem to remember commentary in the book about the perceived threat to the outnumbered British subjects from the American citizens.

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
More than 10,000 of the 50,000 or so "settled" residents of the British colonies on the Pacific side of North America in 1860-61 were US citizens, most of them in the Fraser Valley because of the gold mining going on there...

The 300 or so Royal Engineers and Royal Marines in BC, which was it in terms of ground forces, would be hard-pressed to control Vancouver Island and the mainland around Gastown/New Westminster; the Fraser might as well be the far side of the Moon.

Best,
 
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TFSmith121

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GB. Are you factoring in here that in 1812, unlike 1862
a) Britain doesn't have the vast majority of its navy tied up with fighting a huge continental empire on its doorstep?
b) The US has a much longer coastline - ignoring for the moment the Pacific - since the bulk is in Confederate hands.

Steve
Are you factoring in the reality that Napoleon abdicated in April, 1814, and the British embarked on not one but three strategic offensives against US territory later that same year? Plattsburgh/Lake Champlain and Baltimore in September, and New Orleans in December? Specifically because of the availability of British troops and shipping redeployed from Europe?

Of course, the Americans defeated the British in all three campaigns... to the tune of 3,000 casualties,, including four flag/general officers, and four warships lost, as well.

So, probably not the best example of Britain's ability to sustain forces on offensive operations in US territory...

Best,
 

TFSmith121

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I have a question if the Union and UK go to war say right after the Trent Affair or any time for that matter wouldn't the Union conduct the war differently then historical? A while back in this thread it was commented on lack of guns for US coastal fortifications but if the USN decided it couldn't enforce a blockade with the UK coming into the war couldn't the USN simply call back all those mercantile conversions decommission them and use their guns to rectify some of the shortages? How hard would it be to remove some of the guns in forts still in Union hands south of Virginia and bring them back? Seems like too work and not enough time but just wondering...?????
One would think, wouldn't one?

After all, the US managed to mobilize army and naval forces in 1861-65 that were more than a hundred times the size of the prewar regular force structure, and after the initial 12 months of mobilization, essentially remained on the strategic offensive throughout the remaining 36 months of the conflict, which ended - after all - in the complete destruction of the enemy.

Along the way, the USN integrated regulars and volunteers and conducted open-ocean, coastal, and riverine operations in North America and around the world; the US Army integrated regulars, volunteers, and conscripts, implemented widespread service of non-white troops (including creating what amounted to OCS for their officers), and managed to wage successful campaigns from the Border states south to the Gulf and from the Atlantic west to the Great Plains, fighting in every sort of terrain, weather, and setting, including the successful integration of combined arms at every level from reinforced mixed brigades to divisions, corps, armies, and army groups, and including joint operations with the Navy at divisional and even corps strength on multiple occasions.

All this occurred, essentially, with an industrial mobilization that relied almost exclusively on civilian industry and the existing network of national facilities, including the naval shipyards and the arsenal/armory systems; very little "GOCO" type investment occurred, for example.

And all of the above occurred against the backdrop of a civilian society and economy that expanded throughout the war... the amount of untapped resources, certainly in 1861-63, were literally astronomical.

Best,
 
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TFSmith121

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F
//there are not enough frigates, corvettes, and sloops to relieve those initially planned for deployment, much less chase commerce raiders, escort troop and supply convoys,//

Exactly.

The light & medium units would be the most actual bottleneck. Their supply is not too large, and they aren't much superior to the Union similar units (RN gunboats actually tended to be inferior). The average RN frigate - not the unsucsessfull "Mersey"-class - are comparable in shell armament to the Union modern broadside sloops.

I could not confirm that yet, but I noted in some sources, that RN downrated quite a lot of ships-of-the-line by reducing the number of guns because of their high crew demands. They required too many sailors & gunners, for the peacetime navy.

It seems that in case of war, the liners would be first source of crew reserves for new-build and recomissioned lighter units.
Very true. The issue, of course, is the RN's steam liners existed for a reason, and it was not to blockade US ports (cough - France - cough). The strategic problem created for "steam bridge" Palmerston, Russell, and Somerset by stripping away their crews is obvious.

Best,
 
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chelyabinsk

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The VIII-inch shell guns available to him were either the 15 year old low-velocity Paixhan ones, or the then in-production VIII-inch Dahlgrens which any new vessel would likely be armed with.
There's is some significance to him asking specifically for 8in guns: the whole basis of the Dahlgren system was guns of 9in calibre and over. Evidently, Farragut had his reasons for asking for smaller guns on the broadside.

I made that comment in reply to Farragut discussing the difficulty in hitting targets at a mile or even half a mile. The US Navy focused on explosive power rather than extreme range, probably as a result of the poor performance of long-range US gunnery in the past.
Right, and it's a distinct trade-off rather than a straight upgrade. Reading Douglas and Farragut makes it clear that there are disadvantages to shells, and further disadvantages to the bigger shells that Dahlgren proposes.

Even the 32-pdrs were also carrying 6.4” shells in addition to their solid shot.
As they do in the Royal Navy, though a lower proportion than in the US service (1/8 vs c.1/4).

Canney also points out that after the war there was an extreme push-back into design conservatism, leading to things like the addition of naval heads and cutwater knees to a lot of wartime designs, much enlarged sail rigs, and even the installation of quarter galleries. That was a big part of the turn back to broadside batteries. They were, in the senior officers’ eyes, how “proper” warships looked.
I think there's a danger of simply dismissing their concerns as unthinking conservatism. We like the narrative of 'misunderstood genius foiled by the establishment,' but it's entirely plausible that some of their points (quarter galleries) were pure traditionalism, and some of them (broadside batteries and smaller guns) were valid.

The IX-inch Dahlgren in broadside ports on Marsilly carriages was definitely a success either way.
Perhaps too much of a success, given that it locked the US into a system of racking rather than penetrating armour. To give Armstrong his credit, he was prepared to abandon the breech-loading system when it couldn't achieve what he needed it to.

if the USN decided it couldn't enforce a blockade with the UK coming into the war couldn't the USN simply call back all those mercantile conversions decommission them and use their guns to rectify some of the shortages?
They could, but it remains a trade off. For a start, they need a lot of guns- certainly more than were on the mercantile conversions, most of which had fewer than ten each. Disarming the whole North Atlantic blockading squadron, both military and converted ships, would net you about 400 guns compared to the 1,394 needed to fortify the coast of Massachusetts (some of which, I should note, were already in place). Secondly, those guns aren't always where you need them: to protect San Francisco, you have to either disarm the Pacific squadron or send ships round the Cape and past a lot of Royal Navy stations. Thirdly, although it inhibits the Royal Navy from attacking ports, it reduces the force available to sortie and thereby makes blockading them easier.

The Union never laid out its war plans, so it's hard to tell whether they would have stuck it out or not. Abandoning the blockade in itself is a huge concession- which is more important to the Union, boarding British merchant ships or reconquering the South? On the other hand, the Russians had retired to port during the Crimea (and the Germans did more or less the same in WWI): it's certainly the least risky of the options available. But, as you've said, there wasn't a lot of time to recall all those ships. The decision for war would have been in early January, and Milne was more or less ready to move when the news would have reached him- which would have been about the same time it got to the US.
 

67th Tigers

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The light & medium units would be the most actual bottleneck. Their supply is not too large, and they aren't much superior to the Union similar units (RN gunboats actually tended to be inferior). The average RN frigate - not the unsucsessfull "Mersey"-class - are comparable in shell armament to the Union modern broadside sloops.
A typical 51 had heavy 30x 8" shell guns on the gundeck (15 each side) and originally a spar deck armament of 20x long 32 pdrs and a 68 on the spare deck, which in 1862 was changed to 5x 110 pdr and 8x 40 pdr Armstrongs (on pivots), with 2x 20 pdrs for boat and land service.

Throwweight of a RN 51 reduced 1,620 lbs (69.75 lbs of bursting charges)
Throwweight of Lancaster (heaviest US sloop): 1,062 lbs (45 lbs of bursting charges)

The frigate is faster, and better protected, as frigates were planked to 24", and sloops usually to around 8-16". I fail to see that the ship that is faster, better protected and more heavily armed is "inferior".

I could not confirm that yet, but I noted in some sources, that RN downrated quite a lot of ships-of-the-line by reducing the number of guns because of their high crew demands. They required too many sailors & gunners, for the peacetime navy.
Nope. Ratings were decreased due to changes in spar deck armament. The new ratings had rifled guns on pivot mounts replacing the smoothbores on truck mounts. It gave more firepower for less weight.


* Mersey carried 4x 110 pdr Armstrong guns and 8x 68 pdr high velocity guns on spar deck pivots (fire both sides), 28x 10" shell guns on the gun deck and 4x 20 pdr Armstrong guns for boat and shore service.
 
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Dilandu

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Well, if I'm not mistaken, Milne have eight (seven?) liners (HMS "Donegal" 100, HMS "Sans Pareil" 81, HMS "Nile" 90, HMS "Conqueror" 100 (wrecked in December 1861), HMS "Hero" 91, HMS "Aboukir" 90, HMS "Centurion" 80 and HMS "St. Georg" 86 (recalled by the end of 1861), and seems to be also HMS "Caesar" 90) and thirteen frigates&corvettes under his command, but half of them were dispatched under Dunlop's command into the Gulf. So, his active force was around four ships-of-the-line and six-seven smaller combatants.

The Union, in theory, could field five liner-comparable frigates (four remaining "Merrimack"-class and "Niagara") and a number of sloops, armed with enough boardside shell guns to be able to fight "light" frigates. And, Union have a lot of gunboats.

So, the main question - would the Union naval officers decide to concentrate their forces and go after Milne before he would combine his fleet again? The good part - four of their heavies (except "Colorado") are near the Hampton Roads and Charleston, and could be quickly concentrated.

P.S. As far as I could recall, both the HMS "Sans Pareil" and HMS "Nile", with their 1855 engines, are quite slow - so in case of fleet action, Milne would NOT have any significant speed advantage.
 
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TFSmith121

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Well, if I'm not mistaken, Milne have eight (seven?) liners (HMS "Donegal" 100, HMS "Sans Pareil" 81, HMS "Nile" 90, HMS "Conqueror" 100 (wrecked in December 1861), HMS "Hero" 91, HMS "Aboukir" 90, HMS "Centurion" 80 and HMS "St. Georg" 86 (recalled by the end of 1861), and seems to be also HMS "Caesar" 90) and thirteen frigates&corvettes under his command, but half of them were dispatched under Dunlop's command into the Gulf. So, his active force was around four ships-of-the-line and six-seven smaller combatants.

The Union, in theory, could field five liner-comparable frigates (four remaining "Merrimack"-class and "Niagara") and a number of sloops, armed with enough boardside shell guns to be able to fight "light" frigates. And, Union have a lot of gunboats.

So, the main question - would the Union naval officers decide to concentrate their forces and go after Milne before he would combine his fleet again? The good part - four of their heavies (except "Colorado") are near the Hampton Roads and Charleston, and could be quickly concentrated.

P.S. As far as I could recall, both the HMS "Sans Pareil" and HMS "Nile", with their 1855 engines, are quite slow - so in case of fleet action, Milne would NOT have any significant speed advantage.
Based on the 1775 and 1812 precedents, the Americans realized squadrons cruising at sea achieved little in comparison to solo cruises, and simply heading out looking for trouble is poor strategy; on the other hand, raids on weak targets (Jones and Boyle in British home waters in the two conflicts, for example) and amphibious operations did pay dividends.

Considering that historically, the USN-Army team had already mounted two sucessful amphibious operations from the Atlantic in 1861 (at up to reinforced division strength for the expeditionary force - 13,000 men, which is a little less than half of the entire British expeditionary force into Crimea in 1854) and would go on to mount two more comparable operations in 1862, it's entirely possible that the equivalent of the 1776 Nassau raid occurs early on, perhaps even aimed at the same target.

The mere threat of such an American operation aimed at Bermuda, of course, would likely be enough to keep Milne's entire force, including his only ironclad, tied down there from the declaration of war (again, based on the historical 1853-54 timeline) four months after the causus belli, and (again, based on the 1854 timeline) presumably another three months before anything resembling a British expeditionary force worth the name is ashore anywhere in the theater...

It's worth noting that whatever bellicosity Palmerston displayed in the winter of 1861-62, he still needed Parliamentary support (which in turn required public support) and after the costs of the 1853-56 conflict, the likelihood of that coming into play rapidly is a pipe dream. As it was, Palmerston had a majority of less than 20, IIRC, and as witness the 1864 vote of confidence, opinions were mixed, to be charitable, and he had plenty of rivals and enemies.

Factor in the reality that due to the movement of communications across the Atlantic being limited by the season and best speed of steamers, and that the circumstances left the initiative in the Western Hemisphere in Lincoln's hands, and the British in any short of war were, in terms of the action/reaction cycle, as figurative hostages to communications from and with Lincoln and Seward. Lyons, after all, quite literally was a hostage, entirely dependent upon American-controlled communications (electronic and otherwise) ... The idea the Britsh in the Western Hemisphere on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts (much less the Pacific) are going to be able to steal a march on the Americans is ludicrous. That didn't even happen in the 1853-56 conflict in Europe; it is certainly not going to happen in the 1860s in North America.

Best,
 
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67th Tigers

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Well, if I'm not mistaken.
Okay, inbound.

If you are talking Trent then in late January Milne at Bermuda had concentrated the following for an immediate strike on the main squadron at Hampton Roads:

4 battle ships (Hero, Donegal, Agamemnon, and Aboukir)
3 large frigates (Immortalite, Melpomene, and Liffey)
2 screw sloops (Rinaldo and Racer)
3 light draft vessels for inshore work and as dispatch craft (Medea, Cygnet and Spiteful)

They are attacking a US squadron consisting of:

2 large frigates (Minnesota and Roanoke)
1 screw sloop (Hartford)
1 sail frigate (Congress)
1 sail sloop (Cumberland)
1 tug (Zouave, a quarter of the size of a RN gunboat with 2x 30 pdr Parrotts, used to pull the sail vessels)

It could be such a one sided encounter it would be hardly a battle. The screw battle ships are faster, more heavily protected and with about twice the firepower of a large US frigate. Let me simply repeat that your assertion that a US frigate equals a RN battle ship is obviously nonsense, as your assertion that a US sloop equals an RN frigate.

The RN squadron could put 2 battle ships and a heavy frigate up against each US frigate or a firepower ratio of about 5:1. They could but 1 frigate and a pair of sloops up against the Hartford or merely a 4:1 advantage in firepower.

To the US commander he has three choices:

1. Come out and fight, resulting in the certain destruction of his ships, but with honor.
2. Stay in Hampton Roads squeezed between the Confederate batteries and the soon to be complete Virginia and await certain destruction.
3. Try and run up the Chesapeake and contribute to the defence of Washington and Baltimore, leaving Fort Monroe to delay the RN.

The Gulf squadron has been previously discussed, but odds are actually slightly better, each US heavy frigate is only outgunned 3:1 by a battle ship and a heavy frigate.

The only US squadron not hit by a massively superior force in the first week of such a war is the one at Port Royal, based around the Wabash. If the war occurred a couple of weeks later then a reinforcement squadron under RAdm Dacres with the Warrior, 4 battle ships (Duncan, Princess Royal, Meeanee and Defiance), 3 frigates (Sutlej, Phoebe, and Galatea) and 4 light draft craft (Rattlesnake, Stromboli, Victor and Sparrow) would have arrived from the UK, in addition to various ships traveling separately and convoying gunboats. Another squadron with 2 battleships (Algiers and Queen), a frigate (Amphion) and 3 light drafts (Foxhound, Alacrity and Firebrand) were concentrated at the mouth of the Tagus in Portugal and would have went towards Jamaica and hence to the Florida coast. Dacres's squadron would immediately be used to hit the Port Royal force if to hand, because Milne wanted to be certain against the Hampton Roads force and didn't want to split his force.

The major vessels on the South Atlantic station were the heavy frigate Wabash, 2 sail frigates (St. Lawrence and Savannah), a paddle frigate (Susquehanna) and 2 sail sloop (Dale and Vandalia). The remainder were small gunboats etc.. What they do is a matter for conjecture, and depends on when they hear about them being at war. There is no telegraph, and the first they might hear about it is the RN sending a flag of truce ashore to inform them of the state of war.

Assuming they find out other than the RN turning up their options are:

1. Stay and defend the 16,000 men ashore at Port Royal (as the transports that brought them there were largely discharged already running is not an option)
2. Run for NY or another friendly port.
3. Run for the Chesapeake (in which case they are toast)
4. Scatter and try to raid enemy shipping.

What they are not is a significant threat to the RN forces.
 
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Dilandu

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Based on the 1775 and 1812 precedents, the Americans realized squadrons cruising at sea achieved little in comparison to solo cruises, and simply heading out looking for trouble is poor strategy; on the other hand, raids on weak targets (Jones and Boyle in British home waters in the two conflicts, for example) and amphibious operations did pay dividends.
I agree with principle, but in the actual (possible) situation of early 1862, I think, the Union Navy haven't got much choise but to fight at least some big actions. They have a weak point - Farragut force in the Gulf, which represent a significant part of Union Navy total fighting power.

Sir Milne considered those force valuable enough to detach half of his whole fleet to deal with Farragut. He probably would not be able to catch him easily - due to the lack of coastal units, capable of operating in coatal waters - but without bases, Farragut would not be able to evade Dunlop forever. Sooner or later, he would be forced to disperse and make a run toward Atlantic, hoping to get into Union ports.

On the other hands, the forces under the Miln eown command are pretty limited and generally inadequate for the goal of blockading the Union coastline. He could mantain superiority only with all his ship in one place; if he divide his force, both parts would be significantly inferior to the combined Union heavies.

But his main disadvantage, of course, is the communication link. The Union ship near Union coastlines could use telegraph to coordinate actions and control the movement of RN. The Milne forces wouldn't have such ability at all, so they would be forced to operate in great communication disadvantage. Basically, the Union could have the initative against Miln - as long as Dunlop is buisy chasing after Farragut across the Gulf. And this initative could be exploited.

P.S. The main problem would be to force RN into action... As Crimean War demonstrated, the RN forces weren't very eager to press the action if they haven't got significant advantage. Perosnally, I think that this was connected to the morale question - for most of RN sailors and officers, both the Crimean War and the possible Union War wasn't exactly the "protection of Homeland from dire threat" type of war.

And this we have Martha's Vineyards. If Milne actually would occupe the island - basically it would gave Union a point nearby, that Milne would be FORCED TO protect. He could not just avoid action and let Union retake his only nearby coal station and anchorage (despite the bad quality of such). So...
 

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There's is some significance to him asking specifically for 8in guns: the whole basis of the Dahlgren system was guns of 9in calibre and over. Evidently, Farragut had his reasons for asking for smaller guns on the broadside.
Actually, although the IX-inch Dahlgren was the most common smallest one of his smoothbores, there were VIII-inch guns being produced too. Before the war it was the VIII-inch of 6,000 pounds, which was upgraded during the war years into a 6,500 pound model. This one was the VIII-inch gun currently in production and was a simple alternative to the Paixhans guns. Slightly heavier than the 55cwt gun, it had the same range information in the ordnance manual as it, with both having about 100 yards less than the 8” of 63cwt. So it can go either way as to which gun he had in mind. New production was likely to get the guns then in-production, the Paixhans were still used in batteries of ships all over.


Right, and it's a distinct trade-off rather than a straight upgrade. Reading Douglas and Farragut makes it clear that there are disadvantages to shells, and further disadvantages to the bigger shells that Dahlgren proposes.
Yeah, I’m in complete agreement with you about that. It’s definitely all about the trade-offs and no system is completely better than all the others or we would have seen a mass migration to it back then. In fact, work was being done on large caliber solid shot guns later in the war too, but except for nearly 400 of Dahlgren’s 32-pdr solid shot guns made in 1864-65, only prototypes were made. A lot of those probably went on the rivers.


As they do in the Royal Navy, though a lower proportion than in the US service (1/8 vs c.1/4).
Yep, each Navy had their priorities. You can see the difference just in spar deck armament. US Standard before the war was large caliber shell guns, X-inch Dahlgrens on the frigates, etc. In the Royal Navy, standard was the 68-pdr firing heavy shot and shell. The irony is the US Navy did field a huge 106cwt 64pdr in a matching role, but it was never widespread and ultimately replaced by the Dahlgren when that came in to replace the failed 10” Paixhans.


I think there's a danger of simply dismissing their concerns as unthinking conservatism. We like the narrative of 'misunderstood genius foiled by the establishment,' but it's entirely plausible that some of their points (quarter galleries) were pure traditionalism, and some of them (broadside batteries and smaller guns) were valid.
Actually, there was a period of what Canney called “institutionalized stagnation” in the “Dark Ages” of the Navy that lasted until the ABCD steel ships in the 1880s. He picks out Porter’s command of the Navy as the turning point, Porter’s obsession with “full sail power”, a total return to steam as the secondary power-source, “real sailing men”, etc. Steam was to be used for emergencies only, captains who used it outside of that had to pay for the coal out of pocket. No use of iron, steel, or composite construction (metal frames in wooden ships), large rifled guns like the British, or armor of any kind outside of the old monitors. The US Navy was really, really bad in this time period, and heavily romanticized the old sailing past, to the point of citing the War of 1812 as references.


Perhaps too much of a success, given that it locked the US into a system of racking rather than penetrating armour. To give Armstrong his credit, he was prepared to abandon the breech-loading system when it couldn't achieve what he needed it to.
Yes, definitely. Had they been less of a success we might have seen a shift to other things in the 1870s. Though with the Navy as it was at the time, they might have gone wholesale back into 32-pdrs firing solid shot in broadsides at the same time the Royal Navy is fielding ships with 10” built up MLRs in casemates!
 

Dilandu

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Actually, there was a period of what Canney called “institutionalized stagnation” in the “Dark Ages” of the Navy that lasted until the ABCD steel ships in the 1880s. He picks out Porter’s command of the Navy as the turning point, Porter’s obsession with “full sail power”, a total return to steam as the secondary power-source, “real sailing men”, etc. Steam was to be used for emergencies only, captains who used it outside of that had to pay for the coal out of pocket. No use of iron, steel, or composite construction (metal frames in wooden ships), large rifled guns like the British, or armor of any kind outside of the old monitors. The US Navy was really, really bad in this time period, and heavily romanticized the old sailing past, to the point of citing the War of 1812 as references.
Not really relevant to the theme, but I often though: what would be the USN in 1870s, if Farragut or/and Dahlgren lived till 1880? After all, Porter (who lived up to 1890s) was only ten years younger than Farragut and only four years younger than Dahlgren.
 
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ickysdad

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There's is some significance to him asking specifically for 8in guns: the whole basis of the Dahlgren system was guns of 9in calibre and over. Evidently, Farragut had his reasons for asking for smaller guns on the broadside.


Right, and it's a distinct trade-off rather than a straight upgrade. Reading Douglas and Farragut makes it clear that there are disadvantages to shells, and further disadvantages to the bigger shells that Dahlgren proposes.


As they do in the Royal Navy, though a lower proportion than in the US service (1/8 vs c.1/4).


I think there's a danger of simply dismissing their concerns as unthinking conservatism. We like the narrative of 'misunderstood genius foiled by the establishment,' but it's entirely plausible that some of their points (quarter galleries) were pure traditionalism, and some of them (broadside batteries and smaller guns) were valid.


Perhaps too much of a success, given that it locked the US into a system of racking rather than penetrating armour. To give Armstrong his credit, he was prepared to abandon the breech-loading system when it couldn't achieve what he needed it to.


They could, but it remains a trade off. For a start, they need a lot of guns- certainly more than were on the mercantile conversions, most of which had fewer than ten each. Disarming the whole North Atlantic blockading squadron, both military and converted ships, would net you about 400 guns compared to the 1,394 needed to fortify the coast of Massachusetts (some of which, I should note, were already in place). Secondly, those guns aren't always where you need them: to protect San Francisco, you have to either disarm the Pacific squadron or send ships round the Cape and past a lot of Royal Navy stations. Thirdly, although it inhibits the Royal Navy from attacking ports, it reduces the force available to sortie and thereby makes blockading them easier.

The Union never laid out its war plans, so it's hard to tell whether they would have stuck it out or not. Abandoning the blockade in itself is a huge concession- which is more important to the Union, boarding British merchant ships or reconquering the South? On the other hand, the Russians had retired to port during the Crimea (and the Germans did more or less the same in WWI): it's certainly the least risky of the options available. But, as you've said, there wasn't a lot of time to recall all those ships. The decision for war would have been in early January, and Milne was more or less ready to move when the news would have reached him- which would have been about the same time it got to the US.

Where do you get that San Francisco needs to have Pacific squadron disarmed to protect the harbor? It's not totally undefended and in fact seems to have very adequate defenses not that one might be able to find a reason to make things better. Protect the coast of Massachusetts ? 1394 guns? It depends on just how much really really needs to be protected....It seems from the Trotten report there are several ports that COULD use some extra protection BUT really really need? Most of the ports are on the mainland which makes hard to hold if they do try to seize them and most of them are probably too shallow for large RN units anyways.

I'll add that one sees a lot of this amongst all nations in that it seems there is ever enough guns or ships or the like but it doesn't mean it is neccessarily inadequate...
 
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67th Tigers

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P.S. The main problem would be to force RN into action... As Crimean War demonstrated, the RN forces weren't very eager to press the action if they haven't got significant advantage.
Hilarious! The Royal Navy attacked (and usually destroyed) every Russian ship that could be coaxed out of harbour to fight.

However, earlier you claimed the Argonaut escaped HMS Snake, but Snake beat her to hell and she beached herself to save the crew. You claimed she was a sail-brig, whereas she was a 4 gun paddle-sloop. You ignored that the war-steamers Goets and Berdiansk were also destroyed in the same action, albeit after the Recruit, Fulton and Megere also joined in the chase. Of Admiral Wolff's squadron of 14 warships on the Azov, only four (4) were left afloat the day after the allies forced the straits of Kertch, and only one (Taganrog) survived the war, because he hid up the River Don and ran away back up the river every time the RN gunboats came to sink him.*

Thus we have the odd situation where you claim the Russian ships who are hiding in their fortified harbour at Sebastapol are heroically trying to press action, and the British and French outside, who kept trying to bombard the fortifications to let them in to sink said hiding ships, apparently don't want to press the action. This seems like a peculiar argument that is diametrically opposite to the actual facts.

* The remaining three, Унылая (Cheerless), Секстант (Sextant) and Акерманъ (Akkerman) were sunk by the allies ten (10) days later at the raid on Taganrog, 3rd June 1855 NS.
 
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