Laird Rams and the CSS Stonewall

CanadianCanuck

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I'm just curious if the delivery of any of these ships would have given any aid to the Confederacy at all?

Both seem quite advanced, but they aren't a fleet exactly.
 

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Dilandu

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Well, partially. They would do a lot of troubles, and (probably) could break the blockade of some ports.

The main problem for the CSN is, that they couldn't be delivered until late 1863-1864; they simply wasn't ready. And in 1864, the Union already have the overwhelming naval superiority. Quantity overwhelm quality on the same technical level; the Union monitors may be individually less powerfull than european-build ironclads, but there were a lot of monitors and only a small number of european-build ironclads.

On a ship-to-ship level, "Roanoke" and "New Ironsides" in 1863 were pretty capable of engaging Laird Rams in coastal waters (and with the monitors and gunboats, that Union could threw in support, the battle would be single-sided). In 1864, there was also the "Onondaga", "Dictator", "Monadnock" and "Agamenticus".

Also, i think that if the possibility of CSN obtaining the european-build ironclads became real, the USN may divert resources from the coastal and river monitors to the ocean-capable ships - i.e. obtaining them earlier.

P.S. Great Victory day in Russia! Congratuilation for all!
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Overall, the European-built ironclads strike me as the most quixotic of a generally quixotic effort.

They were an outgrowth of the basic problem confronting the Confederate Navy: how do you build a navy when you are short on industrial base, short on shipyards, and short on basically everything (except naval officers)?

Taking full advantage of our 20/20 hindsight, the strategic direction of the Confederate Navy should have been delay, delay, delay.... do everything to drag out the war, make it cost the Union more, make it take longer, etc., all at the lowest possible cost. In terms of period technology, that meant obstructions, torpedoes, and small-boat/special-ops efforts (like John Taylor Wood's specialty). Mallory was thinking big-- Naval Academy, capital ships, etc., and it's hard to fault him (emotionally) for it, but it just didn't fit the reality.

I do wonder what would have happened had Craven pressed home against the Stonewall outside Ferrol. The Niagara had the ironclad far outgunned, and with Walke's lighter Sacramento to worry the ironclad on the flank, it might have been practicable. But in the event, it frankly was too late in the war to matter a great deal.

As far as the Laird Rams went, the big story there wouldn't have been so much their operations under the Confederate flag, but how the great Anglo-American War might have gone, had the Union stood by Charles Francis Adams' succinct warning to the British Foreign Office: "... It would be superfluous of me to point out to your lordship that this is war."
 

CanadianCanuck

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Well, partially. They would do a lot of troubles, and (probably) could break the blockade of some ports.
Would Charleston and Wilmington be the likely targets do you think? They would be my bet personally.

The main problem for the CSN is, that they couldn't be delivered until late 1863-1864; they simply wasn't ready. And in 1864, the Union already have the overwhelming naval superiority. Quantity overwhelm quality on the same technical level; the Union monitors may be individually less powerfull than european-build ironclads, but there were a lot of monitors and only a small number of european-build ironclads.
Well I think the Laird Rams could have been delivered October 1863, the CSS Stonewall probably wouldn't make a difference at all, unless they won the war of course :tongue:

That's a good point you raise though. The monitors were coming out, and in numbers enough that they could have made very able opponents.

On a ship-to-ship level, "Roanoke" and "New Ironsides" in 1863 were pretty capable of engaging Laird Rams in coastal waters (and with the monitors and gunboats, that Union could threw in support, the battle would be single-sided). In 1864, there was also the "Onondaga", "Dictator", "Monadnock" and "Agamenticus".
Very true too. Though I doubt the CSA would risk them in open battle.

Also, i think that if the possibility of CSN obtaining the european-build ironclads became real, the USN may divert resources from the coastal and river monitors to the ocean-capable ships - i.e. obtaining them earlier.
Mmm they seemed pretty concerned about that happening OTL, concerned enough to be lodging some pretty serious diplomatic complaints and enlarging the blockade fleet. However, I don't know that there was enough 'slack' (for want of a better term) in 1863 to be able to switch over to a serious ironclad warship production program in 1863. I may be wrong of course and please correct me if I am :smile:
 

CanadianCanuck

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Overall, the European-built ironclads strike me as the most quixotic of a generally quixotic effort.

They were an outgrowth of the basic problem confronting the Confederate Navy: how do you build a navy when you are short on industrial base, short on shipyards, and short on basically everything (except naval officers)?

Taking full advantage of our 20/20 hindsight, the strategic direction of the Confederate Navy should have been delay, delay, delay.... do everything to drag out the war, make it cost the Union more, make it take longer, etc., all at the lowest possible cost. In terms of period technology, that meant obstructions, torpedoes, and small-boat/special-ops efforts (like John Taylor Wood's specialty). Mallory was thinking big-- Naval Academy, capital ships, etc., and it's hard to fault him (emotionally) for it, but it just didn't fit the reality.
That's very true. The advantage of hindsight can make us overlook those ideological flaws which governed the thinking of those days. I may be wrong (and please correct me if I am) but the idea of a fleet of steam going warships to form a battle line seems to have been the mark to aim for in most nations.

As far as the Laird Rams went, the big story there wouldn't have been so much their operations under the Confederate flag, but how the great Anglo-American War might have gone, had the Union stood by Charles Francis Adams' succinct warning to the British Foreign Office: "... It would be superfluous of me to point out to your lordship that this is war."
My own interpretation is the Union would suddenly find itself having quite a few bigger fish to fry :tongue: giving the Confederates a bit of much needed breathing room...
 

Dilandu

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Would Charleston and Wilmington be the likely targets do you think? They would be my bet personally.
Well, it depend. Probably the Wilmington; the Charleson could be easily reinforced from Port-Royal. But the majority of CNS officers seems to me as offensively-minded; they were inclined to attack on any possibility, disregarding the actual situation.

Well I think the Laird Rams could have been delivered October 1863, the CSS Stonewall probably wouldn't make a difference at all, unless they won the war of course
Never think about "Stonewall" as a capable warship. Weakly-armed, not too maneuvrable - she probably wouldn't be able to deal even with one monitor.

That's a good point you raise though. The monitors were coming out, and in numbers enough that they could have made very able opponents.
Yes. In early 1863, the USN already have nine "Passaics" and "Keokuk". More than enough to make even the Royal Navy actions - in coastal waters - pretty difficult. Mopre that enough to deal with a few european-build ironclads, trying to break the blockade.

Very true too. Though I doubt the CSA would risk them in open battle.
Hard to say. They need to break the blockade of their ports - otherwise this ironclads would be useless. So, to drew southern ironclads into battle, the North would just have to steam a squadron toward major southern port and clost the harbour.
However, I don't know that there was enough 'slack' (for want of a better term) in 1863 to be able to switch over to a serious ironclad warship production program in 1863.
Hm, i always assume, that at least armor and turret production could be diverted from "Casco"-class toward the ocean-capable ironclads. Also, there were another reserve - two ironclads, build for Italy, that could be taken and used for USN. They were at least comparable with the "New Ironsides".
 

Dilandu

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My own interpretation is the Union would suddenly find itself having quite a few bigger fish to fry :tongue: giving the Confederates a bit of much needed breathing room...
Well, partially. The english involvement in the war would help the South technically, but damage the situation on the psychological level. This would no more be "our internal struggle"; this would be the intervention. The level of patriotism in the Union would skyrocketed; there would be NO problems with draft under the idea of fighting the british invasions.

And, on the contrary - i have doubts that all southerns would be happy to see the british intervention. Many would probably think about this as a collaboration with the foreign forces, not just the fight for the state rights. The southern fighting spirit, i think, would declined; a large number would be unwilling to raise weapons against yankees, if the british would benefit.
 

rebelatsea

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Looking at the warships ordered or being built on spec for sale to the CSN, There was no cohesion, had they all been got into service ,a battle line would have looked and been as difficult to handle as indeed the RN one was, with a variety of types, shapes and size. The only navy that got it right in terms of homogeonous squadrons was the French.
As or the "Laird Rams" probably the right type of ship, but not enough of them.
 

Dilandu

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Looking at the warships ordered or being built on spec for sale to the CSN, There was no cohesion, had they all been got into service ,a battle line would have looked and been as difficult to handle as indeed the RN one was, with a variety of types, shapes and size.
I agree. They ordered and constructed one broadside ironclad ("Denmark"), two turret low-freeboard ironclads (Lairs rams) and two fast ramships with a light artillery ("Stonewall" and Co). In battle, they would have an awful lot of troubles, trying to coordinate this fleet; probably the best way would be to put "Denmark" and Laird Rams in line, and detach "Stonewall"'s in independent squadron.

Lissa clearly demostrated, that it was very hard to control early steam fleet, even consisted of similar ships - and even with very good officers and brilliant commander, that Tegetgoff was. The confederate navy clearly could not obtain the same professional officers and crews that austrian have, and i see no one southern admiral on the level of Tegetgoff in tactical competence.

I think, that in possible battle between southern and nothern ironclad squadrons, the best that CSN may do is to rush toward the enemy and "fight with agressioon and determination". They simply lack trained crews and officers (especially for european-build ships, that would be crewed by european sailors) to control the fleet. The opposing USN squadron would be able to outmaneuvre them, and lock the southerns in the highly-maneuvrable squadron-fighting, favorable for monitors.
 

Carronade

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That brings up something I've wondered about - how were the European Confederate ironclads designed? I mean the basic concept, whether to build a turret ship or a broadside ship or whatever. Did they go to say Laird's and ask them to design turret ships of a certain size, armament, etc.? Or was it more like "give us your idea of an ironclad suitable for our situation"? The variation in types suggests that the individual builders' ideas predominated, though of course the customer had to approve them.

In home waters, the Confederates settled on the casemate design, which I think was a good choice for their circumstances, and almost all of their ironclad projects were variations on that theme. Apparently a different process was followed when ordering overseas. It's also interesting that most of the European ships were quite unlike what the Europeans were building for themselves.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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I'm not certain on Laird's, but it appears that Arman of Bordeaux designed the Stonewall and her sister according to some specifications provided by Bulloch - such-and-such a draft, twin propellers for quicker turning, ram, etc., though I'm sure he didn't do the detailed design himself.

The "Laird Rams" were similar enough to other Laird products of the era that I'd have to think they were substantially if not wholly designed by the builders-- but I'm sure John will chime in on that! :wink:
 

Carronade

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One side note, and a comment on Union industrial capacity, is that while the Civil War was ongoing, the William H. Webb yard in New York was building two large armored frigates for the Italian navy. While the Union knew about Confederate efforts to procure ships overseas, they felt little need to invest in ocean-going ironclads of their own. As it turns out, that didn't hurt them, but I wonder if they might have considered the Italian ships an "ace in the hole" if they suddenly needed to respond to Confederate ironclads on the high seas? It's not uncommon for navies in a crisis to take over ships under construction for other countries.
 

Dilandu

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That brings up something I've wondered about - how were the European Confederate ironclads designed? I mean the basic concept, whether to build a turret ship or a broadside ship or whatever. Did they go to say Laird's and ask them to design turret ships of a certain size, armament, etc.?
Seems that in case of "Denmark" they just catch the idea of "obtaining a big, badass ironclad" witthout really thinking about it's disadvantages. The other two pairs were more specifically designed to the situation; seems that in case of Laird's ships, Bulloch wanted to use the expirience, obtained by the battle of Hampton-Roads - combine the rams with the turret guns (i.e. use both the advantages of "Virginia" and "Monitor").
 

Dilandu

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One side note, and a comment on Union industrial capacity, is that while the Civil War was ongoing, the William H. Webb yard in New York was building two large armored frigates for the Italian navy. While the Union knew about Confederate efforts to procure ships overseas, they felt little need to invest in ocean-going ironclads of their own. As it turns out, that didn't hurt them, but I wonder if they might have considered the Italian ships an "ace in the hole" if they suddenly needed to respond to Confederate ironclads on the high seas? It's not uncommon for navies in a crisis to take over ships under construction for other countries.
Yes, mentioned that above.

Also, there were another reserve - two ironclads, build for Italy, that could be taken and used for USN.
I think, that it's quite probable that if Union really need more ocean-capable ironclads, they could just confiscate this two, and put them into service.
 

rebelatsea

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I'm not certain on Laird's, but it appears that Arman of Bordeaux designed the Stonewall and her sister according to some specifications provided by Bulloch - such-and-such a draft, twin propellers for quicker turning, ram, etc., though I'm sure he didn't do the detailed design himself.

The "Laird Rams" were similar enough to other Laird products of the era that I'd have to think they were substantially if not wholly designed by the builders-- but I'm sure John will chime in on that! :wink:

Name: “The Laird Rams”

Type: Ironclad Turret-ship Screw(s): one Speed: 11k , Crew ; 153

Dimensions: 246ft 5ins (OA) x 224ft 6ins (BP) x 42ft 4ins (EX) x 16ft 3ins (D),

2,579 tons

Guns: 6 -70pdr Whitworth MLR in three fixed turrets

Armour: 4.5ins iron belt, 10ins wood backing, turrets 4.5ins iron, 10ins around gun-ports.

Design: Lairds Builder: Lairds, Birkenhead

History:
The Laird Rams 1st aspperance..jpg


Drawing by J.W.Wallis showing the original proposal.
The Admiralty had bought Coles turret patent ,and were not prepared to allow outside contractors to use it when these vessels were initially offered to Cdr Bullock.
Note that only three 70pdrs could fire to a side, each one having two ports.

Lairds were the first Company to take up the patent when it was released and the design was altered to incorporate two Coles Turrets, and the ordnance warrant changed to 4 9” Armstrong MLR. 2 -70pdrs were to be retained, mounted under the forecastle and quarterdeck.

CSS North Carolina

Laid Down: 4/1862; Launched: /07/1863; Completed: 10/10/1865

History:
HMS SCORPION (North Carolina.jpg



Built to the order of Cdr. James Bulloch CSN, hull no. 294 cover name "El Tousson”. Detained in British waters, and taken over by the RN as "Scorpion" served at Bermuda as harbour defence ship until 1901, sunk as target but raised and sold for scrap.

Foundered en route to Boston USA 17/06/1903.


CSS MISSISSIPPI
Laid Down: 04/1862; Launched: /08/1863; Completed: 10/10/1865

History:
HMS WYVERN (Mississippi).jpg




As per North Carolina but hull no. 295, cover name "El Monassir". Taken over by RN and named Wyvern, served as harbour defence ship at Hong Kong 1880 to 1898. Reduced to distilling hulk, and sold for scrap 1922.
True seagoing ship turret ships, their design and armament originated from Secretary Mallory’s proposals as outlined earlier and made them superior to any US monitor, although with lighter protection to the hull

===============================================================
 

Dilandu

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True seagoing ship turret ships, their design and armament originated from Secretary Mallory’s proposals as outlined earlier and made them superior to any US monitor, although with lighter protection to the hull
Well, theoretically superior. They would be faster and more sea-capable, but less maneuvrable, and with less protection at the ends.
 

rebelatsea

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Seems that in case of "Denmark" they just catch the idea of "obtaining a big, badass ironclad" witthout really thinking about it's disadvantages. The other two pairs were more specifically designed to the situation; seems that in case of Laird's ships, Bulloch wanted to use the expirience, obtained by the battle of Hampton-Roads - combine the rams with the turret guns (i.e. use both the advantages of "Virginia" and "Monitor").
Lieutenant North’s ironclad


Name: Cover name Santa Maria

CSN name requested but not assigned



Type: Ironclad turretship. Screw(s): one, 10 knots Crew:

Dimensions: 295ft (OA), x 54ft (EX), x 15 (D), 3.414tons

270ft (PP) x 50ft(B) x 22.5ft DPH

Guns: 4 -70pdr whitworth MLR

Armour: 4.5ins iron on 12” teak hull, 5.5 “ iron on 12” teak turrets, 5.5” iron lookout tower.

Design:J & G Thompson, Builder: Clyde Bank Foundry and shipyard, Glasgow Scotland.

Laid Down: 1862 Launched: 1863 as a broadside ironclad “Danmark” Completed: 1864

History:
The original drawings have not survived, but fortunately an illustration purporting to show the completed vessel was published in the Illustrated London News. The artist however did not know about the additional ram bow and the “lookout post” and the sailing rig as drawn is obviously wrong.

The following plan has been drawn from that illustration.
LT  NORTH'S IRONCLAD.jpg


. Note that the rig is as shown in the ILN illustration for completeness, but was possibly intended to be rigged as a large barque, as the vessel was intended to make long voyages under sail with the screw hoisted.

The Contract was signed with on 21st May 1862 for delivery on June 1st 1863. Much delayed due to lack of finance, additions of a ram and lookout post ,alterations to the ship in construction due to the Admiralty owning the patent for Cole’s turrets, problems with mistakes in production of her guns, and the consequent decision change the design to a broadside ironclad. The resulting vessel was of too deep draught for Southern ports, and with it becoming clear that the British Government was not going to let her out, the decision was made to sell her in an attempt to recoup some finance. She was sold to Denmark, launched and completed as the Danmark.
 

rebelatsea

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There was some talks about the possible sale of her to Russia... Well, "Sviataya Mariya" may actually be the perfect addition to the Baltic Navy! :smile:
I agree ,the draft would have been right, and Russian ordnance substituted. The cover name was the choice of the builders..
 


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