Period description of the CS New Orleans floating Battery at the Battle of New Madrid.

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Bil R

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Excellent find Major Bill, what is the paper title and date this article comes from? Can you scan further down for additional details about the battery? The New Orleans was initiated as a CSA project and was completed under CSN authority. She was converted from the Atlantic drydock which had been built by James Martin in 1860 near Gainesville, MS on the Pearl River. There is some evidence to suggest a light roof was built over the dock prior to her departure north but this officer doesn't mention it. The description by de Golyer does match the lithograph of the half sunk Memphis seen after New Orleans fell. The structure in the center would have been a protected deckhouse that contained the engines and boilers for the pumps. Some observers mentioned it appeared to be a cone shaped bombproof from a distance. But the officer here says about '30 feet square' which suggests a pyramidal shaped structure. Thanks for sharing.
 

major bill

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Bil R, the letter was written by Major de Golyer to a small Michigan town weekly newspaper, The Hudson Gazette. I did not scan the rest of the article , but could drop it on to a thumb drive next time I go to the Michiagn State Library. I go once or twice a week to do research. Sadly de Golyer wrote rather long letters and tooted his own horn a bit.
 
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rebelatsea

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The floating battery was CSS New Orleans, abandoned at Island No 10 April 4th 1862, she mounted
17 - 8" sb, 1 -9" sb, 2 -32pdr sb when converted, 8 -8" sb, 1-32pdr mlr when lost. The battery was recovered and in June 1862 is recorded as mounting 5 -8" sb ,1 -32pdr mlr.
The woodcut is from the Philadelphia Enquirer 4th November 1862.
Her "sister" CSS Memphis mounted 18 guns and was lost at New Orleans 24 April 1862. There is some indication that her ordnance would have provided the broadside guns for CSS Mississippi.
 

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Bil R

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Hello Rebel,

Here is a brief summary of the two large New Orleans floating batteries:

New Orleans

The New Orleans was converted from the floating dry dock Atlantic at Algiers, LA from August through November 1861. Originally built by James Martin at Gainesville, MS on the Pearl River, the Atlantic was launched in early December 1860 and arrived in New Orleans on December 13, 1860 for completion. She was built of red cypress and her dimensions were 216' long by 63' wide and 10' 8" deep. Initial docking operations began in February 1861 and she could accommodate a vessel up to 250' in length and drawing 16'. She was purchased from James Martin on September 9, 1861 for $50,000 (CSN voucher no. 239) and heavily modified for her new role. Essentially the sides were cut down several feet and a new spar deck was built over the floor. The outriggers were removed and the end gates sealed to create a closed structure. She was initially armed with 20 guns as: 17 - 8" shell guns, 2 - 32 pdr RFs, 1 - 9" Dalhgren. Her pump engines and two boilers were moved to a central bombproof about 30' square that was covered in 16 tons of boiler plate iron as protection. Finally, she was fitted with four 28' cutters and painted lead grey above and red lead below.

Memphis

The second floating battery was never armed or completed. She was named Memphis and converted from the floating dry dock Gulf Line. This drydock was launched at Algiers on July 18, 1857 and was owned by W. F. Gerard, John McLean and O. F. Vallette. Her length was 150', or 200' with outriggers and breadth 60'. She could raise 1,000 tons or a vessel up to 200' long. The CSN purchased her on December 2, 1861 for $38,000 and used some 18 tons of slab iron for her bombproof. Sidney Porter superintended much of her converison. Essentially complete when New Orleans fell, her planned armament of 18 guns included at least 3 - 8" shell guns. There is a sketch of the Mississippi burning before New Orleans and the half sunken Memphis is to the right. It shows her general layout and bombproof to good effect.

All the best,
Bil
 
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rebelatsea

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Many thanks Bil, I got hold of two cropped Waud sketches of Mississippi, while researching that vessel, but neither extends far enough to show the Memphis.
 

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The floating battery was CSS New Orleans, abandoned at Island No 10 April 4th 1862, she mounted
17 - 8" sb, 1 -9" sb, 2 -32pdr sb when converted, 8 -8" sb, 1-32pdr mlr when lost. The battery was recovered and in June 1862 is recorded as mounting 5 -8" sb ,1 -32pdr mlr.
The woodcut is from the Philadelphia Enquirer 4th November 1862.
Her "sister" CSS Memphis mounted 18 guns and was lost at New Orleans 24 April 1862. There is some indication that her ordnance would have provided the broadside guns for CSS Mississippi.
The first thing I notice about this layout from the woodcut is that they seem to have ironed the machinery, but left the gun crews completely exposed. This is surprising as the Confederates often built up pressed cotton bale bulkheads to protect gun crews and sharpshooters on steamers. You wonder if the fore and aft structures are magazines or accomodations, and were they also ironed? I seem to remember that this battery had a permanent river steamer attached to her as a tender - Red Rover before she was captured and turned into a Union hospital ship?
 

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The first thing I notice about this layout from the woodcut is that they seem to have ironed the machinery, but left the gun crews completely exposed. This is surprising as the Confederates often built up pressed cotton bale bulkheads to protect gun crews and sharpshooters on steamers. You wonder if the fore and aft structures are magazines or accomodations, and were they also ironed? I seem to remember that this battery had a permanent river steamer attached to her as a tender - Red Rover before she was captured and turned into a Union hospital ship?
Hello George & Rebel,

My impression of the New Orleans is that the guns were fitted barbette fashion behind the sides of the original drydock such that the crews were not entirely exposed but only partially. I do think the fore and aft structures were for 'ready ammo storage' from magazines below and they or may not have been protected. They appear to be much shorter in height than the machinery bombproof. And I agree that the Red Rover was used as an accommodation vessel for the crew. That is mentioned in several ORN passages.

Speaking of the Memphis sketch it was done by William Waud. He was a wartime sketch artist and would make rapid images of what he saw. These would then be sent with his notes back east and lithographers would 'interpret and embellish' what they received. There are several important sketches done by him of the New Orleans campaign and have been digitized and placed online. Access Google and go to the 'Alfred and William Waud Collection' of the Historic New Orleans Collection to view them.

These are the most significant (given by listed title and object file name - OFN):

'Rebel monitors, New Orleans' OFN - aw 000559
> This shows the Memphis on the left and the burning Mississippi on the right. This arrangement would be reversed in the lithograph. The awash or semi-sunk position is better appreciated in the lithograph and was probably described as such by Waud. This is why it is important to look at both the original sketch and resulting lithograph. Look carefully at the Memphis. It appears that a derrick has been erected to mount a gun and four are lying on the deck. Note the access door on the left hand side of the bombproof and the single funnel. This is not an ironclad ram as there are no gunports cut into this casemate-like bombproof. And remember at this stage of the war the CSN was still building long casemates. This same vessel with derrick, in a semi-sunk position, is seen in the sketch 'New Orleans' OFN aw 000494 on the far right hand side in front of the New Orleans levee. There is a bird's eye lithograph of the city which also shows this vessel. I thought for some time that it was the gunboat Jackson which was burned and sunk in front of the levee. That was until I saw this original Waud sketch from which the lithograph was made.
The Mississippi is interesting as well. Notice the midship location of the single large funnel with jacket. Notice too, the correct number of gunports both broadside and end. In addition it appears that her bow is raked and she had an extended or counter stern. Again, note too the long casemate.

'(i) Mortar boat (ii) Louisiana - Rebel ironclad ram' OFN - aw 005107
> The sketch of the Louisiana shows a very tall, narrow funnel and the proportions of her casemate. What is most interesting are the two wheel wells. Considered with the casemate height and known depth their height allows one to estimate the planned size of the wheels. They also appear to be staggered in formation but side by side. This would be interpreted by the lithographer as being placed at each corner with space between them, but on the same frame (see Louisiana NH 1734 - Naval History website). We know that the wheel well was a specific width. I think that rather than two broad center wheels in tandem, Murray intended to place two narrow, sidewheels side by side but staggered within the wheel well. The starboard wheel or more forward one was probably reduced in width to lessen interference with the aft, port wheel.

Other Waud sketches: 'Blowing up the Louisiana' OFN - aw 000487, 'Rebel torpedo boat' OFN - aw 000558, 'Rebel ironclad Chicora, Charleston' OFN - aw 000528

All the best,
Bil
 
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rebelatsea

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Hello George & Rebel,

My impression of the New Orleans is that the guns were fitted barbette fashion behind the sides of the original drydock such that the crews were not entirely exposed but only partially. I do think the fore and aft structures were for 'ready ammo storage' from magazines below and they or may not have been protected. They appear to be much shorter in height than the machinery bombproof. And I agree that the Red Rover was used as an accommodation vessel for the crew. That is mentioned in several ORN passages.

Speaking of the Memphis sketch it was done by William Waud. He was a wartime sketch artist and would make rapid images of what he saw. These would then be sent with his notes back east and lithographers would 'interpret and embellish' what they received. There are several important sketches done by him of the New Orleans campaign and have been digitized and placed online. Access Google and go to the 'Alfred and William Waud Collection' of the Historic New Orleans Collection to view them.

These are the most significant (given by listed title and object file name - OFN):

'Rebel monitors, New Orleans' OFN - aw 000559
> This shows the Memphis on the left and the burning Mississippi on the right. This arrangement would be reversed in the lithograph. The awash or semi-sunk position is better appreciated in the lithograph and was probably described as such by Waud. This is why it is important to look at both the original sketch and resulting lithograph. Look carefully at the Memphis. It appears that a derrick has been erected to mount a gun and four are lying on the deck. Note the access door on the left hand side of the bombproof and the single funnel. This is not an ironclad ram as there are no gunports cut into this casemate-like bombproof. And remember at this stage of the war the CSN was still building long casemates. This same vessel with derrick, in a semi-sunk position, is seen in the sketch 'New Orleans' OFN aw 000494 on the far right hand side in front of the New Orleans levee. There is a bird's eye lithograph of the city which also shows this vessel. I thought for some time that it was the gunboat Jackson which was burned and sunk in front of the levee. That was until I saw this original Waud sketch from which the lithograph was made.
The Mississippi is interesting as well. Notice the midship location of the single large funnel with jacket. Notice too, the correct number of gunports both broadside and end. In addition it appears that her bow is raked and she had an extended or counter stern. Again, note too the long casemate.

'(i) Mortar boat (ii) Louisiana - Rebel ironclad ram' OFN - aw 005107
> The sketch of the Louisiana shows a very tall, narrow funnel and the proportions of her casemate. What is most interesting are the two wheel wells. Considered with the casemate height and known depth their height allows one to estimate the planned size of the wheels. They also appear to be staggered in formation but side by side. This would be interpreted by the lithographer as being placed at each corner with space between them, but on the same frame (see Louisiana NH 1734 - Naval History website). We know that the wheel well was a specific width. I think that rather than two broad center wheels in tandem, Murray intended to place two narrow, sidewheels side by side but staggered within the wheel well. The starboard wheel or more forward one was probably reduced in width to lessen interference with the aft, port wheel.

Other Waud sketches: 'Blowing up the Louisiana' OFN - aw 000487, 'Rebel torpedo boat' OFN - aw 000558, 'Rebel ironclad Chicora, Charleston' OFN - aw 000528

All the best,
Bil
Thank you Bil R. My plans of both Mississippi and Louisiana are in separate threads in the "The Naval War" thread.
 
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Bil R

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Hi Guys,

Kaz deserves all credit for informing me of the Waud site and John, I've read many of your threads on CSN ironclads both built and projected. Your contributions are excellent and well thought out. I do believe there is enough data to create 'reasonable' reconstructions of these vessels. This means that there is some information to support whatever details are found in the drawings.

Getting back to the New Orleans and Memphis, ask yourself 'Why was the Memphis in that location and under those circumstances? In the Waud sketch she is half sunk and adjacent to the riverfront near the French quarter. Gun tubes are aboard and an erecting derrick is positioned. To me this scene suggests that the Memphis was brought over from Algiers and hastily positioned in front of the city as a last ditch effort to protect New Orleans. Obviously they could not get the guns mounted in time and she was scuttled. Even if she had been operational Farragut's forces would have quickly overwhelmed her and done much damage to the city in the process.

The construction and outfitting of the New Orleans in the fall of 1861 raises other questions. This was a large vessel, armed with 20 heavy guns, completed and outfitted in under 3 months. The conversion process was not a small affair. In hindsight I think the CSN would have been better served by outfitting 4 protected wooden gunboats armed with 5 guns each rather than this large battery. Consider a better armed RDF gunboat as a model. Hollins could have made far greater use these vessels than a floating battery.

As a more far-fetched concept, if a heavy vessel was desired, consider adding a bow to the floating drydock and placing 4 tugboat screw engines in the stern. The resulting vessel would have been a slow, but mobile battery capable of independent action. There were 9 large floating drydocks in Algiers that could have formed the basis for these ships. These 'hulls' did not have to built just converted and modified thus saving time. This gets into the realm of alternative history but it does illustrate what could have been done.

All the best,
Bil
 

rebelatsea

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Bil R, Thank you very much, but you shouldn't have written that last paragraph, you got me reaching for the drawing board!
I think conversion of both vessels was a waste of time ,effort, ordnance and materiels, as you say he would have been better building 4 or 5 protected gunboats, or even ironclads, the plans, shipyards and floating docks were there.
 

rebelatsea

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Hi Guys,

Kaz deserves all credit for informing me of the Waud site and John, I've read many of your threads on CSN ironclads both built and projected. Your contributions are excellent and well thought out. I do believe there is enough data to create 'reasonable' reconstructions of these vessels. This means that there is some information to support whatever details are found in the drawings.

Getting back to the New Orleans and Memphis, ask yourself 'Why was the Memphis in that location and under those circumstances? In the Waud sketch she is half sunk and adjacent to the riverfront near the French quarter. Gun tubes are aboard and an erecting derrick is positioned. To me this scene suggests that the Memphis was brought over from Algiers and hastily positioned in front of the city as a last ditch effort to protect New Orleans. Obviously they could not get the guns mounted in time and she was scuttled. Even if she had been operational Farragut's forces would have quickly overwhelmed her and done much damage to the city in the process.

The construction and outfitting of the New Orleans in the fall of 1861 raises other questions. This was a large vessel, armed with 20 heavy guns, completed and outfitted in under 3 months. The conversion process was not a small affair. In hindsight I think the CSN would have been better served by outfitting 4 protected wooden gunboats armed with 5 guns each rather than this large battery. Consider a better armed RDF gunboat as a model. Hollins could have made far greater use these vessels than a floating battery.

As a more far-fetched concept, if a heavy vessel was desired, consider adding a bow to the floating drydock and placing 4 tugboat screw engines in the stern. The resulting vessel would have been a slow, but mobile battery capable of independent action. There were 9 large floating drydocks in Algiers that could have formed the basis for these ships. These 'hulls' did not have to built just converted and modified thus saving time. This gets into the realm of alternative history but it does illustrate what could have been done.

All the best,
Bil
Here you are Bil R
img391.jpg
, a self propelled New Orleans!
 
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Bil R

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Hello John,

Beautiful job, thank you very much. This is how I imagined she would appear. A half dozen or so of these batteries would given Farragut, Foote and Porter much difficulty. I have also thought how the Louisiana could have been rebuilt to be a useful vessel. I think the most practical plan would have been to remove her center wheels and wheel well, and then place 4 to 6 screw propellers in the stern much like the New Orleans above. I know it has been discussed before but that ship was flawed from the initial concept.

All the best,
Bil
 

rebelatsea

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Hello John,

Beautiful job, thank you very much. This is how I imagined she would appear. A half dozen or so of these batteries would given Farragut, Foote and Porter much difficulty. I have also thought how the Louisiana could have been rebuilt to be a useful vessel. I think the most practical plan would have been to remove her center wheels and wheel well, and then place 4 to 6 screw propellers in the stern much like the New Orleans above. I know it has been discussed before but that ship was flawed from the initial concept.

All the best,
Bil
I'm sorry that was a tad hurried, I based it on Dean Stehman's drawing ,hence the placing of the gun ports. Di you see my proposal to give Louisiana side wheels ?
 

rebelatsea

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Hello John,

Beautiful job, thank you very much. This is how I imagined she would appear. A half dozen or so of these batteries would given Farragut, Foote and Porter much difficulty. I have also thought how the Louisiana could have been rebuilt to be a useful vessel. I think the most practical plan would have been to remove her center wheels and wheel well, and then place 4 to 6 screw propellers in the stern much like the New Orleans above. I know it has been discussed before but that ship was flawed from the initial concept.

All the best,
Bil
Hello Bil,

Here you are, a screw Louisiana. I took the opportunity to raise the gun deck 5 ft as in Georgia, slightly rearrange the battery, and give her a false bow and stern, open in this plan but it could be decked over.
CSS LOUISIANA with screws.jpg
 
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Bil R

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Hi John,

She looks great. She would have been slow but would have far more internal space and been less vulnerable. External side wheels would work too but they would be in an exposed position and taken up valuable longitudinal space useful for gunports.

I am still amazed that no contingency plans were made to get her over the bar and to Mobile should the forts fall. She certainly was not capable of pursuing Farragut upstream.

All the best,
Bil
 

rebelatsea

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My sidewheel plan was the "quick and dirty " solution. Exposed sidewheeels were proven through experience not to be as vulnerable to gunfire as had been predicted. I thought the armour which was on the casemate behind the wheel could be used to protect the wheel in a vertical layer on the wheel house.
As for what to do if the forts fell, I think there was still the belief that ships were no match for forts despite evidence from the Crimea that the old fashioned masonry fortress had had it's day. So no thoughts were given to that event.
I hadn't thought about taking Louisiana to Mobile either, she was certainly bouyant enough, if the gunports had been sealed, to get over he bar and be taken there under tow. Perhaps something like my screw plan could have been done to her ,who knows. Certainly an interesting proposal.
However, there was still no armour twixt wind and water, her most vulnerable p0int.
 
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