Post War Mound City, Illinois: Union Monitors Laid Up

Joined
May 12, 2018
Messages
247
#1
neoshofrontshot_opt.jpg

Hopefully this picture works. The caption may be hard to read and omits some details, so here's my analysis, going right to left, foreground to background:

Mound City, Ill., USN Reserve Fleet ca 1868:

Right Row:
USS. Neosho (Osage class)
USS. Marietta (Marietta class)
USS. Sandusky (Marietta class)

Left Row:
USS. Yuma (Casco II class)
USS. Shiloh (Casco II class)
USS. Klamath (Casco II class)
USS. Etlah (Casco II class)
USS. Umpqua (Casco II class)

USS. Yuma & Shiloh appear to be moored outboard of the USS. Neosho, the Klamath & what I presume to be Etlah are moored along side what I think is the USS. Marietta, while the what should be the USS. Umpqua is moored to the USS. Sandusky. I based my ordering on the visible named ships (Neosho, Yuma, Kalmath), the captions claims (Shiloh), and then assumed the remaining ships were added to the row based on when they completed (Etlah, Umpaqua, Marietta, and Sandusky). That to me is logical, although of course there is no way to know from the photo and so often logical means wrong in these sorts of endeavors.

I also called the Casco's "Casco II" as they represent the result of Ericsson fixing the design and were completed as monitors , rather than those completed as torpedo boats. If you count the original design, the as completed unseaworthy, and the torpedo boat and monitor refits I suppose you could say it's actually "Casco IV" or "Casco III". AFAIK I'm the only one who cares to differentiate but honestly one could argue the two in service variants were entirely separate classes altogether.

If you don't know, the class was built incorrectly after one of Ericssons rivals in the Monitor Board got a hold of them, decided to add more armor and ballast tanks to them and didn't do the math meaning they were in sea worthy, and it was a major scandal. Fortunately the war ended before any of the flawed ships saw much action.

This apparently is the only photo of the Marietta class ships (the twin stacked monitors in the background), and we might be able to glean some details from it. For one, although the navy excepted them they were never commissioned, and so I think we can assume them to be in "as built" states. So they definitely look a bit like the USS. Ozark as everybody likes to say, but I do see key differences. The taller cone roofs atop the turrets whilst in ordinary to me suggests that they might have pilot houses atop their turrets... but I see some super structure on the Sandusky that might be a Pilothouse behind the turret too? The turrets are definitely farther forward than the Ozark's was, it seems the designers intended to balance the engines and the turret weight against one another as in the Canonnicus class of coastal monitors. Allegedly these ships were going to have a pre-refit USS Monitor style pyramid pilot house forward of the turret but if so that idea in my mind likely didn't leave the paper as these ships seem to have more influence from later classes of monitors in regards to superstructure. They seem to have a lot less superstructure than the Ozark, too, with only a small cabin aft of the twin smokestacks. Possibly they had a canopy that would cover the deck up to the turret as in the Neosho.

Bet you'd never guess Battleship Row would be in a river in Illinois, eh?
 

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Joined
May 12, 2018
Messages
247
#5
Depended on the ship, and also ones definition of seaworthiness! The designers of Monitors were well aware of the trade offs in seaworthiness they were making by using the low freeboard design, but were willing to make the trade to reduce the amount of the ship that needed armoring and also be able to support the very heavy turrets.

Seaworthiness got better as designs improved and by the end of the war there were a few truly ocean going monitors as well as many coastal and a few river ones. Neosho & her gaggle above were river boats.

The level of seaworthiness varied greatly between class, and also what seas the ships contended with. Even ocean going monitors tended to be towed, mainly to save wear on the then not 100% reliable engines and also saved on coal consumption. Although going out to sea on a later monitor designed for the task was certainly feasible, it wasn’t very comfortable for crews. It was often a fight to keep monitors from shipping water in after waves broke across their decks, and things were pretty miserable to be aboard at times of rough weather.

In terms of the Casco class... well as first launched they had major problems with not sinking right off the bat due to bad math which was eventually fixed by having their decks raised by 2ft which by Monitor standards is just madness! Even then they weren’t very good, and I’d almost blame them for causing a lot of the post war navy’s issues as their existence on paper kind of distorts the size & power of the Navy on top of not being very good ships.
 



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