Speed of CSS Manassas


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Grendel1367

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Most "modern" publications that discuss CSS Manassas give her a speed of 4 or 5 knots. This just doesn't seem credible for a boat using higher powered engines of a tug, which was intended as a privateer and therefore had to chase down an enemy ship, which was also intended as a ram that required use of mass X speed to penetrate an enemy ship, and which was sent all the way up against the current of the Mississippi River to Columbus, Kentucky to assist in defenses. Perhaps the stated speed in these "modern" publication misstated or misinterpreted older records and that the speed was actually 4 or 5 knots against the current of the Mississippi River?
 

ole

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The current of the Mississippi is roughly 7 mph -- close to 6.1 knots. To go 5 knots against the current would require a boat that could do more than 11 knots in still water. I know of no confederate ship that could do 11 knots. Don't know of a union boat either. Going down the Mississippi was relatively easy; going up was another matter. One had to think long and hard about going down because going up would take a lot of time.

Perhaps the Manassas made it up by hugging the banks and avoiding the main channel? Not a good idea on the Mississippi, but I suppose it's possible. And let's not forget that the boats ran 24/7. With a speed of 8 knots, a boat will turn in a respectable 48 miles in a day.

But it will take someone with far more knowledge of the river and the boats than I possess. All I'm reasonably certain of is that the confederacy hadn't a single shop capable of building an engine big enough to make much headway against those western rivers.

Ole
 

Elennsar

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This is only educated guesswork, but a couple thoughts:

The Manasass had a tug's powerful engines - but it was also heavily weighed down with armor and the gear of war.
Yes, it was intended as a ram and privateer, but it would have been all too easy for the above to render it ineffective as such - didn't the original owners turn it over ot the Confederate government after finding that out? I have a fuzzy recollection (don't quote me on this, but I'd like to check my memory such as it is) of reading such.

Not knowing what you mean by "modern" (why the quotes?) publications, those are the only two things that come to mind.
 

mobile_96

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The current of the Mississippi is roughly 7 mph -- close to 6.1 knots. To go 5 knots against the current would require a boat that could do more than 11 knots in still water. Ole
From the navy OR's :
"Manassas and Jackson, the one a tugboat, arched over with heavy timbers, which was covered with one coat of flat railroad iron, armed with one 24-pound carronade, four muskets, and four double-barreled guns; officers and crew, all told, 36; leaking badly from previous straining, and able to steam about 2½ miles an hour against the stream. The other was a rickety old steamer, with a couple of VIII-inch guns on board."
This was below New Orleans. I also found a quote on the Manassas speed of 10 mph, which kinda fits with the 2 1/2 mph against the stream in the Extract from papers of Lieutenant Warley, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. ram Manassas. when the Union Fleet ran past the forts on the Miss.
 

Grendel1367

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From the navy OR's :
"Manassas and Jackson, the one a tugboat, arched over with heavy timbers, which was covered with one coat of flat railroad iron, armed with one 24-pound carronade, four muskets, and four double-barreled guns; officers and crew, all told, 36; leaking badly from previous straining, and able to steam about 2½ miles an hour against the stream. The other was a rickety old steamer, with a couple of VIII-inch guns on board."
This was below New Orleans. I also found a quote on the Manassas speed of 10 mph, which kinda fits with the 2 1/2 mph against the stream in the Extract from papers of Lieutenant Warley, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. ram Manassas. when the Union Fleet ran past the forts on the Miss.
These speeds sound believable! Thanks.
 
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Grendel,
The stated 4 to 5 knots was probably the average cruising speed that she would do while on patrol or the like. She would have had a top speed of about 8 to 10 knots but because of her bullet shaped form and the fact that the tip of the ram was below the surface, the bow would have been, more than likely, pushed downward and would have cause her to swamp.
To increase her speed for ramming, they would have placed the ship upstream from the target and then moved it out into the current. This would have given her more speed with less strain on the engine while the enemy ship would have had a hard time trying to maneuver against the current. Also, moving with the current would put pressure on the stern, slightly lifting the bow. She could, in that way, reach higher speeds with less danger of swamping.

Bill
 

georgew

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southern california
The current of the Mississippi is roughly 7 mph -- close to 6.1 knots. To go 5 knots against the current would require a boat that could do more than 11 knots in still water. I know of no confederate ship that could do 11 knots. Don't know of a union boat either. Going down the Mississippi was relatively easy; going up was another matter. One had to think long and hard about going down because going up would take a lot of time.

Perhaps the Manassas made it up by hugging the banks and avoiding the main channel? Not a good idea on the Mississippi, but I suppose it's possible. And let's not forget that the boats ran 24/7. With a speed of 8 knots, a boat will turn in a respectable 48 miles in a day.

But it will take someone with far more knowledge of the river and the boats than I possess. All I'm reasonably certain of is that the confederacy hadn't a single shop capable of building an engine big enough to make much headway against those western rivers.

Ole
On two deployments up-river for Missouri, Manassas damaged her propellers twice implying that she might well have hugged too close to the bank in some areas.
 

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