THE 150ft PP IRONCLAD GUNBOATS OF JOHN LUKE PORTER, PART ONE

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Messages
3,964
Location
Kent ,England.
#1
The 150ft PP Ironclad gunboats of John L. Porter
Chief naval Constructor CSN
By
John W. Wallis, with additional comments on Loa and the summary
by CDR C. B. Robbins USN ( rtd).

This paper is intended to summarize what is currently known about these vessels. No ship design springs into existence fully fledged and the 150ft type, often erroneously identified as the "Richmonds" are no exception.

For convenience I have listed the members of the type in State order.

CSS Richmond.

Jon L Porter produced a plan for a seagoing ironclad whose beam was limited by the width of the biggest dry dock at Gosport Navy yard, to 58ft. No copies of the drawing have survived and the version below, by the author, is based on the proportions of the 150ft type plan. Had the CSN been bale to source suitable machinery, this may well have been CSS Virginia.
ENLARGED SEA GOING VERSION OF THE 150ft TYPE.jpg

However, as the emphasis of CSN ironclad design shifted from offensive to defensive, Porter produced a reduced version. six vessels of this type were constructed in ports on the Atlantic coast of the South. Further modified examples were proposed for construction at New Orleans, and one foreign near sister which will come later.


150ft GUNBOAT GA PLAN CORRECTED.jpg
Plan by Robert Holcombe from John L. Porter's original drawing.

CSS Richmond as completed
150ft IC gunboat modified.
Type : ironclad steam sloop. One 8 -10ft diameter screw speed 7.2knots crew 180
Dimensions: 172ft OA, 150ft PP x 45.5ft Ex , 35ft BM x 14ft5 D, 12ft DPH, 1,548tons
Guns: initially 3 -7" single banded Brooke MLR, (P&S & Aft), 1 - double banded Brooke MLR forward.
2 - 8" Brooke MLR (P&S) were substituted and a 150pdr spar torpedo added in 1863. Details from Tredegar Ironworks records.
Armour: 4" iron over 22" timber sloped at 40 degrees. top and decks 2" iron.
Design: J L Porter /J.Meads. Builder Norfolk Navy & Rocketts Yard, Richmond Va.
Laid down; 03/1862, launched 6/05/1862 , completed 07/62, commissioned 11/1862.

CSS RICHMOND.jpg

The vessel, then un-named, began life at Gosport Navy Yard, but was towed to Richmond where she was completed by, Master Carpenter James Meads, under the supervision of William Graves, to a modified pan from the knuckle upwards.
Her twin engines, built by the Naval Ironworks included one cylinder removed from the lightship Arctic in 1859, and which had been used to power a sawmill. In the strong currents of the James River, speed was reduced by up to 2.5 knots.
Her appearance has been the subject of debate, but the Peruvian casemate ship Loa (see later) was constructed to a modified version of the plans to suit her conversion from a merchant vessel, and this confirms the general appearance of the Richmond.
By most accounts a fine ship, John M Brooke used her to trial guns and carriages. She was flagship of the James River Squadron until the second CSS Virginia was commissioned.
Almost constantly in action, she was at Dutch Gap 13/06/1864, Fort Harrison 29 /09 - 6/10/ 1864. Destroyed 3/4/1685 to prevent capture.
She was painted black below the knuckle, mid to dark grey above.

Extract from a painting showing CSS Richmond at Drewrys Bluff, she is stern on to the artist.
Drewry_'s-Bluff_Richmond 1.jpg


R.G .Skerrett, painting in the early years of the 20th Century wasn't far wrong either.
CSS RICHMOND I.JPG


CSS North Carolina

150ft IC gunboat modified.
Type : ironclad steam sloop. One 8 -10ft diameter screw speed 6 knots
Dimensions: 172ft 6 inches OA, 150ft PP x 45ft Ex , 32ft BM x 14ft D, 12ft DPH, 1,553 tons
Guns: 4 -6.4" Brooke MLR
Armour: 4" iron over 22" timber sloped at 35 degrees. top and decks unknown
Design: J L Porter Builder: Beery Bros ,Wilmington Nc
Laid down; April or May1862, launched, December 1862 , completed June 1863

CSS NORTH CAROLINA FROM A COMTEMPORARY IMAGE.jpg

Beery Bros gave her an oblong casemate on what became known as a Pearce knuckle. North Carolina suffered severely from poor construction and the attentions of the shipworm, spending most of her time anchored in one place. Her ordnance was reduced by removing one broadside 6.4" gun. This was presumably done to reduce the strain on her hull. Her single cylinder vertical inverted engine came from the tug Uncle Ben.
Proceeding down river in July 1864 to replace CSS Raleigh, a log fouled her screw. She ran aground and was towed to Smithville, being beached at Battery Island. After her pumps failed to save her and the main boiler failed, she was stripped of guns and armour in August 1864. The armour was transferred to the double citadel ship under construction at Wilmington. We cannot be sure she was ever painted.

Pencil sketch done on the spot, of CSS North Carolina shortly after launching, by William Coffrin
CSS NORTH CAROLINA SHORTLY AFTER LAUNCH..jpg


CSS Raleigh

150ft IC gunboat modified.
Type : ironclad steam sloop. One 8 -10ft diameter screw speed 7. 6 knots
Dimensions: 172ft OA, 150ft PP x 45ft Ex , 32ft BM x 14ft D, 12ft DPH, 1,557 tons
Guns: 2 -7" & 2 - 6.4" Brooke MLR
Armour: 4" iron over 22" timber sloped at 35 degrees. top and decks unknown
Design: J L Porter Builder: J.L.Cassidey ,Wilmington Nc
Laid down; 1863, launched, 1863 , completed 30 April 1864
CSS RALEIGH.jpg


From an original plan by Robert Holcombe

Constructed to conform fairly closely to Porter's drawings, she was a total contrast to her half sister, being strongly built, and seaworthy at least in coastal waters. Her engines were two single cylinder horizontal direct acting. Painted a shade very close to midnight blue she struck Wilmington bar and the falling tide broke her back on 7th May 1864, having been at sea all night ,and after driving the USN blockaders away the previous day. Her armour ,guns and machinery were all salvaged. Major action New Inlet Nc, 6 May 1864

CSS RALEIGH PLYING THE WATERS OFF CAPE FEAR. Painting by Martin Peebles.jpg
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Joined
Jun 14, 2017
Messages
3
#2
Howdy rebelatsea.... My name is Bill Boushelle and live in Tucson, Arizona. My GG Grandfather, John S. Boushell, was a captain of Company D of the 4th Naval Battalion Local Defense at Rocketts. Before and after the war he was a ship builder and during the war constructed gunboats at Rocketts with his company of men. He was there from late 1861 until Richmond fell. I haven't had any luck finding info as to which gunboats any of the companies were constructed by who. I'm new to this Forum and am stumbling my way through it. Do you have any pointers that could show me if any of that type of info is available? And where it might be? Fortunately, our National Archives has a few documents he signed for mustering men into the Confederacy, and his assignment being on "detached duty" from the 9th Virginia Infantry to be in Rocketts to build gunboats. Thanks...
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Messages
3,964
Location
Kent ,England.
#3
Howdy rebelatsea.... My name is Bill Boushelle and live in Tucson, Arizona. My GG Grandfather, John S. Boushell, was a captain of Company D of the 4th Naval Battalion Local Defense at Rocketts. Before and after the war he was a ship builder and during the war constructed gunboats at Rocketts with his company of men. He was there from late 1861 until Richmond fell. I haven't had any luck finding info as to which gunboats any of the companies were constructed by who. I'm new to this Forum and am stumbling my way through it. Do you have any pointers that could show me if any of that type of info is available? And where it might be? Fortunately, our National Archives has a few documents he signed for mustering men into the Confederacy, and his assignment being on "detached duty" from the 9th Virginia Infantry to be in Rocketts to build gunboats. Thanks...
Welcome, Bill. If your GG Grandfather was at Rockett's from the start ,then he will have been involved with all the work the yard did. In addition to CSS Richmond, he will have worked on :
The ironclad before Virginia, now though to be CSS Brandywine
CSS Richmond
CSS Fredericksburg
CSS Texas
MR Porter's ironclad.

Across the river he will have seen one "Dismal" class, CSS Virginia (II), and William Graves single gun ram gunboat.
What information he could have passed down over the years if he'd kept any records - he didn't did he?
Sadly so much was lost when the yards, and particularly the Mechanics institute building housing the Navy Department was fired. However there may be someone on the forum who just may have a few snippets for you.
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2017
Messages
3
#4
Thank you so much for your quick response! No, unfortunately no records or family stories appear to exist. I do have a copy of a letter written by his father, John S. Boushell Sr (born:1790 in Virginia) talking about the "Yankeys" approaching Elizabeth City, North Carolina in 1861. It's great to read. I don't know if it's of interest to the Forum readers to see such a letter. John Sr was building a steamer for a customer there and had built center board schooners for plying the Dismal Swamp between North Carolina and Virginia. One of the schooners he built, named the Scuppernong, was found loaded with timber for building Confederate boats by a Union Lt. Flusser in the Indiantown Creek in North Carolina. I think Flusser wanted to take it but instead burned it and let it sink. The hull of the Scuppernong still exists underwater. Eastern Carolina University did a detailed study of it. Fisherman have had their tackle snagged on the wreck for many years! So, I've been able to piece together family maritime activities before and after the war which I've enjoyed doing. As an aside... I've been working on my genealogy and finding a great number of indicators saying we originating from the U.K. Owing to the sound of our surname it was always thought we were French. I do see that many Boushell came from Ireland during the Potato Famine.

Bill
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Messages
12,499
Location
Mississippi
#5
I do have a copy of a letter written by his father, John S. Boushell Sr (born:1790 in Virginia) talking about the "Yankeys" approaching Elizabeth City, North Carolina in 1861. It's great to read. I don't know if it's of interest to the Forum readers to see such a letter.
It would be of great interest !

Many of us would love to see this letter.
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Messages
3,964
Location
Kent ,England.
#6
Thank you so much for your quick response! No, unfortunately no records or family stories appear to exist. I do have a copy of a letter written by his father, John S. Boushell Sr (born:1790 in Virginia) talking about the "Yankeys" approaching Elizabeth City, North Carolina in 1861. It's great to read. I don't know if it's of interest to the Forum readers to see such a letter. John Sr was building a steamer for a customer there and had built center board schooners for plying the Dismal Swamp between North Carolina and Virginia. One of the schooners he built, named the Scuppernong, was found loaded with timber for building Confederate boats by a Union Lt. Flusser in the Indiantown Creek in North Carolina. I think Flusser wanted to take it but instead burned it and let it sink. The hull of the Scuppernong still exists underwater. Eastern Carolina University did a detailed study of it. Fisherman have had their tackle snagged on the wreck for many years! So, I've been able to piece together family maritime activities before and after the war which I've enjoyed doing. As an aside... I've been working on my genealogy and finding a great number of indicators saying we originating from the U.K. Owing to the sound of our surname it was always thought we were French. I do see that many Boushell came from Ireland during the Potato Famine.

Bill
I keep hoping someone will com on and say I've got a diary which -------. but no such luck so far. I think Jimmy from the Ft Branch people will be interested in the Scuppernong, if he doesn't know about her already.
 

Similar threads




(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top