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

Discussion in 'Civil War History - The Naval War' started by rebelatsea, Sep 27, 2016.

  1. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    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
     

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  3. RetDet 7940

    RetDet 7940 Cadet

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    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...
     
  4. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    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.
     
    USS ALASKA and DaveBrt like this.
  5. RetDet 7940

    RetDet 7940 Cadet

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    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
     
  6. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    It would be of great interest !

    Many of us would love to see this letter.
     
  7. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    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.
     

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