USS Miantonomon's European Cruise 1866-1867.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
After the end of the Civil War the USS Miantonomoh, a double-turreted twinscrew wooden-hulled ironclad monitor, was sent on a European Cruise from 1866 to 1867. Did the ship impress the Europeans and did her visits influence European ship design? What I was kind of asking was did US Civil War ship designs influence European navies?
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
After the end of the Civil War the USS Miantonomoh, a double-turreted twinscrew wooden-hulled ironclad monitor, was sent on a European Cruise from 1866 to 1867. Did the ship impress the Europeans and did her visits influence European ship design? What I was kind of asking was did US Civil War ship designs influence European navies?
The short answer is no. Indeed the RN were not impressed with the physical condition of her crew after the crossing.
 

67th Tigers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
The short answer is no. Indeed the RN were not impressed with the physical condition of her crew after the crossing.

Indeed. By acting like a raft, the vertical forces were huge. Every wave, the monitor would be lifted to the top of it and then slammed back down again.

To made the crossing they had to build a 3.5 ft high breakwater, build up 2 ft high coamings around every hatch and intake, and caulk the turret to the deck. Her own captain wrote:

“I think if a vessel is to go to sea, or go from port to port, in all weathers and at short notice, a higher freeboard would be better. The precautions that have to be taken on each occasion that the ‘Miantonomoh’ goes to sea are very great, and entail a great deal of work , much of which would be obviated by having a higher freeboard.”
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
I don't think the specific visit of the Miantonomoh was impactful, so much as the overall awareness of ironclad development on the other side of the Atlantic. The blue-water navies (Britain, France) were already on their own program. Where there seems to have been an impact was on the coastal navies, particularly in the Baltic; Russia, for instance, bought the plans to the Passaic class monitors and built the Uragan ("Hurricane") class of monitors. The plans were changed slightly in construction, but still they were close enough to be considered semi-sisters of the Passaics. Most of the Baltic nations responded with monitors and monitor-like vessels of their own, some more on the American line, some paying more attention to British development.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
Along these lines, it's important to remember that, despite some occasional gee-whiz statistics like "largest navy in the world in 1865," the U.S. Navy had developed along the needs of the time, and it was a powerful blockading and littoral/riverine force. It had really no more ability in oceanic power projection than it had had in the 1850s, and the mainstay of the Navy would continue to be the wooden-hulled auxiliary (masted) steamer for a few more decades. It took until the very end of the century for the American navy to be anywhere near on the same footing as European navies (and parity with Britain would not come until after the Great War). (Even the cruise of the Great White Fleet in the early 1900s depended on foreign fuel sources, principally British.)
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Interesting. I was wondering about the thought process behind sending tbis ship on a European cruise. I am not sure if she was intended to awe the British or French naval officials.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Location
Central Ohio
If awe was intended, I'm pretty sure it didn't work. But, as a show-the-flag diplomatic thing, it might have been a bit better.

For my money, it was just interesting that the ship could survive a North Atlantic crossing. Perhaps needless to say, she couldn't have fought anywhere along the crossing.
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I don't think the specific visit of the Miantonomoh was impactful, so much as the overall awareness of ironclad development on the other side of the Atlantic. The blue-water navies (Britain, France) were already on their own program.

Heh. Perspective's important, isn't it?
The same year as the visit by the Miantonomoh (and indeed slightly before she arrived) the Royal Navy put into service the HMS Bellerophon. This ship bore 6" thick rolled wrought iron battery armour, with her battery functionally immune to the fire of the Miantonomoh's guns, and had a broadside of five 9" RML guns with the ability to penetrate the side of Miantonomoh (and the turret, too, though with a bit more trouble; if the turret were one homogenous layer of rolled iron it wouldn't quite have been able to, but the turret was a laminate).
The Bellerophon was faster than the Miantonomoh, able to outrun her under sail alone by three knots*; her sails also made her much longer ranged, and her considerably higher freeboard meant she could sail in worse weather and fight there as well.

And, of course, the freeboad and speed difference meant that the Bellerophon could just crash into the Miantonomoh in a ramming attack; with no reserve bouyancy it'd sink the Miantonomoh in short order, while the same amount of leakage into the Bellerophon would be a matter for the donkey pump.

The Times declared "The wolf is in our fold; the whole flock at its mercy", but there wasn't really anything threatening to the Royal Navy about Miantonomoh. Innovative, perhaps; threatening, not really, not with the Shunt gun rollout and the terrible rate of fire of the Miantonomoh's guns.



*The speed issue is a little tricky, but the speed of the Miantonomoh was stated in one source at 6.5 knots (rounded to 7 on Wikipedia). Bellerophon's sail speed was 10 knots and her maximum speed a little over 14 knots; thus Bellerophon was over twice as fast as Miantonomoh.
 
Last edited:

Hussar Yeomanry

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 6, 2017
Location
UK
Did the Times really say that? Wow. Of course, they had to sell papers. :laugh:

Alternatively, and I don't know which one was true, it could have been prodded by the Naval lobby to say so in order that they could increase the pressure on the government to increase (already high) naval spending. Or at a minimum justify what spending there was. Certainly there was a very active Naval lobby involved in doing exactly that sort of thing...
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
mondnock1h.jpg
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Did the Times really say that? Wow. Of course, they had to sell papers. :laugh:
You'd think they'd have noticed the many, many British ironclads that had already entered commission - eight "floating batteries" and 18 other vessels, and note that I'm only counting completed/commissioned by the time Miantonomoh showed up... (admittedly most of the floating batteries were at that point over a decade old and considered surplus to requirements; OTOH the Breastwork Monitor concept was taking form at the time...)

Aetna
Terror
Thunderbolt
Meteor
Erebus
Glatton
Thunder
Trusty
Warrior
Black Prince
Defence
Resistance
Hector
Achilles
Royal Oak
Prince Consort
Caledonia
Research
Enterprise
Favorite
Pallas
Bellerophon
Royal Sovereign
Prince Albert
Scorpion
Wivern
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I'm reminded of northern US newpapers' reactions when the Virginia first emerged.
The one I think is interesting to contrast with the others is the US reacting to the Riachuelo.
“if all this old navy of ours were drawn up in battle array in mid-ocean and confronted by the Riachuelo it is doubtful whether a single vessel bearing the American flag would get into port”
. - Hilary a. Herbert, chair of the House Naval Affairs Committee, 1883.
It's different because he was almost certainly right.

See, the Riachuelo really was far outmatching the USN of the time (she was faster, more heavily armed and much better armoured; the first battleship with compound armour, in fact - while the USN's best armoured ship might well still have been the Miantonomoh), and she was also of shallow enough draft to genuinely sail up the Potomac to Washington; since the USN was inexperienced in building modern ships at the time the counters (the Maine and the Texas, basically) took twelve years to get into service.
 

vikingbear

Corporal
Joined
Jul 12, 2014
Location
New Hampshire
The one I think is interesting to contrast with the others is the US reacting to the Riachuelo.
“if all this old navy of ours were drawn up in battle array in mid-ocean and confronted by the Riachuelo it is doubtful whether a single vessel bearing the American flag would get into port”
. - Hilary a. Herbert, chair of the House Naval Affairs Committee, 1883.
It's different because he was almost certainly right.

See, the Riachuelo really was far outmatching the USN of the time (she was faster, more heavily armed and much better armoured; the first battleship with compound armour, in fact - while the USN's best armoured ship might well still have been the Miantonomoh), and she was also of shallow enough draft to genuinely sail up the Potomac to Washington; since the USN was inexperienced in building modern ships at the time the counters (the Maine and the Texas, basically) took twelve years to get into service.

It was in even worst shape than that. The 5 "rebuilt" 1870's BM's were still on the stocks in their orginal 1870's version. It took 2 more partial redesigns , in 1883 and 1889, to make them effective coast def vessels, even then the 5 were not completed until the1890's. The ABCD ships were designed/built around this time but none designed to fight a BB. 2 of them carried 2 8'' each , same main cal guns as Raichuelo (her sister carried larger ones) but with main speeds under 14 kts. the Boston and Atlanta could not even keep up to the Raichuelo. The largest US warship was the steam wooden frigate TRENTON, carrying 8'' rifle ML cannon (converted from 11'' SB guns).
There was very limited coastal defences either. the 1870's plans were not funded after 1877, and even those that were, used Civil war built weapons.
The first new navy battleship design was not until 1885 (aprox 7000 tones, 4x1 10": 6x1 6" + smaller). also designer was a ACR, which at that time were 2nd class BB's ( aprox 5000 tones: 2 10": +8 6" cannon + smaller). Both conside and red out of date designs and neither funded.

Grizz
 

Saphroneth

Captain
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
The ABCD ships were designed/built around this time but none designed to fight a BB. 2 of them carried 2 8'' each , same main cal guns as Raichuelo (her sister carried larger ones) but with main speeds under 14 kts. the Boston and Atlanta could not even keep up to the Raichuelo.

I was under the impression that the Riachuelo had 9.2" guns (and she was the one of the two who was slightly larger, the Aquidabã was the smaller one).
 
Top