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"CSS Georgia: Underpowered Warship or Floating Battery?" Topic


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Pyrate Captain22 Apr 2020 4:43 p.m. PST

There are no known photographs of CSS Georgia. There are some artists sketches and the results of underwater archeology, non of which appear to lead to conclusive evidence of the hull form.

Many say that the result of the Ladies Gunboat Society's fundraising efforts was a barge shaped hull with armor made of railroad tracks. The engines installed were inadequate to propel the Georgia upstream against the strong current of the Savannah River. Even the builders said in response to their poor performer, that Georgia was intended to be nothing more than a floating battery. But then, why install engines at all.

John. W. Wallis's book: IRONCLAD AND IRON PROTECTED VESSELS OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES NAVY 1861 1865, (2013) suggests that CSS Georgia was built with a conventional hull and although an under-powered vessel, (typical of a number of Confederate vessels), Georgia was not designed to become a floating battery, even though that was the fate of the vessel until she was scuttled. Does anyone have any thoughts on CSS Georgia?

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2020 6:31 p.m. PST

It's always been my understanding that she was designed as a warship, but was so underpowered she was useless as anything except a floating battery. The poor engines couldn't power her, but you have to work with what you've got.

Pyrate Captain22 Apr 2020 6:51 p.m. PST

I support that theory and I base this on the works of Wallis and his sources and a basic logic test, of why, of all confederate ironclads built, would anyone deviate from a ship design to build an armored barge with an under powered engine? It would make CSS Georgia a true anomaly in comparison to literally every other ironclad designed or built.

John Armatys23 Apr 2020 12:27 a.m. PST

By a strange coincidence CSS Georgia was discussed on the Ironclads Group.io last week link

One of the members put some fascinating material in the files area – I particularly recommend the archival study link

You will probably need to join the Group.io to see the discussion and files, but it is free.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP23 Apr 2020 7:03 a.m. PST

I think it was designed as a warship, but was not effectively able to operate as one, so it was used as a floating battery.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP23 Apr 2020 7:18 a.m. PST

Shows clearly the problems of trying to build a navy without an industrial based. The engines appear to have been new construction.

Classic case of optimism over ability.

Pyrate Captain24 Apr 2020 4:13 a.m. PST

The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships had this interesting description:

GEORGIA, also known as STATE OF GEORGIA and LADIES' RAM, was an ironclad floating battery built at Savannah Ga., in 1862-63. Placed under command of Lt. W. Gwathmey, CSN, she was employed in defending the river channels below Savannah, Ga., training her batteries against the Union advance. Since she lacked effective locomotive power the Confederates found it necessary to fire and destroy her during the evacuation of Savannah on 21 December 1864.

What I found most interesting is that she was called the "Ladies Ram". I have never seen evidence in history of a Ram that did not have a pointed bow. I can't imagine making a Ram out of Noah's Ark, which some historians are suggesting is the general shape of the hull.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2020 7:26 a.m. PST

The "Ladies Ram" refers the fact she was funded by "a ladies' gunboat association for the Georgia State Navy." (Wallis, page 101)

I suspect, like most Confederate ironclads she was fitted with an re-enforced bow for ramming and this is supported by the Wallis illustration.

While not an ironclad attempts to render "Noah's Ark" as one half of a Tessarakonteres, are risible.

Pyrate Captain24 Apr 2020 4:52 p.m. PST

Weren't the City Class river ironclads sort of semi-Tessarakonteres ?

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2020 10:53 a.m. PST

Pyrate Captain, well they are semi-catamaran but a bit small for a 40. ;-)

EJNashIII26 Apr 2020 3:38 p.m. PST

"why, of all confederate ironclads built, would anyone deviate from a ship design to build an armored barge with an underpowered engine? It would make CSS Georgia a true anomaly in comparison to literally every other ironclad designed or built." No, it was far more common for rebel ironclads to be underpowered. Most were by some amount. The reason being most of their engines were not designed to move an armored warship.

Pyrate Captain27 Apr 2020 7:41 a.m. PST

It was common for Confederate Ironclads to be under-powered, but not by design.

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