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"Battle of the Ironclads" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP26 May 2020 8:52 p.m. PST

"When the Confederates secured Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia on April 21, 1861 they recognized that it provided them with the wherewithal to create an ironclad. Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Russell Mallory realized that the South could not match the North's shipbuilding capacity, so he advised the Confederate Congress that "I regard the possession of an iron-armored ship as a matter of the first necessity. Such a vessel at this time could traverse the entire coast of the United States, prevent all blockades, and encounter, with a fair prospect of success, their entire navy."

To achieve this goal, Mallory approved the conversion of the scuttled steam-screw frigate Merrimack into an ironclad. The frigate was raised, placed into dry dock and transformed into a warship the likes of which had never been seen. The Merrimack was cut down to her berth deck giving her a new length of 262 feet 9 inches. The hull was topped by a 170-foot-long casemate consisting of twenty-four inches of oak and pine backing, sheathed with two layers of iron plate, two inches thick by six inches wide. The casemate sides were sloped at a thirty-six-degree angle to deflect shot, but the acute slope only allowed seven feet of headroom and a beam of thirty feet. The Confederate ironclad was armed with the finest possible heavy cannons. She would carry a broadside battery of six IX-inch Dahlgrens and two 6.4-inch Brooke rifles. Two of the Dahlgrens smoothbores were hot-shot guns. A seven inch Brooke rifle rested on a pivot mount at each end of the casemate, where the structure was pierced by three gun ports. In addition to this armament, a 1,500-pound cast-iron ram was attached to the ironclad's bow…"
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