Ironclads and other ships

By Matthew Madia

How Ironclads worked

  • It uses a steam engine.

  • Meant for high seas battles, coastal defense ships to long range unlike other ships in the day.

  • Some also use a ram or a torpedo.
  • protected by iron or steel armor which makes inpeechabol to gun fire.

  • They were made to replace older, not as strong wooden ships.

CSS Virginia.

  • April 1861, the Confederacy took a federal navy yard at Norfolk, Virginia.
  • And found a steam frigate the Merrimack in the water, shot by the union, in the water and made it into an Ironclad and renamed it the CSS Virginia in March, 1862.
  • They cut off the upper hull, and covered in armor.
  • The Commander of the CSS Virginia was Franklin Buchanan.
  • This was the Confederates first ironclad.

The Monitor

  • Design by Swedish engineer John Ericsson.
  • The Union built this to combat the CSS Virginia/Merrimack.
  • John Ericsson told President Lincoln "The sea shall ride over her and she shall live in it like a duck".
  • It was so successfully that the union made 50 more like the Monitor.
  • It's revolving turret allowed it to fire in nearly ever direction.
  • The monitor led by John Lorimer Worden.
  • On December 31st the Monitor was being towed in a bad storm. It fell in the water lost.

The Monitor versus the Merrimack

  • Also called the Battle of Hampton Roads
  • On March 8, 1862, the Virginia(the Merrimack) sailed into Hampton Roads, Virginia, a harbor at the mouth of the James River.
  • With other Confederate ships at it's side, Buchanan came to a Union fleet of wooden ships in Newport News, five hours and the Confederacy won.
  • But than the Union's Monitor led by John Worden, was there to.
  • People from all over came to the shore line and sat ready to watch.
  • 8:30 A.M. Gun Fire!!! Both sides try to ram each other, than Virginia rams into the Monitor injuring, John Worden.
  • Lieutenant Dana Greene takes his place.
  • Virginia goes forward to Monitor, but at the last second Virginia set a course for Sewell's point, Norfolk, Virginia ending the fight.
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  • The Monitor and the Merrimack in the sea battleing it out.

The USS Cairo

  • Made by James Buchanan Eads in 1861.
  • It was the first Ironclad to be destroyed by a Naval mine, December 12, 1862.
  • It was the first Ironclad made by the Union.

The CSS North Carolina

  • Made by the Confederate navy.
  • Naval shipbuilder John L. P designed this for harbor defense.
  • It had a ram in the stem, or front of the ship.
  • It mostly stayed near Cape Fear River, North Carolina.
  • It had such weak engines that it could not go up the River and had to be towed almost everywhere.
  • So it mostly just guarded near by forts.
  • It was a Casemate Ironclad(the guns are in the sides instead of the top of the boat).
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  • It had four rifled guns protected in an 4inch iron covered box, which could rotate in almost every direction.

CSS Raleigh

  • It work along side the CSS North Carolina in Cape Fear River, North Carolina.
  • It was a Casemate Ironclad like the CSS North Carolinia.
  • It had a torpedo instead if a ram.
  • Lieutenant J. Pembroke Jones was the commander of the ship.
  • It was made in North Carolinia for the Confederates in 1863-1864.
  • Naval shipbuilder John L. P designed this for harbor defense.

CSS Raleigh's battle

  • The CSS North Carolina got waterlogged, because it had sea worms, they would burro into the wood of the ship which would destroy it.
  • So the Raleigh went through the outer banks of North Carolina straight towards the Union blockade.
  • On May 6th the Raleigh and with the CSS Yadkin and Equator they attacked six Federal blockaders.
  • The Raleigh came back home damaged, doing little damage to the Union ships.

The CSS Neuse

  • It was made in October, 1862 and design by John L. Porter. It also had a ram.
  • It was put in Virginia to prevent any attack to take New Bern, North Carolina.
  • At the end of the war, General Braxton Bragg ordered Commander Joseph Price and his crew to destroy the Neuse, so the Union could not take it.
  • It was first set on fire and than it was shot in the middle of the ship.
  • FUN FACT: the ship was rumored to have gold inside the ship, but it was simply not true, because it was taking out of the water and put into a display at the Neuse historical site.

The CSS Albermarle

  • It's sister was the CSS Neuse. It was one of the most successful ironclad the Confederates had.
  • It had twin propellers and a 6.4inch Brooke Rifles(a cannon) in an armored casemate.
  • Made by Chief builder John L. Porter.
  • They took abandon railroads from everywhere to use for the armored plates.
  • The commander of the ship was James Cooke, he was nicknamed "ironmonger captain" because of his relentless effort to get iron from the abandoned railroads.

Balloons and other spying devices

A Cipher Disk

  • Used by Confederate spies.
  • Labeled on the front CSA which stands for Confederate States of America.
  • It was meant to code or decode messages sent to another person with the cipher disk.
  • It works by turning the letter M to G and P to J then all the letters are in the right place to show the right order of letters.
  • Sometimes the message was put in a different language for better security.
  • Mostly used to tell their general where the enemy was or heading.

Tillotson Lineman's Pocket test set

  • By taping into a telegraph pole lines the spy sent by morse code (A set of dots and dashes that make into a letter which makes a hull sentence) a message.
  • It is also small enough to fit into your pocket.


  • Used by the Union and the Confederates.
  • Used by military leaders to see the hull army from a safe distance at 500 feet up held by ropes with people there to keep it safe.
  • Used in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the coastal fortifications and seaports of North Carolina.
  • A spy in the balloon studied troop strategy.
  • A telegraph wire from the balloon to the ground which allowed them to transfer information fast.


The USS Alligator

  • It was the U.S. Navy first submarine.
  • designed by a French engineer named Brutus de Villeroi.
  • It was made with iron, It had sixteen hand powered paddles.
  • July 3rd, 1862, the Washington Navy Yard got the paddles change to a hand crank propeller which made it faster.
  • It was made to help even the odds with the Confederacy's Merimack.
  • It was sank one day in a terrible storm and to this day people are still looking for it.

The H. L. Hunley

  • Made by the Horace Lawson Hunley for the Confederates.
  • It was the first war submarine to sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.
  • During a test run she sank on October 15, 1863 killing 8 people including Hunley himself.

My reaction

  1. I felt amazed when I saw all of theses Ironclads, I never thought that they had such good technology back in the 1800's. It makes me think that if they could make this how much fair away are they from tanks and things like that.
  2. I never know that they even had balloons in the 1800's and thought how crazy it must be up there in the middle of a fight.
  3. You most have a death wish to get into that submarine, I mean how could they keep it together down there. If that was me I would freak out.