previous next

[187] repair after sustaining such severe pounding for so long a time, but only that they could be restored at all to serviceable condition. The force of the ten-inch shot must be experienced to be appreciated. Any one in contact with the part of the turret struck falls senseless, and I have been nearly shaken off my feet in the pilot-house when engaging Moultrie.

All the little defects of detail were marked by such a searching process. Decks were cut through; cannon were worn out; side armor shaken; tops of pilot-houses crushed, &c. But all these were reparable, and no vital principle was seriously touched.

With such workshops and means as a northern navy yard includes, the repair of all monitors would have been speedily executed; but when machinery, tools, labor, and material have all to be obtained, as they were here, from a great distance, there was of necessity considerable delay; and, moreover, it was not admissible to withdraw but a portion of the monitors at a time from the blockade.

The additions that were deemed advisable for strengthening the pilot-houses and turrets were also put on at this time, and the bottoms cleaned, for they had now become so foul with oysters and grass that the speed was reduced to three, or three and a half knots, and, with the strong tide of this harbor, added considerably to the difficulties of working the vessels properly under fire.

On one night I was caught by heavy weather from the south-east while close up to Sumter, when I had gone to attack it, and it was well that the darkness of the night prevented the slowness of our motion from being perceived while extricating the monitors from their position.

Power of Ordnance.--Each turret contains two guns, and from the peculiar facility which it has for giving direction to the heaviest ordnance, no doubt, arises the desire to make these of the heaviest description. How far other considerations should control the character of the ordnance, is necessarily an unsettled question.

To strike an armored ship it may be best to use a gun capable of the greatest power; but whether this shall be derived from a projectile of great weight, driven by low velocity, or of less weight, and high velocity; whether it shall be a fifteen-inch gun, fired with thirty-five or forty pounds, or a thirteen-inch, fired with fifty pounds of powder, is not here material; the weight of the gun for either purpose will not vary to any important degree. But in operations against earthworks, whose material cannot be damaged permanently, but only disturbed, and which are only to be dealt with by keeping down their fire, a much lighter projectile would be preferable, in order that the practice may be as rapid as possible. Hence a piece of sixteen thousand pounds for ten-inch or eleven-inch shot and shell.

When a number of monitors are brought together it would be better, also, to have guns of like kind in each turret, and bring into action whichever might be preferable. Each of the monitors of this squadron had a fifteen-inch and a smaller gun, (eleven-inch or eight-inch rifle,) and hence the rapidity of fire, which was most desirable, was not attained. That this was due to the calibre of the gun, and not to its being located in a turret, may be shown by one notable instance.

November ninth, 1863, the Montauk, Captain Davis, was engaged in battering Sumter. In so doing, the eleven-inch gun fired twenty-five shells successively in one hour, of which twenty-one hit the wall of the fort aimed at — distance sixteen hundred yards. This is at the rate of one shell in 2.4 minutes, which is not only rapid but also exceedingly accurate practice. There is no reason why another eleven-inch, if placed in the adjoining carriage, (instead of the fifteen-inch,) could not have been fired in the same time, at which rate that monitor would have delivered an eleven-inch shell every 1.2 minute.

The rates of fire reported for the Ironsides, by Captain Rowan, are,

 Time.No. fired.Time for each fire.
 H.M. M.
Most rapid,050251.74

It will be perceived that for a short space of time the frigate delivered a shell from each gun in 1.74 minute, for three hours in 2.86 minutes, and it is believed that a fire could be sustained at the rate of 1.33 minute. The last rate is therefore possible, but I am sure it would be difficult to sustain it long with much regard to good aim and considerable distances; and I believe, on the whole, that for every practical purpose there would be all desirable rapidity of fire from the eleven-inch in turret. Thus it is to be presumed that there will be equality of ordnance power in the same number of eleven-inch guns as to rapidity of fire, whether in a turret or broadside.

Draught of Water.--The monitors of the Passaic class draw about eleven and a half (11 1/2) feet of water when properly trimmed. On this coast ten and eleven feet is the most convenient draught of water for penetrating all the principal sounds and rivers, and navigating them to any extent. A greater draught restricts a vessel in movement, and in many instances excludes her from several ports, except under very favorable circumstances.

Speed.--The speed of the monitors is not great, (seven knots,) but it is quite respectable with a clean bottom, and is fully equal to that of the Ironsides. Their steerage is peculiar, but when understood and rightfully managed, not difficult of control. They pivot with celerity and in less space than almost any other class of vessel.

Number of Men.--The number of men required to work them and the guns is only eighty, which is very moderate.

In common with all iron-clads, the scope of vision is much restricted, for the plain reason that in such vessels apertures of any size must be avoided. There are some other defects, but they are not inherent, and it is believed are susceptible of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Montauk (New York, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
S. C. Rowan (1)
Jefferson C. Davis (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November 9th, 1863 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: