late in the war as never to be used.
Rifled cannon were also substituted for the smooth-bore guns.
The navy with which the Federals
ended the war belonged to a different era from that with which it started, the men to a different class.
Very early in 1862, the number of artisans and laborers employed in the Government
navy-yards was increased from less than four thousand to nearly seventeen thousand, and these were constantly employed in the construction and equipment of new ships, embracing all the improvements that could be effectively used, as soon as they were shown to be practical.
In addition to these seventeen thousand men, there were fully as many more engaged by private contractors, building and equipping other vessels for the service.
One of the features of the navy in the Civil War
, and before referred to, was the “tin-clad” fleet, especially constructed to guard the rivers and shallow waters of the West and South.
The principal requirement of these “tin-clads” was that they be of very light draft, to enable them to navigate across the shoals in the Mississippi
and other rivers on which they did duty.
The lighter class of these vessels drew less than two feet of water, and it was a common saying that they could “go anywhere where the ground was a little damp.”
They were small side-or stern-wheel boats, and were armored with iron plating less than an inch in thickness, from which they derived the name of “tin-clads.”
Though insufficient protection to resist a heavy shell, this light plating was a good bullet-proof, and would withstand the fire of a light field-piece, unless the shell chanced to find a vulnerable spot, such as an open port-hole.
These boats were armed with howitzers, and their work against field-batteries or sharpshooters on shore was particularly effective.
The heavier class of boats that were used in the river offensive and defensive work was armed with more guns of larger caliber, and their armor-plating was somewhat heavier than that of the little vessels designed to get close to