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[137]

U. S. S. “Galena” --one of the three first experiments in Federal ironclads The Civil War in America solved for the world the question of the utility of armor plate in the construction of war vessels. This problem had been vexing the naval authorities of Europe. France and England were vying with each other at building iron-belted vessels that differed only from the old wooden line-of-battle ships in the addition of this new protection. Following this foreign precedent, Lieutenant John M. Brooke, C. S. N., planned to raise the hull of the “Merrimac” and convert her into an ironclad of original design, which became the standard for all subsequent efforts by the naval constructors of the Confederacy. It was not till October 4, 1861, four months after the Confederacy had raised the “Merrimac,” that the first contracts for ironclad vessels were let by the Navy Department. For two months a naval board, appointed by President Lincoln, had been poring over various plans submitted, and finally recommended the adoption of three. A vessel of the foreign type, to be called the “New Ironsides,” was to be in effect a floating battery, mounting fourteen 9-inch smooth-bores in her broadsides and two 150-pounder rifles. She proved one of the most formidable vessels of her class. A small corvette, to be called the “Galena,” was also ordered, her sides to be plated with three-inch iron. The third was Ericsson's “Monitor.”

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