Osprey New Vanguard 56 : Union River Ironclad 1861-1865
At the start of the American Civil War, neither side had warships on the Mississippi River, which was a vital strategic artery. In what would prove the vital naval campaign of the war, both sides fought for control of the river. While the Confederates relied on field fortifications and small gunboats, the Union built a series of revolutionary river ironclads. The first seven were commissioned in January 1862, and within two weeks they were tried in battle. These ironclads and their successors spent the next two years wresting control of the Mississippi and its tributaries from the Confederates, fighting in a string of decisive engagements that altered the entire course of the war. The design of these vessels was originally based around the design of contemporary civilian Mississippi paddleboats, but a thin layer of armour plating protected the craft from enemy fire. Although these first vessels exhibited serious flaws in their design, a series of later paddleboats were developed using the paddlewheel principle. It was only in the last years of the war that river monitors would make their appearance in the Western theatre, and two of these warships even ventured into the Gulf of Mexico to participate in the attack on Mobile Bay in 1864. For over three years, this unique and varied range of warship formed the backbone of the Union river fleet, and proved their worth (and deficiencies) in some of the most frantic naval actions of the war. This book explains how these vessels worked, how they were constructed, how they were manned and how they were fought. The reader will be gain a clearer understanding of the limitations imposed on Mississippi designers and shipbuilders, and will be guided through the tactical and operational parameters of these extraordinary warships. Although the typical Union river ironclad was one of the squattiest, ugliest warships ever invented, these craft were vital parts of the Union war machine. Text by Angus Konstam with illustrations by Tony Bryan.
- Catalogue of the Union River Ironclads
- Other River Ironclads
- Colour Plate Commentary
Osprey New Vanguard