The Stevens Battery was arguably the most technologically advanced warship of the mid-19th century. Conceptually, the ship was futuristic, with no masts or sails atop her sleek, stiletto-shaped iron hull. Well armed and armored, she was designed to be invulnerable to shot and shell as well as highly maneuverable and fast; the propeller-driven steamship had an estimated top speed of 20 knots. Despite these promises, however, the vessel sat uncompleted at her building site in Hoboken, New Jersey, from 1854 until 1881.
Had the battery been launched on schedule in the late 1850s, she would have been the United States' first armored iron-hulled warship. In the decades between her proposal and scrapping, there were three distinctly different versions of the Stevens Battery, each of which represented an effort to adapt the ship to the rapidly changing realities of naval technology.