The term "ram ship" conjures ancient images from the Greek Battle of Salamis or the later Roman Battle of Actium or even the more recent 1571 confrontation between the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire at Lepanto. Those battles elicit visions of hundreds of wooden ships propelled less by sail than by rows and banks of oarsmen and targeting the broadsides of other ships, hoping to pierce and sink them with their reinforced metal prows. But the rams had largely fallen out of favor by the late Middle Ages as muscle-and-oar propulsion was replaced by wind and sail, and the weapon of choice became a row of cannon instead of the ship herself.
American Thunder Childs
Amid all the technological advancements of the 19th century, the prolonged effort to wed steam power to ram ships proved to be a wrong turn-and Americans were among its most innovative adherents.
By Lieutenant Commander Claude G. Berube, U.S. Naval Reserve