During the Civil War, the agricultural South faced a daunting opponent in the industrialized North, and nowhere was that more apparent than on water. The Confederacy began the war without a single warship to its name.
The imminent Italian historian Raimondo Luraghi argued in his books The Plantation South and A History of the Confederate Navy that to win, the Confederacy had to industrialize, which it was able to do. Industrialization allowed the South to take advantage of, as well as contribute to, revolutionary changes that were occurring in naval warfare. The Confederacy would combat test mines (torpedoes), submarines, semi-submersibles (Davids), and rifled cannon (Brooke guns) during the war. But the modern weapon in which the C.S. Navy initially placed its greatest faith was the armored ship, and by war’s end it had commissioned and put into action a veritable fleet of ironclads.
This article is primarily based on the author’s Iron Afloat: The Story of the Confederate Armorclads (1971; repr., Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1985).
Others sources include:
Richard E. Beringer, et. al., Why the South Lost the Civil War (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986).
Saxon T. Bisbee, “‘How A Vessel of This Magnitude Was Moved’: A Comparative Analysis of Confederate Ironclad Steam Engines, Boilers, and Propulsion Systems” (master’s thesis, East Carolina University, 2012).
Leslie S. Bright, William H. Rowland, and James C. Barton, CSS Neuse: A Question of Iron and Time (Raleigh: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1981).
John M. Coski, Capital Navy: The Men, Ships and Operations of the James River Squadron (1996; repr., El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beaty, 2005).
Charles F. Dufour, The Night the War Was Lost (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1960).
Robert G. Elliott, Ironclad of the Roanoke: Gilbert Elliott’s Albemarle (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane, 1994).
Robert A. Holcombe Jr., “The Evolution of Confederate Ironclad Design” (master’s thesis, East Carolina University, 1993).
Robert A. Holcombe Jr., “Types of Ships,” in William N. Still, ed., The Confederate Navy, The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861–65 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997).
Raimondo Luraghi, A History of The Confederate Navy (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1996).
Maurice Melton, The Best Station of Them All: The Savannah Squadron, 1861–1865 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2012).
William N. Still Jr., Confederate Shipbuilding (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987).
William N. Still Jr., “The Battle of Hampton Roads,” in Jack Sweetman, ed., Great American Naval Battles (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998).
William N. Still Jr., “The New Ironclads,” in William C. Davis, ed., The Guns of ’62, vol. 2 of The Image of War, 1861–1865 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1982).
William N. Still Jr., John M. Taylor, and Norman C. Delaney, Raiders and Blockaders: The American Civil War Afloat (Dulles, VA: Brassey’s, 1998).
William N. Still Jr. and Richard Stephenson, “Maritime North Carolina: A History of Ship/Boat Building 1682–1917,” manuscript in author’s possession. See chapter 8.
Maxine Turner, Navy Gray: A Story of the Confederate Navy on the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1988).