Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Aye Candy: C.S.S. Richmond

Posted in Technology by Andy Hall on April 14, 2013

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C.S.S. Richmond was one of the earliest Confederate ironclads, having been laid down at the Gosport Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia, in March 1862, immediately after the completion of the famous C.S.S. Virginia (ex-Merrimack). Richmond was designed by John Lucas Porter, who would go on to serve as the Chief Naval Constructor for the Confederacy, but completed under supervision of Chief Carpenter James Meads.  Richmond embodied many of the basic design elements that be used, again and again, in other casemate ironclads built across the South in the following three years.

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Richmond (red) along side C.S.S. Virginia, for scale.

When Union forces were on the verge of taking the Gosport Navy Yard, Richmond was hurriedly launched and towed up the James River, where she was completed at Richmond. Finally commissioned in July 1862, the ironclad served as a core element of the Confederate capital’s James River Squadron for the remainder of the war. Richmond, along with the other ironclads in the James, was destroyed to prevent her capture with the fall of her namesake city at the beginning of April 1865.

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This model is based on plans of the ironclad by David Meagher, published in John M. Coski’s book, Capital Navy: The Men, Ships and Operations of the James River Squadron, with modifications based on a profile of the ship by CWT user rebelatsea, particularly regarding the position of the ship’s funnel and pilot house. Hull lines are adapted from William E. Geoghagen’s plans for a later Porter design for an ironclad at Wilmington, that seems to have had an identical midship cross-section.

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As before, full-resolution images are available on Flickr. And here are two videos from the MoC featuring model builder Ozzie Raines, discussing the challenges of recreating this ship:

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3 Responses

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  1. merl.allen@gmail.com said, on April 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    They look like the new Littoral Combat Ships, don’t they?

    • Andy Hall said, on April 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Yes, for the same basic reason. Sloped armor is more effective at deflecting enemy shot, and sloped whatever-top-secret-material-they-use on the Littoral Combat Ships is more effective at deflecting enemy radar, making the ships harder to “see.” Form follows function.

  2. SF Walker said, on June 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Great stuff! I was thinking how problematic the lowering of the lifeboats on these ships would have been, should they have been needed–the davits don’t look like they provide any clearance. It seems like the general plan may have been to allow the boats to slide down the ladders along the sloped sides.


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