Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Aye Candy

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on July 10, 2011

Some work-in-progress shots of my new digital model of Denbigh. The old model was OK a decade ago, but just not passable anymore. I want to at least get to the same complexity as my Will o’ the Wisp digital model. I’m using a few small bits from other models — one of the advantage of digital modeling, for sure — but the hull, sponsons and paddleboxes are entirely new. Retexturing will come near the end.

Anyway, it’s too damn hot to do much outside.



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  1. focusoninfinity said, on July 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Do I understand you correctly, this “digital model” is not a physical model, and presumably is all done on your home computer? Is it OK to ask you what software you use, and is there a website showing how it is used? Can you “digitally” add human beings to it on deck? Could you do a tight-shot rendering of a cavalryman and his mount realistically, or does this digital rendering work better with inanimate “things”, rather than living creatures?

    Lastly, I never figured out what my great grandfather, Biloxi harbormaster Capt. Harry Copp James, born New Orleans 1848, died Biloxi 1923 (Pvt. in Capt. John A. Hall’s Co. ‘A’, New Orleans Zouve (spell-check will not give me a clue) Fire Brigade Militia); what Harry’s father did in the Civil War? He was the civilian master of the Army transport ‘Gen. Hamer’ out of New Orleans in the Mexican War. He was born Wilmington, N.C., 1811, was a Holmes Co., Miss., militia company LtCol, yet supposedly lived New Orleans 40 years. He walked across the Isthmus of Panama, and claimed Humboldt did not. He likely was secretly involved in the 1851 Cuban “filibustering” expedition out of New Orleans in which his Wilmington kinsman “Lt.” Thomas Cowan James was executed at Havana Castle. This was attempt to occupy Cuba and re-establish slavery under U.S. control. He may have been involved with Louisiana provisional navy’s CSS Gen. Quitman and CSS Gov. Moore? Corp. G. Copp, Co. ‘G’, of the New Orleans Fire Brigade Militia, was likely Harry’s kinsman?

    Supposedly Mississippi Archives, or U.S. Archives has some Confederate civil service records on him? There was a Confederate army “Capt. James” charged with “cotton-bale armor” for the Confederate river gun-boat fleet. I’ve found no evidence he was a blockade runner pilot. Just after the Civil War, his son Harry was the very young master of a doctor’s coast-wise lumber schooner. Robert’s brother, Joshua James, Jr., of Natchez, would be rowed across the river by Jeff Davis’ slaves for dinner with the Davis family (Wilmington obit in his brother, John Sage James newspaper). Josh’ Jr. wed the North Carolina born widow of Archibald Johnson who owned “Ione” plantation, New Carthage, Louisiana. Josh’ Jr.(d1889)(and Mrs. Mary K. (McEachin?) James (1808-1867) had Lucien Chamberlin James (1839-1844), 2nd Lt. Wm. Winans James, CSA, 3rd LA Cavalry, John Wood James, (1848-1870), and Capt. Clarence Linden James, CSA, (1837-1881), Co. E, Harrison’s 3rd LA Cavalry, and previously of the 15th Louisiana Partisan Ranger Battalion.

    What did Robert Wm. James do in the Civil War?

    • Andy Hall said, on July 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      Yes, the model exists only in the computer — ones and zeroes. You can zoom in as close as you like, but (as with a physical model) the closer you get, the more obvious that it’s a model. There are very realistic ways of modeling people, animals, etc., but it’s hard to do and to do it well requires a lot of computing power. You’re really only limited by the amount of time you want to put into it, and the computing power you have. This model of another runner will give you an idea where I’m going with this one:

      WilloftheWisp38

      The software I use is Rhino 3D and its dedicated renderer, Flamingo. They’re professional-level applications, widely used in industry and marine architecture. I tried for a long time to get into the 3D stuff with inexpensive software, and it just didn’t do the job. I also use other software like Photoshop, which is not strictly modeling software, but contribute heavily to the finished product.

      I don’t know about Robert William James, although if he were involved in piloting or other maritime activities, it’s quite possible that he did so as a civilian, so the paper trail would be sparse compared to miliatry personnel.

  2. corkingiron said, on July 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Boatbuilder Nerd Alert!

    Andy, were there any structures designed to protect the wheels from damage or jamming from flotsam – called a “skeg” on modern boats?

    I’m assuming that there was some kind of differential gear – or were the wheels powered separately?

    I can tell you that – with the motive force being so far ahead of the rudder – Denbigh would have been a real adventure to steer – especially backing up or trying to bring her in to dock, twin engines or not.

    Thanks – you made me go and look up “sponsons.”

    • Andy Hall said, on July 12, 2011 at 10:01 am

      Andy, were there any structures designed to protect the wheels from damage or jamming from flotsam – called a “skeg” on modern boats?

      No, and they were frequently damaged. It’s not clear in these small images, but Denbigh and many other seagoing sidewheelers used “feathering” wheels, which were a bit more efficient than wheels with fixed floats, but also more prone to breaking. More on the wheel here:

      http://nautarch.tamu.edu/PROJECTS/denbigh/WHEEL.HTM

      Harbor and rivercraft, which were more likely to encounter flotsam, generally had fixed floats, which could be build much sturdier and were easier to repair.

      There was no gearing on these engines — that came later, with improvements in fine machining in the late 19th century. Denbigh had two engines, and one or the other wheel could be disconnected from the other. I know it would be possible to run one engine forward or back with the other stopped, but I’m unsure about running them opposite simultaneously — it’s been years since I looked at this, and I’ve forgotten the details.

      http://nautarch.tamu.edu/PROJECTS/denbigh/Engine.htm

      I do know that some sidewheel paddlers could run their wheels opposite each other, which improved their maneuverability enormously. There’s a well-known photo of a British paddle tug, taken in the 1940s or 50s, sitting essentially stationary while turning 360 degrees.


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