Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

The Nexus of Trains and Ironclads: How Awesome is That?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 10, 2015

CSS Georgia Armor

My colleague Bobby Hughes from Savannah flags a new CNN video on the recovery of the remains of C.S.S. Georgia, part of a channel-improvement project being done by the Corps of Engineers. Pretty cool stuff, in my book.

I like this image from the video (above), especially. It’s a section of makeshift armor assembled from interleaved railroad iron. Several Union and Confederate ironclads were fitted with similar armor, including U.S.S. Cairo and C.S.S. Arkansas, both at Vicksburg. Is that cool, or what?

I’m off this evening to speak on blockade runners at the Houston Maritime Museum. Y’all be safe.



7 Responses

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  1. Leo said, on February 10, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    I’ve seen the USS Cairo up close and never realized that about the armor.


    • Andy Hall said, on February 10, 2015 at 11:15 pm

      Not quite the same arrangement on Cairo:

      • Leo said, on February 11, 2015 at 7:03 am

        I see now.

        That design probably vents air and smoke much better. Do you have any idea how it held up under fire?

        • Andy Hall said, on February 11, 2015 at 9:53 am

          I presume the rail armor on Cairo had additional backing not present on the reconstruction.

          I don’t believe rail armor was very effective — better than nothing, but not nearly as good as solid plate. (They found that two 2″ plates, for example, are less effective than one solid 4″ plate.) Among other things rail armor would be subject to “racking,” where repeated hits that did not actually penetrate nonetheless rattled and broke connection points so that it shifted, came loose of even fell off. It’s very much a second-best option for armoring a vessel or position.

        • Andy Hall said, on February 11, 2015 at 12:39 pm

          Leo, here’s a discussion of different types of armor (rail, lmainated thin plates, heavier plate, etc.):

  2. Dave Bright said, on February 11, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Any information about the black material between the RR bars?

    • Andy Hall said, on February 11, 2015 at 11:17 am

      No info. My guess is that’s 150 years of accumulated riverine organic silt deposition, what archaeologists refer to as “gunk.”

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