The Civil War Connections Blog

We Need More Ironclads, Now!

Hey readers, welcome back to the good ol’ blog! Today’s tidbit of information about me is: I’m an enthusiastic Civil War reenactor with the 17th VA Company D and I will be proudly joining them on May 19th and 20th at the 148th Battle of New Market in New Market, VA. (This concludes my shameless plug).



When the crews of the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia squared off in the waterways of Hampton Roads, their minds were probably occupied with a single thought: launching cannonballs into the other ship. Though they did not know it, more eyes than just those of their immediate enemy were upon them: the whole world was watching the duel between these ironclads. As the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia fired at each other at point blank range, Britain and France could not help but notice that the cannon shots were bounced harmlessly off the armor plating of the combatants. While the wooden warships USS Cumberland and USS Congress had been savaged by the CSS Virginia’s cannons only a day earlier, the tiny, metal-plated USS Monitor made those same guns look like pea shooters.

This would be like firing a broadside


To many foreign nations of the world, especially Great Britain, the Battle of Hampton Roads made it clear that wooden warships were now completely obsolete. (Article HERE!) As the British reviewed their fleet, they found that the Battle of Hampton Roads had turned virtually all of their wooden ships – the biggest and most powerful navy in the world – into floating matchsticks. Of about 1,014 ships, all but FOUR of them were wooden ships. The HMS Warrior class of ship was the only ironclad the British had – very powerful and comfortably fast, but completely insufficient in number to protect the empire of Great Britain, the largest empire in the history of mankind.

We cannot allow the Americans to outclass our navy! After all, their President has but ONE top hat, and he HARDLY EVER WEARS IT!!


A great interest was therefore taken in the effectiveness of the iron armor on the ships, and large numbers of ironclad vessels of the HMS Warrior style were ordered. However, a problem was quickly discovered: what if everyone had iron-plated vessels? Would bigger and better guns be able to penetrate the relatively thick armor plating of these new ironclad opponents? This question set in motion a new arms race on the high seas, as the world’s leading maritime nations – especially Britain – set out to upgrade not only their ships, but their guns. Tune in next time, and discover exactly what kind of guns needed to be changed!

I'm the HMS Warrior, and these masts are almost completely for show