The Civil War Connections Blog

The Navy Department Will Receive Offers….

This ad appeared in the New York Times - and several other papers in the northeast in early August of 1861

The knowledge that the Confederates were building an ironclad vessel prompted the Union into action. With the backing of Congress, the Navy Department took out advertisements in a number of newspapers across the northeast in early August, 1861. The Boston Daily Journal, New York Enquirer, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, New York Times, and The Baltimore Clipper among others all ran notices through the second week in August requesting proposals for ironclad steam vessels. The image above is from the New York Times.
With the advertisement in the appropriate publications, all Gideon Welles needed was a group to review these proposals. He also needed men who had no known opposition to the construction of ironclads. Chief Naval Constructor John Lenthall had expressed the opinion that many held in the spring of 1861 that “the necessarily large size, the cost and the time required for building an iron cased steam vessel is such that it is not recommended to adopt any plan at present.” Congress felt differently. Accordingly, on August 8, Commodore Joseph Smith, Commodore Hiram Paulding and Captain Charles Davis found themselves members of the Ironclad Board of the US Navy. Blue-water sailors to a man, these three were by no means experts on ironclad technology.

On August 9th, most of the ads had found their way to the newspapers.  Some ran on the 9th, but others began their run on the 10th.  There was a short turn-around for the proposals requested.  Intent to submit a proposal had to be known by August 15th.


Today – the New York Times is commemorating the initial ads with a spectacular article on the USS Monitor conservation effort underway here at The Mariners’ Museum in the Batten Conservation Complex. Thanks to reporter John Tierney for such a wonderful piece!