The Civil War Connections Blog

Meet Joseph Smith…

Joseph Smith was the senior member of the Ironclad Board.  Born in Boston in 1790, Smith had already distinguished himself during the Battle of Lake Champlain in 1814, fought in the Second Barbary War in 1815, and by 1861, at the age of 71, had been  tirelessly commanding the Navy’s Bureau of Docks and Yards for 15 years.  Smith understood the need for technical innovations in naval construction from a practical standpoint.  However, though professional through and through, he may have had a personal interest in outfitting the Union navy with the best current technology had to offer.  His son, also named Joseph, was in the US Navy, and was currently stationed in Hampton Roads as Executive Officer of the USS Congress, uneasily waiting to see what was to become of his former ship the Merrimack in the hands of the Confederacy.  The elder Smith was keenly watching the situation as well.