The Civil War Connections Blog

150 Years of “Stupidity”?

A few weeks prior I made post about Abraham Lincoln suspending habeas corpus and the role of civil liberties during war time.  I am happy to report that the writers of Scientific American were apparently not too worried about the rights of the press being infringed upon during the Civil War.  In an article published 150 years ago today in Scientific American the publication openly bashed the American Navy and all those in charge of ship production.  According to the article the press has been pestering the government in trying to get them to build more ironclad ships.



The practical intelligence of the country has suffered an outrage, by the imbecility of the naval authorities.  The press for a year past has strenuously urged upon the government, the importance of building iron-clad gun boats.  Their better judgment in this matter has not been regarded, and the result is millions of dollars have been expended upon wooden ships, which are worthless against an iron-plated gun boat of the most ordinary character.  The whole naval management at Fortress Monroe appears to have been a splendid piece of stupidity and the Navy Department is, no doubt, in the hands of those who are too much wedded to old notions.  It appears that there has been a want of efficiency in this department, which may yet cost the country additional disgrace.


After the conclusion of the Battle of Hampton Roads no one can debate the usefulness of ironclads, especially in regards to how they fair against the now obsolete wooden ships.  What the author of this article may not realize is that ironclads are not only extremely costly but also very difficult to build.  For example parts of the USS Monitor, which had been built less than a year ago, had to be made at ironworks all across the country and it still was not finished on time.  Although it is also possible whoever wrote this article took all this in to account but in an effort to possibly sell more papers wanted to criticize the Navy and the government.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.