Union Ironclads


An ironclad was a steam-propelled warship in the later part of the 19th century, protected by iron or steel armor plates. The ironclad was developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships to explosive or incendiary shells. The first ironclad battleship, La Gloire, was launched by the French Navy in November 1859. The British Royal Navy had been considering armoured warships since 1856 and prepared a draft design for an armoured corvette in 1857, however in early 1859 the Royal Navy started building two iron-hulled armoured frigates, and by 1861 had made the decision to move to an all-armoured battlefleet. After the first clashes of ironclads (both with wooden ships and with one another) took place during the American Civil War, it became clear that the ironclad had replaced the unarmored ship of the line as the most powerful warship afloat. This type of ship would come to be very successful in the American Civil War.

USS Cairo
USS New Ironsides

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