Ironclads were warships meant to be immune to enemy fire and shell by virtue of their iron-armored timber hulls. The Civil War revealed ironclads' supremacy and transformed naval combat. In June 1861, the Confederacy determined that ironclad vessels would best fit its demands. The Confederacy ordered two ships from Britain and one each from France and Germany. All four vessels were launched within months and all saw action in the war.
Ironclads proved highly effective against wooden ships and their artillery. They could withstand gunfire from large guns on shore while our old friend, the USS Georgia, was fired upon by Confederate cannon at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in September 1864. But they were no match for modern steel warships, which dominated naval warfare after the Civil War. Two Union ships were destroyed by ironclads in single battles: the U.S. Navy's Merrimack, defeated by the CSS Virginia in May 1862; and the U.S. Army's Cumberland, sunk by the Confederate ironclad H.L. Hunley in February 1864.
The Civil War also saw the first use of torpedoes in battle. A Confederate ship torpedoed the U.S. Navy's USS President in March 1864. Although the ship survived, this attack contributed to the demise of the ship-torpedo as a weapon system.
Due to its limited construction capability, the Confederate navy determined that it would be more profitable to build a few invincible vessels to confront the numerically stronger Union navy. The first two ironclads were launched in America -- one at Buffalo and the other at Hoboken, New Jersey -- but neither was completed until after the outbreak of war.
Although they were not as advanced as their Union counterparts, the Confederates did develop a number of armored boats for use on inland waters. These vessels were not designed to duel with their enemy's ships but rather to protect their gunboats from attack by underwater mines or torpedoes.
The Confederates also developed a ramming weapon called a "cannon boat". This vessel was powered by a large cannon that was mounted on a platform above the waterline. When fired, the projectile would strike the target on its way out. Although never completed, this type of vessel might have been used in the future had there been enough material available during its development stage.
In conclusion, the Confederates did use ironclads in the naval wars between the States. However, they were only involved in small scale actions up until the end of their existence.
Ironclads were warships with iron-armored timber hulls that were impenetrable to enemy fire and shell. These ships are also known as rams, armorclads, iron gophers, iron elephants, iron coffins, turtle-backs, and mud-crushers. They were designed by American inventor Isaac Roos in 1857 and constructed in several countries including the United States.
These ships were used in the naval battles of their time, mainly against other ironclads. They were very effective weapons that could withstand high explosive shells fired from other guns. However, they were slow and difficult to maneuver, which made them vulnerable to gunboats and other lighter vessels.
The main advantage of ironclads over traditional ships was their ability to withstand gunfire. Their thick metal plating kept most shots away from their vital areas, allowing them to fight for longer periods without repairs. Traditional ships had one weak spot where the wood met the waterline where it was exposed to attack. The sides of an ironclad could be shot away and still remain afloat because its weight was distributed across a large area. Ironclads were capable of carrying out many attacks before they too were destroyed.
There were three types of ironclads: floating batteries, battle ships, and protectors. Floating batteries were anchored off-shore in shallow waters where they could bombard land targets from a safe distance.
The ironclad's influence on warfare is that it represents the commencement of modern combat in the naval realm. They were stronger than their wooden forefathers and shielded by steel and metal, making them more difficult to demolish. The development of ironclads also pushed tacticians and admirals to reconsider their naval combat methods. Previously, naval battles were decided by who had the most ships and sailors. With ironclads, tactics had to be changed to account for these new vessels which were not easily sunk or driven away from a battle.
Overall, ironclads were a major advancement in naval warfare because they could resist damage better than previous ships and they forced commanders to adapt their tactics accordingly. However, despite their success against wooden ships, ironclads were still vulnerable to artillery and explosive shells. Also, they could not operate in shallow waters without risking being stranded. Finally, they could not be used in large numbers in coastal defenses because of their high cost.
After the introduction of ironclads, other naval powers began to build similar vessels. These other ships were called armored frigates and they served as a counter to the ironclad. In the end, the ironclad proved to be too expensive and too fragile for regular use in combat missions but they did lead to an evolution in naval warfare where ships now had to be considered too valuable to risk in open water battles.
In early 1862, the Union and Confederacy were engaged in one of the Civil War's most significant weapons competitions. While both navies continued to rely on wooden ships, both sides bet on innovative "ironclad" battleships with steam engines, massive guns, and armor plate protecting their hulls. The Confederates had been building wooden vessels since the beginning of the war, but the Union's experience with its own ironclad, the USS Monitor, helped lead it to victory over the Confederate fleet at the Battle of Hampton Roads in March 1862.
Although the South eventually built several ironclads, they never matched the technological advancement or offensive capabilities of their enemy. The North's dominance on the seas allowed it to transport much-needed supplies to its troops on land. By 1864, when the last battle of the Civil War took place at the Petersburg Siege, the North had the advantage because it could sail across the Atlantic with enough food to feed hundreds of thousands of people. In fact, the North had become so powerful that when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, his death didn't bring an end to the war but only delayed it by two years while the Union army continued to win battles on land and on the sea.
The South, on the other hand, was crippled by slavery and divided into two military factions. With no central government in charge, there was little coordination between the states' armies which led to many defeats for the South on the battlefield.