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The US Civil War and Military Innovation

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    Posted: 21-Jan-2008 at 14:26
Captain Cowper Coles of the RN had come uo with the turret design well before ericsson and the mointor. The problem with turrents was that they were unbalanced and made the ships unsuitable for deep ocean operations, especially with Iron Clads.
 


Edited by Sparten - 21-Jan-2008 at 14:29
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  Quote Cezar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jan-2008 at 13:11

Monitor vs Merrimack was kind of undecisive. Yet it showed the advantage of the turret, since most agree that Monitor had the upper hand. If Merrimack would have won, the turret design would have been eventually adopted, but that is the moment in history when it was proved worthy.

Submarines were used in the Civil War but what proved them worthy was WWI.
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jan-2008 at 14:28
 
Originally posted by drgonzaga

The significance of the ironclad in the annals of naval warfare has little to do with hull design but the emplacement of the turret gun! True the initial problem with the "monitor" class was the unbalanced turret (the center of mass was not the center of rotation) that caused dangerous listing, but this problem was resolved by the 1890s and essentially made the casemate gun secondary.
I'm not quite sure what you're referring to here. The casemate gun became unimportant long before the problem of unbalanced turrets was resolved. Even the Dreadnought class had unbalanced wing turrets.
 
Usually credit for the first dreadnought to eliminate the problem is given to the US South Carolina class.
 
In general though in considering the development of capital ship design from the mid-1900s to the turn of the century, the development of satisfactory long-range breech-loading rifled artillery was just as important as the mountings to put them in. Britain and France were closely competing on that (and Krupp's contribution was significant too). Again the US Civil War provided a useful experimental ground for their use in actual warfare.
 
And neither the turrets nor the guns could have been deployed without hull designs being strong enough...and engines had to be powerful and efficient enough...and muzzle velocities had to be high enough to make long barrels effective...and so on.
 
You can't really single out one single aspect.
 
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  Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jan-2008 at 16:26
The discussion was limited to the design of the Monitor as an ironclad and was not intended as a dissertation on naval technology in refining the problems of the turret. Nevertheless, it was the turret that distinguished the development of the battlewagons via the transitional armoured cruisers. Given that the iron-hulled warship itself antedates the Civil War (HMS Warrior, 1860), and E. J. Reed's HMVS Cerberus entered naval service in Australia in 1870 upon the premise of its turret guns, it is that aspect of the rotatable gun that proved the more memorable. 
 
 
It must be mentioned that John Ericsson pitched the turret battery (the revolving cupola) to Napoleon III in the 1850s as the transition to the iron hull was well underway and the premise was dismissed as a bit too radical and untested. The background and thoughts are captured in a contemporary document from 1862:
 
 
See also the following essays on that site:
 
 
PS: There's a typo in the post above above, I believe the dating should be "mid-1800s to the turn of the century".


Edited by drgonzaga - 24-Jan-2008 at 16:29
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jan-2008 at 20:11
 
Originally posted by drgonzaga

The discussion was limited to the design of the Monitor as an ironclad and was not intended as a dissertation on naval technology in refining the problems of the turret.
Well, the general topic of the thread is military (which I assume includes naval) innovation and the Civil War.
Armstrong, Whitworth and Dahlgren rifled breech-loaders, not solid-cast, were for instance just as important a part of that from a naval point of view as the development of turrets to house them in. They kind of go hand-in-hand.
Nevertheless, it was the turret that distinguished the development of the battlewagons via the transitional armoured cruisers. Given that the iron-hulled warship itself antedates the Civil War (HMS Warrior, 1860), and E. J. Reed's HMVS Cerberus entered naval service in Australia in 1870 upon the premise of its turret guns, it is that aspect of the rotatable gun that proved the more memorable. 
And Affondatore was laid down in Millwall in 1863, and delivered to the Italians in 1865, in time to become the first turretted warship to fight in a general fleet action in that fascinating mishmash of ship types and tactics at Lissa.
 
I'm not sure why you mentioned Warrior, which wasn't turretted, and wasn't the first ironclad, that being La Gloire a year or so earlier.
 
 
It must be mentioned that John Ericsson pitched the turret battery (the revolving cupola) to Napoleon III in the 1850s as the transition to the iron hull was well underway and the premise was dismissed as a bit too radical and untested. The background and thoughts are captured in a contemporary document from 1862:
 
Interesting enough, but I don't see any reference to turrets in the several pages.
 
See also the following essays on that site:
 
 
PS: There's a typo in the post above above, I believe the dating should be "mid-1800s to the turn of the century".
 
Yes.


Edited by gcle2003 - 24-Jan-2008 at 20:16
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  Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Jan-2008 at 20:27
La Gloire employed iron-sheeting over a wooden hull structure. In contrast HMS Warrior was fully iron-hulled.
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jan-2008 at 16:12
Originally posted by drgonzaga

La Gloire employed iron-sheeting over a wooden hull structure.
Which is why she was called an 'ironclad'. Approve
In contrast HMS Warrior was fully iron-hulled.
 
I'm still not sure why you mentioned her, since she wasn't turretted. Affondatore is relevant because she was the first turretted warship of any real use at sea. Monitor was a dead-end as far as sea-going vessels are concerned.


Edited by gcle2003 - 25-Jan-2008 at 16:13
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  Quote Cezar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jan-2008 at 08:45
Originally posted by gcle2003

 Monitor was a dead-end as far as sea-going vessels are concerned.
Warships means also rivers. Monitors were a significant parte of the forces of a lot of states that were at war after 1865.
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jan-2008 at 10:25
True, which is why I said 'as far as sea-going vessels are concerned'.
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  Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jan-2008 at 13:15
You are being argumentative since the general term "ironclad" includes all vessels whether maritime or riverine. The central issue is one of design with regard to purpose, but in terms of continuity the focus is the rotating turret gun. John Ericsson himself explained the reasons for the Monitor's specific hull design with regard to the conditions in which the vessel had to operate.
 
 
Thus, to call it a "dead-end" is inappropriate.
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jan-2008 at 14:42
 
Originally posted by drgonzaga

You are being argumentative since the general term "ironclad" includes all vessels whether maritime or riverine.
I wasn't being argumentative on that point at all. I simply pointed out that in my original post I said "as far as sea-going vessels are concerned". I could equally well have written "if one ignores riverboats", or I could have said "Monitor's successors were confined to rivers and inshore waters". All of those statements happen to be true, and I wasn't arguing with anybody.
 
The central issue is one of design with regard to purpose, but in terms of continuity the focus is the rotating turret gun. John Ericsson himself explained the reasons for the Monitor's specific hull design with regard to the conditions in which the vessel had to operate.
 
 
Thus, to call it a "dead-end" is inappropriate.

But I'm disputing the particular importance of the gun turret, at sea or anywhere else, as opposed to hull composition, hull length (Warrior was 100ft longer - nearly 50% - than any previous warship), breech-loading heavy guns, abandonment of cold-boring for guns, propulsion by propellor, and for that matter steam itself. The turret started with Monitor, agreed. Every other aspect of Monitor led nowhere, except for limited application in rivers and inshore.

The Ericsson link only emphasises the point. The turret itself was developed because the ship could not be manoeuvred in narrow waters so as to use fixed guns. The extra armour was necessary as a defence against shore batteries. Its shallow draught was to allow it to operate close inshore. Every aspect of its design points to the fact that it has no future except as an inshore/fresh water craft.
 
PS. What's wrong with being argumentative, anyway?
 


Edited by gcle2003 - 28-Jan-2008 at 14:43
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  Quote Cezar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jan-2008 at 10:26
The particular importance of an innovatio/invention is relative, gcle.
Funny, sea faring vessels are much more important for USA than for Russia, for example. So monitors were a far more useful ship for the russian than for the americans. Maybe gunboats could be considered an offspring, though distant, of Monitor. 
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jan-2008 at 11:17
 
Originally posted by Cezar

The particular importance of an innovatio/invention is relative, gcle.
So is pretty well anything. Relative to the development of modern warships in general,  Monitor is not a significant innovation. As a design she was much too specialised, and moreover the design didn't introduce any new theoretical principles. Within that speciality she was of course a significant precursor of other craft. Outside it, Merrimac was more in the main evolutionary stream, though, if course not particularly innovative.
 
That evolutionary stream goes back to the 1840s with Guadeloupe and HMS Birkenhead (aka Vulcan) marking the introduction of iron hulls and steam, though again, being paddle-wheel driven, they were even more of a dead end.
Funny, sea faring vessels are much more important for USA than for Russia, for example. So monitors were a far more useful ship for the russian than for the americans,
I don't see how you can say that. The Russian fleet throughout most of modern history (say, 18th-20th century) was more powerful than the American.
 
In terms of the strategic importance of the sea to them, I'd say they come out about even. Of course more wars have been fought on Russian territory than on US territory, but in those wars in the US shallow water boats have been of important strategic value, whether on the Mississippi or Lake Erie.
 . Maybe gunboats could be considered an offspring, though distant, of Monitor. 

River gunboats, yes.



Edited by gcle2003 - 29-Jan-2008 at 11:18
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  Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jan-2008 at 13:22

Gcle wrote:

But I'm disputing the particular importance of the gun turret, at sea or anywhere else, as opposed to hull composition, hull length (Warrior was 100ft longer - nearly 50% - than any previous warship), breech-loading heavy guns, abandonment of cold-boring for guns, propulsion by propellor, and for that matter steam itself. The turret started with Monitor, agreed. Every other aspect of Monitor led nowhere, except for limited application in rivers and inshore.

In that respect the same can be said of the battlewagons that were the ultimate result of iron-hulled technology. They too were technological dead-ends with the advent of new offensive technologies. The battleship as a direct descendant of the ship-of-the-line is obsolete as an offensive weapon (no matter the fiasco off the Lebanese coast in the 80's). World War II settled that question. Only craft conditionally designed (as was the Monitor) prevail.
 
Edited in the never ending gotchas between gcle and myself.


Edited by drgonzaga - 29-Jan-2008 at 21:26
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jan-2008 at 17:31
Actually, the Russian fleet during the 1904 War with Japan wasn't ready. IT might have been strong in numbers but it lacked the strategic plans to operate successfully on both sides of the planet.
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jan-2008 at 18:51
The question was whether the fleet was more important to Russia than the US fleet to the US. The defeat by Japan is pretty much evidence that the fleet was strategically important to Russia, since it pretty much cost them the war.
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  Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jan-2008 at 19:10
 
Originally posted by drgonzaga

Gcle wrote:

But I'm disputing the particular importance of the gun turret, at sea or anywhere else, as opposed to hull composition, hull length (Warrior was 100ft longer - nearly 50% - than any previous warship), breech-loading heavy guns, abandonment of cold-boring for guns, propulsion by propellor, and for that matter steam itself. The turret started with Monitor, agreed. Every other aspect of Monitor led nowhere, except for limited application in rivers and inshore.

In that respect the same can be said of the battlewagons that were the ultimate result of iron-hulled technology. They too were technological dead-ends with the advent of new offensive technologies.
The same can be said of anything, including probably as I've been arguing elsewhere, aircraft carriers.
 
That isn't what 'dead-end' means. 'Dead-end' means there were no subsequent developments from that particular innovation. And, as far as sea-going vessels are concerned, Monitor had no such descendants, whereas Warrior for instance did. So did Dreadnought. (That's not a criticism of Monitor, which was never intended to be used in the open sea.)
 
One could I suppose consider something like Affondatore as a dead-end since though she was turretted, she was purpose-built as a ram, and rams were never used in battle apart from Lissa (as far as I know), But at least sea-going rams continued to be built for the next half-century or so, so it was not an immediate dead-end, whatever the ultimate result.
 
The truth of the matter is that in the mid to late 19th century the field of naval development was wide open and all sorts of innovations were taking place, with every navy looking over the shoulders of every other one, and Britain in particular playing the part of shipbuilder to the world. Singling out one aspect in particular as particularly important is as pointless as trying to determine what was of most importance in the development of the tank: the turret, the gun, the tracks, the armour, the internal combustion engine, possibly something I've forgotten, when they are all inseparable and all necessary to the development.
 
Nothing about Monitor was unique or essential to the development of sea-going warships.
 
 
 The battleship as a direct descendant of the ship-of-the-line is obsolete as an offensive weapon (no matter the fiasco off the Lebanese coast in the 80's). World War II settled that question.
Are you suggesting that's news to anyone?
Only crafts conditionally designed (as was the Monitor) prevail.
 
Truism. Or wrong. Depending on what it means.
 
It's a truism in that all craft are designed for the conditions in which they are intended to operate: otherwise they fail.
 
It's wrong if it means that there are craft that are not conditionally designed.
 
And in this context the plural of 'craft' is 'craft'.
 
 
 
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  Quote Cezar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Feb-2008 at 13:27
I agree that Monitor is not an original design or idea. The point is that a warship proves to be good or bad only when it fights. Battlecruisers looked good, Jutland, showed their prowess. Therefore Monitor is not as important as MonitorvsMerrimack. It was the ship plus the battle that were important.
Anyway, I think that the Civil War was important as a whole, since many agree that it was the first total war.
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Feb-2008 at 19:01
whats the definition of total war?
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  Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Feb-2008 at 12:26
Originally posted by Temujin

whats the definition of total war?
 
Depends if you wish to follow Clausewitz and Absolute War or Ludendorff's premise of war as the subordination of politics to military exigency. In either event, you would still have to consider the ramifications raised by 16th century Just War Theory wherein any and all actions for a satisfactory conclusion, if the cause is correct (despite their questionable morality), are justified. Some wish to apply the definition soley with respect to the resutls of industrialization upon the technological capacities for the conduct of war so as to restrict definition within the parameters of the 19th and 20th centuries; while others seek to emphazise the historical spectrum and underscore that even under the Ludendorff premise, total wars have an ancient lineage. Guess much of the controversy stems from one's perception of war as either formalized ritual conducted under accepted mutual conventions and rules of engagement or as the full mobilization of one society for the purpose of "eliminating" another.
 
Some might state there is scant difference between the total destruction of Baghdad in the 13th century (1258) and the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945) as a means to terminate conflict, and the recourse to technological finery nothing more than a sophistry.
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