Saxon T. Bisbee
"HOW A VESSEL OF THIS MAGNITUDE WAS MOVED": A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF CONFEDERATE IRONCLAD STEAM ENGINES, BOILERS, AND PROPULSION SYSTEMS.
(Under the direction of Professor Bradley A. Rodgers) Department of History, Program in Maritime History, November 2012.
The development of steam propulsion machinery in warships during the 19th century in conjunction with iron armor and shell guns resulted in a technological revolution in the world's navies. Warships utilizing all of these technologies had been built in France and Great Britain dating back to the 1850s, but it was during the American Civil War that ironclads powered solely by steam proved themselves in large numbers. The armored warships built by the Confederate States of America especially represented a style adapted to scarce industrial resources and facilities. The development and/or procurement of propulsion machinery for these warships have received only peripheral study.
Through historical and archaeological investigation, this thesis consolidates and expands on the scattered existing information on Confederate ironclad steam engines, boilers, and propulsion systems. Using a comparative analytical approach, the steam plants of 27 ironclads are assessed by source, type, and performance, among other factors. This has resulted in an analysis of steam machinery development during the Civil War and also adds to the relatively small knowledge base relating to Confederate ironclads.