NAVAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE DIFFUSION OF NINETEENTH-CENTURY MARITIME INNOVATION OF THE SASSACUS-CLASS DOUBLE ENDER, USS OTSEGO.
(Under the direction of Professor Lawrence Babits) Department of History, April 2008.
This research explores the expansion of nineteenth-century marine innovations through the broad analysis of vessel technologies using steam power and iron-built hull construction. As the primary catalysts, or parents, of other related innovations (including screw propulsion, condensers, boilers, armor, armament, and so forth), these ideas would eventually become the focal point for Civil War vessel production, despite a previous resistance to adopt them into the conventional military and commercial environments of the period. Between 1861 and 1865, the rapid acceptance of these wartime marine innovations was attributed to a number of factors that, combined, allowed different technologies to "skip over" initial production stages. The result of this new production created an overnight shift in mainstream vessel production that was unlike any other that preceded it.
It is against this backdrop that this thesis examines, through archaeological and historic reconstructions, the innovation of double-ended vessel designs used in the Sassacus-class and one of its ships, the USS Otsego. Analysis includes the historic background into double-ended vessel construction, examining not only broad changes in construction styles, but also specific attributes for different double-ender classes and the role of private shipbuilders in this process. Archaeological documentation of the Otsego (ROR0009) site provides a comparative analysis to historic data, including assessments made through qualitative vessel reconstructions, site documentation, and artifact examination. Combined historic and archaeological examinations of the Otsego and its class reveal various attributes related to its technological function and value in these rapidly changing environments.