CSS ARKANSAS: THE YAZOO CITY IRONCLAD

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CSS Arkansas. Sepia wash drawing, R.G. Skerrett, 1904. Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC.

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Russell Mallory immediately recognized the need to construct ironclads to defend the South’s harbors and the Mississippi River watershed. By October 1861, there were five ironclads under construction in New Orleans, Cerro Gordo, Tennessee, and Memphis. It would be an extreme challenge to place these ironclads in the water as effective warships with limited industrial infrastructure. It was all about the questions of time, iron, workers, and engines!

CONTRACT SECURED 

Mallory knew that it was imperative to block the Union gunboats’ ascent down the Mississippi River. As Mallory grappled with starting ironclad construction projects, prominent Memphis riverboat constructor and businessman John T. Shirley traveled to Richmond to meet with Mallory to obtain a contract to build two ironclads at Memphis. These boats were to support Confederate fortifications defending the river. Shirley’s contract entailed building the CSS Arkansas and Tennessee at the cost of $76,920 each. Before leaving Richmond, Shirley consulted with Chief Naval Constructor John Luke Porter to gain knowledge of casemate design. [1]   Read more

Newly Conserved Artifacts Now on Display!

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Just in time for Battle of Hampton Roads weekend, 10 newly conserved artifacts are now on display at the USS Monitor Center, helping to tell the story of the Monitor and the CSS Virginia.

Visitors to the Monitor Center are now greeted by the muzzle of a IX-inch Dahlgren shell gun which was used on board the Virginia on March 8th, the first day of the Battle of Hampton Roads.  A shot fired by the USS Cumberland damaged its muzzle and the gun was retired and later captured by the Union Navy as ‘Trophy No. 1’ This gun with its beautiful commemorative inscription is on loan to The Mariners’ Museum from the US Navy and has recently been cleaned and conserved.  During the process, Will found a number of historic ‘graffitti’ inscriptions not previously visible.   Read more

Moving a cannon is tough work!

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Yesterday we moved a recently conserved IX inch Dahlgren from the CSS Virginia, on loan from our friends at the Naval History and Heritage Command, into The Monitor Center.

What does it take to move a 9000 lb cannon? A lot of planning, and plenty of back muscle from the Museum’s Conservation and Exhibit Design staff members!   Read more