A challenge to the prevailing idea that Confederate ironclads were inherently defective.
The development of steam propulsion machinery in warships during the nineteenth 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 were built in France and Great Britain in the 1850s, but it was during the American Civil War that large numbers of ironclads powered solely by steam proved themselves to be quite capable warships.
Historians have given little attention to the engineering of Confederate ironclads, although the Confederacy was often quite creative in building and obtaining marine power plants. Engines of Rebellion: Confederate Ironclads and Steam Engineering in the American Civil War focuses exclusively on ships with American built machinery, offering a detailed look at marine steam-engineering practices in both northern and southern industry prior to and during the Civil War.
Beginning with a contextual naval history of the Civil War, the creation of the ironclad program, and the advent of various technologies, Saxon T. Bisbee analyzes the armored warships built by the Confederate States of America that represented a style adapted to scarce industrial resources and facilities. This unique historical and archaeological investigation consolidates and expands on the scattered existing information about Confederate ironclad steam engines, boilers, and propulsion systems.
Through analysis of steam machinery development during the Civil War, Bisbee assesses steam plants of twenty-seven ironclads by source, type, and performance, among other factors. The wartime role of each vessel is discussed, as well as the stories of the people and establishments that contributed to its completion and operation. Rare engineering diagrams never before published or gathered in one place are included here as a complement to the text.