Date of Award

Winter 1992

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Harold S. Wilson

Committee Member

Willard C. Frank

Committee Member

Patrick J. Rollins


Of the ironclads completed by the Union during the Civil War, only the U.S.S. New Ironsides was a seagoing, high-freeboard design. Her seagoing qualities and heavy battery made her uniquely valuable to the Union in combat. Although New Ironsides was highly successful and her high-freeboard design squarely in the European mainstream, she represented the last of her direct line in the U.S. Navy. The lessons learned from her construction and wartime service, which should have provided invaluable instruction for U.S. designers, were not followed up. By failing to develop the seagoing ironclad the United States forfeited the advantages it might have gained over European navies from its extensive combat experience. The Navy was unable to convince Congress that money for ironclads would be well spent, and the U.S. Navy's best opportunity to build a seagoing ironclad fleet was lost for a generation.


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