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Cyber-Ironclad, the encyclopedia of military ships of the nineteenth century : The industrial era of Jules Verne and Brunel was taken of the upheavals on ships that have altered global geopolitics... Not another generic steampunk website despite the timeframe and style, its only goal is to brought to light long forgotten ships and battles of the industrial era.

News 01/11/2013 :
USS KEOKUK (1862)
Union Turret Ironclad Ram.

USS Keokuk

The Union warship known as Keokuk was born USS Moodna, built on purpose as an experimental ironclad, with several innovative features. She was designed by engineer Charles W. Whitney for New York City's J.S. Underhill Shipyards, 11th Street. She was named after the eponym city in Iowa and launched on 6 secember 1862, with one of the shortest active life or any USN vessel to date.

The Keokuk was the first US warship to be almost entirely built of iron, as wood only apply to deck planking and to fill the armor cladding support. The hull comprised five iron box keelsons and the armor was made of 100 iron frames, one by four feets thick spaced 18in between centers, alternated with yellow pine slats. The hull was then covered by 1/2 in armour plates, for a total side thickness of 5.75 in (156mm). The decks comprised integral iron cross beams with no transverse planking. Although the ship was quite wide, the bridge itself, due to the sloped sides, was narrow. The bow and stern section were water ballasts which could be flooded to lower the waterline and present the slopest angle to enemy fire -the water itself was seen as an excellent protection below the waterline.

The ship was 160ft x 36ft x 8ft6 (48.6 x 11 x 2.6m), with a 688 short tons dispacement. It was propelled by two shafts, actioned by two 2-cylinder 250hp steam engines, and could reach 9 knots at full speed. There were nine auxiliary steam engines for various electrical systems on board.
The armament comprised two eight-face turrets pierced by multiple ports, each with a single 11-in Dahlgren rifled guns, and the reinforced ram.

The USS Keokuk was accepted in service in march 1863, with Commander Alexander C. Rhind as commander and a crew of 92 officers and men. First assignation was the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She was due to participate in the attack of Charleston. But en route, on march, 17, one of her propeller was fouled in an anchor buoy line, and she has to be repaired at Hampton roads. On the 26, she steamed to port Royal, then took part in laying buoys with USS Bibb, to guide the approaches to Charleston for Admiral Francis DuPont fleet of 11 ironclads.

The attack was postponed due to bad weather, and renewed on april, 7. But the operation was a near fiasco and few progresses were made due to torpedoes and other Southern obstructions, until the fleet was in reach of Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter. Then, other obstructions combined to a very high tide made the ships unmanageable, while being sitting ducks for the fort's accurate fire. The Keokuk, to avoid collision with the USS Nahant, almost ran aground at only 600 yards (550m) of Fort Sumter. For half an hour, she was pounded at point-blank range, hit ninety times, hopefully attracting the gunners attention while other ships could disengage. The underwater protection was quickly proven unsufficient after beeen hit several times, and the ship was flooded. Eventually USS Keokuk was able to disengage and leave "completely riddled", thanks to the skills of the pilot, Robert Small. The crew managed to keep her afloat until the next day, when a breeze aggravated the flooding, and the ship listed and finally sank off Morris Island, slowly enough to be evacuated. 14 men of the crew were wounded, including Captain Rhind and the quartermaster Robert Anderson (later awarded the Medal of Honor). Gunnery Ensign Mackintosh was the only man to die later from his wounds.

Later on, a federal survey concluded that the ship, filled with sand, was unable to be refloated and it was decided to left the wreck there. CSS officer P.G.T. Beauregard however mounted a salvage operation for retrieving the two precious Dahlgren guns. The operation led by civil engineer Adolphus W. LaCoste was performed at night, at low tide, under the protection of the CSS Palmetto State and Chicora. The guns were later mounted ashore and active until the end of the war.

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"The imperium came from the sea"


The eighteenth century was a pivotal era for ships and ships warfare as well as in many other areas. It started at the dawn of the new century, with Fulton and other pioneer experiments and because over a period including ships built beyond any late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century (ending in 1905, years before the issue of Dreadnought), old fashioned tactics and relatively short range gunnery still prevailed : After all, Tsushima was fought at relatively short range in a classic broadside fashion. This website focuses on navies of the 1850's to 1905, a timeframe able to classify many ships built, converted and sunk between. In fact, the historical episodes considered, it will also issue a navy punctual screenshot on a particular date :

Cyber ironclad Timeframe :

1850 is the first marker, because if the mixed civilian steamships have a long history, naval strategists of the time still see no serious military application in them. Only transports, gunboats, sloops and dispatch vessels powered by steam for the needs of the fleet have some comprehensive use. Since 1830, armed steamers are a growing part in the fleets. But the bulk of the workforce is made up of pure sailing ships, tall multi-deckers that tradition required and fast frigates, with impressive crews and a harsh discipline.

1954 is a new kind of alliance of British and French forces against Russia in Crimea. The two-decker steamship Napoleon demonstrated the usefulness of its propulsion, urging the British in their turn to convert many sailing ships, as at the same time, the very first ironclads of the Tonnante class showed a clear superiority over land fortifications.

1861 is another date to consider as it takes us to the beginning of the secession war, which lasts until 1865 and saw the development of new revolutionary ships. But also in Europe the commissioning of the world first all-iron battleships (Iron Duke) in response to the 1859 French ironclad Gloire. The new warring sea kings.

1870 is the Franco-Prussian War: Ironclads are now top the list of fleets, supported by many mixed vessels. If the war itself is ground-based and short, the panorama offered this year on the fleets of the world is appealing and a turning point where new solutions and experiments are tested, notably, the sail began to loose ground and the steam-only solution gain credits.

1890 at the time of the Fashoda crisis, the face of world naval powers has changed: Several newcomers made their appearance in this game of maritime and colonial powers such as France and Britain: Unified Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, are in a position to stage an impressive potential, which herald the new equilibrium that will prevail in 1914. Russia will soon reach the height of his power, while Japan emerged from feudalism to enter resolutely into the race with the industrial empires of the world, and USA obsolete "old navy" is on the brink of change. The sail is clearly dying, but torpedo and mine are now serious threats. A new era. The inherited chivalrous spirit gives way to cold reality mechanics.

1894 is the first illustration of this new era : Japan attacked China, still partly in the hands of Western outlets, and is mostly a comparison of western technologies and tactics through a duel of Asian fleets, one agonising, another rising.

1898 is the "splendid little war", which saw the old, crumbling Spanish colonial Empire facing a dashing, young American nation that awakened as a sea power.

1905 It's a final picture, just before the shifting of power and surging of new technologies of 1914. The prologue will be the last Sino-Japanese War of 1905. The following year, leaving the HMS Dreadnought and the battlecruiser which are still evolving maritime concepts. For more information, see "battles"