The American Iron-Clad VesselsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1137, p. 305.
is a long, wide, and flat-bottomed vessel, with vertical sides and pointed ends, requiring but a very shallow depth of water to float in, though heavily loaded with impregnable armour on her sides and a bombproof deck, on which is placed a shotproof revolving turret, which contains two very heavy guns. She is so low In the water as to afford no target for an enemy, and everything and everybody is below the waterline with the exception of the persons working the guns, who are protected by the shotproof turret. The sides of the vessel are first formed of plate iron, half an inch thick, outside of which is attached solid white oak 26in. thick, outside of this again is rolled iron armour 5in. thick. The bombproof deck is supported by heavy braced oak beams, upon which is laid planking 7in. thick, covered with rolled plate iron 1in. thick. The turrets consist of a rolled plate iron skeleton, 1in. thick, to which are riveted two thicknesses of 1in. each of rolled iron plates. Outside of this again are six plates of rolled iron, all firmly bolted together, with nuts inside, so that if a plate is started it can be at once tightened again. The top is covered with a bombproof roof, perforated with holes. The lower part of the gun-carriages consists of solid wrought-iron beams. These are planed perfectly true, and are placed parallel in the turret, both of the guns pointing in the same direction. The ports in the side of the tunnel are only large enough to permit the muzzle of the gun to be thrust through. Inside of them are wrought-iron pendulums, which close them against the enemy as soon as the gun recoils. She is armed with two of the largest Dahlgren guns, made to revolve by a pair of steam engines placed beneath the deck. The lower vessel is of iron, ½in. thick, and made in the usual manner. She carries her machinery, coal, &c., aft, and forward the officers' quarters, ammunition, and stores. The two partitions of the vessel are separated by a wrought-iron bulkhead. The officers' quarters are roomy and handsome, and are ventilated and lighted by openings from the deck. Her machinery consists of two horizontal tubular boilers, containing 3000 square feet of fire surface, and two horizontal condensing-engines of 40-inch diameter of cylinder, and 22-inch stroke of piston. The propeller is 9ft. in diameter, and 16ft. stroke. It has four blades. The pilot-house is only a few feet above the deck, the helmsman standing on a platform below it. This, and the turret, are the only things above the surface of the deck.
was formerly the United States' frigate of that name, which was scuttled and sunk at the Norfolk Navy-yard, at the commencement of the rebellion, by the officers of the Union Government, to prevent her falling into the hands of the Confederates. She was built at Charleston in 1855, and was pierced for forty guns. Her last service had been in the Pacific squadron. After the Confederates took possession of the yard she was raised and converted into a man-of-war for their own use. Her bull was cut down to within three feet of her water-mark, and a bombproof house built on her gun deck. She was also iron-plated, and her bow and stern steel-clad, with a projecting angle of iron for the purpose of piercing vessels. She has no masts, and there is nothing to be seen over her gun-deck, with the exception of her pilot-house and smokestack. Her bombproof is three inches thick, and is made of wrought Iron. Her armament consists of four 11-inch navy guns on each side, and two 100-pounder Armstrong guns at the bow and stern. Last November she made a trial-trip from Norfolk, running down so close to Fortress Monroe as to be seen by the naked eye, but ventured no nearer. Although she was looked upon by the Confederates as a tough customer for a vessel or vessels not protected as she is, she remained inactive anchored off Norfolk until her present engagement. The Merrimac was commanded by Franklin Buchanan, formerly of the Union Navy.