Learning Lincoln On-line


Topic Sixty-four:  The Navy and Ironclads in the Civil War

Ironclads of the Civil War Learning Activity

National Ensign

Union Navy Jack

Confederate States National Ensign

Confederate Navy Jack


U.S. Civil War Naval Ships, Men and Battles--Confederate and Union
A Part of My Civil War Weapons & Warfare Activity Page
Click Here to Return or Visit Civil War Weapons Homepage

The turning point of the Civil War Naval War


. . . Admiral David Farragut took the last Confederate stronghold on the Gulf of Mexico in the celebrated Battle of Mobile Bay. The heavily guarded bay entrance was filled with mines, then known as torpedoes. Farragut's cry of "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" is now the stuff of legend, but it was also good tactics. All but one of the fleet's 18 ships passed safely through the channel, and in August 1864, Mobile Bay's forts fell. "Old Salamander" returned to Union territory a hero.


A . . . The men who invented, designed and built the ironclads-- The development of the ironclad gunboat idea started in Europe.  The inventor of the U.S.S. Monitor, in America, was John Ericsson James Buchanan Eads was responsible for planning and designing the U.S. Navy ironclad fleet, and conversion of wood ships to iron gunboats.   John Rodgers was given the contract to build the fleet.  In this order, you should read about each of the men mentioned.  Write a short essay about each considering mostly their role in making the ironclad.  Take the essay and mount it to a poster for each illustrating their projects. A computer presentation would also work well. 

B . . . Anti-ironclad Navy commanders and politicians fought the conversion.  The problem was that there would be no choice.  Confederates were building the fearsome Merrimac (C.S.S. Virginia).  Read about the politics and opinions in this website.  Make a list of the antagonists, and describe what each thought about "ironclad" ships.  What did President Lincoln think about "ironclad ships?"  Read the article to find information about the building of the ironclad Monitor.

C . . . The USS Monitor and the Merrimac (CSS Virginia) were the first ironclads built and used in the U.S., during the Civil War.  Read about each ship, and make a timeline for each considering any ships they sunk, members of the crews, the biggest battle between them, who won that battle, and finally what happened to each ship after that battle.  You can present this information in a computer presentation or a poster.

D . . . As the war went on, ironclad gunboats were very important to the Army in winning battles.  Research "Civil War naval battles" to find three battles that the Union or Confederate side won because of ironclad help.  Make a computer presentation or poster illustrating and describing the battles you chose, and the role the ironclads played.


Check the U.S. Navy Civil War Sesquicentennial Blog Site for a Series of Articles

Go to Ironclads site for information

Great Naval Battles of the Civil War

Visit the Ironclad Gunboat Site for Information

You can record your answers in a Navy Form each part of the activity.

Return to the Ironclads Directions Page

Learning On-Line Home Page