Civil War Wiki
New Ironsides with Sails
USS New Ironsides under both steam and sail
Career US flag 35 stars
Name: USS New Ironsides
Ordered: 16 September 1861
Builder: William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Building Company
Laid down: 15 October 1861
Launched: 10 May 1862
Commissioned: 21 August 1862
Decommissioned: 7 April 1865
Fate: destroyed by fire, 16 December 1866
General characteristics
Type: Broadside Ironclad
  • 3,486 tons
  • 4,120 tons full load
Length: 230 ft (70 m)
Beam: 57 ft 6 in (17.53 m)
Draft: 15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)
Propulsion: 4 Martin boilers, 1-shaft horizontal direct acting steam engine, 700 ihp (515 kW)
Speed: 7-8 knots
Complement: 449 officers and men
  • 2x150-pounder Parrott rifles
  • 2x50-pounders Dahlgren rifles
  • 14x11-inch Dahlgren smoothbore cannons
  • Iron Belt: 4½-3 inch (11.4-7.6cm)
  • Battery: 4½ inch (11.4cm)
  • Deck: 1 inch (2.5cm)
  • Bulkheads: 2.5 inches (6.3cm)
  • USS New Ironsides was a broadside ironclad United States Civil War ship, named in honor of USS Constitution, which earned the nickname "Old Ironsides" during her engagement with HMS Guerrière in the War of 1812. As the USS Constitution herself was still in commission, the name was unavailable for a new ship. It was built in 1861 by Merrick & Sons at the C. H. and W. H. Cramp shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the last and largest of an initial group of three ocean-going ironclads ordered to meet the needs of the Civil War. Launched on 10 May 1862, it was commissioned in August that year. Following a lengthy fitting-out period, New Ironsides joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in January 1863. New Ironsides operated in support of the blockade of Charleston, South Carolina for the rest of the year, and took part in several attacks on the Confederate fortifications protecting the city. New Ironsides boasted a heavy broadside battery of eight heavy guns on each side which, in addition to her armor protection, made her uniquely valuable for bombardment actions.

    The first bombardment operation took place on 7 April 1863, when nine Union ironclads entered Charleston harbor and conducted a prolonged, but inconclusive, bombardment of Fort Sumter. New Ironsides was repeatedly hit by enemy cannon fire, but suffered no serious damage, unlike several accompanying vessels. During the summer of 1863 New Ironsides battered Confederate positions in the successful campaign to take Fort Wagner on Morris Island; in the process the ship was the target of a spar torpedo boat attack on 21 August. Another such attack by CSS David on the night of October 5, 1863 damaged the ironclad. The damage was insignificant, and she remained on station until May 1864 when she returned to Philadelphia for repairs and a general overhaul.

    With the completion of this work in late August 1864, New Ironsides was recommissioned and joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in October. She participated in a major assault in December on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in an effort to stop blockade running into the port of Wilmington. Though this attack was called off on Christmas Day after an extensive bombardment, the Union fleet returned to resume the operation on 13 January 1865. New Ironsides was one of several warships that heavily shelled Fort Fisher, preparing the way for a ground assault that captured the position on 15 January. Afterwards New Ironsides supported Union activities in the Hampton Roads area for the next few months. She was decommissioned on 7 April 1865 and was laid up at League Island, Philadelphia, where on December 16, 1866, USS New Ironsides was accidentally destroyed by fire due to an unattended stove.

    Medals of Honor[]

    During the Civil War, the following crewmen of the USS New Ironsides were awarded the Medal of Honor:


    • Coker, P. C., III. Charleston's Maritime Heritage, 1670-1865: An Illustrated History. Charleston, S.C.: Coker-Craft, 1987. 314 pp.
    • Gardiner, Robert (1979). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905. Conway Maritime Press. p. 118. ISBN 0 85177 133 5. 

    This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

    da:USS New Ironsides (1862)