1863 February 28: Ironclads and Canals
Following are three shorter articles from The Polk County Press of February 28, 1863.
New Ocean Iron-Clads to be Built.
In a few days proposals will be issued for the construction of three enormous ocean iron-clad men-of-war, similar to the Dictator and Puritan, now in course of construction in this neighborhood. They will be over four hundred feet long, and much more formidable than either the Warrior¹ or Gloire². The iron armor on the turrets will be no less than two feet thick, and the outside bow, which will be of iron, will be as sharp as the blade of a knife. The battery will surpass anything hitherto conceived. If present indications can be relied on, ordnance people will be able to cast a twenty inch gun, which can discharge a half ton weight of iron at a single shot. Two or more of these will be on board. As the crushing force of a 450 pound ball is 900 tons, the effect of the future ammunition may be imagined. New York being the only place where work of such magnitude could be performed, it is safe to say that some of our constructors will have the new craft on the stocks before July.—Such vessels cannot, however, be built in less than a year.—New York World.
CAIRO, FEB. 17.—A skirmish took place on the 13th inst., near Bolivar, Tenn., between a detachment of the 1st U. S. Cavalry and a body of Rebels. The result was four dead rebels, a number wounded, and five prisoners and a number of horses captured. Federal loss nothing.
The Polar Star from Vicksburg brings dates to Wednesday. The work on the canal, and at Lake Providence,³ and Yazoo Pass, was progressing.
The 14th Wisconsin and 11th Illinois regiments were attacked near Lake Providence, Tuesday, by three rebel regiments. The latter were repulsed and a number taken prisoners—One report says an entire Mississippi regiment.
The Steamer White Cloud, from St Louis for Memphis, was searched at Island No. 10, and a rebel mail found on board.
The letter of our Helena correspondent discloses an important fact in regard to the movements of Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] against Vicksburg. Yazoo Pass is on the left bank of the Mississippi, about six miles below Helena [Arkansas]. It leads into Yazoo River some distance from its mouth. General Grant, by cutting the levee of this pass, floods and [sic] immense extent of the enemy’s country, and opens communication for small gunboats and steamboats through to a point in the rear of Vicksburg. By these means it is supposed he will be able to capture the enemy’s transport fleet, now safely protected in the Yazoo River by the rebel batteries at Haines’ Bluff, and at the same time trasport a large land force, with which to cut off the Vicksburg army from the communications with the interior. The undertaking is great and hazardous, but we are assured it will be pushed through to successful results.
1. The HMS Warrior was the first armor-plated, iron-hulled warship, built for the British Royal Navy in response to France’s ironclad Gloire. The Warrior was commissioned in 1861.
2. The French Navy’s La Gloire (“Glory”) was the first ocean-going ironclad battleship in history, commissioned in 1860.
3. The town of Lake Providence, Louisiana, was established as a supply depot and base of operations for Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign when the Union Army arrived in the spring of 1862.