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Civil War Lecture: European Ironclad Evolution (1855 – 1870)

March 7, 2020 @ 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM EST

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Lecture begins at 2:30 PM

Civil War lectures are free with Museum admission, but reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited. Reserve seats below.

The lecture will be held in the Huntington Room. Please confirm upon check in at Visitor Services the classroom and location of the lecture.

The Battle of Sinope on November 30, 1853, ended the era of wooden ships. The Russian fleet, armed with shell guns, was able to completely destroy a Turkish fleet. Wooden walls simply could not withstand the devastating effect of explosive shells. Accordingly, during the Crimean War, the English and the French developed iron-cased floating batteries to destroy Russian fixed fortifications, but these vessels were slow and unseaworthy. Consequently, the French built the frigate La Gloire, using iron-hulled fabrication; and the British constructed two iron frigates: HMS Warrior and HMS Black Prince.

The Europeans watched as the American Civil War tested and influenced ship design that featured turrets, sloped armor, shell and rifled guns, and rams. These concepts were tested during the Austro-Hungarian fleet’s victory over the Italian navy during the June 20, 1866 Battle of Lissa. Every major European power created an ironclad navy containing various designs, including turrets and broadside battleships. By 1870, steam became the primary motive power as ironclad warships became larger and more heavily armed. The British laid down the last true ironclad in 1870 as nations then looked to construct steel warships with heavily gunned turrets. The continuous development of hull designs and armaments proved that changing technology now ruled the waves.


Read more about our Civil War lectures here…


March 7, 2020
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM EST


The Mariners’ Museum
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, VA 23606 United States
(757) 596-2222