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Before Ironclads

Before the ironclads of the American Civil War, the navies of the United States and Confederate States consisted of wooden ships. Their discoveries in technology allowed the designers to upgrade from their fragile wooden crafts, to iron fortresses with durable armor capable of deflecting lethal cannon rounds. At the beginning, the mainstay of both Northern and Southern the blockading fleets were gunboats and sloops. Made of wood and designed to fight with ships of similar design, they operated while the raiders and privateers preyed on the enemy's merchant marine. Privateers were privately owned vessels operating with the agreement of their own government, and made their profit from vessels captured and sold in a prize court set on shore. Then there were cruisers, who were mainly used to patrol the open ocean highways and hunt down the raiders. They were not suited to fight ironclads though, which had superior protection. Cruisers also acted as blockaders along the coasts and deeper rivers. At the initial outbreak of war, most boats were derived from what used to be ferryboats and fishing boats. China and upholstered furniture were tossed overboard as they were converted into warships. To compensate for a lack of naval guns, army field pieces were snatched from forts and wheeled onto tarred deckings, then lashed down. Then, someone got the crazy idea to nail iron plating onto the ship’s wooden surfaces. That act alone revolutionized naval ships more than anything had before (see ironclads for more info)

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