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Fulton's "Steam Battery": Blockship and Catamaran

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93 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Fulton's "Steam Battery": Blockship andCatamaran, by Howard I. ChapelleThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: Fulton's "Steam Battery": Blockship and CatamaranAuthor: Howard I. ChapelleRelease Date: February 4, 2010 [EBook #31179]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK FULTON'S "STEAM BATTERY": ***Produced by Colin Bell, Louise Pattison, Joseph Cooper andthe Online Distributed Proofreading Team athttp://www.pgdp.netTranscriber’s Notes:This is Paper 39 from the Smithsonian Institution United States National Museum Bulletin 240, comprising Papers 34-44, which will also beavailable as a complete e-book.The front material, introduction and relevant index entries from the Bulletin are included in each single-paper e-book.Corrections to typographical errors are underlined like this. Mouse over to view the original text.SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTIONUNITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUMBULLETIN 240Smithsonian Press LogoSMITHSONIAN PRESSMUSEUM OF HISTORY AND TECHNOLOGYContributionsFrom theMuseumof History andTechnologyPapers 34-44On Science and TechnologySMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION · WASHINGTON, D.C. 1966Publications of the United States National MuseumThe scholarly and scientific publications of the United ...
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Fulton's "SteamBattery": Blockship andCatamaran, by Howard I. ChapelleThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at nocost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project GutenbergLicense includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: Fulton's "Steam Battery": Blockship andCatamaranAuthor: Howard I. ChapelleRelease Date: February 4, 2010 [EBook #31179]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOKFULTON'S "STEAM BATTERY": ***Produced by Colin Bell, Louise Pattison, JosephCooper andthe Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
the Online Distributed Proofreading Team athttp://www.pgdp.netTranscriber’s Notes:This is Paper 39 from the Smithsonian InstitutionUnited States National Museum Bulletin 240,comprising Papers 34-44, which will also be availableas a complete e-book.The front material, introduction and relevant indexentries from the Bulletin are included in each single-paper e-book.Corrections to typographical errors are underlined likethis. Mouse over to view the original text.SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTIONUNITED STATES NATIONALMUSEUMBULLETIN 240Smithsonian Press LogoSMITHSONIAN PRESS
MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND TECHNOLOGYContributionsFrom theMuseumof History andTechnologyPapers 34-44On Science and TechnologySMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION · WASHINGTON, D.C.1966Publications of the United States National MuseumThe scholarly and scientific publications of the UnitedStates National Museum include two series,Proceedings of the United States National Museumand United States National Museum Bulletin.In these series, the Museum publishes original articlesand monographs dealing with the collections and workof its constituent museums—The Museum of NaturalHistory and the Museum of History and Technology—setting forth newly acquired facts in the fields ofanthropology, biology, history, geology, andtechnology. Copies of each publication are distributedto libraries, to cultural and scientific organizations, andto specialists and others interested in the differentsubjects.The Proceedings, begun in 1878, are intended for the
publication, in separate form, of shorter papers fromthe Museum of Natural History. These are gathered involumes, octavo in size, with the publication date ofeach paper recorded in the table of contents of thevolume.In the Bulletin series, the first of which was issued in1875, appear longer, separate publications consistingof monographs (occasionally in several parts) andvolumes in which are collected works on relatedsubjects. Bulletins are either octavo or quarto in size,depending on the needs of the presentation. Since1902 papers relating to the botanical collections of theMuseum of Natural History have been published in theBulletin series under the heading Contributions fromthe United States National Herbarium, and since 1959,in Bulletins titled “Contributions from the Museum ofHistory and Technology,” have been gathered shorterpapers relating to the collections and research of thatMuseum.The present collection of Contributions, Papers 34-44,comprises Bulletin 240. Each of these papers hasbeen previously published in separate form. The yearof publication is shown on the last page of each paper.Frank A. TaylorDirector, United States National MuseumContributions fromThe Museum of History andTechnology:
Paper 39Fulton’s “Steam Battery”:Blockship and CatamaranHoward I. ChapelleSURVIVING DESIGNS FOR FLOATING BATTERIES145CONTROVERSIAL DESCRIPTIONS 147COPENHAGEN PLANS 150HISTORY OF DOUBLE-HULL CRAFT 152SAIL AND INBOARD PLANS 157RECONSTRUCTING THE PLANS 161APPENDIX 167FOOTNOTESINDEXFigure 1.—Scale model of Fulton's Steam Battery inthe Museum of History and Technology. (Smithsonian
photo P-63390-F.) Figure 1.—Scale model of Fulton'sSteam Battery in the Museum of History andTechnology. (Smithsonian photo P-63390-F.) Howard I. ChapelleFULTON’S“STEAM BATTERY”:BLOCKSHIP and CATAMARANRobert Fulton’s “Steam Battery,” a catamaran-typeblockship, was built during the War of 1812. Untilrecently, not enough material has been available topermit a reasonably accurate reconstruction of what isgenerally acknowledged to be the first steam man-of-war.With the discovery, in the Danish Royal Archives atCopenhagen, of plans of this vessel, it is now possibleto prepare a reconstruction and to build a model.This article summarizes the history of the vessel,describes the plans and the reconstruction, and alsoevaluates its design with particular attention to thedouble-hull construction.The Author: Howard I. Chapelle is curator oftransportation in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museumof History and Technology.The identity of the first steam man-of-war has beenknown for many years, and a great deal has beenwritten and published on the history of this Americanvessel. Until recently, the only available drawing of the
ship has been a patent drawing made for RobertFulton. This does not comply with contemporarydescriptions of the steamer and the drawing or plan isout of proportion with the known dimensions. The lackof plans has heretofore made it impossible to illustratethe vessel with any degree of precision, or to build ascale model.The discovery in 1960 of some of the plans of thishistoric ship in the Danish Royal Archives atCopenhagen now makes possible a reasonablyaccurate reconstruction of the vessel and also clarifiessome of the incomplete and often confusingdescriptions by contemporary writers.Of the numerous published accounts of the ship thatare available, the most complete is David B. Tyler’s“Fulton’s Steam Frigate.”[1] A contemporarydescription of the vessel by the British Minister toWashington, 1820-23, Stratford Canning, waspublished by Arthur J. May.[2] In Naval and MailSteamers of the United States, by Charles B.Stuart,[3] and The Steam Navy of the United States,by Frank M. Bennett,[4] the history of the ship andsome descriptive facts are given. Stuart, in anappendix, gives in full the report of the SupervisoryCommittee (set up to administer the building contract).Tyler and Stuart, and the Committee Report are theprincipal sources from which the following summary ofthe ship’s history is drawn.Plate No. 1. ‘DEMOLOGOS’ Figure 1st. Transversesection A her Boiler. B the steam Engine. C the waterwheel. E E her wooden walls 5 feet thick, diminishing
to below the waterline as at F.F draught of water 9feet D D her gun deck Scale 1/12 inch=1 footWaterline Scale 1/24 inch=1 foot Figure IId This shewsher gun deck, 140 feet long 24 feet wide, mounting 20guns. A the Water wheel Figure IIId Side View Scale1/24 inch=1 foot ROBERT FULTON November 1813.S Mc Elroy del. "Stuart's Naval & Mail Steamers U.S."Sarony & Major. Eng. N.Y.Figure 2.—“Demologos,” a wood engraving based onthe sketch which Robert Fulton showed to PresidentMadison in 1813. This wood engraving appears asplate 1 in Charles B. Stuart’s Naval and Mail Steamersof the United States, and illustrates the section onNaval Steamers, from which the account “TheDemologos; or, Fulton the First,” is here reproduced(pp. 167-171). Stuart obtained the sketch, assumed tohave been made for Fulton’s patent on the design ofthe Steam Battery, from the files of the U.S. NavyDepartment.On December 24, 1813, Robert Fulton invited a groupof friends—prominent merchants, professional menand naval officers—to his home in New York City andthere presented a proposal for a project of great localinterest. At that time the War of 1812 was in itssecond year and the economic effect of the Britishnaval blockade was being felt severely. The blockadecut off seaborne trade and posed a constant threat ofattack upon New York and other important ports,particularly Baltimore. To defend the ports, it had beenproposed to build mobile floating batteries or heavilybuilt and armed hulks with small sailing rigs, but thehigh cost of these and their doubtful value in helping to
break the blockade, compared to the value and actionof a very heavy, large frigate, or a 74-gun ship,caused authorities to hesitate to proceed with theconstruction of any blockships or floating batteries.Fulton’s proposal concerned a floating batterypropelled by steam power. He believed that steampropulsion not only would give it effectivemaneuverability with no loss of gunpower, but alsowould allow a successful attack upon the Royal Navyblockading ships during periods of protracted calm,when sailing men-of-war were nearly helpless. Theblockaders then could be attacked and picked off, oneby one, by the heavily armed steamboat.Among those present at the meeting was MajorGeneral Henry Dearborn, a leading citizen and soldierwho was later to become noted in American politicalhistory. The first step taken during this meeting wasthe founding of the Coast and Harbor DefenseCompany with Dearborn as president, Fulton asengineer, and Thomas Morris as secretary. Next, acommittee was established to raise funds fromFederal, State, and New York City governments aswell as from individual contributors to build the battery.The members of this committee consisted of GeneralDearborn, Commodore Stephen Decatur, U.S.N.;General Morgan Lewis; Commodore Jacob Jones;U.S.N.; Noah Brown, shipbuilder; Samuel L. Mitchill;Henry Rutgers; and Thomas Morris.The committee proved cumbersome and was reducedto General Lewis, Issac Bronson, Henry Rutgers,Nathan Sanford, Thomas Morris, Oliver Wolcott, and
John Jacob Astor. Known as the Coast DefenseSociety and with the name of Pyremon given the shipin prospectus, they attempted, unsuccessfully, to raisefunds privately.The estimated sums to build a battery 130 feet long,with a 50-foot beam, capable of a speed of 5 mph,and carrying 24 long guns (18-pdr.), was $110,000.Fulton, still the chief engineer, in an effort to interestthe Federal Government, built a model of theproposed vessel and submitted it to some prominentnaval officers—Commodore Stephen Decatur, JacobJones, James Biddle, Samuel Evans, Oliver Perry,Samuel Warrington, and Jacob Lewis. All gave theirsupport to the Society in a written statement and thisrecommendation proved helpful to the project inCongress and in the Navy Department. In the processof passing a bill which went to the Senate Naval AffairsCommittee calling for $250,000 for the construction ofthe floating battery, the sum was raised to $1,500,000for the construction of “one or more” floating batteriesand passed on March 9, 1814.To supervise the start of construction, the CoastDefense Society appointed a committee consisting ofDearborn, Wolcott, Morris, Mitchill, and Rutgers, withFulton as engineer, and a model and drawing of theproposed vessel was submitted to the Patent Office.The Secretary of the Navy, although supporting theproject, delayed action until he had weighed theimportance of the batteries in relation to other warneeds, for at this time the naval shipbuilding programon the Great Lakes was considered of primeimportance. He also raised some technical questions
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