The Stevens Battery (1840s – 1880)

“No subject is attracting more attention and interest in Washington, just now, then the construction of iron-clad ships-of-war by our government, said the New York Times on March 22, 1862. “The argument as to their utility and necessity is past.  The Merrimac taught in twenty-four hours what the patience, genius and skill of the Stevens brothers were twenty-four years striving in vain to establish.”

What did this refer to?  The construction of a massive iron vessel called the Stevens Battery -after brothers Robert and Edwin Stevens that had then been under construction for 19 years in Hoboken, New Jersey.  While her name “…implies to the popular mind something huge and unwiedly, a sort of floating fort, which is helpless of itself, and inoffensive to others …” she was “a ship, of long, sharp, faultless lines,  bearing in her hull eight engines of 1,075 horsepower each …”  She was projected to attain 22 miles an hour and carry guns of enormous weight to “deal blows to her enemies.” – not to mention the fact that a 124 lb cannon ball fired with 18 3/4 pounds of powder from 26 feet away did not pierce her armor,” according to the Times.

Though funded by Congress, and started in the 1840s, she was yet unfinished as the Civil War came on, and while their was talk of later turning her into a massive one turret monitor, she was sold for scrap in September 1880, and broken up.

Check out this Navy History site for several period views of the Stevens Battery, and a brief history.


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