Archive for March 9th, 2008

09
Mar
08

Urban Legend: Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides

The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) as a combat vessel carried 48,600 gallons of fresh (remember that figure) water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (fresh water distillers). However, let it be noted that according to her log, “On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum.”

Her mission: “To destroy and harass English shipping.”

Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on, according to her log, 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum.

She then headed for the Azores, arriving there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. On 18 November, she set sail for England.

In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchantmen, salvaging only the rum aboard each. By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, and though unarmed, she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and took aboard 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn.

Then she headed home.

The U.S.S. Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February 1799, seven [7] months after her departure, with NO cannon shot, NO food, NO powder, NO rum, NO wine, NO whiskey, and 38,600 gallons of stagnant water.*

*According to my calculations that is two and a half gallons of alcohol per man per day.

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09
Mar
08

On This Day, 3-9-08: Monitor vs Virginia

One of the most famous naval battles in history occurs as the ironclads Monitor and Virginia fight to a draw off Hampton Roads, Virginia. The ships pounded each other all morning but the armor plates easily shed the cannon shots, signaling a new era of steam-powered iron ships.

The C.S.S. Virginia was originally the U.S.S. Merrimack, a forty-gun frigate launched in 1855. The Confederates captured it and covered it in heavy armor plating above the waterline. Outfitted with powerful guns, the Virginia was a formidable vessel when the Confederates launched her in February 1862. On March 8, the Virginia sunk two Union ships and ran one aground off Hampton Roads.

The next day, the U.S.S. Monitor steamed into the bay. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the vessel had an unusually low profile, rising from the water only 18 inches. The flat iron deck had a 20-foot cylindrical turret rising from the middle of the ship; the turret housed two 11-inch Dahlgren guns. The shift had a draft of less than 11 feet so it could operate in the shallow harbors and rivers of the South. It was commissioned on February 25, 1862, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay just in time to engage the Virginia.

At 9:00 am, the duel began and continued for four hours. The ships circled one another, jockeying for position as they fired their guns. The cannon balls simply deflected off the iron ships. In the early afternoon, the Virginia pulled back to Norfolk. Neither ship was seriously damaged, but the Monitor effectively ended the short reign of terror that the Confederate ironclad had brought to the Union navy.

Both ships met ignominious ends. When the Yankees invaded the James Peninsula two months after the battle at Hampton Roads, the retreating Confederates scuttled their ironclad. The Monitor went down in bad weather off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, at the end of the year. Though they had short lives, the ships ushered in a new era in naval warfare.  http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2131

1454 – Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, Italy. Matthias Ringmann, a German mapmaker, named the American continent in his honor.

1788 – Connecticut became the 5th state to join the United States.

1796 – Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais were married. They were divorced in 1809.

1832 – Abraham Lincoln announced that he would run for a political office for the first time. He was unsuccessful in his run for a seat in the Illinois state legislature.

1839 – The French Academy of Science announced the Daguerreotype photo process.

1863 – General Ulysses Grant was appointed commander-in-chief of the Union forces.

1905 – In Manchuria, Japanese troops surrounded 200,000 Russian troops that were retreating from Mudken.

1916 – Mexican raiders led by Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico. 17 people were killed by the 1,500 horsemen.

1933 – The U.S. Congress began its 100 days of enacting New Deal legislation.

1936 – The German press warned that all Jews who vote in the upcoming elections would be arrested.

1945 – During World War II, U.S. B-29 bombers launched incendiary bomb attacks against Japan.

1961 – Laika becomes the first dog in space when the Russians launch Sputnik 9.

1964 – The first Ford Mustang rolled off of the Ford assembly line.

1967 – Svetlana Alliluyeva, Josef Stalin’s daughter defected to the United States.

1975 – Work began on the Alaskan oil pipeline.

1993 – Rodney King testified at the federal trial of four Los Angeles police officers accused of violating his civil rights.

Firebombing of Tokyo

On this day, U.S. warplanes launch a new bombing offensive against Japan, dropping 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo over the course of the next 48 hours. Almost 16 square miles in and around the Japanese capital were incinerated, and between 80,000 and 130,000 Japanese civilians were killed in the worst single firestorm in recorded history.  http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6736

Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires.

James Madison (Federalist #10)




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