Launch of the Iron Clad Steam Frigate "New Ironsides", Philadelphia, May 10, 1862

Object Number: 
1945.580.54
Date: 
May 10, 1862
Medium: 
Graphite and black ink wash on paper
Dimensions: 
Overall: 7 x 10 3/4 in. ( 17.8 x 27.3 cm )
Inscriptions: 
Inscribed along lower edge in brown ink: "Launch of the Iron Clad Frigate New Ironsides from the Yard of"; laid on verso is sheet with a letter (May 12th 1862) from the artist to Frank Leslie in brown ink reading: "Inclosed find / sketch of lauch of Philada. Iron / clad vessel, which took place / Saturday May 10/62. If accepted / please remit five dollars ($5.), / if rejected oblige me by returning / drawing. / I was an eye witness of / the scene, and made this drawing / from a sketch I took on the spot."
Description: 
Civil War Drawings Collection. Engraved for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 31 May 1862 (XIV:346-7):124, but significantly modified by the engraver, under the title: "Our Iron-Clad Fleet Launch of the Iron-Clad Steam Frigate New Ironsides, at the Shipyard of Merrick & Sons, of Philadelphia, May 10." The accompanying article, on page 124, "Launch of the Iron-Clad Frigate, New Ironsides, at Philadelphia." USS New Ironsides, a 4120-ton broadside ironclad, was built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last, and largest, of the initial group of three "salt-water" armored warships begun in 1861 to meet the needs of the Civil War. She was commissioned in August 1862, and joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in January 1863. For the next year, she participated in the blockade of Charleston, and attacks on the city's Confederate fortifications. New Ironsides's broadside battery of eight heavy guns, coupled with her iron protection, made her a uniquely valuable ship for bombardment purposes. On 7 April 1863, when nine Federal ironclads entered Charleston harbor to conduct a prolonged bombardment of Fort Sumter, New Ironsides was repeatedly hit by enemy cannon fire, but was not seriously damaged. On 21 August and 5 October 1863, New Ironsides was the target of torpedo boat attacks but she was able to remain on station until May 1864, when she went to Philadelphia for repairs and a general overhaul. In late August, New Ironsides was recommissioned to join the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In December she participated in a major assault on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in an effort to stop blockade running into the port of Wilmington.
Credit Line: 
James B. Wilbur Fund
Provenance: 
John T. Kavanaugh Collection, Rutherford, New Jersey, 1945
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group