• Warships Of History
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

''Cottonclads'' were a Warship modification and not technically a Class. They were popular with The Confederate States of America as River Defense Vessels (Riverines), during The American Civil War of 1861-65. The Union Army seldom used the modification, although some captured Cottonsclads were used. In essence, any form of River Vessel could be converted into a Cottonclad. The most used were former Paddle Wheeled, Steam Ships – once used as passenger and materials transport on many Southern Rivers before The War. Other examples were Flat Barges and River Schooners (small Ships specially built with low draughts). Decks were cleared and Gun Platforms were built to support several modified Field Guns, such as The Napoleon 12-Pounder Gun. Small Naval Guns were also adapted – but the overall size of traditional Naval Pieces made their use impractical. Often Rifle firing platforms were built to support a small Company of Riflemen. Whereas these ships were made of wood, and owing to the scarce appropriation of Steel and Iron for proper plating, Bales of Cotton were procured. A Bale was a term applied to both a Unit of measurement and a method for storage of raw, unprocessed Cotton. A Bale was a circular affair, roughly 5 to 8-feet tall and circular in shape. The Cotton was secured into this shape via baling wire. On average, a Bale could be 4-feet thick. In this was the method for protection of The Cottonclad. Layers of Bales were lined along the Deck of The Ships to form a protective barrier. Several Bale Lines could be 12-feet thick and would easily stop small arms fire and even small caliber artillery shells. Often, Bales were made wet with water (this increasing their strength). As many as 30 such Cottonclads were known to exist and operated along The Mississippi River for The Confederacy during The War.