+31 (0)881181500 | +31 621502167 (24/7)

Ironclad Warships are not the usual watercraft that we used to know. They are warships and have played a significant role in the civil war during the American history.


Developed in US and Europe in the middle of 19th century, Ironclad Warships are steam-propelled ships. Generally, they are covered by steel armor plates or iron. Such kind of vessel is developed as the outcome of the susceptibility of wooden warships to hazardous or inflammatory shells. The birth of the first ironclad warship was in November 1859 and was known to be Gloire. This warship was put in motion by the French Navy. Since the year 1856, the British Admiralty has been contemplating on armored warships. Due to that, they had planned a draft layout for an armored battleship in 1857.

The royal navy in early 1859 began constructing two armored frigates that are protected with iron. By 1861, the decision was made to adapt to all-armored battleships. The first encounter of ironclads actually took place during the American Civil War in 1862. After which, it turned out that ironclad warships have recouped the unarmored line of ships as the most dominant warship floating. As a result, it had been clear that such kind of ship would be very effective in the American Civil War.

Ironclad warships are crafted for many significant functions. They can be coastal defense vessels, high seas battleships, and long-range cruisers. The fast advancement of ironclads in the late 19th century modified the ironclad ships from wooden-hulled watercraft. Usually,  carrying sails in order to administer its steam engines to stell built, cruisers, and turreted battleships in the twentieth century. This transformation was pulled through by the progress of more complex steam engines and heavier naval guns. Also, the improvement in engineering that turned stell shipbuilding to be feasible.



Technically, the ironclad ships became possible and certainly necessary due to the enhancements that took place in shipbuilding. That was during the first half of the 19th century. Based on the naval historian, J. Richard Hill that the ironclad warships feature three primary attributes. Particularly, steam propulsion, metal-skinned hull, and a chief armament of guns, which are able to fire explosive shells.


As said, it’s only when these three attributes are present, a ship can be totally considered to be an ironclad warship. As a matter of fact, each development or progress was featured separately before the first ironclads in the decade.

  • Steam Propulsion – fleets counted on two kinds of a major warship during the 18th and 19th centuries, the frigate and ship of the line. The first considerable change that took place was the introduction of steam power, basically for propulsion. While the paddle steamer battleships had been utilized from 1830’s and onwards, steam propulsion only turned to be effective for major warships after the acceptance of screw propeller in 1840’s.
  • Iron Armor – the utilization of iron rather than wood as the main material for hulls started in 1830’s. The first warship having an iron hull happened to be the gunboat called Nemesis. It was established for the East India Company in 1839.
  • Explosive Shells – the first shell guns capable of firing explosive shells were brought in following their progress by a French General. By 1840, such characteristic of a warship became a standard armament for naval powers. That includes Royal Navy, French Navy, US Navy, and Imperial Russian Navy.



While ironclad warships spread quickly in fleets worldwide, there were few launched naval battles that involved ironclads.


Most of the European nations established differences on land. And, the Royal Navy strived to keep an impediment unity with at least France. This is the case while administering a relevant security to Britain’s commerce and colonial frontiers globally. The ironclad warships endured for the British Royal Navy. Such is a matter of preserving the British Isles first and extruding power abroad second.

Such naval engagements of the recent half of the 19th century that encompassed ironclad warships typically incorporate colonial actions or encounter between second-rate naval powers. But these clashes were frequent enough to persuade British policy-makers of the elevating dangers of strictly naval foreign intervention. Specifically,  from Hampton Roads in the American Civil War to the setting joined defenses of naval armory such as Cherbourg and Kronstadt.