CSS Neuse: Armor

The armor for the Neuse was in the form of 2” x 7” strips of wrought iron. This was the typical armor for Confederate ironclads. The casemate was covered with two layers of armor. The inner layer ran horizontally and the outer layer vertically. The backing for the armor was 21 inches of wood in three layers. The inner layer was one-foot thick vertical pine frames outside of which were 5-inch horizontal pine planks. The outer layer of wood was vertical 4-inch oak planking. The freeboard of the ship also was armored as evidenced by the many large spikes protruding from the surviving freeboard.

Due to the Confederacy’s lack of resources many of their ironclads did not have armor on the decking or under the water line. There is some documentation that they did go back and add additional courses of plate on some vessels. Documentary evidence and a portion of decking which remained at the outset of recovery indicate that the deck of the CSS Neuse was never armored. Additionally, the hull shows no evidence of having armor below the knuckle. The lack of deck armor or hull armor below the knuckle was a potential weakness in battle.

The armor for the Neuse was rolled in Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, VA and Scofield & Markham Rolling Mill in Atlanta, GA. These facilities were the closest ones that could roll the two-inch plates and were responsible for producing most of the armor for the Confederate ironclads. The only other ironworks capable of rolling iron of the size need for ironclads was located in Selma, AL.

An interesting fact about the armor used on the Neuse and Albemarle is that most of it was old railroad iron. Rails were stripped from lines that had little military value and shipped to the mills where they were rolled into flat plates. This practice was common in the Confederacy because Southern mines could not produce enough ore. Where it was impossible to get rolled plates standard railroad T-rails were used. The Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Georgia were armored in this fashion, though the T-rail was recognized to be inferior to rolled plates as armor.


Plan your visit

Visit the CSS Neuse Interpretive Center to get up close and personal with the remains of the CSS Neuse and a number of recovered artifacts.

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