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No Tin

April 2024
1min read


Alexander Simplot’s 1861 drawing of the “Ferry New Era being transformed into a gunboat at St. Louis,” which appears in “The Forgotten Triumph of the Paw Paw ” (October), does not illustrate the “birth of a tinclad.”

New Era , a merchant snag boat built in 1856, was acquired by the United States Army in 1861 for conversion into a 355-ton center-wheel twelve-gun shallow-draft river ironclad, according to a plan devised by James Eads. She was renamed Essex in December 1861. She served with the Army’s Western Flotilla (under Andrew Foote and Charles Davis), along with Eads’s eight other first-generation river ironclads (“Pook turtles”), on the Cumberland and Mississippi rivers. She was transferred to the Navy’s Mississippi River Squadron (under David D. Porter) on October 1, 1862. Decommissioned in July 1865, she was sold that November and after five more years in merchant service was finally scrapped in 1870. Although Essex was the most lightly gunned of the nine original Eads ironclads, some considered her to be the most formidable among them.

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