In the early morning of 30 January 1863, a lookout of the USS Mercedita, blockading the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, spotted an outline, enveloped in mist, of some vessel approaching.
"She has black smoke!" he shouted. "Watch, man the guns! Spring the rattle! Call all hands to quarters!" This brought the captain on deck, clad only in a pea jacket. When he too spotted the stranger, nearer now, he cupped his hands about his mouth and called out: "Steamer ahoy! You will be into us! What steamer is that?" It was the Palmetto State, but for a time she did not deign to answer. Then "Hallo!" her skipper finally replied, and with that the ram put her snout into the quarter of the Mercedita and fired her guns." (The Civil War, a Narrative, Volume II, 1963, by Shelby Foote, at page 223)
There is a common misconception that the ironclad came onto the scene with the CSS Virginia and USS Monitor. Their engagement in 1862 may have been the first battle between ironclads but iron-sheathed warships had already been around in other navies for eight years. In the case of ironclads, France led the way in design and employment. In 1854 both France and Great Britain developed steam powered artillery batteries for use against Russian forces in the Crimean War. The idea had been around the decade before that. In the 1840’s an American designer named John L. Porter suggested an ironclad design to Imperial Russia, but their Admiralty was not interested. Later he developed a model of his conception of an ironclad that comprised an iron casemate protecting the main gun battery. In 1861 John L. Porter became a naval constructor for the fledgling Confederate States of America.
When the CSA raised the burned steam frigate USS Merrimac, it was decided to convert her into the ironclad CSS Virginia. Credit for the design is normally assigned to Lieutenant John M. Brooke, who also designed the naval uniform, button design and most importantly designed new ordnance, the Brooke rifles, for his navy. However, Porter also claimed authorship of the Virginia, probably because the Virginia featured his casemate design but with extended ends. This is probably true as George Brooke Jr., biographer of John Brooke, later stated that John Brooke only claimed the idea of adding extended ends to the existing casemate design. Regardless of his involvement in the creation of the CSS Virginia, John L. Porter was indeed the designer for the most widely used pattern of ironclad to serve the Confederate Navy. This design was commonly called the Richmond Class after the first of the class to be developed. When CSS Virginia blew herself up on May 11, 1862 because her port of Norfolk had fallen to the Union army and because her draft was too deep to steam up the James River, the CSS Richmond, that had been building at Norfolk, had already been towed up the river to safety.
Although most of the class varied to a certain degree, they were based on a common pattern. In early 1861 the first hostilities of the American Civil War had started at Charleston, South Carolina, with the reduction and surrender of Fort Sumter, which stood in the middle of the harbor. As one of the most significant ports in the Confederacy a great deal of resources were apportioned for Charleston’s defense. Not only did the Confederates restore Fort Sumter but also they maintained a number of forts on the harbor coast and approaches. Additionally construction quickly started on warships to defend the vital harbor. Commodore Duncan N. Ingraham was the commander of all naval forces at Charleston and also was in command on naval construction at the port. In spring 1862 the State of South Carolina had started to design and construct a wooded gunboat at Charleston, when the national government ordered a steam ironclad ram to be built at Charleston. This ship was to become CSS Palmetto State and used the machinery from the steamer Lady Davis. The Confederate Secretary of the Navy, Stephen Mallory, persuaded state officials to change their wooded gunboat design into an ironclad based on the Palmetto State design. South Carolina readily switched to the new design and the state-funded ship would become CSS Chicora.
South Carolina is known as the Palmetto State because of a soft-wooded tree that is found there. If you look at the current state flag of South Carolina, you’ll see two symbols, a crescent and the outline of a Palmetto tree. The crescent is said to come from the hat emblem worn by South Carolina troops in the American Revolution and the Palmetto tree joined the crescent as a state symbol in the 1840s because Fort Moultrie, which defended Charleston in 1776 from British attack, had been constructed of Palmetto logs. The softwood absorbed the cannon shot and the attack was repulsed. By 1861 both emblems had long been part of the state heraldry and part of the flag of South Carolina. Just as the Palmetto tree was a symbol for the State of South Carolina, so to would the CSS Palmetto State become a symbol of the dogged defense of the state and Charleston in particular.
The state funded Chicora finished first in August and she was promptly sold by the state to the Confederate government. The funds received were used to start a new ironclad, the CSS Charleston. CSS Palmetto State was completed in October. As part of source of funding for the Palmetto State, 15% of the $200,000 required for construction had been raised by the ladies of Charleston through Gunboat Fairs or through the sale of Gunboat Quilts. As a consequence the Palmetto State was known as the Ladies’ Gunboat. Both Palmetto State and Chicora had four inches of armor on the casemate. The armor consisted of two laminated layers of iron plates 7-inches wide and 20-feet long, backed by 22-inches of wood. The ships also had 2-inches of armor five-feet below the waterline and on the deck. The ram bow was not submerged and the design drew 11-feet of water. At 150-feet in length (pp) and 34-feet in breadth, the design closely mated the original Porter specifications. According to Ironclads at War, by Jack Greene and Alessandro Massignani, they were armed slightly differently. Palmetto State with a bow mounted 6.4-inch rifle, 60 pounder rifle aft, and two broadside 8-inch shell guns. Chicora is listed with bow and aft 9-inch shell pivot guns and four 32 pounder rifles. Both vessels had a single propeller and although under-powered, the machinery on Palmetto State was fairly reliable, which is more than can be said about most ironclads of the Confederacy. Speed was about six-knots, seven in calm seas, but still slower than most Union steamers. They were both painted "Blockader’s Blue", a blue gray hue designed to be applied to Confederate blockade runners to help conceal them at night. As such Palmeto State and Chicora wore one of the earliest forms of warship camouflage. Of course with the chronic shortage of paint in the Confederacy, rust quickly showed through the blue gray paint.
Even though Charleston was one of the foremost ports of the south and had a rich tradition of seafaring, even with the abundance of seasoned mariners it took some time to fill out the crew and train them in their military duties. The crew of the Chicora included three free African-Americans. One of the first families of South Carolina was that of Rutledge. Edward Rutledge had been a delegate from the state in Philadelphia in the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence and J. Rutledge had signed the Constitution of the United States for South Carolina. The sistership Chicora was under the command of "Handsome Jack" Tucker. By the first month of January 1863 the two ironclads were ready to take on the Yankee blockading squadron.
Early in the morning of January 30, 1863 both ironclads made for the harbor entrance as they steamed past Fort Sumter. On that night the moon was only three days short of full, so there was plenty of light, even though it was in the middle of the night. Outside of the harbor the Union blockading squadron had no idea as to what was about to descend upon them. Their sole goal was to prevent blockade runners from getting into the port. At the time all of the ten blockading ships were of wooden construction. Only three of these were designed from the start as warships, Housatonic, Ottawa, and Unadilla. The other seven were converted merchant ships. The two South Carolina ironclads were accompanied by a number of small wooden gunboats, whose purpose was two-fold. Realizing that the reliability of the machinery of the ironclads was not of the highest order, the wooden ships were there to tow the ironclads back to harbor in the event of an engine breakdown. Secondly, if the attack was successful, the mission of the wooden gunboats was to take possession of any captured Union ships and to tow them into port. This would allow the ironclads to hunt for new victims.
By 04:30 the Palmetto State and Chicora were at sea, past the harbor entrance. Palmetto State led the pair. All gun shutters were closed so as not to reveal her presence. Inside, since it was January, heat was not a problem that it would prove in the summer months, when the ironclads would take on the aspects of ovens. A number of battle lanterns cast shadows on the fully manned gun deck. Although, the Palmetto State took every effort that she could to conceal her approach, all of her light discipline could not conceal another telltale of her approach. She was a coal burner and produced quantities of smoke. The Union ships had spotted blockade-runners at night because of the smoke emitting from their funnels. With blockade runners the color of that smoke was invariably light gray to white in color as this was the color of the smoke produced by the burning of the hard high grade coal necessary for best possible speed. The two ironclads were not stocked with high-grade coal, on the other hand, the coal was of a soft very low grade quality, as that was all that was available in Charleston. Instead of the light smoke of the better coal, this low-grade coal produced very dense clouds of dark smoke, which left lengthy trails behind the pair.
The pair of ironclads soon encountered their first Union ship. This was the converted gunboat Mercedita, which mounted nine guns. Mercedita had already chased a blockade-runner earlier that night and was alert for new activity on part of more blockade-runners. Lookouts saw a low dark shape approaching and further noticed something odd, the shape emitted black smoke, rather than the light smoke of the blockade-runners. A call ran out, "She has black smoke. Watch man the guns, spring the rattle, call all hands to quarters!" The captain, Henry Stellwagen, who had already retired, ran to the deck, clad only in a Pea Jacket. Stellwagen was quick and ordered, "…train your guns right on him and be ready to fire as soon as I order." Stellwagen then started to hail the approaching vessel in order to ascertain her identity. After all she might be a Union warship or supply ship, as blockade runners would certainly not approach a Union warship. There was no answer from the approaching stranger, whose outline was still indistinct but much closer now. Fearing that the approaching vessel did not see Mercedita, the captain hailed again as the stranger was now very close to his ship, "…you will be into me." Stellwagen was shortly to realize that this indeed was the intention of the strange approaching vessel. After this last hail, an answer finally came across the water. "This is the Confederate steamer Palmetto State!" With that answer the Palmetto State rammed the quarter of the Mercedita and fired a shell from her bow pivot gun. That shell went through the boiler of the Union vessel and exploded on the far side, tearing a hole in the deck planking. Two Union sailors were immediately killed and many more burned by escaping steam from the burst boiler. Damage reports to Stellwagen on his ship’s condition were immediate and universally dismal. "Shot through the boiler…Fires put out by steam and water…Shot through both boilers…Gunner and one man killed…Number of men fatally scalded…Water over fire room floor…Vessel sinking fast…The ram has cut us through at and below the water line on one side, and the shell has burst on the other about at the water’s edge." Only two minutes had elapsed from the first sighting of the Confederate ironclad to the catastrophic crippling of the Mercedita. The actual loss to the crew would amount to four dead and three wounded.
As the Palmetto State was now under the lowest elevation of the guns of the Mercedita, the Union gunners were unable to reply. The Union commander had only one option, surrender. The Mercedita lowered a small boat, which rowed to the Palmetto State. There was a delay as Union sailors were paroled, which meant that they could not fight again until exchanged for a like number of Confederate prisoners. They would not actually be prisoners in custody but were bound by their word not to fight until exchanged. The smaller Confederate wooden vessels which were to take possession of captured prizes were no where to be seen. Rutledge decided to leave the Mercedita behind and to continue on after new pickings. After the ironclad had left, Mercedita managed to raise steam in the one undamaged boiler and reached the Union base at Port Royal, up the coast from Charleston. Since the Confederates never took possession of Mercedita, she remained a Union warship, however, Captain Stellwagen, his officers and crew, acted honorably. They had given their word (parole) that they would not fight until legally exchanged and they honored it. Later the exchange was made and they rejoined their comrades on active duty.
Since the Palmetto State would be delayed with the Mercedita, the Chicora passed her sister looking for her own target. Chicora sighted the Quaker City, a 1,428-ton nine-gun sidewheel steamer. The crew of the Quaker City were already alert, having heard the firing of Palmetto State. In fact all of the blockading Union vessels were fast to react but reacted to what they thought was blockade running attempts, rather than an assault on their wooden warships by two ironclads. Chicora opened fire and her second shell damaged the boiler of Quaker City, without disabling her, as had happened with the Mercedita. Two more shells from Chicora exploded too soon. Quaker City was quick to respond, as her forward Parrott pivot gun fired and her broadside 32 pounders fired two shell and two solid shots. She fired three more times and then successfully evaded Chicora and used her 13-knot speed to quickly vacate the area of the ironclad. Chicora chugged after her but was far too slow to catch the much faster Union vessel.
Instead of catching Quaker City, Chicora encountered the Keystone State, a side-wheeler of 1,364-tons and ten guns. Captain William LeRoy of the Keystone State was different in character from Captain Stellwagen of the Mercedita in a number of ways. LeRoy immediately thought the approaching vessel was a Confederate ironclad and so would completely over-match his vessel. He immediately had his command slip the anchor cable and fire on the approaching Chicora. Chicora responded with three rounds, which started a fire on Keystone State in the forward hold. As Keystone State continued to fire, the officers and crew sighted the Palmetto State, having finished her dealings with Mercedita, closing from another quarter. However, in spite of facing two ironclads, LeRoy was still full of fight. He made shallow water in order to put out the fire and ready the ship to attack the two rams. Keystone State charged towards Chicora in an attempt to ram the Confederate ram. Chicora pumped ten shots into the Keystone State, one of which knocked out one boiler. Keystone State hauled down her flag in surrender. However, then LeRoy discovered that even with only one paddle wheel working, the Keystone State was sill faster than the lumbering ironclad. Seeing the Union vessel trying to steam away, after first surrendering, the crew of the Chicora asked Captain Tucker to open fire again. However, he refused as, "Tucker probably never dreamed that the captain of the Keystone State would be so dishonorable as to do what he was about to do. Several hundred yards from the Chicora, the Keystone State reraised her flag and reopened fire! She then made off into the night." (Ironclads at War, 1998, by Jack Greene and Alessandro Massignani at page 129) The Keystone State suffered 20 dead and 20 wounded and finally had to be towed into Port Royal. Clearly Captain William LeRoy was a Slick Willie and violated the then standard practice of war but the nature of war was changing and his less than honorable actions on that night did not hurt his career. After the war he became David Farragut’s Chief of Staff.
By now the sun had risen and the pair of Confederate ironclads steamed further out to sea in their search of northern blockaders. After proceeding about seven miles out of port, they engaged in long range gunfire with some Union vessels but couldn’t close range due to their slow speed. The Union captains wisely chose to avoid combat with the iron pair. Since they couldn’t find further close action, the Confederates turned back to Charleston and were back in port by 16:00. After the battle no Union warships were visible from Charleston and this action is the only occasion when victorious Confederate ironclads took to the open sea, as other actions such as Virginia versus Cumberland and Congress were in estuaries or bays. The Union force blockading Charleston on that night had no predetermined plan of action if the Confederate ironclads appeared, even though they were not a secret. As a result of this action the Union wooden blockading vessels were upgunned. In the case of the defaulting Keystone State, she was quickly given 50 pound Dahlgren rifles and then later in 1863 further up-gunned with a 150 pounder. It was thought that the heavier guns might defeat the armor of the Confederate ironclads, if they sortied in the future. However, the prime remedy relied upon by the Union navy would not be up-gunned wooden vessels but Union ironclads. USS New Ironsides, which had been up the coast at the Union held port of Port Royal, South Carolina, which was now called Hilton Head, was rushed down to Charleston to guard the gate.
As January 1863 streamed into the past new Passaic Class monitors, the larger follow-on design to USS Monitor, stiffened the Union blockading force. These were brand new and mounted one XV and one XI Dahlgren smoothbores. Admiral Samuel Du Pont decided to test them out with a softer target than Charleston, so they were tasked to attack Fort McAllister, Georgia and to destroy the CSS Nashville, a side-wheel blockade runner being fitted out as a raider. USS Montauk, along with wooded gunboats tried it on January 27 and again on February 28, 863, when Montauk managed to destroy the Nashville, which had grounded the night before. Finally on March 3, three Union monitors made an ineffective attack on Fort McAllister. By March Du Pont had most of the monitors then built but he was still worried about taking on the heavily fortified Charleston. However, his orders were to attack the port. By April 7 he had seven ironclads available for the attack. That was the day the Union Navy tried to take the port.
The Union force had three courses of action. One was to steam past Fort Sumter as quickly as possible and engage the Palmetto State and Chicora, which waited just beyond the Fort. This would be the course of action successfully adopted by Farragut at the Mobile Bay, when he steamed past Fort Morgan to engage and defeat CSS Tennessee and the supporting Confederate wooden gunboats. The second course of action was to remain to seaward of Fort Sumter and engage Confederate fortifications at long range, as Union guns were better at long range than Confederate and at the proposed range of 1,200 to 1,300 yards, the armor of the Union ironclads should defeat and Confederate shot which struck. At that range it was reasoned that the Union ironclads could reduce the fortifications at their own speed. However, Du Pont chose a third course. He would have his ironclads close Fort Sumter but not proceed into the harbor. At a range of 600 to 800 yards, the Union ironclads would steam slowly parallel to the Fort and fire until reversing course in an oval. Du Pont has successfully used this tactic earlier when he attacked and seized Port Royal.
At 13:45 on April 7, 1863 steaming against an ebbing tide, the Union ironclads slowly approached Fort Sumter but firing did not start to 1500. The Confederates had been waiting for this. Palmetto State and Chicora were behind the Fort with orders to attack any Union vessel that penetrated the harbor past Fort Sumter. By now they had received further armament in the form of a spar torpedo. This device was a ninety-pound powder charge mounted at the end of a 20 to 30 foot pole called a spar. The spar was normally raised to a position about 45 degrees upward from the bow but could be lowered into the water for an attack. By lowering the spar the charge would be 6 feet under the water. Theoretically the collision between the spar charge and the side of a Union vessel would crush a glass phial which contained the detonator for the charge. CSS Palmetto State was prepared and in position to seize glory once again. All she needed was the opportunity that even one monitor steaming past Fort Sumter would provide.
This first attack on Charleston amounted to a pounding match in which the Union ironclads did not shine. Some got within 500 yards of the fort and other no nearer than 1,000 yards. Smoke, vibration and flying bolt heads inside the monitors from Confederate shell and shot strikes considerably reduced the effectiveness of Union gun crews and observation from the monitors. The Union guns fired very slowly, especially the XV Dahlgrens of the Passaic Class monitors. During the engagement Confederate forts fired 2,209 rounds and achieved 520 hits, 19%, on the Union ironclads. Their accuracy had been enhanced by the presence of preplanned floats designating range, as normally only 10% of rounds would have hit at the range of the battle. The Union ironclads fired between 139 to 154 rounds and hit 50% of the time, however, a fort was a far bigger target than a monitor. The Confederate strikes did not penetrate the armor of the monitors but the cumulative effect of the strikes knocked machinery out of alignment and sent bolts flying inside. Confederate losses were four dead and 10 wounded, while the Union only had one man killed and 22 wounded, very few casualties considering the quantity of shells fired. If anything the most serious loss to the Union was not the result of armor penetration but to the failure of the armor scheme of the USS Keokuk. The Keokuk was a particularly bad design. She however, had a very shallow draft and steamed the closest to the forts at 550 yards. As a consequence she was the ripest target for Confederate guns, which concentrated on her and basically shook her apart with concussions from the hits. The next day Keokuk sank in shallow water because water would come into the ship through opened seams faster than it could be pumped out.
The ill-fated Keokuk was the only Union warship to make any attempt to press the action as the rest hung back from the forts. Eventually the action was aborted and the Union forces withdrew. All during this engagement Palmetto State and Chicora slowly steamed in circles behind Fort Sumter waiting for their turn, which never came. Since Du Pont still had doubts about the value of monitors against fortifications, he was replaced by Rear Admiral Andrew Foote, who commanded the river gunboats in engagements in the Mississippi, Cumbeland and Tennessee Rivers. Foote died before he reached his new command had command was given to Rear Admiral John Dahlgren who had invented the coke bottle shaped ordnance that bore his name. Before Dahlgren launched a second assault on Charleston, the Confederates had augmented their artillery by salvaging the two XI Dahlgrens from the sunken Keokuk. During these salvage operations from May 1 through May 5, Palmetto State covered the working parties. After the loss of the monitor Union engineers had reported that the guns could not be salvaged but the southerners had done so under the cover of several nights. The overall commander, General Pierre T. Beauregard suggested to the Confederate naval commander, John R. Tucker, that he attack the Union vessels again but Tucker thought that the XV Dahlgrens mounted by the Passaic Class monitors could pierce the four inches of armor of the Palmetto State and Chicora. He was not willing to roll the dice on an attack against those powerful guns considering the slow speed of his two ironclads and on August 17, 1863 specifically declined action with New Ironsides and six monitors. A major attack was planned for July 18, 1863 in cooperation with the Union Army, who would attack Fort Wagner. The gun fire of the Union ironclads would support this attack and it would be the Union army which seized the fort. The attack failed with high army losses and was later made the basis for the film Glory.
Throughout 1863, 1864 and early 1865 Palmetto State and Chicora stayed in the port, joined by a third even stronger ironclad, CSS Charleston in the spring of 1864 and the whopping CSS Columbia, of 1,800-tons, which had 6-inch armor plate, in January 1865. Dahlgren made a night attack on Fort Sumter on September 1, 1863 and considered but cancelled attacks in October and later in 1864. During this time the three Confederate ironclads had a mesmerizing effect upon the Union naval establishment. Much as the solitary Tirpitz had a huge influence on Royal Navy plans and operations even as she rode at anchor in a Norwegian fjord in World War Two, the Palmetto State, Chicora and Columbia were huge magnets that kept the bulk of the USN ironclads stationed close to Charleston throughout the war. Throughout this time the Confederate fleet in being kept Charleston open for blockade runners and vitally needed supplies from Europe. Statistics proved that a blockade runner was far more likely to make or leave Charleston, than to be caught by the blockaders. The USN never did crack Charleston, it took the US Army and William T. Sherman to do that. After defeating the Confederate Army of the Tennessee, under the brave but nonintellectual John Bell Hood, Sherman marched his army to the sea at Savannah, tearing a huge swath through Georgia. He then moved north into South Carolina burning the state capital of Columbia and taking Charleston. If you ever visit Columbia, South Carolina, don’t look for W.T. Sherman T-shirts. As Sherman’s army approached Charleston, the city was abandoned and the Palmetto State, Chicora and Columbia were fired and blown up by their own crews on February 18, 1865.
There is no doubt that the CSS Palmetto State was one of the most successful ironclads of the Confederacy as well as being one of the most influential on the plans and operations of the Union fleet for over two years. However, in the end her fate was the same as most of the southern ironclads, destroyed by her own crew. (History from Ironclads at War, 1998, by Jack Greene and Alessandro Massignani)
Cottage Industry Models’ CSS Palmetto State
There are two large parts to the hull. The hull parts are divided very close to the waterline but not quite right on it. Unlike CSS Virginia whose ram was mostly below the waterline, the ram of CSS Palmetto State was placed slightly above the waterline of the vessel. The armor from the main deck sloped outward and downward for a short distance where it met the lower hull armor sloping upward and outward from below. Where the two planes met, there was a chevron like ridge, which was located slightly above the waterline. Therefore it appears that to portray Palmetto State in waterline form, a small fraction of the lower hull would be needed to portray the short distance that the lower hull armor sloped outward before meeting the downward sloping armor from the upper hull.
The hull halves are not solid. The interiors are hollowed out but this in no way affects the strength or outward appearance of the two halves. The lower hull is by far the largest single part in this model. If it was a solid block of resin, it would be rather heavy because of its size. The bow and stern areas are solid to maintain shape and strength but the center area is hollow with two large lateral support ridges provided to maintain the appropriate hull shape. This system works very well to provide a very rigid hull without the heavy weight associated with a solid resin hull. The detail on the lower hull, indeed on almost every resin piece in this kit, is outstanding. The lower hull shows to different textures. The upper portion is armored, but varies slightly from the typical railroad rail plating used by the Confederacy in the construction of most of their ironclads. It may appear in shape and layout to be rails but instead were long iron plates of seven-inches in width. The lower portion portrays the wooden plank construction of the very bottom of the hull. The two areas are separate by a prominent raised wale, which was apparently made of wood as well. The rails run up and down with each rail being clearly delineated. Likewise, the wooden planks of the lower hull are very clearly shown in the casting but there are no butt ends shown. In appearance it reflects a series of very long planks running from stem to stern. Now these may have been used but it is more than likely that a series of shorter planks were used in each horizontal level of planking. If you wish to add this detail, it can easily be done with a hobby knife. However , it is impossible to know the exact pattern of planking. Exact blueprints may be available for many warships built by the Union but Confederate ironclads were much more of the homemade, scratch-built variety. Even though Palmetto State was one of the group of ironclads classified as the Richmond Class or style, the ironclads of this group varied considerably, one from the other.
The shallow upper hull piece also has two textures of surface. The outward sloping side armor also has the seven-inch plates but the main deck reflects wooden planking with the plank design being far more narrow than the planks of the lower hull. Here again no butt ends are shown in the planking but can be added with a hobby knife at least for the deck areas that are outside the casemate. This upper hull piece covers the entire main deck from bow to stern, although all of the central part will be hidden under the central casemate. The area covered by the casemate is reflected by a thin line on the deck showing the outside perimeter. Found at the bow and stern are three deck plates on each end for bollards. Also found at the bow are toe plates for the anchor davits. What is probably the most arresting feature of this piece is one item of the deck detail amidships, under the casemate. There were four guns mounted in the Palmetto State. On each side of the armored casemate there were three gun ports with pivoting armored covers to cover the port when the gun was being reloaded. There were single ports located on the bow and stern faces. The front face port and the first ports on each side were alternate firing positions for the bow gun. Likewise the aft face port and the end positions on each side were alternate positions for the aft most gun. Both of these guns were the best mounted on the Palmetto State. They were 9-Inch Brook Rifle pivot guns that were mounted on a large carriage that was guided into firing position by a series of curving deck rails to one of the three firing positions. This pattern of curving rails is very noticeable and interesting on the deck of this piece. In fact the beauty of this railing pattern coupled with the detail of the Brook pivot guns and mountings makes for a very strong desire to cut away part of the casemate armor to show the wonderful detail within. The two center gunports on each side were the sole firing positions for the two 32-pdr cannon mounted on the tradition four wheeled gun carriage. Other deck features found in this area are five coamings for ventilation hatches for the machinery spaces and the stack base plate.
The next largest piece is the armored casemate. The piece comes with openings for the eight gun positions on the sides and seven openings on the narrow upper deck. He seven openings are for the large armored pilothouse, stack and five ventilation grates. With each opening there is a thin sheet of resin that needs to be removed to open up that area. Although thicker than film, the resin is still thin enough to be easily removed with a hobby knife. The detail on this casemate piece is very enticing with the narrow runs of armor plate on the sloping vertical surfaces and a wooden planked upper deck. There are actually eight facets to the casemate side as both the starboard and port sides consisting of three facets each, with separate facets at fore and aft. Where the side facets adjoin the armor slopes at different angles creating an interesting pattern at these junctures. The upper deck also has locator holes for the white metal railing stanchions. There are also cable openings at the lower end of the bow and stern facets. When you fit the casemate to the main deck, there is a small overhang where the edge of the casemate extends a minimal length beyond the edge of the main deck. The sides of the casemate appear to meet flush with the slope of the sides of the deck, so some sanding should be done to achieve this flush fit.
Most of the smaller resin parts are attached to a resin sheet. Although the resin of the sheet is not thin, all parts can be easily removed from it with a hobby knife. Of course the parts will need a little sanding to smooth them out where they were attached to the sheet, but this very minor. There are 28 parts on the sheet. Some of the nicest parts are the eight pivoting armored gun ports, stack base and ship’s galley. The stack base has a prominent flange and a very clear bolt pattern where the sheets of curved metal joined. The galley stove really is incredible. Not only are the stove twin doors clearly cast in this part but on the top of the stove are five clear eyes. Of course the stove was wood fired, so the eyes would be of cast metal. Each of the armored doors has cleanly cast large bolt heads for the pivots. Other parts on the sheet include a large solid wooden deck coaming, ten hatched ventilation coamings, five ladders in three different styles and two other deck fittings. In addition to the parts on the sheet, there are several separate resin parts. The pilot house has very clearly defined hinges and latch on the top, armored shutters for the vision ports and armor pattern on all faces. This part is attached to a resin casting runner on the bottom of one face. Be careful with removing this runner as undue pressure could damage the bottom run of armor below the vision slit where it is attached. All four vision slits are open for three-dimensional relief. There are two resin boats, which have spectacular interiors with every detail present. The boat thwarts, tillers and rudder frames are on two small resin sheets and will need the same cleaning as those parts found on the large sheet. The ship’s rudder is also a separate resin piece with heavy metal support braces bolted to each side. Lastly there are six resin pieces for the four gun carriages. The smaller guns are on Marsilly carriages, whose design is fairly similar to older mountings found in sailing ships. The carriages for the two Brooke pivot guns are truly outstanding. The large lower carriage has runners where the gun pivoted to different firing/loading positions on the rails found on the gun deck. The upper carriage, which provided a cradle for the guns, recoiled on slides laid length-wise on the lower carriage. The beauty of these guns is another reason why you may want to have a portion of the casemate open so the interior details can be seen.
White Metal Parts
There are huge number and variety among the smaller white metal parts. Maybe the crew of your Palmetto State needs to board a Yankee vermin ship and they need to carry some extra persuaders for the Yankee crew. William Blackmore, the noble southern gentleman who deigned the model, has provided separate boat hooks and belaying pins to knock some sense into the scalawag Yankees. For the marvelous guns there are separate elevating screws, rammers and spikes to really super detail the Brooke and Dahlgren ordnance. To prepare for the dastardly Yankee attack on Charleston in the spring, you get a white metal spar explosive, which is mounted on a brass rod. Of course if you want to model the Palmetto State on the glorious January 1863 night when she and Chicora sent the Yankees skedaddling, there was no spar torpedo mounted on the ship on that night. Maybe you just want to pound the Yankees with your big guns. No problem, as Cottage Industry Models provides six shell racks for the gun deck so your gunners have their choice of finely crafted southern shells.
For ship’s boats there are many separate oars as well as two rudders. Each rail stanchion on the ship is a separate piece. Other fine fittings include anchor stanchions, ship’s lanterns, bitts, flag booms, galley stack, and torpedo yoke. Some of the smallest white metal parts are three styles of pulleys, which include 3/16 double blocks, 3/32 double blocks and 3/32 single blocks. The stack in my kit is an open brass cylinder but Cottage Industry Models has replaced this with a detailed resin stack. There are also two lengths of chain in different sizes and a small brass fret of photo-etch parts. This fret is made up of 120 small eye pins for super-detailing the interior of the casemate and gun handling mechanisms. Other brass rods and construction material of various types are included. There is a flag sheet, which has four flags, the original "Stars & Bars" national ensign used from March 1861 to May 1863, The white "Stainless Banner" national ensign used from May 1863 to March 1865. Since the predominantly white flag could be mistaken for a surrender flag, at the very end of the war a red bar was added to the fly for the third style national ensign. The fourth flag is the universally used Confederate battle flag.