Civil War Brown Water Navies

The Civil War in NE North Carolina

How accurate are these two drawings of the USS Underwriter? Both were drawn at New Bern, NC. The top image has a longer bow section. Both have pilothouses projecting out over the deck. Both have walking-beam engines and both are sidewheelers. The paddleboxes aren't exactly the same and the base of the smokestacks look different.


Are both the Underwriter? I tend to think so. The lithograph picture shows her angling towards the Trent River, which may account for the front quarter of the ship looking different from the illustrated newspaper version. Neither version presents a very clear picture of the paddlebox, so it is hard to say if they are the same or not.

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I have found one more drawing of the USS Underwriter. It is from Tom Campbell's "Gray Thunder" (p.155) and the original was published in "The Confederate Soldier in the Civil War". It is different from the images posted by Bruce Long, as it shows a sidewheeler with two masts. Neither a walking beam nor a pilot house is visible (both may be obscured by the smoke).
R. Thomas Campbell used the same drawing on page 137 in Storm Over Carolina. The picture has two masts whereas the other two do not. All three are sidewheelers. Paul Silverstone says the Underwriter was built in Brooklyn in 1852, 341 tons (builder's measurement) with side wheels and oscillating engines. The two photos I have posted show walking beams. The one in Campbell's book is obscured by smoke so you can't tell. An oscillating engine would not have had any superstructure showing like a crosshead or a walking beam would. I'll check with Al Mitchell at The Mariner's Museum to see if he knows anything about the Underwriter's powerplant.
If memory serves me correctly, Philip Madre was one of the divers that salvaged items from the Underwriter for the NC Underwater Archaelogy Department. He may know something about the machinery.
Surgeon Daniel B Conrad wrote an article about the expedition to capture the Underwriter at New Bern. He describes seeing a single light hung from each mast on the Underwriter, which would tend to validate the drawing with two masts that appears in Campbell's books.


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