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tv   CSS Jackson at the National Civil War Naval Museum  CSPAN  August 21, 2015 6:02pm-6:16pm EDT

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and columbus is so far from the coastline. columbus is the second most important industrial site in the entire confederacy. the confederate navy began building this ironclad here to protect this very important site. there was always the fear that the union navy would mount an attack up the chattahoochee river to take this city. the reason the columbus is such an important target is because of the industrial capacity here. they are producing uniforms, boots, munitions here. this is where the columbus depot was. the uniforms produced here went largely to the western army. this is an internal way for the confederates to produce their own material rather than having to import so much from outside. construction on the jackson began in august of 1862. she was launched into the river
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in december of 1864, when wilson's raid came through alabama and hit columbus. the battle of columbus took place april 16, 1865. general james wilson is a union cavalry officer, and he commanded 10,000 cavalry troops. their job was to attack through the states of alabama and georgia. their goal is to destroy important targets like columbus because of industrial output to disrupt supply lines, disrupt communications, anything they can do to further along the collapse of the confederacy. typically an ironclad, especially like the jackson, would be used at a port city, and if there is an approaching army, the vessel can move up and down or around the waterway
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and fire its big guns at the opposing forces. this is typically what confederate ironclads did. however, in the case of the jackson, she is right at completion in april 65 and there is no crew for it yet. officially, the confederate navy has her on the list, official navy register, as the next ship to be officially commissioned. however, the war is winding down and the confederacy is collapsing. there is no crude for the -- there is no crew for the jackson available yet. during the battle of columbus, she sat at the navy yard. the navy guys never could come aboard and get her steam up. there wasn't enough men available to do this. it sat there during the battle and did nothing. it's a nice showpiece, so to speak. the next morning on the 17th,
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wilson's men came into the navy yard and they started burning everything. they know they can't leave a viable weapon like this behind them, so they stuff flammables all over the ship and they set it on fire and they cast it loose into the river. for two weeks, this vessel is slowly floating downstream the chattahoochee and burning. there is a debris field between here and the final wreck sites. it finally got caught in the bend of the river, and she sank. the water finally put out the fires, and we have what is left of her now. her length is 225 feet long and she's 57 feet wide at her widest spot. we estimate she weighed 2000 tons. the majority of the ship is made
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out of wood. and theod construction, hull is made of a southern longleaf. we are at the back of the -- the stern of the casemate. this gives us a great advantage to see what the hull would look like. the bottom is flat. the draft of the vessel is not very deep because this vessel is designed specifically for river travel. it is designed not to go out on the open ocean, but specifically for the problems of the river. also if you will notice, up here, this wood plank was sort of like an edge, because it is an edge. this is where the iron plates would come down, just wrapped around what is called the knuckle. you have the waterline here and the iron plates come here and
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the ends are resting on this wood plank here. also, if you will notice, the wood planks, the boards here, they look like they've got cracks in between them. it's very wide apart. but this is the problem when the vessel was recovered, when they brought it out of the water they set it up on the shore and let it dry out. it cracked and constricted. actually when she was launched into the river, one of the local newspapers reporters noted in the paper that she floated like a duck on a pond. she barely leaped. this was an amazing job these constructors did on this vessel. from this vantage point, you're looking towards the stern of the vessel. you're looking at the back. moving forward, you can see where the shafts of the propeller are embedded in the ull of the ship, where they
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come through the hull. the shafts would have been coming forward towards the pistons of the steamship, or the steam engine. you get those pistons moving back and forth, turning the propeller shaft. you have two of those, two big ones right here along this section behind this superstructure. and right here is where the steam engine would sit. you've got the boilers right here, and if you're able to look up, we've got a recreation of the smokestack. you got the smokestack going straight up, and up above the upper deck, the smokestack extends about 40 feet. from this vantage point we are able to look down on the jackson . we are essentially at deck level. ft towards the a main casemate of the ironclad.
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those oval shapes you see are the gun ports of the jackson. the jackson is armed with six brooke rifles. the brooke rifle is a rifle gun. it fires large bullets instead of cannonballs. the brooke rifle has an effective range of about five miles, and a solid round weighs about 20 pounds. the particular brooke rifle we are firing today is one of the guns built specifically for the jackson. he was cast at the silva naval -- at the solyndra -- it was works inhe selma navy selma, alabama, and completed in january 1865. >> at your command. >> ready! >> fire! [explosion] jeff seymour: boom, you have the explosion. it is simple, yet so effective.
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after the war, people basically knew where she went down. it's not a question of having to discover where she was. the physical process of recovery of the jackson took place in the early 1960's. the centennial of the war. they began working on a process in 1961, and they started to build a cofferdam around the wreck site, and they try to them -- tried to flush the water out of the interior. they had to start digging the gun boat out of the mud. when they pulled the vessel out of the river bank, what they had ow this material back up the river, and they used a tug boat. they've got some flotation devices under it and so forth, but they are pulling the wreck, the two pieces of the wreck up the chattahoochee river with a tug boat. they have to live it with cranes
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-- they have to lift it with cranes up on the river bank. that was at the location of the old museum. in the late 1990's, they began construction on this nice, new facility. it was completed in 2001. in order to move this vessel from that place to this location, they used one of those big trucks that they move houses on. they had to move it very carefully down one of the streets of columbus. when they actually build the -- built the building, they built three sides here and they backed the hull of the jackson in here, set the braces under it, and slowly pulled the truck out from under it. once they got everything in here and in place, they build the -- they built the back wall of the building. it was an amazing engineering feat to pull this off. there are only four ironclads from the civil war that we can
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study right now. the jackson is right here, and this is why this facility is here. it is first and foremost to tell the story of this particular ironclad, and to show people there are more than just one or two ironclads. there were many. we have one of the best examples of that right here. >> the c-span cities tour of georgia continues with another confederate naval ship. we visit the national civil war naval museum, current home of the css chattahoochee. >> today, we think of hybrids as cars that have a combination of electricity and gasoline. about ask somebody
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hybrids in the mid-19th century, they will talk about ships. the chattahoochee is a hybrid. it is a combination of sale and steam power. it has large masts that carry large sales. it also has a steam engine on it. the chattahoochee is named after the river right here. the css chattahoochee was a regular run-of-the-mill gunboat. she was operating up and down the river here. as far as we know, the chattahoochee is the only gunboat, plane, fighting gunboat that has survived to this day. we only have the aft section, maybe one third of the section here in the museum. it is only a portion of the ship. we try to interpret what the ship represents in terms of the entirety of the naval effort of the confederacy.
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and of course, it is something that was built on the chattahoochee river. and again, steam engines, propellers, things like this, are all coming from columbus. this is what columbus is able to produce during the war. the chattahoochee was not the best built ship. out that a plantation owner decided he was going to build a ship and donate it to the confederate navy for the war. south of here at a place called saffold, basically a landing spot, he began construction on it. he hired laborers. the biggest problems finding enough skilled laborers to work on a ship of this size. eventually, the confederate navy took over operation of the construction of it. and they completed it and put it into operation in january of 63.
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northe of 63, she is just of the town of chattahoochee, florida. in her boiler exploded. during the explosion, several sailors were killed and injured. the injured are brought back to up having 19end sailors killed because of that. that is the only real action she saw, the boiler explosion. the confederate navy went to the wreck site, raised her, brought her back to columbus, and refitted her and put her back into operation, which leads us to the battle of columbus when they steamed her downstream and blew her up to prevent her capture. there are three captains of the chattahoochee. is catesby that name may be familiar to some peopl


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