Invention Of Steam Power And Impact On Navy

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“Steam Power and It’s Influence on Maritime Affairs ” The steam engine was first invented in 1698 by Thomas Savery and later perfected by Scottish inventor, James Watt. It was from Watt’s prototype that the first naval steam engine was based upon (Steam Engine Inventors). After the successful implementation of steam power in naval vessels, the road to new technology began. By giving ships better maneuvering abilities, the invention of steam power played a large role in the technological advances and abilities of the navy, leading to new naval tactics and strategy in naval warfare. The United States Navy began using the steam engine propulsion during the Civil War. The most notable steam driven ironclads of the Civil War were the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. These ships were also outfitted with the new rotating turret system allowing them to shoot at all angles rather than just broadside. The application of steam power within these ships allowed for them to travel upstream and upwind. Previously, ships had not had this capability due to only having sails or being reliant on sails or oar propulsion. The ability to use streams and be less reliant on the wind gauge had monumental impacts regarding naval engagements. A great example of how the steam power affected the tactics during battle is at Charleston in 1863. During the blockade of Charleston, Captain John B. Marchand, on the USS James Adger, went upstream to gather information for BGEN Henry W. Benham. Although the attempt to capture the Confederate fort at Secessionville failed, both used a new tactic of going upstream for a better approach route because of the capabilities provided by steam power (Symonds, 96). As the 19th century progressed, naval technology developed alongside it. Paddle propulsion gradually faded and the screw propeller became prominent. As iron and later steel hulls began to replace
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