Virtual Civil War Lecture: CSS Stonewall - A Ship Under Four Flags

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Join us for a free virtual lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, when he gives a presentation on the intriguing life story of a Confederate ironclad, CSS Stonewall.

Viewers are welcome to send any comments or questions to John Quarstein, and he will answer them following his talk.


About the presentation: Confederate ironclad construction lagged far behind Northern shipbuilding capabilities. Southern designs were intended to defend harbors and bays and were simply not seaworthy. Consequently, the CS Navy sought to purchase a European-made ironclad at the war’s onset to break the blockade. It was not until 1864 that the French-built CSS Stonewall was acquired. Originally named the Sphinx, the ram was supposedly being built for the Khedive of Egypt. The ruse was discovered, and US authorities knew the ironclad was destined for the Confederacy. The Sphinx was then sold to Denmark during the Second Schleswig War in 1864 and renamed Staerkoddes (strong otter or a Norse mythological giant). Eventually, the Confederacy purchased the ironclad from the Danes. Unfortunately, the ironclad ram did not arrive in American waters until May 1865, too late for the Confederacy. The warship, nevertheless, was sold to the Japanese Imperial government. As Kotetsu, the ram played an essential role in ending the Japanese Civil War. Later named Azuma, the ironclad served in the Japanese navy until 1908.