‘A Splendid Failure’

By Rob Morgan

The neglected Confederate ironclad CSS Georgia is given the above sad title in a six-page illustrated article by M. Blackburn, pages 44-49, in the September-October issue of the U.S.-produced magazine Archaeology. The wreck of the warship has been found in Savannah harbour, Georgia, and is in the process of serious archaeological examination. I found the piece interesting, as the 1/1200th CSS Georgia, which was in real life clad in old railroad iron, features in my own Confederate fleet. Sadly, none of the major 1/600th ACW manufacturers — Peter Pig, Thoroughbred, Bay Area Yards — have CSS Georgia in their lists. An omission of note!

css-georgiaNever a great deal of use in war, she couldn’t steam under her weak engines; apparently, she was very, very “wet.” Eventually, she was scuttled by the Confederates to avoid possible capture in Sherman’s great raid of 1864. An old Navwar model was described as an “Ironclad Floating Battery” on the pack, but an illustration published in the Archaeology article describes her as a “Confederate Ironclad Ram.” That’s optimistic! Or poor intelligence, which might have led to a pre-emptive attack by the Federals perhaps — some potential there for a wargame.

 The funnel on the vessel is shown by the article’s illustration as at one extremity (stern?) of the bulky superstructure, while that of the 1/1200th model is amidships.

She didn’t settle very far when she was scuttled, and the wreck was used as a gunnery target in 1868, intending to break her armoured hull up for scrap. The article provides some good, out of the ordinary, ACW background. Indeed, an astonishing amount of weaponry and equipment was left on board the Georgia when she was scuttled: about 170 live projectiles, and some seven guns, including two Dahlgrens, now recovered. That loss seems surprising, given the difficulties in which the Confederacy found itself by that stage of the war.

In recent decades, there’s been a huge amount of work published on recovering ACW wrecks. This one adds some valuable wargames information about a little-used warship — little used historically, or on the table top!

The photograph above is of my own scratchbuilt 1/300th version of CSS Georgia, or at least a slow floating battery of similar construction. A note on her building appeared in the blog a while ago.

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