Letter to the Editor

By Rob Morgan

Yes, I realise the blog doesn’t have a letters page, but the old Lone Warrior, what 20 years ago, carried them from time to time, as did the best of all of the wargames magazines. We used to have ‘specialists’ to whom questions could be addressed too, I remember.

Here’s a question for you. Please find me an answer.

The current issue of The Mariner’s Mirror, Vol. 107, No. 2, for May 2021 contains an excellent article on Robert Fulton’s steam warship designs c.1814, sometimes called Fulton the First or Demologos, pages 188-201, by Dr. Andrew J.B. Fagel of Princeton University. Brilliant read! The article stirred a few of the little grey cells, and though a subject vaguely known to me it is one that clearly has some war game potential. My mind, and you’ll like this, Jim, came up with Early Steam Punk possibilities. Hm? Anyway, this clearly is a landmark in American naval technology, so I thought there must be a wargames scale model of the warship manufactured somewhere in the States. I thought either 1/600th, 1/700th, maybe even 1/1200th might turn up. I found information and illustrations of plenty of lovely museum quality craftsman-made models, but nothing else.

Yet, surely there will have been a model of it made in the USA at some stage, the wargames potential against the British blockade demands it. Plenty of ACW ‘blockade- busters’ c.1863 around, so there must be an 1814 ‘Fulton’- same principle. Can anyone help? Where can I find a ‘Fulton’. Or do In have to try to scratch-build one?

Help!   Over to you.

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2 Responses to Letter to the Editor

  1. Jim Rohrer says:

    Thanks for the shout-out to steampunk. I am not aware of steam warship models, but they sound like they would have potential. Simple designs for DIY versions would be interesting to consider (very simple!). Battle reports involving them would be fun to read.
    Steam-powered airships may not have existed but if they did, were they used in battles?

  2. Rich Barbuto says:

    Rob, no idea on a model. The Navy named the steam warship Fulton the First. It was Robert Fulton who called it Demologos, “Voice of the People.” It was launched in October 1814. Recall that the Royal Navy had fired into Fort McHenry guarding Baltimore’s inner harbor in September. New York City was primed to withstand an expected attack with more than 17,000 troops and hundreds of guns mounted in stone fortifications. The builders mounted a 120-horsepower engine in November, about when the crisis ended. However, the 20 heavy guns would not be added until after the war ended in February 1815. Demologos guarded New York’s Upper Bay, thus it would supplement defensive fires from the several casemate forts and other batteries. It was not designed as a blockade buster. Royal Navy blockading vessels stuck to New York’s Lower Bay and the waters and reefs there posed a real risk to Demologos, which was not that seaworthy nor did it carry enough firepower in those more dangerous waters to challenge the RN without assistance. This was not an armored vessel although it did carry a furnace to heat shot red-hot. Interestingly, it was Stephen Decatur who helped Fulton develop the design requirements. There is a scenario to game here – a Royal Navy raid on NYC!

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