The CSS Neuse - original and replica

It started raining again last night and kept raining, on and off, most of today. So instead of going out biking, we drove into Kinston to check out the CSS Neuse. The Neuse (which seems to be pronounced as "noose") is one of the original ironclad ships of the Civil War. She was built in 1862-63 but never actually got into battle. Instead she got royally stuck in the river near Kinston, so she served as a fortification right there. She stayed there about a year until Union forces advanced, at which point her crew scuttled her. Their explosions didn't totally blow her up but they did create a big enough hole to sink her. A lot of the iron and fittings were salvaged off the ship shortly after the war but the wooden lower hull remained sunk in the river bottom's mud. In 1963 it was raised and, after some temporary solutions, finally installed in a very nice exhibit hall in Kinston in 2013.
The missing upper hull is indicated by white framework. The whole ship was made of wood, with just the top deck and edge covered in iron. The edge of the hull shows the multiple layers of wood cross-laid, before the iron slabs were added, and the big nails that protrude out of the wood are actually iron spikes that used to hold the iron slabs on.
Also on display is one of the ship's two Brooke cannons, double-banded and rifled (which, thanks to my visit at Fort Sumter, I know means having spiral groves cut inside the barrel). These cannon weighed about 12,000 pounds each. I'm amazed that the ship floated at all!
These big cannon used those awful grapeshot and canister shots, too, just like the cannon at Fort Sumpter.

It was very interesting and well worth the visit, but of course much of the ship is missing. However, one day some local guys decided to build an exact replica. And they did!
I was afraid it would be a bit cheesy, but this thing is wonderful! A lot of research and work went into it and it is probably as accurate as is possible. It's not covered with iron, of course, but otherwise it's quite good. The engine, acquired from an old mill, is the sister engine to the mill engine that originally powered the Neuse. 
They did take a shortcut with the cannon by installing a replica, but even if they could get an original one, the 12,000 pounds would be much too heavy for this land-locked structure to support. But it's an excellent replica. And it was here that we leaned how the cannon would have worked in the Neuse; they positioned one big cannon at the front and one at the back. Each cannon had 5 ports it could fire out of, and a track was used to swing the cannon around to each port as needed. The track has not been added yet but it is on the list of things to do, as soon as they have the money. None of this is government funded so they are careful not to spend money they don't have. Government could sure take a lesson from these guys!
Right behind the front cannon is a raised platform where the captain would stand to look outside over the flat deck, steer the ship, and give orders.  
The bulk of the ship's interior is one large room, giving it the look of a small ark, with several smaller rooms near the back. 
The crew would have numbered about 80 at a time. There are some rope beds aboard, but the tour guide said that the sailors were just as likely to sleep on deck. 

This is a registered ship with a working engine, rudder and propellers, and could, with some minor waterproofing and the addition of lifejackets, take to the water, and there is a very good reason for that. As the beginning of the project an OSHA guy said they would need to make changes costing about $80,000 if they wanted to open the ship to visitors. Since that was beyond their means, they legally registered it as a ship. That neatly put it out of OSHEA's authority, and they were able to complete their vision and share it with others. Great job!

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