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CharlieZardoz

American sailing warships with no plans or records

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Greetings everyone! I wanted to start a post to discuss certain historical ships where information is sketchy and as far as I can tell no plans or diagrams exist. This is an opportunity to pool together resources if you happen to know of plans or details and resource info for some of the ships mentioned please join in and offer what you've got. Specifically the ships in question I've listed below.  Feel free to add more content or correct any inaccuracies to the info as this list is by no means complete just all I could think of off the top of my head. Also not putting down ships which were never completed. :)

 

-Alliance 1778 35 gun sister to the Confederacy

 

-Warren 1776 32 gun Randolph class

 

-Providence 1776 28 gun

-Trumbull 1776 28 gun both were captured by RN so wonder if plans were taken?

 

-Delaware and Boston 24 gun ships taken by RN (there is a plan is Chapelle's book figure 4 dates 1748. I am wondering if this is the correct plan for this Boston)

 

-Lexington 1775 brig (I have seen models and plans of this ship but are they based on actual plans taken by the RN after capture?)

 

-Congress 1799 38 guns while Humphrey's plan for the Constellation/Congress survives and a sail plan from national archives but do plans/details exist for the specific ship as built? 

 

-Enterprise 1799 brig this topic has been discussed before

-Experiment 1799 brig sister to the Enterprise

 

-John Adams 1799 frigate broken up in 1830 then according to Howard Chapelle rebuilt as a Boston/Vincennes class sloop of war. To my knowledge no plans exist of either incarnation of this ship

 

-Adams 1799 28 gun frigate

 

-General Greene 1799 28 gun frigate

 

-Columbia 1836 Potomac class frigate

 

That's most of them though no doubt there are more, such as shame much of the info of these ships has been lost to history especially since quite a few of them had rather impressive careers like the Alliance or John Adams. I am also noticing that even with ships where plans exist I see no stern or billet details for ships like New York, Boston or Philadelphia in Chapelle's books.  I'm wondering if he just didn't include them or are there no records of those details via the official plans in the national archives. Since models have been built of Philadelphia etc. I assume they were. Thanks and happy hunting :)

 

Charlie

Edited by CharlieZardoz

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trippwj   

Interesting topic, sir. There could be some spiritted discussion here.

 

Let me start by suggesting that, even in Great Britain, it was not the norm to show the stern decoration on the plans. The level of detail and type of carving would be included in the written specification documents, and then only in general terms. The builder did what he felt was appropriate within cost. The plans were to build by, not to record what the ship looked like, in the US.

Next up - the dirth of documentary records, and some possible sources.

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Three John Adams 1799 plans do survive, enough for a complete reconstruction. Chapelle missed them.

 

1. Original body lines, pre 1829: National Archives, presumably (published in Charleston's Maritime Heritage, Coker.)

 

2. Out board profile, which includes partial inboard profile, partial waterlines (or are they diagonal projections?), as designed, 1/4" scale

Peabody Museum, Fox Papers. Note twenty-four broadside ports, but with no bridle port. The latter was added, along with a five feet extension of keel in Charleston. Not labeled as JA in Fox Papers.

 

3. Half-breadth of Decks, all, with stowage, 1/8th scale, as converted to a corvette, circa 1807, Fox papers. Position of projected stern chase ports indicate an original six window design, with ports in the two and five windows, with the others planked over. All they did was remove the spar deck in 1807-08. Shows length, mast and gunport position as built. (Labeled as "Decks Chesapeake" in Fox Papers, by some long dead, blind, crack-smoking staff volunteer!!)

 

I forgot one!

 

4. There is an inboard profile plan from the 1850s showing her final configuration. I've seen it, but I don't have a copy, from the NA, that shows ten ports aside - down from the 1829 rebuild's twelve - a full projecting stem-post, and a sketch of her bust figurehead.

Edited by uss frolick
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trippwj   

Charlie -

 

You may want to peruse the plans presented in Knox, Dudley, ed. 1945. Register of Officer Personnel United States Navy and Marine Corps and Ships’ Data 1801–1807. Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers. U.S. Government Printing Office. http://www.ibiblio.org/anrs/docs/E/E3/nd_barbarywars_register_shipdata.pdf.

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Frolick do you happen to know where these plans are located? I have the catalogue of the Smithsonian list of plans also checked the Maryland silver website and can't find any plans on John Adams.  That's good to know they survive though I'll order the Coker book off amazon and see what it has listed. 

 

trippwj that's a nice document, like an allstar cast lol, though all those are also in Chappelle's books.  And yes that seems to be the truth about the American plans being to build off of at least in the early days.  Still a few models have been built like the Philadelphia for example (I know of two) so someone must have done some research and found enough to conclude what stern details looked like. I'd imagine a model of Randolph exists somewhere and some of the other contract frigates like New York or Boston 1799.  I figure in time I will seek out and visit all the major naval museums and check their models since I'm happy to research what others older and wiser than I have managed to come up with :)

Edited by CharlieZardoz
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In general, if Chapelle didn't find it, it doesn't exist. The rare exception being the Frigate John Adams.

 

Your's Truly discovered them. {"Thank You! Thank You!" - Frolick bows to thunderous applause}.

 

#1 and #4 above are in the National Archives, not the Smithsonian, and you have get them directly from that source, if they can find them. #2 and #3 are part of the Josiah Fox Papers, in The Peabody & Essex Museum of Salem, in Salem Massachusetts. Good luck getting anything from them in timely manner ... :lol Maryland Silver has only a few of the many NA plans, and as you can see, he's a Civil war guy mainly. Coker's book is a really good illustrated history, but don't expect it to be a ship plan source, other than for the JA's body line plan.

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debnal   

I saw a reference to the Maryland Silversmith Co. and their plans. They have a set of plans for a ship of the line, not unlike Pennsylvania, with four gun decks. It is named "Lafayette" on the plans. Does anyone have an idea what that ship represents? I have good reason to believe it might be the Behemoth that was being built at Sackets Harbor in 1814/5. There was giant ship to be built after the New Orleans and Chippewa. The Brits had the Canada almost ready for action and the Americans needed to counter it.

Al

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trippwj   

... I figure in time I will seek out and visit all the major naval museums and check their models since I'm happy to research what others older and wiser than I have managed to come up with :)

 

I concede the older, but respectfully decline to accept any insinuation of wiser!!!

 

In terms of seeking out information on some of these, the Pennsylvania Historical Society in Philly is a good starting point - they have the Humphreys' archives and others, including (I think) those from Marion Brewington.

 

The Peabody Essex Museum has a very nice archive, among others, related to the early years of the Navy in the US.  As the Ol' frolicky one mentioned, the National Archives has quite the collection, as does the Naval Academy.  The Mystic Seaport Library is more focused on merchant shipping, but also has some fantastic materials on the shelves.

 

Most of what I have come up with is internet sourced - amazing amount of information there, it just takes some digging to get to it!  Archive.org and Google Books are amazing repositories, as is the Hathitrust website. 

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I'll definitely look into that info, I plan on visiting as many resources with documents and models as possible.  BTW I found in my Donald Canney "Sailing Warships" book the plans for the Boston class which is what the rebuild of the John Adams is based on so that half of her history is sorted lol.  And if the 1799 plan is in the Coker book that takes care of that version of the ship. Also messaged the staff of tricoastal to discuss their plans to rebuild a replica of Enterprise so I imagine an inferred plan now exits. Anyone care to take on the others? Alliance perhaps? ;)

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Talos   

Interesting thread! I’ll add a bit that I’ve noticed poking around in Chapelle and some other sources.

 

  1. Alliance – Chapelle lists her as little-known and matching most closely to Confederacy. She’s three feet shorter and half a foot narrower beam.
  2. Warren – Chapelle says that she was to be a Randolph class, but the plans never made it in time and she was built to a local design. Because she was burned before capture, the RN never took her lines off either and there probably aren’t plans that survived.
  3. Don’t have anything on Trumbull, she wasn’t taken into RN service, but Providence was surveyed in 1780, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there are plans for her around.
  4. Boston – The lines in Chapelle are for the 1748 ship. Unlike Cyane, these aren’t mislabeled and they match the decoration and design of a ship from that period. Rif Winfield has her in his British Warships in the Age of Sail – 1714-1792. He states she was a lengthened 1745 Establishment 6th rate, built as HMS America. Moved to the UK in 1750, renamed Boston in 1756, and sold the next year.
  5. John Adams – With the rebuild, remember that there are three designs used for those sloops. Chapelle lists John Adams as being on the same design as Vandalia, which he asserts was built to Humphries’ draught. I was researching them for my US sloops thread over in the plans subforum. I’m linking two things I did in that thread. In the Excel spreadsheet, the stuff on the left is based on Chapelle’s work, the right column is Paul Silverstone’s The Sailing Navy 1775-1854. The other is a comparison of the different sloop designs of the period, the three 24-gun sloops are the 5th, 6th, and 7th from the top. http://i.imgur.com/0ClOD6Y.jpg http://i.imgur.com/IYHOPxs.jpg
  6. Columbia – We have the base draught of the Brandywine/Potomac-class frigate, a detailed drawing of her round stern timbers, and Raritan, commissioned in the 1840s. Decoration details between the two differ due to the tastes of the times, but we can extrapolate a 1830s Columbia from them, the basic lines are still the same. Potomac was built with a conventional transom.
  7. Pennsylvania – Chapelle states Humphreys had plans for Santisima Trinidad and Collingwood’s Royal Sovereign. He mentions that the initial design for Pennsylvania’s original design had a small beakhead bulkhead like those two older ships, while the final design had a round bow. I presume that the Lafayette, if it was a predecessor to Pennsylvania/based on Trinidad, would have that detail too.
  8. Philadelphia – I recall the draught for Philly in Chapelle is based on a later redrawing of the original draught with anachronistic War of 1812-style details. There’s another draught of her in Naval Documents related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers that tripp mentioned above, along with other ships of the period like the second Boston.
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Based on the fact that some ships were taken by the British and then put into service by them, would a source in the UK be worth searching? They certainly would have 'discovered' problems that needed correction or modifications to bring the ship up to their 'standards' and recorded that. Most of the time they would rename the ship. Was the Trumbull still a Trumbull?

If the original plans are no longer around, it would be interesting to see what the Brits did to it.

 

-Providence 1776 28 gun

-Trumbull 1776 28 gun both were captured by RN so wonder if plans were taken?

 

-Delaware and Boston 24 gun ships taken by RN (there is a plan is Chapelle's book figure 4 dates 1748. I am wondering if this is the correct plan for this Boston)

 

-Lexington 1775 brig (I have seen models and plans of this ship but are they based on actual plans taken by the RN after capture?)

 

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Talos   

I was poking around NMM earlier today looking for Providence, but didn't find anything yet in the short time I looked. Of those ones listed, from Rif Winfield's book:

 

Providence kept her name, surveyed in 1780 and sold in 1784.

 

Raleigh kept her name, sold in 1783.

 

Confederacy was renamed Confederate, purchased in 1781, sold the next year without being comissioned.

 

Trumbull kept her name, wasn't taken into service by the RN.

 

Boston was renamed Charlestown by the British, sold in 1783.

 

Delaware kept her name, sold in 1783.

 

Nothing on Lexington after her capture in Winfield, but Silverstone lists her crew as retaking her at sea.

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Very good Talos! I re-read and realize Trumbull was too greatly damaged to be taken into RN service, do wonder about the Providence having lines taken by RN though.  Alliance I'd love to know what the carving details were like.  I imagine similar overall to Confederacy but with it's own distinction.  Warren I think you may have confused with Washington which was never finished.  Warren supposedly took a few prizes before burned.  Columbia I imagine it would be similar to other ships of the Potomac class diagrams from Chapelle's books I imagine newer ships didn't vary as much in details as they had fewer carvings and building was more regimented.  I did find the plan for the later John Adams in my Donald Canney book the older one is supposedly in a book written by P.C. Coker about Charleston I've yet to check out.

 

Thanks for clearing up the confusion with the Boston, wonder if the ship from 1776 had lines taken.

 

And Modeler12 I did look over the Royal Museum of Greenwich archives though didn't see much.  Providence may have been renamed not sure.

Edited by CharlieZardoz
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Talos   

You're right, I didn't specify that Warren was finished. She was burned though and never captured. I doubt her lines were ever taken off. I wouldn't be surprised if Providence had her lines taken off when she was surveyed. I'll keep poking aroun NMM, that's probably the best place to start.

 

With Columbia it's less that things weren't regimented and more that she was comissioned over a decade after the earlier ships in her class and Raritan was comissioned in the 1840s. Detail style changes in that time period, for instance Raritan has a fully-enclosed, redesigned bow compared to Brandywine. St Lawrence differed in details and Sabine/Santee were stretched before completion.

 

With John Adams make sure it's Humphreys' design with the transom and quarter galleries. Doughty had a round stern and galleries, while Barker just had a plain round stern.

 

Boston was coppered in Halifax after she was captured in 1780, if she ever had her lines taken off that would be the most likely time.

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The Essex was thought to have been built on the design of the Alliance, as the same family built both twenty years apart.

 

It may surprise many to learn that not one single line survives for the Bon Homme Richard, just dimensions. That beautiful Ancre monograph is entirely a reconstruction by Jean Boudriot based on French East India Company practice. I've always had a problem with the stern, with its huge gallery. It's OK for the Indiaman Duc De Duras (Duck De Donald? :) ), but it most certainly would have been removed or simplified in its conversion to a man of war. And I definitely disagree with the placement of the six extra gun-ports cut into the lower deck for the 18-pounders. I believe they all would have been in close line with each other, and placed as far back as they could be fitted.

 

The only known deviation of the USS Columbia from her sisters is described in a letter by Humphries written to William Bainbridge in 1827. The only difference was in her "upper bow", in so much as she was "less full than the others". But no explanation was given. Did Humphries mean that the stem-post was smaller, with less of an overhang, (called "the flam of the stem", i.e., the Raritan having a huge flam), or was he referring to the hull lines being less bluff in the upper bows than did the others? (See Donald L. Canney, "Sailing Warships Of The US Navy, Naval Institute Press, page 70.)

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I'd probably go mad interpreting some of those Humphrey's papers, though tbf with many of these ships they are probably the most viable resource there is for detailing especially ships like Congress and United States.  The Essex and Confederacy to appear to have some commonality though Essex is significantly smaller.  It's just that Alliance had a rather impressive career and deserves a model made of her.  I can't believe the hulk existed an a shore until the early 1900's and was then broken up with no thought of it's archeological value sheesh!  Regarding Duc De Duras I agree about the stern and that's sort of what I'm getting at here.  Is there enough info on the Congress (1797) to make a fully accurate model of her... probably not.  Can enough info be compiled to make a reasonably accurate representation of her... most likely.  It's been done many times with supposedly "historic" ship models.  Like Bon Homme Richard, Lexington and Enterprise models exist of them... they are interpretations but not wholly out of the ball park, especially Lexington.  So thought's are the more research and bits of info gathered the more realistic a model could be made of some of these fairly obscure historic vessels. :D

Edited by CharlieZardoz
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All historians agree that the Congress was built to Humphries 36-gun draught. It is fairly complete, given that most of the inboard profile is superimposed over the lines. With that, and the 1820-ish Charles Ware sail plan, one could make a reasonably accurate post-1812 model of her, except for the carvings and once again, that freakin stern! Makes me kinda wish that the British had captured her ... kinda.

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Talos   

I have that monograph, it’s a really excellent one. There’s a section devoted in the beginning of it devoted to that. As I recall, he had the draught of a similar-size East Indiaman from the same area and another larger one. The gallery is pretty large. I wonder if some of that is the legacy of the larger ship he was working off of. Even if is that size, would they have gone to the expense and time to reduce or remove it during her refit? Would JPJ’s ego have allowed it?

 

With Columbia, that’s pretty early in her construction. I’m not sure what percentage she was at in 1827 and how she was suspended at until her completion in the 1830s. I wonder if he meant the rake of the bow. We know this was variable, with Santee having much reduced stem and stern post rake.

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The round-sterned USS Brandywine was the second built, but the first launched ahead of the older square-sterned sister USS Potomac, and the sister USS Columbia was constructed on Brandywine's ways. But Potomac and Columbia were both completed in normal, quick time, but sat on the ways seasoning until needed. Both were complete by 1827.

 

Jones superintended the construction of the America, 74, in Portsmouth, NH, in 1782, and ordered the heavy stern galleries left off.

Edited by uss frolick
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It's a great interpretation of the Duc, much better than that awful Aeropiccola kit. :) Also I'm surprised no kit was ever made of a Potomac/Brandywine class frigate/sloop.  Considering how many of them were made they were kind of the backbone of the sailing navy for some time.  A little re-working/bashing and you could build the set. ;)

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Talos   

Ah, alright, thanks frolick. I wasn't sure what state Columbia had been left in. I presume she was pretty much boarded over and sealed up for the ten years until launching?

 

And yeah, I was thinking about the quarter galleries when I wrote that. Sorry, really need to not post that early in the morning, I'm not a morning person! I wasn't thinking of the "balcony", which was being removed from many ships at the time anyway. I believe Victory had her's off in a refit well before Trafalger.

 

@Charlie: Any US frigate that doesn't start with Con- doesn't get any love at all. Not just the Potomac/Brandywines (which I love for the round stern, it really stands out. Potomac excepted, of course), but the wartime Java-class that was mentioned in another thread. Also the final pair, Santee and Sabine, which were the only US 44s outside of the rebuilt Congress to have any real length changes, both being stretched 15 feet during construction.

 

Speaking of those two, whenever I get around to redrawing the draught in Chapelle's book of Santee, I want to do a version replicating Sabine as well, which had the original rake to her stem and stern that the older ships had (Santee's were both reduced when she was constructed, while Sabine's were the same as the oddball St Lawrence's). Chapelle mentioned a host of coversion proposals I'd like to do side views of, including additional stretches and cutting them down into huge corvettes. I also had in mind seeing what they would look converted into steamers. Anyone got any more information on proposals for those two? Especially any additional conversions I didn't touch on.

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That sounds great Talos!  I would definitely like to see what notes you come up with when you get to replicating those ships.  The poor Santee. Lasted as a training ship along with Constitution for so many years, yet no one thought of preserving her.  It's true that other than Essex and the sloop Constellation, other than revolutionary ships not much love is given to the American frigates though sounds like we all plan on changing that ;)  I like the Java class as well.  It's all part of an evolutionary line that began with Constitution and ended with Congress it all fits together and the evolution of design is quite fascinating.  I'd love to see conjectures of what might have been had the sailing frigate kept evolving in a world with no ironclads. :)

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trippwj   

Following are notes on the Pennsylvania and the Santisima Trinidad in the Humphreys notebook (date to sometime after 1829)

 

Dimensions of the Santissima Trinidad, Spanish three decker – in English measure.

Length between perpendiculars 204 feet 9 inches, beam moulded 54 feet

 

Tonnage of Ship of the Line Pennsylvania Made out for Comm Stewart- June 1829

Keel for Tonnage Custom House Measurement 183 feet

Beam for Do Do Do 57 ft 9

Burthen in tons Custom House Measurement 3212 18/95 (say 3241 tons corrected tonnage)

Burthen in Tons Sheer carpenters (old) measurement 2940 83/95 Tons

Length between perpendiculars from the aft side of Rabbet of Stem to fore side of Rabbet of post at crossbeam 210 feet

Deduct Thickness of apron & Transom 3 feet 6 inches will leave the length of Gun deck 206 feet 6 inches.

Length of Spar Deck 220 feet 8 inches Tread of the deck.

Length between perpendiculars 210 feet

Beam moulded 56 ft 9

Depth of Hold 22 ft 3

Length of Keel Carpenters tonnage 173 feet 6 inches

Beam Do Do 56 feet 9 inches

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Talos   

Thanks, Charlie. I was waiting to do the larger plans like most of the frigates and all the ships of the line, because they were spread across two pages. Last month I got a cheap, old copy of the book to take apart. Because of the discussion here, I finally got around to doing it, should start working on a frigate drawing soon, probably the base Santee. Speaking of the Constellation, this makes me want to see how she looks wth a second deck like Macedonian had originally. Twelve feet longer (a foot longer than the 44s), she should be able to carry the armament of a 36-gun frigate well. Hmm....must draw.

 

@Wayne: Nice. Thanks for that. Is there any mention of Royal Sovereign's plans in there? Chapelle mentions him having a copy of that draught too.

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Coincidentally have you ever watched the 1991 film Ironclad's with Virginia Madsen?  The Cumberland's stern is all wrong, square like a box and with no aft cannon's lol.  The Congress was pretty decent as was the Minnesota though the Pawnee looked nothing like it did in real life. :)

Edited by CharlieZardoz

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trippwj   

Any clue as to the age of the model? very nice model, but unless somewhat contemporary (18th or early 19th century), it is just one builders best guess at what she looked like. This model looks much newer than that.

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