Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ode to Civil War Naval Engineers and Firemen

USS Pensacola's engineers (center and right) talk to one of Pensacola's line officers (at left)

Attempting to cold crank the boiler
Steam propulsion was one of the great advances in marine technology.  It allowed the captain of a ship to go where he want, when he wanted.  Their countless examples in the Civil War of how steam propulsion allowed both navies to conduct operations their forefathers never could have dream of.  The technology, however, came at a steep human price as someone had to be in the boiler room manging the machines.

In their history The Steam Navy of the United States, authors Frank Marion Bennett and Robert Weir published a series of cartoons of the engineering department aboard the steam sloop-of-war USS Pensacola during the Civil War. Like any good editorial cartoon, the images were meant to both entertain and enlighten about the plight of its subject. 
"Going On Watch, Coming Off Watch"

Operating the water pump to the boiler

"A Little Oil"

"Smuggling the oil"

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