Georgia Journey: Ironclad Ships

Scott Myrick
WNEG NewsChannel 32
Friday, June 16, 2006

You’re permission to board these civil war ironclads is granted. Crews are always making sure the boats are in ship-shape — ready for battle.

“The South had no navy at the beginning of the Civil War — so they decided they would go with technology,” Jerry Franklin of the Civil War Naval Museum tells NewsChannel 32.

Covering ships with iron made them nearly impenetrable to cannon fire. The North and South built a total of 100 of these ships during the war.

These boats are based at the Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus, Georgia. Their crews take them around the state to show people how ironclads fought.

“You’d be surprised how many people we see that didn’t know there was a Civil War navy,” Franklin says.

These replicas are actually pretty small. The real ironclads were more than five times this size.))

“When they’re out there by themselves — like any movie, you know, they don’t use full-scale ships a lot of the time, they use smaller ones — but when there’s nothing around to take it out of scale, then it looks realistic,” he says.

It sounds realistic too.

“Anybody who has a hearing aid, I advise them to turn it down,” Jeff Davis says.

He loves reenactments. He’s been active with the sons of confederate veterans for 50 years. Not surprising, since he’s named after the confederate president.

“We kid and they say, well, I don’t know about a name like Jeff Davis — and I say, well I could probably change it to Abraham Lincoln if you like — and they say no, no!”

By keeping the confederacy alive, they’re just trying to connect with ancestors from the war.

It’s not about dividing the country, Davis says.

“We’re just good, solid Americans, and we’re all together now,” he says.

He says reenactments like this one are the best way to experience history. The sons of confederate veterans reunion runs Friday through Sunday in Gainesville.

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