Journal of Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research

Article Title

The Ironclad Economy


Clark-Diller, Lisa; Spears, Jessica


This paper investigates and describes the Confederate navy’s attempt to establish a naval presence in New Orleans. At the forefront of the Civil War, the Confederate States were pressed to create and sustain a working military presence within an evolving economy. The Southern economy was about to be ravished by the Union’s blockade. Both the Union and the Confederacy knew that establishing an early presence on the water would be of the greatest importance, of which the Union had a considerably large head start on the nonexistent Confederate navy. This paper covers the birth of the Confederate navy in an unforgiving economic situation. Stephen Mallory, secretary of the Confederate navy, devised a plan to begin construction of Southern ironclads with no industry to support its construction. However, shipbuilding became an important part of the Southern economy with the production of raw materials and the transportation of these raw goods. Often there were shortages of funds that caused labor issues, particularly in New Orleans. The Confederacy’s two superweapons (CSS Mississippi, CSS Louisiana) laid in wait as the final steps were taken to prepare them for their task. They, however, would never be finished and used as intended. History points to the economic situation of the South as the main reason for their inability to be effective in the Battle of New Orleans. The outcome of this battle started the downfall of the South. Access to the mouth of the Mississippi River was lost for good, cutting the Confederacy into two parts.