ironclad, mid-19th-century wooden warship protected from gunfire by iron armor. The success of the ironclad when first employed by the French in the Crimean War sparked a naval armor and armaments race between France and Great Britain. Ironclads were later used by both sides in the U.S. Civil War (see monitor , Monitor and Merrimack ), although only the Union navy had at its disposal sufficient industrial resources to build a sizable fleet. The armored ship became obsolete with the introduction (1870–90) of all-metal warship construction.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Naval and Nautical Affairs