USS De Soto (1859) - Construction and Design

Construction and Design

De Soto was built by Lawrence & Foulks of Brooklyn, New York in 1859 for Livingston, Crocheron & Co., which ran a line of passenger steamships between New York and New Orleans. At 1,675 tons and 253 feet (77 m) in length, De Soto was quite a large steamer for her time, and considered a fine example of her type. She was named after Hernando De Soto, a Spanish explorer and conquistador.

De Soto was powered by a 65-inch (1,700 mm) cylinder, 11-foot (3.4 m) stroke vertical beam engine, built by the Morgan Iron Works of New York. The engine, which drove a pair of 30-foot sidewheels, was capable of delivering up to 14 mph (12 knots)—a good speed for the time, which would soon make De Soto a favorite with the travelling public and which would later prove invaluable for pursuing blockade runners during the Civil War. The ship had a single, raked smokestack forward of the engine, and two masts, one fore and one aft—the fore mast square rigged—to provide auxiliary sail power.

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