Tuesday, March 29, 2011

USS Tecumseh Engine Room Gong

USS Tecumseh was one of several monitor-type warships built by the U.S. Navy for use against Confederate forts. The ship served on the James River in 1863 in support of Federal littoral operations, before being sent to the Gulf of Mexico.
During the 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay, Tecumseh was the lead warship in Farragut's squadron as it engaged Ft. Morgan and attempted to head into Mobile Bay. A few mintutes into the battle, Tescumseh struck a "torpedo" (what we now call a underwater mine) and quickly sank.
There have been a few surveys of the wreck over the years. But due to the ship being covered in mud by swift currents, only a few artifacts have been retrieved. One of them is the ship's engine room gong, which is currently on display in the museum's gallery. Ship gongs like this one were important tools of intra-ship communication before the advent of more modern mechanical and electronic forms of communication. Gongs produced loud, clear rings that notified overworked and otherwise distracted engine room crews to pay attention to a ship’s captain’s new orders.

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