Horizontal Steeple Engines of the U.S.S. Wabash
By Merrick and Sons, ca. 1854
Pencil, ink, and colored wash on paper
26 3/4" x 21 1/2" National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Bureau
U.S.S. Wabash Horizontal Steeple
Engines The U.S.S. Wabash was one of the first steam
frigates authorized by Congress in 1854. These were fully rigged sailing
ships whose steam engines were intended to be auxiliary power systems
used to get in and out of ports and across calm seas. The combination
of steam power and heavy guns made them possibly the fastest and most
powerful warships anywhere in the world until the development of armored
ships. The Wabash had a submerged screw propeller instead of an
exposed paddle wheel. The horizontal pistons worked side to side rather
than up and down. This arrangement created a more compact engine with
a lower center of gravity and allowed more stowage space below decks.
Here are two views of the engines.