upon screwing them in place, and of having them permanently attached to the charged torpedo.
The shell of the latter was thinned at the point where the tube was attached, so that, under water pressure, the explosion of the tube would certainly break it and discharge the torpedo; though, when unsubmerged, the explosion of the tube would vent itself in the open air without breaking the shell.
In this arrangement, the tube was of brass, with a leaden head, and made water-tight by means of a screw plug at its base.
Both the shell and the tube being made independently water-tight, the screw connection between the two was made loose, so that the tube could be attached or detached readily with the fingers.
The mode adopted for testing against leakage was by placing them in a vessel of alcohol, under the glass exhaust of an air-pump.
When no air bubbles appeared the tubes could be relied on. Captain Lee
had also an electric torpedo, which exploded by concussion against a hard object; the electric current, being thus established, insured the discharge at the right moment.
is the inventor also of the “spar-torpedo” as an attachment to vessels, now in general use in the Federal
It originated as follows: He reported to me that he thought he could blow up successfully any vessel by means of a torpedo carried some five or six feet under water at the end of a pole ten or twelve feet long, which should be attached to the bow of a skiff or row-boat.
I authorized an experiment upon the hulk of an unfinished and condemned gunboat anchored in the harbor, and loaded for the purpose with all kinds of rubbish taken from the “burnt district” of the city.
It was a complete success; a large hole was made in the side of the hulk, the rubbish being blown high in the air, and the vessel sank in less than a minute.1
I then determined to employ this important invention, not only — in the defense of Charleston
, but to disperse or destroy the Federal
blockading fleet, by means of one or more small, swift steamers, with low decks, and armed only with “spar-torpedoes” as designed by Captain Lee
I sent him at once to Richmond
, to urge the matter on the attention of the Confederate Government.
He reported his mission as follows: