wishing to handle the boat himself, made the attempt.
It was readily submerged, but did not rise again to the surface, and all on board perished from asphyxiation.
When the boat was discovered, raised and opened, the spectacle was indescribably ghastly; the unfortunate men were contorted into all kinds of horrible attitudes; some clutching candles, evidently endeavoring to force open the man-holes; others lying in the bottom tightly grappled together, and the blackened faces of all presented the expression of their despair and agony.
After this tragedy I refused to permit the boat to be used again; but Lieutenant Dixon
, a brave and determined man, having returned to Charleston
, applied to me for authority to use it against the Federal
steam sloop-of-war “Housatonic
,” a powerful new vessel, carrying eleven guns of the largest calibre, which lay at the time in the north channel opposite Beach Inlet
, materially obstructing the passage of our blockade-runners in and out. At the suggestion of my chief-of-staff, General Jordan
, I consented to its use for this purpose, not as a submarine machine, but in the same manner as the “David.”
As the “Housatonic
” was easily approached through interior channels from behind Sullivan's Island
, and Lieutenant Dixon
readily procured a volunteer crew, his little vessel was fitted with a Lee spar torpedo, and the expedition was undertaken.
, acting with characteristic coolness and resolution, struck and sunk the “Housatonic
” on the night of February 17th, 1864; but unhappily, from some unknown cause, the torpedo boat was also sunk, and all with it lost.
Several years since a “diver,” examining the wreck of the “Housatonic
,” discovered the fish-boat lying alongside of its victim.
From the commencement of the siege of Charleston
I had been decidedly of the opinion that the most effective as well as least costly method of defense against the powerful iron-clad steamers and monitors originated during the late war, was to use against them small but swift steamers of light draught, very low decks, and hulls ironcladed down several feet below the water line; these boats to be armed with a spar-torpedo (on Captain Lee
's plan), to thrust out from the bow at the moment of collision, being inclined to strike below the enemy's armor, and so arranged that the torpedo could be immediately renewed from within for another attack; all such boats to be painted gray like the blockade-runners, and, when employed, to burn anthracite coal, so as to make no smoke.
But, unfortunately, I had not the means to put the system into execution.
Soon after the first torpedo attack, made as related, by the “David” upon the “New Ironsides,” I caused a number of boats and barges to be armed with