twenty-one men and severely wounding fifteen, caused him to haul down his flag in token of surrender.
The enemy now kept at a respectful distance while preparing their iron-clad vessels to sail up more closely.
Our Navy Department continued slowly to construct more of these rams, all on the same general plan, fit for little else than harbor defence.
The resources of the United States
being such that they could build ten iron-clads to our one, and of a superior class, almost invulnerable to shot or shell, I had but little faith in the measures we were taking for defence.
Mr. Frank Lee
, of the Engineers
, was employed constructing torpedoes to be placed in the harbor, and called my attention to the subject.
It appeared to me that this might be made an effective weapon to use offensively against the powerful vessels now being built.
An old hulk was secured and Major Lee
made the first experiment, as follows: A torpedo made of copper, and containing thirty or forty pounds of gunpowder, having a sensitive fuze, was attached by means of a socket to a long pine pole.
To this weights were attached, and it was suspended horizontally beneath a row-boat, by cords from the bow and stern — the torpedo projecting eight or ten feet ahead of the boat, and six or seven feet below the surface.
The boat was then drawn towards the hulk till the torpedo came in contact with it and exploded.
The result was the immediate destruction of the old vessel and no damage to the boat.
I was now convinced that powerful engines of war could be brought into play against iron-clad ships.
I believed it should be our policy to take immediate steps for the construction of a large number of small boats suitable for torpedo service, and make simultaneous attacks, if possible, before the enemy should know what we were about.
The result of this experiment was represented to Commodore Ingraham
I offered all the arguments I could in favor of my pet hobby.
Forty boats with small engines for this service, carrying a shield of boiler-iron to protect a man at the helm from rifle-balls, might have been constructed secretly at one-half the cost of a clumsy iron-clad.
did not believe in what he called “new-fangled notions.”
I retired from his presence with a feeling of grief, and almost desperation.
but resolved to prove at least that I was in earnest.
I got row-boats