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Doc. 39.-the rebel “Bird of art.”

To the Officers, Soldiers, and Citizens of the Confederate States:
Since the year 1839 I have devoted much thought and labor to the invention of a machine for aerial locomotion by man. The proper form and external appendages of the body were early and readily devised; but its successful operation has been delayed by the want of a suitable power to give it practical effect. That difficulty has been overcome, however, by my recent invention of an engine for a new motive power, which is admirably adapted to, and deemed amply sufficient for this object. For obvious reasons, it would be improper to publish the plan by which the great and long-sought desideratum of aerial locomotion may be attained.

Early in the year 1861, 1 sent a memorial to the Provisional Congress, then in session at Montgomery, asking assistance in behalf of my invention, with the view of employing it against our enemies in the existing war. At a subsequent period, a similar application was presented to that body, then assembled in this city, with a like object. At a later period still, another application in the same mode was handed to a member of the House of Representatives of the confederate States Congress, but which never was presented to that body.

And, to complete this sketch of such efforts on my part to obtain legislative aid, in September last I memorialized the Legislature of Virginia, at that time convened in extra session in this city; but I regret to say that all of those applications failed to elicit any attention to the great importance of this invention to our country at this time. And finally, at the suggestion of Generals R. E. Lee and G. T. Beauregard, I referred the subject of my invention to the Engineer Bureau of the War Department, where it remained many weeks without investigation, and was withdrawn a few days since. And feeling a profound personal interest in the success of our cause and the future welfare of our country, I now appeal to the citizens and soldiers of the country at large for aid in raising the means to construct and put in operation the Artis avis, (bird of art.) By the use of a considerable number of these machines, all of the Yankee armies now upon our soil and their blockading fleets may be speedily driven off or destroyed. In the present condition of our country, it will take a large sum to construct the requisite number of Birds of Art for this object; but if this appeal should be responded to generally, none need contribute more than one dollar--a sum that every one may spare without inconvenience — in order to rid our country of the privations [324] and perils of this fiendish war. Each machine will cost about five hundred dollars.

A short extract from my memorial to the Legislature of Virginia will serve to show how this most desirable object can be accomplished:

Now, let it be supposed that this number (one thousand) of these Birds of Art were stationed at the distance of five miles from a hostile military camp, fortification, or armada of war-vessels; that each Artis avis was supplied with a fifty-pound explosive shell, and being started singly, or two or three abreast, going out and dropping those destructive missiles from a point or elevation beyond the reach of the enemy's guns, then returning to the place of departure and reloading, and thus continuing the movement at the rate of one hundred miles per hour. It will be seen that within the period of twelve hours, one hundred and fifty thousand death-dealing bombs could be thus rained down upon the foe, a force that no defensive art on land, however solid, could withstand even for a single day, while exposed armies and ships would be almost instantly destroyed, without the least chance for escape.

Reference is respectfully made to the Senators and Representatives in Congress from Mississippi, the Hon. H. W. Sheffey, Speaker House of Delegates, Virginia Legislature, and General W. S. Featherston, Miss.

R. O. Davidson. Quartermaster-General's office, Richmond, Va., Jan. 1, 1863.

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