given, the loss of life would have been much greater. The Housatonic was a steam-sloop, with a tonnage of one thousand two hundred and forty, and she carried a battery of thirteen guns. She was completed about eighteen months ago, and has been in the blockade ever since. She is the first vessel destroyed by a contrivance of this character, and this fact gives to this lamentable affair a significance which it would not otherwise possess. Deserters tell us that there are other machines of this kind in the harbor, ready to come out, and that several more are in process of construction. The country cannot attend too earnestly to the dangers which threaten our blockading fleets, and the gunboats and steamers on the Southern rivers.
X. off Charleston, February 22, 1864.
Order by Admiral Dahlgren.
flag-steamer Philadelphia, Port Royal harbor, S. C., Feb. 19, 1864.Order no. 50: The Housatonic has just been torpedoed by a rebel David, and sunk almost instantly. It was at night, and the water smooth. The success of this undertaking will, no doubt, lead to similar attempts along the whole line of blockade. If vessels on blockade are at anchor, they are not safe, particularly in smooth water, without out-riggers and hawsers, stretched around with rope netting, dropped in the water. Vessels on inside blockade had better take post outside at night, and keep underweigh, until these preparations are completed. All the boats must be on the patrol when the vessel is not in movement. The commanders of vessels are required to use their utmost vigilance — nothing less will serve. I intend to recommend to the Navy Department the assignment of a large reward, as prize-money, to crews or vessels who shall capture, or, beyond doubt, destroy one of these torpedo boats.
John A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.