previous next
[267]

The beginnings of submarine warfare: a Confederate photograph of 1864--the first “David,” figuring in an heroic exploit This peaceful scene, photographed by Cook, the Confederate photographer at Charleston, in 1864, preserves one of the most momentous inventions of the Confederate navy. Back of the group of happy children lies one of the “Davids” or torpedo-boats with which the Confederates made repeated attempts to destroy the Federal vessels in Charleston Harbor, and thus raise the blockade. The Confederates were the first to employ torpedoes in the war, at Aquia Creek, July 7, 1861. Captain F. D. Lee, C. S. N., was working on designs for a torpedo ram early in the war, and Captain M. M. Gray, C. S. N., in charge of the submarine defenses of Charleston, with a force of sixty officers and men under him, was particularly active in developing this mode of warfare. The “David” in the picture appears to be the first one built in the Confederacy; she was constructed at private expense by Theodore Stoney, of Charleston. She was driven by steam, and on the night of October 5, 1863, in command of Lieut. W. T. Glassell, with a crew of three volunteers from the Confederate gunboats, she succeeded in exploding a torpedo under the new “Ironsides,” putting her out of commission for a time. The little “David” was almost swamped. Her crew took to the water to save themselves by swimming. Lieutenant Glassell and James Sullivan, fireman, were captured after being in the water nearly an hour. Engineer C. S. Tombs, seeing that the “David” was still afloat, swam back to her, where he found Pilot J. W. Cannon, who could not swim, clinging to her side. Tombs clambered aboard and pulled Cannon after him, and together they managed to build a fire under the boiler and bring the little vessel safely back to Charleston.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Charleston Harbor (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Aquia Creek (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
W. T. Glassell (2)
C. S. Tombs (1)
James Sullivan (1)
Theodore Stoney (1)
F. D. Lee (1)
M. M. Gray (1)
Davids (1)
Cook (1)
J. W. Cannon (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1864 AD (2)
October 5th, 1863 AD (1)
July 7th, 1861 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: