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 across the current by two boats, which were to be dropped in ebbing tide to float down among the vessels. This plan, says General Rains, was opposed by General Gilmer of the engineer corps on the ground that ‘they might float back and destroy our own boat.’ One was sent down to go in the midst of the fleet, and made its mark. An act of devoted daring was here performed by Commander W. T. Glassell, Confederate States Navy, which claims more than a passing notice. While the enemy was slowly contracting his lines around Charleston, his numerous ships of war kept watch-and-ward outside of the harbor. Our few vessels, almost helpless by their defective engines, could effect little against their powerful opponents. The New Ironside, the pride of their fleet, lay off Morris's Island. This Glassell resolved to attack with a steam launch carrying a torpedo spar at the bow. With an engineer, pilot, and fireman, he steered for the Ironsides under cover of a hazy night. As he approached, he was hailed by the lookout, and the next moment struck the Ironsides, exploding the torpedo about fifteen feet from the keel. An immense volume of water was thrown up, covering the little boat; pieces of timber falling in the engine, it was rendered entirely unmanageable, so as to deprive Commander Glassell of the means of escape on which he had relied. A rapid fire was concentrated upon him from the deck of the ship, and there remained no chance except to attempt an escape by swimming ashore. To secure liberty to his country he risked and lost his own, and found, for the indignity to which he was subjected, compensation, inasmuch as the famous New Ironsides was long rendered useless to the enemy. One hundred one torpedoes were planted in Roanoke River, North Carolina, after a flotilla of twelve vessels had started up to capture Fort Branch. The torpedoes destroyed six of the vessels and frustrated the attack. Every avenue to the outworks or to the city of Mobile was guarded by submarine torpedoes, so that it was impossible for any vessel drawing three feet of water to get within effective cannon range of the defenses. Two ironclads attempted to get near enough to Spanish Fort to take part in the bombardment. They both struck torpedoes, and went to the bottom on Apalachie bar; thenceforward the fleet made no further attempt to encounter the almost certain destruction which they saw awaited any vessel which might attempt to enter the torpedo-guarded waters. But many were sunk when least expecting it. Some went down long after the Confederate forces had evacuated Mobile. The Tecumseh was probably sunk, says Major General D. H. Maury,1 on her own torpedo. While
1 Southern Historical Society Papers, January, 1877.
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