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 If it had been possible for courage and genius to win with the resources at command, the Confederates would have whipped the fight upon the water, but the task was superhuman. We were not fighting Spaniards then, but men of our own blood, the odds against us were too great. In the United States Home Squadron and Potomac Flotilla, alone, there were ninety-nine ships. The Federal vessels in our western rivers were almost without number. The Confederate fighting ships, one after another, were destroyed, many of them as they were nearing completion. So successfully were we building ships at New Orleans that Admiral Porter in his naval history expresses the opinion that if Farragut had been three months later we should have driven the Federal fleets North, raised the blockade and secured from European governments recognition of the independence of the Confederacy. In another branch of naval warfare the genius of Confederate naval officers was similarly conspicuous. They developed the use of the torpedo to an extent never before dreamed of More than forty United States vessels were badly injured or totally destroyed by this weapon. There is no better illustration of Confederate devotion and daring than the history of the ‘Fish,’ a little submarine torpedo boat, that was built at Mobile. There, in the first experiment, the little craft failed to rise and buried her crew of eight in the waters. The ‘Fish’ was raised and taken to Charleston. Another crew of nine went down with her and only one escaped. There were volunteers again, and the third crew went down, only three escaping. Still there were volunteers, a fourth time the little boat went down and failed to rise. Still another crew volunteered and all were drowned. Out of five crews of eight men each, all but four men had been lost, but the spirit of the Confederates was not yet daunted. Lieutenant George E. Dixon, of the 21st Alabama Infantry, begged to be allowed to take out the ‘Fish’ to attack the iron-clad Housatonic that lay off Charleston harbor. Beauregard consented, but only on condition that the boat should not go under water. The conditions were accepted; the Housatonic was destroyed, but Dixon and all his brave crew went down to rise no more. When wrecks in Charleston harbor were being destroyed, after the close of the civil war, near the Housatonic lay the ‘Fish.’ In it were the skeletons of Dixon and his six companions, every man at his post.
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