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Theodore Stoney informed me that the little cigar boat built at his expense had been brought down by railroad, and that if I could do anything with her he would place her at my disposal. On examination I determined to make a trial. She was yet in an unfinished state. Assistant-Engineer J. H. Toombs volunteered his services, and all the necessary machinery was soon fitted and got in working order, while Major Frank Lee gave me his zealous aid in fitting on a torpedo. James Stuart (alias Sullivan) volunteered to go as fireman, and afterwards the services of J. W. Cannon as pilot were secured. The boat was ballasted so as to float deeply in the water, and all above painted the most invisible color, (bluish.) The torpedo was made of copper, containing about one hundred pounds of rifle powder, and provided with four sensitive tubes of lead, containing explosive mixture; and this was carried by means of a hollow iron shaft projecting about fourteen feet ahead of the boat, and six or se
James Stuart (search for this): chapter 32
ays, however, Mr. Theodore Stoney informed me that the little cigar boat built at his expense had been brought down by railroad, and that if I could do anything with her he would place her at my disposal. On examination I determined to make a trial. She was yet in an unfinished state. Assistant-Engineer J. H. Toombs volunteered his services, and all the necessary machinery was soon fitted and got in working order, while Major Frank Lee gave me his zealous aid in fitting on a torpedo. James Stuart (alias Sullivan) volunteered to go as fireman, and afterwards the services of J. W. Cannon as pilot were secured. The boat was ballasted so as to float deeply in the water, and all above painted the most invisible color, (bluish.) The torpedo was made of copper, containing about one hundred pounds of rifle powder, and provided with four sensitive tubes of lead, containing explosive mixture; and this was carried by means of a hollow iron shaft projecting about fourteen feet ahead of the b
Theodore Stoney (search for this): chapter 32
as the only reliable motive power. Commodore Tucker having been ordered to command the naval forces at Charleston, torpedoes were fitted to the bows of ironclad rams for use should the monitors enter the harbor. My esteemed friend, Mr. Theodore Stoney, of Charleston, took measures for the construction of the little cigar-boat David at private expense; and about this time I was ordered off to Wilmington as executive officer to attend to the equipment of the iron-clad North Carolina. Shehat city was expected. I lost no time in obeying the order, and was informed, on arriving there, that my men were required to reinforce the crews of the gun-boats, but there was nothing in particular for me to do. In a few days, however, Mr. Theodore Stoney informed me that the little cigar boat built at his expense had been brought down by railroad, and that if I could do anything with her he would place her at my disposal. On examination I determined to make a trial. She was yet in an un
obtained thereby. I do not remember the date of my exchange again as a prisoner of war, but it was only in time to witness the painful agonies and downfall of an exhausted people, and the surrender of a hopeless cause. I was authorized to equip and command any number of torpedo boats, but it was now too late. I made efforts to do what I could at Charleston, till it became necessary to abandon that city. I then commanded the iron-clad Fredericksburg on James river, until ordered by Admiral Semmes to burn and blow her up when Richmond was evacuated. Leaving Richmond with the admiral, we now organized the First Naval Artillery Brigade, and I was in command of a regiment of sailors when informed that our noble old General, R. E. Lee, had capitulated. Our struggle was ended. All that is now passed, and our duty remains to meet the necessities of the future. After the close of the war I was offered a command and high rank under a foreign flag. I declined the compliment and rec
out fourteen feet ahead of the boat, and six or seven feet below the surface. I had also an armament on deck of four double-barrel shot guns, and as many navy revolvers; also, four cork life-preservers had been thrown on board, and made us feel safe. Having tried the speed of my boat, and found it satisfactory, (six or seven knots an hour,) I got a necessary order from Commodore Tucker to attack the enemy at discretion, and also one from General Beauregard. And. now came an order from Richmond, that I should proceed immediately back to rejoin the North Carolina, at Wilmington. This was too much! I never obeyed that order, but left Commodore Tucker to make my excuses to the Navy Department. The 5th of October, 1863, a little after dark, we left Charleston wharf, and proceeded with the ebb-tide down the harbor. A light north wind was blowing, and the night was slightly hazy, but star-light, and the water was smooth. I desired to make the attack about the turn of the tide
James Murphy (search for this): chapter 32
captain and officers of the Powhatan never have known how near they came to having the honor of being the first ship ever blown up by a torpedo boat. I do not think this failure was from any fault or want of proper precaution of mine. The man who backed his oar and stopped the boat at the-critical moment declared afterwards that he had been terrified so that he knew not what he was doing. He seemed to be ashamed of his conduct, and wished to go with me into any danger. His name was James Murphy, and he afterwards deserted to the enemy by swimming off to a vessel at anchor in the Edisto river. I think the enemy must have received some hint from spies, creating a suspicion of torpedoes, before I made this attempt. I got back to Charleston after daylight next morning, with only the loss of one torpedo, and convinced that steam was the only reliable motive power. Commodore Tucker having been ordered to command the naval forces at Charleston, torpedoes were fitted to the bow
e been at the risk of sinking our iron-clads together with the vessels of the enemy. I have ever believed there was no such danger to be apprehended; and if there was, we had better have encountered it, than to have made the fruitless attempt which we did, only frightening the enemy and putting them on their guard for the future. It was my part, on that memorable morning, to aim and fire one effective shell into the Keystone State while running down to attack us, which (according to Captain LeRoy's report), killing twenty-one men and severely wounding fifteen, caused him to haul down his flag in token of surrender. The enemy now kept at a respectful distance while preparing their iron-clad vessels to sail up more closely. Our Navy Department continued slowly to construct more of these rams, all on the same general plan, fit for little else than harbor defence. The resources of the United States being such that they could build ten iron-clads to our one, and of a superior c
Robert E. Lee (search for this): chapter 32
o equip and command any number of torpedo boats, but it was now too late. I made efforts to do what I could at Charleston, till it became necessary to abandon that city. I then commanded the iron-clad Fredericksburg on James river, until ordered by Admiral Semmes to burn and blow her up when Richmond was evacuated. Leaving Richmond with the admiral, we now organized the First Naval Artillery Brigade, and I was in command of a regiment of sailors when informed that our noble old General, R. E. Lee, had capitulated. Our struggle was ended. All that is now passed, and our duty remains to meet the necessities of the future. After the close of the war I was offered a command and high rank under a foreign flag. I declined the compliment and recommended my gallant old commander, Commodore J. R. Tucker, as one more worthy and competent than myself to fill a high position. In conclusion let me say: I have never regretted that I acted in accordance with what appeared to be my duty
en iron-clads to our one, and of a superior class, almost invulnerable to shot or shell, I had but little faith in the measures we were taking for defence. Mr. Frank Lee, of the Engineers, was employed constructing torpedoes to be placed in the harbor, and called my attention to the subject. It appeared to me that this might be made an effective weapon to use offensively against the powerful vessels now being built. An old hulk was secured and Major Lee made the first experiment, as follows: A torpedo made of copper, and containing thirty or forty pounds of gunpowder, having a sensitive fuze, was attached by means of a socket to a long pine pole. To tn unfinished state. Assistant-Engineer J. H. Toombs volunteered his services, and all the necessary machinery was soon fitted and got in working order, while Major Frank Lee gave me his zealous aid in fitting on a torpedo. James Stuart (alias Sullivan) volunteered to go as fireman, and afterwards the services of J. W. Cannon as p
mediate steps for the construction of a large number of small boats suitable for torpedo service, and make simultaneous attacks, if possible, before the enemy should know what we were about. The result of this experiment was represented to Commodore Ingraham. I offered all the arguments I could in favor of my pet hobby. Forty boats with small engines for this service, carrying a shield of boiler-iron to protect a man at the helm from rifle-balls, might have been constructed secretly at one-haesolved to prove at least that I was in earnest. I got row-boats from my friend, Mr. George A. Trenholm, and at his expense equipped them with torpedoes for a practical experiment against, the blockading vessels at anchor off the bar. Commodore Ingraham then refused to let me have the officers or men who bad volunteered for the expedition, saying that my rank and age did not entitle me to command more than one boat. I was allowed, sometime after this, to go out alone with one of these boa
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