Sinking of the U. S. S. Housatonic by the Confederate States submarine torpedo boat H. L. Hunley, off Charleston, S. C., February 17, 1864

Order of Rear-Admiral Dahlgren, U. S. Navy, to Captain Rowan, U. S. Navy, regarding measures of precaution against injuries from torpedoes in Charleston Harbor.


Port Royal Harbor, S. C., February 19,1864.

  SIR: The Paul Jones is just in, with the unpleasant news of the disaster to the Housatonic.

  I shall leave here for Charleston as soon as one of the steamers can be made ready. The Nipsic and Paul Jones both need coal and some slight but necessary repairs.

  The success of this attempt will no doubt cause a resort to the torpedoes along the whole line of blockade, and it behooves the commanding officer to resort to every precaution to avert a series of disasters.

   As the torpedo boat passed by the ironclads within the bar, I think the inference is fair that the means used to protect them have been tried by the "Davids," perhaps, unknown to us, and found sufficient.

   All vessels at anchor, inside or outside, are therefore to use out-riggers and hawsers with netting, or, if outside, are to keep underway.

   You will take any further measures that you may deem necessary to keep off these torpedoes

   You will at once clear the inner harbor of all vessels not required for the blockading vessels. Some can leave for this place or Stono, and those which remain inside must anchor in the least water, with out-riggers, etc.

   The Wabash may leave for this port, as she is not capable of much movement, and is too valuable a mark for the torpedoes.

       Respectfully, your obedient servant,


 Rear-Admiral, Cmndg. South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

   Captain S. C. ROWAN

          Cmndg. U. S. S. Ironsides, Senior Officer off Charleston.


Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion; Series I - Volume 15: South Atlantic Blockading Squadron (October 1, 1863 - September 30, 1864), 1902, U.S. Government Printing Office

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