Report of Major A. M. Jackson, Tenth U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery, including description of a torpedo boat that is usually worked under seven feet of water
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION
OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF SIGNAL OFFICER,
New Orleans, La., March 13, 1865.
Lieut. Col. C. T. CHRISTENSEN,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Military Division of West Mississippi:
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit to your consideration the following report of information received at this office this 13th day of March, 1865: In a letter from Captain Collins, Confederate scout, to a person in this city, he states that he expects a visit about this time from one Ike Hutchinson, from Lavaca, Tex., who has charge of the torpedoes in Red River. This, taken in connection with Mr. Hunnicutt's report of the designs of Jones (also from Lavaca), who was at Houston, Tex., January 12, to destroy the iron-clad Tennessee and other gun-boats at the mouth of Red River, leads me to believe that there is some such plan on foot, of which the commanders of gun-boats should be notified. The following is a description of the torpedo-boats, one of which is at Houston and four at Shreveport: The boat is forty feet long, forty-eight inches deep, and forty inches wide, built entirely of iron, and shaped similar to a steam-boiler. The ends are sharp pointed. On the sides are two iron flanges (called fins) for the purpose of raising or lowering the boat in the water. The boat is propelled at the rate of four miles an hour, by means of a crank worked by two men. The wheel is on the propeller principle. The boat is usually worked seven feet under water, and has four dead-lights for the purpose of steering or taking observations. Each boat carries two torpedoes, one at the bow attached to a pole twenty feet long; one on the stern fastened on a plank ten or twelve feet long. The explosion of the missile on the bow is caused by coming in contact with the object intended to be destroyed. The one at the stern on the plank is intended to explode when the plank strikes the vessel. The air arrangements are so constructed as to retain sufficient air for four men at work and four idle, two or three hours. The torpedoes are made of sheet-iron three-sixteenths of an inch thick, and contain forty pounds of powder. The shape is something after the pattern of a wooden churn and about twenty-eight inches long. Jones, the originator and constructor of these boats, also constructed the one which attempted to destroy the New Ironsides in Charleston, S.C. Captain Collins states that he has thirty men. A deserter who came into Vicksburg reports that he saw about 2,000 Confederates near Oak Ridge, Western Louisiana, passing through the country conscripting. Another deserter who came into Vicksburg March 6 reports Forrest near Jackson, Miss. He is reported to have four divisions of cavalry, one of which was at Jackson. There was no intention of an attack on Vicksburg. A refugee from Mobile, March 2 reports eight or ten transports there capable of carrying 700 or 800 men each, besides the four English steamers. There are from 18,000 to 20,000 troops. They have supplies for six months. Many of the torpedoes are adrift in the bay. No Government property has been sent away from Mobile. A scout reports that March 4 a long train from Montgomery to Mobile passed through Pollard loaded with troops from Hood's old army who had been to South Carolina to meet Sherman. The garrison at Pollard was about 1,000. The railroad from Pollard to Tensas Landing is strongly guarded. James Postern and Mr. Ray, captured at Pollard and released in New Orleans, returned to Pollard and gave full information about all the movements of the forces at New Orleans, Mobile, and Pensacola Bay. All rivers and creeks are very high and most of the country roads impassable. At Galveston the rebels are constructing a new battery on the point of Galveston Island, opposite Pelican Spit, in a line with the obstructions. It mounts three guns taken from Fort Bankhead. Fort Magruder has two 10-inch guns and three quakers, which the informant took to the fort himself. South Battery also has four quakers and only one rifled gun.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. M. JACKSON,
Major, Tenth U. S. Colored Heavy Artillery.
(In absence of Capt. S. M. Eaton.)
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