History of a Torpedo Boat

General  Dabney H. Maury, in his report of the defence  of Mobile, narrates the following eventful history , of a torpedo boat:

"It was built of boiler iron, was about thirty-! five feet long, and was manned by a crew of nine men, eight of whom worked the propeller by  hand. The ninth steered the boat and regulated  her movements below the surface of the water.  She could be submerged at pleasure to any desired depth, or could be propelled upon the surface. In smooth, still water her movements were exactly controlled, and her speed was about four knots. It was intended that she should approach any vessel lying at anchor, pass under her keel,  and drag a floating torpedo, which would explode  on striking the side or bottom of the ship attacked.

"She could remain submerged more than half an hour without inconvenience to her crew.

"Soon after her arrival in Charleston, Lieutenant Payne, of the Confederate navy, with eight, others, volunteered to attack the Federal fleet with her. While preparing for their expedition, the swell of a passing steamer caused the boat to sink suddenly, and all hands, except Lieutenant Payne, who was standing in the open hatchway, perished. She was soon raised and again made ready for service. Lieutenant Payne again volunteered to command her. While lying near Fort Sumter she capsized, and again sunk in deep water, drowning all hands, except her commander and two others.

   "Being again raised and prepared for action, Mr. Aunley, one of the constructors, made an experimental cruise in her in Cooper River. While submerged at great depth, from some unknown cause, she became unmanageable, and remained for many days on the bottom of the river with her crew of nine dead men.

   "A fourth time was the boat raised, and Lieutenant Dixon, of Mobile, of the Twenty-first  volunteers, with eight others, went out of Charleston harbor in her, and attacked and sunk the  Federal steamer Housatonic.

  "Her mission at last accomplished, she disappeared forever with her crew. Nothing is known  of their fate, but it is believed they went down  with the enemy."

Moore, Frank; "History of a Torpedo Boat," Anecdotes, Poetry and Incidents of the War: North and South; 1860 1865, p. 126-7, collected and abridged by Frank Moore, Publication House, New York, 1867

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