National History of the War for the Union, Civil, Military, and Naval (an excerpt)

by Evert Augustus Duyckinck

About 9 o'clock, on the evening of 17th February, the Housatonic, a steam sloop, carrying thirteen guns, was destroyed while on her station on the blockade off Charleston, S. C., by a torpedo, sent down by the enemy.  It was a moonlight night, and the usual guards were on the lookout, but the assailant was so nearly submerged that the first indication of its approach, in a slight disturbance of the water, was pronounced by the quartermaster to be caused by a school of fish.  It was then about a hundred yards distant.  The crew was called to quarters and the engines put in motion, when the torpedo came in contact with the stern, throwing timbers into the air and causing a rapid settling of the vessel, which filled instantly.  Two of the boats were lowered and picked up some of the men who had jumped overboard; others took refuge in the riggings and tops, the vessel sinking in twenty-eight feet of water.  Five lives were lost.  No more than one minute is said to have elapsed from the time the torpedo was first seen before the Housatonic was struck, and not over three or four minutes between the explosion and the sinking of the ship.

Duyckinck, Evert Augustus, National History of the War for the Union, Civil, Military, and Naval, page 306, New York: Johnson, Fry, and Company,

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