Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/11
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.
Vol. II. No.1.
Richmond, Va. January, 1876
Electrical Torpedoes as a System of Defence.
BY HUNTER DAVIDSON, CONFEDERATE STATES NAVY.
New York Hotel, New York, May, 1874.
I have but recently returned from South America, and had an opportunity of reading two works on torpedoes, or submarine mines; one by Major R. H. Stotherd, R. E., and the other by Commander Fisher, R. N.
It is now nine years since the close of our civil war, and considering how rapidly things change in this fast age, and that we too must soon pass away, it is about time at least to commence to vindicate the truth of history; for much of the history of that conflict exists only in the memory of the actors therein, and if they die without recording their experiences the truth is lost.
At this day I think that my letter may be fairly read and considered, and that the impartial historian will give to my statements their due weight, the object being to establish my claim to having made the first successful application of electrical torpedoes or submarine mines as a system of defence in time of war, which system is now generally adopted in some modified form by all nations for the defence of harbors, rivers, &c., and their approaches, as well as for the approaches by land to any fortified position.
I do not know that I should ever have taken this step, but that the authors of the books to which I allude, as well as Colonel Chesney, R. E., in his "Essays in Military Biography," page 345, seem to turn their backs, with such a studied air, upon the practical source of electrical torpedo defences — defences which they do not conceal are becoming the chief reliance of all nations for the purposes above named.
The works of Major Stotherd, R. E., particularly the last edition, are valuable alike to the general reader, the officer of whatever service of his country, and to the young torpedoist; whilst those of Commander Fisher are rather elementary and wanting in practical