Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/12
Southern Historical Society Papers.
information to be sure; but both of those authors would doubtless have it inferred that to England belongs the merit, whatever it amounts to, of having devised, without material assistance, an efficient method of torpedo defence. The fact is, however, that there is not a matter of any practical importance treated of by Major Stotherd in his late work on this subject, that was not understood and practiced where necessary in my torpedo department during the late war, except as to the new explosives; and I assert that he could easily have ascertained these facts by making the ordinary inquiries that every author should make in order to place before his readers a correct and impartial work; also that the facts already at his hand should have induced him to do so, for he quotes from the pamphlet on torpedo warfare, by Captain E. Harding Steward, R. E., whose constant mention of my name in connection with the first and only success of electrical torpedoes in war, showed Major Stotherd very clearly where the system originated.
And now for the evidence. First, let me say, that I purposely avoided entering into detail, until forced to do so, as to what was done, by the use of E. torpedoes during our civil war, not wishing to recall unpleasant scenes, but that I write now in gratification of a natural and proper ambition, recording the truth.
The first idea of using torpedoes on the Confederate side, originated I believe with the Hon. S. R. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy, and he directed the distinguished Captain M. F. Maury, LL. D., to make experiments with a view to their general employment if practicable.
I was selected as his immediate assistant.
His work commenced in the spring of 1862, and continued for a few months only with electrical torpedoes.
He had arrived at no definite conclusion from his experiments, in any particular when he left the Confederacy for Europe, and I was ordered to take charge, subject to orders from the Navy Department only, and remained so until near the closing scenes of the war, when I was relieved in command by Captain J. Pembroke Jones.
The means used in my electrical torpedo defences differed in every essential particular from those used by Captain Maury in his experiments. The peculiar construction of the mines, the methods of fixing them in position and connecting them with the cables and batteries; the determination of the quantities of powder to use at different depths and the effective areas, the batteries used for firing, and also for testing the mines, as well as the organization.