Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/339
The First Marine Torpedoes.
with his own hands handed a clock torpedo aboard a vessel at City Point, which blew her to pieces in a few moments, killing many and spreading consternation all around.
By the fall of 1862 the importance of work and its capabilities had become so highly appreciated that it was deemed best that he should go to England, that he might have every opportunity for the development and improvement afforded by the work-shops and laboratories and facilities for experiment and construction.Accordingly he was ordered abroad in this service, where he remained, pursuing his researches, perfecting his valuable invention with great success, constantly reporting progress to the Navy Department at home for the instruction of the torpedo workers there, until just before the close of the war, which found him at sea, enroute for home, with a most powerful, perfect and complete equipment of electrical torpedo material, perhaps never since equalled.
His valuable assistant in the James river defense was Lieutenant Hunter Davidson, who succeeded him in that charge, which he managed with unequaled skill until the end with electrical torpedoes, which, he says, he himself put down,having been washed out by a severe freshet after he had gone. His operation crippled and destroyed two Federal vessels—the only ones, he says, destroyed by electrical torpedoes during the war. With a torpedo boat of his own construction and design, constructed here in Richmond, rigged with a spar torpedo, he most courageously ventured a hundred miles and more down the river, into the enemy's lines, and rammed the frigate Minnesota, lying off Newport News. He exploded the torpedo, but the charge was too small, and but little damage was done or suffered.
Besides these, numerous gallant attacks were made with torpedoes everywhere, despite the danger and death which often accompanied their use, and many of the older officers, who at first regarded them with disfavor, as Captain Parker said he did, were now torpedo mad. "Commodore Tucker and I," he said, "had torpedo on the brain." The destruction of the enemy's vessels increased so rapidly—in the last three weeks of the war ten were destroyed—that they were