Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/13

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Electrical Torpedoes as a System of Defence.

and equipment of the stations from which the mines were controlled, all formed a complete system devised by myself.

The results of this system were that the first vessels ever injured or destroyed in war, by electrical torpedoes, were by the torpedo department operating under my immediate command, and I may add the only ones, that I am aware of.

Those who are not well acquainted with the history of our civil war will find ample proof of my statements on file in the Navy Department at Washington, as also by reference to Admirals Porter and S. P. Lee, and Commander W. B. Cushing, United States Navy, for the fact that an efficient system of torpedo defences did exist on the James river, during the war, and to the Hon. S. R. Mallory; Captain J. M. Brooke, inventor of the Merrimac, the Brooke Gun, and the deep-sea sounding apparatus; and also to Captain Wm. H. Parker, formerly Superintendent of the Confederate Naval School, that I organized and commanded these defences, and was the first to make them successful.

There are volumes of evidence to this effect that can be produced when necessary.

I hold letters from the three last named gentlemen, and from the late General R. E. Lee in reference to the efficiency of my torpedo department—also a letter from the Hon. S. R. Mallory, in which he says: "I regarded your service as equivalent to that of a well appointed fleet or army;" and this had reference only to the defences of Richmond.

In fact when the system was nearly completed and inspected in person by President Davis, General Lee, and Secretary Mallory, it was immediately decided to withdraw large numbers of troops from that quarter for offensive operations elsewhere, it being well understood that the Union armies could not advance without the assistance of the Federal squadron, which advance was for a long time effectually prevented by my system of submarine defences.

Many vessels were disabled or destroyed by mechanical or contact torpedoes, but such effect is known to be the result of mere chance, often as fatal to friend as foe, and produces no such demoralizing effect as the certain destruction which awaits any vessel attempting to pass electrical torpedoes.

In regard to the efficiency of the torpedo defences employed by me during the war, as compared with those of the present day, I have to say that I have been almost constantly on torpedo duty ashore and afloat since our war, making the subject a study in