Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/237

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Torpedo Service in Charleston Harbor.


My esteemed friend, Mr. Theodore Stoney, of Charleston, took measures for the construction of the little cigar-boat "David" at private expense; and about this time I was ordered off to Wilmington as executive officer to attend to the equipment of the iron-clad "North Carolina." She drew so much water it would have been impossible to get her over the bar, and consequently was only fit for harbor defence.

In the meantime, the United States fleet, monitors and ironsides, crossed the bar at Charleston and took their comfortable positions protecting the army on Morris' Island, and occasionally bombarding Fort Sumter.

The "North Carolina" being finished, was anchored near Fort Fisher. No formidable enemy was in sight, except the United States steamer "Minnesota," and she knowing that we could not get out, had taken a safe position at anchor beyond the bar to guard one entrance to the harbor. I made up my mind to destroy that ship or make a small sacrifice in the attempt. Accordingly, I set to work with all possible dispatch, preparing a little steam tug which had been placed under my control, with the intention of making an effort. I fitted a torpedo to her bow so that it could be lowered in the water or elevated at discretion.

I had selected eight or ten volunteers for this service, and would have taken with me one row-boat to save life in case of accident. My intention was to slip out after dark through the passage used by blockade-runners, and then to approach the big ship from seaward as suddenly and silently as possible on a dark night, making such answer to their hail and questions as occasion might require, and pehaps burning a blue light for their benefit, but never stopping till my torpedo came in contact and my business was made known.

I had every thing ready for the experiment, and only waited for a suitable night, when orders came requiring me to take all the men from the "North Carolina" by railroad to Charleston immediately. An attack on that city was expected. I lost no time in obeying the order, and was informed, on arriving there, that "my men were required to reinforce the crews of the gun-boats, but there was nothing in particular for me to do." In a few days, however, Mr. Theodore Stoney informed me that the little cigar boat built at his expense had been brought down by railroad, and that