Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/175

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The Torpedo Boat Hunley. 167

set off by flarring triggers. It was originally intended to float the torpedo on the surface of the water, the boat to dive under the ves- sel to be attacked, towing the torpedo with a line 200 feet after her, one of the triggers to touch the vessel and explode the torpedo, and in the experiments made in the smooth water of Mobile river on some old flatboats these plans operated successfully, but in rough water the torpedo was continually coming too near the rough boat. We then rigged a yellow-pine boom, 22 feet long and tapering; this was attached to the bow, banded and guyed on each side. A socket on the torpedo secured it to the boom.

Two men experienced in handling the boat, and seven others com- posed the crew. The first officer steered and handled the boat for- ward, and the second attended to the after-tank and pumps and the air supply, all hands turning on the cranks except the first officer. There was just sufficient room for these two to stand in their places with their heads in the hatchways and take observations through the lights of the combings.


All hands aboard and ready, they would fasten the hatch covers down tight, light a candle, then let the water in from the sea into the ballast tanks until the top of the shell was about three inches under water. This could be seen by the water lever showing through the glasses in the hatch combings. The seacocks were then closed and the boat put under way. The captain would then lower the lever and depress the forward end of the fins very slightly, noting on the mercury gauge the depth of the boat beneath the surface; then bring the fins to a level; the boat would remain and travel at that depth. To rise to a higher level in the water he would raise the lever and elevate the forward end of the fins, and the boat would rise to its original position in the water.

If the boat was not under way, in order to rise to the surface, it was necessary to start the pumps, and lighten the boat by ejecting the water from the tanks into the sea. In making a landing, the second officer would open his hatch cover, climb out and pass a line to shore. After the experience with the boats in Mobile bay the authorities decided that Charleston harbor, with the monitors and blockaders there would be a better field for this boat to operate in, and General Maury had her sent by rail to General Beauregard at Charleston, S. C. Lieutenant John Payne, Confederate States navy, then on duty at Charleston, S. C., volunteered with eight others of