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June 26, 1861

Page 2



            Messrs. Editors: Excepting our privateers the Confederate States have not a ship at sea.  We may safely originate plans for blowing up the vessels employed in blockading our ports, without danger of being “boisted by our own ____.”

            Such an attempt is not to be expected from Governmental Departments and Bureaus; projectors, with their own “seething brains and shaping fantasies” are a terror to them.  Throughout our Southern seaports, men of a mechanical turn and of the right spirit must go to work, maturing the best plans for the destruction or the capture of every blockading ship.

            All things invite the enterprise.  From the Chesapeake to the mouth of the Rio Grande, our coast is better fitted for submarine warfare than any other in the world.  It has all been most minutely surveyed and mapped.  It has almost no tides, it has uniform currents, and a bottom always sandy, seeming to invite adventurous feet to travel over it.  It is possible “submarines” are now traversing these sands, acquiring confidence in their new element and skill in the use of their terrible engines of destruction.  Experiments should be multiplied for fixing upon the most effective form for the submarine shell, percussion cap for firing the fuse, and especially the arrangements of the fatal wire—safe when not in use, and inevitable when drawn upon and enemy.  All that one can do, we will do for the destruction of our invaders; but we would rather capture them than kill them.  We will, as far as possible, heed the calls of humanity.  If, in the course of a week or two, the Niagara should see, by day, such a smoke rise nearby from the sea as she never saw before, or by night, a rocket thrown by unseen hands, it will be an invitation to her to come to an anchor under the guns of Ft. Morgan.

            Even before any “submarines” have been drilled, shells may easily be planted all over the cruising grounds of the blockading fleets, which cannot be sailed over without exploding them.

            But I would have every hostile keel chased from our coast by submarine propellers.  The locomotive Diving Bell is well known.  The new vessel must be cigar shaped for speed—made of plate iron, joined without external rivet-heads; about 80 feet long, with a central section of about 4 by 8 feet—driven by a spiral propeller, a ____ ____, or, (far better) by a steam engine, occupying the ____ part of the boat.  When its bottom is tight, the Torpedo boat takes the surface like any other boat, a part of the top folding back.  Closing its top, it sinks on getting a prize fairly in range and within striking distance.  A harpoon point, easily separated from the forward end of the boat after being driven into the enemy’s side, (some ten feet under water) carries the wire that holds the shell.  The shock of the attack disengages the shell from the bottom of the boat and strikes the percussion cap for igniting the half minute fuse.  The air pump, the inhalation tubes, the eye glasses, are already used.  The new Aneroid Barometer, made for increased pressure, will enable the adventurer easily to decide his exact distance below the surface.

            If not tarnished with steam the torpedo boat should carry sail when on a cruise.  Two of them—each an outrigger to the other—could spread so much ____ as to outsail all competitors.

            Such—in briefest terms—are the efforts which skillful and patriotic men will undoubtedly attempt forthwith.  These outlines are freely given to our enemies as well as friends—for in submarine warfare the invader has no resources.

            Robert Fulton failed in 1814, simply for the reason that he had neither friction match, percussion cap nor safety fuse.  In the present state of the ____ ____ and the ____ sciences, it would be a burning shame to the South if hostile ships should continue to venture upon soundings near any of our harbors.

            I am preparing a detailed Memoir on Submarine Warfare, discussing matters not proper to be spoken of here, illustrated with engravings.  Copies of the pamphlets will be sent to the Mayors and municipal authorities of Southern maritime cities.

            Applications from individuals must be made through the local authorities.


____, Columbia, Tenn.

June 20, 1861


[Transcribed by Sharon Strout]


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