Confederate Torpedoes

KorbenDallas

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You never know what will pop up next. Do you think the below munitions are normal from the common knowledge stand point as far as the American Civil War goes?

Confederate torpedoes, shot, and shells in front of the arsenal, Charleston, S.C., 1865. Photographed by Selmar Rush Seibert.

Confederate_torpedoes.jpg

Charleston, S.C. Confederate torpedoes, shot, and shell in the Arsenal yard: 1865 [April]
Charleston, S.C. Confederate torpedoes, shot, and shell in the Arsenal yard 1865.jpg
 

jd755

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With a name like Selmar Rush Seibert should be easy to find more;
Here's one of a torpedo boat http://www.treasurenet.com/images/civilwar/CIVIL056.JPG
civil056-thm.jpg

Confederate torpedo boat David aground at Charleston, S.C., 1865
A slight aside but look at this mash up of figures, staggering isn't it! http://www.treasurenet.com/images/civilwar/CIVIL029.JPG
diplomats.png

Diplomats at the foot of an unidentified waterfall, New York State, August 1863. Left to right: unidentified; State Department messenger Donaldson; unidentified; Count Alexander de Bodisco; Count Edward Piper, Swedish Minister; Joseph Bertinatti, Italian Minister; Luis Molina, Nicaraguan Minister (seated); Rudolph Mathias Schleiden, Hanseatic Minister; Henri Mercier, French Minister; William H. Seward, Secretary of State (seated); Lord Richard Lyons, British Minister; Baron Edward de Stoeckel, Russian Minister (seated); and Sheffield, British attache.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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I’m more interested in those shells. There was a thread somewhere on here pertaining to the civ war cannon munitions, but the ones in the image above appear pretty big.
 

jd755

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I’m more interested in those shells. There was a thread somewhere on here pertaining to the civ war cannon munitions, but the ones in the image above appear pretty big.
Well as far as me and the search engines go those two pictures are all this Selmar bloke took that have 'come through time'.

Are we lookin at early land mines or ied's?
From here Mine Warfare in the Civil War - The Campaign for the National Museum of the United States Army
In December 1861, Polk received help in mine warfare, not from Maury, but rather from Brown, who took mine warfare from the water—there already had been attacks on Union warships in Hampton Roads and along the Potomac—to land. Brown buried iron containers loaded with explosives that were to be detonated electronically along two routes leading into Columbus, but Union soldiers discovered the torpedoes and dismantled them before they could be detonated.

Not to derail but this is worthy of note to once again show the Russian connection to the civil war especially in light of the popular threads of late and the Russians ships in New York and San Francisco.
Back in the Eastern Theater, Major General Magruder commanded Confederate forces on the Virginia Peninsula between the York and James Rivers. Back in the 1850s, he had witnessed how the Russians effectively used mines defending Sebastopol and Kronstadt as an observer in the Crimean War.
 
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jd755

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More mine information Undersea Mines in the Civil War | U. S. Naval Undersea Museum
http://www.navalunderseamuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/rainssketch.jpg
rainssketch.jpg

Mahoosive close up in high res of part of the op http://www.navalunderseamuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/minedesign.jpg
Post automatically merged:

The broken big gun breech is from a British designed and supplied pair of 12.75" 'rifles' according to the author of this page. Big guns for Beauregard: Blakely 12.75-inch Rifles
 
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Searching

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Let's asume the pic is legit. It doesn't make sense from a tactical point of view.

April 1865? Charleston surrendered to the Union in February of 1865. I would think that if the south had access to such munitions, they would have used every last one of them in a last ditch effort instead of just giving up to the north and turning over the arsenal to their enemies.

And the north just left valuable ammunition sitting around for 2 months and didn't use it?
I get that it must have been difficult in those horse and buggy days to move such heavy equipment, but somebody moved it to that place, proving it was not all that difficult.
 

jd755

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In the mahoosive picture flags and bunting can be seen and the background/trees are different to the op photo so it appears that this assemblage of ordinance was moved at some point.
It would appear to have been assembled from various places as there is definitely more on view in the mahoosive photo.
Displaying the enemies 'stuff' as spoils of war is a 'propaganda thing' the white writing suggests to me this is why it was assembled.

Charleston, S.C. surrenders to Union Army, Feb. 18, 1865
By ANDREW GLASS
On this day in 1865, the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, surrendered his beleaguered city to Alexander Schimmelfennig, a Union Army brigadier general, three days after Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard had ordered the remaining Confederate forces to evacuate the city. On the previous day, Union Army Gen. William Sherman had captured Columbia, the state capital; the all but defeated Confederates saw no feasible way to block his imminent arrival in Charleston.

Charleston had been under a continuous siege by Union forces since July 10, 1863. The bombardment caused major damage in the city. The Union Navy also enforced a blockade of the harbor that shut down most commercial traffic, although some blockade runners got through.

After the Confederate evacuation, Union troops moved into the city and took control of the United States Arsenal, which the Confederates had seized at the outbreak of the war. During the Reconstruction era, the U.S. War Department also confiscated the grounds and buildings of the Citadel Military Academy, using them for more than 17 years to garrison federal troops. In 1882, the facilities were returned to the state; they reopened as a military college and are in use today.


SOURCE: U.S. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; “CIVIL WAR DAY BY DAY: AN ALMANAC 1861-1865” BY E.B. AND BARBARA LONG (1971)
 
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KorbenDallas

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What was there to bomb for 2 years? With population of at least 40,522 what did they eat there for two years while being under siege? Some things in the narrative just make very little sense.
 

jd755

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What was there to bomb for 2 years? With population of at least 40,522 what did they eat there for two years while being under siege? Some things in the narrative just make very little sense.
Some?
Nothing about this conflict seems to make any sense. If I can remember where I saw the photo I'll post a very different 'version' of General Sherman and ever heard of the 'Italian connection'?
Me neither.
However here's a link to a timeline off events which, if true, shows it wasn't actually completely cut off until early 1865. From the archives: 150 years ago: The siege of Charleston
 

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Torpedo in the Civil War was supposed to be used to refer to what would now be called mines, used on both land and sea, but also was used to refer to other explosive devices.
torpedo (n.)
1520s, "electric ray" (flat fish that produces an electric charge to stun prey or for defense), from Latin torpedo "electric ray," originally "numbness, sluggishness" (the fish so called from the effect of being jolted by the ray's electric discharges), from torpere "be numb" (from PIE root *ster- (1) "stiff"). The sense of "explosive device used to blow up enemy ships" is first recorded 1776, as a floating mine; the self-propelled version is from c. 1900. Related: Torpedic.
Torpedo. A fish which while alive, if touched even with a long stick, benumbs the hand that so touches it, but when dead is eaten safely. [Johnson]
torpedo (v.)
"destroy or sink (a ship) by a torpedo," 1874, from torpedo (n.). Also used late 19c. of blowing open oil wells. Figurative sense attested from 1895. Related: Torpedoed; torpedoing.
General Gabriel James Rains was a pioneer of torpedoes/mines and would become the CSA's Chief of the Torpedo Service. While writing post-war about current events involving torpedoes and the testing of a "submarine projectile," included in an 1877 volume of the Southern Historical Society Papers, Rains said that he created his first land-based torpedoes during the 1840 Seminole war and created his first "submarine torpedo" after Robert E. Lee came to him in belief that he was the only one who could stop the Federal fleet. "Iron clads are said to master the world, but torpedoes master the iron clads, and must so continue on account of the almost total incompressibility of water and the developed gasses of the fired gunpowder of the torpedo under the vessel's bottom passing through it, as the direction of least resistance."

The occasion of the first submarine torpedo was as follows: Soon after the battle of Seven Pines (called in Northern prints "Fair Oaks") General R. E. Lee, commanding, sent for General Rains and said to him: "The enemy have upwards of one hundred vessels in the James river, and we think that they are about making an advance that way upon Richmond, and if there is a man in the whole Southern Confederacy that can stop them, you are the man. Will you undertake it?" "I will try," was the answer; and observing that ironclads were invulnerable to cannon of all calibre used and were really masters of rivers and harbors, it required submarine inventions to checkmate and conquer them. So an order was issued forthwith putting General Rains in charge of the submarine defences, and on the James river banks, opposite Drewry's Bluff, was the first submarine torpedo made—the primo-genitor and predecessor of all such inventions, now world renowned, as civilized nations have each a torpedo corps. And if, as has been asserted, that "naval warfare has been substantially revolutionized" by them, there is no doubt but that is the case on land, and the tactics of the world has been changed, perhaps, under the providence of God, making a vast stride to arbitration of nations and universal peace.
(Rains considered it the first submarine torpedo as the previous attempts were ineffective: "We have thus numbered them, as all others before made were abortions. We remember the doggerel of the battle of the kegs of the revolution, and a more subsequent attempt to blow up British shipping blockading our ports in the war of 1812, which premature explosions rendered ineffective, and even Lord Admiral Lyon's flagship, at Cronstadt, which had her stern nearly blown out of water by a torpedo, set by the Russians during the Crimean war, was found in the dry dock at Liverpool not to have had a plank started")
According to Rains, the Confederates deployed hundreds of seaborne torpedoes and he only seemed to know exact numbers for 2-3 areas; 123 were in Charleston harbor and Stono river, 101 were in Roanoke river. The Confederate Congress spent three years trying to approve an organized torpedo corps, finally approving it with a budget of $6,00,000 ($94,066,748.47 estimated value in 2019 dollars) but it came "too late." These hundreds, maybe even thousands, of torpedoes destroyed 58 vessels during the war according to Rains, although a General Maury says Rains' numbers may be short as after reading Rains' writing he said "that the total number of vessels sunk by torpedoes in Mobile bay was twelve, instead of three, viz: three ironclads, two tinclads and seven transports."
During the war with the Confederacy, there were 123 torpedoes planted in Charleston harbor and Stono river, which prevented the capture of that city and its conflagration. There were 101 torpedoes planted in Roanoke river, North Carolina, by which, of twelve vessels sent with troops and means to capture Fort Branch, but five returned. One was sunk by the fire from the fort, and the rest by torpedoes. Of the five iron-clads sent with other vessels to take Mobile, Alabama (one was tin-clad), three were destroyed by torpedoes. There were fifty-eight vessels sunk by torpedoes in the war, and some of them of no small celebrity, as Admiral Farragut's flag-ship the Harvest Moon, the Thorn, the Commodore Jones, the Monitor Patapsco, Ram Osage, Monitor Milwaukee, Housatonic and others. (Cairo in Yazoo river). Peace societies we must acknowledge a failure in settling national differences by arbitration, since enlightened nations go to war for a mere political abstraction, and vast armies in Europe are kept ready for action, to be frustrated, however, by this torpedo system of mining, carried out according to views.

For three years the Confederate Congress legislated on this subject, passing each house alternately for an organized torpedo corps until the third year, when it passed both houses with acclamation, and $6,000,000 appropriated, but too late, and the delay was not shortened by this enormous appropriation.

Could a piece of ordnance be made to sweep a battle field in a moment of time, there soon would be no battle field, or could a blast of wind loaded with deadly mephitic malaria in one night, sent like the destroying angel in Sanacherib's army, or the earth be made to open in a thousand places with the fire of death for destruction, as in the days of Korah, Dothan and Abiram, to which this system tends, then and then only may we beat the sword into the ploughshare, the spear into the pruning-hook, and nations learn wars no more.
The Union counterpart to Rains may have been Professor Benjamin Maillefert, his dismal Wikipedia page says he developed torpedoes for the Union during the war (which isn't even mentioned in the obituary that the article quotes) and according to these photos he was tasked with removing the Confederate torpedoes from the James River. Torpedo Station, James River, Va. Prof. Maillefert and naval officers who were employed in removing Confederate torpedoes, April, 1865 Torpedo Station, James River, Va. Prof. Maillefert and naval officers who were employed in removing Confederate torpedoes, April, 1865

Some of the Civil War torpedoes were allegedly able to be remotely detonated electronically using wires and batteries.
The torpedoes of the Civil War were quite different in operation from a modern-day torpedo. They functioned and served the same purpose our present contact mines do: they were often found floating on the surface of the water or tethered to float just below. The explosive chemicals were held in vessels called demijohns or carboys, which were and are still used to ferment beer, wine, and mead. The demijohns were able to seal the air tightly, preventing the powder from mixing with the water.

Both Confederate and Union sides used torpedoes, but the Confederates were particularly fond of them because of their smaller navy.

Torpedoes during the time period were also created to detonate electronically to allow safe passage of non-warships, such as passenger and shipping vessels. These weapons were more common among the Union, as the Confederacy did not have as much access to copper and platinum wire and acid for batteries. Despite their efforts, electricity was still so new at the time that both sides had trouble successfully detonating their torpedoes at the right distance anyway.
Countermeasures for torpedoes were developed such as a wooden raft that was briefly used at the battle of Charleston by the USS Weehawken ("...the Weehawken led the Union squadron into the harbor with a huge wooden anti-mine raft attached to its bow. The weight and drag made the monitor completely unmanageable and the raft was cast adrift."), and a "torpedo finder" net attached off the bow of a ship.

The Confederacy created "coal torpedoes" which were made to resemble lumps of coal and which were meant to rupture the steam boiler on a ship and cause a secondary explosion to destroy the vessel. As the story goes the Confederates were going to have spies drop these coal torpedoes off at Union fuel depots or let blockade runners be caught and hide them in their coal supplies so the Union ships would use it for themselves, but an agent carrying details about the plan was captured and the Union forces began guarding their coal. Despite this the coal torpedoes were said to have successfully carried out at least two attacks, the steamboat Greyhound (which was being used as an HQ for General Butler) was sunk and the gunboat USS Chenango was damaged (28 died, 5 more were injured, the ship survived and was repaired).

Union general Herman Haupt created a torpedo designed to destroy a wooden bridge in under five minutes, or as long as it took to bore a hole in the wood. The LoC has photos of this torpedo: Haupt's torpedo for quickly wrecking wooden bridges [Military railroad operations in northern Virginia: two men boring holes in bridge trestles and man with Haupt's Torpedo] [Military railroad operations in northern Virginia: men working on bridge]
What is required is the means of certainly and effectually throwing down a bridge in a period of time not exceeding five minutes, and with apparatus so simple and portable that it can be carried in the pocket or a saddle-bag.

These requirements are fulfilled by a torpedo, which consists simply of a short bolt of seven-eighths inch iron, eight inches long, with head and nut—the head to be two inches in diameter, and about one inch thick. A washer of same size as the head must be placed under the nut at the other end, with a fuse-hole in it. Between the washer and the head is a tin cylinder one and three-quarters inches in diameter, open at both ends, which is filled with powder, and, when the washer and nut are put on, forms a case which encloses it.

In using this torpedo, a hole is bored in a timber; the torpedo (head downwards) is driven in by a stone or billet of wood, and the fuse ignited. The explosion blows the timber in pieces, and, if a main support, brings down the whole structure.

The time required is only that which is necessary to bore a hole with an auger. Ordinary cigar lighters, which burn without flame, and cannot be blown out, are best for igniting the fuse, which should be about two feet long.

For portability, the auger should be short, say thirteen inches, and the handle movable and of same length.

The proper place at which to insert the torpedo is of much consequence. Most of the Virginia bridges are Howe trusses without arches. In this kind of bridge, the destruction of the main braces at one end, and on only one side of a span, will be sufficient to bring down the whole structure. There are usually but two main braces in each panel, and two torpedoes will suffice to throw down a span. Two men can bore the two holes at the same time without interfering with each other.

Cartridges containing a fulminate would be more portable, but they are not always conveniently procurable, and their use is attended with risk of explosion.

It is only necessary to operate at one side and on one end of a bridge. If one side falls, the other side is pulled down with it.

If the structure contains an arch, two additional torpedoes will be required; but in this case it may be equally advantageous to operate upon the lower chord.

Experiments made at Alexandria proved that a timber placed in the position of a main brace, and similarly loaded, was shattered into many pieces, some of which were projected by the force of explosion more than a hundred feet.
Haupt's torpedo.png

More mine information Undersea Mines in the Civil War | U. S. Naval Undersea Museum
http://www.navalunderseamuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/rainssketch.jpg
View attachment 21978

Mahoosive close up in high res of part of the op http://www.navalunderseamuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/minedesign.jpg
Post automatically merged:

The broken big gun breech is from a British designed and supplied pair of 12.75" 'rifles' according to the author of this page. Big guns for Beauregard: Blakely 12.75-inch Rifles
Most of those shells look incredibly large. Some of the items in the photos are ammo or parts of the 600 pound Blakely guns which were blown up, and for reference the round barrel/canister ones marked Blakeley[sic] Shot are supposed to be 20 inches long (650 pounds) and the more rounded ones behind those also marked as Blakeley should be 22 inches long (470 pounds) according to one of the sources I found.

There are several photos of the destroyed or "dismantled" 600 pound Blakelys: The ruins of the 600 lb. Blakely Gun, Frazier's Wharf, Charleston, S.C., exploded by the rebels at the time of the evacuation. Wreck of the large Blakely Gun, on the Battery, Charleston, S.C. Charleston, South Carolina. Wrecked carriage of Blakely gun on Battery The ruins of the 600 lb. Blakely Gun, Frazier's Wharf, Charleston, S.C., exploded by the rebels at the time of the evacuation South Battery, Charleston, S.C., looking N.E. Ruins of Blakely Gun in the foreground East Battery, Charleston, S.C. looking north, showing ruins of the 600 lb. Blakely Gun View on the Battery, Charleston, S.C. Remains of the large Blakely gun, burst by the rebels before the evacuation [Charleston, S.C. East Battery; dismantled Blakely gun in foreground] Wreck of Blakely gun on the Frazer's wharf, Charleston, S.C. Another one, note the men in the background: https://i.redd.it/td6frh1csmo21.jpg
Another version of the munitions photo: Group of relics in Charleston, S.C., arsenal, showing Rebel torpedoes, shot, shell, and breach of the 500 lb. Blakely Gun
After Charleston fell, ammo for the Blakelys was put on display at the Citadel Green. The Citadel and the Southern Military Academy, Charleston, S.C., the remains of the concrete wall built in the time of the Revolution, and 600 pound Blakely Solid Shot in the foreground

These were discussed on a Civil War forum, the following two quotations were found there: 600-pounders
From an article in the South Carolina Historical Magazine from April, 1996 by C.R. Horres Jr., the following information was obtained:
Originally 15" Columbiads (50,000 pounds ) were desired, but these proved to be impossible to be cast by Southern foundries. Captain Alexander Theophilis Blakely persuaded Major Caleb Huse to allow him to cast two experimental 12.75 inch rifled guns with carriages and 100 rounds of ammunition for the cost of $600,000 Confederate dollars. When finished the guns weighed nearly 50,000 pounds each and the carriages with all accessories weighed 58,000 pounds.

The finished guns were 16 feet long from muzzle to breech and they were cast by the George Forester and Company's Vauxhall Foundry. Due to the massive size and weight of these guns, they proved difficult to transport.

They were finally transported on the former Confederate raider Sumter along with 150 solid shot 20" long weighing 650 pounds each and 50 shells 22" long weighing 470 pounds each. The guns had to be shipped standing up which left the Sumter appearing to have three funnels. The existance of these guns was already known to the Union and orders were given for them to be captured before arrival. These efforts failed and they arrived in Wilmington on August 18, 1863. Due to the size and weight of the guns, special railroad cars had to be constructed to get the guns to Charleston and the first gun arrived on August 25th. The guns were to be emplaced on the Battery in Charleston and a temporary railroad track had to be laid to get them there. However, once the first gun had been transported to the Battery, it was decided to emplace the second gun at Frazier's Wharf.

During one of the early test firings, due to improper loading, the cast iron breech of the gun on the Battery cracked in 11 places which required a cast iron plate to be bolted around the cracked breech. Union forces were aware of the guns' locations and close observations were made when they were test fired (they were never fired in anger). The only records of the gun's performance was from an October test firing which reported that a 470 pound shell could reach 6600 feet at 2 degrees elevation, so whether or not they had a 5 to 7 mile range was never proven. Also, they were shown to be not very accurate as the bolts tended to tumble end over end and coupled with the failure of the first gun during testing; these factors cast great doubt on the value of these weapons, except for a psychological value. The guns were destroyed on February 17, 1865 and the only portions of the guns existing today is the damaged breech in the Washington Navy Yard and a 500 pound fragment that was blown into an neighboring attic where it remains today.

Thirty of the bolts were used to outline a Revolutionary War fortification on Marion Square, but they were sold for scrap in 1883-they brought $50.00.
This one describes their destruction.
Charleston in Yankee Hands
From the New South, March 11, 1865 (as copied in the Houston Telegraph, April 3)
An object which arrests the attention of all, is the fragments of the 600-pounder Blakely guns, which were mounted on the wharf batteries. In erecting these batteries, the rebels built a high board fence on the edge of the work. During the siege, only one of the guns was fired, and at that time it cracked near the breech, so as to require a heavy iron band to be welded on the fractured part. This gun when exploded purposely on the morning of the evacuation, remained whole at the breech, and the part on which the iron band was placed proved to be the strongest part of the piece. The other 600-pounder, which was mounted on an earthwork near the Battery, exploded into innumerable pieces.

The man who had charge of the work of demolishing the guns stated to the citizens that notwithstanding that he was several yards in the rear, the concussion was so great as to knock him down in a senseless condition. The houses in the immediate vicinity were terribly damaged. One building in particular was completely ruined -- in fact it is considered dangerous to visit the interior of it. The windows are all smashed, and the panes of glass in them were pulverized into fine powder. The projectiles intended for these immense guns are stacked in rows in the Citadel Green. They are a curiosity to behold. The observer can scarcely believe that such a mass of iron could be forces through the air. The sound they must produce when on their flight must be fearful to listen to.

If a person shudders or cringes at the sound of a 200-pounder shell passing through the air, what effect would be produced on the same person to hear a 600-pounder shell going to its destination? When the guns were exploded, the citizens imagined that a large mine had been fired, and were momentarily expecting to witness the larger portion of the city to suddenly made into a large pile of debris.
I'm not sure if any photos exist of these behemoth, 50,000 pound guns when they were intact, all I was finding were the remnants. This painting is supposed to show one at the far left.
 
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AnthroposRex

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I can't help but wonder if that ammo was initially made for someone larger. Is that a cannon shell or a bullet for a giant? This site has me looking at everything through new eyes. Next time I'm in Charleston I'll take photos and see what I can see. Weirdly, I was just in that citadel academy they were referring to. It's a hotel now. The academy moved. Still, it has a very castle feel to it.
 

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