British TB engines ordered


Oct 1, 2010
southern california
The Squib, Hornet, Scorpion, Wasp were home-built TB's at Richmond in 1864. They were reported as 46 feet long, beam 6 ft 3 in, depth of hold 6 ft 9 in. Their engines were claimed to have been built in the Confederacy. They were condensing twin oscillating cylinder engines with cylinder's 7 ID and 6 inch stroke driving a 4-bladed propeller. The boilers were described as 'tubular'. There is some question as to whether they were fabricated to the same specifications as an order in Britain.

Another class of 12 wooden hull boats were reported building in the Confederacy by the end of 1864. 4 at Richmond (2 completed), 1 at Peedee River Bridge, SC; another at Columbus, Ga. (Viper); 6 more at other not specified yards. They were to be 40 to 50 ft long, beam 5 feet to 6 feet, draft 3 feet carrying 1 or 2 light howitzers and a spar torpedo. For propulsion 12 engines were ordered from the Clyde Bank Iron Foundry (Thompson's) in Scotland on April 16, 1864. They were reported to be shipped by CDR Bulloch from Glasgow in 3 different runners beginning in September, 1864, allegedly to be delivered direct to the Confederacy. They were direct-acting, condensing, 2-cylinder engines with cylinder 10 inch ID and 10 inch stroke, connecting at a right angle to 20 foot long, 3 inch diameter drive shafts to a 3 foot diameter, 3-bladed propeller with 6 foot pitch at 200 rpm. The boilers were locomotive, tubular types, length not to exceed 10 feet, 3 ft 6 inch high by 3 ft 6 inches wide. The fire-door was located on the right side. Another four pair of this type were ordered by Lt. Wm. Fitzhugh Carter, CSN, on June 27, 1864, specifying delivery in two months.

6 steel TB's were ordered in Britain by Cdr. Bulloch on June 18, 1864 to Graves' design, with the stem straightened and the rake of the stern altered for metal construction; these boats were reported completed in January or February 1865 of very light steel, "sectionalized for shipment to the Confederacy". They were to displace 9.18 tons with a draft under 3 feet when loaded, crewed by 5 men and to reach a speed of 10 knots. The engines were reported as "too heavy", a fault placed on William P. Williamson, Chief of Engineering for the CSN. He forwarded drawings without descriptive specifications. The cylinders built were 8 inches ID versus the 7 inch ones on the drawings. The accompanying boilers were too small and the area of the firebox too cramped. Wilmington was closed to runners in January, 1865, The initial shipment of 3 boats left Britain. The second three were modified with longer floors to allow for larger boilers. Allegedly, the draft of the boats was not increased with the modifications. These boats were intended to carry spar torpedoes with a 40 to 100 lb charge.

One of the metal boats may have been delivered by runner to the W. Coast of Florida near the Suwanee River. The engine and boiler arriving on the runner Imogene at Galveston in the spring of 1865 may have been one of the engines built by Thompson's (Clyde Bank Iron Foundry). All of these boats and engines were designed to operate with a good grade of coal.

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