Civil War Submarine Battles Were Often Suicide Missions

Bee

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Bee

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Timeline of Civil War Era Submarines

1861
Early in the Civil War, the Confederate Government authorized citizens to operate armed warships as "privateers." A New Orleans consortium headed by cotton broker HORACE L. HUNLEY was approved for the operation of "Pioneer," a 20-foot long three-man submarine (one to steer, two to crank the propeller) designed and built by JAMES MCCLINTOCK .

In a March 1862 demonstration on Lake Pontchartrain, a submerged "Pioneer" sank a barge with a towed floating torpedo. In April, 1862, the
U. S. Navy captured New Orleans, and "Pioneer" was scuttled by its builders. Soon discovered, the boat eventually was sold for scrap in 1868.



Pioneer.gif


Plan---most certainly for "Pioneer" [www.navsource.org, 2010]

Submarine%20Pioneer%20salvage.gif

The Confederate submarine Pioneer, pulled from "the bottom of New Basin,
New Orleans," drawn by Ensign David M. Stauffer of the
Mississippi Squadron, 1865 [www.navsource.org, 2010]
l
NOVApioneer.jpg


A Civil War-era submarine -- which was long thought to be "Pioneer," but is not -- was
discovered and raised in 1878 and is on display at the Louisiana State Museum.
True origin? A mystery.


1861-1862
VILLEROI obtained a contract from the U. S. Navy for a larger submarine: the 46-foot-long "Alligator." Propulsion: originally sixteen oarsmen with hinged, self-feathering oars; improved, a three-foot diameter hand-cranked propeller. Weapon: an explosive charge to be set against an enemy hull by a diver.

"Alligator" was placed in service on June 13, 1862 – the first submarine in the U. S. Navy, all reports to the contrary notwithstanding. Towed South from Philadelphia for operations in the James River, the boat proved to be too large to hide and support divers in the relatively shallow water. It foundered and sank in a storm, 1863, while being towed to a potential operating area off South Carolina.

Alligator.gif


ALLIGATORsub_plan_3.gif


Villeroi's own plan view of Alligator, recently discovered in France.
[Added 2010]


595px-USS_Alligator_0844401.jpg


1862
Confederate Army officer Captain FRANCIS D. LEE created the low-freeboard steamboat known as a "David" (as in, David versus Goliath). Weapon: poke the enemy ship with a spar torpedo (an explosive at the end of a long pole), or directly ram it. Built by the Southern Torpedo Boat Company in Charleston as a profit-making venture (substantial bounties were being offered to anyone who could sink a blockading Union warship), they seemed like a good idea at the time but had little success.

NOVAdavid.jpg

1863
Intercepted Confederate mail included this drawing---forwarded to the Federal War Department---of a submarine to be used off the coast of Texas. No other details available . . . [2010]

CWsubunknown.gif

1863
Hunley's New Orleans consortium shifted operations to Mobile, Alabama, and built a second, slightly-improved submarine which may have been called "American Diver." McClintock spent some time and money trying to replace hand-cranking with some sort of electrical motor, but without success. This submarine sank in rough weather in Mobile Bay; the crew was rescued.

NOVApioneersketch.gif


Sketch made by McClintock in 1872, which may represent
the features of "American Diver."


1863
Hunley's consortium built a third, larger, submarine -- about 40 feet long. Crew: possibly nine, eight to crank the propeller and at least one to steer and operate the sea cocks and hand-pumps to control water level in the ballast tanks.


NOVAhunleycross.gif

NOVAhunley.gif


These drawings were made, sometime after the Civil War, from information
provided by W. A. Alexander -- one of the original (and suriving) builders.
The cross-section (above) clearly shows the tight working space inside.


This submarine was sent to Charleston, to try to break the Federal blockade. Almost immediately, it, too, sank -- possibly twice, swamped by the wake of a passing steamer, with the loss of some crewmembers. Confederate Commanding General P. G. T. Beauregard became disenchanted but Horace Hunley persuaded him to allow "one more try" under his -- Hunley's -- personal supervision. The boat sank again, killing Hunley and the crew.

It was found, and raised -- and two members of the original team who had not been aboard harassed Beauregard often enough that , after "many refusals and much discussion," he agreed to allow one more attempt -- but not as a submarine. The boat -- now named CSS H. L. Hunley in honor of her spiritual father -- was to be armed with a spar torpedo and operate awash, as a David.

NOVAhunleyhard.gif


CSS H. L. HUNLEY, recovered after a fatal accident and awaiting a "go-no go"
decision by Charleston-area commanding General P. G. T. Beauregard, CSA.


1863
A group of Northern speculators formed the American Submarine Company, to take advantage of a vote in the U. S. Congress to approve the use of privateers. However, when President Abraham Lincoln declined to accept the authority, construction of this consortium's submarine – the "Intelligent Whale" – languished. The boat was not completed until 1866, long after the end of the war. The then-ostensible owner, O. S. HALSTEAD, made several efforts over several years to sell it to the government; the U. S. Navy held formal acceptance trials in 1872. The "Intelligent Whale" failed. Halstead was murdered, probably by the jealous ex-lover of his mistress.


NOVAwhale.jpg


"Intelligent Whale" is now an exhibit at the Militia Museum in New Jersey. It should
not be regarded as a serious contender in the 19th Century submarine sweepstakes.


1863
A French team of CHARLES BURN and SIMON BOURGEOIS launched "Le Plongeur" (The Diver) – 140 feet long, 20 feet wide, displacing 400 tons. Power: engines run by 180 psi compressed air stored in tanks throughout the boat. Method of operation: fill ballast tanks just enough to achieve neutral buoyancy, then make adjustments with cylinders that could be run in and out of the hull to vary the volume – Bourne's concept. The boat was too unstable; the movement of a crew member could send her into radical gyrations.


Le_Plongeur_plan.gif


Le Plongeur (CLICK to view enlarged, printable pdf file).
Added 2010.


1864
On February 17, after months of training and operational delays, the spar-torpedo-armed CSS H. L. Hunley attacked USS Housatonic – which became the first warship ever sunk by a submarine. However, Hunley disappeared with all hands, not to be found until 1995, about 1000 yards from the scene of action. Best speculation on the fate of Hunley: with hatches open for desperately-needed ventilation, the boat was swamped by the wake of a steamer rushing to the aid of Housatonic. Hunley was recovered in the summer of 2000, and is now in the process of conservation and study.

1864
WILHELM BAUER proposed that submarines be powered by a visionary – but not yet practical – internal combustion engine. Overall, he was to spend twenty-five years developing (or at least, proposing) submarines on behalf of six nations – Germany, Austria, England, the United States, Russia, France. His plebeian origin and autocratic style – not to mention his lowly army rank – were a serious handicap in dealing with the aristocratic brethren who ran most of the navies of the day. Essentially ignored by his native Germany in his lifetime, Bauer became a posthumous hero in the Nazi era.

MORE HERE http://www.submarine-history.com/NOVAone.htm
 
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Bee

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Love this Bee!
Look what I just learned about!
View attachment 175158
It was a wonderful presentation! The UDC donated money to the Friends of the Hunley organization as well!
Thank you for helping me grow!
It is wonderful to learn along side of you, Ashley! You have a heart of gold, and you never have an unkind word to say -- you are a good influence on me :wink: I promised a family member who is a navel officer that I would spend more time on the navel aspect of the war, so here I am :smile:
 

AshleyMel

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It is wonderful to learn along side of you, Ashley! You have a heart of gold, and you never have an unkind word to say -- you are a good influence on me :wink: I promised a family member who is a navel officer that I would spend more time on the navel aspect of the war, so here I am :smile:
So precious and kind you are! I think you are pretty good for me too!

The navel side of this is brand new to me! Even though Hubby is a Navy vet I was never interested until - THIS!

The little fella giving the presentation was so good! When he saw my name was Ashley, he came running up to me, had to talk abut all things Charleston, and then it was off to the races with the sub.

OH MY! I could not imagine! Dangerous, ingenious, ground breaking! Hubby was sub certified during his time but he was never used in that capacity. Don't think they had the psych clearance like that, back then! What were they thinking?!

This is just great, great stuff!
 

Bee

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He says "OH YEAH!"
You made him smile Bee!
He's now telling me all about it!
Something about going around to all the different jobs...
Uh oh! I'm in for a long night!
:help:
Gee thanks!
:bounce:
He is telling you about "Quals" -- a crew member on a submarine must be able to do everyone's job. They must also be able to draw schematics, too. When I have a little more time, I will PM you with a story about how I know all of this --> hubby will enjoy it :smile:
 

AshleyMel

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He is telling you about "Quals" -- a crew member on a submarine must be able to do everyone's job. They must also be able to draw schematics, too. When I have a little more time, I will PM you with a story about how I know all of this --> hubby will enjoy it :smile:
Sounds good! I'm sure I will enjoy it as well!
He's done lost me now!
:spin:
 
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#15
The post that describes the timeline of CW submarines (post #3) calls the sub "CSS". I know it was never commissioned and it's proper name was just "H.L. Hunley".
Where could I find the clearest, simplest description of how a civilian craft and crew (even the naval personnel were volunteers on a civilian ship) got used for military purposes? I know there was some sort of bounty. Any help would be appreciated.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#16
Strictly speaking, the "CSS" is incorrect. It is most properly applied to a commissioned vessel of the Confederate States Navy, which the Hunley was not.

It is a frequent error. It's slightly more forgivable when one considers the rules for what is "USS" and what isn't weren't as formally applied at the time either as they are now... but it's still most correct to refer to the boat as "the Hunley" or the "H.L. Hunley"... though frankly, I think the most frequent way it was referred to at the time was as a "fish boat" (Confederate) or "infernal machine" (Union) (the latter term was somewhat indiscriminately applied to all manmade underwater dangers)...
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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#17
Where could I find the clearest, simplest description of how a civilian craft and crew (even the naval personnel were volunteers on a civilian ship) got used for military purposes? I know there was some sort of bounty. Any help would be appreciated.
I'm betting that you'll get your best answer when @JohnDLittlefield sees this and weighs in. :D Till then, I believe that the boat was under Confederate Army orders/jurisdiction and therefore under Beauregard. I do not recall that the Hunley was technically a privateer-- in fact, I'm rather sure she wasn't-- but perhaps could be considered as contracted by (or impressed by) and operated by the Confederate government, via the Army.
 

Bee

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#19
Thanks @Bee for the great thread and everyone's posts. The video was good. Submarines were in their infancy, and it would be a long time before they were perfected. They were a powerful new weapon and deadly to friend and foe.
You are quite welcome! I got interested in submarines when someone told me that at one time, they used locomotive engines. I still need to look that up, but right now, these antiques have my interest :smile:
 

WJC

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#20
You are quite welcome! I got interested in submarines when someone told me that at one time, they used locomotive engines. I still need to look that up, but right now, these antiques have my interest :smile:
I believe they meant the engines found in diesel-electric locomotives. WW2 Fleet-type vessels used engines supplied by Fairbanks-Morse and General Motors' Cleveland Diesel Engine Division.
 



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