Recommended reading on torpedo boats?

sawpatin

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Joined
Aug 12, 2019
Recently bought a copy of Angus Konstam's 'Confederate Submarines and Torpedo Vessels 1861-65'. Could anyone recommend other sources which focus on torpedo craft (either surface vessels or "submersibles") during the ACW? I'm quite interested to learn some detail on the operation of these sorts of craft and the technical details behind their armaments.
 

1stMS-Arty

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Joined
Jun 9, 2013
This is a pretty good one...
41b0PMTeVnL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


and I see he has another one which I don't own, it may just be an update of the first one...


412CfY2pP3L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
 

JohnDLittlefield

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Charlestonian displaced to Bodrum,Turkey
I am finalizing my dissertation of torpedo boats of Charleston (defense happens in a couple weeks, finally!), that will soon be published as a book. I can't share it just yet, but I can tell you it is quite thorough. I include a brief summary of Confederate torpedo boats that were often referred to or confused with David- David having been a generic term for Confederate torpedo boats of the time. I've also compiled a lot of info on most other Confederate torpedo boats for a future publication.

Until my book is published, there is no one great source of info, so I recommend two books,
one of which is Mark Ragan's book shown above. Ragan's book (1999, reprint 2002) is, IMO, the most comprehensive book available to date on submarine warfare in general. The other in Thomas Campbell's Hunter's of the Night (2000). Although limited in the number of vessels discussed, this work is the most intensive of the general surveys of Confederate torpedo boats. Not much is written about Union torpedo boats, so for now you need to search articles and primary sources for info. I can help with that if you like, but my area of intense research has been Confederate torpedo boats. Although errors still exist in each of these books, I find them much more relaible than your current book.

Attached is an article I wrote almost five years ago for Mariner's Mirror about the torpedo boat David. It was still relatively early in the research and does have an error (or two) and is highly abbreviated, but is still not a bad source.
I'm always happy to discuss any ACW torpedo boats (and there is lots of info here on the Naval forum). The folks here have been amazingly helpful in my research.
 

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JohnDLittlefield

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Charlestonian displaced to Bodrum,Turkey
Hi John, does your thesis mention the torpedoe armed blockade runner in it.
I am unaware of any blocker runner that sported (spar-mounted) torpedoes, with maybe the exception of Juno.
I have seen this vessel name in reference to a Navy ship and as a blockade runner (possibly two distinct vessels).
Juno was used by the Confederate Navy in Charleston and did sport a spar torpedo.
Juno was also apparently a mail boat that operated between London and Glasgow that was used as a blockade runner... also operating out of Charleston.
If these are the same vessel, as a blockade runner she used, at least partially, a Navy crew that included James Tomb (second Commander of David). Tomb was to report to Juno on 8 March, but missed the call as he was on duty with David in the rivers between Port Royal and Charleston. The ship left port that night. Luckily for Tomb, he returned to Charleston a day later, on 9 March, as Juno was lost the following day. She had been overloaded with cotton and literally split at amidships.
 
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sawpatin

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Aug 12, 2019
I'm always happy to discuss any ACW torpedo boats (and there is lots of info here on the Naval forum).

Since you offered ... Were these vessels all operated under the Confederate Navy, or were any crewed by private citizens? I've seen a few claims online of Confederate "privateer submarines", but I haven't found any mention of these sorts of craft actually being issued with letters of marque (although several do seem to have been engineered/designed by civilians).
 

JohnDLittlefield

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Charlestonian displaced to Bodrum,Turkey
Since you offered ... Were these vessels all operated under the Confederate Navy, or were any crewed by private citizens? I've seen a few claims online of Confederate "privateer submarines", but I haven't found any mention of these sorts of craft actually being issued with letters of marque (although several do seem to have been engineered/designed by civilians).
For the Charleston torpedo boats, the lines are blurred.
For example, the first torpedo boat in Charleston was Francis Lee's ram. It seems to have started out as a military vessel, but was sold to Captain James Carlin before being completed, who commanded it in the only (failed) operation, against New Ironsides.
David, the second T.B. was privately built, but operated by the Navy.
Three other "Davids" were built by a company comprised on both merchants and military officers, and operated solely by the Army.
The Fish Boat, H.L. Hunley, was also privately built, but operated by a military crew.
 

JohnDLittlefield

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Location
Charlestonian displaced to Bodrum,Turkey
Hi John , it was the Juno that I was referring to but I had to look up her name.
I found a little more information about Juno, that mostly agrees with information previously mentioned and helps clarify the role of the ship as a privately owned blockade runner (July-December 1863), then Confederate owned gunboat (December- early spring 1864), then blockade runner again (March 1864)- ownership unclear.
(click link)

1581336945035.png
 

georgew

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Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Location
southern california
I found a little more information about Juno, that mostly agrees with information previously mentioned and helps clarify the role of the ship as a privately owned blockade runner (July-December 1863), then Confederate owned gunboat (December- early spring 1864), then blockade runner again (March 1864)- ownership unclear.
(click link)

View attachment 345835
Hello Littlefield. I'm looking at the structure (domed) at the bottom of the left smoke stack. Is this the top of the boiler? Would this qualify as a "haystack boiler"?
 

georgew

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Location
southern california
For the Charleston torpedo boats, the lines are blurred.
For example, the first torpedo boat in Charleston was Francis Lee's ram. It seems to have started out as a military vessel, but was sold to Captain James Carlin before being completed, who commanded it in the only (failed) operation, against New Ironsides.
David, the second T.B. was privately built, but operated by the Navy.
Three other "Davids" were built by a company comprised on both merchants and military officers, and operated solely by the Army.
The Fish Boat, H.L. Hunley, was also privately built, but operated by a military crew.
Interesting. I'd never heard that Torch was sold to Carlin. He picked up a CSA detachment at Sumter before his first sortie. Was the sale before or after her first sortie?
 
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
I am finalizing my dissertation of torpedo boats of Charleston (defense happens in a couple weeks, finally!), that will soon be published as a book. I can't share it just yet, but I can tell you it is quite thorough. I include a brief summary of Confederate torpedo boats that were often referred to or confused with David- David having been a generic term for Confederate torpedo boats of the time. I've also compiled a lot of info on most other Confederate torpedo boats for a future publication.

Until my book is published, there is no one great source of info, so I recommend two books,
one of which is Mark Ragan's book shown above. Ragan's book (1999, reprint 2002) is, IMO, the most comprehensive book available to date on submarine warfare in general. The other in Thomas Campbell's Hunter's of the Night (2000). Although limited in the number of vessels discussed, this work is the most intensive of the general surveys of Confederate torpedo boats. Not much is written about Union torpedo boats, so for now you need to search articles and primary sources for info. I can help with that if you like, but my area of intense research has been Confederate torpedo boats. Although errors still exist in each of these books, I find them much more relaible than your current book.

Attached is an article I wrote almost five years ago for Mariner's Mirror about the torpedo boat David. It was still relatively early in the research and does have an error (or two) and is highly abbreviated, but is still not a bad source.
I'm always happy to discuss any ACW torpedo boats (and there is lots of info here on the Naval forum). The folks here have been amazingly helpful in my research.
John,
Sounds like you have done allot of research on the Charleston area. I was wondering if, in all your research, did you ever come across the origin of the CSS Torpedo in the James River Squadron? All data I have found says it was a tug (I'm assuming like the Enoch Train converted to the CSS Manassas). Do you or anyone know if she was acquired by the Confederate Government and if so what was the name and original port of the tug? Or was she built by the Confederates like a tug and if so where? I've almost completed my version of the CSS David model and in researching the David I've become interested in all the torpedo boats. I'm a novice in this area as most of my research has been here on the Mississippi.

Concerning the CSS David I'm undecided the final paint on the model. All pictures of models I can find shown her with the wood and iron. However, Glassell in his SHSP article states, "The boat was ballasted so as to float deeply in the water ,and all above painted the most invisible color,(bluish.) What shade of blue do you think the David was painted, light, medium or dark? I know the intent was to blend in with the surrounding water, but as to the bluish caste, I'm undecided. Any suggestions would be helpful. Looking forward to the book.
Missouri Swampfox
 

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