Confederate Torpedoes

Two Illustrated 19th Century Works with New Appendices and Photographs


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SKU: 9780786463329 Categories: , ,

About the Book

Hoping to deter the Union navy from aggressive action on southern waterways during the Civil War, the Confederacy led the way in developing “torpedoes,” a term that in the nineteenth century referred to contact mines floating on or just below the water’s service. With this book, two little-known but important manuscripts related to these valuable weapons become available for the first time. General Gabriel J. Rains, director of the Confederate Torpedo Bureau, penned his Torpedo Book as a manual for the fabrication and use of land mines and offensive and defensive water mines. With 21 scale drawings, Notes Explaining Rebel Torpedoes and Ordnance by Captain Peter S. Michie documents from the Federal perspective the construction and use of these “infernal machines.” A detailed accounting, by the editor, of the vessels sunk or damaged by Confederate torpedoes and numerous photographs of existing specimens from museums and private collections complete this significant compilation.

About the Author(s)

Gabriel J. Rains (1803–1881) was director of the Confederate Torpedo Bureau during the latter stages of the Civil War.
Peter S. Michie (1839–1901) served as chief engineer of the Union’s Army of the James and was stationed in Richmond for the year following the war.
Physician and historian Herbert M. Schiller holds an M.A. in history from Wake Forest University and is the author or editor of numerous books on the American Civil War.

Bibliographic Details

Gabriel J. Rains and Peter S. Michie
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 166 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6332-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8545-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Preface      xi

I. Gabriel J. Rains

Biographical Introduction      3

Editorial Notes      9

Contents and Plates      10

Torpedo Book      13

II. Peter S. Michie

Biographical Introduction      93

Editorial Notes      97

Contents      98

Notes Explaining Rebel Torpedoes and Ordnance as Shown in Plates Nos. 1 to 21 Inclusive      99

Editor’s Appendix 1: Vessels Sunk or Damaged by Confederate Torpedoes      139

Editor’s Appendix 2: Examples of Extant Confederate Torpedoes      168

Editor’s Appendix 3: Plates Not Referenced in Rains’ Text      192

Notes      195

Bibliography      203

Index      205

Book Reviews & Awards

“an amazing collection of offensive and defensive weapon descriptions…illustrations are excellent…highly recommended”—Civil War News; “adding immeasurably to the value of the book, author and publisher made the excellent decision to reproduce in full the original illustrations that accompany the manuscript…a significant contribution to the published technical literature pertaining to Civil War weaponry and equipment. Even the most knowledgeable readers will find Rain’s work full of surprises and will marvel at the ingeniousness and technological sophistication of many of the designs. The book should also serve as a reference work of lasting worth…highly recommended”—Civil War Books and Authors; “provides remarkable insight into early ‘torpedo’ development…. Anyone interested in the development of these military systems will be extremely grateful to Schiller for making these texts, and their illustrations, available”—The Coast Defense Journal; “with this book, two little-known but important manuscripts related to these valuable weapons become available for the first time”—Site O Fortifications Newsletter; “valuable…an excellent edition for Civil War students and scholars”—Salient Points; “this work gathers two Civil War manuals on torpedoes, one by the Confederates, who perfected the technology, and one by the Union side, which sought to understand the weapons and find ways to counter them”—Reference & Research Book News; “the release of [this book] will benefit academic and amateur historians alike for years to come. The determined work of the author brings documents stored in the archives of The Museum of the Confederacy into the public sphere in fresh, readable formats”—The Museum of the Confederacy Magazine.