Civil War Submarine


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 2, 1861

This site features readable versions of the original issues of Harper's Weekly newspapers from 1861-1865. You can browse these newspapers by topic, or search on a specific topic using the search box on the bottom of this page. We hope you enjoy reading these old newspapers, and gaining perspective on the important people and places of the Civil War.

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The Merrimac

The Merrimac

Closing the Potomac

Rebels Close Potomac


Battle of Bolivar


Geary's Artillery

Army of the Potomac

Army of the Potomac


Civil War Food


Tipton Missouri

The Merrimac

Description of the Merrimac


Craney Island

Civil War Funeral

Naval Expedition

The Great Naval Expedition


Civil War Submarine

Prison Richmond

The Richmond Prison

Rebel Cartoon

Rebel Cartoon










NOVEMBER 2, 1861.]





WE publish on this page an illustration of a REBEL INFERNAL MACHINE, with which it was attempted to blow up the flag-ship at Fortress Monroe a few days since. The following extract from a letter in the Herald, dated Fortress Monroe, October 12, will explain the affair :

Last evening a flag of truce came down, bringing sixty persons ; among the number was a gentleman who brings the following intelligence: On Wednesday evening last an infernal machine was sent down from Sewall's Point for the purpose of blowing up the flag-ship. She came down to the ship without any difficulty, but she caught in

the grapling always hanging from the jib-boom end of the ship. This was taken by those inside for the chain cable, and when they thought they were under the bottom of the ship they made preparations for screwing the torpedo on the bilge, but, to their surprise, they found they were sadly mistaken, and they came near losing their lives as well as the machine. They, however, escaped, and worked themselves on shore on rebel ground, and the machine was carted back to Norfolk, to try the experiment at some future time.

From the gentleman who made the statement I learn the following particulars in relation to the machine. He states that it is built of iron, of a similar shape to the Ross Winans cigar boat, of a sufficient capacity to accommodate two persons, who work it ahead by means of a small screw propeller. It is guided by a rudder, and it is ballasted by means of water, let in and forced out by

means of a pump. A compass guides them, and a velocimeter shows how great a distance is run each moment. Bearings and courses are given the men, and they go on a hazardous voyage, with a Iarge chance of accomplishment. An India-rubber tube, which is floated on the surface, furnishes them with fresh air, while a force-pump forces out the foul air. On arriving at the place desired, a grapple catches the cable of a vessel, and the machine is veered away until it is supposed to be near one of the magazines ; the water ballast is then pumped out, and the machine floats up under the ship's bottom. By means of an India-rubber sucking-plate this machine is attached to the bottom of the ship, while a man-hole plate is opened and the torpedo is screwed into the vessel. It is fired by the means of a time fuse. As soon as this is set in motion the men inside place a prepared sheet of rubber over the man-hole. and while one lets the water into the compartment

to sink the machine, the other person screws up the plate, the grapple is let go, and the infernal machine is left to explode, while the machine is worked in shore out of harm's way. Commodore Goldsborough is informed of this article, and will of course take all the precautions to prevent an occurrence which would prove so disastrous to a fine ship and of so much importance to the enemy.

It is possible that before the time arrives for a fresh experiment with this machine the rebels at Norfolk may have occupation for their ingenuity nearer home. Commodore Goldsborough and his officers may perhaps have a little " infernal machine" of their own, with which rebeldom may possibly make acquaintance.

A, Propeller.B, Rudder.-C, Force-pump for ballast.D, Dead light.E, Torpedo.F, Man-hole plate.G, Cock to let water in the ballast-room.H, Ballast-room.I, India-rubber suction-plate.J, India-rubber air-tube.-
K, Foul-air pump.


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