1st Torpedo ?

Liverpool Mercury 1913

Liverpool Mercury Oct 15th, 1813

The American Torpedo

The ATLANTA, Capt HICKEY, arrived at Halifax on the 10th of Aug from the CHESAPEAKE, with the official report from Capt R LLOYD of the PLANTAGENET, of the attempts by the Americans to destroy that ship, in Lynnhaven Bay, by the explosion of a combustible machine called a torpedo. The horrid instrument fortunately went off when it had reached about half a cable length of the ship, otherwise it is apprehended the effect would have been fatal both to the ship and the whole of the crew!

It did not however do any injury; it threw up an immense column of flame and water and exited a temporary alarm, but nothing further.

One of these instruments has been picked up by the VICTORIOUS, 74, Capt TALBOT, at the same place, and is now on board that ship. It is a case containing about six barrels of gunpowder, to which a lock is affixed, and attached to the lock is a line reaching to the person or the boat that has the execution of the design. It is suspended to staged planks, at each end of which is about 50 fathoms of small line, with a buoy at each end. The machine thus put together, and let into the water, the combustible case sinking 12 ft and being kept at that length from the surface of the stage, it has many in close anchorages, the buoys being extended by the line the distance of 100 fathoms, will most probably, one or other of them, convey the line, by the help of the tide, across the cable of any ship at anchor, which, at the moment it touches, will cause the machine to swing round the side at the bottom of the ship, and the person using it, finding by the line that it has been stopped, judges it has reached its intended object, pulls the trigger of the lock by the string, and the explosion takes place.

Should it thus situated not blow the ship up, it must start abutt-end of one of her planks; when, from the sudden rush of water, which no efforts of the crew could possibly subdue, she would inevitably founder.

One reason it is considered, why it fortunately did not succeed upon the PLANTAGENET, was, it was the first experiment of its humane protector a Mr E. MIX, of the American Navy. Our blockading ships on the coast have kept a most sharp look out, in their guard-boats, since this attempt was made.


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