Submarines in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars

explanatory Essay
2009 words
2009 words

Submarines in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars

The Trident Submarine houses twenty-four nuclear warheads with each having a range of 4,600 miles over land. If a nuclear war were to break out between the Soviet Union and the United States, virtually every major city could be destroyed in a matter of hours. The origin of these major players in modern day warfare lies in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

A Dutchman named Cornelus Van Drebbel, made the very first submarine in 1652, to fight the mighty Spanish ship called the Rotterdam Boat. It carried about twelve oarsmen and even had an air circulator. It never saw any action.

In the American Revolutionary War, a manned underwater craft named the American Turtle (or the "water-machine") was used against the British Navy. David Brushnell designed this ingenious machine in 1771. The submarine was a one manned, egg-shaped vessel which was propelled by hand-operated screw-like devices. It was bottom-heavy in order for it to remain upright. The operator would plant a submersible mine that could be triggered by a simple clockwork mechanism. He could paddle away after he attached the magazine of gunpowder onto the enemy ship. The operator could stay under for about thirty minutes

The American Turtle was ready for her initial mission on September 6, 1776, just after midnight in the New York Harbor. The operator, Ezra Lee, failed in his attempt to sink the HMS Eagle because he failed to secure the screw of the gunpowder magazine to the ship. The Turtle made two more attempts to sink enemy ships but they both failed. The end of the American Turtle is unknown. Some think she was accidentally sunk, dismantled, or destroyed. The Turtle was the very first submarine to be used in the...

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...come of the Revolutionary War. The submarines in the Civil War were very unimportant as well. Only one ship, the Housatonic, was sunk by the hands of a submarine in the entire war. The Southern navy did not even put much stock into submarine warfare because they only built a couple during the entire war. So overall, submarines were of no significance during either the Revolutionary War or the Civil War. But, these early developments of the submarine were extremely important because they lead to the later more advanced submarines that were used in future wars in which they did play a major role in. For example, in World War II, German U-boats terrorized the sea and played an important role in World War II. These, and others like the modern day Tridents, would not of exist if it were not for the early developments of submarines during the Civil and Revolutionary Wars.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the trident submarine houses twenty-four nuclear warheads with a range of 4,600 miles over land.
  • Describes how cornelus van drebbel made the first submarine in 1652 to fight the mighty spanish ship called the rotterdam boat.
  • Describes brushnell's invention of the american turtle (or the "water-machine"), a manned underwater craft that was used against the british navy.
  • Explains that the american turtle was ready for her initial mission on september 6, 1776, just after midnight in the new york harbor. the operator, ezra lee, failed in his attempt to sink the hms eagle
  • Explains that the nautilus, invented by robert fulton, sunk a ship in 1805 in demonstration for the british government. the timing was wrong because england had just finished another war.
  • Explains the significance of the first two fully working submarines in the world. they played a major role in future developments of submarine, especially during the civil war.
  • Describes how james mcclintock and baxter watson designed and built a three manned, hand cranked submarine named the pioneer. the pioneer used the same type of detonation device as the nautilus
  • Explains the problems with the pioneer: the breather would only work close to the surface; there was no light inside the sub causing the crew to use candles; and the compass was the only way to tell where a submarine was going.
  • Explains that the pioneer submarine was not used during the battle of new orleans, since it was a prototype and deemed not ready for battle.
  • Explains that the confederate navy was not very successful in attacking enemy ships. in mobile, alabama, a group of men wanted to build another pioneer.
  • Explains that the pioneer ii was a little larger than its predecessor. it had more room for the crew, was more streamlined, had primitive mercury barometer, and had windows so the captain could better ascertain where he was going.
  • Explains that alexander, mcclintock, and watson had enough money to build a new sub called pioneer iii. the torpedo detonated as soon as it hit the enemy ship.
  • Explains that the confederate navy was desperate to break the union blockade. they wanted to use the pioneer iii, now called the "whitney submarine boat," to go after one of the ironsides.
  • Describes how the "whitney submarine boat" was raised, repaired, and ready for action. in a mock attack against the css indian chief, the submarine sank killing all passengers including the captain on board.
  • Narrates how the confederate leadership questioned the safety of submarines after the two accidents. captain george dixon and william alexander convinced them to allow the h.l. hunley to be operational again.
  • Describes how the h.l. hunley was pulled out after the second sinking and taken off to the battery marshall, on sullivan's island. the crew had to withstand endurance tests to see how far they could go.
  • Narrates how captain dixon boarded the h.l. hunley and headed for the target. the crew of the housatonic fired their weapons, but to no avail.
  • Explains that the public was not well informed of what was going on during these experiments on submarines. the building of the subs was kept secret because the confederates did not want their weapon known.
  • Explains that the south needed a fully submersible ship to protect its waterways and get around the union blockade, while the north had less need for one.
  • Explains that the american turtle, the first submarine to be used in war, played absolutely no role in the outcome of the revolutionary war, and the civil war.
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