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 "Infernal Machines" 
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Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 2:32 pm
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Location: Hawaii
Post "Infernal Machines"
I've always liked the phrase "infernal machine(s)" because of what it says about attitudes towards unusual weapons (not "gentlemanly" to use such things).

From James Scott's Recollections of a Naval Life (Volume III):

This was during the War of 1812. The British squadron was anchored in Lynnhaven Bay.

"...the guard-boats were stationed in advance every night, as the enemy's determination to attempt the destruction of our vessels by means of torpedoes was known. We had never seen any of these much-vaunted infernal machines, which were to blow us into the air;—to defeat this American project, buoys were moored ahead of each vessel when riding to the ebb tide. Our curiousity was shortly to be indulged with a view of the whole apparatus, which materially lessened the danger in our eyes."

Scott goes on describe one they had captured by chance:

"It was nothing more than a long cask with a thick square piece of iron containing the gun-lock fixed on to the bunghole; in this piece of iron was inserted a peg of the same material, to which the lines were fastened; the withdrawal of the peg, as I suspected, would have completed friend Jonathan's humane intention."

As Don pointed out in his post on Robert Fulton, these torpedoes were more like what we think of as mines. Scott goes on to describe the way in which they were deployed. If anyone is interested in the full text, let me know and I'll type it up.

I have the honour to be, &c.

Fri Jul 13, 2007 4:57 am
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