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DescriptionThe Confederate Navy, the innovators of the first use of submarine warfare, and the development of Torpedo Boats: Important letter with endorsements regarding the use of Torpedo Boast in Charleston, S.C.
With an outnumbered force and a woefully small Navy compared to the North, the South had to be innovative in their strategy of warfare. This task was given largely to Matthew F. Maury who developed the use of the Confederate torpedo. At Hampton Roads the U. S. S. Minnesota felt his blow, and in Charleston, S. C., Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard actively sought and used these devices. An example would be the torpedo boat David. As the U. S. Navy became more aware of this threat and as Union forces became more of a dominant force in their invasion of the South, Beauregard needed clarification of exactly who was going to be in charge of the torpedo boat program. The man who had replaced Beauregard as head of the Dept. of S. C., Georgia and Fla. in Charleston, S. C. was Brig. Genl. R. S. Ripley. Having the same questions as Beauregard, Ripley writes to Gov. Bonham.
Offered are two related letters, the first on blue imported stationery with Confederate imprint at the top: "HEAD QUARTERS, 1ST MILITARY DISTRICT, DEPARTMENT OF SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA AND FLORIDA. CHARLESTON, JULY 31ST, 1863." The letter is written by Brig. Gen. R. S. Ripley, Commander of the 1st Military District. He is writing "His Excellency, Gov. M. L. Bonham, Commander in Chief of the State of S. C.." He writes:
I have the honor to request that the Torpedo Boat now being
constructed in this harbor be turned over to the C. S. Military authorities
Your Obdt. Servant
R. S. Ripley
On the reverse there are three endorsements. The first was written by J. K. Sass who was Chairman of the Commission to develop advanced Navy weapons like the Torpedo Boat. It reads:
Charleston, S. C.
1st August, 1863.
The Commissioners hereby agree to the transfer of the Torpedo Boat
to the Military Authorities provided the same meets with the approval
of the Governor.
J. K. Sass
The second endorsement reads:
Executive Department Charleston, July 31st, 1863
Respectfully referred to Misters I. K. Sap & Mr. Trenholm & others, for
further views upon the matter suggested within.
B. F. Arthur
The third endorsement, as Gov. Bonham received the response, he writes:
The Comms. having signified their approval, I concur as the
representative of the State so far as I have authority and approve
M. L. Bonham
Aug. 1, 63.
The second letter is headed Charleston, S. C., 1st August 1863. It is on cream-colored lined stationery and reads:
Charleston, S. C.
1st August 1863.
B. F. Arthur Esq.
I return the paper sent me this morning. You will oblige me by
sending a copy of the same with the several endorsements back to
Gen. Ripley this afternoon if possible.
J. K. Sass
At the bottom this letter is docketed "Application of Genl. Ripley for Torpedo Boat and answer of the Gov. Filed Aug. 1, 1863."
Any Confederate material relating to the subject of Torpedo Boats and Naval warfare are extremely rare From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection.
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