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 art of war.
In October of 1805 the two-manned submarine invented by Robert Fulton, the Nautilus, sunk a ship in a demonstration for the British government. The detonation device was a mine, which was tugged by long cables that hit the boat after the submarine had passed under it. The timing was wrong for the event because England had just finished another war. The ship was ignored. The importance of the Nautilus was the use of compressed air for oxygen and the use of rudders for vertical and horizontal alignment while underwater.
The significance of these first two fully working submarines in the world was that they played a major role in future developments of submarines, especially for the submarine use during the Civil War.
In New Orleans, the Confederates wanted to construct a vessel that would be totally submerged beneath the surface. This area was a strategic point because it was the base of the entire Mississippi. Two wealthy designers, James McClintock and Baxter Watson, designed and built a three manned, hand cranked submarine name the Pioneer. This sub had a "breather" which was similar to a snorkel that would put fresh air into the submarine. The Pioneer used the same type of detonation device as...