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Order of Rear-Admiral Dahlgren, U.S. Navy, commanding
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron,
ordering defensive measures against Confederate torpedo boats.
Off Morris Island, South Carolina, January 7, 1864.
I have reliable information
that the rebels have two torpedo boats ready for service, which may be expected on the
first night when the water is suitable for their movement. One of these is the
"David," which attacked the Ironsides in October; the other is similar to
There is also one of another
kind [H. L. Hunley], which is nearly submerged and can be entirely so. It is intended to
go under the bottoms of vessels and there operate.
This is believed by my
informant to be sure of well working, though from bad management it has hitherto met with
accidents, and was lying off Mount Pleasant two nights since.
There being every reason to
expect a visit from some or all of these torpedoes, the greatest vigilance will be needed
to guard against them.
The ironclads must have their
fenders rigged out and their own boats in motion about them.
A netting must also be dropped
overboard from the ends of the fenders, kept down with shot, and extending along the whole
length of the sides; howitzers loaded with canister on the decks and a calcium [light] for
each monitor. The tugs and picket boats must be incessantly upon the lookout, when the
water is not rough, whether the weather be clear or rainy.
I observe the ironclads are
not anchored so as to be entirely clear of each other's fire if opened suddenly in the
dark. This must be corrected, and Captain Rowan will assign the monitors suitable
positions for this purpose, particularly with reference to his own vessel.
It is also advisable not to
anchor in the deepest part of the channel, for by not leaving much space between the
bottom of the vessel and the bottom of the channel it will be impossible for the diving
torpedo to operate except on the sides, and there will be less difficulty in raising a
vessel if sunk.
JOHN A. DAHLGREN,
Rear-Admiral, Comdr. South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Source: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the
Rebellion. Series II, vol. 1 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1921): 226-227.