15 December 2012

The David

The David, Old Santee Canal Park, S.C.

A Torpedo decked out in Christmas lights aiming at a beautiful historic house is an odd sight. I had a late lunch at the Dock restaurant this afternoon and it seemed to make sense to take a spin through Old Santee Canal Park but they were setting up for evening holiday festivities. I took a quick shot of the David and slipped out of the park before it was hit with happy holiday chaos. 
The David

Also known as "the little David", the Davids were small steam powered torpedo boats that operated around Charleston about the same time as the Hunley. In fact, one was sometimes used as a towing vessel for the Hunley.

The David was conceived and designed by Dr. St. Julian Ravenel, who recruited David Ebaugh to build her. She was privately funded and built at Stoney Landing up on the Cooper river, out of view of the many Northern spies in Charleston.
The David was designed to ride very low in the water and attack by ramming a spar torpedo. However, she was not a submarine- she had an open cockpit and was powered by a small steam boiler. Some books claim that the Davids used water filled ballast tanks to ride low in the water, however, the builder described filling the hull with thousands of pounds of iron to lower the water line.

The David made a somewhat successful attack against the federal New Ironsides; at least damaging her enough to cause her to withdraw and make repairs. This was the first successful torpedo attack in history. The original David almost made history again with a bold attack on a Federal ironclad on the Stono river, however its torpedo failed to detonate.