odiousgambit's Blog

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Civil War Torpedo IncidentNovember 12th, 2013 at 2:29:44 am
CSS Saint Patrick attacks the USS Octorara



Harper's magazine at the time of the war describes this incident,

"About 2 AM ... a moving object came out of the darkness and appeared
alongside the ... Octorara. The captain of the afterguard grabbed it
by the smokestack and tried to hold it fast, meanwhile calling for
ropes. But the pipe was hot and he had to let it go. The nearly
submerged vessel rapidly steamed away."

Significant to the WoV thread http://wizardofvegas.com/forum/questions-and-answers/math/15727-surface-to-air-missile-problem/ , the Octorara was underway, thus the CS attack involved the complicated circumstance of a moving attacker attempting to intersect with a moving target. As far as I have been able to determine, this was the only attempt the Confederates ever made to sink a moving ship with a spar torpedo.

I am interested in the American Civil War [ACW] and got interested in the development of the torpedo during that war. As many of you know, "torpedo" was what mines were called in those days, and certainly static placement was how torpedoes/mines were initially used in that war. As the war went on, however, what was called "spar torpedoes" came into use. This involved the technique of placing a torpedo on the tip of a wooden boom that could be raised and lowered. It was discovered that the attacking vessel could expect to survive the explosion if a relatively small distance was obtained and the blast took place underwater. The resulting column of water generated - not the shock wave itself - was what was nearly too much to deal with.

Confederate torpedoes sank 29 Union ships and damaged another 14 for a total of 43, and such success naturally motivated more and more aggressive ideas, and by the latter stages of the war actively taking the torpedo to the target was on the menu.

I read whatever I could find on it, and this incident was the only one I could find where a ship underway was ever attacked by torpedoes in the ACW. Confederate records were all destroyed and participants were generally not talking; due to the nature of the warfare there was concern that those involved would be hanged. So we don't actually know what happened in this incident from their perspective, being "shrouded in mystery" according to one author. Union intelligence reports indicated that the US was aware of the Saint Patrick, but they wildly speculated as to her nature. Some reports had her as a machine powered submarine. Judging by what is known about the incident, however, the boat was almost surely a "David", a type of torpedo boat designed for sneak attacks on larger vessels.

So perhaps the boat's attack could be considered more mundane than all the mystery would suggest, except for one thing: it was truly ambitious for the time to attempt an attack on a moving vessel. I don't believe the attack took place by having the David just follow the target. The Saint Patrick was unlikely to be able to start right behind the Octorara; if starting from a distance the efficiency of attaining the target would have been dubious. Under the circumstance of 'behind and near', the attack would have been instantly effected and upon the stern of the target. Union intelligence would have had the Federal sailors wanting to move along at a good clip, surely, dealing with the possibility of a powered submarine. Being underway at a good clip may have lowered their guard, though, as surprise was achieved. Note that the Saint Patrick appeared alongside her target. This seems to indicate that the interception was successful but it was too difficult to engage the target with the spar torpedo. It is also possible that the torpedo failed to explode. "Alongside" may also have indicated a muffed intercept. It is also likely that the torpedo type required something more complicated than contact to set it off, as was seen in other incidents where actively moving the torpedo to the target was involved. There is evidence that both sides realized explode-upon-contact torpedoes were very dangerous when used as spar torpedoes.

Comments
Fleastiff
January 12th, 2014 at 8:54:00 am
Tides and currents were bad enough if exhausted submariners had to also propel the boat itself.

Those who tried to use an auger to attach a torpedo below the water line were often defeated by a copper sheath that had been applied for anti-fouling to deter barnacle growth.

Torpedo was a term later used for a "thug" or "mobster's muscle guy".

only a hunter thinks this is funny?October 17th, 2013 at 7:17:29 am
I was thinking about how to explain how I feel the better sort of hunter, the kind I like to associate with, still tends to be something of a rule-stretcher, or at least a sympathizer to rule-stretching. Apologies to those who are straight-laced about rules instead, I'm not saying that isnt admirable.

Perhaps this story illustrates.

One of the funniest stories I have heard involves fudging on posted property lines. It is true that it is even funnier if you actually know the people involved, but I find it always gets a big smile and laugh out of any hunter.

Bill and Bob ... not their real names.

Bill was used to slipping over into another property where the property owners never hunt and never seemed to monitor it or ever even show up during season. It was impossible to get permission, but liberties were taken under these circumstances at very low risk.

Bob was more of the strait-laced type but as a matter of investigating game movement lets Bill talk him into going into the property one day. So they are standing there and sure enough here comes a pick-up truck. Bob starts fuming at Bill, but Bill says to him they havent been seen and yells "lay down and put your hunter orange underneath"! Bob has no time to think and does just that; both are now laying down in some thick stuff with orange off. The truck pulls up to within a few yards, somebody gets out, but they get back in and drive off. Bill and Bob hightail off with Bob vowing to never speak to Bill again.

Now, when I heard this story, granting I knew the people, I laughed so hard "ROFL" doesn't even describe it. But would a non-hunter even think it was funny?

Comments
Face
October 17th, 2013 at 9:07:52 am
I'd guess "probably not". You kind of need to know the details, the spirit, the feeling of the thing. I doubt desk jockeys could empathize with trespassing; it just doesn't compute.

Now to me, imagining a couple of 40-50 years old men hiding like they're 10 year old boys getting caught in the girls locker room... I giggled =)
odiousgambit
October 17th, 2013 at 10:55:36 am
>hiding like they're 10 year old boys getting caught in the girls locker room

Exactly. Grown men here!
Fleastiff
October 17th, 2013 at 4:18:36 pm
Oh... I didn't get it. I thought one hunter stayed upright and the other disguised his status as a hunter but lay there in plain sight as if he had just been shot by the hunter.

Its sort of like that woman who screamed every time she heard a hunter fire off a round. Some of those hunters just ran and kept running.
odiousgambit
October 18th, 2013 at 2:24:02 am
>I thought one hunter stayed upright

Edited now.

>that woman who screamed every time she heard a hunter fire off a round

that would be creepy!

Hunter's Secret PactOctober 9th, 2013 at 1:25:01 pm
Revealed here for the first time!

Hunters never talk about this to non-hunters, but there is a certain unwritten understanding amongst us about game laws. So as not to be understood, I should immediately point out that when it comes to egregious poaching and violations, the most outraged group will definitely be hunters. On the other hand, when it comes to the letter of the law, even hunters who always dot the i's and cross the t's can't really bring themselves to severely criticize a sportsman's actions in certain situations. I suppose an analogy might be found in gambling, where the desire to beat the house beats so dearly in every gambler's heart that, say, to, fail to point out getting an overpay, has to be understood as an understandable temptation even by those who would never fail to speak up.

I'd never hunt with someone I'd consider an unethical hunter. But I have observed that some of the most otherwise upstanding citizens out there will stretch the rules when hunting; and not uncommonly with a certain sense of amusement. Amongst this group of what we might call Primarily Ethical Hunters, the two greatest temptations seem to be to cross into the posted property of others and to exceed the daily bag limit.

For reasons unknown, however, amongst this same group [in which I include myself] it is quite rare to hear an admission that someone hunted out of season. That particular game law gets respected to a surprising degree really. One reason has to be the fact that most of the time it would mean actively preparing to breaking the rules. But there is another circumstance that comes up that is quite different ...

Tuesday I am out small game hunting. I’ve gotten to the point I’m not shooting much more and just exploring some new areas. Lo and behold! All of a sudden I spot a turkey! But it is not turkey season. Here is the situation every other hunter understands is going to be a temptation: a guy is out there hunting, and the opportunity comes up to bag a real prize, something that comes from a stroke of luck ... but is supposed to be passed up. My first thought, honestly, was to take it anyway. After reflection I realize I have to pass it up; I respect the seasons* that are set up, yes. It is also true that I have some small chance of getting caught, the game and fish people are making turkey poachers a priority. Perhaps it is not the best reflection on my character to have to admit that this latter consideration also comes into play. But I admit it.

I’d say I realized instantly that I had less than a 5% chance of killing this bird, had that been the plan. It was slightly out of range for my shotgun, which was not loaded with the ideal load for a longer shot. I had lucked out in the first place by coming up on it “hull down” as they say in tank warfare. I had crested a ridge and accomplished the rare feat of spotting a turkey without much camo and no face mask ... and while moving. But only my head was visible in the circumstance. An eagle has nothing on a turkey when it comes to eyesight; turkeys also recognize the human form as dangerous or suspicious, unlike most game which largely only react to smell or movement. Turkeys also have acute hearing. My only chance was to freeze and hope the bird came within range. Once I decided I wasn’t shooting, though, I remembered I had a cell phone and decided to try to take a picture. I got it out, turned it on, and got one snapped. Of course it basically sucks, but there it is. The turkey, of course, did not fail to see something was up. I have seen this movie many times. The bird walks into something thick and is never to be seen again, sometimes without any hint it is on to you. In this case, it waited for me to come more into view and finally flew off. Checking out where it was, I could see where it was going [they like roads and little trails] and that I had almost no chance at all.

It was a fun day.

hull down: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hull-down

The arrow points to the turkey, sorry for the bad pic.



*other types of game are even greater temptation, such as shooting an incidental quail out of season. You have to understand, deciding to hunt quail out of season is despicable. But to come upon a covey by accident, now that sort of oppurtunity is really too much. I leave it to the reader to speculate what happens when it is me.

Comments
Fleastiff
October 9th, 2013 at 1:47:27 pm
Game Wardens often use animated lures... a deer that turns its mechanical head and then cite someone for shooting from a roadway or from a vehicle or out of season or something. A Hull Down Turkey would work just as well.

Hunters who hunt in a game preserve really get whacked with fines because it is ALL over the limit since the limit is zero. One game warden knew he was up against experienced quarry. When it ended, the two local cops were conducted nocturnal hunts in a game preserve using dogs with severed vocal cords and their customer was the local prosecutor who was later disbarred. Game wardens win in the end.

Ofcourse there was the female motorist who stopped at a rural gas station/tavern the day before deer season opened and asked why everyone was wearing orange. Upon being told it was a state law, she opined that was good and she felt that drunks everywhere should be made to wear orange.
odiousgambit
October 9th, 2013 at 1:57:02 pm
> deer season ...drunks

sadly, this is an essential part of the punchline
Face
October 10th, 2013 at 12:21:32 pm
You know...

When I was a hunter I was, probably obviously, rabid about the rules and regs. Of course, as you just said, some liberties were taken with posted property (never hunted it, but took shortcuts and/or ended up on it accidentally), but all other things were scripture. Bagging over limits was never considered by my crew, and that includes taking does without a permit or "transfering" permits. I was vaguely aware, once, of guys that would tag something temporarily, not engaging the permanance of the tag, just to remove it once it was home and safe. My vagueness of the memory was because I never hunted with them again; I can't even remember who they were.

I think I wrote of Pop's best friend who, while in the woods out of season, plunked a black bear. Lost his guns, his hunting priviledges for 5 years, and sustained four-digit fines. I stopped hunting with him, too.

I find shunning works wonders, in case you can't tell lol. When Wally caught that catfish in "Fishing With Face", he kept it, putting it in his kid's wading pool. Since catfish live forever, it of course survived the ride home and a couple days in the pool. Not knowing what to do with it and not wanting to put it in his personal pond for fear it would eat everything, he threw it in the weeds behind his house. Dude lives 10 minutes from the very crick we caught it out of, but he threw it in the weeds. I haven't taken him back out on my boat in almost two years.

That's why I always roll with Jonny L. If we keep, he keeps it in the limits. He never asks me to keep to supplement his limit. If he keeps, he uses. If he keeps but later decides it ain't worth the trouble, he's kept them well enough that they survive and swim away. He doesn't kick a trout out of the water like a hundred other guys I know, he gets wet and spares the fish. Granted, he'll purposely squish a goby's guts out of its body with his bare hands, but to be fair, the DEC encourages that activity.

Before I come off as too high and mighty, I will admit I have my own temptations, and that's fishing "closed" bodies of water before they open, as well as using treble hooks upstream of the first barrier on a trib. As far as the trebles go, that's a snag prevention thing, and since I never snag, I suppose I feel justified. I have been caught, and as any outdoorsman knows, the DEC always scope you out before approaching. Everytime, the DEC were aware I wasn't snagging and let me go without issue. But fishing closed waters... I have issues lol. Fish can't tell time! And I just can't resist getting that first crack ><
odiousgambit
October 10th, 2013 at 2:12:25 pm
>Bagging over limits was never considered ... or "transfering" permits.

With the former, it seems to matter what the game would be. Ducks over the limit tempt. And with "transferring" ducks kick in again, as just adding up a limit of, say, 12 mallards for 3 hunters is rampant, if one guy has killed too many hens [limit 2] it can be a situation where that is just shrugged off. I'm not going to be the guy who keeps shooting after bagging hens, but I might not shun that group if it isn't too egregious. Somebody excusing taking 5 ducks with this transferring thing I might shun, especially these days.

With everybody I know, to exceed limits with deer is considered despicable. For one thing, the number you can take legally is enormous.

I've shunned certain turkey hunters, a group that gets tempted because there is a limit of one a day. In the fall there is a circumstance where a guy can keep on shooting young ones, and that is terrible. But I didn't shun one guy who shot two one day, because he is the same guy who taught me to recognize and skip shooting mature females in the fall ... something that is actually legal, mainly because it is considered too hard for the average guy to make this distinction in the fall. In his book, though, taking a mature female is up there in despicablity with shooting a buck and just taking the antlers!
Fleastiff
October 17th, 2013 at 4:26:35 pm
One female hunter showed photographs of her kills.... all in excessive numbers and clearly under unlawful circumstances. What the guys didn't know was that those photos were evidence photos and she was an undercover game warden.

New TurfSeptember 24th, 2013 at 9:12:58 am
Small game season has started around here. More about that later perhaps.

I moved to a different part of Virginia this summer, not close enough my old hunting grounds to regularly head back there, especially not for small game. The new area promises to be even better for most game - excepting waterfowl - the only thing being it is taking some scouting to find out where to go. I've already found out that some of the places I'm likely to like best are very close, just enough to get the vehicle warmed up properly by the time you get there. Swarming with deer, which however have a way of vanishing come open season [g]

I like the doing the scouting though. With GPS now [especially with high sensitivity that penetrates canopy] a guy can pretty fearlessly scout around compared to the old days when it was hard to get maps and satellite info like Google Earth, and you just had a compass. Having learned with those old limitations still pays off now though.

I've been thinking lately about one skill a person needs to develop in order to do hunting, and that is to keep himself from getting lost in the woods. Growing up, my Dad would take us hunting, and was actually good at teaching a lot about it. But he didn't seem to know how to teach this one skill, even though he could see we kids had problems with it. Speaking for myself at least, I could get lost easily as a youngster; someone old enough to use a gun, mind you. I had to make sure I was totally familiar with where I was and not wander out of that place; even then, I could get turned around, resulting in at least one terrifying experience. If you've never been lost in the woods, you might not realize just how discomfiting it is even for an adult. It must derive from some very basic instinctive fears.

I seem to have an instinct for compass directions that is active but completely dysfunctional. When I enter a new area, my mind immediately assigns compass directions involuntarily and almost always incorrectly, perhaps 180 degrees out of whack. Once this feeling settles in, it is very hard to get rid of. In fact it happened this summer when we moved to our new house. Very, very generally the road it is on goes west, and I knew that [unfortunately], but when you first get on it it mostly goes north for miles. Nonetheless, my mind assigned the road as running east and west. I still have trouble shaking that off. Do you suppose at one time humans had instinctive navigational skills like other animals? Is the instinct still active but just no longer properly working? Do some people still have these skills? I'm guessing the answers are yes, yes, and no. I did find an interesting article,

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-humans-have-some-kind

Perhaps this dysfunctional instinct now helps you get lost. I did climb out of my 'getting lost' problems though while still a teenager. The first step was when I went hunting with a friend in some creek bottoms that I knew about but were new to him. In these bottoms there were no landmarks to see on the horizon, so I warned him he'd better know where he was. To my astonishment he took off without a care. Later when I asked him how he didnt get lost, he pointed out that the road in went a long, long ways north and south, and that he knew we were west of it. Thus, when he was ready to come out, he knew walking east would get him back to that road. I was astonished at the simplicity of this. I advanced quite a bit as an outdoorsman that day.

Even though I have GPS now to assist I still don't regret learning how to navigate in the woods the old way. In almost any area, you can figure out that there is one direction like this that ultimately will keep you from getting lost as long as you have a compass. Once the fear of getting lost leaves you, the outdoorsman can hone some other skills.

Frankly I get a kick out of reading outdoor magazines and the like when some writer decides to write about wilderness navigational skills. Invariably he will go into getting topographical maps and have you triangulating off mountain peaks and all that. Now, certainly these are legitimate and admirable skills to have. Perhaps some of the readers will go to a wilderness area with poorly marked trails in which they were going to make a 20 mile hike or whatever. Or some day anybody might get blindfolded and set out in the middle of nowhere, eh? The skill that the average hunter or hiker is going to need though is Dead Reckoning, and this will not even be mentioned in the article.

Buying a compass these days is also a bit amusing. They give you complicated directions along with the compass on how to use it. I can only figure that if you didn't know how to use a compass, the directions would intimidate you and have you decide you will never know how. I just bought one that has a base with an arrow and a spinning dial cover with all 360 degrees marked out. After improperly mixing the words 'heading' and 'bearing' interchangeably as if they were the same thing, they have you line up north on the compass, decide on a heading, then spin the dial to that heading in degrees. This makes the big arrow point to your heading; fine. I have to say, though, that anybody who wouldn't know how to use a compass to get a heading without a spinning dial feature would feel helpless trying to decipher the complicated instructions.

I have found that the one thing that will still get me messed up [my GPS shows no map] is if you don't quite get things right to start off in a new area. There's a big difference between a road that runs W/E and one that runs a bit NW/SE. Once I had been hunting in a light drizzle and I merely wanted to walk back to a very close road I had mentally laid out incorrectly in just this manner. I was north of this road and in my mind walking south would take me quickly to it, I thought. But I wanted to go somewhat southeast to get closer to my vehicle in the big picture. The rain had gotten everything dripping wet, and as I kept walking and walking through damn thick stuff that seemed also to want to turn me more SE, I was more and more irritated, not realizing I was paralleling the road too much. Finally, exasperated, I turned due south just as the road also turned nearly south for a bit. By the time I finally found the road I was soaking wet!

Well, there will always be stories like this to tell as long as a guy keeps with the outdoors..

Comments
Fleastiff
September 24th, 2013 at 8:07:04 pm
A sense of direction and a sense of alertness seems to be required. Some people get lost due to an initial mistake such as flying over the wrong freeway or failing to notice a trail getting progressively more feint. One sensible short cut happened to lead to a burnt out area and the hikers didn't realize its tough going and ALL trails and marks will be burnt out. Turning around is best, plodding onward can be near fatal.

Just turning around and returning to a starting point can have tremendous educational value when you realize your pathway looks different and makes you uncertain.

GPS? Heck, GPS makes headlines about leading people off cliffs and across non-existent bridges.
odiousgambit
September 25th, 2013 at 3:09:07 am
good comments, Fleastiff.

>plodding onward can be near fatal.

You have reminded me of the program I havent seen in a while called 'I shouldnt be alive'. The mistakes people make! One I remember was a young couple stuck out in the middle of nowhere in the snow. They decided he should strike out from their disabled car on foot to get help, and surely the best way was to leave the road !!! as it looked to them like better going!Can you imagine such ignorance! Of course the roads follow the best routes already! Before it was all done they almost died.

>Just turning around and returning to a starting point can have tremendous educational value when you realize your pathway looks different and makes you uncertain.

anybody who has ever experienced the "hey, I don't remember that Y in the trail going back, I didn't realize we would have to make a decision which way to go!" moment will appreciate what you are saying!

>GPS?

What the outdoorsman needs is hand-held GPS, not the kind that you use in a vehicle. This doesn't suggest paths but plots where you are all the time, puts it on a screen, can show your trail, etc. Of course it only tells you where you are, if you don't know where you are supposed to go to get back out you can still get in trouble. Rescue people say people lost and needing help who had GPS often had this problem
odiousgambit
September 26th, 2013 at 9:09:15 am
the couple that nearly died stuck in the snow was also made into a movie it seems,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowbound:_The_Jim_and_Jennifer_Stolpa_Story

Lions, Tigers, and Bears?August 7th, 2013 at 3:41:18 am
Lions, Tigers, Coyotes, and Bears OH MY!

The list of confirmed wildlife around my new neck of the woods is growing by positive sightings [including turkey] or by sign. Deer always a gimme. Coyotes as per previous posts. The latter go on the Scary List for what they can do to your pets, although you expect people to not really have to worry.

I'm scratching off tigers from the Wizard of Oz Scary List for around here of course. Scratching off lions too, although there are people claiming mountain lions have returned to our parts.

Can't scratch off bears anymore. Behold single, solitary footprint from a couple of days ago:



Black Bear. Can't be anything else, folks!

Comments
duckmankilla
September 4th, 2013 at 10:05:46 pm
Black bears are largely harmless. They have been all around in my neck of the woods for quite some time now, and the biggest problem with them is destroying your garbage cans and leaving strewn refuse all over the street/yard/path of destruction. If they get too close to your home, just bring out a pot and a wooden spoon and make a bunch of noise and they will scamper away. Just be sure to steer clear of the path of a mother with her cubs and you will be fine.
odiousgambit
September 10th, 2013 at 1:07:21 pm
>Black bears are largely harmless.

Yes, it was a little tongue in cheek to act like we are afraid. It would be a treat to actually see it as any around seem to be still totally wild.

>Just be sure to steer clear of the path of a mother with her cubs and you will be fine.

I only recently found out that a black bear mother will probably merely send her cubs up a tree and take off. Of course this assumes she is totally wild. It's the grizzly bear mother that will be out to kill you for this same offense. Which is not to say the wildlife people don't also suggest to steer clear of the situation with black bears, but it is a totally different thing.
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