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.
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?
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.
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,
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..
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!