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great American war, that is to say at the period of the destruction of the Housatonic and the Albermarle, both the Union and Confederate forces had seamen heroically devoted, perfectly acquainted with the details of their profession, and provided with weapons, which though often of recent invention, were none the less formidable in their hands. We have dwelt upon the strange career of the sub-marine boat commanded successively by Lieutenants Payne and Dixon in order to prove to what an extreme point some men in America carried their devotion. In the Turco-Russian war the belligerents both merit the utmost consideration; for while the Russian seamen displayed the greatest bravery and audacious intelligence in handling their torpedo boats, the courage and devotion of the Turks was equally notable. These traits were especially shown by the latter when the Seifi was struck by a torpedo, her crew remaining at their quarters and firing a last shot as their vessel sank beneath them. The unenviable reputation, for lack of vigilance, gained by the Osmons at Matchin and Batoum, Was cancelled at Sulina and Soukoum-Kale, where the organizing power of Hobart-Pacha and his English associates was more immediately felt. On the Black sea as well as on the Danube, the Russians found their enemy no mean antagonist. This much being established, let us examine the events which we have cited. When, the Americans first employed the torpedo in boats as an offensive weapon, three dangers, seemed to threaten their loss. If the direct effect of the water hammer did not crush their hulls, or the column of water raised by the explosion did not fill them, putting out their fires, how could they possibly escape the hail of bullets, canister, and shot sent against them by a vigilant enemy. After the destruction of the sub-marine vessel commanded by Lieutenant Dixon, of the steam launch commanded by Lieutenant Cushing, and of the “david” which attempted the destruction of the Ironsides every torpedo boat sent against an enemy was considered as sacrificed in advance. Soon, however, numerous experiments proved that a properly constructed torpedo boat had nothing to fear from the water hammer or the column of water. The actions of Matchin, Sulina, and of Soukoum-Kale fully confirm these results. In fact, though several of the launches used by the Russians, notably at Matchin, were far from offering the same certainty of dryness as is now found in the fine boats specially constructed for torpedo work; none of them sank from the effects of the explosion of the weapon they carried. If the sub-marine boat of Lieutenant Dixon and the “david’’ sent against the Ironsides were less fortunate, it can be attributed to faulty construction. Lieutenant Cushing's launch, was sunk undoubtedly by a shot from the Albemarle.
The fire of the guns, mitrailleurs, and small-arms of the enemy are the real dangers which a torpedo boat has most to fear. Before the Turco-Russian war, this danger was considered so serious that the efficacy, not only of a day attack against vessels underway, but even of a night attack against vessels at anchor was doubted.
It may now be admitted, however, that in none of these attacks a properly constructed torpedo boat would have run exceptional dangers. What in fact do the preceding actions teach us? Setting aside the boats not directly engaged, and, omitting also the two American boats which were victims solely to their bad construction, we see, that during the Turco-Russian and American wars, sixteen torpedo boats attacked vessels of the enemy. Of these sixteen boats, two only were destroyed; Lieut. Cushing's launch and Lieutenant Poustchine's cutter; the latter officer claims to have sunk his boat with his own hands, as damage to his machinery would have caused her inevitable capture by the enemy. Again, many of the Russian attacks were made under most unfavorable circumstances; near Matchin, the launch Zenia remained immovable for ten minutes under a galling fire from the Seifi before she attacked the monitor; at the Sulina fight, torpedo boats, No's 1 and 2, after having pushed over the obstructions, took some time to clear themselves from the wreck; off Soukoum, the four boats which were attacking the Assar-i-Chefket were seen at quite a distance by the Turks. But all this amounts to nothing when compared with the temerity shown by the Russians in broad day light at the Roustehouk and Nicopoli affairs. Their officers claim that in the second attack the Choutka was exposed for an hour to the fire of her adversary, a well armed, well commanded monitor—nevertheless the Choutka suceeeded in escaping, as did her mate the Mina, and the torpedo boats employed at Matchin, before Soulina and SoukoumKale.
Recent experiments prove that a fast steam cutter, pierced by one or more projectiles the size of canister balls, is not in danger of sinking if kept at full speed. This fact was confirmed at Roustehouk and at Nicopoli, the Choutka being pierced by projectiles of some size; in both cases, however, she was kept above water by her speed. Near Matchin the Russian launch, Djiguite, having but little speed, was struck by a ball in her stern ; she was however run on the beach when the hole was stopped in a few minutes.
Would the crew of a torpedo-boat be more exposed to bullets, canister, and balls than her hull? An examination of the different combats of the Turco-Russian war will give us an answer to this question. Let us first take the night actions: The only casualty which occurred in the eleven torpedo boats, which (not counting the boats which were themselves destroyed,) attacked the enemy, was one man wounded. In the somewhat prolonged actions of Matchin and Sulina not a single Russian was touched by Turkish projectiles, notwithstanding the fact that the launches commanded by Lieutenants Doubasoff and Zatrarev. ni were only protected by very light shields or turtle-backs. In each of the day affairs at Roustchouk and at Nicopoli, the assailants had four or five wounded. But there again they were but poorly protected from bullets. It is almost a miracle that the Choutka and her crew escaped, on June 23d, from the continuous and prolonged fire of the monitor which she had attacked with such great temerity. The gunners of the vessels were perhaps not well drilled, but their smallarm men have never been thought below the general average, and Some of the vessels—especially those commanded by English officers— proved during the war that they were capable of excellent work. Therefore, experience proves to-day that a day or night attack attempted by a well constructed torpedo-boat, against a vessel at anchor, does not present exceptional dangers for the boat or her crew. In all coast-wise wars torpedo-boats may be employed but will they really be of great use 2 The first part of this article shows us that in fourteen attacks, made by torpedo boats, four caused the destruction of vessels, three caused more or less severe losses to the enemy, the others appear to have produced no results. Now in each of the affairs, the personnel and materiel exposed by the assailants to the attack of the enemy were very inconsiderable; ten or twenty men, one or more launches worth all together from three thousand to twenty thousand dollars. This small force succeeded once in every three attempts in destroying a ship manned by hundreds of men and whose cost would be figured in the millions. Is not such a result conclusive 7 Let us also see under what circumstances the attacks already enumerated were made. The torpedo-boats used during the American war were, as has already been stated, all singularly defective; but many of the Russian boats used in the last struggle left much to be desired. Were the torpedoes used by the assailants always of the best type? No, because the diverging torpedo used by the Tchesme at the first affair off Batoum could not be fired; while at Soukoum the explosion of the torpedoes—probably of similar construction—caused but insignificant damage to the Turkish iron-clad Assar-i-Chafket. Another question. The Russian crews were excellent, but did their torpedo-boats always manoeuvre in the most judicious manner At the first action off Matchin, four launches were under the orders of Lieut. Zatrarevni. Only one, the Tchesme, tried to use her torpedo. This attack was therefore of little importance. If all the boats had rushed together against the Turkish ironclad which was attacked by the Tchesme, would the result have been the same 2 On the Danube, near Matchin, Lieutenant Doubasoff's intention was to fight successively each of the enemy's ships, only bringing one boat at a time into action; for this reason three of them remained immovable under the Turkish fire for ten minutes. Would it not have been more certain and less dangerous to have attacked simultaneously the Seifi, with the Czarwitch and the Xenia; and the Ottoman ironclad gunboat with the other two torpedo boats? It is only necessary to read the account of the Sulina fight to see that, in this case, the plans of the Russian officers were not correct. The only night attacks made during the last war, which seem above criticism were those against the Assar-i-Chefket and the vessel sunk at Batoum. The Roustehouk and Nicopoli actions seem to deserve special attention. An attack of this nature, made against a vessel under steam, in broad daylight, has not at all the same character as a night attack. In the latter, the first object of the assailants is to surprise the ship when she is immovable; a single boat is all that is absolutely necessary to insure success, the destruction of the Housatonic, and the Albemarle prove this beyond doubt; in the former, on the contrary, it is necessary to attack an enemy on his guard, who can see his adversaries at a great distance and can manoeuvre rapidly : several torpedo'boats should then unite their efforts against a single vessel in order to divide its attention and increase their individual chances of success. The attacks of the Choutka and Mina were therefore almost fatally condemned to failure, because in an action like that of Roustehouk or Nicopoli the united efforts of at least four boats would seem necessary. Thus, the American and Russian torpedo boats fought the greater part of their actions under conditions which were unfavorable to them ; this consideration shows, more than anything, the great practical worth of an arm which has registered in actual engagements one great success for every two defeats. We have seen that in the actions of Roustchouk and of Nicopoli, the Russians had four or five wounded : in nearly all the night attacks on the contrary they did not have a single seaman hurt by the fire of the enemy. This fact shows that, although at night ordinary steam launches can be used to surprise a vessel in the darkness, for day work special boats are necessary, having great speed, easily turned, presenting as small a target as possible to the enemy and having their crews absolutely protected against small-arm fire. Balls and canister may pierce the boat; but from the experience gained at Roustehouk and Nicopoli, we know that if the machinery remains uninjured she can escape at full speed, Therefore, lightness of hull, rapidity of movement and turning, small dimensions, and protection against small-arm fire, (limited to the machinery and fighting stations of the men) would appear to be principal requisites for a torpedo-boat. Approaching our subject still more closely, we will now try to determine the kind of torpedo which should be used with boats. At the first affair at Batoum and off Sulina, the Tchesme attempted vainly to make use of a diverging torpedo. If, as seems probable, the Assar-i-Chefket was attacked with torpedoes of the same system, the harmlessness of the three explosives would singularly increase the reasons which militate against their use. The captain of the Turkish ironclad, as we have already said, states moreover that only one of the Russian torpedoes exploded. This contradiction in the accounts of the Soukoum affair is not surprising, as in the midst of darkness and the noise of broadsides and small arms, the assailants could well have mistaken the discharge of a heavy gun for that of a torpedo exploding forty metres from their boats. On the other hand the attacked party, under the same circumstances, might not have heard the noise of the explosions. We do not know what system of igniting was fitted to the torpedoes used by the Russians against the Assar-i-Chefket, but admitting the exactness of the Russian information, how can we explain the harmlessness of the three explosions? Was the Turkish vessel protected by a chain, or belt of floating logs, placed at some metres from her hull and against which the enemy's torpedoes struck and exploded ? There is no documentary evidence to support this supposition. However it may be, the want of success of the Tchesme's diverging torpedoes is sufficient to cause the rejection of this kind for boat service. We have also seen that they become, for the assailing boat, a cause of delay and danger, embarrass her movements, in fact place her in a most critical position under the fire of the enemy, inconveniences which are not compensated for by even the best chances of success. The least obstruc