October 9, 2014

The Turtle.



The submarine, in 1776.

At 11:00 PM on September 6,[1] one of the volunteers, Sergeant Ezra Lee, took the Turtle out to attempt an attack on Admiral Richard Howe's flagship HMS Eagle....

According to British naval historian Richard Compton-Hall, the problems of achieving neutral buoyancy would have rendered the vertical propeller useless.... Compton-Hall suggests that the entire story was fabricated as disinformation and morale-boosting propaganda, and that if Ezra Lee did carry out an attack it was in a covered rowing boat rather than the Turtle.

On October 5, Sergeant Lee again went out in an attempt to attach the charge to a frigate anchored off Manhattan.... George Washington wrote of the attempt that it was "an effort of genius", but that "a combination of too many things was requisite" for such an attempt to succeed.

22 comments:

Unknown said...

Is this the one where everybody died?

ALL the way down.

traditionalguy said...

American guerrilla fighters used an underwater IED against an Empire. They must have been religious fanatics back then.

Quaestor said...

You need a more detailed visual of Bushnell's Turtle. This one, for example.

The Turtle was a true submarine with all the attendant systems, including snorkels, trim and ballast control.

Besides inventing the submarine, David Bushnell also invented the screw propeller,though he called a "rotary oar".

Another cutaway of the Turtle showing how the ballast was controlled by foot operated pumps and valves here. Though this one is incorrectly shows Bushnell's propeller as an Archimedian screw.

Quaestor said...

No,Unknown. Nobody died in the Turtle, nor did the Turtle kill anyone. The Turtle attempted to attach a mine to the hull of the 32-gun frigate HMS Eagle, however Eagle's copper-sheathed hull prevent the auger from penetrating the wood.

You are obviously thinking of the CSS Hunley, the first sub to sink an enemy warship. After successfully attacking USS Housatonic the Hunley sank with all hands in Charleston Harbor on 17 Feb 1864.

Emil Blatz said...

Where's the bathroom? I don't see a bathroom...

Quaestor said...

Where's the bathroom?

The trim tank...

Quaestor said...

Richard Compton-Hall sounds like a typical arrogant Brit. I doubt he's ever built his own submarine, so how come he's an authority? Besides an un-successful submarine attack is hardly a morale booster.

This calls for action. I just fired off an email to Jamie and Adam with a link to this posting. I don't know whether they're still planning more seasons of "Myth Busters," but a real coup de grace would be proof that the Turtle was a feasible warship.

I suggest they cut a deal with Sir Percy Hyphenated, OBE. If the Myth Buster Turtle can dive and maneuver, then Richard Compton-Hall must eat a bug.

DKWalser said...

I remember reading about the Turtle when I was a cub scout. To earn a badge, I had to write a report about something and I chose submarines. It wasn't much of a report, done mostly with pictures I'd cut out with scissors and pasted onto construction paper to illustrate my penciled text. The very first picture (not counting the cover) was of the Turtle. Not a bad assignment for someone in the 2nd grade.

So, thanks for the memory. Why the post?

lgv said...

It's turtles all the way down.

Ann Althouse said...

"You need a more detailed visual of Bushnell's Turtle. This one, for example."

That one lacks the cute guy. I prefer my choice of illustration. Look at his clothes!

Just Mike said...

DK Walser said: "It wasn't much of a report, done mostly with pictures I'd cut out with scissors and pasted onto construction paper to illustrate my penciled text."

Coincidentally, anonymous sources have said this is the method Burke used to create the sales reports for Trek's European Division.

Are you really Mary Burke?

Quaestor said...

I linked to two images. The second one's got a cute guy. Look at his pony tail!

Your illustration doesn't have the vertical propeller, which is the crux of Compton-Hall's calumny!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Typical white male history, celebrating themselves even when they fail. I expected better of you Althouse--where are the sex-positive articles about pioneering women submariners? Shame.

Fernandinande said...

DKWalser said...
It wasn't much of a report, done mostly with pictures I'd cut out with scissors and pasted onto construction paper to illustrate my penciled text.


So you invented Facebook! You should sue for a billion dollars.

Lance said...

After successfully attacking USS Housatonic the Hunley sank with all hands in Charleston Harbor on 17 Feb 1864.

Hunley actually sank three times, twice during training and then finally after the Housatonic attack. She was raised and repaired twice. The first two sinkings killed five and eight crewmen each, including Hunley himself. The third sinking of course killed all eight crew.

Lance said...

David Bushnell also invented the screw propeller

Nope. Toogood and Hays, Robert Hooke, and James Watt had all proposed screw-like propellers in the previous couple centuries.

Quaestor said...

Proposal is not invention. Besides James Watt was Bushnell contemporary.

Bob Palnik said...

http://www.handshouse.org/#/bushnell-turtle-submarine/

Replica was built and worked as claimed.

Quaestor said...

Replica was built and worked as claimed.

Damn, I'm angry. I'm going to look up this Richard Compton-Hall joker and rub that website in his pudding-stuffed face!

The documentary was aired in the UK so he doesn't have a leg to stand on. He owes America an apology.

The Godfather said...

Human imagination and innovation are breathtaking. In the latter 18th century, people actually built a military submarine and sent it to war. Three-quarters of a century later, others tried with a more "modern" design, and actually managed to sink an enemy vessel. It wasn't until the 1914 War that these experiments led to a successful weapon (and one that scared the sh*t out of the rest of the world's navies).

Give the innovators credit -- and fear the innovators that may be working for our enemies right now. If they could take down two skyscrapers with box cutters, they may have something even worse in mind now.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse,

"That one lacks the cute guy. I prefer my choice of illustration. Look at his clothes!"

Look at his clothes? Look at his race:

I thought this turtle bullshit was started for blacks,...

Turtle Myth said...

The actual account of the attack is highly questionable . Being spotted by the British and chased and releasing a mine which then explodes would result in some historical documentation, but there are none.
This all indicates a morale boosting myth.