Editor: Herbert M. Schiller
Confederate Torpedoes: Two Illustrated 19th Century Works with New Appendices and Photographs is a compilation of two 19th century works on Confederate torpedoes, the first by a Confederate and the second by a Union author:
- Torpedo Book by Gabriel J. Rains, Director of the Confederate Torpedo Bureau
- Notes Explaining Rebel Torpedoes and Ordnance by Captain Peter S. Michie
Neither book is available at Google Books, which was the first question I asked myself when I received this book in the mail. Herbert Schiller, an author many Civil War students will be familiar with, compiled these two works. He included nicely sized reproductions of numerous plates/illustrations and added bibliographical forwards for each author in front of their respective works. Appendices from Schiller cover the known vessels sunk by Confederate torpedoes as well as numerous examples of these agents of nautical destruction. What Schiller has done is bring to the reader two important works on Confederate torpedoes which were not hitherto widely available, adding his own research on the topic. This book will appeal to a fairly narrow range of Civil War enthusiasts, with the added caveat about McFarland’s relatively expensive prices. The Kindle edition at $14.99 may appeal to a broader audience as long as the plates are available. I do not have access to the Kindle version to be able to verify if this is so, however. Confederate Torpedoes is another in a growing number of McFarland books which collect primary sources in order to make them available to a wider audience. This book brings more to the table than most in this line, with some original research and contributions by its editor rather than a simple compilation of materials. It’s useful for those interested in the subject matter, but both texts may eventually turn up for free at Google Books or the Internet Archive.
About the Book
Hoping to deter the Union navy from aggressive action on southern waterways during the Civil War, the Confederacy led the way in developing “torpedoes,” a term that in the nineteenth century referred to contact mines floating on or just below the water’s service. With this book, two little-known but important manuscripts related to these valuable weapons become available for the first time. General Gabriel J. Rains, director of the Confederate Torpedo Bureau, penned his Torpedo Book as a manual for the fabrication and use of land mines and offensive and defensive water mines. With 21 scale drawings, Notes Explaining Rebel Torpedoes and Ordnance by Captain Peter S. Michie documents from the Federal perspective the construction and use of these “infernal machines.” A detailed accounting, by the editor, of the vessels sunk or damaged by Confederate torpedoes and numerous photographs of existing specimens from museums and private collections complete this significant compilation.
About the Author
Gabriel J. Rains (1803-1881) was director of the Confederate Torpedo Bureau during the latter stages of the Civil War.Peter S. Michie (1839-1901) served as chief engineer of the Union’s Army of the James and was stationed in Richmond for the year following the war. Physician and historian Herbert M. Schiller holds an M.A. in history from Wake Forest University and is the author or editor of numerous books on the American Civil War.
Buy the Book Online
Release Date: 2o11
Price: $39.95 (Kindle Edition: $14.99)
Order Line: 800-253-2187
Other Info: 166 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index, 220pp. softcover (7 x 10) 2011
Note: The book reviewed here was received gratis by the reviewer.
***Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!
What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.
Want to read some interesting Civil War content from amateurs and pros alike? Check out the Top 10 Civil War Blogs and Top 10 Civil War Blogs: 11-20.