Infernal Machines (Book)

Whether you are new to the topic of Civil War “infernal machines” or are looking for an interesting account of interesting Confederate weapons, you will want to check out Milton F. Perry’s book Infernal Machines: The Story of Confederate Submarine and Mine Warfare,  Originally published in 1965, the book has since been reprinted as a paperback.

It is arranged as a narrative of various activities and includes mentions of many interesting devices as well as details of how these devices were employed during the war.  Some of the devices mentioned include:

-Torpedoes built by Matthew Fountaine Maury

-Electrically fired mines

-Gabriel Rains’a Subterra Shells (land mines)

-F.D. Lee’s Torpedo Ram (torpedo boat)

-C.S.S. David (torpedo boat)

-Images of floating mines.

-Mentions of a submarine on the James River in 1861 (though this boat is lost, traces of it have been found in surviving historian Mark Ragan.

-The Pioneer and Hunley (submarines)

-The Secret Service Corps -who employed iron mines shaped like lumps of coal – when deployed into the coal bunkers of ships, these devices could spark fires or worse.

While some of the information in this book has been superseded by recent research (particularly the section on the Hunley) it is an entertaining read, and good introduction to the topic.


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