Archive for the Munitions Category

A Brief History of U.S. Navy Torpedo Development

Posted in Munitions on October 15, 2008 by secondmdus

“A Brief History of U.S. Navy Torpedo Development, sometimes called OP 353W or TD5436. This report covers the growth/development of the “auto-mobile” or self-propelled torpedo in the U.S. Navy from torpedo inception in Europe by Robert Whitehead in 1866 up to and including Torpedo Mk 48 of 1978. Part I is a narrative of the historical aspects of the evolution, while part II contains illustrations and characteristics of each of the torpedoes that was in development or is/was in service use over the 112-year period.”

This Navy report contains many great images of early torpedo designs -well worth a look!


Singer’s Secret Service Corps: Causing Chaos During the Civil War

Posted in Munitions, Ships, Submarines (Pre-1900) on September 29, 2008 by secondmdus

Here is a link to a great article from Mark Ragan about Singers Secret Service Corps –

Grenade!: The Little-Known Weapon of the Civil War

Posted in Munitions on September 16, 2008 by secondmdus

“It was akin to shooting fish in a barrel. The Hoosiers of the 45th Illinois were pinned down in a crater that June 25, 1862, the result of a Union mine used in an attempt to blow up a section of the Rebel works at Vicksburg. The Federal attack had faltered in the reeking pit, and the Confederates had taken the opportunity to hurl ad hoc hand grenades, modified artillery shells, down up the helpless Yankees. A Union officer reported that “the enemy…with their hand-grenades render it difficult for our working parties to remain in the crater at all. The wounds inflicted by those missiles are frightful …” read more at

Confederate Torpedo Service (Article)

Posted in Munitions on August 24, 2008 by secondmdus

An interesting article by a former member  of the Confederate Torpedo Service-

Coal Torpedo (Civil War)

Posted in Munitions on August 19, 2008 by secondmdus

“The coal torpedo, developed by Thomas Edgeworth Courtenay for use by the Confederate Secret Service, was a hollow iron casting filled with gunpowder, which looked like a piece of coal. When shoveled into the firebox of a Union steamboat or locomotive, it would explode, wrecking the boiler and possibly sinking the ship. These documents tell some of the story of how, when and why the coal torpedo was developed and used.”  Learn more at

Roots of Rocketry (Early and Civil War Rockets)

Posted in Munitions on August 17, 2008 by secondmdus

A teacher at the University of Oregon has a tremendous illustrated website on the history of aviation, which includes a number of images of military rockets from China, England and elsewhere – including the War of 1812 and Civil War.

Ketchum Hand Grenade (Civil War)

Posted in Munitions on August 17, 2008 by secondmdus

Hand grenades have been around for a while – here is one from the American Civil War –

Apparently this design was not very effective – in a Civil War book I’m editing, the boys in blue under siege in Knoxville found something that was – taking much larger artillery shells, cutting the fuzes down to a short increment, lighting them, and tossing them over earthworks onto the heads of attacking Confederates -nasty business for the boys in gray caught in a deep ditch, trapped in a web of telegraph wires strung between tree stumps, with minie balls and improvised grenades landing in their midst.