David Photo

The Confederate torpedo boat, the David

On a misty night in October of 1863, the aptly named David, a small Confederate torpedo boat, set out to slay the much larger Union vessel, the New Ironsides.

The David was the first important steam-powered torpedo boat developed by the Confederacy–a forty-eight and a half foot, cigar-shaped vessel that could be submersed underwater so that only its hatch and smokestack were visible. It was fitted with a spar torpedo, which the Confederates aimed to jam into the New Ironsides’ hull like an explosive spear.

My son, Jason Peterson, and I have created an 11-minute video on Civil War submarines, Infernal Machines. In this first of three parts, we feature the David. You can take a look at the YouTube video using the link below. So check it out and subscribe to our YouTube channel while you’re at it.


You can also learn about Civil War submarines in my Civil War novel, The Lincoln League.

By Doug Peterson

Buy The Lincoln League



History by the Slice