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Old February 21st, 2021, 11:08 PM
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The following quote comes from Volume 10, First Series, of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, page 10, dated May 10, 1864. It is a report on the loss of the U.S.S. Commodore Jones in the James River of Virginia, at that time in rebellion against the Federal Government of the United States.

Sir: Immediately after the U. S. S. Commodore Jones was destroyed by the explosion of the torpedo at Jones’ Point on the 6th instant, a party of marines and sailors from the Mackinaw landed at the point and discovered three galvanic batteries sunk in pits in the ground, to which wires were attached to one or more torpedoes which were not exploded and were still lying in the channel.

The body of the man who had been shot by the coxswain of one of the boats employed in dragging was found lying near the first galvanic battery, shot through the head. In the third battery were captured 2 men who were ready to explode another torpedo should any of our vessels pass over it. The names of these men are P. W. Smith, who represents himself as an acting master in the Confederate Submarine Battery Service, under the command of Lieutenant Hunter Davidson, of the boat torpedo, and Jeffries Johnson, a private in the same service. From Smith I learned that there were many more torpedoes in the river, but he would not communicate their location or any facts connected with them. Johnson stated that he was forced into the rebel army as a conscript, and procured his exchange into the service as it would keep him near his home, which was at Deep Bottom, opposite Jones’ Point.

At first he was not communicative and evaded, on the grounds of ignorance, the questions put to him, but being placed in the forward gunboat employed in dragging for torpedoes and given to understand that he would share the fate of the boat, he signified his willingness to tell all he knew about them. He stated that the torpedo which was exploded was put down last fall; that it contained 2,000 pounds of powder; that there are several more near a place called McGuire’s, above Aiken’s Landing, and others at Osborne’s; that there may be others of which he knows nothing; that these are all of which he has any knowledge; that he has heard there were many in the river above Osborne’s. He states that there are several kinds, but that the smallest ot those exploded by means of a galvanic battery contains about 400 pounds of powder. The small ones are floating, and are exploded by contact or a line from shore. (Emphasis Added)
I think that the action taken with regards to the prisoner might be considered a "war crime" now, but times were a bit different back then, especially after 3 years of civil war. General Sherman and several other officers in the Union Army took a similar view with respect to land mines, marching a line of prisoners ahead of his columns. It was amazing how fast the planted mines disappeared prior to the prisoners reaching them.
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