Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
prmitch

Sea Miner: Major E.B. Hunt’s Civil War Rocket Torpedo, 1862-1863

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

5aaa93f4afcfa_veitcover.jpg.18a868e11f76d62dff440a19ad033b69.jpg

Sea Miner: Major E.B. Hunt’s Civil War Rocket Torpedo, 1862-1863
By Chuck Veit
Lulu.com, 2016
6” x 9”, softcover, 216 pages
Photographs, appendices, diagrams, notes, bibliography, index. $17.00
ISBN: 9781329736382

 

    In the realm of Civil War naval history, academic writers have generally focused on big picture topics such as biographies of naval officers and general histories, for example, James McPherson’s War on the Waters and Craig Symonds’ The Civil War at Sea. However, if one digs deeper there has been much good work done on the fringes of naval warfare by either public historians or subject matter enthusiasts. Examples abound, from the histories of torpedo warfare by Milton Perry, W. Davis Waters, and Mike Kochan, to Mark Ragan’s research on Civil War submarine warfare. Much of this fine work, including the book under review here, is self-published. While that may make it more difficult to find, the search can be well worth the effort.


    Chuck Veit’s Sea Miner: Major E.B. Hunt’s Civil War Rocket Torpedo, 1862-1863 is a fine example of excellent work being done in Civil War naval history. Veit is no stranger to unique and different topics, having published numerous books about Civil War history and having been keenly interested in the hunt for USS Alligator, the Union Navy’s little-known submarine. He is also a long-time living historian and President of the Navy & Marine Living History Association.


    In Sea Miner, Veit brings to light a little-known and long-forgotten piece of naval history, the Union attempts to design and build a self-propelled underwater torpedo. Due to the paucity of resources—Major Hunt destroyed much of his own documentation to maintain secrecy—Veit admits that some of this story relies on speculation, conjecture, or just plain educated guessing. However, he has pieced together enough documentary evidence to produce a solid history of this project. The research is impressive; the amount of primary source material used is laudable considering how much must have been destroyed.


    Not only does Veit show a strong grasp of the history of this project, he is able to convey the scientific and mathematical complexity of it without getting too bogged down. In fact, Chapter XI is the only chapter that reads more scientific than historical. Throughout the course of the book, Veit covers all the bases. He gives a solid biographical account of Hunt’s life, details previous efforts to design and build such weapons systems, gives a good overview of the Brooklyn Navy Yard where the project was housed, and conveys as full an accounting as possible of the Sea Miner project. He highlights the interplay and cooperation between the Army and Navy, as Hunt was on assignment from the Army to work on this project.


    What emerges is not simply a history of the Sea Miner project, but a book that underscores the brilliant scientific mind of Hunt. The story is primary, while many of the scientific details are left to the appendices; this allows the story to flow without becoming overly technical. Veit does allow his regional bias to show, never using the term “Civil War” outside of the book’s title. He prefers the official period designation “War of the Rebellion,” but on occasions throughout the text uses “Slaveholder’s Rebellion” and “Slaveholder’s Revolt” as well. That might not endear him to diehard Confederate apologists, but it does not detract from his excellent work.

 

Andrew Duppstadt
North Carolina State Historic Sites

This review is provided courtesy of the Nautical Research Guild.

Edited by prmitch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

About us

Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research

SSL Secured

Your security is important for us so this Website is SSL-Secured

NRG Mailing Address

Nautical Research Guild
237 South Lincoln Street
Westmont IL, 60559-1917

About the NRG

If you enjoy building ship models that are historically accurate as well as beautiful, then The Nautical Research Guild (NRG) is just right for you.

The Guild is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to provide support to our members in their efforts to raise the quality of their model shipcraft.

The Nautical Research Guild puts on ship modeling seminars, yearly conferences, and juried competitions. We publish books on ship modeling techniques as well as our world-renowned quarterly magazine, The Nautical Research Journal, whose pages are full of articles by master ship modelers who show you how they build those exquisite details on their models, and by maritime historians who show you what details to build.

Our Emblem

Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research
×