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“D” is for David

“D” is for David. The Confederate torpedo boat David was a small, steam-driven surface vessel armed with a pole-mounted charge called a spar torpedo. David Ebaugh built the David at Stoney Landing, on the Cooper River for the Southern Torpedo Company, a consortium of South Carolina businessmen inspired by a bounty placed on the destruction of U.S. Navy blockaders off Charleston. Completed in 1863, the unusual-looking craft closely resembled a cigar, with a cylindrical section and conical ends. Attached to the ship’s bow was a stationery fourteen-foot long metal pole with an explosive torpedo. The torpedo exploded when driven into the hull of an enemy warship. In October 1863, the David attacked but failed to sink the USS New Ironsides off Charleston. Although the David never sank an enemy vessel, both sides recognized the weapon’s value.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.