War of the Rebellion: Serial 089 Page 1220 Chapter LIV. OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C.

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of three feet, is planted a small red flag on a staff three feet long to indicate where it is, which is to be removed at night-fall or if the enemy approach, to be replaced as soon thereafter as necessary. There are pathways made for egress and ingress of our soldiers through these flags and shells indicated by longer streamers, and is intended to be surmounted at night by lanterns with lamp or candle having three darkened sides, and one glass covered with red flannel, as soon as they can be made; the pathway between two of these being safe at night, and the light easily extinguished at any moment. These shells now seem to be popular with our officers and are being planted as fast as our limited means will permit, say about 100 per diem. From reports of deserters they are rapidly demoralizing the enemy. Unfortunately in planting one of these shells a few days since one of our best men thus employed, William S. Deupree, accidentally fell upon one and was immediately killed in full sight of the foe, who, hearing the explosion, was attacked to the spot, observing the effects and what was doing. Inclosed is a diagram of the position of the subterra shells at our lines, which it is believed the enemy will not attempt to pass, and will enable us to subtract most of our infantry protection from our batteries of artillery for service in the field.


I regret being obliged to say that our submarine defenses of this place in Cape Fear River have not been such as desired, arising not from any fault of the commanding officer, but rather the want of proper operatives and means. When in command of Wilmington, in the summer and fall 1862, I commenced a system of torpedo defenses, but could make but little progress with the yellow fever all around us, in my office and among my staff; yet it seems, after I left, the operations were not continued for the want of proper workmen. From time to time experts or means were forwarded there by my order from this city, from Mobile and Augusta, still it wanted something more for success, and but lately I have sent there officers, men, and torpedoes, which promise fair now to checkmate the enemy, should he attempt to enter that fort by either the old or new inlet. I have also sent Dr. Fretwell, an expert with Singer torpedoes, To Brigadier-General Baker at Goldsborough, who may be able to effect something in Tar River at or near Washington.


The lamented death of Captain E. Pliny Bryan, by yellow fever, our most successful operator in the Saint John's River, Florida, where he destroyed four vessels of the enemy, by our own torpedoes taken from Charleston, he having lately had charge of the submarine operations in the harbor, has necessarily paralyzed our efforts, and report has been yet received of operations there during the past month. Here our system had been mostly carried out, our means and efforts most successful, but an efficient engineer officer is now greatly needed there to operate with torpedoes, to assist Captain Simon who now has charge, but whose forte rather lies with the subterra shells.


For submarine operations here I respectfully inclose the report of Lieutenant Andrews, in charge.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Superintendent.