Ok, this comic strip caught my eye and I thought I'd share it. It's called Oyster War by a Ben Towle. At the moment it seems to be published by weekly on GoComics.com. What caught my eye about it is the strips of the 7th and 11th of this month, they have to do with the Federal sub Alligator. A bit of an alternate history (Confederate agents launch an audacious scheme to successfully hi-jack the Alligator as she was in tow to the blockade outside of Charleston), but still nice to see this bit of the war being used in something folks not that interested in the war might read.
From what I've read about that vessel, the Confederates would have done the U.S.Government a service if they had hijacked it.
EDITING: Hellcat, you might be right. I might have been too severe in my condemnation of the sub. Therefore, I am modifying my statement to: "....the Confederates MIGHT have done the U.S. Government a service if they had hijacked it."
I don't know about that, TD. Seems more the Alligator would have been better off if someone who was more willing to accept an "infernal machine" had been in charge. Alligator was more of a special ops sub vs. Hunley being more of an attack sub. From what I've read the idea with Alligator was the method of attack was to have a basic airlock for a swimmer to exit the sub near to it's target, then swim over and plant a mine on the target. I'll have to check Ragan's book and the magazine I got just for the article on Alligator (can't remember if it was Blue and Grey, Civil War Times, or what the name of the magazine was), I don't think Davis's book mentions how Alligator was supposed to attack. But Alligator was in a situation where it was more about the folks operating it (not the crews but the Army and Navy brass) than the actual design. The real design flaw as I've read it would have been the oars for propulsion, which I recall were supposed to be eliminated. But it may have had an early oxygen scrubber which would have been ahead of it's time. The thing is thse in charge really didn't want to use the sub.
Last edited on Tue Nov 12th, 2013 04:43 pm by Hellcat
The oar powered propulsion system was impractical and was eventually replaced by a screw system.
I believe that the original mission would have been to destroy CSN ironclads before they could attack the wooden blockaders. But after the CSS VIRGINIA was scuttled, the sub's mission became the destruction of river obstacles and bridges. In this it was not successful when it was attempted in 1862.
It just didn't fit in with the general concept of how the U.S. Navy of that day was operating, and it was looked upon with skepticism. Whether it might have eventually proved itself to be of value using the new propulsion system in 1863 or thereafter can never be known.
Here is an article detailing its history, its specifications, and its revolutionary features:
I don't deny it was unsuccessful. The Hunley is rightly credited with being the first sub to successfully sink an enemy warship ad the first sub to successfully carry out it's mission during time of war, or so I've heard the second claim. Obviously the first will always be right. Had Alligator been successful in her mission against the bridge then she'd get the title of the first sub to successfully carry out it's mission in time of warfare and Hunley would still be able to lay claim to the first sub to successfully sink an enemy warship.
In my mind there is room enough for both these subs in the annals of the war. And I think it would be interesting for Alligator to miraculously be discovered and brought up. To have both Hunley and Alligator brought up for study would be something. But problem is figuring out where exactly to look as the search area is already quite large if it's assumed she sank immediately after USS Sumpter cut her loose. And if she drifted for even an hour the search area expands quite a bit.