Monday, July 2, 2012

Losing Teaser, But Little Union Gain

Rebels used Teaser to lay mines in defense of Richmond. (Library of Congress image)

On July 4, 1862, during the lull in the fighting around Richmond, Confederate Navy Lieutenant Hunter Davidson undertook another dangerous mission in his two-gun vessel Teaser.  He carried additional telegraph wire for the mines, presumably to extend the mine fields further down the James River, and a balloon  for aerial reconnaissance of City Point and Harrison’s Landing. He failed.

Steamer Marantanza spotted  Teaser, a screw tug built in Philadelphia, and fired a round that struck the boiler, crippling it. The crew abandoned the vessel for the safety of  the Charles City County shore.  While the wire and balloon proved interesting novelties, Union Army officers were more interested Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury's diagrams for the mines' placement and also his memoranda on building them.  In the end, the information did Major General George B. McClellan and the Union Navy little good because by then the river was too tightly sealed.

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