Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Fulton, 3 December 1807

Washington December 3d 1807.

Notes and Estimate for Torpedo Experiments

6 Clockwork Locks 300
6 Instantaneous Do. 144
6 Copper cases 2½ feet long 12 inches diameter.  180

There should be two good 6 Oar’d boats or galleys man’d as follows.

1 Lieutenant to steer the Boat and Command her
1 Bow or harpoon man.
2 Marines to manage the blunderbusses and keep up a running fire on boats in case of need,
 6 Oarsmen, their business is to pull and not to fight they should be as expert as whalemen,
Total 10 men to each Boat,

Boats made expressly for this work should be 25 feet long 6 wide double bank’d with side rigers, so as to use longsweeps, thus will leave good room in the Bow and Stern for the operators.

When the instruments are prepared an Old vessel rige’d, should be appropriated for the men to practice on

First, by anchoring her and throwing the Coupled torpedoes before her Bow, observing how they float down upon her and go under her bottom,

Second, by sailing her and harpooning her on the Larboard and Starboard bow, observing how the torpedoes go under her bottom, and from then Judge of what measures an enemy could pursue to defend herself against such an attack, or the effects of the Torpedoes,

Should this plan be adopted I will give written directions for the mode of practice, and I concieve it would be well that the men should be exercised untill I return in march to make the experiment; As there are gun Boats and men at New York would it not be well to make a like number of Torpedoes and order a similar practice at that place the number of torpedoes then required would be only 12.—Boats 4 and men 40 they would be experienced and ready in case of need

Robt Fulton

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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