Songs & Ballads Of the American Revolution

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BATTLE OF THE KEGS.
217
a machine invented bv himself, for the destruction of the British shipping then at anchor in the New York harbor. The following description of the machine, and accounts of the experiments tried with it, are taken from the journal of Surgeon Thacher. " The in­ternal appearance of the torpedo, bears some resemblance to two upper tortoise shells, of equal size, placed in contact, leaving at that part which represents the head of the animal, a flue or opening, suf­ficiently capacious to contain the operator, and air to support him thirty minutes. At the bottom is placed a quantity of lead for bal­last. The operator sits upright, and holds an oar for rowing forward or backward, and is furnished with a rudder. A valve at the bot­tom admits the water for the purpose of descending, and two brass forcing pumps serve to eject the water, when necessary for ascend­ing. Attached to the after part of this vessel is a place above the rudder for carrying a large powder magazine. This is made of two hollow pieces of oak timber, large enough to contain one hundred and fifty pounds of powder, and is secured to the object intended to be destroyed by a screw turned by the operator. Within this maga­zine is an apparatus, constructed to run any proposed length of time under twelve hours On running out, it unpinions a lock, which gives the fire to the powTder. This apparatus is set in motion by casting off the magazine from the operative vessel."
Bushnell was encouraged in his plan, and Major-General Put­nam, being decidedly of the opinion that his operations might be attended with the desired success, resolved to be himself a spectator of the experiment. It was determined to make an attempt on the ship Eagle, on which Admiral Lord Howe commanded. " General Putnam placed himself on the wharf to witness the result. Mr. Bushnell had instructed his brother in the management of the tor­pedo with perfect dexterity, but, being taken sick, a sergeant * of
* This was Sergeant Ezra Lee, afterwards a Captain in the Continental ser­vice. He ever had the confidence and esteem of Washington, and fought with him at Trenton and Monmouth. At Brandyvvine the hilt of his sword was shot away, and his hat and coat pierced with the enemy's balls. On the return of peace, he retired to his farm, and tilled the land until a short time before his
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III