2016 IPNE Winner in the Narrative Non-fiction category

Sea Miner is the painstakingly reconstructed story of the U.S. Navy's first sponsored torpedo development program. Begun in 1862, the project was beyond "top secret," for the weapon it sought to create would overnight make the U.S. Navy supreme upon the oceans. This was critical, as global war against an alliance of the Confederacy, England and France was anticipated. The inventor, Major Edward B. Hunt of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, succeeded, but his mania for secrecy left no details of his activities--all plans, records and diagrams were destroyed at the conclusion of each stage of development.  In the absence of hard facts, historians have long considered Sea Miner to have been a failure; nothing could be further from the truth. This is a story from the Civil War that doesn't seem to belong to that period at all; it is wholly unexpected. The advances made by Hunt would not be seen again for eighty years, and not replicated by the U.S. Navy until the mid-1950s.

Interview on Civil War Talk Radio, Episode 1221.

In Sea Miner: Major E. B. Hunt's Civil War Rocket Torpedo, Chuck Veit re-examines the development of the torpedo and, through his extensive research, brings to light names, facts, and calculations that suggest that serious work was being accomplished in the United States prior to and during the Civil War. As the New Torpedo Station was not established until 1869, most people focus on that as the beginning of the Navy's efforts, culminating with the Fish torpedo in 1871 as the first prototype torpedo. Chuck weaves a fascinating, well-documented story and gives the Navy a new chapter in its history of the torpedo."

 (John Kennedy, Director of Education, Naval War College Museum)


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