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American History Stories, Volume IV by  Mara L. Pratt

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TORPEDOES

[170] Some very cruel work was done during the war with torpedoes. When Richmond was evacuated, the troops were sent into the city with orders to move very carefully for it was reported that the streets had been filled with torpedoes. You can easily imagine what the explosion of one of these under foot would do. Fortunately, however, when the Confederates had put these torpedoes into the ground, they had marked the location of them all with little red flags, that they themselves might know where not to step. In the rush and hurry of leaving the city, these flags had been entirely forgotten. It was very fortunate for the Union soldiers that they had been left standing there, warning them as well as the Confederates where not to step.

Torpedoes were put in the harbors, too. Did you ever see a three-tined prong attached to a torpedo in the water? The prong is fastened to the torpedo in such a way that when a vessel comes sailing along, it would strike against those little hooks. That would move the lever connected with the trigger of the pistol within, and a fearful explosion would be the result. Thousands of brave men's lives have been lost in this cruel way; and if it is a good thing to kill off thousands of men and blow them in pieces, then torpedoes are, I suppose, a very good thing. They are spoken of as one of the improvements of modern warfare. What do you think, boys?


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