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Pioneer II

 

(SS: l. 36'; b. 3'; dph. 4'; cpl. 5; s. 2.5 k.; a. clockwork torpedo)

 

An unnamed submarine sometimes called "Pioneer II" was built during 1863 in the machine shop of Park and Lyons, Mobile, Ala., on plans said to have been furnished by H. L. Hunley, B. Watson and J. R. McClintock. Her principal builder was probably W. A. Alexander who claimed this distinction after close of the Civil War, stating that he was a Confederate Army Engineer of Company B, 21st Alabama Volunteer Regiment, CSA. He also stated he was assisted by Lt. G. E. Dixon, Company A, 21st Alabama Volunteer Regiment, who had also been detailed to do work in the machine shop of Park and Lyons.

 

H. L. Hunley has left record that he provided the "entire means" for this five-man submarine and McClintock stated that much money was spent in an unsuccessful attempt to power with an electro-magnetic engine. He afterwards fitted cranks to turn the propeller by hand, working four men at a time, but was unable to get a speed sufficient to make the submarine of service against Union ships blockading Mobile. In a letter to M. F. Maury in 1868, McClintock gave her dimensions as 36 feet long, 3 feet wide, 4 feet deep, with 12 feet of each end being tapered to facilitate underwater movement. She was towed off Fort Morgan to be manned for an attack on the Federal Fleet but foul weather and rough seas swamped her, without any loss of life.

 

"Pioneer II" was probably the submarine described by a Confederate deserter on 26 February 1863 to the Senior Officer of the Federal Blockade off Mobile: "On or about the 14th, an infernal machine, consisting of a submarine boat, propelled by a screw which is turned by hand, capable of holding 5 persons, and having a torpedo which was to be attached to the bottom of a vessel and exploded by means of clockwork, left Fort Morgan at 8 p.m. in charge of a Frenchman who invented it. The intention was to come up at Sand Island, get the bearing and distance of the nearest vessel, dive under again and operate upon her; but on emerging they found themselves so far outside the island and in so strong a current (setting out) that they were forced to cut the torpedo adrift and make the best of their way back." She was second in a line of three submarines that included Pioneer (q.v.) and H. L. Hunley (q.v.).