Circular July 17, 1869

Navy Department,
Washington, July 17, 1869.

[Organization of Torpedo Corps]

The Navy Department being fully aware of the important part torpedoes will take in future naval warfare, it has determined to organize [a] torpedo corps.

This corps will consist of one head of torpedo corps and such officers as may be detailed from time to time for instruction and service. The corps will be under the direction of the Bureau of Ordnance, so far as the material is concerned, and the direction of experiments. Torpedo stations will be established as Portsmouth, N.H., Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Pensacola, and Mare Island. Other stations will be added as occasion may require.

A suitable place will be selected where all officers entering upon this service will be sent for instructions and to witness experiments. After being properly instructed, these officers, or as many of them as may be required, will be assigned to duty at the different naval stations under the inspectors of ordnance.

They will have immediate charge of all torpedo apparatus, and be responsible for its condition and readiness for immediate use.

They will carefully examine the channels of the harbors under their supervision, and select such places as will be best suited for obstruction torpedoes.

Depots of torpedoes and material will be established at each of the principal stations under their charge. Torpedo boats will be fitted as soon as possible, and kept on readiness for use whenever they may be required.

The use of the torpedo not being confined to defensive purposes, it is intended to make it one of the most efficient means of offense.

The officers of the Navy are called upon to submit to the Bureau of Ordnance any plans relating to the efficient working and use of torpedoes that may occur to them.

The Department would suggest to the officers of the Navy wishing to prepare themselves for the torpedo service, that a knowledge of chemistry and of frictional and current electricity are very essential.

Everything connected with the torpedo service of the Navy is to be considered by the officers of the Navy as strictly confidential.

All officers not otherwise employed may, by application to the Department, be ordered to the experimental ground to witness experiments and receive such instructions as they may require.

G.M. Robeson,
Secretary of the Navy.