The Rebel Torpedo Boat David.

The Rebel Torpedo Boat David.

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The CSS David was the first of about 20 torpedo boats produced by the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. Although its design resembles a modern submarine, it was a strictly a surface vessel. It still had an advantage, however, in that it sat only a foot out of the water. Self-propelled torpedoes were not employed in naval warfare until around 1880, and the David instead used a spar torpedo, an explosive extended on a long pole, to sink Union ships. On the night of October 5, 1863, the boat was used to attack the formidable Union ironclad, the USS New Ironsides, which was engaged in the blockade of Charleston. This print depicts the moment the torpedo detonated against the hull of the Union ship. Lieutenant William T. Glassell, aboard the David, simultaneously fires off a shotgun in the direction of the New Ironsides. One Union sailor was killed in the attack, but the New Ironsides ultimately survived the assault.
William H. Rease, born in Pennsylvania in 1818, was the pre-eminent lithographer of advertising prints in Philadelphia in the 1840s and 1850s. Although he often collaborated with other Philadelphia printers, by 1850, he had his own business, where he produced lithographs of landscapes, portraits, factory scenes, stores, and architectural drawings. During a partnership with Francis Schell, between 1853 and 1855, he began printing certificates, maps, and maritime charts as well. Between 1856 and 1861, he partnered with Henry W. Scattergood, expanding his services to map mounting. His pro-Union prints became very profitable during the Civil War. He died in Bristol, PA, in 1893.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Rease, William H.
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 13 1/4 in x 18 3/4 in; 33.655 cm x 47.625 cm
ID Number
catalog number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Civil War
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Peters Prints
American Civil War Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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