Meeting of November 14, 2024

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, November 14th, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. We will meet at The Kettle & Grill, 230 N Maple Ave, Marlton, NJ 08053 (Crispin Square Shopping Center) at 5:30 PM before the meeting for dinner and fellowship. The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email oldbaldycwrt [at] verizon [dot] net at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is

Chuck Veit on “Edward B. Hunt’s Sea Miner”

“Sea Miner” is not a talk for the faint of heart–-it is, quite literally, rocket science. Edward Hunt’s incredible weapon seems to belong to at least the Second World War (or perhaps much later). If you are tired of the “same old Civil War stories” of bludgeoning tactics and staggering losses from wounds and disease, Sea Miner will show you what the scientists were up to during the war. Don’t worry: there is no math in the presentation!

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.

In addition to researching and writing little-known naval history, Chuck Veit enjoys delivering presentations on a number of the episodes he’s discovered. He has spoken twice at the Maritime Heritage Conference in Norfolk, six times at the Naval War College in Newport, to the Naval Order of the United States in Jacksonville, at the Portsmouth Navy Yard’s 238th Anniversary Ball, and at the Mariners’ Museum Civil War Navy Conference in Newport News. Other venues include a large number of historical societies, Civil War Roundtables and schools in the Northeast and in Seattle. Chuck has also been interviewed on Civil War Talk Radio to discuss A Dog Before a Soldier as well as Sea Miner.