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Plymouth in Washington County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Cushing’s Torpedo

Sinking of CSS Albemarle

 
 
Cushing’s Torpedo CWT Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 28, 2012
1. Cushing’s Torpedo CWT Marker
Inscription. CSS Albemarle, which had been built in a cornfield beside the Roanoke River in 1863-1864, helped drive the U.S. Army from Plymouth in April 1864 and defeated seven U.S. gunboats in May. The ironclad ram seemed invincible, but 21-year-old US. Navy Lt. William B. Cushing devised a plan to sink it using a “torpedo” (a tin powder keg with an internal percussion cap) on the end of a wooden spar projecting from the bow of a steam-powered launch. First, however, he hoped to board and capture Albemarle.

The Confederate ironclad had been moored here in Plymouth for repair since its last engagement, and a floating log barrier protected it from torpedo attack. Late on the night of October 27, Cushing set out in his launch and, after he spotted Albemarle, decided to seize it. Before he got close enough to board, however, a dog’s bark alerted the Confederate guards, who opened fire. Cushing ordered the launch toward the ironclad at full steam. When he saw the log barrier, he rode over it, but the launch stuck instead of penetrating to the ironclad. Cushing, with a wounded hand and bullet-riddled clothes, lowered the torpedo beneath Albemarle’s wooden hull and pulled a lanyard that dropped a grapeshot on the detonator. The explosion sank Albemarle but also swamped the launch. Cushing and his
Roanoke River waterfront image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, June 28, 2012
2. Roanoke River waterfront
crew swam for their lives. He and a sailor escaped, but two drowned and the rest were captured. Cushing received the “Thanks of Congress” and became a Union hero for his daring exploit.
 
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
 
Location. 35° 52.097′ N, 76° 44.981′ W. Marker is in Plymouth, North Carolina, in Washington County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of East Water Street and Adams Street, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Located on the waterfront behind the Plymouth Police Department and RBC Bank. Marker is at or near this postal address: 201 E Water St, Plymouth NC 27962, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Siege of Plymouth, NC (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); CSS Albemarle (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named CSS Albemarle (about 500 feet away); Rt. Rev. Alfred Augustin Watson (about 500 feet away); Washington County Courthouse (about 500 feet away); Brick House Landing (about 500 feet away); Replica 6.4 inch Brooke Rifled Canon (about 500 feet away); Battle of Plymouth (about 600 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Plymouth.
 
More about this marker. On the left is an image of "Cushing
Screw Picket Boat similar to that used to sink the CSS <i>Albemarle</i> image. Click for full size.
3. Screw Picket Boat similar to that used to sink the CSS Albemarle
General arrangement plan published in "Submarine Warfare, Offensive and Defensive", by Lieutenant Commander J.S. Barnes, USN, 1869. The drawing also includes detail drawings of the spar torpedo carried by this boat. This craft is similar to Picket Boat No. 1, which was used by Lieutenant William B. Cushing to sink the Confederate ironclad Albemarle on the night of 27-28 October 1864. Naval History and Heritage Command
torpedo boat, Lt. William B. Cushing (inset)" and on the right is a sketch of "Cushing sinking the CSS Albemarle".
 
Categories. War, US CivilWaterways & Vessels
 
Lieut. Cushing's Torpedo Boat sinking the Albemarle on Roanoke River, N.C. image. Click for full size.
4. Lieut. Cushing's Torpedo Boat sinking the Albemarle on Roanoke River, N.C.
Engraving by A. Stachic, published in "Naval Battles of America", by E. Shippen. It depicts the successful spar torpedo attack by Lieutenant William B. Cushing and his crew on the Confederate ironclad Albemarle, at Plymouth, North Carolina, 27 October 1864. Naval History and Heritage Command
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 671 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   3. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   4. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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