Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine
Iron, Guns, and Pearls
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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The genesis of this book was the chance discovery in 2001 of Julius Kroehl’s incredible, and then forgotten, craft, Sub Marine Explorer, on the edge of the beach at Isla San Telmo in Panama’s Archipiélago de las Perlas. Little did I realize then, on vacation and standing on a beach unequipped and unprepared for documenting what turned out to be one...
Preface: Captain Nemo's Submarine on Robinson Crusoe's Island
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The island sits on the edge of the Bay of Panama, its western shore facing the open Pacific. Known as Isla San Telmo, it is the last outpost of dry land— or the first—that a sailor sights when sailing from or to the fabled port of Panama. The name is strangely appropriate, for St. Elmo...
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Klaipeda, the hometown of Julius Kroehl, is a small city of just over 187,000 people. It is a busy place, with ships loading and discharging cargoes 24 hours a day, year-round, in this ice-free eastern Baltic harbor. It is Lithuania’s only port. Until the end of World War II, Klaipeda was the German settlement of Memel. Memel once...
2. Americans Discover the World Below
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Educated nineteenth-century Americans knew that the world beneath the rivers, lakes, and oceans was a strange, terrible, and yet marvelous place, filled with creatures fantastic and treasures waiting to be extracted through the technological triumph of human, and ideally, American genius. The history of European...
3. Rivals beneath the River
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The use of submarine armor and diving bells came to the forefront in clearing obstructions to navigation on the oceanic and river routes to the great port of New York. For nearly two centuries, ships had risked hitting shoals and rocks in the river. And they...
4. A Submarine Engineer at War
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With the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, the talents of men like Julius Kroehl were required by both sides. A limited number of opportunities existed, however, and the key to securing a contract, or a commission, was perseverance and self-promotion, as well as having friends or family in positions...
5. The Pacific Pearl Company
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Discouraged and sick, Julius Kroehl left Washington and made his way to brother Henry’s home at 42 Seventh Avenue in New York. Henry’s business was thriving, and he and Cornelia and their children turned a bedroom over to...
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Longstanding American interest in dominating the natural resources of the Pacific, as well as an innate Yankee desire to extend American hegemony into the Pacific, had both inspired and abetted the Pacific Pearl Company’s decision to send Julius Kroehl and the...
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After Julius Kroehl’s death from fever on September 9, 1857, the US consul in Panama, Thomas Kilby Smith, dispatched two consular officers to inventory Kroehl’s effects, which they did on the 10th.1 Consul Smith sent the inventory to Washington along with a letter on September 21, noting that “Mr. Kroehl made a will...
8. Archaeological Examination of Sub Marine Explorer
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The archaeological evidence suggests that sometime in the fall of 1869, Sub Marine Explorer’s last crew pulled it up on the beach in a small cove at Isla San Telmo, as they had most likely done the year before. It was standard marine practice in the nineteenth...
9. Sub Marine Explorer’s Context, Condition, and Options
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After three field seasons and seven years of research and analysis, it is clear that Sub Marine Explorer is indeed an evolutionary “branch” in the family tree of submarine development. Explorer is, as Baird noted in 1903, a link between the diving bell and the submarine, borrowing her basic systems configuration for
Appendix 1: Anatomy of Sub Marine Explorer
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Between 2001 and 2008, documentation and analysis of Sub Marine Explorer slowly yielded a detailed sense of the construction and characteristics of this early American submarine. In 2007 a full set of interpretive reconstruction drawings were completed with John...
Appendix 2: W. W. W. Wood’s Report on Sub Marine Explorer
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Under date of June 17th 1864 I had the honor to receive a communication from the Department authorizing me to examine a Submarine Boat in process of construction by Julius H. Kroehl, Esq. 32 Pine Street, New York, and report to the Department. Under
Appendix 3: Inventory of the Personal Effects of Julius Kroehl, 1867
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After Julius Kroehl’s death in Panama, the US consul there forwarded an inventory of the effects taken from Kroehl’s hotel room after his death. It is a rare and tantalizing look at Kroehl. Some of the items listed are both exciting and frustrating in what they must...
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Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 64 b&w. 3 maps. Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series