The Design and Creation of «CSS David»: Memoirs of the Boats Builder

Author(s): John D. Littlefield

Year: 2014


The American Civil War saw the need for many advances in naval warfare. The design of the CSS David semi-submersible torpedo boat proved to be an important innovation. The original David, of which at least 18 other versions were based, was the first vessel to successfully explode a torpedo against an enemy warship’s hull. This single event was the precursor to both the modern torpedo and the submarine, yet the story of the ‘Little David’ remains little known. Details of David’s origin and history are often conflicting; the result of biased historical recording and a lack of surviving written records. This paper will describe the construction details of David based primarily on little known published memoirs of the boat’s builder, David C. Ebaugh, with additions from the boat’s engineer, J. H. Tomb, and other relevant primary sources, while calling attention to the many discrepancies recorded in the Official Navy Records.

Cite this Record

The Design and Creation of «CSS David»: Memoirs of the Boats Builder. John D. Littlefield. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436586)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-5,05