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Bishop Polk and His Infernal Machines

Taken from the Harpers Weekly of March 29, 1862, "TORPEDOES AT COLUMBUS"

WE illustrate on page 198, from sketches by our correspondent, Mr. Alexander Simplot, the TORPEDOES AND INFERNAL MACHINES which have been discovered by our troops at Columbus. The correspondent of the Chicago Times thus describes them:

After two days' exploration for infernal machines, and to discover wherry the bluff had bean mined, as was reported to have been done, Captain W. A. Schmitt and company, of the Twenty--eventh Regiment, discovered ridges of new earth, similar to ridges which are formed by covering up gas or water pipes in a city, and traced them to a cavern. Effecting an entrance he found a strong, rude, wooden frame, covered by earth to attract no attention. Inside this, with the assistance of a light, he found implements similar to those used in a telegraph office, with wires running in a dozen different directions. Following the raised rows of earth he soon came to a spot where something had evidently been buried. Digging down some five feet, he came to a large iron cask, about three feet high, and a foot and a half through, in shape as near as can be described to a well-formed pear, with an iron cap fastened by eight screws. Taking off the cap we found grape, canister, and four eight-pound shell, surrounded by about two bushels of coarse powder. On the bottom of the cask there was a wooden box containing several batteries, with hollow wires attached to two larger wires, covered with a substance impervious to water, connecting with the cavern before spoken of. A dozen of these iron pots or casks were thus united with this cavern. Half a dozen of these caverns have been found, and probably 75 or 100 of these infernal machines are thus buried in the earth, some distance from the enemy's works; and the time to be exploded would be when our infantry had driven them inside their works—a sentinel would give the operator inside the cavern a signal, and he would send the electric spark through all the wires, and decamp. The result may be imagined. Whole regiments could thus be blown up and sent to eternity, without even a chance of escape. The discoveries, as far as made, are all on the north and northeast portions of their works, Probably other parts of the works are similarly mined. Fortunately their fiendish designs were discovered in time, and no damage has been done by soldiers, who are constantly on the look-out for discoveries, and might by accident have set off the train.

Source: "TORPEDOES AT COLUMBUS", Harpers Weekly of March 29, 1862, Son of the South.

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Record Details

Title: Bishop Polk and His Infernal Machines


An indignant Harpers Weekly of March 29, 1862 printed a story about the electrically fired land mines found by the Yankees after Episcopal Bishop and Confederate Major General Leonidas Polk abandoned Columbus, Kentucky  The pictures show soldiers seemingly in the act of discovery of the land mines, and a close-up view of one of the "infernal machines" and a "small electric machine found in each".

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