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Creuzbaur's brave plans for Sea King


On this day in 1862, the battle of the Civil War ironclads Merrimack and Monitor near Chesapeake Bay sounded the death knell for a Texas gunboat before it ever got out of the planning stages. Texas mapmaker Robert Creuzbaur had proposed an innovative design for an iron-plated gunboat called Sea King in November 1861. With a hot-air engine that powered propellers at the stern, this wood and iron vessel, Creuzbaur estimated, could reach a speed of 18 mph. Topside armaments would provide ample defense, but the ship’s most unique weapon was a gun beneath the waterline. This “submarine cannon” would surely blast through the Union fleet’s vulnerable wooden hulls. Fifty years before its time, the inventive cartographer envisioned a version of the modern torpedo tube. Governor Francis R. Lubbock appointed a scientific committee, and soon Texas legislators, excited about the great military potential of Sea King, appropriated $500 for Creuzbaur to present his plan to the Confederate War Department. But when the ironclads later engaged in their historic showdown all realistic chances for experimentation on a project like Sea King were lost.

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