THE USS LEXINGTON PART 2 BY ROGER WILLIAMS

 

Japanese propaganda specialist Tokyo Rose announced the Blue Ghost had been sunk after a hit by one of their torpedo planes.  They had no idea… the Japanese would be for a big surprise!

Repairs were completed at Bremerton, Wash., Feb., 1944, and she was ready to re-enter the war. After a quick stop in Alameda, Calif., she sailed for Pearl Harbor to join Task Force 58. Adm. Marc Mitscher, commander of TF 58, was waiting for the Blue Ghost to meet them at the island of Majuro. TF 58 used Majuro as its home base for supporting US ground forces as they island hop their way across the western Pacific.

For the next 18 months TF 58 leads naval forces across the Pacific destroying Japanese strongholds. April 13, 1944, TF 58 participated in the landing at Hollandia. TF 58s’ next stop is Truk where the Ghost, despite heavy attacks by Japanese aircraft, received no damage. Tokyo Rose erroneously reported (for a second time) that the Lexington was lost to Japanese air attacks. On June 16, while supporting U.S. Marines at the battle for the island of Saipan, the Lexington fought off a heavy attack of Japanese torpedo planes based on the island of Guam. For a third time Tokyo Rose announced the Lexington had been sunk and again, she was wrong.

By June 19, the Lexington was back in action anticipating the next onslaught of Japanese carrier and land-based planes. During the next two days the U.S. Navy sank three Japanese carriers, two refueling ships and destroyed 600+Japanese airplanes. American air forces lost 128 planes during the battle which became known as the “Marianas Turkey Shoot” when pilots bragged that it was like “shooting turkeys up there.”

The U.S. fleet encountered the Japanese kamikaze for the first time at the second battle of the Philippine Sea. On Nov. Five, the fleet is attacked by hordes of kamikazes. Already in flames from repeated anti-aircraft fire a lone kamikaze slams into the Lexington’s starboard (right) side; shrapnel and burning air fuel is sent flying onto the flight deck which destroyed most of the ship’s command island. Within 20 minutes damage control parties brought the fires under control which allowed normal air operations to continue. The attack killed 50 and injured 132 of Lexington’s blue jackets. Structural repairs are completed at the Navy’s repair base located at the Ulithi atoll. Tokyo Rose declared her sunk for a fourth time, but the Ghost returned to the fleet for the invasion of Iwo Jima, Feb. 19, 1945.

The Lexington returned to Bremerton, Wash., for a much needed overhaul and to provide shore leave for her exhausted crew. May 22, overhaul completed, she sailed for San Pedro Bay located on the island of Leyte, Philippines. Vice Adm. John S. McCain’s Task Force 38 was waiting on the Lady Lex to assist with the final assault of the war against Japan. She mounted air attacks against the industrial complex of the Japanese homeland from July 10 to Aug. 15, 1945.

U.S. B29 bombers, based at the island of Tinian, dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and Nagasaki (Aug. 8) which, in the end, forced an end to the war. Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan to Allied forces with a live radio address to the citizens of Japan on Aug. 15, 1945.

Even with the Emperor’s announcement of the Japanese surrender the Lexington continued to send out air patrols. She dropped much needed supplies to prisoner-of-war camps on the island of Honshu, and according to the crew publication The Lexington Baedeker, the Lady Lex made a “triumphant entrance into Tokyo Bay” on Sept. Six, 1945. There she remained supporting the occupation/reconstruction of Japan until December 1945 when she is ordered to return to the U.S. She acted as a ferry for returning troops (Operation Magic Carpet) and arrived at San Francisco Dec. 13, 1945. She finished postwar operations along the West Coast of Calif., before being decommissioned at Bremerton, Wash., April 23, 1947.

At the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard April 23, 1952, the Lexington began her conversion to a modern carrier capable of handling jet aircraft. As part of her modernization she received a new angled flight deck, along with new catapults which were needed to launch and retrieve jet aircraft. The Lexington is re-commissioned Aug. 15, 1955, and joins the 7th Fleet.

The Lexington is assigned to her new home port at the San Diego naval base. May 1956, she embarked on a six-month cruise with the 7th Fleet where she was based at the Port of Yokosuka. From there the fleet made port-of-calls to various Far Eastern countries to “show the flag.” She returned to San Diego, Dec. 1956, to be prepared for her next deployment. She remained with the 7th Fleet until her next overhaul in 1957 after which the Lexington returned to her Japanese base at Yokosuka for peacekeeping duties. After a 1960 overhaul she returned for the final time to the Far East in support of US interests during the 1961 Laotian Crisis.

January 1962 the Ghost received orders to return to US waters and relieve the USS Antietam (CVS-36) as a training carrier in the Gulf of Mexico. She returned to attack carrier status during the Cuban Missile Crisis in Oct. of 1962. She finally relieves the Antietam on Dec. 29, 1963. For the next 30 years she oversaw the training of Naval and Marine pilots in carrier operations. Dec. 1, 1969, she received the designation of CVT-16 (Navy Training Carrier.) The Lady Lex called the ports of Pensacola, Corpus Christi and New Orleans home until 1992 when she retired from active duty.

During her illustrious and colorful career she served her country well. Some of the Lexington’s accomplishments are:

• She steamed more miles, 209,000, which equaled eight trips around the world and served longer, 40 years, than any other Essex carrier.

• She was the first naval vessel to have women as crew members.

• She was the first carrier to deploy air-to-surface missiles

• She was the first foreign heavy fleet carrier to enter Tokyo Bay after World War II.

• She was honored with a Presidential Unit Citation and received 11 battle stars for her World War II service.

On June 15, 1992, the Lexington was decommissioned and donated to the City of Corpus Christi, Texas, as a maritime museum. Corpus Christi provided a specially built berth to house Lady Lex which is maintained by the USS LEXINGTON Museum on the Bay.

From Imagination to Reality,

The Past coming through to

The Present to

Help shape the Future

The USS Lexington Museum on the Bay has made a major economic impact on the Coastal Bend. This isn’t your typical museum. Once aboard there are tours to take, opportunities for overnight camping, eating in the Mess Deck Café and experiencing the Joe Jessel 3DMEGA Theater! A flight simulator is even located on the hangar deck for those who want to try their hand at flying a simulated jet off a carrier! Wow. Can you imagine piloting a jet off an aircraft carrier!! The museum also offers guided hard hat tours into the bowels of the ship which usually take 3-4 hours to complete. Advanced reservations are needed and can be made by calling the ship’s ticket office. When you go make sure to visit the recently renovated “Pearl Harbor: Course of Valor” exhibit which opened Dec. 7, 2014.

Check out the Lexington the next time you’re in Corpus Christi. You’re going to want to make it part of your vacation this year. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

The USS LEXINGTON Museum on the Bay is located at 2914 Nth. Shoreline Blvd., Corpus Christi, Texas. The ship is open daily for tours. For exact times call 1-800-LADY LEX or visit their website http://usslexington.com.

12th ANNUAL “A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE”

 

WHEN: Pre-Registration and Dinner Friday, April 24th 5pm-8pm

Race Starts: Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8am

WHAT: Bike Ride Featuring 10, 30 or 65 Mile Routes On & Around King Ranch

WHERE: Kingsville

On Saturday, April 25th, one of the premier rides in Texas, the 12th Annual “A Ride On The Wild Side” will be taking place!  Organized by the Kingsville Noon Lions Club the ride encompasses routes on and around the historic King Ranch. “A Ride On The Wild Side” bicycle tour is a great event for families and experienced cyclists alike and includes three different routes that even an occasional rider would enjoy. Benefiting Texas Lions Camp for physically handicapped children, this is not only a wonderful chance to view King Ranch from a bicycle, but help out children as well.

Whether you choose the 10, 30 or 65 mile route, you’ll bike through a rich countryside filled with an abundance of wildlife. King Ranch is one of the most well-known ranches in the world. Comprised of over 825,000 acres of cattle range, it’s one of the largest working ranches in the world. The ranch has made history with their efforts of nature conservation, world class nature tours and protected wildlife habitat. Showcasing a bird list of over 450 species, along with thousands of deer, javelina, Santa Gertrudis cattle and reptiles, you never know what you’ll see on this “ride on the wild side”! The 10 mile route is great for families and those who want to take a scenic route on the historic King Ranch loop road. The 10 mile loop on King Ranch is paved and is the route taken by tour bus groups. If you’ve never had the opportunity to take a King Ranch tour here’s your chance – on a bike! A favorite of professional wildlife photographers this is a not-to-be-missed 10 mile segment.  The 30 and 65 mile routes will take you out into areas of Nueces and Kleberg Counties and back. Portions of these routes are on highways and city streets, but will lead you back to rural county roads and the ranching countryside through Kleberg County. With fairly good paved roads, the segments of the route outside the city have mostly flat contours with some rolling dips through creek bed areas.  You could be in for a beautiful wildflower display!

Start and finish lines will be at the Kingsville Publishing Co. parking lot located at 1831 W. Santa Gertrudis Street (directly across from the King Ranch entry gate) in Kingsville. The fun starts to build the evening before the race on Friday, April 24th from 5pm-8pm, with dinner being served-up in downtown Kingsville at the Community Life Center located at 123 N 5th Street. Dress is very casual. If you haven’t already registered for the race, you can do so at the dinner. Onsite registration the day of the event takes place from 7am-7:45am at the start line.

SAG Stops, Portable Restrooms and First Aid will be available on all routes. These stops will provide water, sport drinks, fresh fruit and salty snacks. SAG Vehicles will travel through routes. Maps will be included in your packet/rider bag.  For those with smart phones, you’ll be able to make use of the Ride’s digital route maps.  Proceeds from the 12th Annual “A Ride On The Wild Side”  benefit the Texas Lions Camp for Children with physical disabilities, diabetes and cancer, along with other local youth charities in Kingsville and Kleberg County.

The Texas Lions Camp located in Kerrville, Texas is supported 100% by the Lions of Texas and is free to all children and their families. Campers get the special care they need while having fun trying new activities, making friends and gaining confidence in dealing with their own disability.

Those eligible to participate in the summer camp program are between 7-16 years of age with a qualifying physical disability. Diabetes camp sessions are for ages 8-15 years.  To learn more about the Texas Lions Camp visit their website at:  www.texaslionscamp.com

WOW! Dinner in historic downtown Kingsville and a ride on and around King Ranch - it doesn’t get much better than that folks! Start checking your bike gear now and get ready to take a “ride on the wild side!! For more information on the 12th Annual “A Ride On The Wild Side” visit their website at: http://www.arideonthewildside.com/home.html

12th ANNUAL “A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE”

WHEN: Pre-Registration and Dinner Friday, April 24th 5pm-8pm

Race Starts: Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8am

WHAT: Bike Ride Featuring 10, 30 or 65 Mile Routes On & Around King Ranch

WHERE: Kingsville

On Saturday, April 25th, one of the premier rides in Texas, the 12th Annual “A Ride On The Wild Side” will be taking place!  Organized by the Kingsville Noon Lions Club the ride encompasses routes on and around the historic King Ranch. “A Ride On The Wild Side” bicycle tour is a great event for families and experienced cyclists alike and includes three different routes that even an occasional rider would enjoy. Benefiting Texas Lions Camp for physically handicapped children, this is not only a wonderful chance to view King Ranch from a bicycle, but help out children as well. Whether you choose the 10, 30 or 65 mile route, you’ll bike through a rich countryside filled with an abundance of wildlife. King Ranch is one of the most well-known ranches in the world. Comprised of over 825,000 acres of cattle range, it’s one of the largest working ranches in the world. The ranch has made history with their efforts of nature conservation, world class nature tours and protected wildlife habitat. Showcasing a bird list of over 450 species, along with thousands of deer, javelina, Santa Gertrudis cattle and reptiles, you never know what you’ll see on this “ride on the wild side”! The 10 mile route is great for families and those who want to take a scenic route on the historic King Ranch loop road. The 10 mile loop on King Ranch is paved and is the route taken by tour bus groups. If you’ve never had the opportunity to take a King Ranch tour here’s your chance – on a bike! A favorite of professional wildlife photographers this is a not-to-be-missed 10 mile segment.  The 30 and 65 mile routes will take you out into areas of Nueces and Kleberg Counties and back. Portions of these routes are on highways and city streets, but will lead you back to rural county roads and the ranching countryside through Kleberg County. With fairly good paved roads, the segments of the route outside the city have mostly flat contours with some rolling dips through creek bed areas.  You could be in for a beautiful wildflower display! art and finish lines will be at the Kingsville Publishing Co. parking lot located at 1831 W. Santa Gertrudis Street (directly across from the King Ranch entry gate) in Kingsville. The fun starts to build the evening before the race on Friday, April 24th from 5pm-8pm, with dinner being served-up in downtown Kingsville at the Community Life Center located at 123 N 5th Street. Dress is very casual. If you haven’t already registered for the race, you can do so at the dinner. Onsite registration the day of the event takes place from 7am-7:45am at the start line.

SAG Stops, Portable Restrooms and First Aid will be available on all routes. These stops will provide water, sport drinks, fresh fruit and salty snacks. SAG Vehicles will travel through routes. Maps will be included in your packet/rider bag.  For those with smart phones, you’ll be able to make use of the Ride’s digital route maps.

Proceeds from the 12th Annual “A Ride On The Wild Side” benefit the Texas Lions Camp for Children with physical disabilities, diabetes and cancer, along with other local youth charities in Kingsville and Kleberg County.  The Texas Lions Camp located in Kerrville, Texas is supported 100% by the Lions of Texas and is free to all children and their families. Campers get the special care they need while having fun trying new activities, making friends and gaining confidence in dealing with their own disability.

Those eligible to participate in the summer camp program are between 7-16 years of age with a qualifying physical disability. Diabetes camp sessions are for ages 8-15 years.  To learn more about the Texas Lions Camp visit their website at:  www.texaslionscamp.com WOW! Dinner in historic downtown Kingsville and a ride on and around King Ranch - it doesn’t get much better than that folks! Start checking your bike gear now and get ready to take a “ride on the wild side!! For more information on the 12th Annual “A Ride On The Wild Side” visit their website at: http://www.arideonthewildside.com/home.html

Title: What Does Refugio, Corpus Christi And Nolan Ryan Have In Common?

 

Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s as the son of a journeyman sports writer for the San Antonio Express/News I led a tough life during summer breaks from school. Those dog days-of-summer consisted of playing golf with friends then going out to the ballpark for a minor league baseball game in the evening. Minor league baseball! A path of uneven steppingstones utilized by Major League baseball clubs to develop young (and sometimes old) talent to perform in the big leagues.Minor League baseball was founded Sept. 5, 1901, when the presidents of seven independent leagues met in Chicago, Ill. The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL), now known as Minor League Baseball, was organized at that meeting. The founders established rules of operation which for the most part are still in force. Spring of 1902 ushered in 14 independent leagues supporting 96 teams. The minor league farm system, as we now know it, came out of an agreement between the NAPBL and Branch Rickey, the influential owner of the St. Louis Cardinals. The agreement allowed major league baseball clubs to purchase minor league clubs along with the contracts of their players. To this day the minor league baseball farm system supplies a constant pool of young talent to its major league affiliates. By the age of 13 I could keep a baseball box score, read a racing form and was hustling golf games. I regularly tagged along with my dad as he reported local sporting events which included the San Antonio AA minor league baseball team, The Missions. The Missions were a charter member of the fledgling Texas League when it was formed in 1888. The Texas Almanac calls the league, “one of the oldest, most colorful and historic circuits in organized baseball.” They still compete as a member of the Texas League along with the Corpus Christi club, The Hooks. Minor league baseball has a long and sometimes colorful history in the Coastal Bend/Lower Rio Grande Valley. For those of you who don’t follow baseball you might not have heard the term “Texas Leaguer.” It is a weakly hit fly ball that drops in for a single between an infielder and an outfielder.  The term is said to have originated when Ollie Pickering, a popular Texas League player, made his major league debut and proceeded to run off a string of seven straight bloop hits, leading fans and writers to say, "Well, there goes Pickering with another one of those "Texas Leaguers. The Texas League was not the only league to play baseball in South Texas during the early days.

South Texas has been a hotbed of minor league baseball since the early 1900s. Two fledgling leagues fielded teams in the Coastal Bend/LRGV during those early years. The Southwest Texas League formed in 1910 but only lasted two seasons. The Corpus Christi Pelicans, forerunners to the Hooks, played in the short lived league. The Brownsville Charros, Corpus Christi Spudders, Harlingen Hubs, McAllen Packers, Refugio Oilers and Taft Cardinals barnstormed the LRGV during the 1938 season of the Texas Valley League. Refugio is known as the birthplace of baseball legend Nolan Ryan. Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. was born Jan. 31, 1947, to Lynn Nolan Ryan, Sr., and Martha Lee Hancock Ryan. The Ryan’s moved to Alvin with their six children in tow when Nolan was only six weeks old. Young Nolan was a standout pitcher even as a Little Leaguer. He made the Alvin Little League all-star team when he was just 11 years old. As a pitcher for Alvin High School his blazing fastballs and subtle breaking balls led them to a spot in the 1965 Texas UIL finals. Ryan was drafted by the New York Mets in 1965 and played for their farm club in the Appalachian League, the Marion Mets. Ryan was called up to the hapless Mets at the end of the 1966 season throwing in his first game against the Atlanta Braves. He pitched two innings striking out three batters while walking only one. Ryan was instrumental in the Mets’ 1969 World Series championship over the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. Two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy called Nolan Ryan “the only pitcher you start thinking about two days before you face him.” Ryan’s storied career spanned 27 years. He played with four teams; The New York Mets, Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers where he hung up his spikes at the end of the 1993 season. Ryan hurled 3 major league records:  seven no hitters, 5714 strike outs and 2795 .  Retirement has not slowed the “Ryan Express” down. He went on to have ownership interests in two minor league teams; The Round Rock Express of the Pacific Coast League and the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League. Ryan served as an executive in the Ranger organization through the 2013 season. He was hired as an adviser to the Houston Astros in 2014. In 1999 Ryan was enshrined in Cooperstown, PA, as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Refugio County Museum houses a collection of memorabilia donated by the “Ryan Express” to honor the town of his birth. The museum is located at 102 W West St, Refugio, TX 78377 and is open Tuesday thru Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday hours are 1pm-5pm.When you attend a minor league game you just be may be watching a future Hall of Famer play his heart out as he hopes for the chance to make it to “The Show” (slang used to describe a chance to play in major league baseball).  It is not unusual for the affiliate major league team to send an injured player on a rehabilitation assignment to their AA team before returning him to the major league club. Minor league teams put on a great show for their fans with promotions sure to keep you wondering, “What are they going to do next?” Promotions such as; HAT NIGHT, sack races around the bases, dot races in the outfield and  ticket giveaway’s for future games to keep fans coming out to the old ball park. The Corpus Christi Hooks kick off their 2015 season April 2 with an exhibition game against their major league affiliate, The Houston Astros at Whataburger Field. The first pitch is at 6:05 p.m.  Rodney Linares begins his first season as skipper of the Hooks having spent nine consecutive seasons with the Astros minor league organization. Before assuming the helm of the Hooks’ he managed the High-A Lancaster Jethawks of the California League during the 2012-2014 seasons.

 

Season and individual game tickets for the Hooks can be purchased online, by phone at 361-561-HOOK (4665), or at the ballpark from one of the Hooks ticket sales representatives. Whataburger Field is located at 734 E. Left Ave., Corpus Christi, TX. Take the family to a baseball game in your area and experience our national pastime in the comfort of your own backyard, well almost your backyard.

Private Edgar Collins Singer, of Lavaca, Texas, swore: “This would be the last time a Northern fleet would slip into a Southern harbor without a fight.” A promise not easily kept by a private assigned to a Confederate artillery battery of Texas volunteers. “Middle-aged men unfit for active service,” is how Mark K Ragan describes this rag tag unit which drove off two Union gunboats from the town of Lavaca, Texas. Singer was a 6-foot-3 inch gunsmith/inventor who was the nephew of Isaac Singer, founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Co. Edgar hatched this outrageous idea he could blow up Union ships using an underwater “torpedo.” In the early 1800s Robert Fulton began tinkering with the idea of torpedoes. His idea was to fill a water proof vessel with a large mass of gunpowder, tow it beneath a ship and detonate it. Stationary torpedoes were first deployed by the Russians during the Crimean War (1854-1856) to defend the ports’ of Sebastapol, Cronstadt and Sweaborg. Four English ships anchored at the port of Cronstadt were attacked by torpedoes, none were destroyed, but all were damaged to some degree. “Infernal Machines” was how the Confederate and Union leaders expressed their feelings toward the torpedo as a tool of war. The Confederate Navy formalized the use of torpedoes by forming the Naval Submarine Battery Service under the command of Matthew Fontaine Maury, a famous scientist of the period. Maury recruited, trained and deployed men who would create chaos amongst the Union Navy. Torpedoes were cheap, easy to make and very effective.

Edgar started working on his “torpedo mine” soon after the Union ships left Lavaca harbor. He quickly enlisted his friend and lodge leader, Dr. John R. Fretwell, as his partner. According to local journalist Sid Feder, Edgar built his prototypes out of wooden beer kegs (most likely acquired from a local salon) filled them with dynamite and test fired them in a nearby slough. According to local lore, Edgar harassed the local Confederate Commander, probably Capt. Shea, for men, gunpowder and money to build additional torpedoes. Shea attended a demonstration of the Singer-Fretwell torpedo where it was tested on a “partially beached hulk; the mine was placed alongside it and set off. The vessel was blown to atoms.” Acquiescing to Singers’ badgering, Capt. Shea ordered him to report to General John Magruder, Commander District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Singer and Fretwell arrived in Galveston late in December 1862 asGeneral Magruder was mobilizing his troops to retake the port from Union troops. Magruder successfully drove the Yankee forces out of Galveston Jan. 1; the only time Confederate troops would re-take a Union held port along the Gulf coast. The duo from Lavaca scheduled a meeting with the skeptical Magruder who begrudgingly provided them with 25 pounds of black powder along with orders to build a demonstration torpedo and detonate it in the Buffalo Bayou. As ordered, they built their torpedo and placed it in the Bayou at a depth of 3 feet, towed an old scow over it, and according to reports from the scene, “blew it into kindling wood.” General Magruder was impressed with the performance of the Fretwell-Singer torpedo. He ordered them to report to Maj. Gen. Dabney H. Maury, Commanding General of the Confederate District of the Gulf, at his headquarters in Mobile, Alabama.   Mobile became the official headquarters of this rag tag group of engineers. Edgar established his torpedo factory in an old building at the corner of Water and State Street. From here they built torpedoes intended for deployment in Mobile bay. Singer and Fretwell recruited a group of Lavaca lodge brothers to assist building and deploying their torpedoes mines. This group of “Lavaca Men” became the core members of the “Singer Secret Service:” James Jones, William Longnecker, John D. Braman, Robert W. Dunn, C.E. Frary, B.A. “Gus” Whitney, and his brother-in-law David Bradbury. In February 1863, the group departed Mobile for Richmond, Virginia, to demonstrate their new-fangled device for the Confederate War Department.  So impressed were the engineering officers who witnessed the demonstration Sept. 15, that Lt. Col. Alfred L. Rives ordered Singer, Fretwell and R. W. Dunn to enlist 25 men for a special torpedo service to be attached to the Bureau of Engineers under chief engineer J.F. Gilmer. The unit called itself “Singer’s Submarine Corps” which became the “Singer Secret Service” and the “Singer Torpedo Corps.” Rives ordered, by congressional mandate, that the group be paid 50 percent of the value of any Union ship or railroad they destroy. All necessary supplies; such as gunpowder, wood for making the torpedoes, as well as additional men would be supplied by the engineering department of the Confederate Army. Singer, Fretwell, and Bradbury were also promoted to the rank of captain in the Confederate Army. While in Mobile the boys from Lavaca met fellow Masons who heralded from New Orleans: James McClintock, Baxter Watson and Horace Hunley. These gentlemen had been living in New Orleans building experimental submarines until the city was overrun by Union troops. Hunley and his group had already lost two submersibles while in New Orleans and were in dire needs of additional funding to continue building a workable submarine. Singer invested $5000, Dunn, Braman, and Whitney evenly divided up a $5,000 share and Hunley kept a third ownership for himself in the new boat. The boat, named the Porpoise, was built in Mobile by the investor group. This project caught the eye of Gen. P.T. Beauregard who ordered the Porpoise moved by flatcar to the port of Charleston, South Carolina, for deployment against the Union Fleet.  The Porpoise arrived at the port of Charleston August 1863 and was immediately confiscated by the Confederate Army. Capt. Singer reported to Charleston with orders to arm the Porpoise with a barbed Fretwell-Singer torpedo, and attach it to a 17 foot metal spar which will protrude from the bow of the boat. Theoretically, the boat will sneak up on its prey, dive beneath the water and ram the torpedo into the side of it. Reverse course to 150 feet of its target, pull a lanyard hooked to a spring loaded detonator and KABOOM! Great in theory, but problems arose.

The Porpoise was a haunted boat. It sank twice before its fateful encounter with the USS Housatonic. Aug. 29, the Porpoise is commanded by CSN Cmdr. John A. Payne who takes the boat out on a training maneuver into the Charleston harbor with a nine man Navy crew. Due to a number of mishaps, including human error, the boat sinks costing five members of its crew their lives. The second sinking of the Porpoise occurred on October15, when Capt. Hunley went hunting for the USS Indian Chief which had been moored on the Cooper River. He lines up the Porpoise for its attack and due to human error, his, the Porpoise goes down losing all hands. Both times the Porpoise was raised and salvaged. On Feb. 14, 1864, Lt. George E. Dixon takes command of the boat he renamed H.L. Hunley on its last mission. His objective was to sink the USS Housatonic which was anchored 2 miles off Plymouth Point in the Charleston harbor. Armed with a Fretwell-Singer torpedo fixed with a barbed point on the front of it, Dixon smashes the barbed spar into the rear quarter of the unsuspecting ship. He orders the crew to reverse direction, detonates the torpedo, blowing a hole in the Housatonic resulting in the death of 7 Union seamen. Lt. Dixons ill-fated mission is the first time in history that a submarine, using a remote controlled torpedo, sinks an opposing ship. The H. L. Hunley never returns to its base; it sunk in 29 feet of cold murky water, 1000 feet from its prey, with all hands lost. In 2001 the H. L. Hunley was raised from its watery grave and was enshrined at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center located in Charleston, South Carolina.Even with the loss of the H. L. Hunley, Singer and his secret unit continued to wreak havoc against the Union war blockade. Singer’s torpedoes became the Confederate mine of choice for protecting its harbors. Aug. 5, from his flagship the USS Hartford, Admiral David P. Farragut, reportedly uttered the phrase, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” at the battle for Mobile Bay. Members of The Secret Service had sewn torpedoes up and down the harbor except for a small channel protected by the guns of Fort Morgan. The channel provided an escape route for Confederate blockade runners to exit Mobile Bay with their precious cargoes of cotton. Besides mining Southern waterways, Singer’s agents became adept at blowing up Union railroad bridges. J.D. Braman loved to boast to the Confederate leadership just how many Union railheads he had destroyed. But it all came to an end in May 1865.April 9, 1865, in the parlor of the house owned by Wilbur Mclean at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, an appointment was kept between two opposing Generals. Robert E. Lee, dressed in a new uniform of Confederate gray, and Ulysses S. Grant, chose to wear his field uniform of blue, sitting at separate tables surrounded by aides, sign documents ending hostilities between their respective armies. Hostilities did not cease until May which, ironically, ends with a Southern victory at the battle of Palmetto Ranch along the lower Rio Grande. The mission of the Singer Secret Service ended quietly as its members returned home to Lavaca. On July 8, at a Federal office in Lavaca, the members of the Secret Service simply sign a parole of honor stating they would no longer serve the Confederate States, or any other country, and pledging their allegiance to the United States. Edgar returned home to his wife, Harriett, to begin his after war life. He moved his family to Marlin, Texas, located in Falls County sometime between the 1870 and 1880 census. He continued as an inventor of various gadgets: • Cotton seed huller (1870)• Improvement for brick molds (1875)• Improvement for Bale ties (1879)• He had also patented improvements to his uncles Sewing Machine (1859) He invested in three very successful gold mines located in Boulder, Colorado, and had interests in a silver mine in the El Paso area. Edgar died April 31, 1919, at the age of 93 and is buried in the Calvary Cemetery located in Marlin, Texas. A footnote for the Singer Secret Service:Edwin D. Lindgren, LCDR, USN, writes in his master’s thesis, “Mine warfare was a cost effective method for the Confederacy to defend its long coastline and inland waterways... Despite loss and damage to 35 Union naval vessels, mine use had virtually no strategic impact upon the course of the war…These cost effective weapons caused delays in Union operations, resulted in involved countermine operations, and caused fear and apprehension in crews... mine use had virtually no strategic impact upon the course of the war.”NOTE: There is a still standing in the City of Port Lavaca, a building which dates back to before the Civil War. Legend has it, that in the basement, Edgar Singer built his torpedoes!