Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/505

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
473
Second Congress.

as having been engaged a short time in preparing torpedoes, and Ewing as being enterprising and bold. In accepting their appointments it appears that they did not allege that they had invented or contrived a torpedo, nor were they appointed to use specially any one of the numerous devices, more or less ingenious, which had been suggested and brought to the notice of the Government.

They reported in obedience to orders and entered upon the duty of placing torpedoes in the Yazoo River under the immediate command of Commander Isaac N. Brown, and the gunboat "Cairo" was destroyed on the 14th December, 1862, by a torpedo placed by them in company with others.

In March, 1863, McDaniel and Ewing for the first time apprised the Department that they claimed a reward for their service on the ground that the torpedo which exploded under the "Cairo" was invented by them. The claim was based on the provisions of three acts of Congress: 1st. "An Act recognizing the existence of war between the United States and the Confederate States, and concerning letters of marque, prizes, and prize goods," No. 106, approved 6th May, 1861; 2d. An Act amendatory of the foregoing, No. 170, approved 21st May, 1861; 3d. An Act amendatory of this last-mentioned law, approved 21st April, 1862.

The second section of the act No. 170, above cited, secures to the inventor of "any new kind of armed vessel or floating battery or defense" certain rewards and privileges upon the condition that "he shall deposit a plan of the same, accompanied by suitable explanations or specifications, in the Navy Department, together with an affidavit setting forth that he is the inventor thereof." This deposit and affidavit are prerequisite to any exclusive rights in favor of the inventor, and a reservation is made specially in favor of the Government of the right of using such invention in all cases.

The very basis of the claim of these parties was the originality of their invention. The joint resolution under consideration recites that a board of naval officers have reported that the "Cairo" was destroyed "by means of a torpedo invented and used by them [McDaniel & Ewing] in the Yazoo River in 1862." This is an error, no board of officers of the Navy having even investigated or