2004 The “Little David”

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The Little David or David, was a semisubmersible steam-powered Confederate torpedo boat designed to move just under the surface of the water with its smokestack extending above. The David was secretly constructed in 1863 under the direction of Dr. St Julien Ravenel at Stony Landing, now part of the Old Santee Canal Park in Moncks Comer.

Following construction, the Little David was home-ported in Charleston. On the night of Oct 5, 1863, the Little David attacked and damaged the USS New Ironsides, anchored off Charleston, by exploding its torpedo on the ship. The David’s achievement marked the first successful torpedo boat attack in the history of naval warfare. Following the attack, the Little David returned to port and went on several other missions, although its torpedo was never again exploded.

The Little David’s legacy is that it marked the creation of an entirely new class of naval vessel. Several other David class torpedo boats, similar to the original, were allegedly constructed at Stony Landing. On at least two occasions, the Little David towed the famous H.L. Hunley submarine on training missions in and around Charleston¬†¬† Harbor, saving the crew of the hand-cranked craft considerable effort in their attempts to perfect their new weapon of war.

A replica of the Little David is on display on the grounds of the Berkeley Museum, located within the gates of the Old Santee Canal Park. The fate of the original Little David is unknown, although legend has it that it may be buried beneath Tradd Street in downtown Charleston.