October 18, 2018
Chuck Veit: The Alligator: The US Navy's First Submarine
The fascinating story of the Alligator, its missions, and its loss, is told against the history of underwater vessels in the first half of the 19th century.
In the late 1850s—on the Delaware River at Philadelphia and on Rancocas Creek in New Jersey--an immigrant French engineer named Brutus de Villeroi built a submarine. It was to be used for hunting sunken treasure, but, when war broke out, the inventor offered it to the Navy of his adopted country. Although not interested in submarine warfare, the U.S. Navy was willing to gamble on anything that might be able to sink the rebel Merrimack. De Villeroi's credentials were impeccable: he had a lengthy record of inventions and discoveries, and had built his first submarine in 1832. What could go wrong?
Naval historian Chuck Veit is author of a number of original research books on Civil War naval topics. Copies of his most recent book, Natural Genius, which tells the story of Brutus de Villeroi and the Alligator, was available for sale. Chuck is a frequent speaker on 19th century naval topics at area historical societies, Civil War roundtables and conferences and has published numerous articles in journals and magazines. He is president of the Navy & Marine Living History Association, an organization dedicated to sharing America’s naval history through the medium of in-the-field events.