W. Davis Waters and Joseph I. Brown
Savas Beatie, 2017, 168 pp., $16.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
If there is one aspect of the American Civil War I wish there were more works on, it would be the naval activity during the conflict. While there are some books out there which encapsulate the war as a whole on the seas, there are very few which deal with specific parts of that theater. One of the new works by excellent publisher Savas Beatie which has been recently released is Gabriel Rains and the Confederate Torpedo Bureau. The book not only focuses on the torpedo bureau for the Confederacy, but looks at some of the land conflicts which took advantage of Gabriel Rains’ invention. This work by W. Davis Waters and Joseph I. Brown showcases the man who invented the “subterra shell” and the “submarine mortar battery,” not only spanning his career, but going over the journal and notebooks used for the creation of min warfare.
W. Davis Waters received his MA degree at Wake Forest University, then working for the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources for over thirty years. He has authored many articles including “Deception is the Art of War,” for the North Carolina Historical Review. In 2005, he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian award given by the governor for his services to the state of North Carolina. Joseph I. Brown earned his MA from George Washington University and spent time working at the Naval Mine Engineering Facility in Yorktown, VA for thirty-one years. He aided in the design of mines used in the Vietnam War.
I have to say off the bat, this book has some fascinating details about an officer which some might not be familiar with. For that alone, this book is worth picking up. The explicit descriptions of the designs which Rains created are incredible and a great deal of research went into making this pop off the page for me. As a reader of Civil War works, I had not though much about the design and make up of land mines, or even the submarine mines, which Rains provided throughout the war, but this book has given me the new perspective on things. The book opens with a biographical sketch of Rains and mentions his service to the United States Army. But the meat of the book is when the text goes into the detail about how the mines were used in combat, including many accounts which just make the narrative flow incredibly. To then learn about his career after the war, writing the book for West Point on mine warfare, shows the breadth of the work this man put into the industrialization of warfare and even pointing us in the direction towards what some would consider modern warfare.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the American Civil War. While some might think this book would reach more of a niche market, I would ask that you reconsider. The art of mine warfare and the creation of such a thing should be looked into and if you are interested in the Civil War, this is one to check out. I want to thank both W. Davis Waters and Joseph I. Brown for this work. I did not know too much about Gabriel Rains before reading this book, but now I can see the imprint which he left not only on the Civil War, but the world as a whole now.