The American Turtle Submarine
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: The American Turtle Submarine: The Best-Kept Secret of the American Revolution
Author: Arthur S. Lefkowitz
Major Themes: Inventions, Inventors, Engineering, Warfare, American Revolution
Synopsis: This is the fascinating story of the first submarine used in warfare.
The American Turtle Submarine was an unexpectedly good find. We’ve been learning about the American Revolution, and one topic that was mentioned in our guide was the first submarine in the world, Bushnell’s American Turtle. I was able to find a book about in it a library, and asked my boys if they would like to hear it. One, especially, was quite interested, so we started the book. A few chapters in, I asked if they wanted to continue, and the unanimous vote was that they wanted to hear the whole story. I was a bit surprised by the enthusiasm, but kept on reading.
In the very earliest days of the Revolution, David Bushnell came up with an idea for destroying the English navy—the most powerful navy in the world. His idea? Build a human-powered submarine and attach a mine to the underside of the flagship of the fleet. It was a great challenge to come up with a plan for making a watertight vessel with the materials available at the time. There were also the challenges of navigation underwater in the dark, and supplying air to the operator, and attaching the mine to the ship. We were fascinated by the solutions they came up with.
Unfortunately, the American Turtle didn’t manage to get the ship blown up. The American army used the technology that Bushnell developed, however, and tried a different way to harm the English navy. We had a good laugh about that incident! There were some very funny aspects to it.
Although The American Turtle Submarine tells the story in a rather matter-of-fact way, it kept our interest all the way through. We were very intrigued by this bit of history that we had never read about before. History buffs and people who are interested in engineering and inventing will enjoy this book!
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy this book:
Keywords: Inventions, Inventors, Engineering, Warfare, American Revolution