Autographs from David Bushnell are valued for their historic representation. David Bushnell built the first submarine to conduct an underwater attack on an enemy warship. As a result, autographs from submarine inventor David Bushnell are treasured mementos.
Bushnell called his wooden vessel “Turtle,” and it was constructed with oak that was reinforced with iron. One person who entered through an airtight hatch manned the vessel. While sitting on a stool the operator cranked propellers and controlled a rudder by hand to maneuver the Turtle. Water was used as ballast for submerging and raising the submarine.
On September 6, 1776, Bushnell’s associate, Sergeant Ezra Lee, propelled the wooden, hand-powered Turtle beneath enemy English ship HMS Eagle in New York Harbor near Fort Lee, New Jersey. Lee attempted to screw a hole in the hull of the enemy ship and fasten a fused mine. After setting the fuse, the operator of the Turtle would leave the attack site as quickly as possible.
Lee’s attempt to implant a mine in the hull of the enemy ship was prevented by the impenetrable copper-clad hull of the ship. Although the submarine attack was not successful, the possibilities of submarine warfare were evident. George Washington initiated the Corps of Sappers and Miners to promote the use of mines, and Bushnell was appointed Captain and Commander of the Corps.
Those who appreciate the Revolutionary War, naval history, and important inventions collect autographs from David Bushnell. However, autographs from Bushnell are rare and costly. Bushnell autographs can occasionally be found on documents relating to the Corps of Sappers and Miners. Bushnell’s autographs on documents of the Corps extend from when he joined the Corps in 1779, until it disbanded in December 1783.
Documents associated with the Corps that was signed by Bushnell have sold at auction for several thousand dollars. Many of these documents are pay orders, some completely written and signed by Bushnell.
In 1784, Bushnell became commander of the Corps of Engineers. A reputable dealer offered a display of documents, including one bearing Bushnell’s autograph from 1784, for over $19,000.
Bushnell left Connecticut in 1787 and moved to Warrenton, Georgia where he practiced as a doctor using the name “David Bush.” Autographs with his name as David Bush have never been seen.
Autographs from submarine inventor David Bushnell are treasured mementos.