The Fenian Model
Holland III


Length 16 feet 4 inches
Diameter 2 feet 4 inches
Displacement 1 ton

"Between trial runs on the Ram, [John Holland] was fully occupied at the Gannon and Cooper shop in Jersey City where he spent his spare time supervising the construction of his third submarine, an all-metal, sixteen-foot, one-ton replica of the successful Fenian Ram. Only in size was his third craft reminiscent of his first little boat, which lay in the mud of the Upper Passaic River. The new boat's purpose was vastly different. It was a working model designed to incorporate improvements suggested by the trials of the Ram. With this diminutive craft, Holland hoped to test hitherto unexplored principles of submarine navigation which he had been unable to exhaust in previous experiments."
"All was not well in the ranks of John Holland's backers. The Fenian Brotherhood had financed the three submarines, but not without dissension from impatient members who wanted their "ten cents worth of revolution every week." Pilfering of the Skirmishing Fund for purposes other than those for which it was intended put the Holland venture in a precarious position. Mulcahy filed suit to obtain an injunction to restrain the Trustees of the Fund from using any money in the treasury without the jurisdiction of the court. Simultaneously, reports were being circulated that clearly showed dissatisfaction with Breslin's handling of the submarine project. Threatened by the Mulcahy suit and the growing unrest in the Clan, Breslin criticized Holland who claimed that George Brayton had asked more for the engine used in the Ram than the engine was worth and was prepared Brayton to court. Breslin was certain that the time had come to act. He felt it was necessary to protect the Brotherhood from possible legal attachment of its properties. His action brought the affairs of the Fenian Ram and her sixteen-foot companion submarine to a dramatic conclusion."
"On a dark night in late November 1883, Breslin and a few fellow Fenians, armed with a pass bearing the forged signature of John P. Holland, gained access to the docks at the Morris and Cummings pier in the Canal Basin at the Gap. The night watchman apparently did not think it unusual for a tug to pull up at the slip. At any rate, the pass assured him that the unpredictable Irishman could well have ordered the transfer of his submarine under cover of darkness, for the strange craft had been surrounded with an aura of mystery ever since her inception. The Fenians deftly placed the Ram in tow and then slid the blocks from under the sixteen-foot model which rested on ways near the water's edge. The smaller craft was tied astern of the Ram, and the strange convoy made its way into New York Harbor. The tug rounded Manhattan during the night and proceeded up the East River. By the time she reached Whitestone Point, the wind was blowing in strongly from Long Island Sound. The model boat's turret had not been completely closed, and no gasket sealed the hatch. In the choppy waters she foundered, snapped her towline, and settled to the bottom in one hundred and ten feet of water.2 The tug forged ahead into the Sound with only the Ram astern. The next day she reached New Haven and cautiously worked her way toward the Brass Foundry of James Reynolds on the Mill River."1
  1. Morris, Richard K., John P. Holland: Inventor of the Modern Submarine. (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1966; 2nd ed., Univ. S.C. Press, 1998), pp. 45 - 47.
  2. The submarine has not been recovered.


Copyright 1999,2000,2001,2002 Gary McCue

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