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#1 CSI Hunley: Historic Sub's Fate a Cold Case File
01-05-2009, 09:45 AMNORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — It could be one of the nation's oldest cold case files: What happened to eight Confederate sailors aboard the H.L. Hunley after it became the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship?
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
- Sarasota, Florida
Their hand-cranked sub rammed a spar with black powder into the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Charleston on a chilly winter night in 1864 but never returned.
Its fate has been the subject of almost 150 years of conjecture and almost a decade of scientific research since the Hunley was raised back in 2000. But the submarine has been agonizingly slow surrendering her secrets.
"She was a mystery when she was built. She was a mystery as to how she looked and how she was constructed for many years and she is still a mystery as to why she didn't come home," said state Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston and chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission, which raised the sub and is charged with conserving and displaying it.
Scientists hope the next phase of the conservation, removing the hardened sediment coating the outside of the hull, will provide clues to the mystery.
The details of any military skirmish or battle has always fascinated me, but the Hunley holds a special interest. Modern archeology techniques are sure to turn up the facts as well as preserve the Hunley itself which is in my opinion, a national treasure.
I was glad to read that the soldiers were given an honorable funeral and burial.
Apologies in advance if this is in the wrong forum. I didn't think it fit very well into the Breaking News section.
01-05-2009, 12:49 PM
- Join Date
- Aug 2005
".........................Hunley was a death trap !"
Hunley was equipped with two watertight hatches, one forward and one aft, atop two conning towers with small portholes. The hatches were very small, measuring 14 by 15¾ inches (356 by 400 mm), making entrance to and egress from the hull very difficult. The ship had a hull height of 4 ft 3 in (1.2 m).
Hunley was ready for a demonstration by July 1863. Supervised by Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanan, Hunley successfully attacked a coal flatboat in Mobile Bay. Following this demonstration, the submarine was shipped to Charleston, South Carolina, by rail, arriving August 12, 1863.
The Confederate military seized the vessel from its private builders and owners shortly after its arrival in Charleston and turned it over to the Confederate Army. Hunley would operate as a Confederate Army vessel from this point forward, although Horace Hunley and his partners remained involved in the submarine's further testing and operation.
Confederate Navy Lieutenant John A. Payne of CSS Chicora volunteered to be Hunley's skipper, and a volunteer crew of seven men from Chicora and CSS Palmetto State was assembled to operate the submarine. On August 29, 1863, Hunley's new crew was preparing to make a test dive to learn the operation of the submarine when
Lieutenant Payne accidentally stepped on the lever controlling the sub's diving planes while the crew were rowing and the boat was running. This caused Hunley to dive with hatches still open, flooding her. Payne and two other men escaped; the remaining five crewmen drowned.
On October 15, 1863 Hunley failed to surface during a mock attack, killing its inventor and seven other crewmen. In both cases, the Confederate Navy salvaged the vessel and returned her to service.
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