Hunley's Daring Submarine Mission

Hunley's Daring Submarine Mission


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Den klare, men kølige nat den 17. februar 1864 stod John Crosby på dækket af USS Housatonic lidt mindre end seks miles og tre år fjernet fra startpunktet for borgerkrigen, Fort Sumter. Månelyset skinnede på Charleston Harbour's stille overflade, da Housatonic patruljerede farvandet i South Carolina som en del af Unionens marineblokade, der langsomt kvalt Konføderationen.

Da Crosby stirrede ud på den rolige havn omkring klokken 20.45, så Housatonic's dækofficer pludselig noget, der sprængte vandets glasagtige overflade kun 100 meter væk på styrbord side. Først troede Crosby, at det kunne være en overflade af marsvin eller måske en log. Men da den grumsede skygge bølgede tættere på krigsskibet, slog flådeofficeren alarm, da han indså, at den mærkelige genstand, der lukkede ind på Housatonic, faktisk var et banebrydende flådevåben-en ubåd.

Baseret på oplysninger hentet fra de konfødererede ørkener havde Unionens skibe været på vagt for undervandsfartøjer, der lurede i Charleston Harbour. Kun fire måneder før var USS New Ironsides blevet delvist beskadiget i et angreb af den halvt nedsænkelige CSS David, og denne vindstille, måneskinnede vinternat bød på perfekte betingelser for betjening af den nærgående ubåd, H.L. Hunley.

Da alle hænder løb til deres stationer på Housatonic, vendte syv konfødererede sejlere inde i den primitive ubåd en håndsving, der drev propellen, mens en anden mand styrede mod den 1.240 tons tunge krigslykke. Selvom de ikke havde holdt på et mægtigt krigsskib, foretog de otte mænd allerede en farlig mission blot ved at være inde i ubåden, der allerede havde krævet 13 menneskers liv, inklusive dens opfinder, under træningsøvelser.

Det undersøiske fartøj var blevet privat konstrueret i Mobile, Alabama, baseret på planer fra havingeniør Horace Lawson Hunley. Selvom Crosby oprindeligt troede, at han fik øje på en marsvin, lignede ubåden mere en hval. Det blev konstrueret af en 40 fod lang cylindrisk jernkedel af damp med en tilspidset sløjfe og hæk. Efter vellykkede tests på Mobile River blev ubåden transporteret til Charleston i august 1863 midt i håb fra den konfødererede flåde om, at den kunne være et hemmeligt våben til at bryde Unionens blokade.

Kort efter at testen begyndte i Charleston Harbour, druknede fem af Hunleys ni besætningsmedlemmer, da en skibsbetjent ved et uheld fik fartøjet til at dykke, mens lugerne stadig var åbne. Ubåden blev bjærget, men mindre end to måneder senere dræbte en anden træningsulykke det otte mand store besætning, herunder HL Hunley selv.

Endnu engang blev ubåden trukket til overfladen, og selvom han kendte dens tragiske historie, accepterede løjtnant George Dixon at tage kommandoen over skibet i november 1863 og rejste et mandskab af modige frivillige. Da Dixon førte sine mænd til det vovede angreb på Housatonic, bar han sin lykke -charme med sig, en bøjet guldmønt, der havde reddet hans liv ved at bremse en kugle, der sårede ham to år før i slaget ved Shiloh.

Selvom konfødererede P.G.T. Beauregard havde instrueret Dixon om at forblive på overfladen under alle angreb, givet Hunleys tidligere ulykker, forblev det meste af ubåden stadig under vandlinjen, da den bevægede sig så tæt på Housatonic, at krigsskibets 12 kanoner var ubrugelige. Kaptajnen og besætningen affyrede deres rifler og haglgeværer i et forgæves forsøg på at standse det nærgående fartøj, men kuglerne sprang blot af Hunleys rustning, da en spar torpedo monteret for enden af ​​en 16 fods stang, der stak ud af ubådens bue, ramte krigsskibet .

Spareren rev i Housatonic's styrbordskvarter nær sit pulvermagasin, og oprørstorpedoen lastet med 135 kilo krudt eksploderede. Housatonic tog straks vand på, og inden for få minutter var det et tab, det første krigsskib, der nogensinde er blevet sænket af en ubåd.

De fleste af Housatonics 155 besætningsmedlemmer reddede sig selv ved at lancere redningsbåde eller bestige riggen, der forblev over havnens lave 27 fod dybde i tide til redningsbåde fra et nærliggende Union-krigsskib ankom. Fem unionssejlere døde, men resultatet var endnu mere ødelæggende for konføderationen, da Hunley aldrig vendte tilbage til havnen. For tredje gang gled Hunley til bunden af ​​Charleston Harbour, men præcis hvorfor er det stadig et mysterium. Det undersøiske fartøj kunne have været livstruende beskadiget i torpedoeksplosionen, ramt af et skud fra Housatonic eller suget ind i hvirvelen på det synkende krigsskib.

I 1995 var ubåden placeret under sand og skaller af romanforfatteren Clive Cusslers National Underwater and Marine Agency. Fem år senere blev det velbevarede vrag i Hunley med sine otte besætninger stadig på deres stationer og Dixon stadig med sin heldige mønt rejst fra dens grumsede grav og bragt til Warren Lasch Conservation Center i North Charleston, hvor det blev placeret i en ferskvandstank på 90.000 gallon. Besætningen på Hunley fik en ordentlig begravelse i 2004, og et internationalt team af forskere, der studerer vraget, mener, at de er tæt på at løse mysteriet om, hvad der skete med dem i de sidste øjeblikke af deres vovede mission.


Det Olterra var en 5.000 ton italiensk tankskib, der tilfældigvis befandt sig i Gibraltar-bugten den 10. juni 1940, den dag, Italien gik ind i anden verdenskrig. Den dag blev det italienske skib saboteret og delvist sænket af britiske kommandoer. Det Olterra forblev, hvor det var i bugten og blev et observationssted for italienerne, da de udførte menneskelige torpedomissioner fra Villa Carmela. Fra juli til september 1942 var kampsvømmere fra Villa Carmela i stand til at tage fem handelsskibe ud.

Det var på dette tidspunkt, at løjtnant Licio Vistintini havde ideen om at vende Olterra ind i et hemmeligt moderskib til maiali. Maiale (& ldquopig & rdquo på italiensk) var kaldenavnet på de bemandede torpedoer, der blev brugt af italienerne. Et team af Decima, der designede sig selv som civile italienske arbejdere, tog kontrol over tankskibet. De slæbte skibet til den spanske by Algeciras i nærheden for at udføre reparationer og reparationer, så skibet kunne sælges til en spansk ejer.

Når skibet var ved havneanlæggene, blev lastrummet og fyrrummet ændret for at understøtte opbygning og vedligeholdelse af menneskelige torpedoer. Der var også en observationsstation indbygget i prognose til at se bugten og holde øje med de allierede skibe der. Der var også en scene med civilarbejdere på plads uden for skibet for at overbevise både spanierne og briterne om, at der ikke foregik noget mistænkeligt. En glidende luge blev bygget seks fod før vandlinjen, der tillod miniaturebåde at forlade skibet.

Den første mission fandt sted i december 1942. Tre subs blev lanceret med to mænd i hver. Tre af mændene døde, og to blev taget til fange. De fortalte briterne, at de var kommet fra en ubåd og derfor beholdt Olterra fra at blive afsløret. En anden mission i 1943 var en succes med at synke tre fragtskibe. En anden mission samme år sank yderligere tre skibe. Briterne indså aldrig, hvor mini -ubådene kom fra, før italienerne overgav sig og fortalte dem det.


Under Vietnamkrigen angreb ubåden Sculpin blev sendt på en vovemission af præsident Nixon. Det blev antaget, at forsyningstrålere i det sydkinesiske hav leverede Viet Cong. Da amerikanske styrker fandt jordtropper, der lossede en af ​​trawlerne på en sydvietnamesisk strand, brød en massiv brandkamp ud. Den brutale kamp fik mange soldater til at tro, at trawlermandskaberne var elitestyrker, der var villige til at kæmpe til døden.

Efter brandbekæmpelsen ville de amerikanske styrker stoppe trawlerne. Det blev anslået, at hver trawler kunne levere 100 tons ammunition, efter at skibene blev fotograferet i internationale farvande. Da trawlerne ikke kunne angribes i internationale farvande, og der var bekymret over et uheld at angribe en legitim trawler i regionen. En plan blev oprettet for at bruge en ubåd til at følge en af ​​trawlerne hele vejen fra Hainan til Sydvietnam for at markere den til destruktion af amerikanske styrker.

Den 12. april 1972 blev Sculpin patruljerede ved Hainan og fandt en trawler, der matchede beskrivelsen af ​​trawlerne, der sendte forsyninger til Viet Cong. Da trawleren drejede mod Filippinerne, tog mændene i Sculpin indså, at de fulgte et forsyningsskib og ikke en fisker og holdt nøje øje. De slukkede aktivt ekkolod og brugte kun passiv ekkolod ved hjælp af den markante akselgnidning og propellyd for at holde øje med trawler & rsquos position. Da de fulgte trawleren fra Kina til Vietnam, med skjult luftstøtte over dem, blev Sculpin opereret i vand, der var helt roligt og så lavt som seks favne.

Da trawleren blev fulgt helt til den vietnamesiske kyst, besætningen på Sculpin bad om tilladelse til at skyde, men admiral John McCain mente, at det ikke ville fungere. I stedet blev de sydvietnamesiske flådestyrker indkaldt den 24. april. Da den vietnamesiske destroyer lukkede i trawleren rejste et kinesisk flag og indikerede, at de fiskede. Dette fik vietnameserne til at tøve, men mændene ombord på Sculpin insisterede på, at det var en trawler fyldt med våben, som de havde fulgt i 2.400 miles.

Ved denne identifikation ramte sydvietnameserne trawleren, og den og dens last eksploderede. Et par mænd overlevede og blev reddet. De talte vietnamesisk, ikke kinesisk, og gav værdifuld intelligens om deres operationer, hvilket gjorde missionen til en fuldstændig succes.


  • Hunley sank et Union -blokadeskib i november 1864 ved at vædre det med en torpedo fastgjort til en spar
  • Det blev hævet fra bunden af ​​havet ud for kysten af ​​North Charleston, South Carolina i 2000
  • To forskere har brugt de sidste 17 år på at samle besætningens rester og restaurere det lille fartøj
  • De meddelte i denne uge, at de havde fundet en menneskelig tand begravet inde i en betonlignende masse sand og mudder
  • Parret meddelte også, at de havde opdaget, hvordan ubåden bevægede sig ved hjælp af en række vandrør

Udgivet: 14:27 BST, 8. juni 2017 | Opdateret: 15:34 BST, 8. juni 2017

Forskere har fundet menneskelige rester inde i H.L. Hunley, den første ubåd i historien til at synke et fjendtligt krigsskib, efter at den kom ud af en 75.000 gallon tank kemikalier.

Ubåden, der kæmpede for konføderationen i den amerikanske borgerkrig, blev sænket nær North Charleston, South Carolina, i 1864 af sin egen torpedo og dræbte alle otte mænd om bord.

Hunley blev rejst fra bunden af ​​havet i 2000, og to forskere har brugt de sidste 17 år på at samle besætningens rester og restaurere fartøjet som en del af en omhyggelig oprydningsoperation.

Ved siden af ​​tanden meddelte forskerne, at de endelig havde revnet, hvordan ubåden blev drevet gennem vandet. Skjult under de stenhårde ting forskere kalder 'konkretion' var et sofistikeret sæt tandhjul og tænder på håndsvinget i vandrøret, der løb i længden af ​​den 40 fod store sub

HL HUNLEYS DØMMEDE TURER

Hunleys vellykkede, men dødsdømte sidste mission var faktisk dens tredje rejse. Ubåden sank en gang, mens den lagde til med åbne luger i august 1863. Kun tre af de otte mænd om bord slap og overlevede.

I oktober 1863 ledede designer H.L. Hunley endnu et otte-mands besætning, der planlagde at vise, hvordan suben opererede ved at dykke under et skib i Charleston Harbour.

De dukkede aldrig op, men suben blev fundet uger senere og bragt tilbage til overfladen. Denne besætning blev begravet i grave, der endte under Citadellens fodboldstadion i 50 år.

Mens de fleste rester blev fjernet og ceremonielt begravet på Magnolia Cemetery i 2004, fandt forskerne en tand fast i en betonlignende masse sand, mudder og andet affald ved håndtagets position nummer 3.

Det menes, at dette er den position, hvor besætningsmedlem Frank Collins sad, en konfødereret sømand, der kun var 24 år gammel, da han sank sammen med Hunley.

Projektlederarkæolog Michael Scafuri fortalte Post og Courier, at tandtabet var 'obduktion', hvilket betyder, at tanden længe efter synkningen løsnede sig under nedbrydningsprocessen og satte sig fast i håndsvinget, hvor den tærede med jernet.

Fundet blev gjort, da paret af forskere, der havde til opgave med ubådens oprydning, gav en projektopdatering under et medieopslag i denne uge.

Ved siden af ​​tanden meddelte forskerne, at de endelig havde revnet, hvordan ubåden blev drevet gennem vandet.

Skjult under de stenhårde ting, forskere kalder 'konkretion', var et sofistikeret sæt tandhjul og tænder på håndsvinget i vandrøret, der løb i længden af ​​den 40 fod store sub.


Operation Barmaid

HMS Erobrer var en atomdrevet flådeubåd, der tjente i den britiske flåde fra 1971 til 1990. Hun blev berømt for at være den eneste atomdrevne ubåd, der har sænket et fjendtligt skib med torpedoer, og faldt general Belgrano ned under Falklands-krigen. Hun blev bygget som et svar på den sovjetiske trussel til søs og skulle ikke kun angribe andre skibe, men også udføre spionmissioner på sovjetiske ubådsbevægelser.

Det var en af ​​HMS Erobreren & rsquos mest vovede missioner, der endelig blev afsløret i 2012. Kun uger efter at General Belgrano var senket, ville ubåden få en mission, der var meget mere risikabel og vanskeligere. I august 1982 blev HMS Erobrer blev sendt til grænsen til Rusland og rsquos territorialfarvand, sejlads så tæt på grænsen var lovligt tilladt. Selvom ubåden til tider måske var endnu tættere på Rusland, end hvad der var tilladt.

HMS Erobreren med Jolly Rodger hævet efter at have sænket General Belgrano. Pinterest

Kaptajn Wreford-Brown var blevet sendt for at finde en spion trawler eller AGI (Army General Intelligence). Disse skibe var kendt for at være fyldt med aflytnings- og detektionsudstyr og ville ofte hale NATO -øvelser eller lure rundt om flådebaser. Skibet, som HMS Conqueror var ude efter på denne mission, var endnu mere end bare en spion trawler, det blev trukket en to-mile snor af hydrofoner, der var kendt som en bugseret array sonar. Denne ekkolod var den bedste inden for sovjetisk ubåddetekteringsteknologi og HMS Erobrer var på mission for at stjæle det.

At stjæle et to kilometer langt kabel, der er tre centimeter tykt, fastgjort til et skib og lavet til at opdage ubåde er ikke så let som det lyder. HMS Erobrer var udstyret med to elektroniske tang (leveret af amerikanerne) for at skære igennem kablet. Ubåden skulle komme op nedenunder array & rsquos blinde plet og kant mod skærepunktet, der var kun få meter fra slæbeskibet. Tv -kameraerne, der bruges til at betjene tangene, ville ikke kunne se noget før et par centimeter fra målet, da vandet var så sort, så resten skulle gøres med hovedregning.

Missionen var en succes, selvom nogle mener, at den fandt sted i sovjetiske farvande kun tre miles fra kysten. Når en sikker afstand væk fra HMS Erobrer dukkede op og trak det afskårne array om bord.


OVERSIGT

Den 17. februar 1864 blev den H. L. Hunley blev den første succesrige kamp ubåd i verdenshistorien med forliset af USS Housatonisk. Efter at have afsluttet sin mission forsvandt hun på mystisk vis og forblev tabt på havet i over et århundrede. I årtier søgte eventyrere efter den legendariske ubåd.

Over et århundrede senere fandt National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), ledet af New York Times-bestsellerforfatter Clive Cussler, endelig Hunley i 1995. Nyheder om opdagelsen rejste hurtigt rundt i verden. En banebrydende indsats begyndte at hente den skrøbelige ubåd fra havet. Det Hunley Commission and Friends of the Hunley, en non-profit gruppe, der har til opgave at rejse midler til støtte for fartøjet, ledede en indsats med den amerikanske flåde, der kulminerede den 8. august 2000 med Hunley's sikker genopretning.

Hun blev derefter leveret til Warren Lasch Conservation Center, et højteknologisk laboratorium specielt designet til at bevare fartøjet og låse op for mysteriet om hendes forsvinden. Det Hunley er siden blevet udgravet og har vist sig at være en tidskapsel, der rummer en lang række artefakter, der kan lære os om livet under den amerikanske borgerkrig. Ubåden og de hundredvis af artefakter, der findes ombord, gennemgår i øjeblikket bevaringsarbejde, mens arkæologer bruger de historiske spor, de har fundet til at sammensætte de sidste øjeblikke i Hunley og hendes besætning.

Det Hunley's rejsen gennem tiden har været præget af innovation, mod og tragedie. Hendes mod-alle-odds-historie har strakt sig over århundreder og er et af de største maritime mysterier i nyere historie. Dette websted følger det banebrydende fartøj fra hendes begyndelse under den amerikanske borgerkrig til den moderne indsats omkring hendes bevarelse og undersøgelse.

Efterhånden som mere sediment blev udgravet fra ubåden, begyndte håndsvinget at dukke op i undervognens midtersektion. Her anvender konservatorer Philippe de Vivies og Paul Mardikian beskyttelse på den udsatte krumtapaksel.


James A. Wicks

James A. Wicks oplevede sin del af fare i hele sit liv og overlevede endda et berømt maritimt slag under borgerkrigen, mens han tjente som unionssejler.

Takket være oplysninger fra hans familie såvel som Unionens optegnelser, ved vi en hel del om Wicks. For eksempel ved vi, at han blev født i North Carolina omkring 1819, et af kun tre medlemmer af Hunley mandskab født i Syd.

Ifølge retsmedicinsk analyse voksede Wicks op til at være en robust ung mand, der stod næsten 5 fod 10 tommer høj og var en stor tobaksbruger. I 1850, i begyndelsen af ​​30’erne, sluttede Wicks sig til den amerikanske flåde og tjente i over et årti først som sømand og senere som kvartmester. Men hans liv skulle snart blive kompliceret.

Samme år sluttede han sig til flåden i 1850, mens han var stationeret i Brooklyn, NY, giftede den unge sømand sig og blev i de følgende år far til fire piger. Da borgerkrigen begyndte, boede hans kone og børn i Fernandina, Florida. I mellemtiden blev Wicks kaldet til tjeneste i en krig mod hans hjemland, hvor hans familie boede. Vi kan kun antage, at dette skabte en følelse af modstridende loyaliteter for Wicks.

Som sømand i den amerikanske flåde tjente Wicks først på USS Braziliera og senere USS Kongres. Hans job holdt ham på havet meget af tiden.

Da krigen begyndte, kunne Wicks have ønsket at være tættere på sin familie, og han kunne have ønsket at kæmpe på siden af ​​sit hjemland. Omstændighederne gjorde det imidlertid bogstaveligt talt svært for ham at springe skib. I marts 1862 ville han have sin chance.

Mens han tjente ombord på USS Kongres, Var Wicks vidne til det berømte angreb af den jernklædte CSS Virginia (tidligere kendt som Merimac) i slaget ved Hampton Rhodes i farvandet ud for New Port News, Virginia. Det Virginia sank USS Cumberland og forkrøblede Kongres. Allerede dagen efter deltog den konfødererede jernbeklædning i hendes berømte kamp med USS Overvåge.

Da Wicks skib blev ødelagt ud for kysten i en sydlig stat, fik han mulighed for at komme ind i Virginia og krydse til den anden side af kamplinjerne. Det gjorde han den 7. april 1862. I Richmond, Virginia, meldte Wicks sig ind i den konfødererede flåde og blev klassificeret som sømand.

Nu, der kæmpede på vegne af Konføderationen, var Wicks første opgave til CSS Indisk chef. Med god service blev han over tid forfremmet til Boatswain's Mate, en assistent for den officer, der kontrollerer andre søfolk.

Når Dixon, Hunley's kommandør, var ved at samle sit frivillige besætning til den farlige rejse med den eksperimentelle ubåd, Wicks var en af ​​fem besætningsmedlemmer valgt fra den indiske chef.

Men selv før Hunley's mission blev lanceret, blev Wicks kaldet til at tjene i en anden vovet opgave. I begyndelsen af ​​1864 tog han en kort orlov fra sin Hunley pligter til at deltage i et raid uden for New Bern, North Carolina. Natangrebet, foretaget af en lille gruppe konfødererede, førte til ødelæggelsen af ​​unionsskibet Underwriter. Efter at have afsluttet denne mission blev Wicks den 5. februar 1864 sendt tilbage til Charleston og må have ankommet kun dage før Hunley's sidste rejse.

Hans opgave var at bemande Hunley's sjette håndsvingsposition. Wicks ansvar omfattede betjening af håndsvinget, og i nødstilfælde var hans opgave at frigøre den bageste kølblok.

Maria Jacobsen, Seniorarkæolog på Hunley projektet sagde: "Under udgravning fandt vi en kølfrigivelsesmekanisme under stationen bemandet af Wicks." Også, hvis der skulle ske noget med Ridgaway, næstkommanderende, ville Wicks have overtaget hans pligter. Wicks rester blev fundet forbundet med syv amerikanske flådeknapper, hvilket er i overensstemmelse med hans militærtjeneste.

Linda Abrams, en retsmedicinsk slægtsforsker, der forsker i Hunley besætning, sagde, “Wicks overlevende slægtninge og hans tjeneste i den amerikanske flåde har gjort det muligt for mig at lære meget om denne mands udseende. Ifølge optegnelser havde han lysebrunt hår, blå øjne og en florid teint. ”

To af Wicks døtre fik børn. Efterkommere af hans ældste datter var i Charleston, South Carolina den 17. april for begravelsen af ​​deres forfader, James A. Wicks, en ekstraordinært modig mand og en sand pioner inden for maritim historie.


Envejsmission fra H. L. Hunley

Solen var gået ud over marsken, ud over Charleston, og øen var stille. Manden tjekkede sit guldlommeur, bemærkede, at det var langt over 1800, og stak det tilbage i jakken. Tidevandet var vendt, og de sidste rester af gråt var ved at falme fra himlen. Der var ingen skyer at tale om, vinden var død, og vandet var lige så roligt, som han havde set det på næsten en måned. Den stigende måne kan forråde deres stealth noget, men det var en chance, han skulle tage. Denne nat - 17. februar 1864 - var så tæt på perfekt, som han med rette kunne forvente.

Han kastede et blik til havet, ledte efter det svage skær fra skibets dæklys og fandt det til sidst. Tidligere på dagen havde han fået en kurs fra sit kompas og var glad for at se, at det ikke havde ændret sig. Om et par timer sløjfede Union -skruen Housatonisk ville ikke længere vogte indgangen til Charleston Harbour.

Manden, løjtnant George Dixon, kunne ikke vente længere. Charleston var ved at blive kvalt under den sydatlantiske blokade -eskadrille, Fort Sumter var blevet beskudt i en bunke murbrokker, og det konfødererede militær var tør for tålmodighed. Krigen havde taget en frygtelig vejafgift på byen. Hvis det skulle overleve, havde Charleston brug for noget for at genoprette sin tro.

Dixons hemmelige våben var H. L. Hunley, en 40 fod, hånddrevet ubåd fortøjet ved Battery Marshall-kajen på Sullivans ø. Og i sandhed var hun ikke længere meget hemmelig. I de sidste seks måneder havde suben domineret sladder i Charleston. Hun var ankommet i august med løfte om, at blokaden endelig ville blive brudt. Men efter lidt mere end en uge tog konfødererede militæret fartøjet og sank hende straks. Fem mænd døde.

Dixon kom til Charleston efter det. Horace Hunley, ubådens navnebror, havde overbevist general P. G. T. Beauregard, chef for Department of South Carolina, Georgia og Florida, om at returnere Hunley til ham. Med et simpelt telegram rejste Hunley et helt besætning af frivillige fra Mobile, Alabama. Han var klog nok til at sætte Dixon i spidsen. Den tidligere flodbådsingeniør, medlem af det 21. Alabama Infanteriregiment, havde hjulpet med at bygge torpedobåden og forstod hende bedre end de fleste. Mens han kom sig efter et alvorligt sår, arbejdede Dixon i Park and Lyons maskinforretning i Mobile, da Hunley og en af ​​hendes forgængere var under opførelse der. Løjtnanten var blevet skudt mod Shiloh i april 1862, den kugle, der var beregnet til hans lår, ramte en guldmønt på 20 dollar i lommen, vrang den og manglede hans ben. Men mønten reddede hans liv.

Dixon fik ikke kun en udtalt halt, men også en lykke -charme. Han fik graveret mønten med datoen for slaget og påskriften "Mit liv bevarer." Nu havde han påmindelsen om sit utrolige held med sig overalt. Han håbede, at lykken ville blive ved lidt længere - mere end den havde for Hunley.

I oktober havde Horace Hunley forsøgt at styre suben i Dixons fravær. Med en skare, der så demonstrationen fra land, sank han ubåden i Charleston Harbour og dræbte sig selv og syv andre. Subens dødstal var på 13, ingen af ​​dem unionssejlere. Derefter havde det taget Dixon en måned at overbevise Beauregard om at lade ham prøve igen.

På det tidspunkt havde mange afvist ubåden som bare endnu et mislykket eksperiment, endnu en tabt årsag. Dixon ville ændre den opfattelse denne nat. Det Hunley ville sejle på fem minutter.

Tidlige bestræbelser

Ubådsalderen ankom for 150 år siden, mest på grund af en ambitiøs dagdrømmer, to års forskning og udvikling og en krig. Mænd havde bygget undervandsfartøjer før borgerkrigen, men disse ubåde nåede faktisk aldrig det mål, de var bygget til - de sank aldrig et fjendtligt skib i kamp. Det Hunley'S bedrift var så langt forud for sin tid, at den ikke ville blive gentaget i et halvt århundrede.

Horace Lawson Hunley, dagdrømmeren, havde succes med næsten enhver foranstaltning. Han var en advokat, en tidligere statslovgiver, vicetoldchef i New Orleans og venner med nogle af byens mest indflydelsesrige mænd. Hunley havde tjent et beskedent beløb, nok til at han ejede en lille plantage og et par slaver. I slutningen af ​​1861 besluttede han at udvide sin forretningsportefølje.

Han har måske fået ideen om at bygge en ubåd i sommeren 1861. Pastor Franklin Smith, en kemiker og opfinder, havde sendt et brev til sydlige aviser og opfordret forretningsmænd til at investere i ideen om "Submarine Warfare". Smith skrev, at "Det nye fartøj skal være en cigarformet hastighed - lavet af pladejern, forbundet uden ydre nittehoveder, der er cirka 30 meter lange, med et centralt afsnit på cirka 4 x 3 fod - drevet af en spiralpropeller."

Senere ville mange antage, at patriotisme drev Hunley. I sandhed syntes han, at krigen var tåbelig, men mistænkte, at den kunne være god for erhvervslivet. Den konfødererede regering og velhavende forretningsmænd tilbød belønninger på op til $ 50.000-det 19. århundredes ækvivalent med $ 1,3 millioner i dag-til alle, der sank et EU-krigsskib. Men der var mere til det end penge. Hunley ville være en del af noget større, han drømte om at være en stor mand. Han bar en notesbog i lommen, en hovedbog, hvori han skrev storslåede ideer for at sætte et præg på denne verden. Til sidst kasserede Hunley alle disse drømme og adopterede Smiths.

I efteråret 1861 fik Hunley, med økonomisk støtte fra flere venner, New Orleans -ingeniør James McClintock til at bygge sin ubåd. Han kunne næsten ikke have fundet en bedre partner. McClintock, der er hjemmehørende i Cincinnati, havde været en af ​​de yngste dampbådskaptajner på Mississippi, inden han slog sig ned for at åbne et maskinværksted lige uden for det franske kvarter. Som 32 -årig blev han betragtet som et vidunderbarn. McClintock var for nylig blevet kontraheret til at lave kugler til den konfødererede hær, mest fordi han byggede en maskine, der kunne producere tusindvis af miniékugler i timen.

McClintock designede og byggede hans ubåd den vinter, og hun var tilsyneladende modelleret præcis efter Smiths brev. Båden, der blev døbt Pioner, var 35 fod lang og næsten helt rund - fire fod bred og fire fod høj. Hun havde en enkelt luge og to korte, squat finner, som piloten kunne justere til dyk eller overflade. Hendes tilspidsede ender tjente som ballasttanke til at tage ind og udvise det vand, der var nødvendigt for at nedsænke og overflade. To mænd drejede en håndsving for at drive subens propel, mens en tredje stod, hovedet i lugen og styrede.

Det Pioner blev lanceret i marts 1862, omkring det tidspunkt Monitoren bekæmpede CSS Virginia gået i stå på Hampton Roads. Suben viste sig skrøbelig, langsom og utæt, men hun arbejdede. Det Pioner blev til sidst den eneste ubåd, der modtog et brev med marque - en privatlicens, i grunden - under borgerkrigen. Men hun ville aldrig se kamp.

I april 1862 erobrede unionsstyrker New Orleans. Hunley og McClintock, der var bekymrede for, at deres hemmelige våben ville falde i fjendens hænder, sank Pioner og flygtede til Mobile. Der tog konfødereret distrikt i Gulf -chefen generalmajor Dabney H. Maury interesse for parrets indsats og introducerede dem for ejerne af Park og Lyons maskinværksted. Det ville tage næsten et år at bygge deres anden ubåd, Amerikansk dykker.

McClintock, der ønsker at forbedre på Pioner'S design, spildte måneder med at bygge en elektromagnetisk motor til at drive Amerikansk dykker (ingeniøren troede manuelt at skrue propellen for var primitiv). Men han kunne ikke bygge en motor, der var lille nok til at passe i hans båd. Endelig måtte McClintock opgive og installere krumtap. Han gjorde suben kun en fod længere end Pioner men tilføjede to mand til besætningens komplement, i håb om mere arbejdskraft ville gøre denne sub hurtigere end den sidste.

Det Dykker forsøgte kun et angreb på West Gulf Blockading Squadron, og det var en katastrofe. Når suben var ubunden, havde hun ikke strøm nok til at bekæmpe tidevandet, og hendes besætning befandt sig trukket ud på havet. De forsøgte aldrig at engagere sig i blokaden, det var alt, hvad de kunne gøre for at komme tilbage til kajen. Inden de kunne prøve igen, blev båden sumpet på slæb og sank i Mobile Bay.

Et slankt, komplekst fartøj

Med tabet af Amerikansk dykker, Hunley og McClintock var løbet tør for penge. De ville have været tvunget til at opgive deres drøm, bortset fra at Edgar C. Singer, en torpedoekspert fra Texas, ankom til Mobile det forår. Singer erkendte projektets betydning og fandt McClintock de penge, han havde brug for for at komme tilbage på arbejde.

I hele foråret og forsommeren 1863 byggede McClintock og arbejdere fra Park og Lyons en tredje del, langt mere avanceret end sine forgængere. År senere ville McClintock skrive, at han denne gang havde "mere ondt med hendes model og maskineriet."

Hun ville have en "elliptisk form". Buen ville kun være en centimeter bred, ubåden udvidede til sit bredeste punkt ved besætningsrummet og aftrapede igen mod akterenden. McClintock tilføjede tynde rygfinner foran lugerne for at reducere træk. Han installerede også små finner foran bådens dykkervinger for at aflede reb eller tang - alt, hvad der kunne blokere finnernes funktion. Dette var ikke en cigarbåd, hun lignede mere en haj.

Ved 40 fod ville suben være fire fod længere end Dykker. Årsagen, sagde McClintock, var fordi "[hans] båd blev udtrykkeligt bygget til håndkraft." Hvis hun skulle drives af hånden, ville han simpelthen tilføje flere hænder. Ubådens hovedrum ville være næsten 25 fod langt. Med den ekstra plads kunne suben bære en besætning på otte. McClintock expanded their power exponentially by installing a series of reduction gears and a flywheel between the propeller and hand cranks. The crew would be able to propel the sub like a wind-up toy. This would give the men periods of rest, and perhaps even allow them to work in shifts. It would cut down on exhaustion, which he hoped would increase the submarine’s range.

McClintock also improved the plumbing in this submarine. She would include forward and aft ballast tanks, as the others had, each with its own pump. But this time he added fail-safe redundancies with a network of pipes running beneath the crew bench. With the switch of a lever, water could be pumped from one tank to the other, equalizing water distribution. The pumps also served as back-ups to one another and could siphon water from the crew compartment. This was perhaps the boat’s greatest safety feature. The sub’s buoyancy was fragile a few inches of water in the main compartment, and she would sink to the bottom.

The first draft of history would call this submarine a converted iron boiler, but that was not the case. McClintock designed a sleek, hydrodynamic, complex vessel far ahead of her time. Well into the 20th century, most boats that traveled beneath the waves followed McClintock’s vision, but he would never be recognized as the father of the modern submarine.

Det H. L. Hunley was launched in July 1863. A crew likely composed of men from the Park and Lyons machine shop tested the boat in the Mobile River for a couple of weeks. Finally, on 31 July, they invited Confederate officials to a demonstration. General Maury, Rear Admiral Franklin Buchanan, and Brigadier General James E. Slaughter gathered onshore, their attention directed to a flat barge anchored in the river.

On cue, the Hunley appeared upstream towing a floating contact mine at the end of a long line. As the sub approached the barge, she gracefully slipped beneath the water. The mine stayed on the surface and, when it made contact, there was a tremendous explosion. The barge lurched and dipped and soon began to sink. Several minutes later, the Hunley surfaced 400 yards downstream.

Confederate commanders in Mobile soon were recommending the submarine for service at Charleston. Buchanan, commander of the Naval District of the Gulf, likely orchestrated the campaign. The admiral did not trust submarine technology, but military politics also played a role. Det Hunley, although a civilian vessel, had been promoted tirelessly by the Confederate Army—and Buchanan had no control over her. To rid himself of the problem, he sent a note to the commander of naval forces in Charleston, Flag Officer John Randolph Tucker, enthusiastically recommending the Hunley.

“I am fully satisfied it can be used successfully in blowing up one or more of the enemy’s Iron Clads in your harbor,” Buchanan wrote. The admiral added a request that Tucker forward his suggestion to Beauregard at his Charleston headquarters. The general responded almost immediately. He needed the Hunley. Charleston needed the Hunley.

In less than two weeks, the submarine arrived there by train. And then, tragedy. The sub sank twice, 13 men died, and the city lost hope. By the winter of 1864, Dixon was the only man left with faith in the boat. And he would not fail.

To Sink a Blockader

It took the Hunley nearly two hours to reach the Housatonic on 17 February 1864. Running with the tide, the submarine traveled at about 4 knots. Dixon steered by compass from his vantage point low on the water, he likely could not see a ship miles away. The boat traveled on the surface, as Beauregard had asked Dixon not to dive. This was the only thing that gave the lieutenant pause. Det Hunley recently had been refit with a 20-foot spar tipped with a torpedo. Instead of diving beneath a ship and towing a contact mine into her side, the submarine would ram her prey with the torpedo. After completing the mission, Dixon would flash a blue phosphorus lamp, the signal for troops ashore to start a signal fire by which the lieutenant would steer the Hunley home.

As they sailed into the Atlantic, the grind of the crank and reduction gears became a monotonous noise that filled the compartment. The crew said little talking used oxygen, and that was a commodity they could not spare. Despite the boat’s deadly history, Dixon had found more than enough volunteers in Charleston—sailors, artillerymen, even some veterans of privateers. Throughout the winter these men trained, and those two months of practice made them the most proficient crew ever to sail the sub. In that time, the Hunley had gone out three or four times a week, sometimes getting close enough to blockaders that Dixon could hear sailors singing on deck. But they had never attacked. Conditions had never been quite right.

By 2020, Dixon could see the Housatonic less than a quarter-mile away. He knew that he should wait for the tide to turn, to make it easier to return to shore. But they were in enemy territory now to wait risked detection, and stealth was their greatest advantage. Besides, Dixon had been waiting for months. He could not wait any longer.

Ombord på Housatonic, there was little activity that evening. Nine sailors were milling about on deck, settling into a long shift. The watch had changed at 2000, and the men who had just arrived topsides were still adjusting to the cold. Most of the 155 sailors on board were belowdecks.

Life on board the Housatonic was about as dull as it got in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. The 205-foot sloop had arrived off the coast of Charleston in late September 1862 and since then had seen little action. Det Housatonic’s primary role was to stop blockade-runners trying to reach the city. On this night, the ship was at just about the northernmost post in the blockade, not exactly a key position.

The first man to notice the strange thing in the water was Robert F. Flemming, a black landsman standing watch on the ship’s cathead. Just before 2030 he saw something about 400 feet off the starboard bow, approaching from land. The object appeared to be about 22 feet long, he later recalled, with only its ends visible. Water washed over its midsection, but parts of it stood nearly two feet out of the water. Flemming alerted the officer of the forecastle, Acting Master’s Mate Lewis A. Comthwait, who studied the object for only a second before he dismissed it as floating debris. “It’s a log,” he said.

“Queer-looking log,” Flemming replied. He noted that this “log” was not floating with the tide—it was moving across it.

Flemming called out to C. P. Slade, another black sailor on watch. By this time the object was only 300 feet from the ship and moving too fast to be drifting. Flemming told Slade there was “a torpedo coming.”

Besætningen på Housatonic had heard stories of the Confederates’ alleged secret weapon. After receiving several reports from Confederate deserters, the Union squadron commander, Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, had issued orders the month before for ships to prepare for attacks from boats that could travel nearly or completely underwater. This intelligence was the reason the Housatonic, like all the squadron’s blockaders, anchored in relatively shallow water with her fires stoked and pressure in her boilers. The ship was ready. Flemming was ready, too, even if nobody else was.

“If no one is going to report this,” he said, loud enough for the other men on deck to hear. “I will cut the buoy adrift myself and get ready for slipping.”

When Comthwait heard Flemming’s remark, he took another look, this time using binoculars, and saw that this log had two lumps on it the size of a man’s head. Water rippled around the lumps, and he realized the object was moving under its own power. Comthwait turned and ran aft to find the officer of the deck.

By then, nearly every man on watch had spotted the Hunley, including Acting Master John Crosby, who alerted Captain Charles Pickering. On deck within seconds, the captain quickly called out orders—“Slip the anchor chain and fire up the engine”—and got his first look at the fish boat.

“It was shaped like a large whale boat, about two feet, more or less, under the water,” Pickering later recalled. “Its position was at right angles to the ship, bows on, and the bows within two or three feet of the ship’s side, about abreast of the mizzen mast, and I supposed it was then finding the torpedo on.”

Pickering ordered his men to “go astern faster,” raised his double-barrelled shotgun, and fired two loads of buckshot at the strange boat. Several of the crew joined him. They shot at her for more than a minute with small arms the sub was too close to train cannon on her. Some of the men aimed at faint lights on her top that appeared to glow, candlelight filtering through the sub’s deadlights. The gunfire did no damage to the dark craft so far as they could tell.

And then, an explosion. Crosby would later say it “sounded like a collision with another vessel.” There was no smoke, no flame, no sharp report, no column of water thrown into the air—simply a noticeable pressure, and then the Housatonic blew up.

The men on deck were still firing on the Hunley when the explosion knocked them off their feet. The ship lurched violently to port, recoiling from the blow. Deck planks were blown nearly as high as the ship’s mizzenmast. One sailor saw furniture floating out of a ten-foot hole in the side of the ship.

Det Housatonic was going down fast. But because the sloop had been anchored in such shallow water, she did not have far to go. When her keel hit bottom, about 25 feet down, most of the ship’s rigging still stood high above the waterline. Sailors climbed into the lines to await rescue. Pickering, who had been blown off his feet, told Crosby to take a lifeboat and pull for the nearby sloop Canandaigua for help.

While they awaited rescue, Robert Flemming, the man who had first spotted the Hunley, was among the sailors clinging to the ship’s rigging. After about 45 minutes he spotted the Canandaigua in the distance, some 800 feet away, making good time toward them. And then he saw something else. Later, Flemming would simply say, “I saw a blue light on the water just ahead of the Canandaigua, and on the starboard quarters of the Housatonic. ” For more than a century, men would speculate that Flemming, the first Union sailor to see the H. L. Hunley, was also the last man to see her for more than a century.

The Mysterious Aftermath

It would be days before Charleston realized the Hunley was missing, and about a week before Confederate officials learned that the torpedo boat had actually sunk a blockade ship. By then, the surviving crew of the Housatonic were preparing for an inquiry that would eventually conclude there was nothing they could have done to avert the loss of their ship.

But what happened to the Hunley? Was she struck by the Canandaugua, left rudderless and adrift? Did the concussion of the explosion knock the crew unconscious or, worse, kill them? Did one of the sailors on the Housatonic crew shoot out a port in the forward conning tower, allowing the sub to fill with water and sink? Or did Dixon simply set the sub down on the bottom to await the turning tide, and there the crew ran out of air? There are dozens of theories, and conflicting clues. The answer may never be known.

For a while, the Confederates maintained a ruse that the Hunley had returned to port, suggesting she still lurked among the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. But Dixon and the world’s first attack submarine were on eternal patrol and would not surface again for more than 130 years.

This article is adapted from a forthcoming book on the H. L. Hunley’s history and Clive Cussler’s 15-year search for the submarine. It was pieced together using letters, official Confederate documents, and first-person accounts. A letter from George E. Dixon to his friend Henry Willey dated 31 January 1864 (a copy of which is held by the Friends of the Hunley, www.hunley.org) provides many details, as does a letter Dixon wrote to Captain John Cothran of the 21st Alabama on 5 February 1864. William Alexander, a Mobile engineer who helped build the submarine and served in the final crew until two weeks before her famous mission, told various versions of the Hunley tale in a series of articles published around the turn of the century, beginning with “The True Story of the Confederate Submarine Boats” (New Orleans Picayune, 29 June 1902). Alexander’s accounts provide most of the meat to a story that is largely cryptic in official military and naval records. The rest of the account comes from the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of Rebellion, particularly Series 1, Volume 15. The National Archives also holds many Hunley-related documents, not the least of which are records of the official naval court of inquiry into the sinking of the Housatonic. Several letters of Horace Lawson Hunley survive in the Archives and are most accessible in Ruth H. Duncan’s book The Captain and Submarine CSS H. L. Hunley (Memphis: Toof, 1965).

Solving the Enduring Hunley Mystery

For 150 years, no one has been able to answer the single most important question about the H. L. Hunley: Why did she sink?

Since the submarine was recovered from the Atlantic floor in 2000, scientists have found dozens of tantalizing, sometimes conflicting clues about what happened to the boat following her attack on the Housatonic. But there’s been no smoking gun, no single piece of evidence that could solve the lingering mystery of what happened in the Hunley’s final moments.

But that could soon change. This spring scientists will embark on two separate projects that should give new insights into the submarine’s last hours. One is a simulation of her February 1864 battle using new information found by the Hunley’s conservators. The other is the beginning of the final phase in the sub’s conservation and restoration.

In March the Hunley will be submerged in a tank of caustic chemicals that will slowly extract the salt that seeped into her iron hull over the 136 years she was in the sea. After three months in this soak, scientists will begin the six-month job of deconcretion. A thick layer of sand and shell built up on the sub’s hull during her time buried beneath the ocean floor. Scientists have left this hard shell—a concrete-like substance called concretion—on the sub to protect her hull and minimize its deterioration. That decision helped to stabilize the boat while her interior was excavated, but the trade-off has been that the Hunley’s hull has never been examined. Now archaeologists will finally have the chance to see if there is damage that might shed light on her sinking.

Scientists believe a few months in the chemical soak will loosen the concretion enough to remove it, but the process could take far longer. All of the buildup must be removed before the conservation process can proceed. After that, it’s expected the Hunley will have to soak three or four more years before she’ll be ready for display in a museum.

As conservators scrape the hull, archaeologists at Clemson University’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center are planning the simulation of the Hunley’s battle with the Housatonic. In the past year, new clues have emerged that change the story dramatically.

Conservators working to preserve the submarine’s 20-foot spar discovered remnants of the Hunley’s torpedo still attached to its end. Most historical accounts suggest the Hunley speared a barbed torpedo into the ship’s hull and then backed away. The torpedo was then detonated with a line from the explosive that pulled taut when the sub was a safe distance away. But when scientists found copper sheeting—the skin of the torpedo—still bolted to the spar, it suggested a very different scenario. It now appears the Hunley used its spar like some other Civil War vessels, by simply ramming an enemy ship with a torpedo that blew up on contact.

And that means the Hunley was only 20 feet away from the blast that sank the Housatonic. “We want to see what we can learn from that about how it might have impacted the submarine as well as the crew,” said Stéphanie Cretté, director of the Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

The results of the simulation will be compared to the submarine and the data collected on the remains of the crew, which were buried in 2004. Forensic tests have revealed much about the men who served in the Hunley—some of them had bad backs, for instance, others had suffered broken bones—but there was nothing that proved they suffered any sort of trauma the night of the attack.

The work planned for the Hunley this year could be the most revealing since the initial excavation of the submarine in 2001. The sub, which was discovered in 1995 by best-selling author Clive Cussler’s National Underwater and Marine Agency, was raised by South Carolina’s state Hunley Commission and the non-profit Friends of the Hunley on 8 August 2000. Since then, she has resided in North Charleston at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, named for the Friends’ first chairman.

During the initial excavation, which lasted four months, scientists discovered hundreds of artifacts—including Lieutenant George Dixon’s gold coin. Everything found inside the submarine was mapped on a three-dimensional grid so that each detail of the archaeology would be preserved.

So far, many of those discoveries have proven contradictory. The sub was filled with mud and sand, but it remains unclear when the hull was breached. There is evidence that no sand penetrated the boat for at least six months after the attack. Also, there were stalactites on the sub’s ceiling, which means that at least part of the interior was dry for a long time. Still, the submarine could have been partially filled with water soon after she sank, as some evidence indicates.

Cussler believes the reason the Hunley sank may lie with the shroud around the submarine’s propeller. Half the shroud is missing, but the half that remains has a couple of distinctive triangular cuts in it that look a lot like propeller strikes. Cussler points out that the last reported sighting of the submarine, by Housatonic crewman Robert Flemming, put her directly in the path of the screw sloop Canandaigua. Cussler believes the ship could have hit the Hunley, severing her rudder and knocking the sub off an even keel. The rudder was found near the boat, but not attached to her.

If there are clues that can dispel or support theories about her mission, chances are they will be found later this year. And then, finally, scientists may have the answer to that nagging question: Why did the Hunley sink?


Det Squalus was diesel-electric submarine that was commission on March 1, 1939. It was a 310 feet and displaced 2,350 tons when submerged. Just a few weeks after it was commissioned the Squalus would capture the attention of nearly every American, causing newspapers to run extra editions to provide updates. On March 23, 1939, the Squalus sank off the coast of New Hampshire. Det var Sculpin who saw the marker buoy and was able to make contact in order to confirm there were survivors on board, however they were already suffering from the chlorine gas that was leaking from the battery compartment.

Det Squalus had 56 sailors and three civilians on board when it dived on March 23. The air induction valve failed and water poured into the aft engine room. The submarine sank down 240 feet to the bottom. The aft section flooded and killed 24 sailors and 2 civilians. In the forward compartment 32 crew members and one civilian sent up the marker buoy and red smoke bombs to alert those on the surface of their plight.

The communication did not last long as the cable parted. Det Sculpin stayed by its sister sub and the following morning the USS Falcon arrived. The rescue ship lowered the Momsen-McCann rescue chamber immediately. The chamber was little more than a modified diving bell manned by deep-sea divers but it managed to reach the Squalus and the crew. In three agonizingly slow trips 26 men were brought to the surface.

With seven men still trapped the cables of the rescue chamber became tangled and delayed dive. But in the pitch-black hours just before midnight a fourth trip rescued the final seven men after 39 hours of being trapped. In one more desperate dive the aft compartment was searched to verify that there were no survivors. Several weeks later a massive effort brought the Squalus to the surface and then it was towed to Portsmouth. There an investigation was conducted on the engine room compartments and the submarine was decommissioned on November 15, 1939.


Hunley’s Harrowing Mission

The USS Housatonic sank quickly after Hunley’s crew detonated a 135-pound torpedo embedded in the vaunted warship’s stern, as depicted in this modern painting by marine artist Dan Dowdey.

(Daniel Dowdey/Copyright © Friends of the Hunley®)

Eight committed crewmen crowded into the Confederacy’s revolutionary submersible for its first operation, it would also be its last.

E yes strained hard, the chilly winter air and cold Atlantic breeze inducing a watery squint. These eyes were accustomed to looking out. A sailor on a cathead was staring at the water, and so was Acting Master J.K. Crosby. Both were on the deck of the USS Housatonic—a state-of-the-art steam-powered sloop boasting 12 guns and 300 crewmen, the pride of the U.S. Navy. The ship was part of a fleet whose purpose was to blockade Charleston Harbor, in South Carolina, to keep Confederates from leaving and help from arriving. This nautical siege—part of the larger naval blockade of the South called Anaconda—was far from perfect, but it had done its main job: to constrict the Confederacy. Any effort to break the blockade had to be thwarted, and for that reason, Crosby’s and the sailor’s eyes scanned the water that cold night of February 17, 1864, with focused determination.

What Crosby was struggling to identify was a piece of Confederate technology that was about to make history: the H.L. Hunley submarine. Inside, eight men were crammed into what amounted to a repurposed boiler (strengthened with a skeletal frame) made of iron three-eighths of an inch thick, in a space 48 inches high, 42 inches wide, and 40 feet long.

Such extreme confinement would have been alien even to a sailor like Crosby, who was more accustomed to close quarters than were many soldiers on land. Being inside the Hunley was an experience quite unlike anything else endured by other combatants before or during the Civil War. It was born of necessity and creativity. Breaking Anaconda meant pushing men to the limits of endurance.

The ill-fated USS Housatonic (Naval History and Heritage Command)

In precise order they sat, on a bench about a foot wide. Before them, not quite down the center of the vessel (to allow for the bench), was a long iron bar, a crankshaft, indented at the position for each seated crewmember. Each of the seven indents was possibly wrapped with a wooden sheath, enabling the men to rotate the entire crankshaft in sync. The crankshaft, in turn, was connected to a differential gearbox, which converted human energy power into propeller power, giving the submarine locomotion under the water.

At the helm was George Dixon. Dixon was likely from the Midwest, though he enlisted in Company E of the 21st Alabama Infantry in October 1861. Injured at the Battle of Shiloh, Dixon became intimately familiar with the submarine, working first at the Park and Lyons machine shop in Mobile, Ala., during the Hunley’s construction and then accompanying the vessel to Charleston. Dixon asked Commodore John R. Tucker, commander of warships in Charleston, to provide him with some men, which he did. Seated directly behind Dixon was the youngest and shortest of the crewmembers, Arnold Becker, a recent arrival from Europe. For reasons unclear, he had joined the Confederate States Navy in October 1861. Serving on the General Polk and then on the CSS Chicora, Becker was later assigned to the CSS Indian Chief, and from that vessel, he was recruited for the Hunley. Age 20 and 5 feet, 5 inches tall, Becker was at the first crank position, muscling the propeller in circles, but he was also responsible for the air-circulation system, managing the forward pump and, critically, checking the position of the valves when the sub needed positive buoyancy.

As for the second cranker, there was surely more to his name, but we know him simply as “Lumpkin,” probably his last name. From his remains, forensic science has determined that his was a life of physical exertion—and physical abuse: He was a heavy pipe smoker with the grooves worn into his teeth to prove it. He had probably served, like Becker, on the Indian Chief before joining the Hunley mandskab.

Two men down from the diminutive Becker—next to Lumpkin—sat a large man, well over 6 feet. This was Frank Collins. A Virginian, Collins signed up with the Confederate Navy in 1861. Like the others, he had served on the Indian Chief. His position at third crank situated him mid-vessel. In the event of a sinking, escape through either of the boat’s two conning towers, situated forward and aft, would be unlikely.

In the equally treacherous fourth crank was Corporal C.F. Carlsen, in his early 20s, whom Dixon recruited from the German artillery. Carlsen, like the others, had naval experience, having served on the Jefferson Davis. He also saw battle at Fort Walker on Hilton Head, S.C., in November 1861. It is likely that nothing had truly prepared him for the position he found himself in on that cold February night in 1864.

Faces of Hunley

A team of leading archaeologists and forensic experts painstakingly studied the remains of Hunley’s crew and was able to complete reliable facial reconstructions of all eight. Clues found in some of the men’s teeth convinced researchers that four were European and one was a heavy pipe smoker.

(all images Copyright © Friends of the Hunley®)

A s with Lumpkin, we know the man at fifth position only by his last name, Miller (his first name might have been Augustus). And we don’t know much more than that. He might have served with Carlsen on the Jefferson Davis, and he might have been, like Becker, a recent immigrant from Europe. Either way, he had volunteered to serve on the Hunley.

About the man in the sixth crank position, James A. Wicks, we know a bit more. Wicks had served the Union Navy early in the war, aboard the USS Congress. When the Congress was destroyed by the CSS Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads in March 1862, Wicks swam ashore and enlisted in the Confederacy. Like other crew members, he ended up on the Indian Chief and from there volunteered for Hunley duty. He returned from a mission in New Bern, N.C., just days before the Hunley was launched to attack the Housatonic.

Another former sailor on the Indian Chief secured the last crank position, a Marylander named Joseph Ridgaway. The son of a sea captain, Ridgaway was well-versed in nautical matters, so much so that Dixon recruited him directly for the Hunley, not only having him man the seventh crank position but also making him responsible for securing the hatch and operating the flywheel and the pump.

Two of the eight men, Dixon and Ridgaway, used more than muscle. Dixon used his eyes and ears to navigate, and Ridgaway employed his eyes and fingers for stabilizing the sub by tweaking and feathering the levers controlling the ballast tanks at the vessel’s fore. And yet, like the other crewmen, they had to contort their bodies into position.

A period sketch provides a side view of the crew’s cramped working environment. (© Chronicle/Alamy)

The men ensconced in the Hunley experienced something unique, something that wouldn’t be matched for another half-century and the development of submarines and U-boats during World War I and, later, tank warfare. Intimacy meant contact with others. The men in the Hunley experienced a world more familiar to fighting in earlier ages. There were the triremes, of course, but the siege machines of both the ancient and medieval worlds offer comparisons.

Most antebellum Americans embraced an arm-stretching culture of open space. Partly, this was a product of the country’s size. News didn’t always come by word of mouth and human contact. Print and growing literacy and the intellectual forces underwriting the Enlightenment conspired to promote a more distanced, noncontact form of social interaction. Bathing, like bodily excretions, was now a private affair, and diners were not crammed on a bench. While servants in medieval Europe had often slept in the same bedroom as the master, servants in the 19th century had been relegated to a separate space, to quarters near enough for them to be summoned but removed. Touching was less necessary.

Human contact had changed and, beginning in the 18th century, the idea of private, individuated comfort began to spread from the elite downward to the middle class. By the early 19th century, ideas about comfort were understood in terms of room temperature, not body heat.

Clothing took on special meaning, since what you wore was a matter of individual choice, not a group function. It formed an outer shell against contact with the environment and with others. What people wore against their skin, in other words, said much about their station in life and their inner worth and beliefs. It also diminished the need for constant intimacy. We could be self-sustaining.

The men aboard the Hunley were practically working as a single body, their parts intertwined with the others’. Yet even in war, touching between men was prescribed and regimented. And certainly in peacetime, free white men were not really accustomed to either this intimacy or the contortions that it provided. Few occupations even began to approach the world of the submariners, and those that did were held in contempt. American observers of 19th-century English coal mines were aghast at how the mineshafts made men crawl over each other, animal-like, “with back and legs at an angle quite as acute as the pain thereby caused through underground passages that were apparently constructed for some Lilliputian race yet to be discovered.” Theirs was an unnatural world. The lack of air, the smell, the closeness of it all were a throwback to an uncivilized age, when men “naked from head to waist are at work all the time, in narrow out-of-the-way passages, where without a lamp one might consider himself as completely lost to the world in general as if imbedded in the heart of a Brazilian forest.”

Tight fit: Though ahead of its time in many ways technologically, Hunley still depended on manpower to move. The crew had to crouch inside a 4-foot-high hull and rotate a long crankshaft that turned a two-blade propeller. (© Chronicle/Alamy)

On this ship, their bodies were “stowed so close” in quarters so low that they were not permitted “the indulgence of an erect posture.” The close, cramped quarters meant the “exclusion of the fresh air.” Even in cold water, the physical exertion of the crankers likely meant that inside the “climate was too warm to admit the wearing of anything but a shirt,” so that the “skin,” especially on “the prominent parts of the shoulders, elbows, and hips,” was “rubbed” aggressively by the “friction of the ship.” Dank, cramped, and forcing skin-rubbing closeness: This was the Hunley.

But this description is not, in fact, of the Hunley. It is a description of a ship of enslaved black men, women and children.

Det Hunley’s men were where they were by choice. Their skin was never lacerated by a whip held by another. But in a world where white men resisted mightily any comparison to slaves, where race meant everything, where white Southern men fought to prove they were free and not slave, the similarity between the world of the Hunley and a slave ship seems uncanny. It was this willing proximity to the experience of slavery that reveals the depth of sacrifice these men were willing to make to pursue the Confederate cause.

Det Hunley volunteers had willingly placed themselves in the condition of slaves—in the fight to preserve slavery. Indeed, it was a wonder that P.G.T. Beauregard didn’t crew the Hunley with at least some slaves. Why not have Dixon guide and direct the boat while slaves provided the manpower to propel it through the water? We can’t say with certainty why slave labor was not used to power the Hunley, but the answer probably has something to do with the fact that slaves were expensive (their death and loss was, after all, quite likely) and also with the same logic that kept the South from using armed blacks in combat. Manning the boat, this piece of proud Confederate technology that might break the blockade, was understood as an honor befitting only white men.

And so the Confederate crankers turned and rotated the shaft as fast as their muscles would allow, in quarters so cramped their skin rubbed and chafed, in light so dim they knew each other’s presence by contact and smell rather than by sight. But such was the importance of their suicidal mission that these men were willing to endure it all. For now, they had but one object in mind: to sink a Union ship.

Det Housatonic was far too large a vessel to be redirected easily and quickly. Crosby had spotted the “something,” but it was too late: a minute after, the object beneath the ocean was alongside his ship. Hurriedly, Union sailors tried to pivot their aft guns but “were unable to bring a gun to bear upon” the object, the angle too downwardly steep, presumably. And then something hit.

Such was the importance of their suicidal mission that these men were willing to endure it all

The extent of the explosion revealed the object below the waves: Mounted to the boat’s bottom—which made it very difficult, if not impossible, to see from the surface—was a hollow iron spar jutting out 17 feet. It looked now like a gaping fish, replete with sheeny scales. This was the Singer torpedo, carrying 135 pounds of black powder. Bolted to the spar, the copper-clad torpedo was, through the sheer momentum of Hunley, to be plunged deep into the warship’s guts and activated by a trigger fingered by Dixon.

In some ways, the torpedo had a medieval quality to it, looking not unlike a knight’s lance used in jousting. But this spar was a powerful piece of 19th-century stealth technology. Its invisibility was by design. The alternative—a torpedo dragged behind the sub and designed to hit an object when the sub dove—was far more obvious to lookouts and vigilant eyes. And it was a target easily shot at. Dixon, following trials of both torpedo designs, elected for the spar because it had the redoubtable virtue of being below the waterline and very hard to see.

Like a clenched fist at the end of a stiff arm, the torpedo was also a technology of touch. It had to be. Unlike warfare above the sea and on land, where shells could be lobbed greater distances anonymously, this underwater technology was less distanced. It required men to plant it, even in this prosthetic manner. This was maritime hand-to-hand combat. The torpedo rammed hard into the ship’s magazine, just as Crosby feared. Then…nothing. The device seems to have pierced the hull, but there was, perhaps for a minute, no immediate explosion. And then a veritable eruption. Det Housatonic plunged, sinking stern first. Some sailors were stunned by the concussion others flung themselves on the rigging, clinging for dear life. It had been all of three minutes from the sighting of “the something” to detonation.

T he Hunley sank the Housatonic between 8:45 and 9 p.m. Within the hour, the Union ship was swallowed by the cold waters of the bay, five of its crew missing, presumed drowned the rest, 21 officers and 129 men, some injured by the explosion, were rescued by the USS Canandaigua. The effect was profound, the loss of the ship causing “great consternation in the fleet.” All wooden vessels were “ordered to keep up steam and go out to sea every night, not being allowed to anchor inside” the harbor. For the Confederacy, this was “the glorious success of our little torpedo boat,” which “raised the hopes of our people.”

One source at the U.S. Navy thought “undoubtedly” that the Hunley “sank at the time of the concussion, with all hands.” Whether or not that was the case, we do know that no one on the sub survived.

‘An Intimidating Task’: Underwater for 136 years, Hunley was clad in a hard layer of sand, shell and sediment when it was lifted from the bottom of Charleston Harbor on August 8, 2000. In recent months, Clemson University conservators have successfully removed most of that crust and, as one said, shed “new light on our understanding of the submarine.” (Copyright © Friends of the Hunley®)

Ironies haunted the crew of the Hunley, even in death. It was, after all, a man by the name of J.H. Tomb, an engineer with the Confederate Navy, who believed the vessel was “a veritable coffin.” Tomb believed that there was only one relatively safe way for the Hunley to sink a ship, and that was to forgo invisibility. A spar torpedo was an effective weapon only when the boat was at the surface. “Should she attempt to use a torpedo as Lieutenant Dixon intended, by submerging the boat and striking from below, the level of the torpedo would be above his own boat, and as she had little buoyancy and no power, the chances were the suction caused by the water passing into the sinking ship would prevent her rising to the surface, besides the possibility of his own boat being disabled.” Tomb had told Dixon this before Dixon had launched his daring raid on the Housatonic he had insisted that it was dangerous. None of this was news to Dixon. He and Tomb had even witnessed the Hunley sink on a previous dive, killing its entire crew. It was a pitiless boat.

That warning was too late now. As the submarine sank, the men—assuming they were still conscious and not knocked out by the explosion—must have known they were probably doomed. Agonizingly, they might well have known even as the sub sank. In January, before the Hunley went on its nocturnal mission, the men had deliberately let the sub sink to the ocean floor to see how long they could go without fresh infusions of air. Dixon had estimated the crew could last half an hour. It turned out they got stuck and barely escaped with their lives—two and a half hours later.

Now, time was not on their side, and the sub sank ever deeper. There was something both serene and cruel in the way the men of the Hunley faced their final moments. Decades later, their bodies were not found clumped together each man was at his station. There had been no apparent efforts to hold hands or cling to one another. Perhaps the concussion from the explosion had knocked them out. We simply don’t know. There seems to have been no scrambling, no desperate lurch for escape, no clambering over one another, no bruising, no ripping. We know that the seven men on the Hunley who died earlier were “found in a bunch near the manhole” when the boat was brought to the surface following a failed trial run. But not the crew of the Hunley on this fateful night.

Even though they were in excruciating proximity, each man died alone at his station.

Had the men survived, they might in their excitement at the success of their mission have forgotten all the aching, stooping and skin-rubbing, and told tales of victory in the comfort of warm homes. Instead, the sub sank, dragging its already entombed crewmen to a sarcophageal grave. There they sat, at station: the dandy captain, Mr. Dixon the anonymous Mr. Lumpkin, pipe smoker the diminutive 20-year-old immigrant, Mr. Becker, dwarfed by the man from Virginia near him, Mr. Collins Mr. Carlsen, whom Dixon had recruited from the German artillery the man known only as Mr. Miller the erstwhile Union sailor, Mr. Wicks and the sailor responsible for securing the hatch, the Marylander, Mr. Ridgaway.

They remained at the bottom of the ocean until their remains, and the Hunley, were raised and brought
to Charleston’s shore in 2000. Then, for the first time in 136 years, these men—waterlogged skeletons—were touched by human hands.


The HMS Venturer sinking the U-864 on February 9, 1945 remains to this day the only intentional sinking of a submarine by another submarine when both were at periscope depth. The U-864 was a U-boat designed by the Germans for ocean-going voyages that were long a long way from home ports. In February of 1945 the submarine was a on a mission code-named Operation Caesar to give high sensitive technology to the Empire of Japan. The technology included jet engines, missile guidance systems and 65 tons of mercury.

The British had learned about Operation Caesar due to their ability to crack the Enigma code. The British wanted to stop the Germans from giving the Japanese anything that might prolong the war and therefore wanted to stop the U-864. The Royal Navy submarine command dispatched the HMS Venturer to destroy the U-864 before it was able to deliver its cargo to Japan. At the time, Lieutenant Jimmy Landers was in control of the Venturer and was given little more than the estimated whereabouts of the U-864 and the orders to bring down the sub.

Landers decided to turn off the sub&rsquos ASDIC in order to prevent the ping from being overheard by the U-864. The submarine relied on its hydrophone to pinpoint where the U-864 was. The plan was successful as the Venturer&rsquos hydrophone operator was able to hear the diesel engines of the U-boat as it passed the Venturer&rsquos location. The Germans did not have sonar at the time and their hydrophone was unable to hear the electric motors of the Venturer over the sound of its own diesel engines.

Besætningen på Venturer knew that their target was close but after tracking the U-boat for several hours it became clear that it was not going to surface. Never before had a firing solution been computed in four dimensions &ndash time, distance, bearing and target depth, despite it being possible. The crew of the HMS Venturer var ved at løbe tør for batterilevetid og vidste, at de var nødt til at gøre et forsøg. De foretog beregningerne og lavede antagelser om U-bådens defensive manøvrer og affyrede alle torpedoer ud af fire sløjfe. Den fjerde torpedo ramte målet, punkterede trykskroget og imploderede øjeblikkeligt U-båden.


Se videoen: Inside the Hunley