The H. L Hunley submarine was the first sub to sink the USS Housatonic, the first successful use of a submarine sinking an enemy vessel in battle. Horace Lawson Hunley became a famous engineer for building the submarine from being a lawyer. Horace Lawson Hunley was born on December 29, 1823 in Sumner County in Tennessee. Hunley has one sibling, Volumnia Barrow. Hunley’s parents, Louisa Harden Lawson and John Hunley, decided to move to New Orleans. Hunley later went into law and became a lawyer in the Louisiana state legislature as Deputy Collector of Customs.
Hunley had made a modest amount of money, enough that he owned a small plantation and a few slaves. In late 1861, he decided to expand his business portfolio. In 1861, after the start of the American Civil War, Hunley as well as many confederate men quit their profession to joined the war. With James R. McClintock and Baxter Watson, Hunley helped build the submarine Pioneer. Pioneer, a prototype iron torpedo boat, also known as a submarine. McClintock designed and built his submarine that winter, and she apparently was modeled exactly on Smith’s letter.
The boat, which was christened the Pioneer, was 35 feet long and almost completely round — four feet wide and four feet tall. She had a single hatch and two short, squat fins that the pilot could adjust to dive or surface. Her tapered ends served as ballast tanks to take in and expel the water needed to submerge and surface. Two men turned a crank to power the sub’s propeller, while a third stood, his head in the hatch, and steered. The Pioneer was launched in March 1862, around the time the Monitor fought the CSS Virginia to a standstill at Hampton Roads. The sub proved fragile, slow, and leaky, but she worked.
The Pioneer eventually became the only submarine to receive a letter of marque — a privateer license, basically — during the Civil War. But she would never see combat. In April 1862, Union forces captured New Orleans. Hunley and McClintock, worried that their secret weapon would fall into enemy hands, sank the Pioneer and escaped to Mobile. There, Confederate District of the Gulf commander Major General Dabney H. Maury took an interest in the pair’s efforts and introduced them to the owners of the Park and Lyons machine shop. The prototype had to be destroyed when New Orleans fell to the federal Union Army in April of 1862.
After an unsuccessful attempt at building another submarine with McClintock and Watson, which ended in the vessel’s sinking in Mobile Bay, Alabama, Hunley funded by himself a third submarine. The first submarine could supposedly reach 4 knots. In 1863, Horace Hunley financed and launched his own submarine at Charleston, which he vainly called the H. L. Hunley. Disaster hit during a night-time test run on August 29, 1863, when the H. L. Hunley suddenly sank even as she pushed off the Charleston wharf and before she could be sealed for dive. Not all crewmen could escape the vessel as it took on water and quickly disappeared under the water.
The incident killed five of the eight submariners, but which did not include Hunley who observed from shore. The blockade was strangling the Confederates and the order was given to salvage the submarine and raise it from the harbour bottom. HL Hunley submarine Hunley did join his crew on-board when his vessel was relaunched on October 15, 1863. The submarine sank again, later found at the bottom of the harbour at a steep angle, nose buried into the bottom. All eight submariners died, from either cold or asphyxiation, including Hunley.
For the second time, the H. L. Hunley was salvaged, re-floated nd the dead crew members removed and buried, Horace Hunley buried with military honors at the Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina. The Reverend Franklin Smith, a chemist and inventor, had sent a letter to Southern newspapers, urging businessmen to invest in the idea of “Submarine Warfare. ” Smith wrote that “The new vessel must be cigar shaped for speed — made of plate iron, joined without external rivet heads; about thirty feet long, with a central section about 4 x 3 feet — driven by a spiral propeller. ” Later, many would assume that patriotism drove Hunley.
In truth he thought the war was foolish but suspected it could be good for business. The Confederate government and wealthy businessmen were offering rewards of up to $50,000 — the 19th-century equivalent of $1. 3 million today — to anyone who sank a Union warship. But there was more to it than money. Hunley wanted to be a part of something bigger; he dreamed of being a Great Man. He carried a notebook in his pocket, a ledger in which he wrote grandiose ideas to make a mark on this world. Eventually, Hunley discarded all those dreams and adopted Smith’s.
In the fall of 1861, Hunley, with financial backing from several friends, contracted New Orleans engineer James McClintock to build his submarine. He could have hardly found a better partner. A native of Cincinnati, McClintock had been one of the youngest steamboat captains on the Mississippi before settling down to open a machine shop just outside the French Quarter. At 32, he was considered an engineering prodigy. McClintock recently had been contracted to make bullets for the Confederate Army, mostly because he built a machine that could produce thousands of minie balls per hour.
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. The 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. As many years has passed, Just how did the H. L Hunley sink? The submarine was found and recovered from the Atlantic floor in 2000. Being look through thrilloy, scientists were able to find many clues on what might of happened. Even after all the club, no werent an explanation on what could’ve happened. No smoking gun or a single piece of evidence that could help. The scientists later found more information that they later tried on simulations. One simulation is on February 1864 battle using new information found by the Hunky’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 Iniversity’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 Stephanie Crette, 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. 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.
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.
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? Scientists at Clemson University’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center plan to begin removing the layer of concretion from the Hunley’s hull in 2014, hopefully bringing them a step closer to learning why she sank. As of now, the submarine could be found at 1250 Supply St, North Charleston, SC 29405 in the Waterfront museum offering weekend tours of a 19th-century historic submarine, artifacts & exhibits.
J. F. Carlsen (left) was the newest member of the H. L. Hunley’s crew when it sank. He was only 20 to 23 years old. James A. Wicks (right) was born in North Carolina around 1819. He was one of only three Hunley crewmen, along with Joseph Ridgaway and Frank Collins, born in the South. The National Geographic Expeditions Council helped fund the raising of the Hunley and the analysis of the materials found inside. Miller (left) also has an unknown first name. He was from Europe and had only been in the United States for a short amount of time before joining the H. L. Hunley crew.
Frank Collins (right) was born in Virginia and was the largest crewman on board the Hunley. The National Geographic Expeditions Council helped fund the raising of the Hunley and the analysis of the materials found inside. Joseph Ridgaway (left) was second-in-command of the H. L. Hunley and was born in Talbot County, Maryland. Experts were unable to determine the first name of Lumpkin (right). However, they were able to determine that he was one of the oldest crewmen on board. The National Geographic Expeditions Council helped fund the raising of the Hunley and the analysis of the materials found inside.