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by George W. Penington  -  Editor

JANUARY 14 , 2005
    ISSUE  #54


Preserving items proves troublesome >

Weekend Tours of the Hunley >



Welcome from the Hunley Store.  This week's special Commemorative Coin :  Special Price: 19.99 plus 
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Hunley Commemorative Coin front side.


Weekend Tours of the Hunley

Friends of the Hunley is happy to announce that tours of the Hunley are now available every Saturday from 10 - 5 and Sunday 12 - 5. Tours will not be available on weekdays so that the archaeologists can continue their work preserving the Hunley for future generations.

Tickets will be $10.00 plus a service charge. Tickets for the Hunley tours can be easily purchased by either calling toll-free
1-877-448-6539 (1-877-4HUNLEY) or on the Internet at Children under 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance, and walk-up tickets are also available on a first come, first serve basis.

If you have questions about what is involved in the tour, please call the Friends of the Hunley directly at
843.744.2186. If you have questions specific to your tickets, please contact at For large tour group information, contact Josephine Starnes at 843.744.1488 or email her
Tours include: ¨Actually view the Hunley in the Conservation Lab - Life-size model from the
TNT movie - The Hunley - Animated simulation of the H.L. Hunley recovery -  Shop for hundreds of official Hunley collectibles and gift items


A special welcome to all the new subscribers. This newsletter IS published
once a month  with a
link to the online addition available to subscribers only.

 ALL issues are dedicated not only to the brave and honorable Men of the Hunley,
 but to the Subscribers
and Contributors to each issue, particularly to
CSS H L HUNLEY CLUB.      THANKS ALL,  George W. Penington

2) Preserving items proves troublesome
Sent in by the Hunley Club 

CHARLESTON - A charred and ragged matchstick looks like a piece of
trash, but for archaeologists working on the H.L. Hunley, it's a
revealing piece of history. Since scientists began pulling artifacts from the Civil War-era
submarine in 2001, a small staff of experts has been working to preserve them. The variety of material - metal, wood, textiles, leather, cork and even rubber - forced the Hunley lab staff to
consider a number of different restoration techniques.



Today, many of the 1,000 artifacts found in the Hunley remain
crusted or rusted and are being held in water and chemicals awaiting treatment. Hundreds of other artifacts, however, have been restored in the past three years.

"You really gain an appreciation for what they are doing there when you look at the literature and see that there is no absolute way to treat some of these things," says Mike Drews, a materials science professor at Clemson.
Drews is working with Hunley scientists to develop new ways to conserve the metals that form the sub's hull.

The Hunley, which on
Feb. 17, 1864, became the first submarine to
sink an enemy warship, is made of cast and wrought irons. Methods
differ for preserving those two metals and would be hard to apply to
the Hunley without taking it apart. So
Drews and others are seeking
various scientific methods to fit the project.

The artifacts have taken scientists into uncharted waters. While
preserving cork is nearly impossible, scientists are trying to find
a way to save the corks that were used for stoppers on the Hunley
crew's canteens.

Paul Mardikian, the Hunley's senior conservator, and others on the
project have used freeze-drying to remove the seawater from most
things found in the Hunley. Or the items have been soaked in fresh
water and chemical baths to leech out the saltwater that threatens
to destroy them.

"A button seems like a simple artifact, but it's not," Mardikian
says. "Some of the buttons are hollow and have seawater inside. They
have threads of cloth attached to them. They are faded in some
places, except where the thread protected them."




Some artifacts have proved especially complicated. For instance, one
of the Hunley sailors carried a leather wallet. Opening it without
destroying it was a challenge, in part because the stitching that
held it together had degraded.

Maria Jacobsen, the senior Hunley archaeologist, says the scientists
have decided to leave some buttons as found, treating them only
enough to save them. Other artifacts have to be cleaned, but not
enough to erase history.

"We don't want to clean off data that is there," Jacobsen
said. "Some of the buttons we want to clean up enough to read the
stamps on their backs for clues, others we want to leave with the
natural patina. That tells another story in itself."

That's the art to the science: Figuring out how much restoration to
do and how much wear and tear to leave intact.

"We have to restore things to what I call the life of the artifact,"
Mardikian says. "On this particular matchstick, we have to clean the
iron off but keep the burn stain."

The stain suggests the match, probably meant to light the candles
that illuminated the sub's interior or its blue light lantern,
sparked but didn't fire.

Several of the artifacts already conserved have yielded clues to the

sailors' identities and lives. Mardikian said some of the more

interesting data is in the remains of the Hunley sailors' shoes.

Although most of the shoes had disintegrated, scientists have

cleaned and preserved some to the point that they have the

fossilized imprint of the skin of one crewman in a shoe.

In one shoe, the footprint of sub commander George Dixon is fresh.

Scientists say the imprint is surprisingly narrow for an adult man

who was at least 5 feet, 9 inches tall





There has been much discussion about the forward hatch, its design and functionality as well as the effects it had on the sinking of The Hunley.


We know from research that the hatches are oval shaped, i.e. they are longer than wide and that the forward and aft hatches face opposite each other.  The forward hatch opens toward the bow, whereas the rear hatch opens toward the stern.  Both hatches wave cut-waters, triangular pieces mounted in front of them to reduce their resistance to forward underwater motion.  Both hatch towers have portholes with views to the port and starboard sides.  The portholes in the forward hatch tower are lower than those in the rear, allowing Captain Dixon to view and navigate while sitting in his command position. 

The forward tower also has square shaped portholes that face forward and located on each side of the cutwaters.


At one time it was suspected that a shot from the Housatonic blew out the glass in the
forward tower and wounded Commander Dixon (as shown in the movie)
There has been no porthole glass found in the sediment or indication of a bullet wound.





Press Photos from the Friends of the Hunley, Inc.




Because of the oval shape of the port holes the crewmen would have to stand sideways in order
to enter the cabin or to stand watch, view or navigate. 


Some of the best illustrations of this can be seen at Mike Crisafulli’s reconstruction web site.



Because of the still remaining crustaceans on the hatch and latching mechanism we still do not have a clear and concise picture.








This picture shows design interpretations of the hatch -Used in the filming of the Hunley Movie

The latch catch and porthole or deadlight in the hatch cover can be seen in the Cook Photo (see newsletter #47) and in the Chapman painting.


Cook Photo

Chapman painting




 It is my impression that the towers are bolted down and are not raised in exactly the same way the hull bolts are treated.

    It should also be noted that there is a corresponding “lip” around the top or the hatch tower that matches with the hatch cover and is sealed with a rubber gasket.


Even though the hull has been painted an almost blue black you will notice that the interior of the hatch cover is painted white to help reflect the limited light available inside.  The glasses are all very small and scale out to be about 3” in diameter.


There is evidence that there are linkages (metal rods) that attach to the hatch locking device and that when the hatch is unlatched the linkage swings down into the cabin to allow room to get a head into the hatch tower.  Evidence has shown that when the hatches are fully dogged down the linkages or handles block the way of anyone attempting to raise their heads into the tower to see. This is only cumbersome while surfaced with the hatches locked down. The water in Charleston Harbor is silt ridden and murky such that you can only see a short distance while underwater.





by Bruce F. Kinsey  April, 2004

The evidence discovered inside the sub proves the Hunley sank and rested at a 45 degree angle and never moved from that position until they discovered her.

Evidence shows that Immediately after the boat sank, the forward hatch was the only place where silt
entered (in other words, all those other holes we've speculated over were never a part of the equation). Under the forward hatch is where the silt began to first accumulate.

When bodies decay, the first items to fall away are the hands and fingers, followed by the head (remember how Lacy
Peterson's body was recovered?). Becker, the man directly behind Dixon was found with his torso draped over the bellows. His legs and feet were on the sole (boat talk for "floor"). He was the only crewmember who was higher up in the boat and at first, most of the silt was accumulating in the area beneath him and around Dixon. When Becker's head fell off, it landed in the silt among Dixon's bones.

At that time the silt had accumulated to about 12 or 15 inches (measured from the floor - actually, since the boat was laying at 45 degrees I imagine the deepest part of the silt would actually be a bit higher up on the side of the hull across from the bench). This would have happened in the first "couple of months" as
Dr. Owsley said. That's where they located Becker's skull, about 12 to 15 inches above the bottom of the sub, giving a timeline of the silt accumulation in that part of the boat.

Paul Mardikian had stated there was air in the boat for some time. If silt were entering the boat, then water had entered the boat at the same time. Remember, the boat was lying at 45 degrees, placing the companionways at an angle. There would be a strip of hull, separated by stiffeners that on the inside, that would actually be higher than the hatch openings. I'm sure this will turn out to be the area where Paul discovered the stalactites. For all intents and purposes, the boat would have completely filled with water except for this narrow strip of air, probably no more than 3 inches thick, or the thickness of the frames, at the top of the hull which would also trap air pockets between them. It would be impossible for the boat to have any more than a small amount of air trapped in her.

After sinking the
Housatonic, the Hunley was sitting on the surface with the forward hatch open and
drifting slowly out to sea, probably with
Dixon sitting under the hatch ( not standing in it). He had given his signal to shore (the lantern was found a couple of stations back, not in front with Dixon). Dixon and the crew would have been waiting for the commotion to settle down, the tide to turn and with the forward hatch open to air the boat and allow his crew to rest for the trip home, when "something" rolled the boat so violently to starboard, the crew was thrown upwards and out of their seats. Becker would have landed on top of the bellows and the rest of the crew would come to rest on the cabin sole in front of their stations or entangled in the cranks in front of them. Water pouring into the cabin through the open hatch would have held them in place and probably drowned them immediately (think of a 21 inch diameter fire hose and the kind of pressure it would be packing as it shot through the hatch).

As the boat settled on the bottom and all of the air was expelled, the heavy hatch would have closed from its own weight until it met resistance from the rubber gasket around its perimeter, Because the gasket would have been compressible, in an unsecured state, it would leave a very small crack at the front. A crack just large enough to allow gallons of silt to pour in every change of tide (2 per day, for what, 117 years?). 

The following is an excerpt from the transcript where Alan Alda is discussing the forward hatch
Paul Mardikian. (excerpt from Newsletter #22 )

The Uncivilized Engine of War  Scientific American Frontiers - Mysteries of the Deep Segment 1
The Uncivilized Engine of War - about The Confederate Submarine H L Hunley. 
November 26, 2003 on PBS,  South Carolina Educational Television Narrated by Alan Alda

PAUL MARDIKIAN This is the cover of the forward hatch here, okay? And this is the hatch itself. Now,
if you measure this. At the front of the conning tower, there's a gap. If you play on the density, you see
it is black. It means that there's no density. That's rubber. This is a rubber seal that sealed the submarine
ALAN ALDA Now why is the rubber thicker here than it is over here?
PAUL MARDIKIAN You are going to draw the conclusion yourself.
ALAN ALDA I am guessing there was some kind of a leak here or some kind of a separation.
PAUL MARDIKIAN Or it's open.
ALAN ALDA It's open? You think it's definitely open?
PAUL MARDIKIAN My theory is that this is unlocked. The closing mechanism is unlocked.
ALAN ALDA The hinge is over here. So it's compressing this part of the rubber, but it's not compressing
this because it's not tied down.
PAUL MARDIKIAN And the rubber itself has a tendency to pop up
ALAN ALDA ...pushes back if you're not locking it in place.
PAUL MARDIKIAN Exactly. You've got it.

ALAN ALDA (NARRATOR) If the crew really did signal their success on the surface after the attack -
which means they'd survived their own explosion - then something subsequently made them dive the boat.
Maybe in a hurry, rushing to avoid an approaching ship, they didn't fully lock the hatch, it sprang open…
we'll probably never know. Somehow this "engine of war not recognized by civilized nations" -- as a Union
admiral described it -- went to the bottom.


5) ''THE ROMANCE OF THE SUBMARINE'' by G.Gibbard Jackson 


The following article was sent in by Kevin Brown with these comments…  “have found an old book, that 
does  not say what Dixons second name was, but has information why it sunk, also calls the submarine
the ''DAVID'', can  photo copy the pages if you want . . cheers
My many thanks to
Kevin for the contribution and taking time out to send this to me. GWP


One of the David’s found abandoned on the Ashley River side of Charleston near the end of Tradd Street right after the end of the Civil War


NOW KNOW.  The picture below is an interesting view of the Hunley taken from the book.
The “
DAVID” or David’s where the predecessor of the Hunley. The David’s were built in Charleston whereas the Hunley was built in Mobile, Al. and shipped to Charleston by rail. The Federals assumed that the Hunley
was of the same class. We also know that the Hunley only sank three times in Charleston, not the five mentioned in this article.


''THE ROMANCE OF THE SUBMARINE'' by G.Gibbard Jackson 


(MID-NINETEENTH CENTURY)  Chapter VIII page 91 - 101


The opening of the’ sixties of the nineteenth century showed a war cloud on the horizon; the bitter struggle

between the North and South States of North America was almost at the point of breaking out, and although

the greater part of the fighting which eventuated was accomplished on land, the Naval battles such as they

were of greater portent for future warfare.  It was just at this period that France and England had at last

decided that an armored warship was a practical necessity; we still had tall wooden ships reminiscent of

Nelson’s days, which offered a magnificent target for the guns of an enemy.  Steam had been introduced
into the Navies, but whilst we adopted steam, sails had not wholly disappeared.  This was the position

when the Civil War began in America.


Although the submarine, as we know it, was certainly not employed in this historic war, mines and torpedoes

were used extensively, and with varying success.  Not quite twenty warships were destroyed through the use

of these aids to naval warfare. We mentioned that the submarine as we know it had no part in this struggle

on the other hand, it is recorded that the Federal corvette Housatonic was sent to the bottom by a type of

vessel which can be best classed as a submarine.  This pioneer undersea boat shared the fate of the warship

which she sank, but the details available are very meager.  There are, however, frequent references in the

histories of the American Civil War, especially those written by the Confederates, of submarine torpedo boats

attacking the enemy.


Although the Confederate writers describe their vessels as submarine torpedo boats, it would be more

accurate to call them gunboats.  True, very little of them was seen above the surface, but they certainly

did not entirely submerge.  One of these vessels, which though not a submarine, was decidedly a step

on the way to one, was known as the David; This curious vessel boldly attacked the ironclad New Ironsides. 

Her hull was shaped very much like that of a modern submarine of the smaller class, and it exceeded 50 feet

in length, whilst it had a diameter of approximately 9 feet amidships.  When steaming in the ordinary way,

a fairly tall funnel was used, but it was made on a telescopic principle, so that it could be lowered within a

few feet of the surface of the sea.  These submersible gunboats were not intended to take the open sea, at

least, not for any length of time, but they were very effective in patrolling rivers and harbours, and occasionally

they made short trips along the coast when endeavoring to sink an enemy.  The New Ironsides was one of the

wonder craft of the Federal navy, and so greatly was she appreciated that whether she went to sea, or
remained at anchor she was always placed in the middle of the squadron to which she was attached.  It was
argued by the Federal Admiralty that she would be the special object of attack, and therefore her safety
must be specially considered.


The David was manned entirely by volunteers, and was placed under the command of a Lieutenant Glassell. 

In the darkness the tiny gunboat got under way, and with only the smallest portion of her hull showing above

the water, she steered to attack any Federal ship that lay in her path, but particularly was it hoped that the

New Ironsides might receive the spar torpedo which was fitted to the bows of the David.  It is not clear

whether this small vessel had more than one torpedo aboard, but even is she had, it is difficult to see how

it could have been fitted without her coming back to her base. One account says that, despite the noise of

her engines and the sparks from her funnels, she managed to come almost alongside the enemy ship

before the lookouts on board the New Ironsides spotted her; even when they did, they could only conjecture,

in the darkness that she was a baulk of timber floating towards them. One of the lieutenants aboard the big

warship appears to have guessed immediately what she was, and what her errand was. To make quite sure

he hailed her, and got for an answer a discharge of musketry.  A bullet found its mark in the lieutenant, and

he was mortally wounded.  Hardly had this happened before the torpedo was launched, and with a terrible

crash it hit the hull of the ironclad.  The vessel was seen to tremble as if struck by an enormous weight; in

addition, a column of water many feet high was sent aloft by the impact of the torpedo, and it fell with a

tremendous crash on the decks of the battleship.  The men aboard the New Ironsides were terribly scared,

largely because it was such an unprecedented occurrence.  But they quickly recovered their nerve on finding

that the torpedo, though making a tremendous amount of noise, and displacing a considerable amount of

water, had left the ironclad uninjured.  It was a strange turn in the wheel of fate which left the attacked

uninjured, and set the crew of the David into the water.  The discharge of the torpedo had caused such a

commotion aboard the smaller craft, that it appeared she must sink and the crew were so certain of this

that they simply dived into the sea and swam away for dear life.. Whilst some of the David’s men were

picked up by Federal craft, other, finding she was still afloat, swam back, and actually were able to return
Charleston in safety.


Although he Confederates felt that their attack on the New Ironsides had definitely failed, they were quick to

appreciate the fact that a vessel which could approach a fleet more circumspectly than the partially

submerged boats of the David type, would have a much greater chance of success. Their experts then set

to work on plans for a real submarine’ it was actually built at New Orleans, but before it could be put in

service, or indeed, before it could have its trials, the city  succumbed to the Federals.  When it was seen

that the capture of New Orleans could not be avoided, the new submarine was sunk, and it lay for many

years at the bottom of the harbour, eventually being recovered without it having suffered any damage.

Another vessel was built to the same plan’ it was 25 feet long, with a beam of 5 feet, and it was also 6

feet high.  It was determined to tow the new craft to a position whence she could attack the blockaders,

who were lying off Charleston.  During the towage, however, a gale was encountered, the submarine broke

adrift, and quickly foundered. Fortunately, her brave crew were able to make their escape.  Undismayed

by their double loss, Hunley and McClintock built a third submarine of even larger proportions, no attempt

was made in these three vessels to give adequate propelling machinery’ in each case propulsion was

effected by cranks on the screw shaft which was turned by some members of the crew.  In the original

plans of Hunley’s Submarines, the vessel was to dive under an enemy ship whilst towing a mine, this

was to be released at the crucial moment, and the ship blown up.


Obviously there was considerable danger to the attacker in having such an appendage, and, on reflection,

the designer of this early submarine decided that a spar torpedo, similar to that carried by the David, would

be more effective. Many of the previous submarines mentioned had been built of wood; these American

vessels were built of boiler iron, and circular manholes were placed on the deck through which the crew

descended; these could then be screwed into position, making a watertight joint.


The whole history of submarine experiment is one too often filled with disastrous failures; these frequently

brought fatal effects for either the designer or the crew.  So it proved with Hunley’s new submarine, which

he had christened David, after the craft that attempted the sinking of the New Ironsides. In trying to engage

the enemy, the David lost no fewer than 35 good men.  The first disaster with her occurred through the swell

made by a paddle steamer which happened to pass the submarine whilst she was exercising on the surface

with open hatches.  The officer in charge happened to see what was about to take place, and he escaped,

but the whole of the crew, eight in number, went down with the submarine and were lost.  The David was

salvaged, and after careful preparation she was dispatched for further testing.  History repeated itself, for

whilst cruising with her hatches partially open, a sudden squall heeled the vessel over, slowly she filled,

and sank, her commander and two of his men only escaping.  Still a third time was the David in trouble

during her preliminary trials. On this occasion Lieutenant Paine, who had already had two marvelous

escapes on her previous sinkings, got clear with three of his men, but the rest were drowned.  Although

the young officer appeared to bear a charmed life, he felt that the slogan “third time lucky” had been amply

borne out, and he decided that the David was no longer the boat for him.  He therefore, resigned his

command, and a fresh skipper was appointed. 


In view of her three disastrous experiments, it is amazing that a fourth crew could be found, but they were,

and again she foundered; this time the whole of her occupants being drowned.  No one knows exactly

why this disaster took place, since there was no one to make any report upon it.  One would have thought

that the Confederates, having sore need of brave men, would have scrapped the David, and found some
other employment for their sailors, instead, a fifth crew was recruited, and again the David sank and
drowned them. 

Having lost so many men n training them to take the lives of others, the Navy Department decided that her

next venture should be a case of win or lose altogether.


It came to the knowledge of the Confederate people that the enemy had recently put in service a very fine

new corvette, the Housatonic.  As luck would have it she was lying off the bar near Charleston Harbour;

she seemed to offer a splendid object. Unwilling to risk further loss of life with this extremely unfortunate

submarine the authorities cut down her crew to the minimum’; in all, including her commander, there were

but seven people aboard.  It was as brave a thing as had ever been attempted in warfare; imagine the

feelings of those volunteers; even during her exercises the David had drowned five crews, now she was on

active service in which her capacity would be tested to the full.  In addition it was winter, actually the 17th

February, 1864.


It was known that the Federals were not wholly unaware of the projected attack, spies had been busy, and

the whole of the Federal warships had received a special warning to sink, without inquiry, any craft which

attempted to approach them.  The Minister for the Navy had sent special instructions as to how an attack

 from submersible craft could be made.  One thing the Navy Department over looked in their warnings; they

had naturally considered that the ships which lay nearer the shore would be most likely to be attacked,

and it was these who received the special instructions.  The Confederates, on the other hand, determined

that the outer vessels would be the better mark and it was amongst them that the Housatonic was lying.

For this ship the little David made; it was indeed a case of the Biblical David and Goliath, but unlike the

Bible story the Goliath becoming aware of its attacker, the small David was greatly perturbed. Strictly,

the submarine would have been navigated with the hatches closed, but so fearful were the men of what

might happen is she submerged, that they refused point blank to be fastened down in this fashion. 

The submarine, however, approached the Housatonic with her deck awash.  She had been seen as she

came to close quarters; the men on board the warship appeared to have been singularly alert, for in no time

she was beaten to quarters and slipped her cables, going astern as she did so.  Within two minutes,

however, the David had let fly her spar torpedo, which was loaded with quite 100 lb, if powder.  The captain

of the Housatonic endeavored to bring his guns to bear on the attacker, but it was soon evident that she

was at too close range for the guns to be depressed, and when they were fired, the shot went harmlessly

over the little David.  Dixon, the commander of the David, had been able to choose what he considered the

most vital spot in the warship’s hull; he conjectured that the magazine would be just forward of the main-mast.

It would appear that he judged to a nicety, for when the torpedo struck the hull of the doomed warship she rose

on the crest of what seemed a very high wave, and then began to settle stern foremost in the water.  It was a

most thrilling moment, for here, for the fist time in history probably, a submarine was securing her victim quite successfully, and a new chapter in naval warfare was being opened.  There was now a scene of considerable panic aboard the Federal ship, for not only was the onslaught so unexpected, but the noise of the report, the trembling of the big ship, and its quick sinking, were all very unnerving. Even so, the sailors were prompt to man the boats,

although only a few minutes elapsed between the striking of the torpedo and the sinking of the Housatonic.

Practically the whole of her crew managed to leave the vessel in her boats, or else were picked up by boats

from other ships.


In the Biblical encounter David returned victorious; here the submarine was lost with her antagonist and the
whole of gallant crew went with her. They had been brave beyond belief, and they accomplished
somethingwhich was then deemed, if not impossible, at least nearly so.  The loss of both these vessels
created an enormous stir both in the Federal; and the Confederate ranks; in the former there was some consternation; in the latter the jubilation was tinged with deep regret at the loss of seven gallant men:
lost at a time when every man, particularly for the Navy, was badly needed. The Federal Government was so concerned at the result of this encounter that they offered a substantial reward for every submarine which
could be sunk or captured; on the other hand, it would appear that the price paid by the submarine held back any further attempt on the part of the Confederates to add to their conquest. The Federal Navy Department was so impressed with the success of the
David that they determined to counter it by building similar craft.  But
they also determined that their submarines should be able to retreat from action in whatever circumstances
it should take place.  On further consideration the experts admitted that the time was not ripe for a fully
submersible craft, and they advocated, and subsequently got adopted, a scheme for the provision of three
or more monitors.  These might well be described as miniatures of the famous Monitor.  She, it will be
remembered, had her decks practically awash in all states of the weather; only her funnel and her turret
offered any real mark to the enemy. 


The new semi-submarines were quickly built, and it was the intention of the Navy Department that they

should be used for the express purpose of blowing up Confederate ironclads.  There is no record, however,

of any real success being obtained by these strange craft. When at last this terrible struggle came to an

end, the consensus of information in naval circles appeared to be that, although some progress had been

made towards a submarine, the problem was still one which awaited a definite solution,.  It was hopeless

to build vessels for attacking enemy warships unless there was a reasonable prospect of them escaping

after their work was done. Experiments had shown that the attacker was in an even more vulnerable

position that the attacked.  As the training for such craft was of a highly specialized nature, needing the

best and clearest brains in any navy, it was obvious that to send such men to their death was robbing that

navy of its greatest asset.  Although experiments still went forward, the whole problem had to be faced

afresh in view of the lessons learned in the gigantic struggle between the Federals and the Confederates.


Summed up, the problem had to be faced afresh in view of the lessons learned in the gigantic struggle

between the Federals and the Confederates.  Summed up, the trouble was still that a submarine could

not be effective unless it had powerful propelling machinery.  Where was this to be found?  Steam was

hopeless, save when a boat was awash; what could be done when she was submerged? Electricity was

mentioned by may experts, and several inventors tried their hands at producing efficient motion, but, when

all had been said for electricity, the fact remained that it was a most dangerous agent to employ on a

submerging vessel.  The batteries gave constant trouble, and the fumes given off from the acids employed

were so dangerous to the men, that it was courting disaster to send them below with such a type of
propelling machinery.  Not yet had the petrol motor been discovered.  Gas engines were at work, but again,
gas aboard a submarine was as dangerous as could well be imagined, it would only be necessary for a pipe
to leak between tank and engine, and the crew would be suffocated. This then was the position in the
mid-‘sixties of the last century, but still there were inventors who were determined to produce this most
terrible weapon of warfare.

Jackson, George Gibbard. The romance of the submarine. Philadelphia,
J.B. Lippincott company, [1930]. 244 p.
Originally published: London: Sampson Low, Marston, 1930.


Sent: Thursday, December 30, 2004 4:58 PM

Subject: Hunley Model


Last year I completed a scratch built Hunley, depicted as being shipped to Charleston, it is in 1/24 scale. Would you like photos? It was built with the help of Michael Crisafulli’s plans etc. Your newsletters are great, I will be sure to subscribe, to keep them coming. Thank you, Dan Rumney


Thanks would be great and thanks for the compliment.  All the newsletters are time consuming, but...they are rewarding if only to keep abreast of Hunley Information.  I am looking forward to another year of writing and producing them, I also working on a compilation of all the past newsletters in book form. Again thanks for the support and I am looking forward to the photo's.  George W. Penington 
Webmaster and editor of the newsletter.


Dear George, Here are the pic's. They where taken w/o the display case to
 avoid glare etc.T he  scene is titled: 'On to
Charleston' The project took
 over a year to build the most difficult task was to find soldiers in the
 proper scale, then repositioning of legs and arms etc. The inspiration for
 this can be credited to Mark Ragan's book which describes elements
 I chose not to have the tarps yet draped over the Hunley so as to display
 the model better. The model is constructed of balsa, plastic and metal. The
 flat cars are g-scale that came undecorated, I decaled them to read Mobile
Ohio. William Blackmore is a friend that I e-mail from time to time
 and is a superb modeler. My work doesn't hold a candle to his. William's resin
 kits display great, but I can't persuade him to produce a Housatonic...which
 is not avail. in the model market. Must be no Yankee in him. All for
 now...Yours, Dan Rumney



















I have just put one of my models on EBAY...Here is the link if you would like to take a look:

This model was built by George W. Penington Editor and webmaster of the Newsletter and website using William J. Blackmore’s 1/72 scale resin kit, modified, completed and mounted on a piece of Charleston driftwood in a cyrillic plastic crystal clear display case with a section of his map "Charleston Harbor Civil War Battle Map" as a background showing all three of the actual sinking sites of this submarine.  These models are numbered and this particular one is # 4/200.   Each model and display is uniquely different and is worth collecting.  Blackmore’s model has amazing accuracy but is modified using theories that were discussed in our CSS H L Hunley Club by some of the greatest experts available.  The spar arrangement is crafted based on logic and engineering required to keep the 135 lb. Torpedo aligned properly. The map in the background shows the actual sinking site of the Hunley and the Housatonic.  The following is a brief history of the spar and the results of the confederate efforts.

The case is 13" x 5.5" x 5" (made in the USA with pride) The base is mirrored and the back has the appropriate section of my Charleston Harbor Civil War Battle map.


Some history:  Attaching a torpedo to a spar on the bow of the Hunley was an innovation brought about by Commander Dixon to solve the errors of towing a 90 pound free floating bomb behind his submarine. The idea was taken from the “David” built in Charleston who had successfully attacked  the blockading Northern ship the “New Ironsides” outside Charleston Harbor and shaking her up from keel to lookout tower.  In action the Hunley would propel itself manually using her “human horse power” to crank a propeller driven metal coffin toward an enemy vessel and then ram a harpoon like spike with 135 lbs. of dry gun powder into the side of any ship anchored within range. In theory the Hunley would then back away and allow the torpedo to come off the end of the spar.  As she backed away to an estimated distance of 125 feet a line attached to a trigger on the torpedo on one end, and a spool on the other end would unwind.   When the line was fully unwound the tension would trip the firing device and the bomb would explode.


On the evening of 17 February, 1864 the Hunley plowed out to sea in an iron tube in 58 degree water and attacked the U.S. Sloop of War U.S.S. Housatonic, one of the newest vessels to be stationed at the Charleston blockade.  During the attack the cannons of the Housatonic could not be brought to bear down at the low angle in which the “fish boat “was first seen.  Only small arms, muskets and shotguns from the deck watches were fired and bounced harmlessly off the bullet proof hull of the submarine. In a timed moment the 39.5 foot submarine tried to back away when an explosion and a great turbulence rose form the sea.  The USS Housatonic sank within fifteen minutes and took five souls with her.  The remaining crew, other than the one sailor who dived back below to get his wallet, survived by climbing into the rigging. Their only choice was to stay out of the water in the rigging and wait for rescue.

Confederate Shore Patrols reported seeing a blue signal light after the attack, which was the pre-arranged signal for mission accomplished.  However, the HUNLEY and her brave crew never returned from their mission   In 1970 Dr. E. Lee Spence  located the wreck of the Hunley which remained in a state of remarkable preservation while he spent the next 25 years trying to convince authorities to help in resurrecting the wreck to no avail.   On 9 August, 2000 the HUNLEY came to the surface and began the historic return home through the efforts of many Charlestonians and guest.   Through their remarkable efforts many astounding secrets have been unveiled about the submarine, the most astounding of which may be that the Hunley was not just created from boiler parts that were lying about in a scrap pile, but actually designed and built from the ground up as an attack submarine, sleek in design and way advanced of anything invented to that day.





By George W. Penington – Editor



 As of today there are at least one hundred more mysteries that need to be resolved. On February 17,

1864 exactly one year before the end of the American Civil War a top secret submarine was launched into Charleston Harbor and became the first submarine to destroy an enemy ship.  Ever since that day historians, scientist and civil war buffs have battled to solve the mystery and are hoping to have the

answer this year.

Maria Jacobsen, senior archaeologist, has been working on the Confederate States Submarine H L

Hunley since it was raised from the harbor silt in 2000. This remarkable piece of history was a virtual time capsule filled with artifacts and the remains of the eight brave crewman who navigated the nearly 40’

“fish boat” to its final battle with the USS Housatonic.


Why did the Hunley sink?  I have written a number of newsletters outlining theories the majority of

which were presented, discussed and debated in the CSS H L Hunley Club. Theories range from the

crew was severely injured during the sudden impact of the torpedo spar against the hull
of the Housatonic, the sub was too close to the enemy ship when the explosion went off

incapacitating half the crew or she was rammed or swamped by one of the northern blockading ships rushing to rescue the crew of the Housatonic. Some contribute it to Commander Dixon and possible

human errors on his part.


Although club members have been hashing the various theories around for several years, they have

been waiting patiently as pieces of evidence are released by the Friends of the Hunley, Inc.  One

member was quoted as saying that the FOTH has been overly stingy with information and facts until now.  A recent ruling by the State Attorney General says that the group that is responsible for managing the restoration of the Hunley is definitely subject to the “Freedom of Information Act”

Glenn McConnell, chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission who the FOTH is responsible to has come up with his own theory. "My theory," said Glenn McConnell, “is the water did get rough and she took on some water and she was using more oxygen than she was bringing in through the snorkels and they blacked out."


It is interesting to note that Commander George Dixon, played by Armand Assante, in the movie “The Hunley” was explaining the operation of the sub to the final crew and stated that these were the snorkels designed to bring in fresh air, but the damn things never have worked.


Maria Jacobsen, who found Dixon’s “gold piece” has always been forth coming as much as she is

allowed too, and it is she who will help to decide the final answer to the mystery of the sinking if there is to be one. So far she has concluded based on her research and the input of fellow scientist and forensics that "Whatever happened appears to have happened quite quickly," she said. "They were collapsed more or less where they sat. You didn't see the guys trying to move toward the conning towers to exit. So either something happened very fast or they were not able to move."  Her theory is that either the crew became unconscious from lack of oxygen, anoxia set in or the submarine flooded so rapidly that no one could move.

Jacobsen said, “ Whatever caused the sinking, there was water in the submarine quite early on. What we found was that these fellows were drowned, the bodies floated, they decomposed and slowly sank."


She reports that over 3,000 items were removed from the interior and processed, photographed and mapped using 3-D laser technologies. She also stated that this may be the first time this method has been used with this type of archaeological project to create an image of the interior and exterior of the sub.

Most objects were turned over to a conservation team headed by Paul Mardikian, the senior conservator at the lab.  Mardikian had just prior to the Hunley project worked on artifacts from the Titanic.


Club members are anxiously waiting for the examination of the hull.  Ms. Jacobsen reports that "Every surface is covered with a corrosion product, the concretion. After that is removed and while the salt in the metal is removed to prevent disintegration we'll have to study the hull damage that is visible and determine how did it occur."  In the mean time research is being conducted to the sediment found inside and lifted out in large cubes to determine how the submarine filled with silt and what articles may be hidden inside. It has been reported that over 900 x-rays have been taken and that the silt reduced the oxygen to help slow down 140 years of decomposition to the extent that brain tissue was found in the skulls of the crewmen and their bones even remained in their shoes.

Club members, over 300 of them composed of scientist, engineers, modelers, lurkers and buffs, are anxious to review the valves in the ballast tank pumping system which is more advanced than expected.

We know the pumps were used to control the water level in the ballast tanks, which with the forward motion and the dive planes enabled the submarine to rise or dive. But did the same system serve as a bilge pump to remove water from inside the submarine?

To study the sub and its artifacts, 900 X-ray photographs have been taken and stored in a computer.

The X-rays revealed that because of the lack of oxygen to foster decomposition, the crewmen's brain tissue remained inside their skulls and their bones inside their shoes.


Membership in the CSS H L Hunley Club is free to all. The online address is  This group was formed for conversation and the exchange of information on the past and future history of the H.L.Hunley ,and the people who made it possible. We have over 370 pictures ,many links and always adding. Twenty one crew members died in the H.L.Hunley. This group is dedicated to those men.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jan Hensley" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, December 28, 2004 9:19 AM


First of all many thanks for the fine work you do.  I'm signing up for the newsletter very soon.  I have a question.  Back in October my wife and I were over at Magnolia cemetery looking for the graves of the Hunley crew.  Finally we found them and were delighted to find a fellow that gave us a lot of information.  He said he and his two twin brother were contracted for some rebar to build the tomb of the crew buried in
April.  He got excited about working on the grave and volunteered his time.  He took sixty five rolls of film of the grave and the ceremony of burying the crew.  I'm writing a little article and would like to contact him.  Do you know who I am talking about and  can you give me an email or address so I can write
Jan G. Hensley

Hello Jan.
Thanks for writing and the great support.  To answer your question, I am not sure who the person is that you are looking for, but I will ask around.  Also with your permission I will post this mail in the next newsletter and hopefully this person is a subscriber or someone will know who it is.   In the meantime you may want to call Magnolia Cemetery Trust  at 843-722-8638 .  They are very friendly people and are willing to help in any way they can.  If they don't know they can point you in the right direction.  I interviewed them once for a newsletter, trying to find out who's body was who's and the proper location of each casket.  They were pretty much left in the dark about those details.  I am also trying to find out when the burial site will be completed with the headstones in place. It seems like the ball was dropped after the burial services.  I will pursue this again and let you know what I find out.  I would also be interested in publishing your article in one of the newsletters next year.  Thanks again for writing. 
George W. Penington   Webmaster and Editor of the newsletter and website.

----- Original Message -----

To: <>
Sent: Monday,
December 27, 2004 12:15 PM
Subject: Hello

I am interested in obtaining/purchasing a DVD (or VHS) of the funeral ceremonies from last April. My son attended the services with his fiancée, and though they did their own home movie of what they could see, I would be interested in a professional copy.
If your organization does not have one available, could you please point  me in the direction of an organization or person who might be able to help  me?
Thank you so much for your help.
 I also have really enjoyed your newsletter for the past year.
 Good luck with it in the future.

Joyce B.
 Roanoke, VA
 "Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away".

Hello Joyce:

This is the best record of the Hunley Burial around.  but ps. 
Thanks,  George W. Penington  Webmaster
Editor of the newsletter.

Thank you so much, I shall try there.

 I think you are doing good work with your site and newsletter, and I hope you continue to do so...It is really fascinating to track the history of it all.

In college,
US history was my minor, and if I had not been so in love with my nursing degree, my second career choice was to teach history... I did the costuming for my son and his fiancée for the ceremonies last April, and hated that I could not attend myself, for health reasons...

Thanks again for your quick and helpful response, and I look forward to seeing the restored Hunley someday.

Joyce B

realname: Aad van Dijk (Mr.)
city: Wateringen state: Z-H country: Netherlands
 Date: Tuesday
January 11, 2005

I am an avid reader of all kinds of literature pertaining to the Civil War. The unforgettable story of the Hunley is one of the great tales of this unbelievably complex conflict which has captured a lot of my attention lately. I also saw the raising of the Hunley on television which I found to be quite moving, since the mortal remains of these brave warriors could finally be lifted from the ocean floor and laid to rest in their beloved soil which they defended until their last breath.


realname: J. R. Eder
city: Manning state: SC. country:
 Date: Thursday
December 23, 2004


I have followed the raising and subsequent study of the Hunley with great interest. I have a very strong interest in the Civil War. I think the Hunley is one of the great historical treasures of our time. I have yet to visit the Hunley but plan on doing so soon. My Car license plate is H. L. 1151

realname: Walt Mathers
Annapolis state: MD
Date: Tuesday
January 11, 2005

Gentlemen: After viewing your page describing the signal lanterns and hearing you bemoan the fact that there are few mentions of such lamps and their usage I thought it only proper to alert you to the Signal Corps  Association's web site and forum at: and invite you to post up with us til your heart is content. You will find information and ask as many questions at will. We also have a discussion chat room slated for every Wednesday night at 7 pm EST. Both the forum and chat room is open to all and you don't have to register either. Our topics include both naval and military communication principles and methods and we have an archive full of documentation. Hope to see you there! Walt


----- Original Message -----

From: "pcjjordan" <>

To: <>

Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 11:38 PM

Subject: Angus Smith...diver


I believe that the
Angus Smith said to be the partner of David Broadfoot
, who had the job of recovering the Hunley, not once but twice, is my
3xs maternal g. grandfather. I know enough about him to say for certain
that he lived in
Charleston, SC, and was a deep-sea diver, by profession,
among other things. This was not a common profession at all. My Angus
Smith was born c. 1827, in Scotland, and married Adeline Lawrence, in
Charleston, c. 1850. My g. grandfather, Capt. John Gray Smith, grandson
of Angus, was also a deep-sea diver.

Since his name is mentioned in the article provided at this site, is
there a way I can find out more...where did this info on Smith and
Broadfoot come from? I would like to prove that this is my ancestor, by
comparing the information I have in my files, to whatever this article
was drawn from. It would make my research much easier, if I could learn
whether or not the information was collected from local  newspaper
articles. Then, I could seek out those articles myself and make copies
for my files. I look forward to hearing from you.

Patricia Jordan
Dorothy Ct.
Arcata, CA  95521

realname: Michael Frost
Date: Wednesday
January 05, 2005


Excellent site. Evidence from the Hunley wreck demonstrates that many of the crew were recent European immigrants. This confounds an existing historical assumption that new immigrants were almost only able to give their loyalty to the Federacy and that only persons with personal history of slavery and affection for it could fight for it and that this is central to the confederacy's failure to attract European arms into its ranks. To be told that the crew was largely European and substantially Irish comes as a serious shock. Why would a European have affection for slavery? Were the immigrants offered land to serve for the confederacy or perhaps just for this special task? One last point. I'm not trying to dwell on trivia but the Irish sailors were buried in the Episcopalian church. Do we know if they were Episcopalians?

realname: Cdr Tim Roberts RN(Rtd)
city: Grange-over-Sands
Cumbria country: UK
Date: Friday
December 31, 2004

A really fascinating website dedicated to the first submarine to sink enemy shipping. Thanks for letting me share such an interesting story.




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