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Single-bullet theory (Lucky Shot
surmises that a
Minnie ball fired from the deck of the USS Housatonic shattered the
Hunley's forward cast-iron conning tower during the attack, allowing
water to pour in while an injured Lt. George Dixon struggled to
control the contrary sub. This theory had been disproved due to air
left in the sub after she sank. A conning tower hole would have
quickly allowed the sub to fill with water, but some die hards still
think it’s feasible...
See Newsletter #33
At the time this theory surfaced after the Hunley was raised
basically because of the envelope size hole found in the
turret. Observers may recall that the hole was
foam before she was brought out of the ocean.
Scientist are now
further disproving this theory based on the
recent additional lack
of supporting evidence.
More extensive and detailed work has
begun on the forward
particularly the removal of glass from the
view ports facing the bow. There are five clear ports in the
The busted, porthole or eyesight on the front of the
forward conning tower sitting to the port side of the
cutwater blade that angles up from the hull to the tower is just
below a 4-by-6-inch hole in the turret. The round port holes are
only 2.5 inches wide. There is one porthole on
each side of the
tower and one in the hatch lid. Previously, experts
thought the Hunley sailed blind unless someone was looking
through either the forward or stern open hatch.
The forward porthole, illuminated with candlelight from the
interior, would have served as a bull's-eye for Union
soldiers on the Housatonic but witness reports state that only
small arms were
fired as the Hunley approached.
released information finally that there is
remaining on the port side forward
viewing port -
would have entered and that the port
wasn't shot into it is simply missing. So far there is no glass
the port found inside the sub.
Historical accounts from Housatonic survivors describe the
sight of the Hunley's deadlights and ports glowing yellow - it
was the only part of the sub they could really see that night.
They shot at the sub, but didn't think they had hit it. The hole
in the tower was found 136 years after the sinking when she was
raised from the harbor.
After the sinking of the Housatonic a court of Inquiry found
"That between 8:45 and 9 o'clock p. m. on said night an object
in the water was discovered almost simultaneously by the officer
of the deck and the lookout stationed at the starboard cathead,
on the starboard bow of the ship, about 75 or 100 yards distant,
having the appearance of a log. That on further and
closer observation it presented a suspicious appearance, moved
apparently with a speed of 3 or 4 knots in the direction of the
starboard quarter of the ship, exhibiting two protuberances
above and making a slight ripple in the water.
That the strange object approached the ship with a rapidity
precluding a gun of the battery being brought to bear upon it,
and finally came in contact with the ship on her starboard
quarter. That several shots from small arms were fired at the
object while it was alongside or near the ship before the
It appears that there is no way to block out the forward
lights like the ones that run along the subs deck which had
shutters that opened and closed to seal leaks if the glass was
broken. To keep from being seen the crew could seal out
the lights from the crew compartment and the Commander Dixon
would have to seal the forward lights with a cloth or some other
arrangement. Dixon who had his hand full may not have even
considered the fact that the enemy may be able to see him.
So far with the port side glass missing and no trace of
broken glass inside the sub, the single bullet theory can
finally be scratched off the list. Although there is some sludge
left on the floor of the Hunley, scientist are saying that it is
highly unlikely that any glass will be found. Even if glass was
found inside because of the amount of air left inside that
caused stalagmites, the event would have had to happen years
Work will begin soon on the aft conning tower, the twin of
the forward tower but reversed in heading direction. The forward
hatch opens front to back and the aft hatch opens back to front.
Scientist believe that both turrets are identical and were cast
from the same mold. It is hoped that it will provide more
answers to what may have caused the hole in the forward turret.
Pictures above extricated from the CSS HL Hunley Club
Posted: Dec 26, 2002
The art work of Daniel Dowdey with his permission
REPORTS TO THE SINKING OF THE USS HOUSATONIC
Report of Lieutenant Higginson, U.S. Navy, executive
officer of the USS Housatonic.
U. S. S. CANANDAIGUA,
Off Charleston, S. C., February 18, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report of the sinking of the U.
S. S. Housatonic, by a rebel torpedo off Charleston, S. C., on the
evening of the 17th instant.
About 8:45 p. m. the officer of the deck, Acting Master J. K. Crosby,
discovered something in the water about 100 yards from and moving toward the
ship. It had the appearance of a plank moving in the water. It came directly
toward the ship, the time from when it was first seen till it was close
alongside being about two minutes.
During this time the chain was slipped, engine backed, and all hands
called to quarters.
The torpedo struck the ship forward of the mizzenmast, on the
starboard side, in a line with the magazine. Having the after pivot gun pivoted
to port we were unable to bring a gun to bear upon her.
About one minute after she was close alongside the explosion took
place, the ship sinking stern first and heeling to port as she sank.
Most of the crew saved themselves by going into the rigging, while a
boat was dispatched to the Canandaigua. This vessel came gallantly to our
assistance and succeeded in rescuing all but the following-named officers and
men, viz, Ensign E. C. Hazeltine, Captain's Clerk C. O. Muzzey, Quartermaster
John Williams, Landsman Theodore Parker, Second-Class Fireman John Walsh.
The above officers and men are missing and are supposed to have been
Captain Pickering was seriously bruised by the explosion and is at
present unable to make a report of the disaster.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. J. HIGGINSON,
Rear-Admiral JOHN A. DAHLGREN,
Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Source: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War
of the Rebellion. Series II, vol. 1 (Washington, Government Printing Office,
1921): 328. (2)
Report of Rear-Admiral Dahlgren, U.S. Navy, commanding the
South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Port Royal Harbor, S. C., February 19, 1864.
SIR: I much regret to inform the Department that the U. S. S. Housatonic,
on the blockade off Charleston, S. C., was torpedoed by a rebel "David" [H. L.
Hunley] and sunk on the night of the 17th February about 9 o'clock.
From the time the "David" was seen until the vessel was on the bottom
a very brief period must have elapsed; so far as the executive officer
(Lieutenant Higginson) can judge, and he is the only officer of the
Housatonic whom I have seen, it did not exceed five or seven minutes.
The officer of the deck perceived a moving object on the water quite
near and ordered the chain to be slipped; the captain and executive officer went
on deck, saw the object, and each fired at it with a small arm. In an instant
the ship was struck on the starboard side, between the main and mizzen masts;
those on deck near were stunned, the vessel begun to sink, and went down almost
immediately. Happily the loss of life was small: Ensign E. C. Hazeltine,
Captain's Clerk C. O. Muzzey, and three of the crew, Quartermaster John
Williams, Second- Class Fireman John Walsh, and Landsman Theodore Parker.
Two boats of the Housatonic were lowered and received all they
could hold; the Canandaigua, which knew nothing of the catastrophe, sent
her boats immediately on hearing of it, and took off the crew, who had ascended
into the rigging.
The enclosed printed orders will show the precautions which have been
directed from time to time to guard the ironclads that lay inside the bar, and
would naturally be the objects of attack from their importance and proximity,
and I also transmit copy of a communication (January 15) to the senior officer
outside on the same subject.
In addition I have been in the habit of giving personal attention to
the inside blockade, sometimes visiting the picket monitors several hours after
Being notified on the 5th of February by General Gillmore that he was
about to throw a force into Florida, and would need naval assistance, I left
promptly for the St. John's, in order to be sure that no aid should be wanted
that was possible, leaving Commodore Rowan, an experienced officer, commanding
the Ironsides, in charge of the blockade of Charleston.
On my return I touched here to examine into the condition of our
depots, and particularly in regard to the repairs on the monitors, intending
also to visit the blockade of Savannah River.
The Department will readily perceive the consequences likely to result
from this event; the whole line of blockade will be infested with these cheap,
convenient, and formidable defenses, and we must guard every point. The measures
for prevention may not be so obvious.
I am inclined to the belief that in addition to the various devices
for keeping the torpedoes from the vessels, an effective preventive may be found
in the use of similar contrivances.
I would therefore request that a number of torpedo boats be made and
sent here with dispatch; length about 40 feet, diameter amidships 5 to 6 feet,
and tapering to a point at each end; small engine and propeller, an opening of
about 15 feet above with a hatch coaming, to float not more than 18 inches above
water, somewhat as thus sketched.
I have already submitted a requisition on the Bureau of Construction
(January 16) for some craft of this kind, copy enclosed, which, with the great
mechanical facilities of the North, should be very quickly supplied.
I have also ordered a quantity of floating torpedoes, which I saw
tried here and thought promised to be useful. Meanwhile I hope the expected
monitors may soon arrive, when an attack on the defenses of the lower harbor may
I have attached more importance to the use of torpedoes than others
have done, and believe them to constitute the most formidable of the
difficulties in the way to Charleston. Their effect on the Ironsides, in
October, and now on the Housatonic, sustains me in this idea.
The Department will perceive from the printed injunctions issued that
I have been solicitous for some time in regard to these mischievous devices,
though it may not be aware of the personal attention which I have also given to
the security of the ironclads; I naturally feel disappointed that the rebels
should have been able to achieve a single success, mingled with no little
concern, lest, in spite of every precaution, they may occasionally give us
trouble. But it will create no dismay nor relax any effort; on the contrary, the
usual enquiry will be ordered, though the whole story is no doubt fully known.
I desire to suggest to the Department the policy of offering a large
reward of prize money for the capture or destruction of a "David;" I should say
not less than $20,000 or $30,000 for each. They are worth more than that to us.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. A. DAHLGREN
Rear-Admiral, Comdg. South Atlantic Blockdg. Squadron.
Hon. GIDEON WELLES,
Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
Source: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War
of the Rebellion. Series II, vol. 1 (Washington, Government Printing Office,
To our subscribers.
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Again thank you for
subscribing to the Hunley newsletter.
have a new web site under construction about the USS Keokuk."
sank off the south end of
Morris Island, at half-past eight o’clock the
(Apr11 8). Her smoke-stack and turrets are now visible at
water. From her wreck floated ashore a book, a
spy-glass, and pieces of
furniture bespattered with blood,
and small fragments of iron sticking in them.
About 9 o'clock the Keokuk, which had
evidently the most damaged in the action, went down
about 3˝ miles from
Fort Sumter and three-fourths of
a mile from Morris Island.
for more information
Late Breaking News -The fully
up-dated CSS H L HUNLEY MODEL will be ready to ship in three weeks.
Morris Island With a Bed and Breakfast?
Morris Island Lighthouse and the wetlands surrounding Morris
Island are owned by the State of South Carolina and are not
included in any sale.
Photo by George W. Penington
You may recall
Morris Island being
sale on EBAY a year ago well it is apparently under contract and due to
close at the end of this month according to developer Harry
Huffman He says his
listing received more than 18,000 hits on EBAY but didn't sell.
How does this tie in with the Hunley?
Union private Ezra Chamberlin, Company K of the 7th Connecticut
Volunteer Infantry Regiment was in the attack against Confederate Fort
Wagner on Morris Island in the early morning hours of July 11, 1863.
Chamberlin died in the Battle of Battery Wagner along with
1800 Federal troops who were later buried in a
mass grave in the sand of
Morris Island. The troops buried
on the island included over 1500 men of
Massachusetts Regiment featured in the 1989 Hollywood
"Glory" starring Denzel Washington.
Locals still recall being able to see human bones
in the center of Morris Island that wash up out of the sand after a heavy rain.
permission from the Post and Courier and Charleston.net
excavating the interior of the Confederate
States Submarine HL
Hunley found a medallion with
Chamberlin's name on it, still draped
around the neck of
crewmen Joseph Ridgaway.
Someone close to the Hunley
snagged the medallion as a souvenir
likely J.F. Carlsen,
the last man to join the Hunley crew. Carlsen, fought on
Morris Island the day Chamberlin died. Carlsen
found the tag and sold it to Ridgaway or lost it to
in a card game.
medallion found on the Hunley
The Ginn Company, which has a
contract to buy at least part
of the 125 acre island
"specializes in land acquisition, real estate development and
management, architectural design and
engineering, resort development
and operation and golf course construction and management. " The
Island is not listed on
the Ginn website as future development but
they have been
involved with The Cottages on Charleston Harbor and
Point Links golf course in Charleston, South Carolina.
But Charleston County who controls the zoning and building on the
island and the area known as Cummings Point only allows
for two homes to be built on the property but has heard ideas of
a 10 bedroom bed
and breakfast instead. DHEC has been
approached by an Engineering
company about putting in a
septic tank system to handle waste.
The previous developer Harry Huffman applied for
for 20 wells and septic tanks on the island's Cumming's Point
area earlier this year but has to request Charleston's county
to re-zone it for the 20 houses first There is no
information on where
this action stands.
|News of the pending sale has stirred up Civil War
preservationists who have been fighting any development
of the Island.
National Trust's Southern Office and the
Coalition are working together to raise money to buy the
Blake Hallman of the Morris Island Coalition
is quoted in the
Post and Courier as stating, "It's a travesty to build on a
where brave men fought and died" "If the property
falls off the
market or is developed
the state and nation will
lose out to a "few privileged people in a
bed and breakfast."
The final selling price is secret but the value for the land has
floated, ranging between $4 million and $12.5 million. It was
appraised at $4.1 million in 2001.For More Information on this topic
Is The Hunley Museum?
I get this question all the time. After
North Charleston won the
bidding to locate the Hunley Museum on the
old Navy Base nothing much has happened since. (4)
This summer, as a growing number of North Charleston leaders
questioned the pace of redevelopment on the former Charleston
Base, the company in charge of the work asked the city
for more than
$175 million in help to get started. They stated that the money
was needed to begin soil and traffic studies which should have been
started years ago. The company says that some of the money would
be used to tear down buildings, replace waterlines
and repair roads
items that the developer should be taking care of.
claim to need the cash upfront to get started on their
promise to redevelop the base which includes the
money to build
museums, and environmental center and to
buildings. All the existing buildings are falling into disrepair
and are deteriorating rapidly due to lack of maintenance.
The fact that Noisette Company is asking for money is waking
few council members to the fact that Noisette may not
financial backing to even start the project which
includes the promise
of thousands of new homes, offices
and shops. One council member
stated that the company
took over existing rental property,
collect the rents yet they haven't produced anything
Original Message -----
Monday, January 09, 2006 9:31 AM
Hunley Club Pictures
Can I use
your pictures posted in the club in my next newsletter
January 15th. I will of course credit you and the CSS HL Hunley
Club. George W. Penington
Monday, January 09, 2006 5:14 PM
Re: Hunley Club Pictures
How's it been
going? I haven't kept up with a lot of the Hunley stuff,
been too much with the ironclads lately.
Have a great
good...Thanks for asking. We keep digging for info from the
FOTH but my head aches from banging it against a wall. LOL.
Let me know about the Ironclads..always looking for fodder for
Friday, December 30, 2005 9:40 PM
Carlson - Possible Relative
I am interested in finding out more information on CF Carlson, I
understand he originally immigrated from Sweden.
My mother's family
name is Carlson. We have immigration
records on my mother's
father's family and records of where
they came from in Sweden. I
would appreciate any help
you could give me in getting further
information on this person, particularly dates of immigration or
personal history. I have
contacts in Sweden that would help us to
determine if there is a relationship.
Michael D. Hernandez
with permission from the Post and Courier and Charleston.net
Carlsen got the seat reserved
for new guys, the crank position in the very center of the Hunley's
"The Dead mans Seat" WITH The least Chance of Escape
Thursday, December 29, 2005 3:51 PM
always enjoyed reading your newsletter. I am severely disabled
and trying to support my family on S.S. disability. I do not
have the $10.00 as I can't take care of the utilities,
groceries, mortgage and gasoline as it is. Those are the hard
cold facts of life styles of the poor, disabled and the broke.
I do wish you the very best.
for writing Ed...The best of luck to you and I will keep you on
the mailing list. Let me know if you win the lottery. George
W. Penington Webmaster and Editor of the Hunley.com website and
----- Original Message -----
From: "wally wray" <email@example.com>
To: "George W Penington" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2005 5:27 PM
Subject: Re: Hunley Newsletter #59 Links
Just taking a moment to 'damn the politically correct
torpedoes,' and wish you and yours a VERY MERRY
CHRISTMAS, and a HEALTHY & HAPPY, to say nothing of a
successful and prosperous, NEW YEAR!!!!!
(If you'd like about 7" of really cold white stuff to
spread on your lawn, driveway, et al, just let me know
- - I've got plenty to spare!!!!)
Wally...You are a good man, I don't care what they say.
you and yours and a dang Merry Christmas to you too. GWP
--- George W Penington <email@example.com>
Check this out Wally - I sent this special. You may
get another letter from our new mailer. Just
disregard it...I'm checking out a new mail service.
We are not going to charge for newsletters any more,
it is strictly a voluntary donation. I build these
letters by myself on my time. There will be one
more this year that I've already started building.
Thanks for your interest and hang in. George W.
Penington the poor down trodden Webmaster and
Editor of the Hunley website and newsletter.
back George. I hope you are on the mend and feeling better!
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