1) Welcome to the new Hunley Newsletter
2)the torpedo delivery system of the Confederate Submarine – SPAR THEORIES
3) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Defense Department to help conserve the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley
4) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT - "We don't want to be accused of stampeding anything,"

H. L. Hunley model 1/72 :Special Price: 29.95

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A special welcome to all the new subscribers. This newsletter is published every two weeks so no one is bombarded with mail.  It is now in html format which allows us to post pictures and text.  Sometimes they get a little heavy but if you wait patiently all the pictures should download to you. It may be best to save the letter to your computer so you can read it at your leisure. If you ever have a problem with it and need some help just write me and let me know.  We even throw in a few free computer lessons for neophytes.  If you get the urge to write articles send them on.  Comments and feedback are always welcome.

2) the torpedo delivery system of the Confederate Submarine – SPAR THEORIES By George W. Penington


There have been numerous theories that we have mulled around in the CSS H L HUNLEY CLUB about the torpedo delivery system of the Confederate Submarine H L Hunley and how it was actually completed.  We know the system of dragging a floating 90 lb. torpedo behind the submarine allowing it to contact its target as the submarine dove below it proved to be extremely hazardous. The spar mounted system was quickly adapted to the Hunley approximately 6 weeks before it was proven to be somewhat effective and questionably successful.     Below are pictures showing sections of the bow.



The cut out section of the famous Chapman painting shows two brackets and a third clamp mounted on the port side of the ship.. and the spool on the starboard side, further aft of the
forward turret
fittings seem to grasp the obvious protrusions forward on the port side, and then clam or wrap the wooden top spar above.



 "The spar rig components we have seen show bolted-on retro-fit characteristics, but do not appear crude or jury-rigged." "Chapman's painting clearly shows fairly bulky fittings on the upper bow" jvnautilus 

Excerpt from Chapman painting


The protrusions that appear on the port side do not show up on the starboard side leading to the theory that the upper spar was side mounted.


There are theories that the lower spar was braced with rigging lines and by a cross bow that ran perpendicular across the upper bow through the aperture shown and that a metal bracing bar might have run down to the lower spar to give it lateral stability.



There were three breaches found in the hull of the Hunley. The hole in the forward conning tower, a bowling ball sized gash just forward of the dive plane on the starboard side, and a 24" x 18' tear near the stern.


The above are excerpts from Robert L. Helms'  Project Work for the Friends of the Hunley:

The starboard side does not show the protrusion that may have been manufactured on the port side to carry the upper spar.

Dowdey shows side-mount spar


It is theoretical that the Hunley cruised with the torpedo raised out of the water. The Commander or his First mate in the aft turret would have lowered it on  instructions from the Lt. Dixon after  the USS Housatonic was targeted and the Hunley was aligned for attack. The  lateral forces on the spar from waves and currents would be minimal until moments before the attack time. The theory is, that Dixon would not have a second chance to correct his course if it was altered once the torpedo was in the water. He would have had to anticipate the currents from the ebb tide and the Hunley even though it was aligned would have been crabbing toward its target.  These forces might have had something to do with the fact that the impact of the torpedo was toward the stern of the Housatonic, rather than amidships, another few seconds and the Hunley could have undershot the 207' long target.


  "Keep in mind that the Hunley was placed on the Mt. Pleasant wharf in November 1863. Chapman made his sketch and Cook made his "photograph" of the Hunley in December. The towed torpedo was still the primary weapon at that point, as evidenced by the near disaster in January. So whatever spar rigging can be seen in those works of art must have been experimental.

The David did indeed have a working spar torpedo but the problem was greater than just adapting it to the Hunley. The David's conical bow lent itself perfectly to a Y-shaped spar. The Hunley's did not. The point is that the Hunley's engineers were working under extremely adverse conditions and might have settled on a design that was strong enough to keep the spar stable while attacking but not while turning.

In any case, there were clearly tradeoffs involved in lowering the torpedo at launch time vs. attack time. It's true that the Hunley depended on stealth, but I don't think closing to attack range in the dark with a raised spar torpedo would have compromised it all that much.

As to the problem of lowering the torpedo, either hatch could have been used to operate an external winch, which would not have required very much effort as gravity would have been doing the work. The crewman would have slowly released the brake, allowing the torpedo to lower itself.

As to shifting the mass of the spar and torpedo, I think it would have affected the trim more than the freeboard capacity. Unless the spar and/or torpedo had positive buoyancy, the displacement would have been the same regardless of position.

And lastly, keeping the torpedo dry as long as possible might have been important. It had to have had some sort of opening for the trigger cord.

Maybe evilmike2 can add some insight to these issues."  Barry- b_rogoff 

evilmike2 "Mike (the Torpedo Man) Kochan" wrote in part:

"Confederate view:...The idea was to get the tank at least 6 feet underwater. You can't compress a liquid so the surrounding weight of water helps confine the explosion into the hull. Some of the early experiments with row boats having spar torpedoes on them being forced against an old barge or scow, would blow the vessel to atoms but not harm the row boat only 10 feet away!!

I believe the 90lb torpedo on the Hunley was the size of the one towed behind her on the surface.
The 130 odd pound Singer torpedo seems to make sense, size and design. The 16 inch diameter and 24 inch long tank is a great design with multiple trigger ignition points at the center of the tank. This would ensure a most efficient burning of almost all the powder in the tank.
If you could imagine Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, where the Confederates had about 140 pieces of artillery fire at the union forces to soften up their position. They basically took a one pound service charge and if they all fired at once, that would be the force coming out of the torpedo next to the hull of the "Housatonic'. That's why it blew the stern quarter off , broke the prop shaft and sank her in less than 5 minutes. "

 " I believe these are the straps that held the top boom to the hull.  They are clearly visible in Chapman's painting.  The painting also shows some large bolt-like items that could have served as guy wire attachment points. 
Dan Dowdey's reconstruction shows the boom on the port side, consistent with the current strap position.  My reading of the painting however puts the boom either on top and shaped to fit or on the starboard side.  (I have a larger-than-the-original print of the painting that shows good detail of the painting.)  I also believe the boom as Chapman painted it runs fore and aft, not athwart ships.  This doesn't eliminate the possibility that such a brace may have been fitted later.

Finally, put me in the camp that says the torpedo was shipped at the dock and not in the target area.  I do believe one of the contemporary reports says as much.  I think it would be too risky to attempt to
lower the torpedo and spar at sea.  Yes the shipped configuration would generate more drag, but this was a jury-rigged retrofit to replace the original towed torpedo configuration.  Compare the smoothed hull as originally constructed to the spar-mount crudely but effectively bolted to the hull.  There is no sign of streamlining there."
Michael "jvnautilus "


Spar Speculations

Spar Speculations
Posted:  2-Jul-2002 by hunley_bar | Resolution: 480x352


3) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Defense Department to help conserve the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley

From the Associated Press  3/28/03

CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Defense Department has earmarked $700,000 to help conserve the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced Thursday. 
The money, from the agency's Legacy Resource Management program, will help pay for continued conservation of the sub, which was raised off the floor of the Atlantic Ocean near Charleston in 2000 and brought to a conservation lab at the old Charleston Navy Base.
Graham worked with the Defense Department, 1st District U.S. Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., and those working to conserve and display the Hunley to get the money.

"I am proud to have been a part of protecting this piece of American history," Graham said. "The Hunley is a historically unique artifact that is an object of interest to the people of South Carolina and the nation."

Under an agreement between South Carolina and the federal government approved almost seven years ago, the United States retains title to the Hunley while South Carolina has permanent custody.

One goal of the Legacy Resource Management Program is to conserve and manage historical resources or property owned by the Defense Department.

The Hunley is the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship. But the sub itself sank in February 1864 after blowing up
the Union blockade ship Housatonic off the coast of Charleston.

4) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT - "We don't want to be accused of stampeding anything,"

Hunley bidders to undergo 2nd round of questioning
Of The Post and Courier Staff

COLUMBIA--A decision on where to build the H.L. Hunley museum will not be made before the fall as the cities competing to house the Confederate sub are about to undergo a second round of questioning.

The first question for Mount Pleasant will be -- Are you bidding or not?

The Hunley Commission's site selection subcommittee voted Thursday to submit a dozen questions to Charleston, Mount Pleasant and North Charleston concerning simple matters such as who will own the museum and what grant writers and exhibit developers are available to them. There are more intangible questions, too, such as their commitment to a first-class facility.

Chris Sullivan, the subcommittee's chairman, drew up most of the questions to flesh out the more peripheral benefits associated with each bid. The three cities, with Patriot's Point joining Mount Pleasant, applied for the museum one year ago.

Sullivan said that one of the outstanding questions is the status of Mount Pleasant. Mayor Harry Hallman earlier this year said the town would withdraw its bid, and Town Council redirected the money it had committed to the project, essentially taking the offer off the table.

Town officials said they would consider putting more money back up if the commission decides it would like to put the museum there.

Some commission members have said privately the town is trying to have it both ways, which won't work. Sullivan said Thursday he will ask town officials point-blank. He said that Patriot's Point officials have said they are still a bidder even if the town is not involved. But the home of the Yorktown does not have the taxing ability to raise money as a town does.

"That's a question I have," Sullivan said. "Are we down to two proposals?"

The questions that the subcommittee is now asking the bidders concern historical presentation and displays, how they would handle ongoing conservation and whether they are willing to help raise money for the museum, which some estimate could cost up to $40 million. Also, the commission wants to know if the bidder or the Hunley Commission would be responsible for hiring or firing staff at the museum.

Initially the commission expected to make a decision on the museum site last year, but they were delayed when officials associated with the project decided there was not enough money on the table to proceed. With a state budget crisis and flaccid economy looming, the commission has held off on the decision.

The subcommittee will give the bidders until June 27 to respond to the questions in writing, and the sitting panel of the Hunley Commission will reconvene to discuss the new information the first week in September.

Sen. John Courson argued that since the sub will not be ready for display for at least seven years, there is no hurry to make a final decision.

"We don't want to be accused of stampeding anything," Sullivan joked.
Reprinted with permission of the Post and Courier and Charleston.Net


5)  E-MAIL

-----Original Message-----
From: Tom Grazioli []
Sent: Monday, March 31, 2003 9:11 AM

Subject: Funeral For The Crew?
I heard there was to be an announcement about the funeral for the Hunley crew. Do you know if one was made and where I can get a copy of it?
Thanks,  Tom

Hello Tom...Thanks for writing. .Sorry it took so long to get back to you...had to make sure I knew what I was talking about....which happens sometimes .I have not heard anything more about the funeral arrangements other than it is supposed to be around November, 2003 and will probably get delayed again. Below is what the Friends of the Hunley, Inc. are running on their website. If you haven't ought to sign up for the bi-monthly newsletter and I will keep you up to date as news is made available. Just go into to sign up 'cause we do not spam. Thanks again and stay in touch.

"Now that the eight-man crew has been removed from the Hunley, forensic and scientific work is being done on the remains. The courageous crew will ultimately be laid to rest alongside the previous two Hunley crews at Magnolia Cemetery.

Before this takes place, we need to complete facial reconstructions of each crewmember, so that we can know who these men were and what they looked like. When they are finally laid to rest, we will honor real men, with names and faces, heroes whose stories can be fully told for generations to come. So that we are able to do this, an exact date has not yet been determined, but it is expected to take place either in late 2003 or early 2004. Please do not email or call about the date of the Hunley crew burial. We are extremely thankful to all of you who want to participate, however, at this point, we do not have any more information other than what is provided on this web page. We will post all contact and date information regarding the burial on this web page as soon as it becomes available. Thank you!"

_____________________________________ Here is a link to a page I built awhile back with some contact information and an article. I think that it will be a massive affair from the letters that I have received. I hope that they are up to the task.

George W. Penington

Mr. Penington,

Thanks for the note. The reenacting community is very interested in the final journey the crew of the Hunley. I expect there will be a very large turnout for the funeral when the day comes. With recent speculation of a November date, I had quite a number of inquiries. One of my other contacts told me last night that the date had been pushed back at least into 2004. We'll watch for the official word.

At Your Service,  Colonel Tom Grazioli  Palmetto Battalion

-----Original Message-----
From: David
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2003 11:51 AM
Subject: Spar placement 

Hi, I'm the father of a 5th grade Civil War enthusiast.  In the pictures and models of the Hunley craft, the spar that held the explosive charge is pictured and represented both top and bottom of the front of the sub.   Is there any way of knowing the real configuration or placement?  What has the Hunley hinted? Thanks, 

Derek's father, Marc

Hello and thanks for writing.  There is a short fixed spar at the top of the forward bow and the longer one is hinged at the lower forward bow.  It just so happens that I just finished building the 1/72 scale model of the Hunley and it was a lot of fun.  I have included it in this weeks newsletter.  The pre-discovery Hunley shows the spar on top.  The revision since the discovery is correctly showing the torpedo mounted on the lower spar.  The logo I use is correct.  If you get a chance before tomorrow sign up for the newsletter the 5th grader will enjoy it.  My site is definitely family safe.  If you don't get the newsletter , let me know and I will send you a separate copy.  Here is the picture of my completed model. 

Thanks for writing and good luck to you all.  George W. Penington

NOTE: I need to move the upper spar to the port side which appears to be the proper configuration.



Date: 21 Mar 2003


I, love the website. I, am a civil war enthusiastic, especially, when it, comes, to something, concerning, THE CONFEDERACY. I, have only been to, three Civil War Battle ground's. My first, was to ft. Blakeley, located East of Mobile, Al. MY 2nd, was to SHILOH, and my 3rd, was to VICKSBURG, Ms. I, live, just 50 mile's, from Mobile, Al., in Pensacola, Fl. I, hope someday, to go to see GETTYSBURG, Pa. Why? hasn’t someone tried to find, the first sub, that sank, in Mobile, Bay? Steve Heard.

Date:22 Mar 2003


We, who have not had to make the ultimate sacrifice that these men made, can only bow our heads in admiration.


Date: 27 Mar 2003



Date:28 Mar 2003


I think this website is very informative and interesting. I would love to go see The Hunley some day. I love historical artifacts of the Civil War. It's sometimes difficult to understand that time but find it very captivating.

Date:30 Mar 2003


Thank you for an informative web site. Really interesting.

Date:30 Mar 2003


My son is doing a Civil War project for school and we thought this would be a great project and very educational for the 4th grade project. Hope to be seeing you this weekend. Thank you the Boyst Family from Warner Robins Georgia.

Date:01 Apr 2003


It is a great thing that people take such great interest in it's history. I'm glad I found this web site. Remember, not to know one's history is to remain a child. CW4 M. Suggs - Kuwait



Is to provide specialized information to those who are interested in the recovery efforts and history of the Confederate Submarine H L Hunley. It is available free to anyone who might benefit from the information it contains, for example, students and history buffs. Our mailing list will always be kept private and will never be sold.

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