|NEWSLETTER # 22
1) WELCOME TO THE NEW
IN CASE YOU
MISSED IT - GOLD COIN NOW ON DISPLAY
Confederate Steamer Sumter Discovered in Charleston Harbor.
JEWELRY FOUND In DIXON'S
5) RECENT E-MAILS
NEW MAP AND CHART OF THE
CIVIL WAR BATTLE HISTORY AROUND CHARLESTON HARBOR
FROM THE GUEST BOOK
OUR PURPOSE AND GOALS
WELCOME TO THE NEW HUNLEY NEWSLETTER:
are now publishing our newsletters in HTML. One of the primary highlights
is that we can now inserts images. We hope that you will like the new
This weeks special at The Hunley
store you will receive
the Hunley Commemorative Coin
Civil War at Charleston and the
harbor Civil War battle map
Penington for only $24.99 plus 3.50
In case you missed it
GOLD COIN NOW ON
DISPLAY AT WARREN LASCH LABORATORY
By George W. Penington - Editor
The renowned “Gold Coin” found on
board the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley is now on public display. The
good-luck piece belonging to sub Commander Lt. George E. Dixon is part of
the regular tours at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center beginning Nov.
The sub's snorkel tubes and
rudder were added to the weekend tours, along with the Union soldier I.D.
tag found around the neck of the sub's first officer.
The coin, which
has been in an undisclosed location since it was found in May 2001. Only a
select few have been allowed to see the coin in real life.
The story of the
coin was recorded in the letters by some of Dixon's comrades in the 21st
Alabama that tell about the now famous soldier’s sweetheart, Queenie
Bennett, and how she came to give Dixon a twenty dollar gold piece before
he marched off to war in October 1861.
During the battle of Shiloh,
Dixon was shot in the leg but the Minnie ball struck the gold coin.
Forensic scientist state that Dixon was gravely injured and probably
walked with a limp after being wounded on his left thigh bone and was
lucky not to have died or lost his leg.
It was proven that Dixon carried
the warped coin with him
everywhere after that when it was
discovered in his pants pocket during the final excavation.
Scientists also found that an
inscription was added to the warped coin by Dixon. It reads:
April 6th, 1862
My life Preserver
The coin has come to symbolize a
love story that touches the heart of anyone who has the privilege enough
to see it.
The Lasch Conservation Center is
open for tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m.
Sundays. A ticket must be purchased to see the Gold Coin and other
artifacts on display. Tickets cost $10 and are available at 1-877-4HUNLEY
or on the Internet at www.etix.com.
Tickets can be purchased at the door where you can save the $3.00
additional surcharge dollars it
cost to buy them online.
Confederate Steamer Sumter
Discovered in Charleston Harbor
November 8, 2002 - Press Release
Shipwreck Expert E. Lee Spence to
be Featured on Livin’ Large
Shipwreck expert E. Lee Spence of
Summerville, South Carolina, announced today that he has discovered the
wreck of the Confederate transport Sumter, which was lost near the
entrance to Charleston in 1863. The discovery will be included in an
episode of Dick Clark Productions nationally syndicated television program
Livin’ Large. Livin’ Large decided to feature Spence due to his many
successful ventures and the unusual nature of his work. The show is a
contemporary version of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." According to
Spence, he has worked on "everything from a Great Lakes freighter with
Scotch & Champagne to Spanish galleons with tons of silver." The episode
aired in the Columbia area on WLTX at half past midnight on Friday,
November 8, 2002, and in the Charleston area on WCBD at midnight on
The Confederate troop transport and
munitions carrier was sunk by "friendly fire" on the night of August 30,
1863, while returning from Morris Island, South Carolina. The steamer was
carrying 600 to 740 men, who had just been relieved from duty on Morris
Island, and was bound to Battery Gregg when she ran aground and was fired
upon by mistake from a Confederate fortification near Fort Moultrie on
Sullivan’s Island. At least one shot penetrated her hull, and she quickly
filled with water. Very soon afterwards the steamer went to pieces. One
account stated that the men were from the 12th or the 23rd regiments of
the South Carolina volunteers. Another said they were from the 20th South
Carolina and 23rd Georgia Regiments and "an artillery company."
Contemporary reports stated that
the men on the Sumter lost "nearly all of their guns, accouterments and
ammunition." If they are still down there, the artifacts could easily be
worth over $1,000,000 on the collectors' market, but Spence says "their
real value would be in the story they would tell about the brave men who
lost them." Several men were killed, and others drowned, when they tried
to escape by swimming. Estimates of the total dead and/or missing varied
between eight and forty. The remainder of the troops were rescued by
Colonel Rhett’s men from Fort Sumter and by boats sent down by the
Confederate navy. Contemporary accounts described her as lost on the "east
end of fort reef," "fifty to seventy yards inside of the Cumming’s Point
buoy and about eight hundred to a thousand yards from Fort Sumter."
Comparing the historical record to
a modern day chart, Spence noted a small shoal just off the tip of Morris
Island. The same shoal was shown on a hand drawn chart made in 1865.
Spence had a hunch that the shoal on both maps was "fort reef.". As an
underwater archaeologist and President of the Sea Research Society, Spence
decided that a simple "Look-See" expedition to the shoal was the best
course of action. A "Look-See," which did not disturb the site, could be
done quickly and quietly, without violating any State or federal laws. The
big thing was that it could go forward without the need for special
Using bearings determined from the
chart, the 23’ Scout was anchored directly over the most promising
location. Within seconds of going into the water, Spence realized his
"research had been dead on." Spence observed brick ballast and other items
from the wreck, but left them in place. He saw no sign of the vessel’s
high-pressure steam plant and suspects it was raised for scrap after the
war. Although there could easily be a fortune in artifacts at the site,
Spence, says "My primary interest was in finding the wreck. I have no
desire to spend years seeking official permission to work the site, only
to see someone else credited with my discovery. Without a permit from the
State Budget & Control Board, it is a felony to disturb a warship in South
Carolina waters, which is believed to have human remains aboard. With over
four decades of shipwreck diving experience, Spence does not believe there
are any human remains at the site. But, due to South Carolina law, Spence
did not pick up any of the artifacts he found, nor did he dig into or
otherwise disturb the site. The limited visibility prevented any
meaningful underwater photography during the expedition. The Sea Research
Society expedition was aided with equipment provided by White’s Metal
Detectors, Fisher Research Laboratories, Hummer dealer Doug McElveen and
Dave Wallace of Scout Boats. Besides Spence, the primary participants in
the project were Kelly McDaniel and Bill Hoolahan of the Sea Research
Society and Nelson Jacobs and Alan Lang of Scout Boats in Summerville.
The exposed portions of the wreck
were used as target practice by the Confederates in the weeks after it was
sunk, so it is clear that the Confederates had abandoned it. Legally, that
abandonment means that it was not Confederate government property when the
Civil War ended. Therefore, the wreck would not have been a "prize of
war." So, title to the vessel’s remains would never have transferred to
the federal government. As the finder of abandoned property, Spence claims
ownership and warns people to stay away from the wreck. Spence says "I
expect to be donating any rights I have to the wreck to the American
Military Museum in Charleston, and the museum’s officials can try to work
something out with the State." Museum director and curator George Meagher
says "any artifacts from the site would make a great addition to our
Spence was the original discoverer
of the wreck of the Confederate submarine Hunley and donated his title to
the vessel to the State in September of 1995 at the request of the Hunley
Commission. Attorney General Charles M. Condon signed the donation
agreement. Shortly afterwards, Condon wrote Spence to say "Let me take
this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and profound gratitude
for your generous and historic donation to the State of your rights to the
submarine H.L. Hunley." Two months later, South Carolina Governor David M.
Beasley wrote Spence and stated "Your work in discovering the Hunley is of
great significance. ...... South Carolina is indebted to you for the
wonderful contribution you have made to archaeology." On November 15,
2000, Governor Beasley again wrote Spence and said "South Carolina is &
should be proud of you."
JEWELRY FOUND IN DIXON'S POCKETS
Thursday, November 14, 2002
By George W. Penington - Editor
It's February17, 1864, Lt. George E.
Dixon and his crew are in their quarters located in an abandoned house
near the end of Pitt Street, Mt. Pleasant, packing their things for the
long hike to the end of Sullivan's Island. Their ship the H. L. Hunley is
being prepared for a secret mission. In his left pocket Dixon puts his
lucky gold piece and in his right pocket wrapped in cloth he puts his
pinky ring and a brooch for Queenie.
was carrying a pocket watch and a personal log, diary or ledger. The
Watch, the chain and a fob - a small piece of gold attached to the chain -
were excavated earlier this year from a block of sediment removed from the
sub. Last week, archaeologists excavating the sediment that was block
lifted from the submarine discovered jewelry hidden in the pluff mud that
surrounded Dixon's body. The archaeologist discovered a man's pinky ring
with nine diamonds and a decorative fashion accessory like a brooch with
37 diamonds. Both were made of gold and covered in brilliant diamonds.
"The ring is ornate, and both sides of the ring are decorated in
Dixon, in his 20s, appears to have liked the finery of the South
even in the clothing he wore to work in the sub. "This man, George Dixon,
was dressed for destiny," Hunley Commission Chairman Glenn McConnell said
Wednesday at a news conference announcing the find. "It puts George Dixon
in that category of one of the last cavaliers."
"If that's a female pin, he expected to see her again,"
McConnell said referring to Queenie Bennett, Dixon's Southern Belle lady.
The Smithsonian Institution is researching19th-century jewelry
practice to explore the possible origins of the pieces. We know that the
ring is made of gold probably 18 to 24 carat and has nine diamonds -
roughly a 1/2 carat with eight small diamonds all of a high quality.
A local jewelry expert describes the finds as follows;
"The style is similar to today's ring known in the jewelry industry
as a "Kentucky Colonel," meaning it is something meant to be flashy and
ornate. The ring appears to be of English origin and likely was imported.
It's about a size six, which means it's probably a pinky ring - if it is a
man's ring. There is also a cut mark in the band, indicating that it was
sized to fit. The ring today would cost more than $1,500 retail, not
including its historical value." " The gold brooch, which is about the
size of a nickel, has 37 diamonds: one in the middle surrounded by six
smaller ones, which are surrounded by 30 smaller diamonds. The brooch is
about 2 carats and would cost about $3,000 today"
A true scientific evaluation has not begun since discovery of the
jewelry was just made about November 7, 2002 even though the excavation of
the sub' interior has long been finished.
" Dixon's remains had to be "block-lifted" out of the sub in tight
muddy bricks along with about 40 other blocks containing personal items
such as clothing and bone matter. Although work seems to be progressing
slowly we hope to be able to bury all eight Hunley crewmen sometime late
Mr. Randy Burbage is one of our
Hunley Commission members and would be the best contact person about the
Funeral arrangements. He can be reached at 1/800/611-2823 or 1130 John
Rutledge Avenue, Hanahan, South Carolina 29406-2018.
"The jewelry pieces were found wrapped between two layers of cloth as
if for "safekeeping." They were resting beneath Dixon's right thigh bone,
which meant they probably were kept in a jacket or maybe a pants pocket
when the sub sailed for the last time", Archaeologist Maria Jacobsen
The plan is to put the jewelry on display along with the other
artifacts that have been removed from the Hunley. Dixon's $20 Lady
Liberty gold coin that stopped a bullet at the Battle of Shiloh and saved
his life went on display last weekend for the first time. Pictures of the
jewelry have not been provided the public.
The hand-propelled "fish boat"
became the world's first successful attack sub on the night of Feb. 17,
1864, when it rammed a torpedo black powder charge into the Union Steamer
blockade ship USS Housatonic, about 4 miles from the entrance to
Charleston Harbor. The submarine sank close to the USS Housatonic and was
later discovered by Dr. E. Lee Spence in 1970.
The Department of Public Safety is
providing elite police officers to guard the Hunley seven days a week at a
cost of $110,000 year as more and more access is provided to the public as
pressure mounts for the Friends of the Hunley, Inc. to be more forthcoming
----- Original Message -----
From: M F Navin
To: The Hunley.com
Sent: Friday, November 15, 2002 10:05 PM
Subject: Jewelry Theory
Date: November 15, 2002
I am a 10 year old Hunley fan from Bel Air, Maryland. I just read about
the jewelry found with Lt. Dixon's belongings. Perhaps this jewelry
belonged to his wife. After she died he may have found some of her
jewelry. Then he decided to keep it with his gold coin. On that fateful
night when he took his crew out he most likely brought the pieces along in
case he never returned. That way he would have her with him forever.
GREAT BUT LT. DIXON WASN'T MARRIED
YET, YOU THROUGH ME THERE, HAD TO GO CHECK, BUT HE WAS DEFINITELY IN
LOVE, I LIKE THE THEORY
From: Charles [mailto:scv-44inf@]
Sent: Friday, November 08, 2002 7:00 PM
To: The Hunley.com
Subject: Re: Hunley Newsletter # 21
If you don't like
Senator McConnell and his belief and desire to preserve our heritage, why
don't you run against him in the next general election? then again, who's
going to elect a NAACP bigot with views such as yours. Sincerely, a son of
many Confederate Veterans
I received this e-mail in response to the articles from the STATE
Newspaper that ran in the last newsletter. Charles, I don't make the
news, it makes itself without my help, I just report it. Just for
information, I like Glenn McConnell very much, he and I are Fraternity
Brothers, went to the College of Charleston together. In fact I was
President of the Sophomore Class when he was President of the Student
Body. I am all for preserving our heritage, but not at the cost of
hurting or damaging others. It is people like you that give Confederate
Veterans a bad name, not all of us are prejudiced, most of us believe in
the Freedom of All. Senator Glenn McConnell is even quoted as saying in
the article "The Hunley's sailors were patriots, fighting for freedom..
Americans in the pursuit of freedom as they perceive it are always willing
to put aside the element of fear and answer the call of duty. That's the
story of America." So it is your views that are distorted. One vote for
Sent: Friday, November 08, 2002 10:59 AM
To: The Hunley.com
Subject: Re: Hunley Newsletter # 21
Dear George, You might want to view
nov's issue of nat'l geographic in the forum section and read the first
letter under the Hunley heading. Some people just don't get it. Sam
From the FORUM - National
Geographic November Issue about the Hunley
The article's concluding paragraph
really upset me. General Beauregard was an enemy of the U.S.; his orders
("pay a proper tribute to the gallantry and patriotism" of the Hunley's
crew) lay no onus upon us. The causes of the Civil War were complex and
many, but they were bound tightly with a vile and repulsive practice whose
legacy still afflicts us terribly. At least part of what the South was
defending was the right to cruelly subjugate one's fellow man and to
suppress entirely his rights. The enormity of the evil of that practice
throws over whatever nobler aims or ideals the Confederacy embraced. The
blow struck by the Hunley was a blow against the story of the expanding
awareness of human rights and possibilities that is the central narrative
of America. Like all dead, the men of the Hunley deserve respect and
compassion, not least because in supporting the cause they did, those men
were so badly misled. But bravery alone does not beget heroes, nor does
death in arms alone signify patriots. The men of the Hunley are neither.
Sanjay Krishnaswamy Berkeley, California
NEW MAP AND
CHART OF THE CIVIL WAR BATTLE HISTORY AROUND CHARLESTON HARBOR.
showing Crews temporary quarters in Mt. Pleasant and the Hunley Submarine
Dock at Breach Inlet)
The map based around the Civil War
in Charleston Harbor has expanded to include the Stono River area. I have
taken the NOAA Chart 11521 and reduced it to a manageable size of 11 x 17.
The Latitudes and Longitudes are scaled so that tracking can be accurately
done. Each map graphically shows the ships around the harbor and their
appropriate location on specified dates. I have plotted the locations of
wrecks such as the Blockade runner "Ruby" off Folly Beach. The Housatonic
and the Hunley are accurately charted according to records and research
that are publicly available.
Using available Naval Records and
History, reports, and documents I have been able to discern the locations
of such ships as the Canandaigua, the probable course of The Hunley, and
the location of various other blockading ships in relation to Hunley the
night of February 17, 1864. I have kept the depth gages of the waters
around Charleston and have included the locations of the first and second
sinking of the Hunley. All the time and research in making this map has
been extremely interesting and gives a great perspective of the battles in
and around Charleston Harbor from 1861-1865. The Charleston Harbor Map is
available threw www.hunleystore.com
FROM THE GUEST
Nice website. People should be
cautious and not refer to the Hunley as the first submarine to sink an
"enemy" ship. The Housatonic was a U.S. Navy ship so anyone referring it
as an "enemy" vessel is in the same boat as Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler,
and Joseph Stalin. It's more proper to refer to the Hunley as the first
submarine to sink a ship or to sink a ship during war. We Southerners
should be cautious because if we sling mud, others can sling mud and refer
to the attack on Fort Sumter as similar to the attack on the World Trade
Center. It's better to remember the war but not to keep fighting it. Those
that were bitter moved to Brazil after the war and started a confederate
outpost that still remains today for tourists. Sam
I just watched the raising of the
Hunley on National Geographic explorer this evening. It was awesome. I
will be looking forward to more info. Joe Harris
On a recent trip to Freedom,
Oklahoma, with a population including rural areas at about 350, discussion
of The Hunley was brought up by a relative born and raised in that state.
They didn't know that Cussler did not find The Hunley until I related to
them about meeting Lee Spence just after Hurricane Hugo. When I asked Mr.
Spence what was the most significant ship that he has ever located he told
me "The Hunley." My surprise resulted in my doubtfully asking "Where?"
kind of like "yeah right." He told me along with some physical details
then contrary to history but now confirmed by The Hunley being raised and
studied. Remember how they had to cut off the iron spar, that would not of
been necessary if they would of listened to Mr. Spence.......Floyd
As they say, "You All did Good"!
Just came back from Charleston and
viewing the Hunley in person was impressive...Love the web site..Keep up
the good work. Can't wait to see the movie....
Make the trip to Charleston and see
the Hunley in person...its worth the trip!! Very informative web
site..makes you hungry for all the information you can
Don't forget that these men were
traitors to the United States...
As we were to England.
I find the information fascinating.
Just think these men gave their lives fighting for something they believed
in. They were true southern patriots. They fought for our choice to be a
country of our own with our own minds and ways of life. Don't get me
wrong, I am proud to be a part of the USA and grateful to be southern.
I have been following the story of
the Hunley ever since it was found. My family tree is Boston "yankees" but
have a relative buried in Andersonville National Cemetery. History is
great. Looking forward to the Hunley visit this November. The men of the
Hunley gave their lives for a belief. They are true heroes as are mine.
I will be traveling shortly to
visit the Hunley. Can you recommend a hotel close by.
Very good site I am a member of
Friends of the Hunley. Is there anyway to purchase gifts off of your
website? When I was there in Nov. I saw some articles that I would like to
purchase as Christmas gifts. wrhunt@
As I viewed your photographs and
read your articles, I was overcome with how much these men gave in service
to the Confederacy. What magnificent pioneers they were and their bravery
beyond comprehension. I eagerly look forward to your updates. BeverMort@
PURPOSE AND GOALS
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.
Feel free to forward this
newsletter to any friends or associates
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George W. Penington