Hunley Newsletter 29 March 7
1) Welcome to
the new Hunley Newsletter
and George Dixon – More Questions
3) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
THE "LITTLE REBEL" AND THE
4) THE HUNLEY NEWSLETTERS 2002 E-BOOK
BUILDING THE HUNLEY MODEL
6) FROM THE GUEST BOOK
7) HOW TO VOLUNTEER
FIVE IN ONE COFFIN”
WAS “ABSOLUM WILLIAMS” THE ONLY
The Play “Raising Blue” IS NOW IN PRODUCTION
10) OUR PURPOSE AND GOALS
This weeks special at The Hunley
The Hunley store now
has models. The kit was created from first hand observations and
measurements to create a truly accurate and magnificent
finished piece for display. Only a small amount of modeling
experience & a few tools are recommended to complete the kit.
Simple instructions included indicate what
tools are necessary. (Glue and paint are not included.) Scale
is 1/72. Length 11.50". Kit number #72-001.
1) WELCOME TO THE NEW HUNLEY
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.
Bennett and George Dixon – More Questions
by George W. Penington
You remember the picture of the cute
young kid that they said was Dixon, Commander of one of the greatest
top secret submarines the south ever had, a guy that had stamina,
brains, ability to lead men to their death….. well it may not have
been him or was it Dixon at an earlier age. The picture was always
‘suspect’ in that such a baby faced kid would be able to handle
submarine warfare, much less a women like the “Queen” Bennett. This
week new information from Senator Glenn McConnell has been released.
It appears that the family of the
Queen Bennett, Dixon’s wartime sweetheart, produced some interesting
memorabilia that may unravel the mystery of Dixon’s identity.
The impression is that two items,
family heirlooms, which include a locket and an engraved pocket
watch, may provide details into the relationship between “Queenie
Bennett” and “Lt. George E. Dixon”. They are just a couple of the
many Bennett keepsakes passed down through the generations. George
Bennett Walker, Jr. who had possession of the watch believed it
belonged to his great-grandmother. He inherited it in the 1970’s and
all this time he sat intrigued by the gold ladies pocket watch with
a Swiss wind-up , an ornate case embedded with emeralds and other
precious stones as a rare possession. The two pieces which were
finally released this week are being used by scientists to unravel
the mystery of Dixon's identity. “The miniature photograph inside
the locket was found among family heirlooms held by the
great-grandchildren of Queen Bennett, Dixon's sweetheart” said the
“He is handsome, dapper and well
coiffed, with penetrating eyes and a stylish mustache that may make
him appear older than he really is. His expression is serious,
perhaps a reflection of the times. “ BRIAN HICKS
PROVIDED BY GEORGE BENNETT WALKER
Queen Bennett's The great-grandchildren
of Queen Bennett can't identify the man in the picture inside her
pocket watch. They feel sure that this man is not a member of their
family. Scientists working for the Hunley conservation and recovery
effort will attempt to overlay the face on an image of Dixon's skull
to see if this could actually be the Hunley commander. There is a
remarkable resemblance to the younger man who was popularly believed
to be Dixon..
image was enhanced to accurately show ‘Dixon’ as a mature rugged
looking character, similar to the one preserved in a locket the size
of a twenty dollar gold piece for over one hundred thirty-nine
years. This looks more like a “George E. Dixon”, captain of the H.
L. Hunley than the younger version. Are these pictures of the same
The photo in the locket will be now
be compared to Dixon's remains, which were found inside the
recovered Confederate sub. News several weeks ago stated that the
face prepared by forensic scientist was already complete and that
scientist were ready to put a face on the remains of the Commander
but this new information may cause a major set back.
Meanwhile researchers will try to
trace the watch back to its source in hopes of picking up George
Dixon’s whereabouts in Mobile, Ala.
Sen. McConnell is quoted as saying
of the watch "This fits into the pattern of the brooch and ring
found among Dixon's things. He liked nice things and could evidently
afford them,” "The picture resembles descriptions of him and appears
to be the way he dressed. This opens up a whole bunch of new
Another interesting note is that the
engraving on the watch is very similar to that of Dixon’s gold coin,
particularly the “D”
IN CASE YOU
MISSED IT: THE "LITTLE REBEL"
AND THE CAPTAIN
By Brian Hicks Sunday, March 3, 2003
Used with permission from the Post and Courier and Charleston.Net
The pocket watch above belonged to
Queen Bennett, the wartime sweetheart of Hunley commander George E.
Dixon. The inscription suggests the watch was an 1862 Christmas
gift. The lettering is similar to the engraving on Dixon's gold coin
good luck piece, leading some to believe it was a gift from Dixon.
Born and raised
in Mobile, Queen Bennett was the oldest of Robert and Sarah
Bennett's eight children. One of the oft-told stories of Queenie
recounted in a contemporary newspaper article, concerned her arrest
soon after the Union occupation of Mobile in 1865. Bennett and four
other girls marched down to the federals' headquarters and cut the
halyard holding up the U.S. flag, allowing the banner to fall to the
ground. A surviving photograph of her is captioned "A little Rebel."
The most famous story of Queen
Bennett, however, is the one about her lost first love, a dashing
Confederate lieutenant named George E. Dixon. Few details of the
story remain, but those that do elevate the story to legend.
Before the war, Dixon is believed to
have worked as an auxiliary police officer and on steamboats.
Bennett's father was a steamboat pilot, and that may have been how
the two met.
Dixon was several years older than
she, but there was a powerful connection, symbolized by a gold $20
coin that Bennett gave Dixon when he enlisted in the Confederate
Army in October 1861. He carried the coin off to war in his left
On April 6, 1862, his company -- the
21st Alabama -- stormed the battlefield at Shiloh in West Tennessee.
Early in the fighting, Dixon was shot in the leg. The coin deflected
the bullet and saved his life.
Dixon had it inscribed with the date
and name of the battle, his initials and the legend "My life
preserver." He would carry the coin, and a limp, for the rest of his
Dixon was sent back to Mobile to
convalesce, and there he spent more time with Bennett throughout
1862 and the first half of 1863. By day, he worked in a machine
shop, where he helped build two odd contraptions the engineers
called submarine boats.
The first of the fish-boats (what
the rest of the guys called the subs) was lost in Mobile Bay; the
second, christened the H.L. Hunley after its financier, was shipped
to Charleston for use against the blockade.
After the Hunley sank twice on test
runs, Dixon left Mobile and Bennett for South Carolina. Here, he
salvaged and refit the Hunley and raised a third crew. All the
while, he was writing letters home to Bennett.
One day, however, the letters
On Feb. 17, 1864,
Dixon and his crew made history when the Hunley traveled four miles
off Sullivan's Island and sank the USS Housatonic, a 200-foot Union
warship. It marked the first time a submarine sank an enemy ship in
battle, a feat that would not be repeated for more than 50 years.
Dixon and the Hunley disappeared
that night, lost until the submarine was found and raised off the
Atlantic floor in August 2000.
Seven years after Dixon disappeared,
Queen Bennett married and moved to Mississippi.
CLUES FROM THE PAST
Walker and his sister, Sally
Necessary -- the great-grandchildren of Bennett -- had always
believed that the pocket watch was far too ornate to have been a
present from her father. They had even suspected that Dixon gave it
to her, although they had no proof.
Their suspicions were raised while
inspecting the watch last year. They opened the back of the watch's
casing, where she would have inserted a key to wind it. Inside, they
found this inscription: Queen Bennett, December 25th, 1862.
"When we opened that you could have
heard a pin drop," Necessary said.
"I thought, 'Oh my gosh. She and
Dixon were very close. He probably gave her the watch,' " Walker
Christmas 1862 was the last the
couple spent together; in December 1863, Dixon was in Charleston.
The inscription caught the attention
of people connected to the Hunley project when they saw a photograph
of the engraving. The lettering is similar to the inscription on
Dixon's gold coin. McConnell, Walker and Necessary suspect that
Dixon might have had both engravings done at the same time.
Scientists want to know about the
watch's origins, where it was manufactured and where in Mobile it
might have been sold. They also want to know if it is similar to
Dixon's own pocket watch, found among his belongings on the Hunley.
Scientists at the Hunley lab will open Dixon's watch this week, and
officials with the project say they would be thrilled to find a
The family plans to provide Hunley
scientists access to more of Bennett's belongings, to see if they
find more clues from the little Rebel.
A MYSTERIOUS STRANGER
Although Bennett's watch may provide
another connection to Dixon, the locket may prove the more important
find. It may finally put a face on the elusive Hunley commander.
from Photo found in a locket owned my Queenie Bennett –Could this be
Lt. George E. Dixon?
Walker and Necessary, who are
well-versed in their family's history and have many photos of their
ancestors, could only say that they did not recognize the man.
"We have a picture of her father,
and this man looks nothing like him," Necessary said. "He could be a
family member, but he doesn't look like the rest of our family."
Walker says that, in their extensive
collection of family photographs, there is not another image of the
man found in Bennett's broken locket, which was found in a tin box
filled with her jewelry.
This information has intrigued
McConnell, who says scientists have proven that an earlier photo
believed to be Dixon isn't the sub captain. Scientists used a
process called facial overlay to transpose a digital version of the
photo onto Dixon's skull to see if the features matched up. That
earlier candidate was nowhere close.
"As our hopes on the other photo
fade, here comes something else from Queen Bennett," McConnell says.
"Now we have a new face to look at."
McConnell sees several similarities
between the man in the locket photo and Dixon. Both seem to have
high, sloping foreheads and strong brows. There is a mark on the
man's chin that could be a cleft, which forensic anthropologists
suggest Dixon had.
There are other encouraging signs.
The man in the photograph has light hair, and contemporary
descriptions of Dixon suggest he had fair hair. The man appears to
be wearing a uniform. Though it is not a Confederate uniform, it
could be that of a police officer or steamboat crewman.
When Dixon's pockets were searched,
scientists found ornate jewelry that some suggest the captain
planned to give to Bennett. In the photo, there is something on the
man's collar that bears a resemblance to the brooch found in Dixon's
pocket, although it may be larger than that piece.
When Dixon was recovered from the
Hunley in 2001, scientists noted that his clothing was much nicer
than that of other crewmen, fitting Dixon's reputation as a stylish
man. McConnell says the man in the locket photo certainly appears to
share that trait with Dixon.
Ultimately, it is too early to tell
if this is Dixon. McConnell says he will ask scientists to examine
the photo and run tests as soon as possible. The laboratory has made
a three-dimensional image of Dixon's skull and the University of
Tennessee. which debunked the earlier supposed Dixon photo, can
reproduce a digital image of the photo and attempt another facial
It also may be possible to match the
photo with the facial reconstructions that a team of experts is
preparing for the Hunley project. Using the skulls of the eight men
found on board, scientists say they can reconstruct the men's faces
to a 98 percent degree of accuracy.
That, if nothing else, may finally
settle the question.
"This opens up a whole bunch of
questions, and it could answer some or just add more to the
mystery," McConnell said. "This really starts to put the human side
to the Hunley's story. It adds depth to it."
Contact Brian Hicks at 937-5561 or
NOTE: It has just been announced that the
scientist are now opening the gold watch that belonged to Lt. George
E. Dixon. Dixon's watch is a high quality expensive watch. The
glass face is solid but discolored so that the time it stopped
cannot be seen. X-rays have been made and the mechanics are in good
shape. There is a good possibility that there may be an inscription
inside. Curiosity surrounds us about the time that will be found on
the watch. The Housatonic sank around 8:45 – 9:00 PM February 17,
1864. It is assumed that the Hunley sank within an hour after that.
Used with permission of the Post and Courier and Charleston.Net
HUNLEY NEWSLETTERS 2002 E-BOOK
FOR ALL THOSE SUBSCRIBERS THAT HAVE
SIGNED UP RECENTLY OR THOSE THAT SIGNED UP MID YEAR AND MISSED THE
EARLY ISSUES THEY ARE NOW AVAILABLE IN E-BOOK FORM ONLINE FOR $6.00.
WE PUT A LOT OF TIME AND EFFORT COMPILING THESE ISSUES IN BOOK FORM
WHICH CAME OUT TO AROUND 200 PAGES OF INFORMATION.
To order the Hunley 2002 E-Book click here.
BUILDING THE HUNLEY MODEL
BUILDING THE HUNLEY MODEL
March 4, 2003
So before I could give a recommendation about
the Hunley Model, I decided I better build one and see what
happens. When I first received the model I looked at it
skeptically. It didn't seem like much to it but I got my tools
together and gave it a shot. Basically I used small pliers,
tweezers are handy, wire cutter, emery board or sand paper, facto
knife and gel type super glue. I also had a Dremel on hand because I
use any excuse to bring it out.
The model kit #72-001 came with various sized
brass rods and aluminum tubes, a sprue with the smaller parts
attached and the hull. My first perception was 'man these parts are
small and they were. You got to remember that this is a 1/72 scale
model. I left the hull on its sprue to act as a stand. In hind
site I would cut away most of the sprue because it gave me a fight
later when I tried to get it off, but it worked great as a temporary
The small parts like the rudder, propeller and
shroud are small so make sure you have a sharp knife and take your
time cutting them loose. I did find that if something breaks the
resin if vary forgiving and the gel-type super glue gives you time
to patch and adjust. It also works as a great filler so don't sweat
the small stuff. There are some extra parts but I can't say enuff
...take your time. The instructions sometimes get a little
confusing because they combine with the larger 1/32 model which I am
going to try next.
There was no stand included with the model but
it is easy to get creative on ways to display your model. I bought a
wood display at a hobby shop and painted it, but I am looking for
some other ways to do it and will let you know what I come up with.
Over all my opinion went from skepticism to
great pleasure. I like resin, it is nice to work with, the glue
holds great to it, and it sands and drills agreeably. I took one of
the extra brass rods and used it to mount the ship. The acrylic
paint went on great and it looks good. The torpedo lance I made
simply by crimping the aluminum pipe and filing it to give it the
harpoon look. The lance actually comes off and the spar can be
adjusted up and down depending on how you want to display it.
In my opinion this is a great model. It is
fantastic to hold and look at. It gives an accurate and true
perspective of what a sleek machine the Hunley was. The technical
designs that the builders and inventors had can truly be
appreciated. I give it my stamp of approval and highly recommend it.
George W. Penington
6) FROM THE GUEST BOOK
- Date: 20 Feb 2003
informative.. its great
- Date: 22 Feb 2003
Following the progress of The Hunley thus far has provided more
political intrigue than any adventure novel to ever grace a
bookstore . For the sake of future generations , it is me fervent
hope that this story is TOLD - factually and unbiased .The Hunley
story has to be taught nationally in our school system and not
simply " overlooked " by our educators who prefer to serve up a
politically correct version of the nations history . She must have
her rightful place - IN OUR HISTORY BOOKS .
- Date: 22 Feb 2003
Comments: I love
your newsletter and appreciate all the work you put into it. I also
would like to say that I think the Hunley should rest in Charleston
and certainly not in North Charleston. North Charleston only wants
the Hunley to aid in their urban renewal projections. Thanks for all
the updates and I'm looking forward to visiting the Hunley someday.
- Date: 22 Feb 2003
Comments I just
finished reading Thomas Campbell's interesting and well-written book
on the CSS H.L. Hunley, written in 1999. In anticipation of a trip
to Charleston soon, I went to the 'net seeking more up-to-date
information of the progress of the Hunley; I was amazed to find that
the "offical" websites seemed to have ceased updating in 1998 or so.
Yours is apparently the only site keeping interest in the Hunley
alive. Glad to know that someone continues to show such interest in
what has to be the ultimate Civil War artifact. It is sad and too
bad that, like a lot of other endeavors, politics and money seem to
be getting in the way of forward progress. Thanks again for this
site. Mitch Simmons, an interested Tar Hell
- Date: 27 Feb 2003
you. This site is very informative, and a good help for me. (high
school term paper)
- Date: 27 Feb 2003
Gentlemen, I am very impressed with your web site. I ran across it
via a link through the Kentucky Colonel's web site. As a Kentucky
Colonel, and a southerner, I sincerely hope that you will see to it
that these gentlemen receive a proper confederate burial. They died
to defend the confederacy, and I know that they would want no less.
Nor do they deserve any less. Thank you for having such a site, and
the time and effort it takes to maintain it. May God be with you.
Sincerely, Col. L.R. King
- Date: 28 Feb 2003
Gentleman, you are doing an absolutely out standing job keep up the
good work. Joe Marx Maybrook, n.y.
- Date: 28 Feb 2003
Comments I saw
the hunley in national geographic at first. also have known of this.
so I'm impressed. It's interesting to me. Thank you for your
researching to inform us.
- Date: 05 Mar 2003
site was very informing to me. The hunley played a very big part in
history. Me and my husband first heard about the hunley on the
radio. Ever since we have been staying up dated on it. And your web
sight was one of the best ways. WE love you guys keep up the good
- Date: 05 Mar 2003
Comments I heard
the episode of Lt. Dixon's "good luck coin" this morning on the John
Boy and Billy Big Show, and just had to visit your website. Thanks
for your efforts in finding, raising and documenting the Hunley.
- Date: 05 Mar 2003
website. I enjoy it very much. Lots of info for me and my family to
have access to. Thanks
- Date: 05 Mar 2003
Comments I think
this is one of the best sites on the computer. my ancestors resided
in Charleston at that time and this has increased our interest in
the history of Charleston.
- Date: 05 Mar 2003
Comments This is
some of the most interesting reading I have ever done. I really
enjoy American history and this is by far some of the best I have
read. Our praises to all involved in this historic event, keep up
the fine work. Daryl & Michelle Nachlinger, Texas
BE A HUNLEY VOLUNTEER
The Hunley is open for tours every
Saturday and Sunday (except Christmas weekend) and all proceeds go
directly to support the Hunley conservation project. The Hunley
tours could not be a success if it were not for the dedicated people
who volunteer an immeasurable amount of time. When you visit the
Warren Lasch Conservation Center, it's clear that these committed
volunteers have not only a genuine interest in the Hunley project,
but a passion and respect for the submarine and her crew. Some drive
hours, or even fly from states like Indiana to work the tours.
Those participating in this program provide the principal link
between the organization and the public. In addition to welcoming
visitors to the center, volunteers provide a broad range of
information about the Hunley, whether it is exhibitions, activities,
Help the Hunley project by becoming a volunteer! To become a
volunteer, an interview and background check is required. For more
information, call Allison Hutto at (843) 744-2186 or email her at
Click here to view a SLED background check
Stand Honor Guard
Infantry, Artillery, Navy, Cavalry and Marine Reenactors!!!
Units and/or individuals interested in participating in the
Hunley Honor Guard please contact Allison Hutto at (843) 744-2186 or
email her at
”THEY WERE FIVE IN ONE COFFIN” WAS
“ABSOLUM WILLIAMS” THE ONLY AFRO-AMERICAN CREWMAN
Glenn McConnell announced some interesting and astonishing
facts this week. In a television interview the Head of the Hunley
Commission discussed forensics of the Hunley crew. Careful attention
had to be held regarding the announcement that crewman Absolum
Williams was the only afro-American to be on the crew of the Hunley.
The following research shows that Absolum Williams was actually on
the first Charleston Hunley crew. The quote below refers to the five
who died in the coffin "Hunley" The five were actually buried in a
cemetery later discovered under Johnson Hagood Stadium outside the
new Citadel. McConnell stated that two men of the Hunley were found
stacked together in one grave, one of them being Absolum Williams.
We know that this was a common occurrence and that some of these men
had to be cut apart to be removed from the hull of the Hunley, so
that some of the discovered bodies were found in parts. We need to
also recall that these men were buried hastily due to the continuous
bombing of the city. The following are notes about this crew and
the confirmation that Absolum Williams did exist.
FIRST CHARLESTON CREW of the Confederate
Submarine H L Hunley:
AUGUST 29th, 1863
”THEY WERE FIVE IN ONE COFFIN”
Charles Hasker (survived)
Lt. John A. Payne (survived)
Charles Sprague (survived) - the only one to sink twice. Died with
the second crew
William Robinson or Jeremiah Donivan (survived) ? – may be the
unknown crewman who escaped the sinking.
Note: (Charles Sprague, one of the two
who escaped through the rear hatch of the Hunley, was a torpedo
expert assigned after the Hunley was taken over by the Confederate
Navy. Payne and Hasker escaped through forward hatch. )
On Saturday the 29th day of August 1863, The
Hunley was docked at Fort Johnson, the harbor end of James Island,
South Carolina. Fort Johnson considered a safe place, protected and
hidden by Fort Sumter was out of view of the Yankee blockade fleet.
The week before Federals had bombed the City of Charleston for the
first time from their marsh battery, the “Swamp Angel” located on
Morris Island, the next island over,. John Payne, Lieutenant with
the Confederate States Navy was commissioned as commander of the
Hunley, a privately owned submarine until General Beauregard took
custody of her. Lt. Payne recruited volunteers from the Confederate
Rams, the Chicora and the Palmetto State. Lt. Charles Hasker was
recruited that day to sit in for Charles Stanton who had other
duties on the Chicora. Lt. Hasker was to take the second position
behind Commander Payne. Another four crewmen, Frank Doyle, John
Kelly, Michael Cane, and Nicholas Davis were volunteers from the
Chicora; Absolum Williams was on board from the Palmetto State. The
Number 8 crewman’s name is unknown.
The five men were anonymously buried in the
Seaman’s Burial Ground and became quickly forgotten until 1999 when
archaeologist found the lost graves under the Booster Club Lounge in
the Johnson Hagood Stadium nicknamed the “Boneyard” . (Newsletter
“Following its arrival in South Carolina, the
boat experienced a number of operational difficulties. The Army
became increasingly unhappy with McClintock's management of the
boat, and as a result seized it, replacing the civilian crew with
C.S. Navy personnel. It was following this transition that the boat
was twice accidentally lost in Charleston Harbor with fatalities,
being both times subsequently salvaged. The first incident killed
five members of the crew of nine, most of whom were volunteers
from the CSS Chicora and CSS Palmetto State.
Lieutenant C.L. Stanton, CSN provides the background of this
One day when Lieutenant Payne, my friend
and shipmate, was aboard the Chicora I arranged to go down
under the water with him; but as the boat was obliged to leave
before my watch on deck was over, Lieutenant Charles H. Hooker
[sic, he means Hasker] took my place. She dived about the
harbor successfully for an hour or two and finally went over to Fort
Johnson, where the little steamer Etiwan was lying alongside
the wharf. She fastened to her side with a light line with the fins
in position for diving... “(Stanton 1914).
Lieutenant Charles H. Hasker, CSN (a
former U.S. Navy hand who had been the boatswain on the CSS Virginia
during the Battle of Hampton Roads) was sitting immediately
behind Payne in the lead cranksman's position at the time of the
accident, and related the following experience:
We were lying astern of the steamer Etowah [one
of several names by which the CSS Etiwan was known], near
Fort Johnson, in Charleston Harbor. Lieutenant Payne, who had
charge, got fouled in the manhole by the hawser and in trying to
clear himself got his foot on the lever which controlled the fins.
He had just previously given the order to go ahead. The boat made a
dive with the manholes open and filled rapidly. Payne got out
of the forward hole and two others out of the aft hole.
Six of us went down with the boat. (Total of Nine) I had
to get over the bar which connected the fins and through the column
of water which was rapidly filling the boat. The manhole plate came
down on my back; but I worked my way out until my left leg was
caught by the plate, pressing the calf of my leg in two. Held in
this manner, I was carried to the bottom in forty-two feet of water.
When the boat touched bottom I felt the pressure relax. Stooping
down, I took hold of the manhole plate, drew out my wounded limb,
and swam to the surface. Five men were drowned on this occasion
Payne and Hasker escaped the forward
hatch, while the team's explosives expert, Charles L. Sprague,
and another unidentified crewmember managed to fight their way out
through the aft coaming. Carried to the bottom and drowned were
sailors Frederick (Frank) Doyle, John Kelly, Nicholas (Nick) Davis,
and Michael Kane (or Cane) of the Chicora, and Absolum Williams
of the Palmetto State (Ragan 1995, 54). Following this tragedy,
the military sent a request to Mobile asking for people more
familiar with the boat to come to Charleston to take over its
operation upon its recovery. http://www.history.navy.mil/branches/org12-7b.htm
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL
Soon the submarine was making daily practice
dives with her new commander at the helm. But Payne’s experiences on
the boat will be short lived. On Aug 29 the little craft was struck
by tragedy. Just as the submarine cast off from a dock, Lt. Payne,
who was still attempting to position himself while standing in the
forward turret, became entangled in a hawser (a mooring rope). While
attempting to clear himself, he accidentally stepped on the lever
which controlled the diving fins. The boat which was under power
suddenly dove directly toward the bottom of the bay. As both hatches
were yet open water immediately spilled into the interior of the
vessel. Lt. Payne exited the forward hatch, two others,
Jeremiah Donivan ???, and Charles L. Sprague vacated
the aft hole. The Hunley sank quickly to a depth of 42 feet,
closing the turret covers as it descended. After it struck bottom,
one other crewman, Lt. Charles Hasker waited for the pressure
against the now closed cover of the manhole above him to stabilize.
He then pushed open the cap and raced for the freedom and fresh air
of the surface. The other five member of the crew were not so
lucky. The CSS Hunley had claimed the first of what would be the
lives of 22 brave men. The names of the five were, Michael Cane,
Nicholas Davis, Frank Doyle, John Kelley, and Absolum Williams.
CSS. H.L. HUNLEY/Shortened Terry L. Coats
C.S.S. H.L. Hunley
In a letter dated August 30th, 1863 from
Theodore A Honour to his wife talks about the sinking of the Hunley
(South Carolina Library) …” an accident happened which caused the
boat to go under the water before they were prepared for such a
thing, and five out of the nine went down in her and were drowned.
The other four made their escape. They had not up to last night
recovered either the boat or the bodies. Poor fellows they were five
in one coffin.”
Charleston Daily Courier reported that ….four
of the men belonged to the gunboat Chicora, and were named Frank
Doyle, John Kelly, Michael Cane and Nicholas Davis. The fifth
man, whose name we did not learn, was attached to the Palmetto
“From the book of pay receipts issued to the
crew of the C.S.S. Palmetto State for the months of July and August,
1863, we find the following entry penned next to the name of
Absolum Williams: Drowned in submarine batter on 29th August,
1863. With the name of this fifth unfortunate crew man at last
having come to light, perhaps one day Williams’ name can be
inscribed next to those of his comrades on the Hunley monument at
the foot of Meeting Street in Charleston.” (Ragan,1995)
The Play “Raising
Blue” IS NOW IN PRODUCTION
In Newsletter #25 January 5, 2003
" Eighteen members of the Actors' Center of Chicago Production
Co. are scheduled to make a research visit to the Confederate
submarine H.L. Hunley in its temporary home at the Warren Lasch
Conservation Center in North Charleston.
The actors, director, theater owner and artistic director are
preparing to stage "Raising Blue," a new play by G. Riley Mills, set
to open Feb. 13 in Chicago for a four- to six-week run. The title
refers to the Hunley's exterior blue light. And Charleston's
Footlight Players, headed by artistic director Sheri Grace Wenger,
are in negotiations with the Actors' Center to bring "Raising Blue"
to the Footlight Players' theater at 20 Queen
St. as its season-opener in August. "We are still talking to the
Footlight board about this but
can't make an official announcement until the board officially votes
and gives its approval," said Wenger.
The Chicago theater group got in touch with the
Footlight Players' after a member of the Chicago theater staff saw
the Footlight Players' theater and thought it would be the perfect
venue for a Southern premiere of “Raising Blue.""
EMAIL FROM THE STAR OF "RAISING BLUE"
Message-----From: Christopher Gausselin
> I'm portraying H.L
Hunley in the Play "Raising Blue" in Chicago in Feb. so any info you
have on the man would come in handy-sincerely--Christopher Gausselin
THANKS FOR WRITING CHRISTOPHER; YOU
WILL FIND TONS OF FREE INFORMATION ON SITE. IF YOU NEED ANY
ADDDITIONAL INFORMATION, PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO ASK. I LOOK
FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN CHARLESTON. GEORGE
Prop Theatre Group's 22nd
Starting with the World Premiere of
G. Riley Mills'
Prop Theater Group is pleased to announce the opening of its 22nd
Anniversary Season with G. Riley Mills' new play RAISING BLUE. Mr.
Mills is the two time Jeff Citation recipient for new work including
Prop's Sawdust & Spangles. RAISING BLUE, one of the winners of the
Prop's New Play 2002 Festival, is inspired by true events. This
fundamentally American story illuminates one of the most fascinating
chapters in our country's history.
The year is 1863. As the Civil War rages on,
the city of Charleston stands in grim ruins. Determined to break up
the Union blockade that has decimated the South, a young soldier
named George Dixon and a small group of passionate privateers
secretly begin work on an invention -a crude submarine- which they
believe will finally turn the war around for the Confederacy. A
submersible torpedo boat. Is what they believe is the last hope for
survival against the approaching Union forces. Essentially the first
submarine ever successfully used in battle, this primitive,
hand-cranked vessel would provide Dixon with his greatest legacy, as
well as his most tragic end. This is the story of that submarine,
the H.L. Hunley, and the courageous men who risked their lives to
Inspired by actual events, Raising Blue captures the brutal
realities of life during the Civil War and tells a gripping story of
courage and heroism in one of the most fascinating chapters of our
BOX OFFICE: (773) 348-PROP (7767)
RAISING BLUE will feature:
(George Dixon ), Matthew Brumlow
(William Alexander Jason Denuszek),
(Baxter Watson ), James Eldrenkamp
(Horace Hunley Christopher Gausselin),
(Frederick Wicks ), James Wm. Joseph
(General Pierre G. T. Beauregard ), Jonathan Lavan
(Queenie Bennett ), Sarah McMaster
(Augustus Miller ), Benjamin Newton
(Thomas Park ), Ryan Pfeiffer
(James McClintock ), Whit Spurgeon
(Robert Brookbank ) E. Vincent Teninty
Designers: Set Design; Eric Appleton, Lighting Design; Dustin
Riedel, Sound Design; Joseph Fosco, Costume Design; Stacy Ellen
Rich, Assistant Director; Clare Arena, Dramaturg; Sarah Freeman,
Music created and performed; David Smith, Stage Manager; Pauline
Fatyga, Asst. Light Design/Props: Molly Neylan.
Executive Producer for RAISING BLUE will be Lance Gordon, G.
Riley Mills (Playwright), Adam Theisen (Director), Jonathan Lavan
(Producer), Scott Vehill (Producer), G. Riley Mills (Associate
Producer), Jonathan Lavan (Production Manager), Eric Appleton
(Technical Director/Scenic Designer), Dustin Riedel (Technical
Director/Lighting Designer), Joseph Fosco (Sound Designer), Stacy
Ellen Rich (Costume Designer), David Algeo Smith (Original Music
written and performed), Clare Arena (Assistant Director), Sara
Freeman (Dramaturg), Pauline Fatyga (Stage Manager), Molly Neylan
(Assistant Light Design/Prop Master), Scott Vehill (Publicity/Public
Relations), Benjamin Newton (Photographer), Jonathan Lavan (Dialect
and Vocal Instruction), Jo Mills (Graphic Designer), Annie Hackett
(Hair and Make up)
The Actors' Center of Chicago Production Company. The Actors'
Center of Chicago is one of the oldest, most respected actor
training centers in the Midwest.
The production will open Thursday February 13th, 2003 at 7:00 pm.
The play will be performed at Prop Theatre 4225 N. Lincoln Avenue
(entrance on Hutchinson). RAISING BLUE will be performed through
March 23rd, 2002. Performances will be Thursday - Saturday evenings
at 8:00 pm and a Sunday matinee at 3:00 pm. Tickets will be $ 18.00
on Thursday and Friday and $ 20.00 on Saturday and Sunday. Credit
cards will be accepted and their will be group, student and senior
rates available. Call the Prop Theatre box office at 773-348-7767
for ticket information. For more background about the true story and
the play, please visit www.raisingblue.com.
BOX OFFICE: (773) 348-PROP (7767) Toll free phone (877)
Here is a link to see a preview of the play
"Raising Blue" The song that is played is the
"Bonnie Blue Flag" To hear and see the words to Bonnie Blue
10) OUR 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