– February 21, 2002
– The famed gold coin Lt. George Dixon carried with
him when the H.L. Hunley sank 138 years ago will
soon be reunited with the world’s first successful
submarine at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in
North Charleston, S.C. The Friends of the Hunley
announced today that a decision has been made to add the
coin as a permanent part of the Hunley exhibit.
working out all the details with the Bureau of
Protective Services (BPS)," said S.C. Sen. Glenn
McConnell, chairman of the Hunley Commission, a group
the state legislature created to oversee the recovery
and conservation of the first submarine in history to
sink an enemy vessel. McConnell said security measures
are important because the coin is estimated to be worth
$8-10 million dollars. "But it’s really
priceless," he said, "because it is absolutely
chairman of Friends of the Hunley, a private group
raising funds to support the Hunley conservation
project, said he is not yet prepared to give an exact
date on when the coin will be available for viewing by
the public. "All I can say now is that we are
working feverishly to make it happen. I hope we will be
able to unveil the coin within the next several weeks.
As soon as dates are finalized, we’ll make a public
announcement," Lasch said.
For over a
century, scholars wondered whether the gold coin
actually existed. According to legend, Lt. George E.
Dixon, who commanded the Hunley on its historic
mission, had a sweetheart named Queenie Bennett from
Mobile, Alabama. When he went off to war, she gave Dixon
a gold coin, as a good luck charm.
Battle of Shiloh, Dixon was shot, and the bullet struck
the gold coin in his trousers pocket. The impact was
said to have left the coin bent, with the bullet
embedded in it. The gold coin had saved his life.
For 137 years,
until last year, no one knew whether the story was true
or merely a romantic tale from long ago. During the
excavation, a $20 dollar gold piece minted in
1860 was discovered next to the remains of Lt. Dixon. It
was deeply indented from the impact of a bullet and
inscribed with the following words:
April 6, 1862
G. E. D.
ever seen a scientist cry?" Lasch asked. "I
can tell you this: when the gold coin was found, there
wasn’t a dry eye in the room."
international team of scientists is now at work
conserving the Hunley at the Warren Lasch
Conservation Center, where the historic submarine is
also available for public viewing. This announcement
means the public will also be able to see the gold coin
at the same site in the near future.
such a rich piece of our nation’s history," Lasch
said. "It is very important to give everyone an
opportunity to see this powerfully romantic artifact and
to share in the excitement."
issue to be considered in preparing the coin for display
is security. BPS will be managing all security issues.
Once the security plan is approved, Friends of the
Hunley will formally announce the date the coin will be
available for display.