Hat Adds to Unusual Hunley Finds
Among the peculiar, or at least unexpected, items that have been found thus far during the excavation of the CSS Hunley, No. 1 must be the ID tag of a Union infantryman. In strong second place however has to be Monday's discovery of a hat. Exactly why a crewman would take a hat aboard the submarine is thus far unclear. It is in very delicate condition but appears to be a "slouch" hat very common for the period.
"To me, this is fascinating," Hunley Commission Chairman Glenn McConnell said. "It's the last thing I expected to find on board the Hunley."
The only reason project scientists and historians can think of to explain the hat's presence is that its owner didn't want to leave it ashore to possibly be lost or stolen. It is dark in color with a leather band and leather edging around the brim.
Also found Monday were two pocket knives. Project director Bob Neyland said they were folding knives but not exactly what people today would consider "pocket" knives. Details are unclear as they are still embedded in concretion on the floor of the crew compartment.
Concretion, as the name indicates, is harder material to work through and remove than the fudge-like mass of sand and mud that filled most of the Hunley's crew compartment. This has slowed excavation in recent days.
Neyland told the Charleston Post & Courier that they hoped to be able to progress soon toward the front of the compartment where the Hunley's commander, Army Lt. George E. Dixon, would have been stationed and where his remains and effects are expected to be found.