Courtesy of the Museum of Mobile Alabama
General Beauregard hesitated to use
this "peripatetic coffin" again. So far, no Union lives had been lost, but
thirteen Confederate soldiers had died inside the submarine. Lieutenant Dixon convinced
Beauregard that the danger was not the submarine itself but rather the inexperienced crew.
If the crew were allowed to practice, the Hunley could successfully attack a Union
ship. Beauregard granted permission to continue training as a surface vessel only.
Eventually, he agreed to allow the submarine to dive once again. During one practice, the
crew decided to see how long they could remain submerged:
"One evening after alternating diving and rising many times, Dixon...and
several crew members compared watches, noted the time and sank for the test...In
twenty-five minutes...the candle would not burn...Each man had determined that he would
not be the first to say 'up!' Not a word was said except the occasional 'How is it?'
between Dixon and myself, until the word 'up' came from all nine. We started the
pumps...but I realized that my pump was not throwing...I...took off the cap of the pump,
lifted the valve and drew out some seaweed that had choked it...We soon had the boat to
the surface...Fresh air!...We had been on the bottom for two hours and thirty-five
Lt. W.A. Alexander