Hunley captain's gold coin will surface for public tours



Saturday, November 9, 2002

Of The Post and Courier Staff


     The most celebrated artifact found on board the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley is going on public display for the first time next week.
     The gold coin good-luck piece of sub commander Lt. George E. Dixon will be part of regular tours at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center beginning Nov. 16.
     Officials at the lab have toyed for months with putting the coin on display, and they said Friday that security concerns that delayed the exhibition have been solved. Last month, 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 medallion exhibit was a test run for the coin, which has been sequestered in a hidden location since it was found in May 2001. Since then, few people have seen the coin.
     The legend of the coin was one of the unsubstantiated rumors surrounding the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat. The story, recorded in the letters of Dixon's comrades in the 21st Alabama, holds that the young soldier's sweetheart, Queenie Bennett, gave Dixon a gold piece before he marched off to war in October 1861.
     At the battle of Shiloh, Dixon was shot early in the fighting, but the bullet that would have killed him instead hit the coin, which absorbed the brunt of the impact.
     Legend has it that Dixon carried the warped coin with him everywhere after that.
     On the final night of excavating the submarine, chief archaeologist Maria Jacobsen pulled the coin from the muck where Dixon's pants pocket would have been.
     It is an 1860 gold $20 Lady Libertycoin, warped from a Minie ball's impact. Scientists also found that the coin had an inscription added by Dixon. It reads:
     April 6th, 1862
     My life Preserver
     Warren Lasch, the chairman of Friends of the Hunley, says the coin "symbolizes a love story that touches the heart of anyone who gazes upon it."
     On Dixon's left thigh bone, scientists have found a trench and spur marking where the bullet hit, leaving Dixon with a limp for the final two years of his life. Scientists say the coin saved Dixon's leg, and probably his life.
     State Sen. Glenn McConnell also said Friday that next week scientists will unveil new artifacts found in the Hunley.
     The Lasch Conservation Center is open for tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $10 and are available at 1-877-4HUNLEY or on the Internet at

     Contact Brian Hicks at 937-5561 or
Used with permission of The Post and Courier and Charleston.Net





Hit Counter