Hunley captain's gold coin will surface for public tours
Saturday, November 9, 2002
BY BRIAN HICKS
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.etix.com.
Contact Brian Hicks at 937-5561 or
Used with permission of The Post and
Courier and Charleston.Net