Crew's fragile clothing excavated carefully
Thursday, April 12, 2001
BY BRIAN HICKS
Of The Post and Courier staff
The crew of the H.L. Hunley had more important things to attend
to than fancy uniforms.
Scientists excavating the Confederate submarine say the textile
samples they have uncovered in their dig appear to be plain, homespun clothing.
Bob Neyland, project manager, said archaeologists have now
reached the point in the dig where they are block-lifting some of the fragile Civil War
cloth out of the submarine. That process involves sliding a thin sheet of metal, probably
covered in plastic, beneath the silt-encrusted cloth and picking up the whole piece.
It is too dangerous to try and pull the cloth out of the
fudge-like sediment - it would most likely tear.
Neyland said conservator Paul Mardikian and his staff will gently
remove the silt with water and try to conserve the cloth, which in the mud shows little
color or shape. The material eventually will be put on display with other artifacts.
On Wednesday, scientists discovered another artillery uniform
button, in the sediment near where the first two were found, and other plain buttons.
As the archaeologists near the floor at the rear of the sub's
crew compartment, the remains of the man who was likely the Hunley's first officer are
becoming clearer. Scientists can see the spinal column, ribs, pelvis, leg and arm bones in
So far the scientists have uncovered what they believe to be the
remains of six crew members. Historical accounts list nine on board. And the team has yet
to begin intensive excavation of the forward area of the crew compartment, where sub
commander Lt. George E. Dixon would have sat.
Used with permission of The Post and
Courier and Charleston.Net