Archaeologists closer to captain's remains
Tuesday, May 15, 2001
BY BRIAN HICKS
Of The Post and Courier staff
Hunley archaeologists have taken a fourth hull plate off the
Confederate submarine, moving them, they hope, to within a few feet of the remains of Lt.
Bob Neyland, the project's manager, said the hull plate, which
had the sub's snorkel box assembly mounted to it, proved to be the toughest yet to remove.
But ultimately it came off without a problem Sunday afternoon.
"We were trying to be careful, and it was a little
heavier," Neyland said.
Meanwhile, in Connecticut, archaeologists plan to exhume the
grave of Ezra Chamberlin, the Union soldier whose
identification tag was found inside the submarine. They want to see if Chamberlin's
remains are under the Killingly, Conn., grave marker bearing his name, or whether there is
a chance Chamberlin could have been aboard the Hunley when it disappeared on Feb. 17,
A total of four plates have now been removed from the top half of
the submarine, all of them over the crew compartment. None of the other plates had
The underside of the snorkel box has a little fixture on it, most
likely where the bellows discovered earlier in the excavation attached to it. Neyland said
the underside of the plate is still covered with concretion, so details are hard to pick
The fourth plate joins the other three, placed in water to
preserve them, in a vat near the Hunley tank.
All that stands between the remains of Dixon, the Hunley's
captain, and scientists is a wall of gray muck. Neyland said the edge of that wall is
probably about four feet from the forward bulkhead.
Scott Harris, a geologist from Coastal Carolina University, is
helping the archaeologists map the sediment. They hope to discover clues to the cause of
the submarine's sinking and the history of it filling up.
Archaeologists have stepped up the excavation into two shifts,
trying to finish the initial Hunley dig by the end of the month.