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Photo of Miss Queenie Bennett, courtesy of Miss Bennett's
great-grandaughter, who wishes to remain anonymous.
|Miss Queenie Bennett who was the young sweetheart of Lt. George E.
Dixon (the Hunley's last skipper), and of the twenty dollar gold piece she had
given him. It is probably among his bones in the wreckage of the submarine, as the coin
had become a good luck piece after it stopped a Yankee bullet, thus saving his life, at
the Battle of Shiloh.
Relative of captain's sweetheart here for Hunley raising
Monday, August 7, 2000
By SCHUYLER KROPF
Of The Post and Courier staff
He was the dashing captain of the Hunley. She was his belle
back home in Alabama.
Queenie Bennett was her name, and she loved Lt. George Dixon with
all her heart.
But Dixon would perish going down in the sea in his ship, and
Bennett would mourn his loss, never knowing for sure what happened to him and the other
eight men inside the Hunley during the frantic last minutes of their lives.
When the submarine Hunley is raised, which is scheduled for
Tuesday, standing nearby will be Bennett's great-granddaughter, Sally Necessary of
Richmond, Va. On Friday, she drove seven hours to be here in kinship with the man Bennett
planned to marry.
"This was her first love and during the time of war, people
are closer together," Necessary said. "During war, relationships are formed
quickly because of the environment."
It was Bennett who gave Dixon the $20 gold coin that saved his
life and that would be his good luck charm aboard the Hunley.
As an engineer from Kentucky, Dixon, 25, joined the rebel cause
in 1861 by enlisting in the Confederate Army's 21st Alabama Regiment. In 1862, he was
among the thousands of soldiers wounded at the bloody battle of Shiloh when he was shot in
But the gold piece had taken the full force of a Yankee Minie
ball, hitting so hard that the coin folded around the bullet in the shape of a bell. Had
it not been there, Dixon might have had a serious enough wound to have required amputation
of his left leg.
Transferred to the Hunley project after convalescing, Dixon was
promoted to first lieutenant by the fall of 1863 and easily gained respect as the
commander of the experimental sub. Superstition probably made him keep the coin with him.
It is believed to still be inside the Hunley, buried in the silt.
Necessary said the loss of Dixon probably broke Bennett's heart,
especially since what caused the Hunley to sink after attacking the USS Housatonic on the
night of Feb. 17, 1864, is unclear.
"She probably wondered for days until she got word because
we know there was communication between them," she said. "She probably just
grieved, and so did everybody that knew him in Mobile."
Bennett eventually did marry, seven years later.
Necessary said she has counted down the days to the recovery and
described her feelings.
"It's a mixture of pride for these men and their courage. I
care what happens to them," she said. "Some people think that men who go down
with their ship should be buried there. But I think this is a different situation."