by George W. Penington  -  Editor



Aussies to rescue Civil War sub
A BRITISH explorer has found an early submarine
Colonel Blashford Snell Tries to steal all the Thunder

USS HOUSATONIC SITE ASSESSMENT - Chapter on Housatonic History

A 1988 Model of the H L Hunley.
tour PLANNED by bus of Confederate Naval sites
Tours of the Hunley



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George W. Penington,
Editor and Webmaster for The Newsletter and Website

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Aussies to rescue Civil War sub
Headstones placed on tombs of final crew of the Hunley

For about 142 years now the Charleston crews of the H.L. Hunley submarine have rested in one unmarked grave or another.

Burial  April 17, 2004

ALAN HAWES/STAFF Post and Courier used with permission


Headstones in place April 2006  Picture by GWP

MYSTERY OF THE GRAVE MARKERS (see Newsletter 51) has finally been solved maybe!!

"Now that C.Simpkins has been identified as Lumpkin has anyone heard of plans to change the existing markers in Magnolia cemetery? Also any news on a new marker for the final crew?"

In June of 2004 you may recall that  "some of the staff at Magnolia Cemetery were asked why there were no markers on the burial site of the Final Hunley crew., their response was that the Staff at the Friends of the Hunley, Inc. were not positive about the names of the crewmen and they were not ready to "carve them in stone".  When asked if they could provide a layout showing the locations and identification of each crewman.  The response  was that they were not provided one and was not sure anyone knew the order of burial.


The delay between the crew's burial and placing the markers was meant to give researchers more time to positively identify the men according to sources.

Burial site of the final crew 2004 Picture by GWP

On Thursday, April 12, 2006  new headstones were placed for the final crew of the Confederate States Submarine five days before the two-year anniversary of the crew's burial. The Confederate Heritage Trust, some of the Sons of Confederate Veterans camps and local re-enactors with the Friends of the Hunley, Inc. apparently held a close knit ceremony that was not published until well after the event.

The crew and the submarine,  discovered in 1970 by a local marine archaeologist E. Lee Spence, was recovered in  August 2000 in Charleston Harbor and the final crew was laid to rest in a massive service on April 17, 2004.


All of the three Charleston Hunley Crews are now buried in the same plot.  The first crew to sink in the fateful submarine was discovered buried in unmarked graves, several miles up-town below The Citadel's football stadium , an area commonly used at the time during the extreme bombardment  of the lower peninsula by Federal Blockade ships. The bodies of the crew and other soldiers including a child were moved to Magnolia Cemetery in 1999.

The new markers are similar to those of the first crew which were paid for by the the Veterans Administration.

The second crew, which included Horace Hunley, the subs namesake, was originally buried in this plot and according to W. A. Alexander "The sole survivor" of the Hunley's four crews describes it as a cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina where "stands a shaft of white marble as a monument to the heroism of the nine men to whom death came at the bottom of Charleston harbor in the first submarine boat successfully operated in naval warfare."


The following is a reply about the Aussie News Article... from  RAML Jay DeLoach, Deputy COMSUBLANT - Thanks to both

Tim Smalley - president of

The SubCommittee 



I was asked by my Navy boss, VADM Munns, if I knew anything about this submarine.  Here is my response:

Yes Sir!  I am well aware of the Explorer *it is not a US submarine but a submarine built in New York City during the Civil War.  It appears that the US Navy was inundated with submersible/submarine design proposals after the CSS Hunley sank the USS Housatonic in February 1864.

One of these proposals was by Julius Kroehl, chief engineer of the Pacific Pearl Company.  The US Navy had a committee known as the Permanent Commission who reviewed all these proposals *they found four promising designs but Kroehl's design was not one of them and rejected it based on an unfavorable report by US Navy Chief Naval Engineer W.W. Wood. 

Kroehl decided to build the submarine at his own expense in New York City. [Note: During the Civil War, Kroehl worked as an underwater explosives expert for the Union until he was discharged with malaria.

While recuperating, he designed a submarine that divers could get in and out of underwater, from which they could set charges and disarm enemy torpedoes. Kroehl knew the Navy wouldn't pay for the construction of such an experimental boat, so he joined up with the Pacific Pearl Co.]


Christened the Explorer, it had large tanks of compressed air for

breathing, buoyancy control, and pressurizing the hull.  There were large hatches in the bottom of the vessel to permit divers to exit the main compartment and explore the seabed.  Kroehl towed the Explorer to the Pearl Islands near the Bay of Panama in 1864.


The Explorer was employed in pearl diving until problems with decompression sickness (which resulted in debilitating illness and death for the crew, including inventor Kroehl) led to its abandonment near the site of its last pearl harvesting expedition at Isla San Telmo, in the Pearl Islands on Panama's Pacific Coast, in 1869.  


In 2001, the Explorer was re-discovered in the surf at low tide off a

remote, uninhabited island.   In 2004, the National Oceanic and

Atmospheric Administration funded a fact-finding expedition by James Delgado, noted maritime archaeologist and host of National Geographic International Television's "The Sea Hunters," resulted in a higher level of documentation for the wrecked craft, which lies in the intertidal zone of the uninhabited and remote island.


Field work was accomplished under permit from the Director Nacional del Patrimonio Histórico of the Instituto Nacional De Cultura (INAC) for an archaeological permit, which was granted on 16 February 2004 for the period between 25 February and 5 March 2004. Of special note is that this was the first permit issued in Panama for a maritime archaeological project under the new guidelines for INAC under the terms of the newly enacted UNESCO Charter for Underwater Cultural Heritage; since Panama was the first nation to ratify this charter, the permit for Explorer is

believed to be the first issued in the world under the terms of the new charter. It was reported that she still has a mercury depth gage mounted in her. 


Plans are under way to continue the documentation of the Explorer and perhaps bring the submarine home. One option is the foot of East Third Street in Brooklyn, where she made her first dive.


Another is the Warren Lasch Center in Charleston, where the H. L. Hunley is undergoing conservation for eventual display. A third possibility is Washington, D.C., home of Kroehl's wife and site of the family home, when Kroehl was not working as an inventor or in the Union Navy as an underwater explosives expert attached to the staff of venerated Admiral David Dixon Porter.  Some pictures are attached.

Hope this helps.



I've sent in a detailed report, in Spanish and English, on Kroehl's Sub Marine Explorer to the Instituto Nacional de la Cultura in Panama, and a detailed article on the submarine to a professional journal for peer review and hopefully, publication.

I've also worked with another friend and colleague, Lieut. Jeremy Weirich of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to prepare for a return to Panama and a detailed study of Explorer to formulate recommendations on how best to preserve this unique Civil War submarine. Now comes a detailed proposal to Panama to request an archaeological permit.

My Current Field Project: Julius Kroehl's Sub Marine Explorer, Panama

In 2001, a chance discovery on an isolated Panamanian beach of a hitherto unknown submarine wreck that appears in the surf at low tide resulted in the identification of the substantially intact craft as a New York-built, 1865 submarine, the Sub Marine Explorer. Working with naval historians and drawing on records in the National Archives, a rudimentary plan of the vessel was obtained and information was obtained about its inventor, Julius H. Kroehl, as well as a basic history of Explorer.

Explorer is a rare example of the earliest generation of working submersibles (submarines) from the pioneering developmental period of the mid-19th century. While future archaeological discoveries may reveal the remains of other, and earlier craft, as of 2005, only five submarines whose date of construction predates 1870 are known to have survived: 1) Wilhelm Bauer's Der Brandtaucher of 1850, now a museum display in Kiel, Germany; 2) an unnamed Confederate submarine which probably dates to 1862 and is now on display in New Orleans, Louisiana; 3) the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley of 1863, archaeologically recovered and currently undergoing analysis and conservation in Charleston, South Carolina; 4) the Explorer of 1865, at Isla San Telmo, Panama; 5) the Intelligent Whale of 1866, now a museum display in New Jersey.

In 1902, an article on American submarine development published this rudimentary plan of Kroehl's Explorer. When submarine archaeologist and historian Rich Wills sent me this picture, the pieces in the puzzle fit - the sub in Panama matched it to the inch!

Explorer is, with Intelligent Whale, one of only two submarines of this handful of early survivors that included a pressurized compartment that allowed divers to enter and exit the craft at depth; it is the world's oldest 'lock-out' dive chamber. Although a self-propelled craft, it is clearly the most sophisticated of all known late 19th century submersibles. Built for war but used in peace, it is as yet the only Union-built submarine from the Civil War known to have survived. An amazing technological achievement of the early Industrial Age in America, Explorer represents the intellectual and industrial energy of its age. It was the product of a German immigrant inventor and engineer working with the forges and foundries of New York's shipyards and ironworks, at the time the nation's industrial heartland. It is a tangible reminder of the entrepreneurial spirit of an age which manifested itself in a speculative venture for naval use that when thwarted turned to the exploitation of resources from the seas off Panama. As a self-propelled craft, with a lock-out capacity, Explorer was employed in pearl diving until problems with decompression sickness (which resulted in debilitating illness and death for the crew, including inventor Kroehl) led to its abandonment near the site of its last pearl harvesting expedition at Isla San Telmo, in the Pearl Islands on Panama's Pacific Coast, in 1869.

Following the initial encounter with the submarine, I have been greatly assisted by Richard Wills, Mark Ragan, and Robert Schwemmer in the archival documentation of the craft. A detailed field project in 2004 resulted in a higher level of documentation for the wrecked craft, which lies in the intertidal zone of the uninhabited and remote island. Field work was accomplished under permit from the Director Nacional del Patrimonio Histórico of the Instituto Nacional De Cultura (INAC) for an archaeological permit, which was granted on 16 February 2004 for the period between 25 February and 5 March 2004. Of special note is that this was the first permit issued in Panama for a maritime archaeological project under the new guidelines for INAC under the terms of the newly enacted UNESCO Charter for Underwater Cultural Heritage; since Panama was the first nation to ratify this charter, the permit for Explorer is believed to be the first issued in the world under the terms of the new charter.

The 2004 fieldwork was underwritten by Eco-Nova Productions Ltd. of Halifax, Nova Scotia, producers of The Sea Hunters, and by a grant from the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM). The CAMM grant, maximizing the other resources of television show funding, allowed us to conduct a more thorough non-destructive documentation of the submarine through a 3D laser scan of the submarine's exterior. Hand-measurements of the interior were the basis for detailed drawings by Todd A. Croteau of the Historic American Engineering Record of the National Park Service.

Jim investigates the wreck of Explorer as the tide comes in.

Marc Pike Photo, Open Road Productions

This work fell into three categories:

1. Detailed high-resolution digital photography of the submarine and its features, video documentation of the submarine at high and low tide, including underwater video survey of the always submerged portions of the submarine.

2. Three-dimensional laser scan of the submarine exterior and interior utilizing the 'Cyrax system' to provide a high resolution digital record of the submarine, which allows for the creation of a lines plan and detailed measured and accurate plans of construction details. The project team employed on the Cyrax documentation of H.L. Hunley, Epic Scan/Pacific Survey, performed this work. A big thanks to Doug DeVine and Carlos Velasquez!

3. Limited test excavation of the sand in the vessel's stern to expose the bottom of the submarine in that area and determine the interface of the submarine with the beach.

The results of the survey not only documented the vessel's characteristics and ascertained details of its operating systems, but also determined that the submarine is at risk and is deteriorating. We're planning to return to Isla San Telmo by the end of 2005 to assess the rate of deterioration, hydrographic data, and develop a conservation plan.

Despite well-publicized claims in the media that a British adventurer "discovered" the craft in 2005 and an alleged link to Jules Verne, with Explorer serving as the inspiration for Captain Nemo's "Nautilus," the craft has long known to have been at Isla San Telmo, but what it was, as well as its significance was not known until 2002. The Verne claim is doubted by scholars, and distracts from the issue of the craft's actual importance in the evolution of submersibles in the 19th century as well as its endangered status.


Isla San Telmo is an island in the Bay of Panama on the Pacific Ocean, close to the entrance to the Panama Canal with excellent beaches and snorkelling. It is a remote, undeveloped island donated to ANCON (National Association for the Conservation of Nature) in 1966 and set aside for preservation.
The island of San Telmo is recognized as an important site of nesting marine birds and turtles and as a route for migrating whales. It is comprised of 173 hectares, within which excels a marine landscape characterized by farallones, cliffs and sandy beaches. Thousands of pelicans, frigatebirds and boobies reside there.
Located to the Southeast in the Archipelago de las Perlas, San Telmo is one of the few islands which conserves important strips of primary forest to protect nesting birds. The beaches serve as nurseries for egg-laying turtles, and the waters off San Telmo are whales routes in the month of September.

A BRITISH explorer has found an early submarine

The Times  June 06, 2005

American Civil War submarine found

A unique boat from 1864 may have inspired Jules Verne to create Captain Nemo's vessel Nautilus

A BRITISH explorer has found an early submarine that he believes was the inspiration for Nautilus, Captain Nemo’s vessel in Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

Colonel John Blashford-Snell discovered the half-submerged, cast-iron wreck off the coast of Panama while searching for ancient ruins.

She was built in 1864 by a visionary craftsman, Julius Kroehl, for the Union forces during the American Civil War. But the boat, called Explorer, was never used in the conflict and was subsequently taken to Panama where she was used to harvest pearls.

She was ideal for this purpose because of a unique lock-out system, identical to the one in the Nautilus from Verne’s book, published in 1870.

The lock-out system is a reversible air-lock that enables submariners to leave the vessel, harvest pearls from the sea-bed, then return to the submarine. Like Explorer, Nautilus was also used to gather items from the seabed.

Colonel Blashford-Snell, who runs the Dorset-based Scientific Exploration Society, said:it had been told about the sub 20 years ago and it was described as a Japanese mini-sub. I was then told that in fact it was just a boiler, so I didn’t worry about it. Then recently I was on an exploration in the area looking for ancient ruins and forts. I was contacted by a maritime museum in Canada who knew we were in the area and asked if we could examine the vessel.

When Colonel Blashford-Snell and his team dived to examine the wreck they discovered that it was much older than previously thought.

He explained: It was quite an experience because we had an expert with us who said it was much earlier than we had thought and in fact dated from the American Civil War. It had a conning tower and I felt as if Captain Nemo should be in it at the controls.

The submarine, which measures 36ft by 10ft, was lying in under 10ft of water off Isla San Telmo, an island in an archipelago known as The Pearl Islands, since being abandoned after three years in the pearl industry. Her crew all died from what was described then as a fever but what was more likely to have been the bends after they regularly submerged to about 100ft to work.

Manned submarine technology was just developing when Verne was writing the novel in which Captain Nemo and his crew travel the world’s oceans.

Colonel Blashford-Snell, 67, added: What made it ideal for the pearl trade was its lock-out system, which meant people could get out of it, gather up pearls then return to the submarine. I realized it was identical to the system used in Nautilus. In the book it mentions that Nautilus was first spotted in 1866, just two years after the Explorer was built.

And 1864 was significant in another way because it was the year of the first sinking of a ship, USS Housatonic, by a submersible, the hand-cranked CSS Hunley. Wyn Davies, a maritime historian, said: If Jules Verne was researching the relatively new world of submersible vessels he would probably have heard of the Explorer’s lock-out system. Submarine inventors were keen to sell their products so there would have been none of today ’s secrecy and technologies would have been keenly scrutinized on both sides of the Atlantic. As far as I’m aware, the Explorer  had the world’s first lock-out system and its uniqueness might have stimulated Verne’s imagination.


ASK Jim, captain of Cheers charter Yacht!

Colonel Blashford Snell Tries to steal all the Thunder

This article appeared on the internet in August of 2005

News Flash on Jules Verne Nautilus real-life Submarine
Date Posted:  Monday, August 08, 2005 (CST) By:

Inside scoop on the story behind the story of the recent discovery on the Panama coastline, as you know, according to International news sources, it seems that Jules Verne Nautilus real-life inspiration was found in the coast of Panama, but here is some more interesting details......

Jules Verne Nautilus real-life ........

We recently published an article telling the amazing story on the Explorer, an amazing submarine that according to the experts on location was the real life inspiration for Jules Verne Nautilus submarine described in 20,000 leagues under the sea.

Soon after publishing this article we received an amazing email, from our friend Jim-of-Panama.

Jim and his family have been exploring this amazing submarine for over 35 years, and he was kind enough to fill us on the story before Colonel  Blashford Snell’s exploration.

It is without a doubt a key element to understand the value within the discovery as well as to know what was the story before these new features about the Explorer were finally unveiled.

It seems that this submarine was first identified as a Japanese Second World War submarine wreck. The experts addressed the wreck as a mini Jap sub, and for decades it was visited, photographed and written about following that hypothesis.

Recently, it was James Delgado of Vancouver who first identified the wreck as a CWE sub. He did all the research and wrote an article that was published in NAVAL HISTORY, December 2004. 

And another amazing insiders’ story is that our friend Jim filled us with the exclusive information on who was the person that provided Colonel Blashford Snell the map of the southern Perlas Islands with the location of the sub It was Jim, captain of Cheers charter Yacht!


See Picture Image Gallery of the sub:


We’re very glad Jim contacted us and helped us fill in the blanks on this amazing story We’ll soon publish new and interesting information on this matter  Keep posted!



Bob Frassinetti.


Buenos Aires, Argentina


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For several years now we have been asking if anyone knew Lt. George E. Dixons Middle Name  and what the E. stood for and no one has been able to definitively answer the question. Here are two clues. Number One is that's Cussler is the Left Picture above and the Second is that his middle name starts with E. just like George E. Dixon. Cussler once said that he thought he might be Dixon re-incarnate. The contest is included as a survey or you can E-mail me . First right answer gets this Hunley Collectors Coin. Thanks and enjoy.  Contest and Survey 


Gerald was the only one to get the right answer. I will send out his coin today,,,Thanks Gerald

----- Original Message -----
From: "Gerald" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 11:31 PM
Subject: Middle name

     Would the "E" stand for Eric..?
 Thanks for your time... and and a most enjoyable news letter and site.

Man o got it.  That was fast.  Send me your mailing address and I will send you the Commemorative Coin.  Congrats.  The survey is a new feature I thought I would try out.  I think I will try again next month. No one ever figured out Dixon's Middle name.  George W. Penington Editor and
Webmaster for the Website and Newsletter.


    WOW... am I ever surprised at winning...  I must admit, I try to
read any of the e-mails about the Hunley as soon as I have chance....
I find them quite interesting...



Hunley Medallion
( Product # 24-001)

Sculptor Andrew Chernak has created a piece of art in honor of the crew of the H.L. Hunley, the first attack submarine.

This commemorative pewter medallion features the H.L. Hunley on the front, and a Roll of Honor on the reverse.

Chernak's medallion is more than 2" in diameter,

Charles Williams
Williams Media



Many a theory abounds about what may have happened to the Confederate States Submarine H L Hunley the night of February 17, 1864, the day Commander George E. Dixon decided was best for the first actual attack against an enemy vessel, the Federal Ship, U.S.S. Housatonic.

Dixon had waited and watched for this night to plan his attack. He intended to live through this battle and return home the victor.  He developed an attack plan, a primary escape plan and several back up plans. His experience with the Hunley had been if something could go wrong it would.

After the attack, his first plan was simple.  Get the hell out of the area and head home as fast as his 7 horse power crew could crank.  He knew that maximum speed with the tide was about 4 knots.  

Did Lt. Dixon’s plan on hiding in the harbor neighborhood of the attack or was it to make a run for shore?

The attack was timed to occur as near as possible to the ebb tide. Did Dixon plan to stay in the area and wait for the tide to turn, it would have made sense for the Hunley Crew to wait and ride the tide back to shore especially considering that it was a 4 mile crank back to home base with a crew that would have been worn out and cold as it was.

If Dixon was on the surface, surrounded by enemy ships on the way to investigate what was happening with the Housatonic he would have ordered his men out of the area unless they couldn’t crank any more for other reasons.  You may recall that no-one in the area actually heard the explosion from the Housatonic but of course Dixon had no way of knowing that. Dixon would have planned to stay in the area and wait for the tide to turn. The tide is strong in Charleston harbor and it certainly would have made sense to ride it back to shore. Dixon timed the attack in accordance to the tide but tide was only one of many factors to consider. A moving object is the hardest to hit so if Dixon had ordered the crew to stop cranking, it was because he had no other alternative. he was dead in the water. Several theories include the idea  that he may have had to hide and wait for the rescue vessels to leave the area so that he could try to repair the damage. Hiding a forty foot vessel, semi-submerged at night in Charleston Harbor  with a near full moon would not be an easy thing to do.

 Dixon’s attack on the Housatonic was made with the submarine semi-submerged with at least the forward hatch unlatched. The crew of the federal ship could see them as they approached. After ramming his harpooned tip torpedo into the hull of the Housatonic below the waterline where the ship was most vulnerable a series of events could have or did occur. The plan was for the harpoon to stick with its explosive package into the hull of the enemy ship and according to design to slide off of the end of the spar as the Hunley backed away

The Housatonic would have been anchored from the bow with the bow pointing north toward Charleston due to the ebb tide.  The Hunley approached her starboard side.

The snorkels were in the upright position.
The rudder was found completely underneath the sub.
She was less than a football field away from the Housatonic.
There was an unexplained dish size hole on the starboard side.
The Hunley rested on the starboard side just as she sank.


It is my opinion that there was no calm time for chat, the percussion of the blast, the spar was bent from the impact, the crew was seriously hurt, they were trying to signal with the blue light, taking on water and a possibility of getting rammed by a rescue vessel.  There was also the possibility the rudder was gone. They were in serious trouble from the get go. GWP

3:40 PM high water

4:30 PM beginning of ebb current

7:45 PM maximum ebb

8:45 PM Hunley spotted by lookout on Housatonic

9:30 PM blue light observed on shore and by Canandaigua

9:45 PM low water

10:50 PM beginning of flood current
Approximate times from "The H.L. Hunley in Historical Context" by Rich Wills


 "No submarine commander who ever lived would take his boat down without first assessing any damage to the hull. And no submarine commander who ever lived would choose to sit on the bottom with a miserable and injured crew in a stinking, freezing, deathtrap if there was any alternative. This was not exactly a walk in the park, you know.

We've all seen World War II submarine movies where the skipper

bottoms the boat to avoid a depth charge attack. It's dramatic, but

if it ever really happened, it was in the era before sonar when

hydrophones were still the only way to find a sub. But the Hunley wasn't a WWII fleet sub with reserves of air and the Union Navy didn't have hydrophones!!!


If the Hunley was still able to make headway, Dixon's crew would have been cranking for their lives. They wouldn't have been too fussy about the direction as long as it was toward safety. Maybe they

cranked too hard and broke something."

Barry Rugoff 2002


A cooperative project of
National Park Service
Naval Historical CenterSC Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology

Funded By
Department of Defense Legacy Resources Program
Friends of the Hunley, Inc.
Systemwide Archeological Inventory Program

A collaborative product of
National Park Service
Submerged Resources Center and
Naval Historical Center
Underwater Archaeology Branch

Chapter on Housatonic History

David L. Conlin - Editor

Historical accounts from the Court of Inquiry convened following Housatonic's  loss paint a detailed picture of a well planned and directed attack that placed Hunley's 135 lb. torpedo to the precise location that would deliver a killing blow.  Lt. Dixon and his crew capitalized on their advantages of initiative, surprise and good intelligence to choose the time and position for an effective attack.  by the time Housatonic lookouts saw the approaching submarine., it was too late-- Hunley had already closed to the point where the Union ship's larger guns could not be trained on the submarine. The close range at which the submarine became visible to Housatonic's crew meant there was insufficient time to slip anchor and maneuver out of the way of the attacking Hunley.  In a very real sense, barring failure of the torpedo, success of the attack was already assured by the time the Union sailors on Housatonic became aware that something was wrong. 

Fundamentally, the skill and precision of Hunley's attack  on Housatonic mirrored the sophistication of Hunley as a weapon and a piece of technology.  Armed with good intelligence about the ship, Dixon and his crew probably knew exactly where to strike Housatonic to deliver a killing blow. 


As Hunley attacked, both Master's Mate Lewis A Corinthwait and Lieutenant F. J. Higgson reported that the submarine changed course, steered parallel and towards the stern quarter (Bad 199:161-162) Testimony by both Acting Master John Crosby and John Saunders at the Housatonic Court of Inquiry states that Hunley slammed home the torpedo in the area of the mizzenmast (Bak1999:154). The mizzenmast was a convenient aiming point for the attack, and easy to see from the small, water-level view port of the Hunley. Aiming at the mizzenmast would place thee torpedo directly between the powder magazine, which could be loaded with up to 8,750 pounds of black powder, and an unspecified amount of guncotton in the guncotton room


(Figures 9.1, 9.2 and 9.3) Secondary explosions in either the guncotton room, the powder magazine so both would probably result in sympathetic-detonations in the port powder magazine potentially containing an additional 7,250 pounds of black powder, ,multiplying the effect of Hunley's torpedo charge more than a hundredfold,  The large column of black smoke reported by Acting Master Joseph Congdon, Lieutenant F. J. Higgson and Acting Master's Mate L.A. Corinthwait at the Court of Inquiry may have been the result of the black powder in one of both of the powder magazines detonating or alternately, the result of seawater dousing the coal fires in Housatonic's boilers (Bak 1999:160) Though both black powder detonations and boiler steam are light colored, seen in the  3/4 moonlight , they may have appeared as "dark" smoke.

As Hunley moved in for the attack,

assistant Engineer C.F. Mayer reported that Housatonic's engine was moving in reverse. After Hunley's torpedo exploded, the engine raced as if the propeller shaft had been sheared (Bak 1999:164). The probable area of attack (figure9.2) includes two couplings in the propeller shaft.  These couplings joined different sections of the shaft that were manufactured and installed in Housatonic separately.  While it is possible that the detonation of the charge and sec9ndary detonation of one or both of the powder magazines snapped the shaft itself, because the couplings are the weakest links in the propeller shaft, it is more likely that Housatonic's  propeller shaft was broken at one or both of the couplings as a result of the attack.


Testimony from the Housatonic crew states that the submarine was too low in the water and too close to the ship to bring the ship's large guns to bear when it was finally spotted (Bak 1999:158)  In addition to being beneath the large guns, attacking at the stern, where the turn of the hull was most pronounced, protected the submarine from some small arms fire during the time it was closest to the hull.  Ensign Craven for example, reported that he had to lean over the rail to fire at the submarine as it closed under the counter of the hull (BAK 1999:158)  Shielded from small arms fire, Dixon was able to press the assault home, and this certainly contributed to the overall effectiveness of the attack. 

In contrast to the October attack by David against New Ironsides, observers on Housatonic reported that there was no water plume from Hunley's torpedo explosion - evidence that the explosion was dampened by the ships hull and or the water depth at which the charge was delivered.  The force of the explosion was not dissipated upwards, but instead was directed into Housatonic's interior, indicating a precise charge placement well below the waterline beneath the hull where it would have maximum effect.  On February 20, 1864, just three days after the attack, Canandaigua's captain Joseph Green, reported the after part of Housatonic's spar deck appeared to have been entirely blown off (Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion [ORN]ser.1:15:331)  Ten months after the attack. on November 27, 1864, Lieutenant Churchill's salvage divers reported that all bulkheads aft of the mainmast were completely demolished- further evidence of the explosions effectiveness and the manner in which it propagated through the ship (ORN ser. 1:15:334)


Acting Master Joseph Congdon's and Master's Mate L.A. Corinthwait's eye witness accounts reported pieces of deck thrown into the air as high as the mizzenmast top. Ensign C.H. Craven reported the entire starboard side of the quarter deck aft the mizzenmast as well as furniture from the wardroom were floating , and he surmised that the whole starboard side of the ship aft of the mizzenmast had been blown off )Bak 1999:160-161) a;; all evidence that  the explosion's force exceeded that expected from the torpedo charge alone.

Beyond eyewitness accounts, there is indirect historical evidence that the explosion was well placed and larger than the expected  torpedo charge.  All accounts agree that Housatonic sank three to five minutes following the explosion.  In three to five minutes, enough water was taken onboard to sink a 205 ft. long ship of almost 2000 tons displacement, and this argues persuasively for massive damage to Housatonic's hull integrity resulting from the attack.




Tactically, the calm seas of February 17 were necessary to allow the four-mile approach fro9m Breach Inlet for the relatively underpowered submarine.  Moreover, it is plausible that, following the attack, Hunley may have been waiting for the tide to change before attempting to return to shore when events overcame the crew and sent the submarine to the bottom for the third and final time.  The second full moon of 1864 was February 22 and on February 17, it was more that 3/4 full.  The bright moon had a mixed tactical effect; it allowed the attacking Hunley to clearly distinguish the anchored Housatonic, yet, at the same time , allowed the Union lookouts to see the submarine as it closed to attack.  Had Dixon waited for a darker night, the submarine might not have been spotted until it actually drove the torpedo home.  Had the submarine not been spotted until it had effectively placed it torpedo at or adjacent to the powder magazines, it might have escaped unscathed from the encounter and made it  safely back to the lighted beacon fire at Breach Inlet.

Tidal flow through breaks in the barrier islands reach their maximum rate during periods of full and new moons.


A strong outgoing tide may have assisted Dixon and his crew in reaching the softer, more easily damaged targets of the outer blockade line, but it would have necessitated a wait for the incoming tide to return to shore after the attack.  This may explain the observed proximity of Hunley to the wreck of Housatonic following the attack--the submarine was awaiting the incoming tide when it sank.


A 1988 Model of the H L Hunley.


It is interesting to look back in time and correct what was considered to be fact from fiction. Eighteen years after Lee Spence discovered the location of the Confederate Submarine H L Hunley there has been a never ending interest in the lost ship.  The following is a history of the Hunley that was included in the box as instructions on building this LONE STAR MODEL titled:


History of the H. L. Hunley.

The story of the Confederate submarine, H. L. Hunley, begins before the battle for New Orleans. 

The Hunley was actually the third submarine know to have been built during the American Civil War.

Plato said "necessity is the mother of invention", and the Hunley and her predecessors were a true reflection of this idea.  It was hoped that it would be possible to wreck havoc with the Union fleet and thus lift the blockade's stranglehold on the Confederate port of New Orleans,  The first submarine was the "Pioneer" and was intended to be a privateer, but before the tiny ship could be refined and all of the bugs worked out, she was scuttled to prevent her capture by Union forces when New Orleans fell.

Her builder then moved their operation to Mobile, Alabama.  At Mobile, a new boat was built.  The second ship was called the "American Diver" and was 25 to 30 feet long.  She was lost in a storm in Mobile Bay.  The third boat started life as a four foot diameter boiler, twenty five feet long.  The boiler was split on both sides for the full lengthy and a 12 inch piece added to give more head room.  Swedged pieces were then added to each end and were approximately five feet long.  To these were attached cast end caps. A 12" wide piece was also added to the top of the hull for the full length of the boiler. 

a box with two snorkel tubes was amid ships with entry hatches towards both ends.  The hatches had combings with four viewing ports.  The commander of the boat was at the front station and steered the boat, with the second in command at the rear hatch station.  Ballast tanks were fitted internally at both ends.  Unfortunately for many, they were left open at the top.  The commander and his assistant at the rear had pumps with which to empty the tanks and allow the ship to rise.  Sole armament consisted of a "spar torpedo".  This was a copper  canister holding 90 pounds of explosive, with a percussion or friction primer mechanism for detonation.

The crew consisted of eight men sitting on opposite sides of the boat to enable them to turn a long offset hand crank.   This "manpower" supplied the sole means of propulsion of the ship.

The Hunley was also a dangerous ship to operate.  The Hunley first sank on 'August 29, 1863 and claimed five lives.  She was raised and on October 15, 1863, she she sank again this time taking Captain Hunley and seven others to their graves.

The last loss of life aboard the Hunley occurred on February 17, 1864.  The Hunley, after sinking the U.S.S. Housatonic, was seen to be moving off, but something went wrong and she sank, this time not to be raised again.  Her location is uncertain, but somewhere on the bottom of Charleston Harbor lies the worlds first successful submarine and her brave crew.


Danger Beneath the Waves - A History of the Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley, by James Kloeppel

Secret Missions of the Civil War - Author Unknown

History of the Confederate States Navy - j. Thomas Sharf

Special thanks to Bob Holcombe (Curator of the Confederate Naval Museum for his help with information in the preparation of this ket.

M.West 88




----- Original Message -----
To: Mike West
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:56 PM
Subject: Re: 1988 Hunley Model


I am including  it in an  article that I am writing for my newsletter. Comparing what we knew in '88 as to what we know now.  If you are the designer of this one and are you planning to come out with another updated model. What got you interested in doing the Hunley.   Did you sell a lot of them. Was there a lot of interest in the Hunley in the 80's. Do you still have your plans and notes and would you like to get rid of them. Do you have any more of these models lying around???    Thanks,   George W. Penington Webmaster and Editor of the website and Newsletter.

(See Newsletter 47 for more about Chapman Print)

OK, The original kit that you have was based on dimensions and written information and the color painting of the Hunley sitting on a dock. I misinterpreted the painting and now knowing what the boat looks like the painting is very accurate. I already have made an updated model since the Hunley was raised. I did sell many and the Hunley was one of my most popular ship kits.
I sold the rights to all of my Civil War ship model line to Rusty White of Flag Ship models in Oklahoma late last year. I no longer make this or any other ships. As to any drawings etc. I had the book Danger Beneath the Waves as one of my sources.
HTH, Mike West/Lone Star Models

Full Size Hunley Model outside the Charleston Museum built in 60's

Hull Halves from Lone Star Model


 Hunley Bank from the 60's

tour PLANNED by bus of Confederate Naval sites

I am planning a one week tour by bus of Confederate

Naval sites and museums from Wilmington (and Kinston), NC to Charleston, SC; Savannah, GA; Columbus, GA; and ending in Mobile, AL. The cost estimates per person are $1500 to $2000 to include transportation, lodging, meals, and admissions. Participants will have to get to Wilmington and home from Mobile. If enough persons sign up I can line it up for this October, otherwise it will be October 2007.

 Anyone interested please contact me by return e-mail

at Input welcome.

 PC Coker/Charleston


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, March 18, 2006 2:47 AM
Subject: pictures and names
I saw a few pictures of the men and names that were on the Hunley when it went down. The name I was looking at is Becker it looks like a friend that I have who has the name of Becker.
Where can I find the list of names and the pictures of the men who died on the Hunley when it went down.
Thank You
Tom Greenhalgh
Hello Tom;  Thanks for writing.  Here is a link for one article that I found on my site
I've been busy re-building some of my site and will see what else I may have, you could also try .  If I find anything else I will let you know.  George W. Penington  Webmaster and Editor of the website and the free monthly newsletter.

 ----- Original Message -----
From: "James Lynch" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2006 8:31 PM
Subject: middle name
I think his name was Edward,
 George Edward Dixon.       Thanks  Jim Lynch

Hello James..Thanks for responding...I've had a lot of guesses on Dixon...all over the map.  Do you have any documentation about Edward being the middle name.  George 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Robert Pardi" <>
Sent: Sunday, March 05, 2006 7:55 PM
Subject: George E Dixon

 I surmise the E stands for Edwin...I may be wrong.
 Robert E Pardi

I am not sure what this following letter refers to:  GWP

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, March 05, 2006 5:05 PM
Subject: RE: Hunley Newsletter #61 Clemson Takes Over- Pls. forward to a friend

Whoever started this rumor is wrong. I have a Master of Arts in Civil War History and I have seen the Hunley numerous times at the Naval Base in Charleston. The sub has already been cleared of bodies and artifacts. This was accomplished by numerous anthropologists that were secured by NUMA (Clive Cussler) and specially selected others. Anthropologists from The University of South Carolina assisted in removing all of the artifacts from the sub. The only thing left to restore the is insuring that the steel hull does not break down in oxygen after it is removed from it's controlled water tank. If you need any more information on the Hunley, seek the advice of an expert. Coach Neal Original Message----- From: The Newsletter [] Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 6:32 PM To:


Tours of the Hunley are available 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. Tours are not available on weekdays so that the archaeologists can continue their preservation work.

Tickets are $10 plus a service charge and can be purchased by either calling 1-877-448-6539 or on the Internet at Children under 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance, and walk-up tickets are also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Copyright © 1997-2006 by The HUNLEY.COM. All rights reserved. You are Free to use anything you want just let us know. Individual copyrights are included
Comments and questions may be directed to webmaster: mistergwp Please sign guest book and thanks for visiting.


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