Hunley not revealing much yet
What they haven't found intrigues archaeologists
Thursday, March 15, 2001
BY BRIAN HICKS
Of The Post and Courier staff
If scientists have learned anything about the Hunley, it is that
the lost submarine doesn't give up its secrets easily.
Deep into the second week of excavating the Confederate
submarine's interior, archaeologists are perhaps most surprised by what they haven't
found. The Hunley team has yet to turn up any artifacts or any of the mechanisms that
actually controlled the submarine.
Some of this was expected - most things probably fell to the
bottom of the sub. But scientists are intrigued that, once again, the Hunley is proving
itself to be somewhat different than some historical renderings.
Initially, the team expected to find cables or rods that moved
the sub's rudder in their way just below the hull plates they removed to get inside the
sub. Some early drawings indicated that's where those controls were.
But so far, scientists have found nothing to manipulate the
rudder. Nor have they found the hand cranks the crew used to turn the sub's propeller -
something they expected to be touching by now.
"It's kind of curious," project manager Bob Neyland
said. "It may fool us. It may be lower."
Scientists are not yet worried the Hunley's interior may be
devoid of artifacts. In fact, they expect the excavation to slow as they get deeper into
the submarine and start turning up instruments, tools and even remains of the crew.
A few things have shown up in the muck: a couple of heavily
concreted objects and a can lid about 4 inches wide. There is no way yet to determine if
that is from the submarine or is just what scientists call an "intrusive
Scientists are getting a good look inside the sub now.
On Wednesday, Friends of the Hunley Chairman Warren Lasch joined
in the excavation and, at one point, lay his head down nearly on the tightly packed clay
and looked forward through the compartment.
"This is exactly what the crew saw," Lasch said.