CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Archeologists expect to recover personal belongings of crewmen from the H.L. Hunley, the Confederate Civil War vessel that became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle, when excavation resumes in October, officials said on Thursday.
X-rays of solidified sediment in the cramped 43-foot-long vessel revealed a glass medicine bottle and two tin canteens lying under a wooden bench, where archeologists also expect to find canvas bags containing personal items stowed there by the crew.
``Soldiers of that time wore haversacks and canvas bags on a sling in which they carried their personal possessions like diaries, pictures, and utensils. The odds are that this would be the area where they would have stored these bags,'' state Sen. Glenn McConnell, chairman of the Hunley Commission, said.
The steel-hulled Hunley, with a crew of nine on board, sank on Feb. 17, 1864, shortly after plunging a spar loaded with explosives into the wooden hull of the USS Housatonic, part of a Union blockade of the port of Charleston.
The submarine was recovered last August and taken to a custom-built laboratory in Charleston, where archeologists have worked to remove artifacts and remains from sediment that filled the vessel's interior as it lay on the sea floor.
Before suspending excavation work for the summer, archeologists removed remains of the nine crew members, along with artifacts that included a gold coin carried by the captain and a lantern used to signal that the submarine was returning to shore before it sank mysteriously.
When excavation resumes in October, archeologists will resume their search both for artifacts and answers to the mystery of why the submarine sank.
``The excavation in the fall will be comparable to reading a good mystery book with each day being a new page revealing more about the characters and uncovering more of the clues to solving the mystery of what happened on the final voyage,'' McConnell said in a statement issued by the Friends of the Hunley, a nonprofit group underwriting the excavation and conservation work.
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