The Hunley.com

 

1) Welcome to the new Hunley Newsletter
2)
WAS IT A STORM THAT SANK THE HUNLEYMore Questions
3) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Sub Commander Lt. George E. Dixon’s Watch Opened
4) THE HUNLEY NEWSLETTERS 2002 E-BOOK
5)E-MAIL
6) FROM THE GUEST BOOK
7) VOLUNTEERS
8)
McConnell Doesn't want the Italian Flag so Now what?
9) OUR PURPOSE AND GOALS


H.L. Hunley movieSpecial Price: 19.99 plus 3.50 S&H

Produced for Turner Network Television and originally broadcast in the summer of 1999, The Hunley is a straightforward, engrossing historical drama focusing on a little-known chapter of the Civil War: the introduction of the submarine into American naval warfare off the shore of war-torn Charleston, South Carolina, in 1864. VHS.

 

                           www.hunleystore.com


 

1) WELCOME TO THE NEW HUNLEY NEWSLETTER

A special welcome to all the new subscribers. This newsletter is published every two weeks so no one is bombarded with mail.  It is now in html format which allows us to post pictures and text.  Sometimes they get a little heavy but if you wait patiently all the pictures should download to you. It may be best to save the letter to your computer so you can read it at your leisure. If you ever have a problem with it and need some help just write me and let me know.  We even throw in a few free computer lessons for neophytes.  If you get the urge to write articles send them on.  Comments and feedback are always welcome.

2) WAS IT A STORM THAT SANK THE HUNLEY More Questions BY George W. Penington
the Hunley.com

WAS IT A STORM THAT SANK THE HUNLEY?

THE CONFEDERATE SUBMARINE H L HUNLEY SANK ON FEBRUARY 17th IN THE LEAP YEAR OF 1864 .

Senator McConnell announced that information has been found that leads to the possibility that the Hunley may of sunk as a result of a sudden harbor gale storm.

Senator McConnell announced last week that there is evidence to be released that the Hunley may have been lost the night of the sinking in a gale. The intimation was that the Hunley after signaling its success to the troops at Battery Marshall may have been swamped by a wave from the sudden gale.. This may have caused water to flood into the open hatches, causing the Commander to suddenly go below, closing the hatch, but not locking it down, as the submarine was forced to submerge.

My research found mention of gales in relation to the Hunley in several areas.

 The Charleston Mercury and the Daily Courier, Civil War era publications ran articles about the destruction of the “Housatonic” the Federal Gun ship blockader. It is interesting to note that the Charleston Mercury came out on Monday February 29, 1864, twelve days after the sinking. A leap year. It appears that the accuracy of reports in the Mercury 139 years ago are about as accurate as the reporting is today.   A report was received from Fort Sumter which reported that one of its picket boats had captured a Yankee picket boat containing one officer and five men.  The prisoners were taken downtown and reported accounts of the success of the “pioneer of our fleet of torpedo boats” . They stated that the vessel sunk off the harbor on the night of the 16th, and reported lost in a gale, was the U. S. Steamer Housatonic, carrying 12 guns and three hundred men, and that she was blown up by our torpedo boat..

The Mercury reported, “This fine and powerful vessel was sunk in three minutes.  The whole stern of the steamer was blown off by the explosion.  All of the crew of the Housatonic are said to have been saved, except five – two officers and three men- who are missing and supposed drowned. “

“The torpedo boat that has accomplished this glorious exploit was under the command of Lieut. Dixon.  We are glad to be able to assure our readers that the boat and crew are now safe. “

The points of interest besides the fact that rumors had it that the Hunley had survived is that the Housatonic was lost in a gale

The news in 1864 is almost as confusing as the news is today. A hundred and thirty years from now, people will be scratching their heads wondering what the facts are.

It is amazing to note that the evidence is apparent that no one at a distance even knew that the Housatonic was torpedoed and sunk.. The Daily Courier of February 29, 1864 reported “ On Friday night about half past nine o’clock one of our naval picket boats, under command of Boatswain J.M. Smith, captured a Yankee picket boat off Fort Sumter containing one commissioned officer and five men. A large barge, which was in company with the captured boat, managed to escape.   By the prisoner we learn that the blockader sunk by our torpedo boat on the night of the 16th instant was the United States steam slop of war Housatonic, carrying twelve guns and a crew of three hundred men.  They state that the torpedo boat, Cigar shape, was first seen approaching by the watch on board the Housatonic.  The alarm was given, and immediately all hands beat to quarter,  A rapid musket fire was opened upon the boat, but without effect.  Being unable to depress their guns, the order was given to slip the cable.  In doing this the Housatonic backed some distance and came in collision with the cigar boat. The torpedo exploded almost immediately, carrying away the whole stern of the vessel.

The steamer sunk in three minutes time, the officers and crew barely escaping to the rigging.  Everything else on board – guns, stores, ammunition, etc., together with the small boats went down with her.  The explosion made no noise and the affair was not known among the fleet until daybreak, when the crew was discovered and release from their uneasy positions.  They had remained there all night.  Two officers and three men are reported missing and supposed to be drowned.

The loss of the Housatonic caused great consternation in the fleet.  All the wooden vessels ore ordered to keep up steam and go out to sea every night, not being allowed to anchor inside. The picket boats have been doubled and the force in each boat increased.  The glorious success of our little torpedo boat, under the command of Lieutenant Dixon, of Mobile, has raised the hopes of our people, and the most sanguine expectation are now entertained of our being able to raise the siege in a way little dreamed of by the enemy. Since our last report two hundred and six shells have been fired at the city up to five o’clock Sunday evening.  The shelling of the city continued up to the hour of closing our report.”

Proceedings of a court of inquiry convened on board the USS Wabash, February 26, 1864.

The testimony having been closed, the court was cleared for deliberation, and after maturely considering the evidence adduced, find the following facts established:

          First. That the U. S. S. Housatonic was blown up and sunk by a rebel torpedo craft on the night of February 17 last, about 9 o'clock p. m., while lying at an anchor in 27 feet of water off Charleston, S. C., bearing E. S. E., and distant from Fort Sumter about 5½ miles. The weather at the time of the occurrence was clear, the night bright and moonlight, wind moderate from the northward and westward, sea smooth and tide half ebb, the ship's head about W. N. W.
But further research shows that eyeball testimony lugs a strong load on the scale of truth. One of the surviving sailors from the Housatonic wrote a letter to the Boston Herald that ended up in the Charleston Mercury on March 14, 1864. The letter in part states, “The event took place about 9 o’clock on one of the coldest nights of the winter.”

“…………..The mast of the ‘Housatonic’ are all that can be seen of her, and the gale which is now prevailing will do much to make a complete wreck of that once noble ship”

We know from varying accounts and from personal experience that the weather in Charleston Harbor in February is cold and can get severe in short order without notice. The old Charleston Daily Courier reported that "several ironclad's were seen to anchor at Light House Inlet off Morris Island after dark to escape the rough seas off shore."

The three mast, smokestack, and rigging of the remains of the USS Housatonic could be seen from the ramparts of Battery Marshall on Sullivan's Island the day after the sinking. In a letter by Augustine Smythe, sailor from the C.S.S. Palmetto State dated February 21st, 1864 states "The submarine torpedo boat - The Fish - which has been put in repair and been lying down at Sullivan's Island for some time, went out on Thursday night and it is supposed, sunk a blockader, as one of them was seen to go down.  This attack was unknown at the time even at Head Quarters.  They supposed it was the storm.  Since then however, nothing has been heard of her and she is put down as lost.  The common name given her is 'murdering machine'.  The "David's' are ready for work, and I hope will soon be put at it.". (Ragan, page 144)

So there are snippets of information that indicate the possibility of some time of severe weather in the Harbor the night of the sinking of the USS Housatonic and the Confederate Submarine H L Hunley. It may have been that a gale or storm in the area may not have been significant or of note at the time within the scope of all the other war activities that were going on. We have the advantage of knowing that the design of the Hunley made it vulnerable to wave action or rolling particularly if the hatches are open. You may recall that one of the theories around the first sinking of the Hunley at Fort Johnson  evolved around the possibility that the wash or wake from the C.S.S. Etiwan set into motion that sinking.

We are waiting in interest for Senator McConnell to release further information that they may have come across.


3) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Sub Commander Lt. George E. Dixon’s Watch Opened

 

 Queenie Bennett's Watch   Lt. George E. Dixon's Watch
ADDITIONAL WATCH PICTURES

  

 Friday, just after the March 7 newsletter was sent :

A press conference was held March 7, 2003 at the Warren Lasch Laboratory where the Confederate Submarine H L Hunley is being studied. Sub Commander Lt. George E. Dixon’s watch, recovered earlier this year, was being presented and opened for the first time.

The watch was found among the remains of the figure identified as the Commander of the Confederate Submarine H L Hunley. It was removed from textiles in an area that would have been Dixon’s right hand pocket.

The crystal was black and cloudy, and once removed it was found that the hands and face were corroded, even though x-rays showed that the workings were in relatively good shape. When archaeologists pried open the ornate gold pocket watch they did not find what they were looking for, the hour time stopped for the crew. Observers could see that the minute hand was at 22 minutes. The second hand was at 20 seconds. The hour hand was broken and the pieces were set aside. Discussion among the scientist determined that the hour hand appeared to point between 6 and 9. "We are now able to narrow the time frame down to between 6:00 and 9:00, but the question remains, is it a.m. or p.m.?" Dr. Robert Neyland, director of the Hunley project, told everyone.

The watch may have kept ticking for 12 hours or even 24 hours after the attack. This does confirm the possibility that the crew didn't drown; instead, they may have suffered a slow and agonizing death by asphyxiation. Had the sub filled with water, the watch would most likely have stopped ticking almost immediately. We know from the scientific evidence that there was an air pocket inside the sub for years after it sank, as confirmed by the presence of stalactites.

The Confederate Submarine H L Hunley, with a spar mounted explosive device, torpedoed the USS Housatonic on February 17, 1864 at about 8:45 p.m. It was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle and was not heard from until one hour later. The Hunley sank off the coast of South Carolina and was lost until discovered in 1970 by Dr. E. Lee Spence. It was raised in 2000, and among the discoveries scientists found the watch and the remains of the sub's captain, Lt. George Dixon. Found with his remains were the famous $20 gold piece, a ring (Kentucky Colonel) containing nine diamonds, and a brooch with 37 small diamonds.

4) THE HUNLEY NEWSLETTERS 2002 E-BOOK

FOR ALL THOSE SUBSCRIBERS THAT HAVE SIGNED UP RECENTLY OR THOSE THAT SIGNED UP MID YEAR AND MISSED THE EARLY ISSUES THEY ARE NOW AVAILABLE IN E-BOOK FORM ONLINE FOR $6.00. WE PUT A LOT OF TIME AND EFFORT COMPILING THESE ISSUES IN BOOK FORM WHICH CAME OUT TO AROUND 200 PAGES OF INFORMATION.

To order the Hunley 2002 E-Book click here.
_____________________________________________________________

5)E-MAIL

 

 THE IRONCLADS MAY ATTACK CHARLESTON  IN JULY

-----Original Message-----
From: Wm. Howell Upchurch [mailto:howell@visarts.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 3:18 PM
To: mistergwp@thehunley.com
Subject: working ironclad

  

My name is Howell Upchurch and I am sending you some photos of a working Civil War era ironclad I recently completed. Its a 25ft replica of a Richmond class ironclad. It carries a crew of two, burns coal in the firebox and has 6 working blackpowder cannons. It stays on a trailer and therefore is mobile. Recently  (3/8/03) I performed 7 live shows in Columbus, Ga. (on the river) at the Civil War Naval museum. It was a hit with not only the men but women and children as well. They wanted to sit on the deck and have their picture taken. I built it to promote a project I'm working on (see my project on the web at: www.powdermonkeyLLC.com ) I'm always looking for opportunities to show her off! Located in Atlanta, Ga.  More photos available.

             A co-worker, here in Atlanta, is the brother-in-law of Henry Chandler with Patriots Point. Henry asked if I would bring the ironclad to Charleston for        the 4th of July event. I'm very receptive to the idea. We put on a good show with the boat. We had the bow gun built to fire a 40mm "firework" round.           The round is fired travels approx. 75-100 yards hits the water, explodes and sends up a geyser of water. The remaining guns are black powder (no projectile), we just shoot them a lot. The smoke stack burns coal (black smoke) and that coupled with the smoke from the guns excites the crowd             (especially the children) We are currently working on stressing the boat ie: impact dents and marks from cannon hits, adding a spar torpedo and a special      sound system that will generate the sound of the steam engine and steam whistle. Kids can't stay away, they want to be photographed sitting on the          deck  and we don't mind.(see attached photo)Lets stay in touch. Howell Upchurch howell@visarts.com

 Howell Upchurch

404/661-8669

howell@visarts.com

   
Howell Upchurch, left and Alan LoRe’, both of Atlanta, sail on the Chattahoochee River in a replica ironclad one sixth the size of a Richmond-class Ironclad used by the Confederate Navy during the Civil War.  The 24-feet-by 8 feet ironclad replica is powered by a 6-horsepower outboard boat engine located inside it. It also contains six small working cannons.  The ironclad replica will be used as a prop in an independent motion picture with the working title of “The Pawn” The boat fired its cannons  in the afternoon as part of the River Blast at the Port Columbus Civil War Naval Museum.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: M.W.B.Stirling-hamilton-99@

Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2003 2:35 PM

To: mistergwp@thehunley.com

Subject: USS Alligator

Hi,

Do you have any information regarding any interest in locating/raising the

wreck of the Union civil war submarine USS Alligator?

Regards,

Malcolm.

From: George W. Penington [mistergwp@thehunley.com]

Sent: Thursday, March 20, 2003 8:48 AM

To: 'M.W.B.Stirling-hamilton-99

Cc: 'shipwrex@aol.com'

Subject: RE: USS ALIGATOR

Sorry it has taken awhile getting back to you.  I am still researching this. I am forwarding a copy of this email to Dr. E. Lee Spence and see if he has any comments. He does talk about the Alligator in his book "Treasures of the Confederate Coast: The "Real Rhett Butler" & Other Revelations"  I will get back to you later.  Thanks for writing and the interest. 

George W. Penington   www.thehunley.com

 

6) FROM THE GUEST BOOK

Date:
6 Mar 2003

Comments

We recently came to Charleston March 2nd, and saw the Hunley Sub. We thought it was just outstanding and a real enjoyment to learn and see history in person. Your displays were wonderfully set and we just enjoyed it so much. We cant wait to hear about the pocket watch and the findings when it was opened on March the 5th,2003. We woke up and heard on the radio here in Chattanooga that the watch was being opened at 9 a.m. that morning and we were excited due to the fact we had just been there and saw the sub and very anxious to hear all about the watch. We haven't heard anything yet as of March the 5th, but are anxiously waiting. My husband and I want to say thanks for such a wonderful time while at the exhibit. Andy & Melody Bardas Chattanooga, Tennessee


Date:
07 Mar 2003

Comments

It is a real interesting and educational web site.


Date:
07 Mar 2003

Comments

As a Child I use to spend my summers on Isle of Palms and I enjoyed visiting Civil War sights. I am originally from the upstate Six Mile (Clemson area). For the past 34 years i have lived in Botswana in Southern Africa. I saw the National Geographic program on the Hunley and then went to your web sight. I thoroughly enjoy reading all the articles about the history of the sub. Great work done by your people.


Date:
07 Mar 2003

Comments

Please let me know when the crew will be buried. Any information on the Hunley is greatly appreciated. Erleene Hanson


Date:
09 Mar 2003

Comments

Do you not post pictures of crew's remains?
NO!!!!!


Date:
09 Mar 2003

Comments

Very exciting seeing history unfold. I would recommend contacting someone in the NAWCC for more information about Lt. Dixon's watch. From the pictures it appears English, and the hallmarks can give a very precise date when the case was manufactured. Anxious to hear the rest of the story from this watch...


Date:
10 Mar 2003
 

Comments

This website is very interesting, and has been helpful for my school project. Thanks! It has also been interesting to me to learn about Southern history. Thanks a bunch! ~Kayleigh


Date:
10 Mar 2003
 

Comments

I have a question. How are artifacts that have been submerged under water for periods of time raised? If they are damaged, what is done with them, if they are not damaged? Thank you, You've got my E-mail address P.S. it's for school


Date:
12 Mar 2003

Comments

I heard the story of the Hunley on the John Boy and Billy radio station. And I must say, that was one extraordinary story. Would love to have all the information on this sub. that you could give me. THANK YOU!!!!! cHERYL Evrard


Date:
13 Mar 2003

Comments

this goes to the Hispanic girl who said she was glad the crew died and the fought for slavery! well let me tell you something girl you are wrong and someday you will pay for that comment! this is history and none of these men were owners of slaves nor did they believe in it either


Date:
15 Mar 2003

Comments

A most informative and well-detailed website which makes very interesting reading. An American Civil War buff on the British side of The Pond, I watched a splendid and, at times, moving documentary on UK terrestrial television about the Hunley and its excavation. I found the site very useful in bringing me up to date on recent developments in the Hunley story; the eventual burial ceremony will be of particular interest. Best wishes with the site, and God grant eternal rest to the gallant crew.


Date:
16 Mar 2003
 

Comments

( . Y . )


Date:
18 Mar 2003
 

Comments

If it were my choice then I think that this site should have more pictures in it for people to look at instead of them wondering what they are going to look for. It would make it easier on the people that want to learn and the people at the desk down town Charleston.


Date:
18 Mar 2003
 

Comments

i need mugu


Date:
18 Mar 2003
 

Comments

There are still a few of who have not forgotten the cause! Deo Vindice, Resurgam! Anthony Whisnant http://agoodoldrebel.tripod.com/ 'Tis the cause, not the fate of the cause that is glorious!

 

7) BE A HUNLEY VOLUNTEER

The Hunley is open for tours every Saturday and Sunday (except Christmas weekend) and all proceeds go directly to support the Hunley conservation project. The Hunley tours could not be a success if it were not for the dedicated people who volunteer an immeasurable amount of time. When you visit the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, it's clear that these committed volunteers have not only a genuine interest in the Hunley project, but a passion and respect for the submarine and her crew. Some drive hours, or even fly from states like Indiana to work the tours.

Those participating in this program provide the principal link between the organization and the public. In addition to welcoming visitors to the center, volunteers provide a broad range of information about the Hunley, whether it is exhibitions, activities, or services.

Help the Hunley project by becoming a volunteer! To become a volunteer, an interview and background check is required. For more information, call Allison Hutto at (843) 744-2186 or email her at allison@hunley.org.

Click here to view a SLED background check


Stand Honor Guard  - Infantry, Artillery, Navy, Cavalry and Marine Reenactors!!!

Units and/or individuals interested in participating in the Hunley Honor Guard please contact Allison Hutto at (843) 744-2186 or email her at allison@hunley.org.

 

8) McConnell Doesn't want the Italian Flag so Now what?

New Versions of rebel flags flying above billboard
Drivers on Interstate 26 in North Charleston won't confuse Fazoli's Italian restaurant and the Confederate flag anymore.

The two cloth rebel flags that had flown above a billboard Fazoli's shared with state Sen. Glenn McConnell's Confederate memorabilia store have been replaced by flat-board versions that can only be seen from one side.  Previously,, the flags could be seen by drivers traveling voth lanes of Interstate 26, confusing some who might have thought the display was part of the Fazoli's ad. 

The new flags are the same- the battle flag and the Confederacy's First National Flag. Sam McConnell, co-owner of CSA Galleries Inc. said one of the old flags was starting to droop.  He also said if anyone "were to have some kind of objection, this takes it away.


9) OUR PURPOSE AND GOALS

Is to provide specialized information to those who are interested in the recovery efforts and history of the Confederate Submarine H L Hunley. It is available free to anyone who might benefit from the information it contains, for example, students and history buffs. Our mailing list will always be kept private and will never be sold.

Feel free to forward this newsletter to any friends or associates

 

 

       

 

Comments and questions may be directed to webmaster: mistergwp
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