The Union was building the Alligator,
and later the Intelligent Whale. The original
mission for the Alligator was for it to be
transported to Hampton Roads to face the Confederate
Ironclad CSS Virginia, but ran into logistical
Was hand-propelled, and steered by horizontal and
vertical rudders. Wooden doors on the bottom allowed a diver
to exit with a mine. She was purchased by the U.S. Navy in
1869, and brought to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for testing. In
September 1872, in her only official Navy test,
Intelligent Whale flooded. The crew escaped, but the
Navy's interest in her ceased.
Length: 28 feet, 8 inches
Beam: 7 feet
Operating crew: 6 to 13
Displacement: 2 tons
Submerged endurance: 10 hours
Buoyancy Control: Water buoyancy control; Compressed
air for positive buoyancy and sea water for negative
The Civil War and particularly the South needed
a manned submersible in combat and to accomplish this they
needed three design factors to work.:
1) a workable and buildable design and a
2) a design and construction of a weapon to be employed by the
3) a system to deliver the weapon.
The vitals for underwater survival included the
design and construction of an air supply system
including a possible storage method and certainly replenishment,
a ballast method and balance arrangement with a regulator,
design for steering and depth control, and instruments for
navigation and depth gauging.
(A self-powered propulsion system capable of
operation while running submerged was a challenge that had not
been completed. )
Bushnell had designed into his vessel the new
innovation of hand powered (Manual power was the primary means
of propulsion for the vessels built before and during the war)
"oar[s]...based upon the principle of the screw"
were three types of tactical delivery of an explosive weapon:
time-delay explosive charge (a limpet mine) carried on the
outside of the boat and manually attached to the hull of the
enemy vessel ( Bushnell's Turtle;)
towing of a contact torpedo in the wake of the torpedo craft in
which the idea was to detonate the charge by diving beneath the
target in such a way that the charge would collide with the
bow-mounted spar torpedo concept originated by Fulton.
McClintock's series of boats would utilize all tthe above
methods at various stages to develop three classes of ships.
A) a modified surface craft
B) steam-powered semi-submersible boats (or "davids "), and
C) hand-powered boats capable of complete submergence such as
While the Union was bogging down in typical
Naval bureaucratic hindrances, the Confederates, not fully
organized and desperate, benefited from private development by
licensing and authorizing privateers.
James McClintock and Baxter Watson's New
Orleans-built Pioneer was considered an
experimental prototype of the H.L. Hunley. NOTE:
The Pioneer was the only submersible provided with
a letter of marque and reprisal by the Confederate States.
least four Confederate boats,
American Diver, H.L. Hunley,
St. Patrick, and the
unnamed vessel or vessels constructed at the Tredegar Iron
Works, were either built at government facilities or with the
assistance of military personnel. McClintock's Hunley
and John P. Halligan's St. Patrick, were seized as
a result of the military's disenchantment and impatience with
their civilian operators. The vessels built at Tredegar were the
only boats constructed under a full-fledged Confederate Navy
Department building program, but did not prove successful.
Submersible ship construction was initiated in four areas:
Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia,
Leeds Foundry in New Orleans, Louisiana
Park & Lyons Machine Shops in Mobile, Alabama
Confederate naval facilities at Selma, Alabama .
"...thoroughly impressed with the intelligence of Mr.
McClintock, and with his knowledge of all points chemical and
mechanical connected with torpedoes and submarine vessels...He
is, I believe, entirely self-taught, and was much employed by
the Confederates on torpedo work, on which he has much practical
information which he seems ready to communicate. He hates his
countrymen, Americans, and hopes to some day be a British
subject ("Report on a submarine boat invented by Mr. McClintock
of Mobile, U.S. of America," PRO, Adm. Series 1/6236, File
McClintock admitted that his boats suffered from three basic
problems: the lack of a self-propelling motive power,
inaccurate compass readings, and an inability to measure the
horizontal movement while running submerged.
difficulty which Mr. McClintock very frankly pointed out was the
uncertain action of the compass in such a vessel...He also
pointed out another requirement which he had not succeeded in
applying - rather from want of means than from want of skill, or
from any great difficulty in the requirement [illegible]. He
states that when under weigh beneath the surface, it is quite
impossible to ascertain whether the vessel is progressing as
there are no passing objects by which to recognize the fact of
motion; on several occasions when experimenting with his
boat they continued working the crank while all the time the
boat was hard and fast in the mud ("Report on a submarine boat
invented by Mr. McClintock of Mobile, U.S. of America," PRO,
Adm. Series 1/6236, File 39455).
Figure1. One of
the 1872 drawings of McClintock's submarine design, from the
Public Record Office. This sketch presents an external
elevation view of the boat (PRO Adm. Ser. 1/6236, File
mercurial syphon gauge
Figure 2.Another of the PRO drawings, this
one showing the internal plan view of the boat and a transverse
cross-section at the aft face of the forward bulkhead. "The
pilot is represented looking through a bull's eye, his right
hand on the vertical steering control, and his left on the lever
for working an ordinary stern rudder... The depth being
constantly indicated on an ordinary mercurial syphon gauge
fixed immediately opposite the pilot--one end of which is open
to the outside water--each 1/2 inch of mercury represents about
one foot of immersion." (PRO Adm. Ser. 1/6236, File 39455)
Enclosed with their intelligence summary were copies of
McClintock's letters of endorsement from former Confederate
officers Matthew F. Maury, James E. Slaughter, J.D. Johnstone,
Raphael Semmes, and P. Murphy. But perhaps the most valuable
piece of historical evidence is the four page narrative, written
in McClintock's own hand, describing the construction of the
three boats he designed and saw built during the war.
Major General Maury,
CSA, commanding troops at Mobile, wired Secretary of War Seddon:
"Farragut has gone North. The Hartford and other heavy vessels
have disappeared from down bay." Maury also commented on John P.
Halligan, builder of torpedo boat Saint Patrick.' "Halligan,
recently appointed lieutenant, has not yet used his torpedo
boat. I do not believe he ever will. His boat is reported a most
valuable invention." Next day, Maury wrote Commodore Farrand,
commanding naval forces at Mobile: "Every opportunity and
facility having been afforded Mr. Halligan to enable him to use
his boat against the enemy, and he evidently not being a proper
man to conduct such an enterprise, please order a suitable
officer of your command to take charge of the Saint Patrick at
once and attack without unnecessary delay." In January 1865
Saint Patrick was transferred to Maury's authority and an
energetic young naval officer, Lieutenant John T. Walker, put in
TB: l. 30'; cpl. 6; a. 1 torpedo
ST. PATRICK, a submersible torpedo
boat which could "be sunk and raised
as desired " was built privately at Mobile, Ala.,
by John P. Halligan in
1864. She was transferred to the Confederate
States Army on January 24th
1865, but placed under the command of Lt. J. T.
Walker, CSN. An hour
after midnight on January 28 this little vessel
struck the Federal ship
OCTORARA abaft her wheelhouse with
a torpedo which misfired and did no
damage. When the Federals returned artillery and
musket fire ST. PATRICK
escaped to the protection of the Confederate
batteries at Mobile.
Major General Maury,
CSA, commanding troops at Mobile, wired Secretary of War Seddon:
"Farragut has gone North. The Hartford and other
heavy vessels have disappeared from down bay." Maury also
commented on John P. Halligan, builder of torpedo boat
Saint Patrick: " Halligan, recently appointed
lieutenant, has not yet used his torpedo boat. I do not believe
he ever will. His boat is reported a most valuable invention."
Next day, Maury wrote Commodore Farrand, commanding naval forces
at Mobile: "Every opportunity and facility having been afforded
Mr. Halligan to enable him to use his boat against the enemy,
and he evidently not being a proper man to conduct such an
enterprise, please order a suitable officer of your command to
take charge of the Saint Patrick at once and
attack without unnecessary delay." In January 1865 Saint
Patrick was transferred to Maury's authority and an
energetic young naval officer, Lieutenant John T. Walker, put in
(Confederate torpedo boat, 1864-1865)
Saint Patrick, a small semi-submersible torpedo
boat, was privately built at Selma, Alabama, in 1864. Operating
under the Confederate Army's control, but with a C.S. Navy
commanding officer, she attacked USS
Octorara in Mobile Bay on 28 January 1865. However, her
torpedo misfired, and the Union ship was not damaged. St.
Patrick was able to escape the return fire and return to
As the war entered its fourth year, Halligan’s Saint
Patrick joined the battle, making an unsuccessful attack
against the U.S.S. Octorora in Mobile Bay. The
Saint Patrick ended the war running supplies under
the blockading squadron to the outlying forts ringing the Bay.
In the final act of the Civil War, Union naval forces were sent
up the Red River to Shreveport to demand the surrender of the
C.S.S. Missouri and a small CSN squadron stationed there. The
Confederate squadron included four boats of the Singer Submarine
Corps, of which the Union ships had been warned. By the time the
Yankee sailors arrived, however, the submarines had all been
A Gallery of
Civil War Submarines
(generated imagery courtesy of
and copyright 2000 Daniel Dowdey,
C.S.S. Hunley (right)
Paddled design (top)
Screw Propeller (below)
from: Submarines in the Civil War -
NOTES ABOUT THE TURTLE
By Chuck Veit
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: MIDSHIPMEN RECREATE THE "TURTLE"
recreate the "Turtle" Thu 2/6/2003
OLD SAYBROOK (AP)-
With the ceremonial snap of a chalk line, a high school project
to build a working replica of the country's first submarine is
under way. In the very town where the underwater warship was
constructed and launched 226 years ago, a crowd of television
people, school officials, historians and a direct descendant of
the builder looked on as two
students found the centerline on the plan for the primitive
craft, dubbed the "Turtle."
More than 50 people squeezed in the high school's workshop,
among workbenches and electric saws, where the six-foot high
submersible is to be built. High School Principal Scott
Shoemaker and National Maritime Historical Society Director
David Allen thanked a long list of supporters for the role in
launching the groundbreaking project.
The History Channel plans to document the building of the
Looking on was shop teacher Fred Frese, who built the first
replica of the Turtle in 1977.
"Fred is probably one of the few in the country that can build
this thing," Allen said. "There's very little information
written down for plans, but Fred has done it before and we know
he can do it again."
Frese first took on the project a year after David Bushnell's
notes became public record at Yale University, Bushnell's alma
mater. The replica is on display at the Connecticut River Museum
Frese and the nine-student construction team will also use
Bushnell's four-page description of the Turtle to Thomas
Jefferson and a set of notes from Benjamin Franklin.
Bushnell, a Saybrook native, built the Turtle in 1776, launching
it in the Connecticut River off Ayers Point.
The barrel shaped craft, looking like two tortoise shells joined
together, was piloted by Old Lyme's Ezra Lee.
The country's first submersible had but a single mission - to
attach a bomb to the hull of a British warship during the
Revolutionary War. The Turtle had its chance in the Hudson River
in September of 1776, but the mission failed, the bomb never
reaching its target.
Frese of East Haddam has been in contact with the school for the
last two years, urging them to help him with the project. The
project was slated for Sept. 7 but was set back by the events of
Sept. 11 and budget constraints. The effort moved ahead when
hired this year as the part-time high school technology
But the biggest boost came when Leighton Lee, president of the
Lee Corp. in Westbrook, gave $10,000 toward the project. After
signing the ceremonial check during the Wednesday ceremony, Lee
presented the school with an 1899 book of "David Bushnell and
American Turtle" to add to the school's library. Once the sub
is completed, the New York Maritime Historical Society will take
it into schools across the country. When the actual construction
begins, the History Channel will be there to tape it.
Also on hand was Roy Manstan, manager at the Naval Undersea
Warfare Center in Newport, R.I. When the vessel is launched, it
will manned by a diver and will be equipped with
state-of-the-art electronics to monitor its progress. Later, it
will be used in a battle recreation on the Hudson River in an
attempt to find out what went wrong over 200 years ago.
The high school students and faculty will help write the
curriculum that goes along with the traveling exhibit and a Web
site devoted to the project.
Frese hopes the construction project will be completed by the
end of the school year but will incorporate other historic and
archaeological programs in the school to include over 200
Jocelyn Wallace, a high school junior and the only girl on the
planning and construction team, said she has enjoyed working
alongside Frese. "We're going to do it right, so it's going to
some time," she said. "I'm glad we're working with Mr. Frese on
it - he's one of those teachers you can talk to and get along
High school student John Bushnell, a direct descendant of David
Bushnell, said he'll be helping with the project and has been
asked to sit in the vessel when it's launched.
"I'm definitely not going to be in it underwater, though - no
way," he said.
4) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT - "Midshipmen,
Staff Re-Create Turtle Submersible"
Re-Create Turtle Submersible
Story Number: NNS030204-08
Release Date: 2/4/2003 10:02:00 PM
By Judy Campbell,
U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The peach-shaped,
wooden submersible slipped beneath the waves of Snug Harbor,
Duxbury, Mass., on a cold January morning.
Two midshipmen and a professor from the naval architecture and
ocean engineering department stood among the crowd ashore,
watching the re-creation of the launch of the first American
Originally designed in great secrecy by David Bushnell of
Saybrook, Conn., in 1776, Turtle was the first American
submersible to be deployed in war. The U.S. Naval Academy,
Massachusetts College of Art, the Timber Framers Guild, Virginia
Military Institute and expert artisans collaborated on the
re-creation, which will be featured on the Discovery Channel's
Reinventing the Past.
In August 2002, Michael Barnes, a producer for the documentary,
contacted professor Lew Nuckols of the naval architecture and
ocean engineering department.
Rick and Laura Brown, professors at Massachusetts College of
Art, were planning to re-create Turtle from two solid pieces of
wood. Since there are no surviving plans from Bushnell, this was
a "new" way of building Turtle.
Previous incarnations had employed a barrel-type construction
with bent staves. Nuckols was asked to bring an engineer's
perspective to the project.
"The folks at Massachusetts College of Art are great artists and
craftsmen, but they don't have an engineering background, a
perspective that the project greatly needed," said Nuckols, who
quickly involved his ocean engineering class and Lt. Cmdr. Rich
Schoenwiesner's underwater work systems class.
Both instructors said the project fit what their classes were
learning about the principles of underwater vehicles.
"The project allowed the group to take what they have learned in
their ocean engineering classes and apply it to a real-world
project and a project that has particular significance to the
Navy," said Schoenwiesner.
Nuckols, Schoenwiesner and Midshipmen 1st Class Jim Vandevort
and Doug Raineault flew to Boston Jan. 6 to meet with the
construction team and add their engineering expertise to the end
stages of construction and testing.
Standing about seven-feet tall and six-feet wide, the hand-hewn
wooden hull was hanging from the rafters at Rick and Laura
Brown's Handshouse Studio. Art students and Timber Framers Guild
members were everywhere, working on brass fittings, wrought-iron
bracings, the wooden bomb and the Turtle.
Workers were melting and pouring lead for the ballast, doing
metal work for the ballast pumps and being interviewed by the
Finally, the Turtle was ready for in-water testing. At nearly
4:45 a.m. Jan. 10, Turtle was lowered into the water with a
Timber Framers Guild member at the helm. Onshore, Vandevort and
Schoenwiesner stood by in scuba gear in case of an emergency.
Turtle drafted as predicted and had minimal leakage. The pumps,
valves and propeller were all tested and found to be in superb
Currently, drag testing is ongoing at the academy with a model
made by the midshipmen with help from the academy's Technical
Support Department. The Turtle will be brought to Annapolis for
tank testing in the spring.
The midshipmen agree the teamwork and openness displayed at the
construction site combined with the practical knowledge gained
in pumps and ballast made this experience their best academic
Nuckols said, "The project continues to help focus engineering
fundamentals into a real world design and keeps student
enthusiasm for underwater engineering high."
Submitted by: Mike Burleson
Sent: Saturday, April 05, 2003 7:04 PM
I was watching the Antique Roadshow on channel
8 on sat April 5 and they had a few things about H.L. Hunley.
And it had a book on it It was either called The Captain And
The Hunley or The Captain And The Submarine by Ruth Duncan. I
was wanting to find out about it. They said it was extremely
rare. So I was wondering if there would be anyway to find it?
Thank You, Mrs Enid Zullo
The research answer is below
Hello there…..sorry it took so long to get back
to you, but it took awhile to find what you were looking for.
Hope this information will help. If you get a copy let me
know. Thanks for the interest and stay in touch. George W.
Saturday, April 05, 2003 12:06 PM
My Brother forwarded your email letter to me as I have been
researching our family tree.
I have found that John Hunley married Louisa H. Lawson on
2/20/1822 and had two children, Horace (12/29/1823) and Volumina
1825. Horace was the son of John Hunley (my 6th Great Uncle).
John was the son of Henry Joseph Hundley(1747) and Mary Johnson.
They had ten children, Nehemiah (1778 was my direct line),
Archabald (1785), William (1780), Arabella, John, Nancy (1779),
Polly & Patty (1787 twins), Robert and Amos.
Volumina Hunley married Robert Ruffin Barrow in 1850 and they
had two children, Volumina Roberta (1/8/1854) and Robert Ruffin
Nehemiah Hundley (1727) fought in the Revolutionary War under
General McIntosh in the 13th Virginia Regiment. Peter Meredith
Hundley(1825) fought in the Civil War, Peter was the Great
Grandson of Nehemiah.
This is some of the information I have gathered with the help of
relatives and I have documentation to prove all of this.
Just thought you might be interested. I would like to receive
your news letters, thank you.
Barbara Jean Hunley Freitag
Hello there and thanks for writing. Sorry it
took so long to get back to you. While I was doing research for
the next newsletter, I came across this information and thought
I would forward it in case you missed it.
Captain and Submarine CSS H. L. Hunley" by Ruth H. Duncan, 1965,
there is an extensive list of H. L. Hunley's ancestors.
29 FEB 1744, , ,VA
1800, , Mecklenburg Co., VA
Lucretia WINN, Abt 1775/1776, , Lunenburg Co., VA
William HUNLEY Jr.
Martha Patsy HUNLEY
Mary Polly HUNLEY
Notes !SOURCE: Bobbie Wright, 2750 Branch Rd.,
Much of the information regarding William & Luctreia Hunley and their
descendants is taken from : "THE CAPTAIN & THE SUBMARINE" by Ruth H.
Duncan, in which she gives information copied in 1964 from the
HUNLEY/WINN Bible owned by Mrs. Willis Hunley Winn of Lauderdale Co., TN.
"The Captain and submarine CSS H. L. Hunley"
Title: The Captain and submarine CSS H. L. Hunley. Author:
Duncan, Ruth Henley. Published: Memphis, Author, c1965.
Edition: 1st. ed., manufactured by S. C. Toof & Co.
Hunley, Horace Lawson, 1823-1863.
H.L. Hunley (Submarine)
United States --History --Civil War, 1861-1865
--Naval operations --Submarine.
Material: 109 p. illus. Note: Copies no. 120-121 of the first
edition. Other ID no: 374651 System ID no: ABF-9889 Holdings: Central/4thFl-History
CALL NUMBER: 92 H936D -- BOOK -- Checked-in
Central/4thFl-Memphis Room CALL NUMBER: [MPHS RM] 92 H937D
-- REF BOOK -- NonCirculating/NonRequest
From: Ron and Glynnis
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2003 5:42 PM
Sir, Has the Hunley been recovered yet ? If not
are there any plans to raise her soon? I saw the reproduction
outside the museum in Charleston a few year back , very
impressed, what brave men they were !
Oh Absolutely….The whole site
www.thehunley.com is about the recovery and restoration
efforts underway. Take your time and browse around. Also you
may want to sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date.
Thanks for your interest and stay in touch.
HEW!!...Had to be kind about that one...LOL
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2003 9:35 PM
Subject: PLease Help me...
My name is Jesse E Dixon, and I would like to find out as much
info about Lt. Dixon as I can. I have been looking into my
family past for three years now and have found out that my
fathers side has strong ties to the south. I will not go as
far as to say that I'm related to Lt.Dixon, but my interest
has been peaked. If you can please help me in any way that
would be great. You can email me At:
Thanks So Much, Jesse Dixon
Hello Jesse….sorry it took so long to get back to
you. I need to go through the guest books because there was some
other Dixons that signed in. If you like I can post this letter
in the bi-monthly newsletter and see what kind of response we
get. You may also want to write Mark Ragan [
firstname.lastname@example.org ] Good luck…let me know what you find
out and stay in touch.
George W. Penington www.thehunley.com
PS: If you get time look through some of the
back issues of the guest book, there were some Hunley's and
Dixon's that signed up. Ya'll may be the last surviving owners
of the Confederate Submarine Hunley and can claim ownership.
FROM THE GUEST BOOK
- Date: 01 Apr 2003
It is a great thing that people take such great interest in
it's history. I'm glad I found this web site. Remember, not to
know one's history is to remain a child. CW4 M. Suggs - Kuwait
- Date: 04 Apr 2003
- Date: 08 Apr 2003
when did the hunley wreck or who was in it you need more
information on the submarine!
- Date: 08 Apr 2003
Hi, I'm so glad I've found your site. Ever since I've heard
about the Hunley sub., I've always wondered about Horace's
family. Is there anything written about his family??? My name is
Helen (KYER) Fest and my Grandmother, Dora Frances (Hunley) Kyer
was d.o. Silas Hunley who mar. in 1896 in Monroe Co., W.Va., to
Isaella Catherine Fulknier. Silas was s.o. Valentine Hunley who
mar. 1835 in Virginia to Mary Merritt. If there's any cousins
out there, I'd love hearing from you. HKFEST@prodigy.net
- Date: 09 Apr 2003
this site stinks
- Date: 10 Apr 2003
Thank you for creating this website and adding my e-mail
address to your newsletter subscriber list. I am looking forward
to receiving your newsletter in the future. I long for the day
when the confederate submarine H. L. Hunley is appropriately
displayed and becomes the centerpiece attraction for all who
visit Charleston, SC. Truly, the ultimate sacrifice given by all
who served their country in the Hunley deserve to be reverently
remembered. Indeed, one of America's remarkable generations.
- Date: 11 Apr 2003
I saw the reproduction Hunley outside the museum in
Charleston a few years ago , just had my interest rekindled by a
friend who lent me the video of the film . I can not imagine the
bravery of men undertaking such a mission for their country ,
such a pity they paid the ultimate price. Let's hope they may be
buried with full honors some day.
- Date: 12 Apr 2003
I just saw the National Geographic TV show about the Hunley.
It was very interesting! Wanted to find out more about what
happened when you opened the submarine and what you found
inside. Is there a book or DVD on this subject for sale?? Thank
you for all of your efforts and for bringing us all a piece of
- Date: 14 Apr 2003
BEEN FOLLOWING THIS SUB STORY AND NOW i KNOW WHERE i WILL
SPEND MY VACATION....WONDERFUL SITE
- Date: 14 Apr 2003
I'm just glad I found this great site i read it all i have to
do a large report on the CSS H.L. Hunley and this site became my
best hit. American by birth southern by the grace of god.--NS
- Date: 14 Apr 2003
Hi I first heard about the Hunley from the Clive Cussler
book, and then saw the recovery on Nat. Geo. TV. I wanted to
find out more and found your web site. Great job. I may buy the
model next! Bob Schroth Twin Peaks CA
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
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