Photo of Miss Queenie Bennett, courtesy of Miss Bennett's
great-grandaughter, who wishes to remain anonymous.
|Miss Queenie Bennett who was the young sweetheart of
Lt. George E. Dixon (the Hunley's last skipper), and of the twenty
dollar gold piece she had given him. It is probably among his bones in the
wreckage of the submarine, as the coin had become a good luck piece after it
stopped a Yankee bullet, thus saving his life, at the Battle of Shiloh.
Relative of captain's sweetheart here for Hunley raising
Monday, August 7, 2000
By SCHUYLER KROPF
Of The Post and Courier staff
He was the dashing captain of the Hunley. She was his
belle back home in Alabama.
Queenie Bennett was her name, and she loved Lt. George
Dixon with all her heart.
But Dixon would perish going down in the sea in his
ship, and Bennett would mourn his loss, never knowing for sure what happened to
him and the other eight men inside the Hunley during the frantic last minutes of
When the submarine Hunley is raised, which is scheduled
for Tuesday, standing nearby will be Bennett's great-granddaughter, Sally
Necessary of Richmond, Va. On Friday, she drove seven hours to be here in
kinship with the man Bennett planned to marry.
"This was her first love and during the time of war,
people are closer together," Necessary said. "During war, relationships are
formed quickly because of the environment."
It was Bennett who gave Dixon the $20 gold coin that
saved his life and that would be his good luck charm aboard the Hunley.
As an engineer from Kentucky, Dixon, 25, joined the
rebel cause in 1861 by enlisting in the Confederate Army's 21st Alabama
Regiment. In 1862, he was among the thousands of soldiers wounded at the bloody
battle of Shiloh when he was shot in the leg.
But the gold piece had taken the full force of a Yankee
Minie ball, hitting so hard that the coin folded around the bullet in the shape
of a bell. Had it not been there, Dixon might have had a serious enough wound to
have required amputation of his left leg.
Transferred to the Hunley project after convalescing,
Dixon was promoted to first lieutenant by the fall of 1863 and easily gained
respect as the commander of the experimental sub. Superstition probably made him
keep the coin with him. It is believed to still be inside the Hunley, buried in
Necessary said the loss of Dixon probably broke
Bennett's heart, especially since what caused the Hunley to sink after attacking
the USS Housatonic on the night of Feb. 17, 1864, is unclear.
"She probably wondered for days until she got word
because we know there was communication between them," she said. "She probably
just grieved, and so did everybody that knew him in Mobile."
Bennett eventually did marry, seven years later.
Necessary said she has counted down the days to the
recovery and described her feelings.
"It's a mixture of pride for these men and their
courage. I care what happens to them," she said. "Some people think that men who
go down with their ship should be buried there. But I think this is a different