Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Civil War Submarine Mystery

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Loretta reports:

During a very short visit to Charleston, SC, I happened upon this interesting object.  As the sign makes clear, this isn’t an accurate image of the famous Civil War submarine—famous, that is to lots of people who aren’t me.  I had never heard of the H.L. Hunley—the Civil War is not my favorite historical era—but Nerdy History Girl took over, and I commenced sleuthing.

In February 1864, the Hunley sank a Union ship, the USS HousatonicThis, the first successful submarine attack, turned out not to be a major turning point in the war:  The Hunley sank, too, shortly thereafter, losing all eight of its men, while the Union ship lost only five of its entire crew.  Still this was definitely a major development in naval warfare.

Along with being amazed that eight men could fit into this thing and turn cranks to make it go, I was particularly interested, as a Nerdy History Girl, in the difference between what the Hunley was believed to look like, as of info available in 1967, and what it did look like, once it was recovered and uncovered.

The reconstruction outside the Charleston Museum is a good example of how tricky it can be to recreate the past and how slippery facts can be.  The Hunley was raised in 2000 after an extensive search, and it’s only very recently that scientists seem to have pinned down what happened to it, though they’ve still some details to work out.


JaneGS said...

Fascinating post--the past can, indeed, be slippery.

I've got to get to Charleston one of these days.

Cait said...

I just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring blogger Award. http://cursewordsandcrinolines.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-very-inspiring-blogger-award.html?m=1

Whether or not you chose to carry it forward I at least wanted to share with you directly the impact you have had on my own creativity. Your blog keeps me thinking and researching and you both dig up some of the most interesting things! My historical knowledge is advanced through following your bolg.

Rachel said...

Oh, I love love love it! Any civil war history gets this nerd drooling!

Unknown said...

The Huntley has been in the news a lot lately. Sad fate for those men.

lars1470@gmail.com said...

Very interesting stuff. There was a movie about the Hunley on PBS. It said the Hunley was sunk by a bullet through the glass viewer port hole. The marksman hit it from about 100 yards. The Union Ship had some great shots on board. The Hunley never returned to port as planned and was assumed lost.

QNPoohBear said...

How cool! This nerdy history girl loves studying the Civil War. I've actually never heard of this submarine before now. Thanks! If you're interested in learning more about the history of the submarine, visit the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, CT to see a recreation of the first (Revolutionary War) submarine.

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