The H. L. Hunley submarine sinking during the Civil War is one of those unsolved mysteries that have remained for 150 years. But now the H. L. Hunley Project in Charleston, SC hopes to figure out what sunk the Confederate sub once and for all.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, it’s believed a so-called Civil War “death moon” is responsible for the demise of Stonewall Jackson. The shipwreck of the USS Hatteras was revealed by 3D sonar technology.
During the American Civil War, the H. L. Hunley was not the first submarine built in the United States but it was the first sub to successfully sink an enemy ship. On February 17, 1864 the H. L. Hunley attacked the USS Housatanic by ramming the ship with a pole with explosive powder packed at its tip. The Union Navy was aware of the Confederate secret weapon and spotted it coming after them. By this time the Hunley was too close to hit with artillery fire so they used rifles and even a shotgun.
After the explosive pack was embedded in the ship’s side, the H. L. Hunley backed away and detonated the device with a rope. The resulting explosion took the Houstanic to the bottom of the Charleston harbor. Confederate watches report seeing a blue light coming from the submarine so it’s assume the sub survived the explosion only to sink a short while later. To this day no one is certain why it sunk.
In the year 2000, the H. L. Hunley was excavated from the sediment and brought to the museum where it’s been stored inside specially designed conservation tank filled with freshwater. Since then researchers have been trying to figure out why it sank. The first hint is that the eight member crew was still at their stations when they died instead of trying to escape:
“We don’t see evidence of anyone trying to get out of the submarine. It could have been something catastrophic or they died with a certain amount of resignation.”
Examinations of the crew reveal no evidence of injuries so it’s apparent that they drowned. Besides the explosion being the fatal blow, other hypotheses include an unsecured hatch or perhaps even a lucky shot from a gun punching a bullet hole in the viewing port.
Paul Mardikian, the Hunley Project’s senior conservator, is confident that once they peel away the final layer of encrusted sediment they will be able to piece together the puzzle. While it’s possible that multiple factors caused the H. L. Hunley submarine to sink, they believe if a bullet hit the sub they should find evidence of this in the metal body. Whatever the truth may be, they’re certain we’ll know soon.