My curiosity over the H.L. Hunley submarine started when hubby and I watched the show “Mysteries at the Museum” and it left me awed. It was not America’s first submarine but the third. The first submarine was named Pioneer and the second submarine was named the American Diver, sometimes referred to as the Pioneer II. H.L. Hunley, however, is the first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship in a combat. It has a long history of mystery, which was uncovered in 2000 after 131 years underwater.
Hunley was first called “the fish boat” or “the fish torpedo boat”, almost 40 feet in length and a width of almost four feet and weighed approximately seven and a half tons. This hand-powered vessel was designed to carry a crew of nine – eight to power it and the ninth to control navigation. It had sunk twice during its training missions, killing crews including Captain Horace Lawson Hunley, one of its original investors, but recovered in the hope of perfecting the submarine again and again. On its third mission, the Confederate submarine Hunley successfully sank the Union ship Housatonic but it has not returned from its mission which mystified everyone. After 131 years, the Hunley was uncovered and the remains of the crew were found in their assigned positions. Research has found that there was no panic at the time it went down. Why the submarine sunk remains a mystery until today. One theory is that the men did not drown but ran out of oxygen. On April 17, 2004, the men were buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston next to the other crewmen who had drowned on the submarine. The Hunley remains at the Warren Lasch Conservatory at present. But a replica of the Hunley is located in front of the Charleston Museum.