The H.L. Hunley was not the first submarine in the world but it was the first one to sink a ship.
The Confederate submarine was and still is a national treasure as it was recently dug out of 131 years of sea muck and put on display at a conservatory in the U.S.
This submarine was a courageous effort by the Confederates in attempting to stop the flow of the Union merchant marine chain.
The Union relied heavily on its ability to ferry in supplies up and down the Eastern Coast during the Civil War and the boat was meant to be a thorn in the side of that endeavor.
Her first and only action of the war would be had on the dark night of February 17th, 1864 when she would silently creep ever so close to the USS Housatonic.
The Housatonic was a sloop of war on the Union side and was floating in the Charleston Harbor when the explosion went off. The submarine had succeeded in setting off a very big detonation device that sent both the Housatonic and the submarine to the bottom of the harbor.
Hunley submarine sitting on the pier
The explosion was so severe that it gauged a gaping hole into the side of the Housatonic and the blast field was so large that it destroyed the little submarine as well.
The boat had earned it’s place in naval warfare history as the first submarine to sink an enemy ship but it lost it’s own use and the only thing left is the wreck of this submarine. To describe the submarine one only has to imagine a very larger rum barrel with both of it’s side armed with sea worthy items.
The inside of the Hunley drawn by it’s creator
The best-selling author and treasure hunter Clive Cussler discovered the wreck in 1996. The team was able to bring the submarine up to the surface and in one piece. The discovery of the submarine marked the end of an era in which ingenuity by the Confederates with limited supplies and funds, showed that they were determined to give it their all during the Civil War.
The submarine, after careful examination by a team of leading sea warfare vessels, were astounded when they saw the submarine.
The Hunley was a handcrafted piece of metal that was expertly crafted and quite ingenious considering the time of its creation. We must recall that the time of the submarine was one if great loss of life but that sometimes, the intelligence of men would and could be demonstrated. The boat would show that side of the Confederates but would do little to achieve the goal of the vessel, win the war.
The Confederates lost the war and the ending is well known; yet the degree of ingenuity that they displayed was not lost on hatred of Johnny Reb by the Union. The Union would have it’s own little submarine and that would prove to be just as effective if not more during the Civil War.