New Clues Found In Sinking Of Confederate Sub

Jan 28, 2013

Scientists say they may have found a new clue that sheds light on the sinking of Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley during the Civil War. The new evidence lies in a pole, called a spar, once placed on the front of the sub and used to plant explosives on enemy ships.  Scientists announced Monday that 135 pounds of gunpowder was attached to the spar at the front of the vessel.

In 1864, the Hunley sank the blockade ship Housatonic. It has been long thought the Hunley attached a torpedo to the bottom of the Housatonic and then backed off. But new evidence indicates the Hunley was only about 20 feet away, meaning the concussion from the explosion could have knocked out the crew.   The Housatonic sank, while the Hunley, built in Mobile, Ala., never returned with its eight-man crew. The Hunley was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship.

The experts released their findings Monday at a North Charleston lab where the hand-cranked sub is being preserved and studied.  The sub was found in waters off South Carolina in 1995 and raised five years later. It's been in the laboratory ever since.