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Hunley submarine replica returning to Camden

Posted: November 14, 2013 11:08 a.m.
Updated: November 15, 2013 5:00 a.m.

 

A 43-foot-long replica of the H.L. Hunley will return to the Camden Archives and Museum from on Dec. 13 and 14. The replica last appeared in Camden in May 2012.

On the evening of February 17, 1864, the moon cast a white glow over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean near the mouth of Charleston Harbor. The USS Housatonic, the Union Navy’s largest ship at 1,240 tons, lay at anchor in the ocean two and one half miles outside the harbor entrance. The blockade of Charleston was commanded from her position. Through the frigid waters, the brave, determined crew of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley navigated from Breach Inlet out to sea, moving toward the Housatonic at three knots. By the time the Union lookout on the Housatonic’s deck spotted the rippling object in the water, it was upon them. The eight-man crew of the Confederate submarine pierced the side of the ship, depositing and detonating a 135-pound torpedo inside her hull. The Housatonic exploded and burned for three minutes before sinking in the ocean, taking five sailors to their death with her. The Hunley crew gave a blue light signal to the Confederates at Sullivan’s Island, indicating that they were heading back to shore. Then the Hunley disappeared beneath the water, never to surface again for 131 years.

On that moonlit night, the H.L. Hunley became the first submarine to ever sink an enemy ship. Her eight-man crew, led by Lt. George E. Dixon, changed the course of naval history. The final resting place of the H.L. Hunley was discovered in 1995 by the research crew of Clive Cussler’s National Underwater Marine Agency. The vessel was raised in 1995, and long years of research and conservation began. The state of South Carolina created The Hunley Commission to acquire, recover and preserve the H.L. Hunley for public display. The commission created the Friends of the Hunley to raise money for the study and preservation of the historic vessel and the burial of the remains of its crew.

On Friday, Dec. 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the replica of the Hunley will once again be on exhibit at the Camden Archives, located 1314 Broad St. in Camden. The model was built by John Dangerfield at the Warren Lasch conservation Laboratory, where the Hunley is being studied and preserved. The model is sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans H.L. Hunley Camp No. 143 from Summerville. Costumed guides will explain how the submarine worked and tell about the men who perished with her. The Hunley Camp will also set up a Civil War encampment on the Archives’ grounds. The Hunley event is free and open to the public.

 

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