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The Hunley - Civil War Submarine

Updated on March 1, 2018

Photo of The Hunley

Photo Credit: Used with permission from Friends of the HunleyCopyright (c) 2012 Friends of the Hunley.All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Used with permission from Friends of the HunleyCopyright (c) 2012 Friends of the Hunley.All Rights Reserved.

World's First Successful Combat Submarine - The Hunley

The Hunley was the first successful combat submarine in the world and February 17, 2014 was the 150th anniversary of this feat.We were visiting in Charleston, South Carolina back in the 70's when I first saw a replica of The Hunley. After that, I found it hard to get the image out of head, as well as the thoughts of those brave men in that small cramped space. It is hard to believe that they actually volunteered for this mission and most were very young.After The Hunley successfully attacked an enemy warship, it sank to the bottom of the Atlantic where it stayed for 136 years until it was discovered and recovered. The amazing story of The Hunley can be found on Hunley Website, in many books, movie, documentary, and videos. I have tried to pull it all together on this page and hope you will visit the Hunley Website. The best way to read a Squidoo article is to read all the way through by scrolling down and then come back and click out to other pages that might interest you.Photo Credit: Conserving The Hunley -This image is copyrighted to Friends of the Hunley and used here with permission from Friends of the Hunley. The information for this page was gathered from reading The Hunley Website, a few of the books listed below, watching the educational videos, and reading the Friends of the Hunley Newsletter and visiting with my friend Joe Holleman. I hope you will visit the The Hunley Website and read about this fascinating submarine and the progress that is being made to unravel it's mysteries.

Horace Hunley Invents The Hunley


When H.L. Hunley invented this submarine in Mobile, Alabama, it was the hope of the South that it would help win the Civil War by saving Charleston from the Union Blockade. The Hunley arrived in Charleston, South Carolina followed by its inventor, Horace Hunley, and was later seized by the Confederate Army to use against the Yankees who were attacking the port city of Charleston. It was also referred to as a "Torpedo Boat".

After Two Failures, the Hunley is Successful


The first time out to sea, the mission failed with the sinking of The Hunley and some of the crew did not survive. It was raised and another mission attempted. The Hunley sank a second time with the whole crew drowning. Each time they studied and made improvements. A third eight man crew was assembled under the leadership of Lt. George E. Dixon and after making the needed adjustments and practice runs, it was ready for battle on February 17, 1864. On this day, The Hunley successfully rammed a torpedo into the side of the Union War Ship, the Housatonic and sank it. The Hunley surfaced long enough to send a lantern signal to Charleston and then submerged and was lost until 1995 when Clive Cussler found it on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.NOTE: A recent discovery changes history as we learn that the Hunley was only 20 feet away from the blast of the torpedo that was rammed into the side of the Housatonic. This was discovered when they found a piece of the torpedo on the spar of the Hunley. Researchers are now saying that this may end up being the most important discovery of all their findings.

Videos Tell The Story of The Hunley

National Geographic Video of The Hunley - Civil War Submarine - Hunley

The Story of The Hunley - Civil War Submarine

The Hunley Today

Hunley Was Raised in 2000

A Recovery Team was formed and after much research and studying, The Hunley was raised on August 8, 2000.- 136 years after it was lost at sea. For the past 12 years Scientist have been making many new discoveries concerning The Hunley as they continue to work to try to unravel the mystery of why it sunk. I remember watching The Hunley being raised on television and like so many other South Carolinians, I was so thrilled when it finally came to the surface.

Finally The Hunley Crew is given a Funeral


A Civil War Era Funeral was held in Charleston, South Carolina for the crew of The Hunley. I think Friends of the Hunley did a wonderful job of organizing this funeral for the Crew of the Hunley. It was an important day and such a good feeling to know that those brave men were being recognized and laid to rest after all those years of being on the bottom of the ocean.

Where is The Civil War Submarine - Hunley now? - Warren Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston, SC

A markerWarren Lasch Conservation Center -
1250 Supply Street, North Charleston, SC
get directions

Friends of the Hunley
Friends of the Hunley

Join Friends of the Hunley

I am proud to be a member of Friends of the Hunley

According to The Friends of the Hunley Website:Friends of the Hunley was created by The Hunley Commission to help with conservation of The Hunley so that the mystery of it's first attack can be solved. Friends of the Hunley Volunteers work at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center with the tours, exhibits, and services. As a member of Friends of the Hunley, you will receive a newsletter filled with important discoveries, pictures of artifacts, and an up to date report of what is being done to conserve this important piece of American History. I really enjoy receiving my newsletter and keep each one of them to refer back to. The newsletter is now available online which very nice for members. You also receive a 10% discount at The Hunley Store.The Friends of the Hunley Oyster Roast & Silent Auction is scheduled for October 26, 2012 from 7 pm to 10 pm at the Visitor Bus Shed in Downtown Charleston. Contact Information:http://www.hunley.orgTo make a donation, become a member, either do it online or mail to:Warren Lasch Conservation Center1250 Supply Street, Building 255Former Charleston Navy BaseNorth Charleston, South Carolina 29405

"It's amazing to see how the Hunley and her historic story have reached around the globe. Whether its the media attention here in the States and international to over a half of million visitors to our facility and our thousands of members across the world. The story of this sub has really resonated with people from all generations and I'm glad her place in history is being recognized."Kellen Correia, Executive Director of Friends of the Hunley

Photo: Friends of the Hunley logo:Copyright (c) 2012 Friends of the Hunley. All Rights Reserved.Used on this page with permission from Friends of the Hunley

Tour the Hunley

Photo Credit: Used with permission by Friends of the HunleyCopyright (c) 2012 Friends of the Hunley.All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Used with permission by Friends of the HunleyCopyright (c) 2012 Friends of the Hunley.All Rights Reserved.

Tours of The Hunley

Civil War Submarine - Hunley

Tours of The Hunley:You may call Friends of the Hunley directly at 843.743.4865 ext. 10 to ask about group tours.Regular Hourly Tours are on Saturdays from 10 to 5 and Sundays from 12 to 5.More detailed information about The Hunley Tours can be found on their website at:Friends of The Hunley

Photo Credit: Used with permission by Friends of the HunleyCopyright (c) 2012 Friends of the Hunley.All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit: Used with permission by Friends of the HunleyCopyright (c) 2012 Friends of the Hunley.All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Used with permission by Friends of the HunleyCopyright (c) 2012 Friends of the Hunley.All Rights Reserved. | Source

Friends of the Hunley Video - The Hunley is turned Upright for the first time

Did you know about The Hunley before reading this page? - Join the poll and let us know

If there is not an option that fits you, please answer in the Guestbook and let us know how much you know about this Civil War Submarine - Hunley.

What do you know about The Hunley

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This Page is Dedicated to Joe Holleman

Thank you, Joe, and may you Rest in Peace!

— Nancy Hellams

Quote from Joe Holleman, former Hunley Tour Guide and graduate of the Naval Academy

Joe's daughter is a neighbor of mine

I was so excited when my neighbor, Laurie Sherrod, told me that her dad had worked as a tour guide of the Hunley and asked her if she thought he would be willing to give me a quote for my page. I later had this comment from him in the guestbook. Thank you, Joe! It was so good to finally meet you and I am thrilled to have your box of Hunley Memorabilia and can't wait to go through it all. I am hoping to get a new computer and scanner soon and am patiently waiting until I get my office set up like I want it. Thank you so much! I hope to get everything in archival sleeves and will be sure to share with you when I do.

My daughter, Laurie Sherrod referred me to your web site and I find it quite good, up to date and thorough. I started as a tour guide the first day the Hunley was opened for visitors and thoroughly enjoyed all my time at Lasch Labs. I have a dresser drawer full of videotapes, movies dvds and papers relating to the Hunley, including original postal history items (I'm a stamp collector) My postal history includes envelopes which contained letters from the sailing master on the Housatonic just before it was sunk and from him after he was picked up by the Canandaigua. I also have a cover addressed to McClintock, the co-inventor, addressed to him in New Orleans before he moved to Mobile; I also have a notebook full of other related papers on the Hunley and on the Davidx, which were semi- submersible predecessors of the Hunley--Best wishes--Joe Holleman

Guest Book for The Hunley - Civil War Submarine

Thank you for visiting this page about The Hunley! - I hope you will sign my guestbook to let me know that you were here.

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    • profile image

      Laurie H Sherrod 3 years ago

      Thanks so much Nancy!!!! This is a very special topic to our family and it's wonderful to see it all laid out so nicely....

    • IanTease profile image

      IanTease 4 years ago

      Can't get over how brave the men who volunteered must have been, particularly for the third sailing knowing what had happened to those who'd gone before.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 4 years ago from New York City

      Fascinating topic, well-reported.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I really enjoyed reading about the Hunley. We learned about it in school when I was a kid, but you've given some fascinating details our books did not contain. Thanks for sharing this.

    • kislanyk profile image

      Marika 4 years ago from Cyprus

      Wow that is an interesting lens on Civil War history. Being from another country, it's very useful and fun to read about all this.

    • pigwear profile image

      pigwear 5 years ago

      Excellent Lens...love Civil War history.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 5 years ago

      I had never heard of the Hunley before. Thanks for introducing me to a great piece of our history. Beautifully presented, too!

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 5 years ago

      Up periscope... as we enjoy another visit ;)

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @Lady Lorelei: It is truly amazing to see this submarine and to imagine those brave men

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @bushaex: Thank you for your service to our country and for your visit here

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 5 years ago from Ohio

      As a former Navy officer, I especially appreciate the extensive naval history.

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 5 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Fascinating. Those had to be some very brave men to get in that thing!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      I feel as though I have stepped back into the past. What a treasure trove of memorabilia. I did not even know that submarines existed that far back.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing all this interesting information, I learned a lot. - Blessed!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Very important history facts. I know very little about "The Hunley" until I read your lens. Blessings!I'll feature your lens in my Civil War lenses.

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 5 years ago

      How many people in this world have artifacts from the 1st ever submarine successfully used in warfare?? Still an amazing story and each man on that sub must've been an amazing story!

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Fascinating page on an early submarine. Blessed :)

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 5 years ago

      It's a very interesting page of Civil War history. Congratulations on the deserved Purple Star.

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 5 years ago

      I learned something new! When I lived on Guam, a ship was in port there: a submarine tender named USS Hunley. I didn't realize there was an actual submarine with that name. Thanks!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I remember hearing about the Hunley when it was found and raised, but it was a lot of years after I left school. The story has fascinated me, I love shopwrecks, and this is an excellent lens. Congratulations on your Purple Star award.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @Joan Haines: Yes, it is a sad story but very fascinating what they were able to accomplish. Thanks for visiting and for the very special blessing.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      Such a fascinating, yet sad story. I appreciate all the good pictures and video here. "Squid Angel blessed."

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 5 years ago

      Great job on this!

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 5 years ago from Michigan

      Superb lens! Wish I had a Purple Star to give. Going back now to view the videos.

    • Rankography profile image

      Rankography 5 years ago

      Wow very interesting lens. I will say, though, that you could never have paid me enough to get inside that tiny little metal box!! Blessings.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @anonymous: Joe, I was so thrilled when Laurie told me that you had worked as a tour guide and even more thrilled that you took the time to write here. What you have to say is so interesting that I have moved it up into the page since these comments roll off as more are added. I hope you have no objections. Thanks so much! I would sure love to see your collection. Amazing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      my daughter, Laurie Sherrod referred me to your web site and I find it quite good, up to date and thorough. I started as a tour guide the first day the Hunley was opened for visitors and thoroughly enjoyed all my time at Lasch Labs. I have a dresser drawer full of videotapes, movies dvds and papers relating to the Hunley, including originasl postal history items (I'm a stamp collector) My postal history includes envelopes which contained letters from the sailing master on the Housatonic just before it was sunk and from him after he was picked up by the Canandaigua. I also have a cover addressed to McClintock, the co-inventor, addressed to him in New Orleans before he moved to Mobile; I also have a notebook full of other related papers on the Hunley and on the Davidx, which were semi- submersible predecessors of the Hunley--Best wishes--Joe Holleman

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @SteveKaye: and thank you for visiting and commenting! Much appreciated.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @Rangoon House: Actually, they weren't assigned but volunteered. Isn't that amazing.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this fascinating piece of history.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      What a fascinating, but sad story. The poor men assigned to duty aboard on the second and third trips must have felt an enormous sense of dread. Blessings.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @Dressage Husband: I remember thinking the same thing when I first saw it. I can't imagine being that cramped.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @Thankfultw: I haven't seen that movie but it sounds like one that I would enjoy. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Thankfultw profile image

      Thankfultw 5 years ago

      I don't know why but this kind of made me think of the movie "Sahara", although it was an ironclad in that movie! Great lens, love the mystique involved.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 5 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I had heard the story but never realised just how small it was before.

    • profile image

      mhiweb 5 years ago

      Very interesting historical facts...thanks

    • profile image

      Doc_Holliday 5 years ago

      I remember reading the story a few years ago and thinking that there are better ways of conducting a war. Hats off to the pioneers of technology.

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 5 years ago from Johanesburg

      Highly informative lens, i am loving the squidoo experience

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @mistersquidoo_here: I highly recommend the movie. I have always liked Donald Sutherland and he was great in this one!

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @BowWowBear: Thank you for visiting and for this nice comment. There is so much available out there to learn about The Hunley.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @coolmon2009 lm: I'm glad you dropped by for a visit. Thank you.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @chas65: Yes, indeed. The men who created The Hunley were way ahead of their time and we have learned so much from them even after over 100 years.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @LisaDH: They sure have. I just can't even imagine being cramped inside the Hunley - I'm afraid I wouldn't have been a very good crew member.

    • profile image

      mistersquidoo_here 5 years ago

      i think this is interesting, maybe i should watch the movie

    • BowWowBear profile image

      BowWowBear 5 years ago

      Great Lens! All I knew about it originally came out of various time/life series books that we had in the house or got at the library. Thanks for gathering together many resources on a great vessel and crew!

    • profile image

      coolmon2009 lm 5 years ago

      I have been interesting in the Hunley for some time, nice lens.

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      A very interesting part of Naval history.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      Wow, submarines have sure come a long way since the Hunley.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @EMangl: Let me know what I need to add and I will sure add another option. Thanks

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 5 years ago

      i knew about it already but none of your polls fit :-)

    • MrInfopreneur profile image

      MrInfopreneur 5 years ago

      Very good lens. I read about the hunley in Clive Cussler's books

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Really interesting historical lens.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @chezchazz: Wow, thank you so much for the visit, compliment and blessing!

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @anonymous: I choose to believe that the Blue Light did make the signal but that's just me.

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      Fascinating history and well presented, as I've come to expect from you. Blessed and featured on "Still Wing-ing it on Squidoo."

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      It's nice to see the latest research on the Hunley's blue light being presented. The myth of the blue lantern has confused modern researchers for thirty years, and it's past time to retire it. It was most certainly pyrotechnic blue light, and not a blue lantern, which was used by the Hunley after sinking the Housatonic.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @WildFacesGallery: Thank you so much for those kind words, for visiting and for the blessing!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 5 years ago from Iowa

      You do such amazing historical lenses. Blessed.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @sittonbull: So glad you dropped by, John! I haven't been to see the Hunley since it has been turned, have you?

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 5 years ago

      Have always had interest in all written about the "War of Northern Aggression", Cussler, and last but not least "The Tate Girls" ;) It would be beyond interesting to punch rewind... and tap into the thoughts of those men on all three launchings of The Hunley, but particularly the last one where they actually successfully completed the mission and then rose to the surface to signal... only to sink again! Great Lens ... and thanks so much for the re-blessings on my/your Learning lens ;) from you and Joan.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @BeyondRoses: Thank you. Let me know what he says. I am open to suggestions to make this page about The Hunley the best it can be.

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 5 years ago

      I'll save for my husband to read. He's a Civil War buff, so I know he knows the history of the Hunley, but he never gets enough of it. Great photos, and lovely presentation.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @JHFSEO: I would love to know which books and get your opinion of them to post here.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @Michey LM: Thank you for the feature, Michey

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @JohnWarley: Thank you, John. I can't wait to read your novel about the Civil War. When will it be published?

    • profile image

      JHFSEO 5 years ago

      The Hunley was a masterful piece of engineering, if ill-fated. As a Civil War buff and a Cussler fan, the Hunley is an interesting combining of the two. I actually have both of the books you list on my reading table. Great Lens!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Great info for me... and I like the patriotism... Nancy, great lens, pictures, video and info. I will feature your lens in my Civil War lenses.Blessings.

    • profile image

      JohnWarley 5 years ago

      Great Lens, Nancy, and the video is fascinating.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @Virginia Allain: I can't imagine anyone volunteering for that mission. Yes, it is an amazing piece of Civil War history. Thanks for dropping by

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Brave men to get inside that early submarine. I wouldn't want to be the third crew going out in it after it sank twice. Amazing piece of Civil War history.

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @anonymous: Thank you for stopping by, Jimmy. I am looking forward to your sequel

    • OhMe profile image
      Author

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      @anonymous: Yes, it certainly is fascinating

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a little written in my book, "RIDING HARD TO RICHMOND" which is a sequel to "THE CIVIL WAR STARTED FOR ME AT THE OLD HUNTER'S STORE." The sequel will be published September or October.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Hunley is fascinating indeed!

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