New torpedo find rewrites H.L. Hunley legend

Published on February 4th, 2013 | by Sevaan Franks

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In 1864 the H.L. Hunley sunk in Charleston Bay, South Carolina, after attacking the USS Housatonic. Now, a piece of the Confederate submarine’s torpedo has been found, still attached to its spar. This totally debunks the eyewitness accounts that say the Hunley was 100 feet away from the explosion.

Instead, the Hunley and its eight-man crew were less than 20 feet from the blast. And that changes everything about the story — and possibly even provides a clue as to why it sank.

“I would say this is the single-most important piece of evidence we have found from the attack,” said Maria Jacobsen, senior archaeologist on the Hunley project.

Basically, Hunley conservators found a piece of the torpedo’s copper shell, peeled back from the blast, when they removed a century of hardened sand and shell from the submarine’s 20-foot spar. The torpedo was bolted to the spar, contradicting the conventional wisdom that the torpedo was planted in the side of the Housatonic with a barb like a fishing hook, slipped off the spar and then detonated by rope trigger when the sub was a safe distance away.

[Full story]

Story: Brian Hicks, Post & Courier | Photo: Post & Courier

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