Wednesday, February 17, 2010


On this date in 1864, the "H.L. Hunley" (named after its late designer) becomes the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic (named for a river in my home state).

H. L. Hunley was a submarine of the Confederate States of America that played a small part in the American Civil War, but a large role in naval warfare. The Confederate States Ship (CSS) Hunley demonstrated both the advantages and the dangers of undersea warfare. The CSS Hunley was the first submarine to sink an enemy warship, although the vessel was also lost following the successful attack. The Confederates lost 21 crewmen in three sinkings during the CSS Hunley's career. The submarine was renamed after the death of her inventor, Horace Lawson Hunley, and some time after she had been taken into the Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina.

H. L. Hunley, almost 40 feet (12 meters) long, was built at Mobile, Alabama, launched in July 1863, and shipped by rail to Charleston, South Carolina on August 12, 1863. On February 17, 1864, Hunley attacked and sank the 1240-short ton screw sloop USS Housatonic in Charleston harbor, but soon after, Hunley also apparently sank, drowning all eight crewmen. Over 136 years later, on August 8, 2000, the wreck was recovered, and on April 17, 2004, the DNA-identified remains of the eight Hunley crewmen were interred in Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery with full military honors.

"The Hunley"

The 1999 TV movie "The Hunley" tells the story of the H. L. Hunley's final mission while on station in Charleston, SC. It stars Armand Assante as Lt. Dixon and Donald Sutherland as General Beauregard, Dixon's direct superior on Hunley project.

Another surprise occurred in 2002, when a researcher examining the area close to Lieutenant Dixon found a misshapen $20 gold piece, minted in 1860, with the inscription "Shiloh April 6, 1862 My life Preserver G. E. D." and a forensic anthropologist found a healed injury to Lt. Dixon's hip bone. The findings matched a legend, passed down in the family, that Dixon's sweetheart, Queenie Bennett, had given him the coin to protect him. Dixon had the coin with him at the Battle of Shiloh, where he was wounded in the thigh on April 6, 1862. The bullet struck the coin in his pocket, saving his leg and possibly his life. He had the gold coin engraved and carried it as a lucky charm.

You can see the coin at the end of the movie, which concludes with an ending to be found only in Toobworld, or in the "Cineverse" (coined by Craig Shaw Gardner).......

The crew was composed of Lieutenant George E. Dixon (Commander), Frank Collins, Joseph F. Ridgaway, James A. Wicks, Arnold Becker, Corporal J. F. Carlsen, C. Lumpkin, and Miller, whose first name is still uncertain.
Armand Assante ... Lt. George Dixon

Chris Bauer ... Simkins

Michael Dolan ... Becker

Sebastian Roché ... Collins

Michael Stuhlbarg ... Wicks

Jeff Mandon ... Miller

Jack Baun ... Ridgeway

Kevin Robertson ... Carlson

The name of "Lumpkin" doesn't appear in the IMDb credits, so I have to assume that it was changed to Simkins - based on the position of Chris Bauer's name so high in the list.

Apart from the commander of the submarine, Lieutenant George E. Dixon, the identities of the volunteer crewmen of the Hunley had long remained a mystery. Douglas Owsley, a physical anthropologist working for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, examined the remains and determined that four of the men were American born, while the four others were European born, based on the chemical signatures left on the men's teeth and bones by the predominant components of their diet. Four of the men had eaten plenty of maize, an American diet, while the remainder ate mostly wheat and rye, a mainly European one. By examining Civil War records and conducting DNA testing with possible relatives, forensic genealogist Linda Abrams was able to identify the remains of Dixon and the three other Americans: Frank Collins, Joseph Ridgaway, and James A. Wicks. Identifying the European crewmen has been more problematic, but was apparently solved in late 2004. The position of the remains indicated that the men died at their stations and were not trying to escape from the sinking submarine.

All details courtesy of Wikipedia.....


Originally, this post contained two scenes from that TV movie which I had found on YouTube. I think they had been there for months. So I come along and embed them in this post and suddently they've been yanked off YouTube.

Something like that can make a guy more paranoid than he already is.......

1 comment:

MONIKA said...

My salute to H. L. Hunley. I watched a documentary over the topic few days ago in my Dish Network . I love serious movie so i loved it also.