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    The Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley: A Historic Naval Feat

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    On February 17, 1864, a significant milestone in naval warfare was reached when the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley launched an attack and sank the USS Housatonic.

    Despite this historic feat, the Hunley’s mission ended in mystery as the vessel disappeared post-attack.

    Its fate unknown for over a century until its discovery in 1995 and subsequent raising in 2000.

    The Hunley’s tale is not only one of a single momentous event but a series of trials and tragedies.

    The submarine, less than 40 feet long and operated by a crew of nine who manually cranked a single screw for propulsion, was fraught with peril from its inception.

    Before its historic mission, the Hunley sank twice in Charleston Harbor, first on August 29, 1863.

    Despite the setbacks, the Hunley represented a significant technological advancement during the Civil War era.

    Designed and built in Mobile, Alabama, and named after its chief financier, Horace L. Hunley.

    The submarine was a testament to the innovative spirit of the time, a desperate measure by the Confederacy to breach the Union’s naval blockade.

    The loss of the Hunley and its eight-man crew shortly after its attack on the Housatonic was a long-standing enigma.

    When preservationists located the submarine lying in just 30 feet of water 4 miles offshore, it opened the door to understanding its final moments.

    Raising the vessel intact became a monumental event, allowing researchers at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston to study and preserve this piece of history.

    The recovery unveiled a scene that prompted more questions than answers.

    The crew was found still at their stations with no apparent attempt to escape, contradicting theories that they died due to suffocation or drowning, and the submarine showed no major damage.

    This led to new speculation, including a theory from Duke University researchers in 2017 suggesting the shock wave from the Hunley’s own torpedo may have caused “blast lung,” killing or incapacitating the crew instantaneously.

    Relevant articles:
    August, 1863: The H.L. Hunley sinks for the first time in Charleston Harbor, schistory.org
    H.L. Hunley | History, Recovery, & Facts, Britannica
    What Sunk the Confederate Submarine the Hunley?, History.com

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