The Charleston Harbor, with a natural depth of 12 feet, is where the Confederate submarine, the H.L. Hunley, successfully attacked the USS Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864. The Hunley was the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in world history. The crew of the Hunley sank after the attack, killing all eight crewmen. The submarine became a legend after its mysterious disappearance causing adventurers around the world to seek out what became of it and its crew. The National Underwater and Marine Agency, led by Clive Cussler, a New York-Times Best Selling Author, officially located the submarine in 1995. On August 8th, 2000, a non-profit group, Friends of the Hunley, along with The Hunley Commission, responsible for raising funds to support the vessel, organized efforts with the United States Navy to raise the Hunley from the ocean’s floor.
The vessel was delivered and placed into the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, a lab located on the former naval base in North Charleston, which was specifically designed to preserve the submarine and to study the mystery surrounding its disappearance. Archaeologists discovered countless artifacts within the vessel which have provided crucial ties to life during the Civil War. Research and preservation efforts continue daily while historical clues are being pieced together, hopefully to discover the crew’s final moments.
Inside the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, the Hunley rests in a special 75,000 gallon tank filled with chilled, fresh water, which has completely stabilized the submarine. The mission of this vessel is mixed with both courage and tragedy and has captivated millions around the world who want to know more of its story and the crew involved. Scientists work tirelessly on preservation and discovery in the lab during the week, but weekend tours are available every Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM and on Sundays from Noon to 5 PM.
A special section of Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, reserved for Confederate soldiers killed during the Civil War, also holds the remains of the third and final crew of the H.L. Hunley. The remains were laid to rest on April 17, 2004, following a service at the Battery and a procession to the grave sites. The crew was comprised of Lieutenant George E. Dixon (Commander), Frank Collins, Joseph F. Ridgaway, James A. Wicks, Arnold Becker, Corporal C. F. Carlsen, C. Lumpkin, and Augustus Miller.