On a moonlight night 150 years ago this month in the Civil War, the hand-cranked Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sailed from its moorings on the South Carolina coast and into the history books. It was to become the first submarine ever to sink an enemy warship. On Feb. 17, 1864, the Hunley sank the Union ship Housatonic as the Confederates desperately tried to break the Civil War blockade then strangling Charleston.
While the Housatonic sank, so did the Hunley. The combat saw the submarine crew set off a black powder charge at the end of a 200-pound spar, sinking the ship before the sub itself went down. The remains of the eight-member Hunley crew would be recovered more than a century later.
In April of 2004, thousands of men in Confederate gray and Union blue — as well as women in black hoop skirts and veils — walked in a procession with the crew's coffins from Charleston's waterfront to a cemetery in what was called the last Confederate funeral.