Written by Brice Stump
SALISBURY — After 150 years, Joseph Ridgaway, one of the eight crewmen aboard the Confederate submarine HL Hunley, who went down with the sub soon after sinking a Union war ship in 1864, may have a photograph to go with his name and remains.
A copy of a 2½-by-3½-inch tintype photograph, believed to date to about 1860, is in the process of being examined by members of the Friends of the Hunley in Charleston, S.C., where the submarine, raised in 2000 off the coast of Charleston, is being conserved.
Kept for almost 25 years in small cardboard box, owner Mark Jeffrey of New Bedford, Mass., said he didn’t know the names of the four men in the tintype, but believed they were his ancestors. The photograph came down through the family to him from Mary Elizabeth Ridgaway, the crewman’s sister. Jeffrey is the great-great-nephew of Joseph Ridgaway.
Years later, that photo ended up in my hands.
It may be the image of Joesph F. Ridgaway, second in command on the submarine that sank the USS Housatonic, marking the first successful sinking of a ship by a submarine in maritime history. If it is determined that there is a high probability the photo shows a seated Ridgaway, taken just before the outbreak of the Civil War, it would be the only known image of any of the three crewmen who served on the vessel.
Of those three crews of 25 men, 21 drowned, including Horace Lawson Hunley, who invented the submarine. There is a period photograph existing of Hunley, but he was not a regular crew member.
Sharon A. Long, noted forensic artist working at the State Historic Preservation Office at the University of Wyoming, did the facial reconstruction of Ridgaway and the seven other crewmen for the Friends of the Hunley by 2004. Long, on comparing the photograph to her reconstruction, told me “ ... there is an absolutely astonishing likeness of these two images.”
Long said, “I think this reconstruction has at least a 90 percent chance of being close to the same likeness as the possible image of Joseph Ridgaway from the Hunley submarine crew.”
Read the full article at: Delmarvanow.com