Naval History Feed

CSS Hunley, slowly revealing its secrets

The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is seen at conservation lab in North Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 27, 2015 photo. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, file)

Scientists may finally solve the mystery behind the sinking of Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship.

A century and a half after it sank and a decade and a half after it was raised, scientists are finally getting a look at the H.L. Hunley’s hull. Experts hope to solve the mystery of why the famed hand-cranked submarine sank during the Civil War.

"It's like unwrapping a Christmas gift after 15 years. We have been wanting to do this for many years now," said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator on the Hunley project in North Charleston, S.C.

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Wreck of Civil War ship thought to be located


Researchers think they have found the wreck of the noted Civil War vessel the Planter -- a Confederate ammunition ship commandeered in 1862 by the slave Robert Smalls who then steamed it out of Charleston and turned it over to the Union Navy.

Archeologists with the National Marne Sanctuary Program are releasing a report Tuesday outlining their research findings. They used maps and newspaper accounts to identify an area at Cape Romain where they think what remains of the Planter is buried.

They found metal items buried under about 15 feet of sand just offshore that is thought to be the Planter. There is probably not much left of the vessel which wrecked in an 1876 storm. Much of its equipment was salvaged at that time.

From The Associated Press

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USS Fanny & The Chicamacomico Races

USS Fanny

USS Fanny & The Chicamacomico Races

By: J. Stacy; Historian, Col. F.K. Hecker Camp #443 (SUVCW)

Early in the American Civil War, many things didn’t go very well for Lincoln’s Army & Navy, and this article will explain two of these incidents.

In August 1861; Federal forces took Hatteras Island off North Carolina, from the fledgling Confederate States, as they hastily abandoned their nearly finished forts.  Making Fort Hatteras the main Federal installation on the island, which was defended by volunteers from the 9th & 20th New York Infantry.  The New York regiments were reinforced by the 20th Regiment Indiana Infantry, which made their defense north of Fort Hatteras, at a position known as Camp Live Oak, at the Chicamacomico (A/K/A: Loggerhead) Inlet; after their arrival on 29 September 1861.

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Confederate submariner


This photo may be that of Joseph F. Ridgaway, who served as second in command aboard the Confederate submarine HL Hunley. It may be the only known photograph of any of the 21 men who died serving on the submarine. Purchase Image This photo may be that of Joseph F. Ridgaway, who served as second in command aboard the Confederate submarine HL Hunley. It may be the only known photograph of any of the 21 men who died serving on the submarine. / photo by Brice Stump
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.

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Remains of Monitor Sailors to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery

By Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) Public Affairs WASHINGTON (NNS)


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Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Feb. 12 that remains recovered from the USS Monitor will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery. A ceremony will be held March 8 to honor the two unknown Sailors.

The specific date of the interment was chosen to honor Monitor's role in the Battle of Hampton Roads 151 years ago. "These may very well be the last Navy personnel from the Civil War to be buried at Arlington," said Mabus. "It's important we honor these brave men and all they represent as we reflect upon the significant role Monitor and her crew had in setting the course for our modern Navy." The Brooklyn-built Monitor, the nation's first ironclad warship, made nautical history after being designed and assembled in 118 days.

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Rebel Torpedo Boat

A captured David-class torpedo boat, possibly CSS David herself, taken after the fall of Charleston in 1865. The David was designed to operate low in the water like a submarine and carry a spar torpedo that would be detonated under Union warships. She attempted to break the Union blockade of Charleston by sinking the USS New Ironsides, USS Memphis, and USS Wabash, but failed to sink any enemy warships.

Library of Congress photo by Selmar Rush Seibert


George R. Yost Joined the Crew of the U.S.S. CAIRO

George R. Yost Joined the Crew of the U.S.S. CAIRO on January 25, 1862, at the Age of Fourteen.

He was 4’ tall, had grey-blue eyes, sandy hair, and a fair complexion. On the CAIRO’s muster roll he is listed as First Class Boy. George served on the CAIRO during the entire course of her career which, unfortunately, lasted less than one year. On December 12, 1862, the U.S.S. CAIRO became the first man-o-war sunk by a torpedo.

George Yost writes that he was among the last to leave the sinking vessel, and states, “I saved my Journal and part of my clothes” Thanks to the foresight of George Yost, we have today an invaluable source of information about the career of the U.S.S. CAIRO and her crew. The Journal has survived and with it the details of day-to-day activities on board the Civil War Gunboat … told through the words of a fourteen year-old sailor.

From the Civil War Parlor

Union gunboats at Fort Henry, Tennessee

Union Gunboats at Fort Henry Tn, February 2, 1862 from John Fulton on Vimeo.

Local Tennessee historian John Walsh talks about the ironclads and timberclads deployed by the Union at the Battle of Fort Henry, February 2, 1862. The ironclads were designed and built by James B. Eads, who designed the iconic Eads Bridge that spans the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. 

Civil War Shipwreck in the Way of Ga. Port Project


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By RUSS BYNUM Associated Press
SAVANNAH, Ga. May 5, 2012 (AP)

 Before government engineers can deepen one of the nation's busiest seaports to accommodate future trade, they first need to remove a $14 million obstacle from the past — a Confederate warship rotting on the Savannah River bottom for nearly 150 years.

Confederate troops scuttled the ironclad CSS Georgia to prevent its capture by Gen. William T. Sherman when his Union troops took Savannah in December 1864. It's been on the river bottom ever since.

Now, the Civil War shipwreck sits in the way of a government agency's $653 million plan to deepen the waterway that links the nation's fourth-busiest container port to the Atlantic Ocean. The ship's remains are considered so historically significant that dredging the river is prohibited within 50 feet of the wreckage.

So the Army Corps of Engineers plans to raise and preserve what's left of the CSS Georgia. The agency's final report on the project last month estimated the cost to taxpayers at $14 million. The work could start next year on what's sure to be a painstaking effort.

And leaving the shipwreck in place is not an option: Officials say the harbor must be deepened to accommodate supersize cargo ships coming through an expanded Panama Canal in 2014 — ships that will bring valuable revenue to the state and would otherwise go to other ports.

Continue reading at the Associated Press