The H. L.
The Confederate Submarine that Sank the First Warship
The American Civil War is considered the "First Modern War". It was a time when inventors and engineers came forth with new innovations to improve
machinery to make war. People in the medical field came forth with
improved methods and procedures to care for the wounded. Deadly
improvements in firearms, cannon and naval ships were introduced and used for
the first time. We saw the first battle between steam powered ironclads
which immediately sounded the demise of the wooden warship. It was the
first war where the significant use of the air ship (the balloon) carrying a
human was used. The telegraph (a
digital device) gave near immediate cross communication between distant locales
on the status of a battle. The locomotive train carried troops and
supplies in a very rapid manner.
the new inventions was the submarine boat or "submarine" which became
practical for the first time. The Confederate,
H. L. Hunley was the first submarine to purposefully sink an enemy warship during war.
This occurred February 17th, 1864 when the torpedo from the Hunley struck the
starboard aft of the U.S.S. Housatonic and exploded sinking the warship in about
5 minutes. The location of this event was just outside of Charleston
Harbor, South Carolina. The crew from the Hunley, however were never seen again until
the submarine was found, pulled from its resting place and an excavation of the
interior was performed. The story of the Hunley is a story of
failures, success and death which became an infamous legend.
There were attempts by
others to build a successful submarine including the Union's "Alligator", which
actually preceded the Hunley. There were even submarine boats dating back to the Revolutionary War and before, of which was the "Turtle" that
made an attack on a warship on September 7th, 1776, but it did not sink the
As with the U.S.S Monitor, my interest in the Hunley is from an engineering
perspective such that I designed a model using a CAD program that could be made
of card stock. I researched it the best that I could and also put together
a presentation about the H. L. Hunley that I presented in 2016 and 2020. I
have been to Charleston, South Carolina to see the Hunley twice, the first time
was in 2004 while attending the funeral of the last crew of the Hunley and again
another visit in 2016.
Below are photos of the model that I built in 2016. It is fairly accurate
based on the information at that time, but I have found a few errors since then
in the location of the seams between a couple of plates and some other minor
items. It is significantly more accurate than any commercially made model
of the Hunley that I've seen.