- On 05/01/2009
- In Famous Wrecks
By Bruce Smith - Boston
It could be one of the nation's oldest cold case files: What happened to eight Confederate sailors aboard the H.L. Hunley after it became the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship ?
Their hand-cranked sub rammed a spar with black powder into the Union blockade ship Housatonic off Charleston on a chilly winter night in 1864 but never returned.
Its fate has been the subject of almost 150 years of conjecture and almost a decade of scientific research since the Hunley was raised back in 2000. But the submarine has been agonizingly slow surrendering her secrets.
"She was a mystery when she was built.
She was a mystery as to how she looked and how she was constructed for many years and she is still a mystery as to why she didn't come home," said state Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston and chairman of the South Carolina Hunley Commission, which raised the sub and is charged with conserving and displaying it.