144 years ago today – the Hunley submarine sank in Charleston harbor

[The following text is courtesy of Friends of the Hunley]

February 17th is a red-letter day for Friends of the Hunley. Exactly 144 years ago today, maritime history changed forever.


Eight men boarded an experimental vessel and accomplished something the world had never seen: the Hunley became the first combat submarine to sink an enemy ship — a feat that would not be repeated until World War I, a half a century later.

The submarine’s historic achievement may not have been possible without the determination and faith of Lt. George Dixon, a young charismatic officer who had a vision for the Hunley. During earlier trial runs, the Hunley had fatally sunk twice, and the Confederate government took it out of commission, concluding the experiment was more dangerous to them than to the enemy.

Conserved Silver Suspender

Dixon refused to give up. He believed the submarine could be an effective weapon and convinced the Confederate command to give the Hunley another chance, with him at the helm. Then, on February 17th, 1864, Dixon and his volunteer crew navigated the Hunley onto the pages of world history.

On this special day, we offer an exclusive member update, with photographs of one of the Hunley project’s most recently conserved artifacts. The silver suspender clasp (pictured on the right before and after preservation) was found with Dixon’s remains. Scientists discovered the clasp — like Dixon’s life-saving gold coin — was engraved with his initials: G. E. D.

Thanks to you, the Hunley’s amazing story of courage, innovation and technological achievement is being preserved and will be told for generations to come. On this important anniversary, we want to thank you once again for joining us on this historic journey.



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