Historic Markers Across South Carolina

H.L. Hunley

Marker ID:  
Location: At Fort Sumter, Ft Sumter NP, Charleston, SC
County: Charleston
Coordinates: N 32° 45.132    W 079° 52.446
  32.7522    -79.8741


. L. Hunley on shore, 1863. She was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship.
On the night of February 17, 1864, the H.L. Hunley set out from Sullivan's Island, directly in front of you, with a torpedo attached to a seventeen-foot spar on her bow. Her target was the U.S.S. Housatonic, anchored four miles offshore. A Union lookout spied the suspicious object moving toward the ship and sounded an alarm. Engines started, but before the ship could move away an explosion ripped through the Housatonic's wooden hull and she quickly sank.

The H.L. Hunley disappeared after sinking the Housatonic. After searching for 131 years, in May 1995 the submarine was finally found 1,000 feet seaward of the Housatonic. The H.L. Hunley returned home on August 8, 2000, when she was recovered from her watery grave.

Built from an iron steam boiler, the H.L. Hunley was 40 feet long with a crew of 9 men. The submarine's sleek design helped her glide through the water up to 4 knots. The air supply was limited. Once the candle went out after 30 minutes the crew quickly returned to the surface for fresh air.

Two earlier accidents and the final sinking resulted in the death of 22 men who volunteered on this experimental "peripatetic coffin."


More information:
Friends of the Hunley
Wikipedia - H. L. Hunley (submarine)
Wikipedia - South Carolina in the American Civil War
Wikipedia - Fort Sumter
Wikipedia - Fort Moultrie
Wikipedia - Charleston, South Carolina in the American Civil War