H. L. Hunley (1863)

Hunley is recovered from the depths off Charleston, South Carolina, on 8 August, 2000. Photo by the US Navy Historical Center.

Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down

Horace Hunley built a hand powered submarine in 1863 as an independent project to break the Union blockade of the South. The submarine made a successful test attack in July, and was shipped to Charleston, South Carolina, by rail. She was taken over by the Confederate Army, and had a poor start to her career, sinking herself twice on trials, which killed thirteen crew between the two incidents. By now named after her creator, who had died during the second accident, Hunley was manned by volunteers, and after much preparation was allowed to attack the blockade in February, 1864. On the 17th, she successfully ran her spar torpedo into the side of the USS Housatonic, which quickly sank with little loss of life, making Hunley the first submarine to sink an enemy warship. Hunley also disappeared again after the sinking, and was not relocated until 1970. The wreck was confirmed in 1995, and she was raised in 2000. Extensive preservation work has been ongoing, with Hunley currently undergoing conservation so she may eventually be displayed.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: After the first two sinkings, Hunley was forbidden to submerge, for fear that she'd take more crew down with her. As a result, the attack against the Housatonic was made on the surface.