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Secrets of a Civil War Submarine

  • Drebbel's Submarine

    Drebbel's Submarine
    Dutch scientist Cornelis Drebbel built a submarine. It looked like a rowboat with a leather cover. Crew could row it underwater. It wasn't great, but it could stay underwater for several hours.
  • Bushnell's Submarine

    Bushnell's Submarine
    David Bushnell built a submarine he called The Turtle. It only held one person. It could maneuver underwater, but it failed to successfully attack any enemies.
  • Hunley & McClintock Begin to Work on a Sub

    Hunley & McClintock Begin to Work on a Sub
    In 1862 Horace Lawson Hunley and James McClintock started working on a submarine. Hunley owned a plantation and had money. He was ambitious to do something for the war effort. McClintock had experience with building steam engines and other machines. Together they built The Pioneer, but it was too slow. Next, they built a sub called the American Diver, but it got swamped in Mobile Bay.
  • The H.L. Hunley is tested

    The H.L. Hunley is tested
    The third attempt to build a sub was named the H.L. Hunley. The Hunley worked very well. It could dive and re-surface. It could tow a torpedo underwater and explode it on command. The Confederate leaders were very excited.
  • How Does the Hunley Work?

    How Does the Hunley Work?
    Even though the Hunley was made from heavy metal, it floated and dived very well. It was crewed by 7 men and a captain. The men sat on a bench in a compartment 4 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide. By the light of a candle, the men turned a crankshaft which turned a propeller at the back of the sub. The sub rose and dived by using the principal of buoyancy. To go down, you take on water. To go up, you pump out water. They used a snorkel-like tube with a bellows attached to add fresh air as needed.
  • Crew Replaced!

    Crew Replaced!
    Hunley & McClintock towed the Hunley to Charleston in preparation for a mission. But they wanted to spend time letting the crew get used to Charleston Harbor. The Confederate Leadership grew impatient with the delay and so they replaced the crew with all-new men.
  • Disaster!

    While loading the crew for the first mission, the new captain accidentally hit the "fin lever" which made the sub begin to sink. 2 crew members and the captain escaped immediately. Another was caught in the hatch as they sank. He finally pulled free when they reached the bottom and he could lift the hatch. 5 crewmen inside could not escape in time and they drowned.