On the 17th of February, 1864, the CSS Hunley struck the USS Housatonic. Using a spar torpedo, the little Confederate craft successfully sunk the Union warship of Charleston’s blockading flotilla.
The Hunley would become the first submarine to sink a ship in the history of the world. The eight men who crewed her paid the ultimate price for this honour, however, as the craft sank under unknown circumstances.
The USS Housatonic was a steam-powered screw sloop of 11 guns and 160 men. It was launched only three years prior in 1861. In the ensuing destruction of the ship, 5 men perished, including two officers.
The CSS Hunley was constructed in Mobile, Alabama. Her commanding officer at the time of the attack on the USS Housatonic was Lt George E Dixon of Mobile. He was a former member of the 21st Alabama Inf Reg which saw service at Shiloh. There, a gold piece he carried for good luck famously saved his life by deflecting a minie ball. The coin was recovered in 2002 after the wreck was raised. Inscribed upon it were the words, “Shiloh April 6, 1862 My life Preserver G. E. D.”
Read More about the history of the legend HERE.
Read More about the particular crewmen and restoration activities HERE