|The Machine —
The H L Hunley
The first submersible for the Confederates was a privateer vessel called
the Pioneer. Developed in New Orleans by James McClintock, Baxter Watson,
and Horace Hunley, she was scuttled in Lake Pontchartrain just days
before Federal Admiral Farragut captured the Crescent City.
McClintock, Watson, and Hunley escaped with their diagrams and headed to
Mobile, where they teamed up with Lieutenant William Alexander to
develop a second submersible. Innovations to the engine which included an
electromagnetic motor and one powered by steam were unsuccessful, and
the hand crank remained. This second vessel, which some have called the
American Diver, was lost in rough seas in Mobile Bay during a planned
attack on the Federal blockade.
|The final and third vessel, which eventually
took the name of Hunley, was enough of a
success that it was called to duty in
Charleston. The first crew was replaced by
an inexperienced Navy crew that sank it on its
first trial. Five men were lost. Recovered, the
vessel was refit and under the captaincy of
its namesake, Horace Hunley, again sank in
Recovered a final time, General Beauregard
assigned George Dixon as the Captain, who
assembled the crew for the fateful step into
history as the first submarine to sink an
enemy vessel in battle.
|Conrad Wise Chapman's famous
depiction of the drydocked
|The Crews of
the H L Hunley
|The Initial Charleston Crew -
The initial Charleston crew was actually the same crew who drowned
under Captain H L Hunley's command as the second crew. The crew was
made up of civilians from the Park and Lyons shop from Mobile, including
Thomas Park, the son of the machine shop's owner.
|The First Crew — Confederate Navy
Lieutenant John Payne was the first military Captain of the H L Hunley.
Lt. Payne captained only one mission, which ended in disaster when a
steamer's wake swamped the submersible as she was docking. Payne, his
First Officer Charles Hasker, and Charles Sprague were the only
survivors of the accident.
The lost sailors were Frank Doyle, John Kelley, Absolum Williams,
Nicholas Davis, Michael Cane and as far as the records show, an unknown
|The Second Crew - Singer Submarine Corps
Recalled following the accident, Lieutenant George Dixon was the
official military lead for the second crew. The second crew was
essentially the crew that came with the vessel from Mobile with one
exception — James McClintock, one of the developing engineers did not
return. Horace Hunley captained the vessel to a watery demise during a
training run underneath the Indian Chief when Dixon was called off for a
The lost men, alledged to have become the Singer Submarine Corps, were
Captain Horace L. Hunley, Thomas Park, Robert Brockbank, Joseph
Patterson, Henry Beard, John Marshall, Charles McHugh, and Charles
Sprague, who had survived the first swamping.
|The Final Crew - Lost in Battle, 17 February 1864
Lieutenant George Dixon -
Born in Ohio, Dixon joined the Confederate Army as a member of the 21st
Alabama. Wounded at Shiloh, he joined other engineers in Mobile to
construct the third submersible, the vessel that would become the HL
First Officer Joseph Ridgaway
An Eastern Shore Maryland native, Ridgaway had been on the water most
of his life. His father sailed merchant ships on the Chesapeake with Joseph
James A Wicks
Born in New Bern, North Carolina, Wicks was in the US Navy at the outbreak
of the war, and assigned to the USS Congress when it was destroyed by the
ironclad Virginia. His repatriation to the South is as mythical as is
portrayed in the book.
The Fredericksburg native grew up as a cobbler’s apprentice before the
war. He had a reputation as a brawler, but also as a skilled seaman,
Becker’s name appears on rosters for Mississippi gunboats before his
fateful assignment to the Hunley, but the forensic evidence indicates
that he had grown up in Europe and was new to the States.
Danish or Belgian, grew up in Europe but the first trace of him in the
States was as a sailor on the Jefferson Davis, a privateer schooner.
Following this assignment, he was decorated many times for valor in
ground battles for the German Battery stationed in Charleston. He was
the only one of the crew who could have found the medallion of Ezra
Chamberlin, a Federal soldier who died on Morris Island.
Lumpkin and Miller
Mystery continues to surround these crewmen to the present day. Both
are European, but the facts of how they became sailors for the Hunley is
|The HUNLEY - TODAY
The HL Hunley has been recovered and is being preserved at the Warren
Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston. The men of the final voyage
have been recovered and provided their proper burial in Charleston as
the valiant pioneers of the American submarine Navy.
The Friends of the Hunley have been working diligently to preserve this
amazing part of American history. With the guidance of Senator Glenn
McConnell and the Hunley Commission, the Friends of the Hunley have been
solving the mysteries of this amazing piece of technology, and continue
to uncover others.
More information about the Hunley can be obtained from the references
at the conclusion of Convergence of Valor, and as well, from the Friends
of the Hunley at www.hunley.org.
|The Friends of the Hunley
is registered as a 501 (c)(3),
to raise the funding
needed for the
conservation of the
Hunley. The author is a
member and encourages
donations and membership
with the Friends of the