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“Take her down!” Commander Howard Walter Gilmore, desperately wounded and unable to climb back into his submarine, USS Growler (SS-215), in the face of an approaching Japanese gunboat on the 7th of February 1943

Writing fifty years after the loss of the CSS Hunley H. G. Wells observed, “I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” And that was after Monturiol had much improved the submarine. Casualty rates would remain high through the second world war with as many as 15% lost compared to   the Marine Corps 20% [that number includes wounded as well as fatalities] and they used to say you have to go out – you don’t have to come back [the German U-boats suffered 70% casualties]. But go out they did all the way from the designer and builder of the Hunley, two early casualties, through men like Gilmore. And they still do, brave men all!

USS Housatonic (1862-1864) Wash drawing by R.G. Skerrett, 1902. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Raising the Hunley : the  remarkable history and recovery of the lost  Confederate submarine New York : Ballantine Books,  2002 Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf Charleston  (S.C.) History Civil War, 1861-1865 Naval  operations Submarine, Excavations (Archaeology)  South Carolina Charleston Harbor Hardcover. 1st.  ed., later printing. xvi, 301 p. : ill. (some  col.), maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical  references (p. 283-287) and index. Clean, tight and  strong binding with clean dust jacket. No  highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG   

Park and Lyons machine shop building, Mobile, Alabama where the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was constructed in 1863. Located at the corner of Water and State Streets… U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph

The history of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley is as astonishing as its disappearance. On February 17, 1864, after a legendary encounter with a Union battleship, the iron “fish boat” vanished without a trace somewhere off the coast of South Carolina. For more than a century the fate of the Hunley remained one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Civil War. Then, on August 8, 2000, with thousands of spectators crowding Charleston Harbor, the Hunley was raised from the bottom of the sea and towed ashore. Now, award-winning journalists Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf offer new insights into the Hunley’s final hours and recount the amazing true story of its rescue.

Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley (1863-1864)Sepia wash drawing by R.G. Skerrett, 1902, after a painting then held by the Confederate Memorial Literary Society Museum, Richmond, Virginia. Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

The brainchild of wealthy New Orleans planter and lawyer Horace Lawson Hunley, the Hunley inspired tremendous hopes of breaking the Union’s naval blockade of Charleston, only to drown two crews on disastrous test runs. But on the night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley finally made good on its promise. Under the command of the heroic Lieutenant George E. Dixon, the sub rammed a spar torpedo into the Union sloop Housatonic and sank the ship within minutes, accomplishing a feat of stealth technology that would not be repeated for half a century.

And then, shortly after its stunning success, the Hunley vanished.

Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley (1863-1864) Inboard profile and plan drawings, after sketches by W.A. Alexander, who directed her construction.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

This book is an extraordinary true story peopled with a fascinating cast of characters, including Horace Hunley himself, the Union officers and crew who went down with the Housatonic, P. T. Barnum, who offered $100,000 for its recovery, and the novelist who spearheaded the mission that finally succeeded in finding the Hunley. The drama of salvaging the sub is only the prelude to a page-turning account of how scientists unsealed this archaeological treasure chest and discovered the inner-workings of a submarine more technologically advanced than anyone expected, as well as numerous, priceless artifacts.

Confederate Submarine H.L. Hunley Suspended from its supporting truss, just after it was raised from the sea bottom off Charleston, South Carolina, on the morning of the 8th of August 2000. It is to be placed on the barge at left and taken to the conservation facility in North Charleston. Photographed by Barbara Voulgaris, Naval Historical Center. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Hicks and Kropf have crafted a spellbinding adventure story that spans over a century of American history. Dramatically told, filled with historical details and contemporary color, illustrated with breathtaking original photographs, Raising the Hunley is one of the most fascinating Civil War books to appear in years.


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