CSS H.L. Hunley Underway

Artist: PAUL NISBET
Original painting is watercolor measuring approx 11" x 14" on paper - prints available
Subject: CSS H L Hunley - the first sub to ever sink a ship in battle

The story behind the painting...


The CSS H.L. Hunley is a historic sub that was a brand new development and technological breakthrough.  Prior to the Hunley, two Confederate submarines had been tested but both failed.

On the cold morning of February 17, 1864, the Hunley and its crew of nine were launched just off the coast of Charleston, SC.  The crew rotated bars that propelled the sub as the captain steered.  The subís mission was to destroy the Union's largest naval ship, the Housatonic. 

 

The sub was armed with a spar torpedo packed with explosive powder and attached to a long pole on its bow.  The 135-pound torpedo was designed to be rammed into and embedded in  the side of a wooden warship.  As the Hunley pulled away, a 150-foot detonation rope attached to the torpedo spooled out.  A few seconds after ramming the Housatonic, the torpedo detonated and there was a massive explosion.  With this, the Hunley became the first sub to ever sink a ship in battle.

 

Soldiers watching from the shores of Sullivanís Island cheered as the warship slipped under.  The men surveyed the horizon for a signal of blue light from the submarine which meant the mission was successfully completed.  And, after a few minutes, in the distance the blue light was sighted. Unfortunately, the crew either lost their bearing or ran into trouble and was never seen again.  

 

In 1995, the wreck of the Hunley, with the remains of her crew still inside, was found off the coast of Charleston in just 30 feet of water.  


 

 

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