Did you catch the news over the weekend about the Confederate sub Hunley?
Over the years I’ve been following the mystery of what happened to the H.L. Hunley, which was found in 1995. It’s not as compelling a mystery as, for example, what happened to Amelia Earhart. (I’ve been following those efforts too, with a clip file.) But it’s still fascinating.
There was a made-for-TV movie about the Hunley, the first sub in history to sink an enemy ship. You had to feel sick about what happened to the eight crew members. Historians thought they ran out of air before they could back to shore at Charleston, S.C., and that’s how they died. Slow and agonizing.
Now there are new clues that show the crew might not have suffered so much that day in 1864, according to an Associated Press story.
The Hunley had a 16-foot spar for delivering its torpedo to the Union blockade ship, the Housatonic. Scientists have found remnants of the torpedo’s casing on the spar, indicating the torpedo exploded while still attached. The sub, then, was too close to its target. The concussion from the explosion might have knocked the crew unconscious. It might have caused water to rush in.
Some or all of the eight men, who were found at their seats when the sub was brought up, might have died without ever coming to.
Scientists expect more answers. They’ll be removing encrustations from the outer hull and doing a computer simulation that might reveal how the explosion affected the Hunley. So this is one nagging mystery that has a fair shot at being solved.
Now if only we could get a break on Amelia.