American Civil War

Photo of the Day

R.G. Skerrett's drawing of H. L. Hunley.

R.G. Skerrett’s drawing of H. L. Hunley.

?Submarine Innovator

?The Amazing (If True) Story of the Submarine Mechanic Who Blew Himself Up Then Surfaced as a Secret Agent for Queen Victoria.

The leading mechanic of the famed H.L. Hunley led quite the life, if we can believe any of it.

During the American Civil War, Confederate inventor Horace Lawson Hunley converted a steam boiler into a submarine.?This Confederate submarine could be propelled at four knots by a hand-driven screw. Unfortunately, the submarine sank twice during trials in Charleston, South Carolina. These accidental sinkings in Charleston harbour cost the lives of two crews. In the second accident the submarine was stranded on the bottom and Horace Lawson Hunley himself was asphyxiated with eight other crew members.

At 8:45 on the evening of February 17, 1864, Officer of the Deck John Crosby?glanced over the side of the Federal sloop-of-war?Housatonic?and across the glassy waters of a calm Atlantic. His ship was blockading the rebel port of Charleston from an anchorage five miles off the coast, and there was always the risk of a surprise attack by some Confederate small craft. But what Crosby saw that night, by the dim light of a wintry moon, was so strange that he couldn?t be certain what it was. ?Something on the water,” he recalled to a court of inquiry a week later, “which at first looked to me like a porpoise, coming to the surface to blow.?

Crosby alerted the?Housatonic?s quartermaster, but the object had already disappeared?and when he saw it again, a moment later, it was too close to the sloop for any hope of escape. As the?Housatonic?s crew scrambled to their battle stations, there was a huge explosion on the starboard side. Their ship sank in minutes, taking five crewmen with her.

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Photo Of The Day

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman is perhaps the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad’s “conductors.” During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she “never lost a single passenger.”

Tubman was born a slave in Maryland’s Dorchester County around 1820. At age five or six, she began to work as a house servant. Seven years later she was sent to work in the fields. While she was still in her early teens, she suffered an injury that would follow her for the rest of her life.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, Meade in Virginia, August-November 1863.

Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington.
Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, Meade in Virginia, August-November 1863.

Communication during the American Civil War

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