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Hunley Update 12/13/03 - N. Charleston in the lead for Hunley

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Postby TMSmalley » Mon Dec 15, 2003 2:47 pm

Graphic by Daniel Dowdy

N. Charleston leads charge for Hunley

City favorite for museum, McConnell says

Copyright 12/13/03 The Charelston Post and Courier
North Charleston has emerged as the favorite to win the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley museum, and a decision could come within the next 60 days.

State Sen. Glenn McConnell said Friday that North Charleston's huge lead in its commitment of cash and expertise is a decided edge, adding he would be "hard-pressed" to tell the state Legislature in January the Hunley Commission was turning down a funding offer that may run as high as $12 million-$13 million.

"I don't see how we can go back to the General Assembly and justify anything but North Charleston," said McConnell, R-Charleston.

The comments are a switch from McConnell's earlier statements that Patriot's Point in Mount Pleasant may be the best site, given the fact it is already a state-run maritime museum and established tourist destination.

But changes in financial commitments and in site offerings from Mount Pleasant and Charleston have nearly taken them both out of contention, he said.

After Mount Pleasant pulled back on its earlier offer of accommodations-tax money, the Mount Pleasant/Patriot's Point bid consists of land at the museum site plus $1 million in Patriot's Point money, said Chris Sullivan of the Hunley Commission.

The city of Charleston's offer, meanwhile, moves the sub from the city's waterfront to a proposed Hunley wing at the current Charleston Museum.

McConnell said neither plan is acceptable.

"With no waterfront property downtown, (Charleston) is out," McConnell said. "I couldn't vote for that." In connection to North Charleston's package he said, "I couldn't see leaving $12 million on the table to go to Mount Pleasant."

"Based on what I know at this point, I'd have to say North Charleston is definitely in the lead," he added.

Ray Anderson, special assistant to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, said the Hunley would be better off going to North Charleston because the administration has shown a dedicated commitment to the displaying the sub, even a willingness to increase its bid by $2 million from the sale of land at the old Navy shipyard.

"We think it is the best," he said.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said the city's offering was still the best for the Hunley both historically and in terms of attracting tourists and foot traffic. More people "by far" would see it downtown than they would in another site, Riley said Friday, adding he has pledged to accept the fund-raising role for the sub.

Mount Pleasant officials could not be reached late Friday.

According to the Hunley Commission's selection timetable, the subcommittee studying the three bid packages hopes to make its recommendation by the end of this month, Sullivan said, and the full Hunley Commission would then make a decision in January.

"All the commission members I've talked to are anxious to make a decision and get this thing moving," Sullivan said.

The search over which city will win the Hunley has gone on for several years but has faced numerous delays as commission members have altered deadlines and sought additional information and expertise from the cities and officials involved with the project. McConnell has said he envisions a museum costing about $40 million that would tell the Hunley story, plus other aspects of the Civil War at sea.

For now, the Hunley is undergoing restoration in its conservation lab in North Charleston.
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Postby Ron » Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:00 pm


As our resident expert on the Hunley, what is your take on who found the sub. Was it Cliver Cussler as credited or Mark Newel. In surfing the web I found some interesting commentary on both.

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Postby mike byers » Thu Jan 08, 2004 10:36 am

Artist Paints Vivid, Realistic Picture of Hunley's "Final Mission"
By Linda Wheeler
Thursday, January 8, 2004

The water was calm on the cold night of Feb. 17, 1864, when eight
Crewmembers slid inside the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley. They
were outfitted with canteens, candles, a lantern and an explosive
charge. The sub, after torpedoing and sinking a Union ship, never
returned to dock.

Although the event was reported at the time, little was known about
the sub until it was discovered in 1995 at the bottom of Charleston
Harbor, in South Carolina, and pulled from the water in 2000. Inside
were the crewmembers, still seated at their posts, preserved by
thick mud.
What followed were stories about the methods used to stabilize the
iron hull, the careful removal of bones and bits of clothing, the
science of it all. What was missing was a sense of the sub, an
experimental vessel at best, and the men who willingly encased
themselves in it.
Civil War artist Mort Kunstler has changed that. Using the boat and
forensic models of the men's faces-as well as an inspection of
the lantern, canteens and other artifacts found in the sub-he has
painted a realistic scene of the beginning of the last voyage.
There is the odd, cylindrical gray vessel with its two hatchways,
tied to the dock. One man already inside holds a candle to guide the
others. Lt. George Dixon, the commander, checks the time on his
pocket watch by the light of a lantern. Around him, soldiers and
sailors gather their equipment.
Kunstler, the official artist of the Hunley, has rewound the film to
the last moments on the dock. "This was all very exciting", he said.
"I tell stories with pictures, and I get to tell this one for the
first time [and] authentically"
South Carolina state Sen. Glenn McConnell, chairman of the Hunley
Commission, said the image is so powerful, "you can feel the cold,
feel the color. You can identify with those men"
The painting will be unveiled Feb. 17 at the Warren Lasch
Conservation Center, where the Hunley is being restored. On that
date, 950 prints of "Final Mission" will go on sale for $200 each
and another 950 with the Hunley Commission seal will sell for $250,
according to the commission. Information about the prints can be
found at
Money raised by the sales will help finance a burial ceremony for
the crew March 17, McConnell said.
Kunstler said he saw the sub on a routine visit to Charleston in
March. At the time he had no intention of becoming involved with the
restoration project because he had plenty of work scheduled. But, as
McConnell likes to say, he got "Hunley-ized".
"I became lost in the romance, intrigue and adventure of the entire
story, and when Senator McConnell asked me if I would be interested
in being the official artist for the H.L. Hunley, I jumped at the
chance", Kunstler said.
On that trip, McConnell showed Kunstler where the Hunley was
launched, at Battery Marshall on Sullivan's Island.
Even as the concrete-hard mud was being scraped from the sub,
Kunstler said, every bit of new information was given to him. He
knew the measurements, the interior space and how the men were
positioned. He had seen the watch Dixon carried that night and an
X-ray of the lantern. He found a similar lantern in a shop and used
it for reference.
It was Dixon who most interested Kunstler. "He was a lady's man and
might not have worn military garb," he said. "He was sort of flamboyant,
so I drew him with a scarf tossed around his neck and a
very nice vest.
I took the basic facts and made it into something".

Artist Paints Vivid, Realistic Picture of Hunley's "Final Mission"
Among the artifacts found in the sub was a bent, $20 gold piece that
Dixon's girlfriend, Queenie Bennett, had given him as a special gift
when he left Mobile, Ala., for the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. During
that battle, a bullet struck the coin, bounced off and saved Dixon's
life. Afterward, he carried the bent coin as a good-luck charm.

Even with all the assistance Kunstler received from the commission,
he said, he had to do extensive research on his own.
"The problems were almost insurmountable", he said. "I had to know
if the tide was going out, the correct phase of the moon, gangplank
arrangements, how it was tied, what bumpers they used. None of that
was known".
He finished the 32-by-48-inch painting on the afternoon of Dec. 29.
"The painting is always the fun part", he said.
Linda Wheeler can be reached at 703-443-6846 and
De Profundus

Mike Byers
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Postby TMSmalley » Thu Jan 08, 2004 10:58 am


My bureaucratic PC statement is "They all played a valuable part in keeping the search going and the dream alive of one day bringing her home."

As you mentioned, Newell, Lee Spence, and Cussler have all made claims and we have gotten into some rather "heated" debates on the Yahoo Hunley group Click to go to the Yahoo Hunley group :angry: :D

My personal opinion is that even if Spence and / or Newell found it before Cussler's group - they lost it again or at best couldn't get their acts together enough to stake a verifiable claim with precise lat/lon coordinates, etc. The whole thing has taken the characteristics of a lone gunman conspiracy therory now and we probably will never know for sure.

That being said, I'm glad in a way that Spence didn't have a buoy and a camera with him 35 years ago when he says he found it. That would have meant the sub would have been either looted by unscrupulous treasure seekers, or hauled to the surface years before the technology was available to properly preserve and document her for future generations.

Please no heated messages or emails to me arguing one way or the other - as the old saw goes, "Opinions are like [fill in the blank], everyone has one" and that's just mine. :p

Edited By TMSmalley on 1073574855
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Postby Ron » Thu Jan 08, 2004 1:34 pm


Thanks for your insite and updates. I find the history and evolution of sub design fascinating. I am particulary interested in the Hunley and the last posts reqarding the potential exploration and recovery of the USS Alligator. I look
forward to seeing the artists depication of that last day.

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