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Hunley Crew Burial - Events to honor Hunley crew, lead up to

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Postby TMSmalley » Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:23 am

"The Final Mission" by Mort Kunstler uses historical and forensic information to recreate the scene before the Hunley's last voyage.

Events to honor Hunley crew, lead up to April funeral
Copyright 2/17/04 The Post and Courier Staff

In two months, the final crew of the H.L. Hunley will be laid to rest at Magnolia Cemetery in what some people are billing as "the last Confederate funeral."

Today, the 140th anniversary of the Hunley's last mission, is the unofficial kickoff to a series of events honoring the crew of the world's first attack submarine.

Re-enactors will mark the sub's departure from Breach Inlet on the north end of Sullivan's Island in ceremonies at dusk tonight. The Hunley left Breach Inlet shortly after 6 p.m. on Feb. 17, 1864, traveled four miles off the coast and sank the Housatonic, a Union blockade ship, before disappearing at sea.

"The Final Mission" by Mort Kunstler uses historical and forensic information to recreate the scene before the Hunley's last voyage.

The Friends of the Hunley today will release an image of the sub's final departure. The painting, by well-known Civil War artist Mort Kunstler, is based partially on preliminary versions of facial reconstruction.

Tonight's ceremony is just a warm-up to the week of April 11, when facial reconstructions and biographies of the crewmen will be unveiled, accompanied by a series of lectures, ceremonies and vigils culminating in a funeral procession to bury the men alongside the sub's earlier crews. Those sailors died during trial runs."We are into the home stretch now," Hunley Commission Chairman Glenn McConnell said Monday. "Very shortly, we will reunite all three crews in port."

The burial of the Hunley's eight crewmen has attracted international attention and interest. Officials expect about 50,000 people to descend on Charleston for the April 17 funeral and procession.

Currently, there are 2,000 people, many of them Confederate re-enactors, signed up to make the 4.5-mile march from White Point Garden on the Battery to Magnolia Cemetery.

Before that, the crew will lie in state on the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point on April 12 and 13, at John Wesley United Methodist Church on April 14, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on April 15, and the Church of the Holy Communion on April 16.

On April 17, each of the crewmen will be loaded onto a separate horse-drawn caisson for the funeral procession.

During that week, the Friends of the Hunley will unveil facial reconstructions of the crew and release new biographical information about the men, as well as host a lecture series focusing on the forensics and genealogical work that went into tracing their histories. The Hunley Commission's burial committee will host historical interpretations, fashion shows and events where people can meet descendents of one of the sub's sailors.

Kay Long, a member of the commission's burial committee, is coordinating events, signing up volunteers from as far away as Australia, and making sure that the week doesn't turn into a circus.

"It is a funeral, not an event, not a flag rally," Long said. "It will be done with the dignity and honor that these men so richly deserve. It will be history in the making."

Long said that plans for the crew's burial have attracted interest from several countries and most states. It is not only the Civil War significance of the crew, it is their place in maritime history that resonates with many people.

Warren Lasch, chairman of Friends of the Hunley, expects the burial to be the most poignant moment in the project's history, save perhaps for the moment the submarine was raised on Aug. 8, 2000. Lasch said that giving the crew of the H.L. Hunley a proper burial is one of the project's main goals.

"It has always been about the crew," Lasch said. "Everything we have encountered, everything we have had to overcome, we have done it for this brave crew."


For more information about events the week of the Hunley crew burial, visit these two Web sites: and

The Hunley's final crew will be buried in Magnolia Cemetery alongside Horace L. Hunley, the submarine's namesake, and the other 12 men who died in two earlier sinkings.
Tim Smalley
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