Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

NatGeo’s Secret Weapon of the Confederacy

Posted in Technology by Andy Hall on September 14, 2011

Update: I didn’t see the show myself, but I hear (from some highly-discerning folks) that it was pretty good.Anybody here catch it? Let me know in the comments.


On Thursday evening the National Geographic Channel will air “Secret Weapon of the Confederacy,” exploring the short, eventful life of the submersible H. L. Hunley. From the website:

It was the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship, but after only one successful mission the H.L. Hunley vanished with its crew and lay hidden for more than a century. The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the Confederacy’s secret weapon have remained an enduring mystery since the Civil War era, but now NGC has uncovered what may have brought it down.

Hunley has always been a favorite of mine. Some old renderings of my model of the boat, based on plans by Michael Crisafulli, after the jump:

More of my renderings of the boat here.


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  1. Michael Lynch said, on September 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I enjoyed it, mainly because it allowed us to watch members of the conservation team at work. The stock footage in which the lead archaeologist discovered Dixon’s coin with his remains (the one that deflected a bullet at Shiloh) was especially moving. A little bit more on the first two crews would’ve been nice, but it was a pretty detailed look at the final voyage.


    • Andy Hall said, on September 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      I was in the middle of another CW underwater archaeology project when the discovery of the coin was made. They led it with hints of a “big announcement,” which at the time most of us took to mean that they’d discovered some really strong evidence about the cause of the sinking. That it was the coin caught me and others by surprise. I’d heard the legend about the coin, but was skeptical because — to be blunt — it’s exactly the sort of story one might make up after the fact. Amazing stuff.

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