Civil war buffs are marking the 150th anniversary this week of an attack in which Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sank the Union’s U.S.S. Housatonic, and scientists are getting closer to understanding what happened on that day.
The submarine, which also sank, is known as the first submarine to sink an enemy warship. Re-enactors planned a memorial service on Monday, The Associated Press reported.
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The lost submarine was discovered in 1995 and raised five years later.
Scientists at a lab in South Carolina have been studying the remains hoping to uncover why it didn’t return from its mission. They have discovered damage that suggests that, at the time of the attack, the H.L. Hunley was closer to the Housatonic that previously thought, and the submarine’s crew may have been knocked unconscious by the explosion, according to the AP. Remains of submarine’s eight crew members were found at their stations, with no evidence of attempts to escape.
This year, researchers will begin a conservation phase of what is known as The Hunley Project, according to CNN
. A careful removing of sediment may reveal more clues to what happened.
"If the submarine was hit by a bullet, you should be able to see that in the metal," the project’s senior conservator, Paul Mardikian, said, according to CNN. He said he’s confident they will be able to reveal answers and that there may be several factors that contributed to the demise of the submarine.
The crew that perished during the attack was the third crew of the dangerous submarine. Members of the two prior crews died during separate accidents.
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