Victorian Submarines: The American Civil War.

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October 18, 2012 by Steampunkish Graphic Novels

4 Designs.

So far I have found 4 cases of submarines in total. Most of them were on the side of the Confederacy.

Union Submarine (the only one): The Alligator.

Okay, let’s be honest, that is really stupid name. That being said, it truly worked. First missions were to knock out 2 bridges and the water wasn’t deep enough to go below the waterline. Just like the Turtle discussed in the last post, pretty anticlimatic.

## Confederate Submarine I : The Pioneer.

This thing was just plain ugly. It looks like someone took two cone-shaped coffee filters and glued the tops together.

## Confederate Submarine II : American Diver.

A much prettier design, and started looking like the submarines we know today. It was also the precursor to the Hunley, which is next. Considered too slow and also scuttled. No one has been able to find it since.

## Confederate Submarine III : H. L. Hunley.

This submarine truly looked like a submarine.

Unlike all the others, it actually achieved its mission, blowing up the Housatonic, taking out 5 sailors as well.

What was also interesting about this story was that the crew of the Housatonic actually saw it as it approached. They first thought it was a dolphin, porpoise or maybe a shark because there was still a bit of the Hunley above the surface.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. They realize that it’s an underwater ship and try to attack it, but there isn’t a single gun on board that could hit it.

Imagine that. An enemy sub shows up, obviously planning to attack your ship. You are armed for war, armed to the hilt. Yet all you can do is watch this thing put a torpedo into your hull, blow up the side of your ship, and then leave.

And all this at 3 knots.

Now while I am no fan of the Confederacy’s position, what happened next is a shame. It sunk on the way back. It was the first successful military operation in a submarine of the Civil War and the world. It didn’t even get hit by enemy fire – and it doesn’t make it back. That kinda sucks.


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