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Scientists Find Commander’s Remains

May 21, 2001

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ Scientists excavating the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley have discovered the remains of the sub’s commander.

The remains of Lt. George Dixon, the final member of the boat’s nine-man crew, were found beneath the forward conning tower of the Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship. A lantern believed to have been used to signal shore before the sub sank was found nearby.

The Hunley went down off Charleston in 1864 after sinking the Union ship Housatonic by ramming a spar with a black powder charge into the vessel.

According to historical accounts, Dixon signaled with a blue light to let Confederates ashore know that the attack was a success.

Dixon’s remains have not been removed from the Hunley. One question scientists hope to answer is whether he was wounded during the battle.

One theory on the sinking is that Dixon was shot by a Union sharpshooter and that the glass on the forward conning tower was shattered, allowing water into the submarine.

Dixon had been wounded at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, but his life was spared when a bullet hit a gold coin in his pocket. He is thought to have had the coin with him at the time the Hunley sank, and it is one of the most sought-after artifacts aboard the sub.

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On the Net:

Friends of the Hunley: http://www.hunley.org

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