Popular Science

The mystery of a spooky Confederate submarine might finally be solved

We may finally know what killed Civil War soldiers on the Hunley.
Hunley submarine painting

An oil painting by Conrad Wise Chapman, "Submarine Torpedo Boat H.L. Hunley, Dec. 6, 1863."

Conrad Wise Chapman

When most of us think of the early days of submarine technology, we envision hulking WWI-era U-boats. In fact, the first submersible military vessel made an appearance in the American Revolutionary War. An acorn-shaped pod called the Turtle could take one man into the deep, with the aim of affixing explosives to enemy ships.

But the never really got out of its shell. The first sub to sink an enemy ship was the Confederate , a hand-cranked contraption that struck the off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1864. But isn't just famous for its superlative spot in the history of naval warfare. It's also known for carrying a puzzling—and kind of creepy—mystery.

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