Sunday, January 01, 2006

Depth gauge could hold clues to Hunley fate


April 18, 2005

Charleston - A broken depth gauge once filled with mercury could hold clues to why the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sank in 1864.

Archaeologists say the gauge was either broken on Feb. 17, 1864, when the sub sank the Union blockade ship Housatonic, or shortly afterward.

The sub was raised from the Atlantic almost five years ago and was the first in history to sink an enemy warship. It's still not clear why the submarine sank shortly after attacking the Housatonic.

Maria Jacobsen is the senior archaeologist on the Hunley project. She said a pool of mercury was found at the feet of the sub's commander George Dixon. That indicated that the gauge had to break after the sub left on its mission.



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