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Skull Found in U.S. Civil War Sub Hunley


This is the latest report on the continuing excavation of the H. L. Hunley. Bookmark this page and check back for updates on the project.

H. L. Hunley archaeologists announced Friday that they uncovered a skull after several weeks of digging through sediment.


"At this time we can see the back portion of the skull, which is in good condition," said Hunley project director Robert Neyland. "All that has been determined, is that it is a male cranium."

Archaeologists said they think the skull is part of the remains of the fourth crewmember who is believed to be the second officer to the submarine's commanding officer, Lt. George Dixon. "A face will follow this find over the next year as we reconstruct what the H. L. Hunley crew looked like," said Senator Glenn McConnell, chair of the Hunley Commission.

More recent finds include more textiles, which are being removed from the submarine in blocks of sediment because they are so fragile. Neyland reported that they have found trim on a scrap of fabric appearing to belong to a jacket of one of the crewmembers.

The first remains of a crewmember in the U.S. Civil War submarine were discovered last month. Archaeologists found three ribs from the right side of a body imbedded in the sediment that has filled the sub. Since then, remains of six crewmembers have been found.

A Piece of History

The Hunley sunk on February 17, 1864, shortly after it attacked and sank the Union blockader, the U.S.S. Housatonic.

The sub lay in its watery South Carolina grave until May 1995, when a team funded by author Clive Cussler discovered the 40-foot-long (12-meter) hull intact. The Hunley was buried at a 45-degree angle under a layer of silt.

The Hunley was raised in August 2000, and the excavation of the sub, funded in part by the National Geographic Society, began in January.


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