"We are now closer than ever to separating fact from fable in regards to the contents of the Hunley and her final moments," McConnell added.
Also among the artifacts recently discovered was a lantern, possibly the one that crew members used to signal that the Hunley had sunk the U.S.S. Housatonic. Archaeologists removed the encrusted lantern and x-rayed it.
Neyland said it is not yet known what fueled the lantern or if it has a blue lens, but the x-rays show its design is unique and sophisticated for its time. According to customary practice, a blue light was used to send a signal to those on land.
"Finding the lantern, which [may have] signaled Hunley's success 137 years ago, alerts us today that Hunley's journey home is almost complete," said Warren Lasch, chair of Friends of the Hunley.
Last weekend a bellows and a four-foot rubber hose were also removed from the submarine. Archaeologists said the removal, which was complicated, now gives them better access to the front of the submarine.
Scientists believe that the pump for the forward ballast tank was operated by the crewman who sat directly behind Lt. Dixon.
The Hunley recovery project has been supported in part by the National Geographic Society.
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