Share This Episode
Our American Stories Lee Habeeb Logo

The First Successful Submarine Attack In History

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2024 3:01 am

The First Successful Submarine Attack In History

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 2063 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

April 18, 2024 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, the CSS Hunley's sinking of the Housatonic was only a partial success, but represents the first time a submarine managed to sink an enemy vessel...and it happened in Charleston Harbor during the Civil War.

Support the show (

See for privacy information.

Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb
Our American Stories
Lee Habeeb

What's up? This is your boy Lil Duval and check out my podcast, Conversations with Unk, on the Black Effect Podcast Network. Each and every Tuesday, Conversations with Unk Podcasts feature casuals and in-depth talk about ebbs and flows of life and the pursuit of happiness. Unlike my work on stage, I tap into a more serious and sensitive side to give life advice and simply offer words of encouragement, yet remind folks to never forget to laugh. Every Tuesday, listen to Conversations with Unk hosted by Lil Duval on the Black Effect Podcast Network, iHeartRadio app, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Presented by AT&T, connecting changes everything. Finding the right news podcast can feel like dating. It seems promising until you start listening. When you hit play on Post Reports, you'll get fascinating conversations and sometimes a little fun too. I'm Martine Powers and I'm Elahe Azadi. Martine and I are the hosts of Post Reports. The show comes out every weekday from the Washington Post. You can follow and listen to Post Reports wherever you get your podcasts.

It'll be a match, I promise. Let's clear out winter and clean up the lawn with Spring Black Friday Savings at The Home Depot. Right now, get the Ryobi One Plus Leaf Blower for just $89 and make your lawn work easier with a powerful 90 miles an hour of clearing power. And with convenient online shopping, you can order on the app, pick up in store, and get outside sooner. Get your yard spring ready with the Ryobi One Plus Leaf Blower.

Now just $89 during Spring Black Friday at The Home Depot. How doers get more done. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. To search for the Our American Stories podcast, go to the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Up next, a story from the South Carolina Military Museum in Columbia, the state capital. The first successful submarine attack on February 17, 1864 was only a partial success. When it was all said and done, the USS Housatonic laid on the bottom of Charleston Harbor, but so did the sub, the CSS Hunley.

Here's John Freeman with the story. The Hunley wasn't built here. It wasn't even the first submersible type craft used by the Confederacy, so they had something else called the David, which was called a semi-submersible. It was a boat that erode really low in the water and because of that, it would be difficult to detect, difficult to hit, but they would call it a torpedo boat because it was supposed to be doing what the Hunley similarly did, which is take a torpedo, which torpedoes at that time were more mines and run at the side of enemy ships. Well, the Hunley was built elsewhere.

It was brought to Charleston and it was brought here for testing actually. I was hopeful that after testing, it could break the blockade that was going off the harbor by the Union Fleet. And so when they initially built it, there was actually a rope and a floating mine behind them. And what they thought they would do is they would paddle a row, neither of those were properly, so it was person powered. The Hunley was, there was like a crankshaft.

They were all sitting there hunched over in this little tin can and they're working with their arms, just getting this thing to go. So it was manpower. So what they're supposed to do is go out of the harbor, head out towards the fleet, which wasn't in the harbor. It was actually outside of the harbor. So the fleet was, you wouldn't call it offshore, but it was a decent ways out.

You had to get there by hand. And then when they got close, they would actually submerge and then they would drag this mine, which was floating, into the side of the ship to destroy the ship. Well, during training, they realized it wouldn't work because at one point during training, due to the tides, they came to a stop and they turned around and looked behind the boat while they were still on the surface and the mine was coming up on them pretty fast. And they said, well, hang on, this might be a bad idea.

We need to figure something else out so we don't just blow ourselves out of the water. So what they did is actually went to a spar system off the front of the Hunley. And for the longest time, I remember as a kid, I grew up in Charleston, there was a reproduction of the Hunley in front of the Charleston Museum. And it had the spar mounted to the top of the Hunley.

And you can still find tons of publications and photos and paintings of the spar mounted to the top of the front of the Hunley, the bow, and just sticking out straight. That's what everyone thought happened until they actually went and they recovered the Hunley in the harbor. And they realized the bar was mounted to the bottom and stuck upwards at more of an angle so it could hit into the bottom of the boat better.

So they went to a bar mounted on the bottom. Unfortunately, there were some, there were some accidents during training. I think they lost multiple crews where something would happen.

The billows would leak or a hatch would somehow be left open if I recall. And they would just flood and they would lose crews and they'd always go out and it was too vital. They couldn't leave it. They'd always go out.

They'd always recover it. They'd always managed to recruit a new crew for it. So the night, the night of the attack, they got the crew in there. And I want to say one of the members is Dixon is the name of the commander of the boat. Anyways, so Dixon, he's seen in combat before, you know, he's been on the battlefield and he's actually got a gold coin in his pocket because on the battlefield he received, he got shot and the gold coin actually caught the bullet and prevented it from him losing, him losing appendage or something like that.

And it actually may have saved his life due to the medicine at the time. So it keeps it as a good luck charm. The gold coin that's cupped out, looking like the top of a mushroom. So they go out and they have signals they give to the shore of when they're leaving and when they're successful, just so they have some form of communication between shore and the Hunley. So it's nighttime, the rowing out to the fleet and out at the fleet is the Housatonic, which is a fairly large boat with pretty big guns. So the Hunley won't actually approach completely underwater, otherwise they'd have no idea where they were going.

However, they have these little conning towers with these little glass viewports on them so they can sort of see where they're going. So they start approaching the Housatonic, one of the lookouts sees it and raises the alarm and they never get any heavy fire like cannons onto the Hunley. But there are some small arms fire, but then the whole boat is just shuttered by a blast and actually goes down in a decent, decently short amount of time.

Well, the Hunley's never seen again after this. However, lookouts on the coast claim that they see the lights from the Hunley signaling that they're going to return, which is what is part of the mystery of it never shows up, it never returns. How did it sink? Some people believe that maybe small arms fire penetrated one of those lookout portholes and actually took on water and sunk. Some think that when the blast went off, because what was supposed to happen is the mine hits the side of the boat and then the Hunley actually kicks it in reverse. I guess they row their arms the other way and they start backing away from the Housatonic and there's actually a rope that comes out. And as that rope hits a certain point, they're a safe distance away, it's supposed to go off on the side of the boat.

So they're thinking, well, maybe it went off on impact, maybe it went off before it was supposed to. And it actually, because the effects of an acoustic blast like that under water just devastating the human body, maybe that caused it, maybe it sunk due to small arms fire. No one knows, but it doesn't explain the supposed lights that the lookout saw on shore because that was after the Housatonic would have sunk, they received the light saying we're coming in. So it's always been a bit of a mystery and where it sunk as well in the finding of it is also an interesting story in itself. There's two claims to the find of the Hunley. Ely Spence claims to have found a magnetic anomaly in the location where the Hunley was found and therefore he found the Hunley. Another one is by big money bookseller Clive Cussler, also claims he's the one who found it.

He's actually the one who funded a lot of it through Numa, pulling the thing up, everything like that. So he tends to get the lion's share of it, but Spence still claims he's the one who found the Hunley to this day. Anyways, to get to the end of it, I believe the Hunley is now done with conservation. I think they're actually looking to get it on permanent display sometime in the next couple years, but in the process of going through, you know, they have to be delicate because there's remains. It's become a tomb for over 100 years, but when going through the remains and going through and cleaning out the inside, they find a gold coin and it's the gold coin that actually has the bullet and the dimple of it because it never knew if that was actually truthful or not. There was always a, is that a myth? Is it a legend?

Is it a rumor? Did he even take it with him when he went on the boat? But they ended up finding the coin in the boat and it's sort of an awesome little story that he took it with him to the very end. And it's still some debate of how it sunk exactly, but the debate or not, it does stand as the first submarine in history to sink an enemy vessel. And a terrific job on the storytelling and the production by our own Monty Montgomery.

The first successful submarine attack. More interesting things you learn right here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history from war to innovation, culture and faith are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College. A place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses. Go to to learn more.

Hey everyone, this is Jody Sweetin from the podcast How Rude, Tanneritos. I've been needing a quick getaway with my family and the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is the perfect vehicle to take us there. It has standard third row seating so I'm able to pack my entire family plus pets in the car while also having enough room for our camping essentials. Available H-track all-wheel drive will get us through any dirt trails and available dual wireless charging pads will ensure we never have to worry about getting stuck with a dead phone in the middle of nowhere. Visit or call 562-314-4603 for more details.

Hyundai, there's joy in every journey. Little hands and minds can start learning anytime. The good and the beautiful gives you everything you need to spark a love of lifelong learning. Give your preschoolers engaging hands-on material built on high academic standards and wholesome values. Find a variety of free resources and affordable curriculum to ignite your child's curiosity. Start your journey now at

The good and the beautiful bring home a love of learning. Hey, I'm here to tell you about Upfaith & Family, the leading streaming service for uplifting entertainment. It's the only place to stream new seasons of the award-winning series Heartland with exclusive content you won't see anywhere else. Binge all the seasons then stream a new episode of season 17 weekly. Don't miss the Bartlett Fleming family embarking on new adventures, facing challenges, nurturing relationships, all while fighting for what they believe in and the staying rooted in the land that's been in their family for generations.

No wonder it was one of the most streamed TV series in 2023. So, my dear friends, dive into the warmth of Heartland and let Upfaith & Family be your go-to service for all things uplifting. There are faith movies, comedies, romances, and series for the whole family to enjoy. Start your free trial today. Go to for your free trial.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-18 04:36:11 / 2024-04-18 04:41:37 / 5

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime