JANUARY 22, 2001 APRIL 24, 2001 OCTOBER 26, 2001
FEBRUARY 16, 2001 APRIL 27, 2001 NOVEMBER 2, 2001
MARCH 9, 2001 APRIL 30, 2001 NOVEMBER 9, 2001
MARCH 15, 2001 MAY 10, 2001 NOVEMBER 30, 2001
MARCH 20, 2001 MAY 17, 2001 DECEMBER 7, 2001
MARCH 27, 2001 MAY 21, 2001 JANUARY 25, 2002
APRIL 5, 2001 MAY 25, 2001 FEBRUARY 1, 2002
APRIL 10, 2001 SEPTEMBER 28, 2001 FEBRUARY 8, 2002
APRIL 13, 2001 OCTOBER 11, 2001 FEBRUARY 9, 2002
APRIL 16, 2001 OCTOBER 12, 2001 APRIL 3, 2002
APRIL 19, 2001 OCTOBER 19, 2001  

JANUARY 22, 2001

Archaeologist Shea McLean removing sediment from the ballast tank during the stern excavation.

The stern ballast tank showing the exposed propeller shaft housing after sediment removal.

The preliminary excavation of the stern ballast tank begins through an existing hole found in the upper starboard side of the stern ballast area. This will provide a limited, but easy access to the interior of the submarine, and provide important data on the condition and nature of the hull plates, ballast tank, backing plates and rivets, and location of ship machinery such as propeller shaft and steering controls.

FEBRUARY 16, 2001 - MARCH 9, 2001

Archaeologist Harry Pecorelli and conservator Philippe de Vivies work on the removal of two hull plates.

Archaeologist Shea McLean guides the removal of the third hull plate.

The first of three hull plates are removed. This exposes light to the submarine for the first time in 137 years. The submarine maintained its structural integrity despite the removal of the plate, indicating that the submarine was durable enough to conduct the archaeological excavation. The removal process of the next two hull plates began the next week. Once that was complete, excavation of the Hunley could begin.

MARCH 9, 2001

The conclusion of the first week of excavating the H. L. Hunley. Archaeologists removed over 15 inches of sediment from all three open areas of the submarine. Sampling of the sediments will be done for geological purposes to determine how fast the submarine filled and what organisms may have grown inside the vessel. Dr. Scott Harris of Coastal Carolina University will be directing the interpretation and analysis of the submarine's sedimentation over time. All sediment was placed into 5-gallon buckets and sieved by three wet screens and materials were sorted by size and composition. This allowed for the recovery of marine shells and any small artifacts missed during the excavation.

Archaeologist Michael Scafuri removing material during the early stages of the excavation.

Senior Archaeologist on the Hunley projet, Maria Jacobsen, and geologist Scott Harris of Coastal Carolina University document the sediments under the hull plates.

Volunteer John Dangerfield operating the wet screen. All sediment material passed through this three-tiered screen to separate any possible artifacts from the sediment.

MARCH 15, 2001

As the excavation continued, the first artifacts, two artillery buttons, were uncovered by archaeologist Michael Scafuri.

First artifacts found. As archaeologists continued removing sediment from the interior of the submarine, the first significant interior features began to emerge. Along the port side, the wooden bench that the crew sat on was revealed in excellent condition. In addition, on the surface of the bench itself was found two very well preserved buttons. These artifacts, the first from the Hunley's crew, were most likely artillery buttons from a uniform coat, possibly used as a seat cushion by one of the men. Warren Lasch, Friends of the Hunley Chairman stated, "It is both chilling and exciting to think that the last person to touch these buttons was in the midst of victory 137 years ago." As the excavation proceeded, the anticipation of further discoveries began to heighten.

As more sediment was removed, it became possible to work under the intact plate sections. Eventually, archaeologists, such as Harry Pecorelli pictured here, could link up their individual work areas.

Close-up shot of one of the artillery buttons.

MARCH 20, 2001

A diagram of the locations of some of the early finds.
(Image courtesy of Daniel Dowdy.)

A small apothecary bottle found on the bench towards the bow.

First remains found. Archaeologists found what appeared to be three ribs from the right side of a body in the sediment. Dr. Doug Owsley, Division Head, Physical Anthropology from the Smithsonian Institution confirmed the ribs were from a human. Also uncovered was a small patch of textile, about the size of a half-dollar. It appears to be in good condition; very fragile and possibly attached to more material so the archaeologists covered it back up to preserve it. Two thread samples were recovered in remarkable condition.

Scientists also found a pump that was heavily concreted in the stern area. They believed it to be the hand pump for the stern ballast tank, but in that area, it is very difficult to see. In the forward area of the submarine, an apothecary bottle was found on the bench. Although deteriorated, the bottle still had its cork in place and some liquid inside. The archaeologists are crediting the excellent condition of the artifacts to the blue-gray clay like sediment, which is perfect for preservation.

Throughout the excavation, archaeologists continued to work down through the sediment in horizontal layers, exposing and recording the objects higher in the strata first. For this reason, artifacts on the port side bench, towards the top because of the subs 45-degree tilt, emerged before other objects.

MARCH 27, 2001

AA heavily concreted pump mechanism beginning to emerge in the stern. This was the hand pump to remove water from the stern ballast tank.

Archaeologists uncover the remains of a second crewmember. A pair of femurs and trochanters, which is a bone behind the femur, were uncovered and in well-preserved condition. These remains were uncovered in the same area where the first military buttons were recovered.

Archaeologists continued to clear sediment from the bench and concluded that that the crew must have sat on this bench in order to power the submarine. As they were excavating this bench, archaeologists discovered a small patch of textile, but it is too early to tell how the textile was used. Also becoming clearer is the handle for the hand pump in the stern section, and the hand crank, both which seem to be in very good condition.

APRIL 5, 2001

As more sediment was excavated from the submarine, the hand crank began to appear in the sub's midsection. Here conservators Philippe de Vivies and Paul Mardikian apply protection to the exposed crankshaft.

Archaeologist Harry Pecorelli removing mud from a forward area of the submarine.

The shape of the crank hand positions emerged, indicating the exact stations for the crew. Archaeologist Shea McLean working on the crank handle.

Archaeologists began to see more of the hand crank. As they worked down to the bottom of the submarine, seven handles on the crank became exposed. This was significant because it meant that they discovered where seven members of the crew sat.

At this point, the archaeologists had uncovered additional remains from a total of four more crewmembers. Also found near the remains was the sole of a shoe or boot, which was sticking up in the sediment. Two more buttons were recovered from the H. L. Hunley. More textiles were appearing and some of the textiles were located in association with portions of the remains. A leather strap was also found, draped over the crank.

APRIL 10, 2001

Personal items and human remains began to appear in the lower layers of sediment. Leather artifacts were well preserved throughout, as can be seen by the condition of this shoe.

A small pencil associated with the personal artifacts of one crewman.

A wooden pipe. This pipe still had tobacco still in bowl.

Archaeologists begin uncovering the personal belongings of the crew. A shoe that was discovered two weeks prior was removed from the submarine, and scientists believe it was the right shoe of one of the crewmembers. Also, more wooden buttons, a brass button with no military insignia and a pencil were discovered. The lead pencil is about an inch in length, with a sharpened tip.

In the very back of the submarine, a tin canteen was uncovered, but it was in very fragile condition and paper thin, so they were unable to remove it at this time until further investigation could be completed to determine the best way to remove the artifact without damaging it. Another interesting discovery was a wooden pipe used for smoking. It is believed the pipe was not smoked while on board.

APRIL 13, 2001

Archaeologist Shea McLean removing mud from the submarine.

Archaeologists find the first skull. It is quickly determined that it is a male cranium. "This find is the first step that will allow us to put a face on a crewmember of the Hunley. The Hunley is not just a war story, it is a human story," said Warren Lasch, Chairman of Friends of the Hunley.

More textiles were being discovered, but because of their fragility, they were being removed from the submarine in blocks of sediment. This will protect the material, but it will also allow the archaeologists to do their analysis. They have seen some trim on one of the garments, giving the appearance that it may be a jacket of one of the crewmembers.

APRIL 16, 2001

A more comprehensive diagram of artifacts found and their locations within the submarine.
(Image courtesy of Daniel Dowdy.)

Archaeologists uncover the partial remains of eight crewmembers, including two more skulls. So far the remains have been discovered at their proper stations around the crank of the submarine. "The crewmembers' remains being discovered at their stations indicated both a recognition and acceptance of their fate. The courage and bravery exhibited by these men continually astound all those associated with the project," said Warren Lasch, Chairman of Friends of the Hunley. One hurdle the archaeologists are having is recovering textiles. Some of the materials are intermingled with the remains, making the recovery process more difficult.

APRIL 19, 2001

Archaeologists uncover what appears to be a leather wallet. Much more work is ahead. The artifact was x-rayed, but nothing significant was seen in it. "As the recovery of the skull gives us the opportunity to put a face to the person, the personal effects, like a wallet gives us the tools to put a personality to the human image," said Senator Glenn McConnell, Chairman of the Hunley Commission.

Also this week, archaeologists noted what appeared to be two rods underneath the bench. More excavation will have to be completed before they can confirm that these are the control rods of the rudder. "If these are truly the control rods, then this is another example of the technological advancement and ingenuity that continues to surprise everyone associated with the project," said Warren Lasch, Chairman of Friends of the Hunley.

At this point, archaeologists have only removed less than 10% of the remains of the crewmembers of the H. L. Hunley.

APRIL 24, 2001

Over 100 buttons of all kinds were found in the Hunley, including this rubber US Navy button made by Goodyear Novelty Co.

Details of the brave crew begin to be revealed. As archaeologists continue to excavate the H. L. Hunley, and remove the remains of the crew, details of the men are being revealed. One of the six skulls found has been recovered from the submarine and x-rayed. The x-rays show that one of the crewmen had a filling in one of his teeth. Other discoveries included another tobacco pipe and sewing kit, which included a thimble and six buttons.

APRIL 27, 2001

The reverse side of the Ezra Chamberlin "dog tag." The personal portions of the inscription were stamped into the coin, which was pre-labeled with raised lettering and presumably mass-produced.

An identification tag or "dog tag" is discovered. The interesting fact about this discovery is that the tag is from a Union soldier. The name on the tag is Ezra Chamberlin; he enlisted in the Union Army on September 6th, 1861, and was a member of Company K, 7th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. It is recorded that Chamberlin died on July 11th, 1863 in the Battle at Fort Wagner, also known as the First Assault on Morris Island. The German Light Artillery, which was the military unit of Corporal C. F. Carlson (a Hunley crewmember) was a powerful force at that battle and it is possible Carlson obtained the tag then. Scientists have not yet determined that the body, on which the tag was found, is that of Carlson. "The artifact seems to be made out of copper, and was found in association with a skull of a crew member. It would appear that the sailor was wearing the tag around his neck," said Project Director, Dr. Robert Neyland.

Click here for more information about this artifact.

APRIL 30, 2001

Archaeologists discovered two folding or pocket knives. Also found was a "slouch" hat, a wide-brimmed military hat common in the Civil War era.

Archaeologists discover that the hand crank is shorter than expected. The submarine was originally thought to have been cranked by eight men, but now scientists believe the hand crank that powered the sub was actually operated by only seven crewmen. Another canteen, writing pencil and the base of a white candle were also found.

MAY 10, 2001

The presence of brain tissue has been detected in the seven skulls raised so far from the H. L. Hunley. The presence of soft tissue was detected on CAT scan images conducted on the skulls at Medical University of South Carolina.

MAY 17, 2001

Beneath the fourth plate was a bellows device to draw in air through the snorkel box.

Archaeologist Shea McLean guides the lifting of the fourth hull plate. This plate also had the snorkel box attached to its outer surface.

A fourth hull plate is successfully removed from the H. L. Hunley. Dr. Robert Neyland, Project Director says, "This hull plate was more difficult to remove because the snorkel box was attached to the plate, so we had to be very careful with it, but everything went fine." The excavation now focuses on the area below the forward conning tower, where Lt. George Dixon is expected to be. A two-sided comb was found and removed, about 10 inches from the bottom. It is a very fine-toothed comb, typical for that era. Fairly high up in the sediment under the hull plate, archaeologists found some textiles, but it's too early to tell if they belong to Lt. Dixon or another crewman. In addition two non-military buttons were discovered.

The excavation of the central compartment is about 90% completed, except for the area under the crew bench and now the goal for the archaeologists is to remove the sediment below the forward conning tower.

MAY 21, 2001

An x-ray of the single lantern recovered.

The remains of Lt. George Dixon, Captain of the H. L. Hunley, and the last crewmember have been found inside the submarine. Archaeologists excavating the submarine discovered several bones, including three skulls. Dr. Doug Owsley, a forensic expert with the Smithsonian Institute confirmed this weekend that one of the skulls, found underneath the forward conning tower was that of Lt. Dixon. At this time the recent remains discovered are still inside the submarine, and there doesnąt appear to be any damage to the skulls. A lantern was also discovered, possibly the one the crew used to signal it sank the USS Housatonic on FEBRUARY 17th, 1864. Archaeologists removed the concreted lantern and x-rayed the artifact.

MAY 25, 2001

Archaeologist Maria Jacobsen holding Dixon's gold coin. This photograph was taken only minutes after the coin's discovery.

The reverse side of Dixon's gold coin, with inscription.

Lt. Dixon's Legendary Gold Coin Found. The long-awaited treasure of the H. L. Hunley, Lt. George Dixon's $20 gold coin was found inside the submarine. On April 6, 1862, in the Battle of Shiloh, Lt. Dixon was shot in the leg. Luckily when he was shot, the bullet hit the gold piece, in essence saving his life. The coin is bent, true to the story that a bullet hit the coin and saved Lt. Dixon's leg and life.

The coin was minted in 1860 and one side has lady liberty, it was the side the bullet hit. The other side has the Federal shield and eagle symbol. That side appears to be sanded and has an inscription in cursive script that reads in four lines:

Shiloh April 6, 1862 My life Preserver G. E. D. (Lt. Dixon's initials).

Click here for more information about this artifact.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2001

Archaeologist Shea McLean drawing a sketch in the submarine. By this point, most of the sub's contents had already been removed from the center crew compartment.

The second phase of the Hunley excavation begins. X-rays of Lt. George Dixon's "block lift" indicate a pocket watch and a metal clasp.

OCTOBER 11, 2001

Some believed the above tintype was of Lt. Dixon.

The tintype given to the Hunley Commission believed to be that of Lt. George Dixon is professionally tested and dated by experts. It was determined it could not be Lt. Dixon because of several incongruous factors.

OCTOBER 12, 2001

The large wheel in the stern area. This wheel may have been part of a braking assembly. There does not appear to be any significant gearing or other mechanism to support the classification of this as a flywheel.

A possible gear or brake wheel is uncovered. The wheel may be designed to act as a brake for the propeller, once again showing that the Hunley was ahead of her time when it came to design and engineering.

OCTOBER 19, 2001

Project Director Dr. Robert Neyland working under the bench in the submarine.

A total number of seven tin canteens have been found inside the Hunley, but they are very fragile. Excavation continues around the bulkheads and under the bench.

OCTOBER 26, 2001

Eight pairs of footwear were recovered from the Hunley. Most were in good condition and required subsequent secondary excavation in the lab. Much of this work was handled by conservation intern Ebba Samuelsson.

Archaeologists locate a curved pipe that seems to be connected to the port side of the hull. Scientists believe it may be the intake valve for the forward sea-cock. While excavation continues in the submarine, more work is ongoing in the lab. Many artifacts and blocks of material removed the previous spring are now undergoing more detailed examination.

NOVEMBER 2, 2001

Hunley Project Senior Conservator Paul Mardikian working under the forward hatch before the forward bulkhead.

It is ascertained that the Hunley had an eight-man crew. After archaeologists completed the excavation of the forward and after bulkheads, they have come to the conclusion that the Hunley only had a crew of only eight men.

NOVEMBER 9, 2001

The compass from the forward position.

Brass compass found. A brass compass was located on a shelf in the forward end of the central compartment. It was contained in a wooden box that was found to be very fragile.

NOVEMBER 30, 2001

Archaeologist Harry Pecorelli excavating around the ballast blocks and under the bench. Many small artifacts were found on the "floor" of the Hunley. Most of the canteens came from the area under the bench.

The eighth canteen is removed from under the bench. The "block lift" containing Lt. Dixon's remains was removed from the sub. Upon further excavation archaeologists said the likelihood increases that the eyepiece may have been damaged on the night of the sinking.

DECEMBER 7, 2001

Conservator Philippe de Vivies working on a canteen under the bench. Most of the forward area of the crew compartment was excavated by this time. Notice the dive plane rod to his left and the ballast pump beneath.

The H. L. Hunley archaeological and conservation teams have successfully completed the excavation of the central compartment of the submarine. Two pieces of thin (5.6 mm in diameter) glass tubes were found concreted to the submarine's hull near Lt. Dixon's post. These are the remains of the submarine's depth gauge.

Archaeologist Shea McLean looking underneath the bench.

JANUARY 25, 2002

Project shifts focus to study of remains. The excavation on the Hunley at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center has shifted its focus to the human remains of the crewmembers so that the men can be identified, and later laid to rest.

FEBRUARY 1, 2002

Top forensic scientists from the Smithsonian Institution are in town to study the remains, and start the process to identify the crew.

FEBRUARY 8, 2002

Early findings of the Hunley crew are revealed. Dr. Doug Owsley, Division Head for Physical Anthropology from the Smithsonian Institution says, "By looking at the remains of the crew's youngest member, aged 18-20 years, I can tell he went through a lot of strain when he turned the crank."

FEBRUARY 9, 2002

Ezra Chamberlin not onboard the submarine. One mystery about the crew of the H. L. Hunley has been solved. There was no Connecticut Yankee aboard the submarine. The Identification tag of Ezra Chamberlin was found inside the Hunley mixed with the remains of a crewman. Hunley team genealogist, Linda Abrams says Ezra Chamberlin was younger, while the remains of the crewman indicate he was about a decade older.

April 3, 2002

Possible conservation plan begins to emerge. Cutting-edge technology known as cold plasma reduction could speed conservation of the Hunley, but scientists must still determine whether it can be used.

Related Pages:

Excavation Timeline
Lt. Dixon's Gold Coin
Ezra Chamberlin's ID Tag
Facial Reconstructions

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All Rights Reserved.