Sinking of the U. S. S. Housatonic by the Confederate States submarine torpedo boat H. L. Hunley, off Charleston, S. C., February 17, 1864

Report of Lieutenant Higginson, U. S. Navy, of the U. S. S. Canandaigua.

Off Charleston, S. C.; February 18, 1864.

            Sir: I have the honor to make the following report of the sinking of the U.S.S. Housatonic, by a rebel torpedo off Charleston, S. C., on the evening of the 17th instant:

            About 8:45 p. m. the officer of the deck, Acting Master J. K. Crosby, discovered something in the water about 100 yards from and moving toward the ship. It had the appearance of a plank moving in the water. It came directly toward the ship, the time from when it was first seen till it was close alongside being about two minutes. 

            During this time the chain was slipped, engine backed, and all hands called to quarters.

            The torpedo struck the ship forward of the mizzenmast, on the starboard side, in a line with the magazine. Having the after pivot gun pivoted to port we were unable to bring a gun to bear upon her.

            About one minute after she was close alongside the explosion took place, the ship sinking stern first and heeling to port as she sank.

            Most of the crew saved themselves by going into the rigging, while a boat was dispatched to the Canandaigua. This vessel came gallantly to our assistance and succeeded in rescuing all but the following-named officers and men, viz, Ensign E. C. Hazeltine, Captainís Clerk C. O. Muzzey, Quartermaster John Williams, Landsman Theodore Parker, Second-Class Fireman John Walsh.

            The above officers and men are missing and are supposed to have been drowned.

            Captain Pickering was seriously bruised by the explosion and is at present unable to make a report of the disaster.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


            Rear-Admiral JOHN A. DAHLGREN,

Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.


Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion; Series I - Volume 15: South Atlantic Blockading Squadron (October 1, 1863 - September 30, 1864), 1902, U.S. Government Printing Office

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