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 Rear-Admiral Dahlgren, U. S. Navy, transmitting report regarding the condition of the wrecks.

No. 581.]                                                       FLAG-STEAMER PHILADELPHIA,

Port Royal Harbor, November 28, 1864.

            SIR: I transmit herewith a report of the squadron diver in relation to the wrecks of the Housatonic and some blockade runners which were driven ashore at different times by the vessels of the blockade. It is to be presumed that all perishable articles are now valueless; the metallic parts will be recovered whenever the services of the divers can be spared from the vessels in service.

             I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Rear-Admiral, Comdg. South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.


Secretary of the Navy.




Port Royal Harbor, S. C., November 27, 1864.

            SIR: After a careful examination of the wrecks of the sunken blockade runners and Housatonic, I have the honor to make the following report:

            I find that the wrecks of the blockade runners are so badly broken up as to be worthless. The Housatonic is very much worm-eaten, as I find from pieces which have been brought up. She is in an upright position; has settled in the sand about 5 feet, forming a bank of mud and sand around her bed; the mud has collected in her in small quantities. The cabin is completely demolished, as are also all the bulkheads abaft the mainmast; the coal is scattered about her lower decks in heaps, as well as muskets, small arms, and quantities of rubbish.

            I tried to find the magazine, but the weather has been so unfavorable and the swell so great that it was not safe to keep a diver in the wreck. I took advantage of all the good weather that I had, and examined as much as was possible.

            The propeller is in an upright position; the shaft appears to be broken. The rudderpost and rudder have been partly blown off; the upper parts of both are in their proper places, while the lower parts have been forced aft. The stern frame rests upon the rudderpost and propeller; any part of it can be easily slung with chain slings, and a powerful steamer can detach each part.

            I have also caused the bottom to be dragged for an area of 600 yards around the wreck, finding nothing of the torpedo boat. On the 24th the drag ropes caught something heavy (as I reported). On sending a diver down to examine it, proved to be a quantity of rubbish. The examination being completed, I could accomplish nothing further, unless it is the intention to raise the wreck or propeller, in which case it will be necessary to have more machinery.

                        Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, Commanding.

Rear-Admiral J. 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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