Junior History Press
Differences between the real Hunley and what was previously thought.
    The actual submarine was different in many respects than what historians thought it would be. Before the recovery, the image of the Hunley was established by Civil War paintings, sketches and personal memories.  The most important visual image of these sources was a painting by the famous Civil War artist Conrad Wise Chapman. This painting shows the Hunley, removed from the water, and sitting on a dock. This painting does not adequately reflect the true streamined appearance of the sub.

    The most detailed written description of the sub was an account by a former crewman, Mr. W.A. Alexander. He wrote his story for a New Orleans newspaper in 1902, over 37 years after the War. He gave information about the size of the submarine. We know now that Mr. Alexander remembered the Hunley as being larger than it really is. He described the inside of the crew area as four feet wide and five feet high. In actuality, the height of the sub, inside, was only about 48 inches and the width even less.

    As the preservation effort continues, more information will be found about the Hunley and probably more differences found.


    So far, the following differences have been found between the real submarine and previous concepts about it.
  • There are some small glass ports along the top of the submarine that allowed light to enter the boat. No prior mention had ever been found of this feature.
  • There is a small rectangular glass viewport in the front of the forward conning tower that allows the sub commander to see where he is going. It was known that there were viewing ports on the sides of the towers but not the front.

  • Return to the home page of the Hunley and Charleston's Civil War History.