The Early Civil War Submarines

Civil War Submarines sound kind of out of place, don’t they? We all know that subs are from a 20th-century, right? In early painting depicted in 16th century from the Islamic, the first submarine was used by Alexander the Great. They said Alexander uses a primitive submersible in a diving bell form. Although the first prototype of submarines was recorded in 1578 by an Englishman William Bourne, many Mathematicians and Scientists tried to build the submarine from a scratch.

Subs have a long and rather interesting history… 

While no one can really confirm if Alexander the Great’s Islamic painting is true, the idea was said to have started there. The painting showed that Alexander was being lowered by a glass submersible.
Alexander the great being lowered in a glass submersiblePhoto from Wikipedia

In 1623, Cornelius Drebbel – working for King James I of England – supervise the building of what is supposed to be the very first working submarine. According to accounts from that period, it appeared to be a big enclosed rowboat using twelve sailors for propulsion. It’s believed to cross the Thames River submerged at a depth of about 15 feet. Some said that James I took a trip in Drebbel’s submarine. Historians nevertheless, view such claims rather doubtfully.

Over the next 150 years or so numerous people made numerous submarines for different functions. These were tested with differing levels of success …

In the mid-1600s the “Rotterdam Boat” was developed by the Netherlands to be used versus the British, however, failed because its propulsion system was not enough to power the boat.

In the 1700s, John Day successfully developed a small sub he utilized to immerse in shallow water. Nevertheless, he then upped the ante. He and a gambler began taking bets on the length of time he might stay engaged in the middle of Plymouth Noise. It is assumed that his submarine gave up under the higher pressure in the much deeper water. Day, therefore, became the first tape-recorded “death by submarine.”

Lastly, in 1776, during the American Transformation, a submarine was used to assault an opponent ship. The TURTLE as the sub was called, was constructed by David Bushnell and was steered by Ezra Lee of the Continental Army. Lee piloted the Turtle under the British flagship HMS Eagle and attempted to attach a big explosive charge to the bottom of the ship but was not successful. George Washington personally praised Lee on his survival and later on offered him employment on secret service.

There were a lot more experiments and developments over the next 80 plus years, but when the American Civil War came along submarine advancement got kicked up a notch.

Lets not forget the H.L. Hunley – the CONFEDERATE submarine, the first Submarine in the history of NAVAL WARFARE TO SINK AN ENEMY ship. A 40 feet long and needs 9 Men to operate.

It blew up on Feb 17, 1864 that sank the USS Housatonic Ship that was blockading Charles Harbor. Of 160 enlisted men, only 5 men died. They lowered two boats before its too late and saved many men.

Did you know that it was found in 1995 and was brought back in 2005 at St Catherine’s Academy in Anaheim? For more stories, watch this video:

Have a look at the Blog Sections for even more amazing Civil War Stories!