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Interesting US History
A Website Devoted to Interesting Events in U.S. History





October 15, 1863

Horace Hunley, the Inventor of the First Submarine
to Sink an Enemy Ship is Killed During a Test Dive

On this day in 1863, the H. L. Hunley, a Confederate submarine which would become the first submarine to sink an enemy ship, failed to surface during a test, killing its inventor Horace Hunley along with its crew.

It was not the first and would not be the last time the submarine would claim members of its crew. On August 29, while preparing for a test dive, a lever was accidentally stepped on, submersing the sub with the hatches open. The skipper and two crew members escaped but five drowned.

Despite those accidents, the sub was recovered each time and on the night of February 17, 1864, it made history when it managed to attach an explosive device to the Union sloop USS Housatonic. The USS Housatonic was sent to the bottom but the H. L. Hunley never returned and was not seen again until it was recovered along with its crew of eight on August 8, 2000.