ON THIS DAY IN UNITED STATES 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.