I finally got to see the Hunley TV program. Worth seeing; they did
have some of the latest developments and talked to the archaeologists
I wouldnt call it a comprehensive investigation. They wasted some time
on some silly stuff with a modern mini-sub, for example. But they kept
it interesting, which was their goal I guess. And they did show a lot
of stuff correctly, such as exactly the manner in which the
"Housatonic" was sunk.
They sure left it hanging as far as any conclusions about "what
happened to them" and suggested the scientists and historians just
aren't sure either. Two current theories seem to be asphyxiation, or
at least befuddlement, by CO2; and damage to the conning tower. The
CO2 bit was explained well; it is just counter-intuitive to me that
the concern is CO2 and not lack of oxygen. Nonetheless this show
confirms that CO2, something they would have had little understanding
of, must have played a big role in doing them in. What they may not
have been prepared for was the extra CO2 that they were generating
through hand-cranking the propellers, according to the program. This
cut down the time they would have in submersion to a significant
degree, according to an expert.
The damage to the conning tower would seem to be in conflict with the
idea of ultimate CO2 asphyxiation but could fit with the
befuddlement-only theory. They may not have been able to keep water
from coming in, of course. As Steve noted in a previous post, the
small piece that was found was at the bottom of the sub and under all
the sediment that had slowly filled it up. Clearly evidence that
conning tower damage was a problem the night of the action.
Additionally, Dixon's watch seems to have stopped almost immediately,
and this should not have been caused by the explosion.
Some other things that do not fit with "almost immediate disaster"
theory but were not well covered by the program:
*the signaling that was done by the blue light, seen by reb and yank
alike, was mentioned. They did not say so, but this does not fit with
any idea of panic, IMHO.
*I had heard that stalactites had formed in the sub, and that this
indicated the sub was full of air for years. This does not fit with
the idea of the sub having any kind of leak in any upper area IMHO.
The show did not mention the stalactites so maybe that was bad
information. Or maybe there is another explanation somehow.
*IIRC, the distance the wreck was from where the "Housatonic" wreck
was was considerable, something like a mile. The sub could have
drifted there while it was in an in-between state of buoyancy, sinking
but not sunk yet. If this was the case, though, IMHO there would have
been an attempt to get out of that sub. The men were found at their
stations; if this meant they had decided to drown without a struggle
that would be most remarkable indeed. Slow asphyxiation fits better.
Well, maybe I can come up with another post or two, in the meantime
bone up on it. I certainly have my own theories, while admitting I'm
no expert. However I'll note that we came up with the CO2 theory here
on our own a few thousand posts back, so there. It's not as easy to
get information as it was. The Numa people arent putting out anything
new, and information at friends of the Hunley is somewhat limited. But
I'm finding some stuff.