The fate of the crew of the 40-foot Hunley remained a mystery until 1995, when the submarine was discovered about 300 meters away from the Housatonic’s resting place.
Raised in 2000, the submarine is currently undergoing study and conservation in Charleston by a team of Clemson University scientists.
Initially, the discovery of the submarine only seemed to deepen the mystery. The crewmen’s skeletons were found still at their stations along a hand-crank that drove the cigar-shaped craft.
They suffered no broken bones, the bilge pumps had not been used and the air hatches were closed. Except for a hole in one conning tower and a small window that may have been broken, the sub was remarkably intact. Speculation about their deaths has included suffocation and drowning.
The new study involved repeatedly setting blasts near a scale model, shooting authentic weapons at historically accurate iron plate and calculating human respiration and the transmission of blast energy.
The research was published in PLOS ONE.