2009-10-21 / News

Replica of sub used in Civil War at Leatherwood

By WILLIAM FARLEY

A replica of the first submarine used in combat in the United States will be available for public viewing near Letcher County. A replica of the CSS Hunley, a submarine used in combat by the Confederate Navy, will be on exhibit at the Battle of Leatherwood re-enactment this weekend.

Dr. David Narramore, chairman of the Letcher County Tourism Commission, reminded Letcher Fiscal Court about the Hunley exhibit at the court's October meeting while discussing tourism events in the county.

According to the U.S. Navy's website, the Hunley was the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel in combat, sending the USS Housatonic to the bottom in an 1864 battle, the first ever using submarine warfare. However, the Hunley was to make Confederate General P.G.T Beauregard's words prophetic when he said, "It's more dangerous to those who use it than to the enemy."

The Hunley sank three times and on the third sinking, 22 Confederate sailors died with the ship. Five United States sailors died when the Housatonic was sunk. The Hunley was recovered in 2001 and restored.

The Housatonic, a sloop of war, was built in 1861 and had served in the naval blockade of the Port of Charleston, S.C., and played a supporting role in Admiral Samuel F. DuPont's attempt to take Fort Sumter using ironclad gunboats but did not take an active role in the attack. Later that year, on the night of Sept. 8, several boats belonging to Housatonic took part in an amphibious assault against Fort Sumter. The surprise federal attack was compromised and failed miserably, resulting in the imprisonment of more than 100 Union sailors and marines, including several from Housatonic.

The Hunley approached the Housatonic under cover of darkness on the night of Feb. 17, 1864. At first lookouts thought the Hunley was a log. By the time they determined the Hunley was not a harmless object in the water, it was too close for them to train their guns on it and the Hunley succeeded in ramming an explosive charge into the Housatonic's starboard side, just aft of the mizzenmast. The charge exploded successfully and within five minutes, the Housatonic was submerged.

In other tourism business, Narramore told the court that more than 400 visitors attended the recent Whitesburg Art Walk and the final meeting to determine the Tourism Plan for the next year will be held at Jenkins High School Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited.

Narramore told the court the Tourism Committee is working to promote projects that will bring tourists to the county and keep them here for several days at a time. He also reminded festivals throughout the county that criteria to obtain funding through the Tourism Commission appear in the weekly ads the commission runs in The Mountain Eagle.

County Surveyor Richard Hall also provided information to the court that will probably draw tourists as well as naturalists to the county. Hall said that a Chinky Pin Oak has been located at the old Kingdom Come School, and is one of the rarest trees in the United States. Hall said the huge tree needs to be protected and should be certified by state foresters.

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