Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting for November 2011

Delinquent in posting the notes from the Prattville Dragoons, Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 1524 November camp meeting.  We were honored to have JM, Field Representative and Past Commander of the SCV Army of Northern Virginia and he gave an outstanding and astounding discussion on the H.L.Hunley from a technilogical standpoint pointing out the ingenuity of the Southerners who invented and created this ground breaking submarine.  The following summarize his notes:
Since the CSS Hunley has been raised from its watery grave, many aspects of the engineering and technological advances that were pioneered by our very ingenious and deeply motivated ancestors have come to light. One of the things we have enjoyed most from working with the Hunley excavation team is the admiring remarks from those who are astounded by the advanced ideas that were incorporated into the design and function of the world's first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship.
            First, let's look at the six aspects of hydrodynamic efficiency found in the Hunley:
     The bow and stern are very sharp. 
     The bow is concave, like that of a modern vessel.
     The rivets are countersunk and flush with the hull, a feature truly ahead of its time.
     Cutwater plates parted the water, added stabilization, and could provide a safety system to prevent any obstruction from snagging the conning towers.
     Mechanical engineers say the Hunley is so sleek she appears to have been designed on a CAD-CAM computer!
     This design also directed the flow of water to the propeller and rudder for increased efficiency.
            While all hands sat on the port side, their weight was exactly perpendicular to the center axis of the vessel as they were always leaning forward, in a fetal position, to work at the hand crank.  Here are four engineering feats of this crankshaft, which was offset to the starboard side of the vessel:
     It had a large gear that drove a smaller gear on the propeller shaft by a chain, thus giving a multiplication of speed per revolution of the crank.
     The crankshaft incorporated a flywheel to give a smooth, constant speed.
     A brake was able to slow things quickly when needed.
     The throws on the crank were 51 degrees and a few minutes each. This is 1/7 of 360 degrees, thus giving an equal share of work and balance to the force needed to make smooth rotation.
            Ballast tanks with an equalization tube connecting them, diving planes, depth gauges, a "joy stick" for rudder control, snorkel tubes for fresh air (backed up by opposing hatch lids to obtain large volumes rapidly when on the surface), a keel ballast designed for quick release in an emergency--these are but a few of the many firsts that are part of our proud heritage of Southern Ingenuity! But that is not all. Perhaps the crowning technological innovation is something almost no one knows. That is that Southerners developed and had functioning a galvanic-battery-powered electromagnetic motor for propulsion! (This was, however, replaced by the hand crank once again since it only developed 2-3 knots and the harbor current was 5). The liberals who are detractors of everything Southern do not want us to be aware and thus proud of our rich heritage. Such suppression of information should trouble all Americans greatly, and especially Confederate descendants!
            Three methods of attack were developed for the Hunley. First was the contact or percussion-fused torpedo. It was rejected, since the new large capacity, containing 90 lbs. of black powder, would be a danger to the sub itself. Next, the same type of bomb was floated behind. This worked well in trials until one night the turbulent Charleston Harbor wound the line into rudder mechanism and nearly brought disaster. (The harbor of Charleston is known to be tricky, as the Ashley and Cooper rivers join there before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean). The third method was invented by Mr. Singer, who already had several patents from the Confederate government. It was thrust into a vessel and backed away until a 150' lanyard unreeled and jerked the triple-fused torpedo. You know the rest of the story:  Southern technology put the USS Housatonic on the floor of the ocean in just over 3-1/2 minutes!
            And what went wrong after that successful attack? No one knows, at least not yet--and maybe not ever--but several theories and conjectures have been put forth. Rather than speculate, which is premature at this date, let’s save that for the future. The future is what these brave men of the Hunley were looking to as they lifted the blue calcium light at that moment of highest elation. The signal was received on Sullivan's Island but their journey home that night was not to be. They had to wait over a hundred years. Now, true to the mettle of any real Southerner, we have brought our dead home, home not only to their port, but to a proper Christian burial with their comrades.

1 comment:

  1. The Hunley did not use a blue calcium light to signal to shore. Recent research proves that the "blue light" mentioned only twice in the historical record is a pyrotechnic composition familiar to nineteenth century civilians and sailors, used for nighttime signaling. Modern authors have misrepresented blue light as a blue lantern of various types. Mr. Marlar can attest to this, having used reproduction blue light manufactured according to the 1863 Ordnance Manual specifications.