posted on Mar, 7 2003 @ 02:24 PM
Yahoo News Report:
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Scientists who opened a pocketwatch from the Civil War submarine Hunley found a cloudy crystal and corroded hands but the
information within the ornate timepiece will take them closer to solving riddles about the hand-cranked sub, researchers said on Friday.
The 43-foot (13-meter) Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in battle, was lost until 1995 when a dive team found it off South Carolina.
The Confederate sub was built to break through a Union blockade of Charleston Harbor. It plunged a spar loaded with explosives into the wooden hull of
the Housatonic. The sub was raised in August 2000. Scientists found the watch, along with the remains of Hunley captain Lt. George Dixon, in blocks of
sediment taken from the sub last year.
Scientists first opened the watch case and then had to open the crystal, which was opaque, in order to see the hands. The minute hand stopped at 22
minutes after the hour and the second hand at 20 seconds. The hour hand was broken but appeared to point between 6 and 9, they said.
The scientists say the position of the hands on the gold watch allowed them to narrow the time frame for when it stopped. The new information may give
scholars an answer to the question of how long the Hunley survived after she torpedoed the USS Housatonic at about 8:45 p.m. on Feb. 17, 1864,
researchers said at a news conference in Charleston. "We are now able to narrow the time frame down to between 6:00 and 9:00, but the question
remains, is it a.m. or p.m.?" said Dr. Robert Neyland, director of the Hunley project.
While conclusions are hard to draw pending further examination, researchers said the hands could indicate that the watch kept ticking for up to 12
hours after the attack.