After more than 136 years at the bottom of the sea, it was 18 years ago today that the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley saw the sunlight again.

With a crowd numbering in the hundreds spread across a fleet of boats of all sizes, the previously lost rebel sub was lifted by crane off Sullivan's Island and successfully recovered on the morning of Aug. 8, 2000.

Since then, the 40-foot vessel has remained on display at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, kept in a cold-water bath. 

Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of information: There were eight men on board, not the previously thought nine. Captain George E. Dixon carried valuable golden and diamond jewelry with him, along with the famous dented coin in his pocket that had stopped a potentially fatal Union bullet at the Battle of Shiloh.

And the mechanics of how the hand-cranked sub was able to travel through the water has fascinated engineers studying the confining insides where the men operated.

Still, the mystery of why it sank after attacking the blockade ship Housatonic with a black powder charge the night of Feb. 17, 1864 remains unsolved.

In honor of the 18-year anniversary, the Hunley project team released a 1-minute video Wednesday recounting the sub's mission that night and the effort to bring the Hunley back.

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Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.

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