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H. L. Hunley


Autographed signed letter dated 15 August 1863 from Horace Lawson Hunley to James R. McClintock, the inventor of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley.



Camp Near Enterprise,
August 15th 1863
J.R. McClintock Esq.

Dear Sir.

I have been extremely anxious about your experiment at Charleston. It is not at all on the question of whether you will succeed in blowing up a vessel of the enemy for I think that more than probable and of itself only a small matter. It is whether your success will be made available in effecting a real solid benefit to the Confederacy and confirming glory on its originators – I am anxious first and above all for a dead silence on our part – that the enemy may be lost in uncertainty and mystery which is more dreadful than any understood evil of even the greatest magnitude. Secondly. While in a panic if you succeed the enemy if properly pressed before he can make preparations to resist the consequences of your success might be possibly driven entirely from Morris Island his works destroyed and guns spiked even if it be not possible to take and permanently hold the island 


and prevent it from being retaken. Therefore as I can not join you I would be glad to have you in a conversation with Gen[era]l Beauregard if this reaches you before your experiment to ask him (by way of suggestion) if you should be as fortunate as to succeed, and if that success should create a panic and consequent retreat, if a rapid decent by vessels, and men could not drive the enemy from the island. If he should think; that a panic and retreat of the enemy vessels could effect such a result then make every effort first to get him to prepare silently for such an event, and then by at least one spare torpedo, for a second attempt make a heroic attempt to produce panic. Remind your crew of Manassas & Shiloh and the consequences of faltering in the hour of success and make one grand effort & you may have cause to rejoice as long as you live over the fruits of your labor and that like men in more exalted positions, you did stop to rejoice over your small gain let slip a vast success and an immortal honor. Read this to Whitney.

H L Hunley 

Published: Tue Jan 06 12:28:27 EST 2015