The remains of George Dixon, captain of the Confederate submarine Hunley, were recovered more than a century after the vessel’s final mission in the Charleston Harbor, and the Clemson University team tasked with conserving the captain’s articles of clothing and personal belongings have finished their work.
The collection of belongings found with Dixon’s remains, including a $20 gold coin that once absorbed the force of a bullet, saving his life, will be on display as part of the War and Wardrobe exhibit being launched this weekend at the Hunley lab in North Charleston.
“These artifacts are a fascinating example of how conservation science and archaeology can work together to teach us about more than just important historical events but also the personality of the people that made them happen,” said Friends of the Hunley executive director Kellen Butler, in a press release.
Other artifacts found with Dixon include clothes, a gold pocket watch, diamond jewelry and a high-end buckle embossed with “Paris 1860.” The exhibit will display these artifacts as well as show the conservation process and work that went into them.
The Hunley charted the world’s first successful combat submarine mission when it sank the American USS Housatonic in the Charleston harbor on the evening of Feb. 17, 1864. The submarine and its crew did not return to port and were deemed lost at sea for over a century before being found in 1995 just over three miles off the coast of Sullivan’s Island.
The Hunley is currently housed in a warehouse (1250 Supply St.) on the former naval base in North Charleston, where crews have been researching it since its recovery. Tickets for entry are available online and at the Hunley lab.