Confederate sub made history 150 years ago Monday

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV/AP) - It's an historic day in the annals of submarine warfare.

Monday marks the 150th anniversary of the attack by the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley on the Union blockade ship Housatonic, which sank off Charleston during the Civil War. Although the Hunley never returned, it became the first submarine to sink an enemy warship.

Re-enactors gathered Monday evening on the coast from where the Hunley departed. A memorial service honored both the Hunley crew and the Union crewmen who died.

The hand-cranked Hunley is being conserved at a lab in North Charleston.

"I have family members who fought in the Civil War," said Valerie Bishop who attended the celebration. "So to have a connection with it personally, it brings me apart of what they were apart of so many years ago."

And its legacy still lives on today. Hundreds of people took a tour of the Hunley, to learn about the Civil War and the ship that would forever change naval warfare.

"One of the most distinct things I remember is the coin in Dixon's pocket that saved his life; it's ironic because she gave it to him in hopes that it would save his life metaphorically, but, in reality, it actually did," said Hannah Deschaine, who toured the Hunley at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

The Hunley carried three different crews before vanishing for 136 years. The submarine was found in the year 2000.

"The Hunley is such a historical artifact, it was not just a piece of medal it was refined as far as engineering," said Pat Row-Baley who also the anniversary.

Eight confederate men embarked on a mission: navigate a hand-cranked submarine into the middle of the water near Sullivan's Island, and shoot a torpedo into the side of a Union ship.

Just why the Hunley sank is still unclear. But scientists now say it was so close to the Housatonic the crew may have been knocked out by the explosion that sank the blockade ship.

The Conservation Center will be open for extended hours throughout the remainder of the week.

The Hunley is one of the many things that attract people to North Charleston. On Thursday, ABC News 4 will be live from Park Circle as part of the Your Neighbors series.{}

There will be a meet-and-greet event at 4 p.m. at DIG in the Park and we will provide food and give-aways. Then at 6 and 7 p.m., the North Charleston High School Jazz Band will join Dean Stephens and Victoria Hansen in live broadcasts from Park Circle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.