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  Field Notes From
Secret Weapon of the Confederacy



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On Assignment
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From Author
Glenn Oeland



On Assignment

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From Photographer

Ira Block



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Ira Block
 

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Secret Weapon of the Confederacy

Field Notes From Photographer
Ira Block
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The day they brought the sub up was quite an experience. When it broke through the water, I even began to feel the same emotions as the Hunley historians and Civil War buffs. All the boats nearby suddenly started sounding their horns. People cheered. I was finally able to take pictures of the object I had been waiting six weeks to see. It was an incredibly emotional moment for everyone.

One day I was sitting on the rig waiting for something to happen when the word came that divers had found the submarine’s rudder. I was very excited. It was a large object, and I’d have some nice opportunities to take photos. As the team brought the rudder up, a huge rainstorm started passing over us. It got very dark, so I had to bring out my lights and change the type of film I was using. As the rudder broke through the water, the skies opened up and a tremendous downpour soaked me and my cameras. One of the cameras stopped working totally. Fortunately, one worked long enough for me to get the picture I wanted.



Right before Christmas 2001, I returned to photograph gold coins and artifacts from the Hunley. The team in the archaeology lab said I could go inside the sub before they filled it with water to help conserve it. I immediately grabbed all the equipment I needed, and—because it was still muddy and dirty in the sub—got into a white protective suit. I went into the sub and saw the bench where the crew had sat as well as the crank that they had used. It was a fabulous image of what it was like to be inside this tin can where so many people died.



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