This Week in the Civil War - 768
Wednesday night, February 17, 1864 near Charlestown, South Carolina at approximately 8:45 pm an officer aboard the USS Housatonic saw an unidentified object in the water speeding toward his ship. A torpedo from the CSS Hunley immediately struck the Union ship near her magazine, causing an explosion which quickly sank the Housatonic.
In this the first successful torpedoing of a ship in combat, the attacker—the Hunley—and her six man crew also perished. This was the third and final sinking of the Hunley which had capsized twice before during training exercises.
Despite spreading fear throughout the Union fleet, the Hunley’s vulnerability highlighted the ineffectiveness of such pioneering warfare. The hard luck Hunley would be recovered from the floor of Charlestown Harbor in the year 2000 and placed on permanent display.