February 17 - 1864 - The H.L. Hunley Sinks the USS Housatonic
The H.L. Hunley was the height of Confederate Naval ingenuity. Featuring eight crewmembers turning a crank that powered a propeller, the Hunley was a solution to the Confederacy's naval inferiority and the Union's blockade of major Confederate ports. Still, the Hunley was deployed in combat less because it was ready for service, but because by 1864, the Civil War was turning so much against the South that they needed something to break out. In February, the Hunley got its first assignment, attempting to place a torpedo, what is now known as an underwater mine, on the hull of the USS Housatonic via a large pole sticking out of the Hunley's bow. The Hunley successfully placed its charge on the Housatonic, sinking it and causing five sailors to perish. It was a pyrrhic victory, though, as the Hunley and all eight of its crew went down as well.