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That submarine they’re about to jack was a real Civil War submarine–and, in fact, the first U.S. Navy submarine. You can read more about The Alligator here. I’ve obviously taken some liberties (as I do with pretty much every historical thing in Oyster War!) with the boat’s appearance here, but the story about it being lost at sea in a storm off Cape Hatteras is true. I turned up an article from 2004 about a hunt to find the sunken vessel, but didn’t turn up any further news on that project.  Now that the CSS Hunley has been recovered, maybe there’ll be some renewed interest in looking for The Alligator.

4 Comments

oh the colours in the last panel are delicious! well done sir!


@David – Thanks! I really like using odd non-literal colors when I can get away with it. One thing that was a big inspiration for me coloring-wise is the color work in Gus and His Gang by Christophe Blain. There’s some really interesting out-there stuff in that book. It’s amazing stuff.


It was a lot easier to locate the Hunley than to locate the Alligator. It was actually known the general area where she went down. The big question was if the current had pulled her further out to sea from the harbor. The position of the Housatonic had ben known since the war and recorded on costal navigation maps until she was completely scrapped an no longer a hazard to maritime travel. So old maps would have been able to be used and compared to modern ones to help figure out where Hunley was located. And Confederates ashore at Sullivan’s Island did report receiving the signal that Hunley was returning to her base so any estimation they may have given of her location would have also helped the search.

Alligator, on the other hand, is not known exactly when she went down, only when she was lost and the general vicinity where that happened. Cut loose in a storm off Cape Hatteras, if she sank immediately then she’s somewhere within a 25 nautical mile radius of Sumpter last reported location at the time she was cut loose. That is if currents haven’t moved her. The 2005 search went up to a 50nm search zone with an even smaller search zone further in towards the Outer Banks. But if she remained afloat for several days, maybe even a few weeks, she could have drifted even further away.

Still, to discover both Hunley and Alligator would be something. These were both revolutionary machines. And some of what’s known about Alligator, she may have been even more revolutionary. I remember there being a special about her about nine years ago and one of her unique features was supposedly a CO2 scrubber system that used to allow her to stay down for more than an hour or two. According to the special the same basic design is or was being looked at as an emergency backup for modern subs.


@Knight1192 – Thanks for the info. I didn’t know all that info about The Alligator. I was, though, in Savannah when the Hunley thing was going on up the coast in Charleston. It was a pretty impressive operation. In Oyster War, I’m obviously just using the name and a bit of backstory for The Alligator and making the rest of it up (how is the sub powered? Magic, I guess.) but the actual Alligator was indeed a pretty amazing machine for its time.


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