The wreck site of the Housatonic is known, even if its not indicated on modern hazards to navigation maps. It was also used as the epicenter reference point in the search for the Hunley. Granted most anything of value was salvaged, but have been informed that there are still pieces-parts remaining in the sand that are detectable.
The location of the Hunley was found approx 100 yards Southeast of where the Housatonic sank. One reason it was so ellusive since most had been looking in the area between the Housatonic and shore, not further beyond. The tide still outgoing would have been quite difficult to paddle against. Which is why they intended to wait till the tide changed, then go back in with the changing current.
Ive seen the taped video of the musket fire testing on the recreated conning tower. Which was conducted to determine if musket fire could go through it. Ive also examined one of the two prototype remakes of the conning tower used in this testing, replicting size, material, and construction methods. When struck dead on between the viewing ports, it did break a small hole through it, similar to what damage was found on the Hunley itself. If the Hunley was on the surface as suspected the damaged area would have been above the waterline if this damage was musket fire related. If not above water it would have caused a slower flooding. In that regard it would naturally be suspected that the crew would have attempted to make an escape. Yet the crew remains were found all in their positions not crowded at or under the hatches. The water pumps in the Hunley were also found not engaged.
There are also spectulations that the conning tower damage could have been result of known WW2 era depth charges in the area when Naval patrol boats picked up reported sonar-echo hits. Also possible that other causes such as anchors and snagging might have contributed. In an earlier account dating back in the 1970's some divers thought they found the Hunley then. A fishing boat got snagged up on something that nothing known should have been. They dived to see what they were snagged on and one diver reported to have seen one of the conning towers of the Hunley exposed in the sand that they were snagged on. They went back and dived on the site several times and reportedly tried to get permissions and support to try to salvage or raise it back in the 1970's to no avail. The Hunley position eventually found by another search group that got the credit for the find was within 52 feet of the Lat-Long position recorded in the earlier reported find. Also taking into account the earlier report didnt have use of a GPS.
There were several different types of torpedos then in use, depending on how they were deployed/detonated. The tow behind contact mine didnt work too well because in test trials the tow cord got caught up in the prop. Sub intended to go under the ship and drag the mine up against the target ship. Direct contact torpedo pushed up against or poked into with a barb device into the side of the target and detonated by contact or trip cord. This method was tried against the USS New Ironsides in Oct 1863. It did some damage, but insufficient to sink it. The strike point would have been on the hull flank of the ship.
The plan for the Hunley was reportedly using a remote triggered torpedo. Go under the Housatonic, hook-deplore-release the torpdeo under the aft (rear) section of the ship in the area where the hull slopes upward just in front of the rudder. The torpedo was basicly a 135lb copper powder keg that would have still had some bouyancy. Go out the other side of the ship, assuming to place some extra mass between itself and the blast. Witnesses on the Housatonic reported the Hunley seen moving away from them when fired upon. Estimated distance by eye witnesses say about 100 feet away when the explosion occured. The blast was under the aft exactly where the Hunley intended to try to put it. Housatonic witnesses state it blew a large hole up and out the side of the upper deck. One sailor reported witnessing a couch float out of the side of the ship into the sea.
The Housatonic plopped on the bottom in about 27 feet of water in less than five minutes were sailors on the Housatonic, whom now were clinging to the still exposed rigging. An hour after the attack both Confederates at Battery Marshall about four miles away, as well as the Housatonic sailors reported seeing the infamous reported "blue light". Which was also suspose to be the signal from the Hunley.
Many different fragments of information and accounts that are existing all point to a high probablility that the Hunley survived the blast. No obvious damage was found on the Hunley hull that would normally be expected to find. We may never know exactly what happened or why it sank. Due to the location of the find, intactness of the hull, and position of the crew members based of what we know at this point in time either happened slowly by hypoxia/suffication, or very quickly such as the Anchor-dunking theory as two feasible possibilities.
What I find quite odd, is the newer proclaimation about the mystery spar metal object. Because it was made of copper they seemed to have made an assumption it was part of the actual torpedo itself. Since this object was bolted on, therefore the torpedo had to be fixed to the spar.. therefore the Hunley was within 20 feet of the explosion when the blast occured.... (length of the spar) therefore.. was the most probable immediate cause of its sinking.
Taking an objective look at that given claim would suggest that the Hunley had to be nearly directly underneath the Housatonic when the blast occured, in order to place the torpedo where it blew. Which is also only about a dozen feet or so between the hull of the Housatonic and the sand bottom. Most would normally suspect that would be unlikely to be survivable, break the hull apart, or maybe even drive the Hunley like a nail into the sand bottom. Also it would have naturally suspected the remains to be found still underneath or at least in very close area to where the Housatonic sat down in the sand. If the Hunley hull somehow had survived the blast, yet rendered its crew unconcious and it foundered about with the tide before actually sinking for good, most would expect the crew to have been quite deranged, yet they werent found that way.
Several different potential ending scenarios exist that have some fragments of supportive evidence. Yet this particular one lacks much of anything to give it much of any credible support. Lets go rewrite history base it all on a single bent piece of yet to be conclusively identified metal on the spar, and ignore all other items of evidence. One would normally expect more subjective and objective examination upon something like that from reported professionals.
This was originally planned and funded to be a two year recovery and conservation project. 12 years later they are still toying. Many historians as well as many folks in SC arent all that happy with what it has turned into. Something interesting that they actually thought to announce?... or just a generic media plug of anything to try to get back into the news and public focus again.
In some regards this was like having the Smithsonian announce an amazing new historical discovery... that they just discovered that those little things spit out of muskets were made of lead.. and could hurt you... huh?....