John "Steamboat" Fulton: What can I say about this event? It
was monumental in size, scope, and historical significance. There were so many
Civil War reenactors in attendance that for a day Charleston took on a flavor
of 1864. Troops staging at the Battery area seemed to form an endless mass that
totally consumed that area of the city. Troops were interspersed with widows
dressed in period black dresses, vails and parasols.
It took 2 hours to assemble everyone in place and to transfer the caskets of the
Hunley crewmen from hurses to the horse-drawn limbers by Subvets. This was
accomplished well out of site of where Blue and I
were staging, and was my only real dissapointment, since that moment would have
been very meaningful for me personally, blending my two great passions: Civil
War reenacting and Submarine history.
When we finally stepped off on the long march through town we were very fresh
and exilerated, proud to be a part of this historical event. We were positioned
in about the middle of a procession of troops that must hace streached
literally for miles. There were THOUSANDS of spectators lining both sides of
the streets for the entire route.
My most rewarding and proud moments were seeing all of the dolphins pinned on
the chests of those among the spectators. Ladies and Gentlemen,I am not
exagerating when I say that I have not seen as many qualified Submariners since
I left the Navy 40 years ago! Whenever I could catch the eye of a Brother of
the 'Phin I would give a nod or a discrete hand signal. Or on the occassion
that I could break ranks on a halt for a few moments and holler out those
familiar words "What Boats?" a friendly greeting followed. I can testify that
our Brothers of the 'Phin did themselves proud by showing up in great numbers
for this solomn occasion. And for the first time in 40 years I had civilians
and other reenactors recognize my dolphins proudly displayed on my uniform and
they KNEW WHAT THEY MEAN!!
The march took over 3 hours with innumerable halts and starts.
Blue and I were starting to feel the fatigue during the last mile. But
upon entering Magnolia Cemetery everything went into slow motion, with numerous
orders to halt, stack arms, rest in place, then another order to march, for
about 100 feet and another halt.
Finally we were all in place behind the elevated stage where the caskets were
lined up. The funeral ceremony was very solumn and poinent including Catholic,
Protestant and Masonic rites. Confederate Navy and Army reenactors carried the
caskets from the stage to the gravesite in a very dignified military style. We
finally marched off to pass in review of the gravesites, but when it became
obvious to me that this movement was going to take over another hour, and these
61 year old legs had been supporting this famished and out of shape body for
over 10 hours with no real rest, I had to reluctantly pack it in and leave the
formation. Blue, though he had terrible pain from some bad foot blisters,
dropped out to support me. He really wanted to tough it out to the end, but I
felt that my body could stand no more (as it was we had over another mile hike
to my truck).
As I sit here at home at my computer reflecting on the previous days
events, my feeling is of great pride... pride that so very many thousands of
people including reenactors and spectators turned out to pay their respects to
these early submariners. And pride to wear my dolphins in an atmosphere of
patriotism, recognition and appreciation. In an era when we think that the
politically correct groups have taken over our thought process, it is extremely
rewarding and enlightening to witness such an outporing of respect and
patriotism. And my pride was increased exponentally by marching next to a tall,
lanky red haired guy wearing a Confederate uniform decorated with a beautiful
set of gold Royal Austrailan Navy Dolphins! Thank you Blue...
you are a true (ship)mate! As Blue would say "At
the end of the day" we both have a permenant entry engraved in the hard drive
of our memories. Steamboat sends.
Bob Moore: Along with 6 other subvets, I was a pallbearer for
Boatswain's Mate James A. Wicks.
We were on The Battery before sunrise, and the crowd was already swelling. There
may well have been more Cofederate troops in town than there were in 1864.
Shortly after sunrise the line of hearses approached and the chatter of the
crowd quieted somewhat.
Twenty five minutes or so later all eight of the coffins had been ceremoniously
placed on the biers, and the work of the Subvets was done. It wasn't like
burying a friend (I have done that too often) but it was still very intense. I
had in my right hand the remains of a fellow sailor whose qual number was a
single digit. It takes cojones to ride any kind of submarine, but if you have
seen the H.L. Hunley you have to wonder how they got the wheelbarrows on board.
No kidding. Those men most definitely had what it took. Ask yourself if you
would have even walked aboard a boat that had already killed two crews, much
less hand cranked it into combat. They were, so to speak, my ancestors, and I
am so proud of them.
Their final resting place is in Magnolia Cemetery, next to their mates from the
first two crews. That is as it should be.
Ralph Luther: This was a most moving experience for me. To be
able to witness the dedication of the Civil War Reenactors from all over the
Eastern Seaboard to come here to do closure to these 8 seamen will be
remembered for a lifetime. There were 50,000+ people attending.
The weather was beautiful for the occasion and once again Blue
has shuck off the hex that has been following him on his tour. Blue's taking
part in this funeral is heart felt also. He is truely a Brother of the Phin.
Ed Walker: We like to brag about Charleston's
weather, but the day of the funeral was absolutely perfect: warm with a great
breeze. That made the flags in the procession really wave.
Blue and John were involved in the main event, however, they missed a week full
of special events throughout the Charleston area. Reenactors were camped in
many different locations including Fort Moultrie, right opposite Fort Sumter,
where the smell of campfires lingered through Sunday. There were many Civil War
bands involved in the procession, some playing authentic period music and
instruments. I got to hear two of them. Blue probably didn't have as much of a
feeling as some of us when they played Dixie.
At the beginning of the week the caskets were carried to the USS Yorktown where
they lay in state for two days. Then they went to local churches. The sounds of
the rifle and field pieces as they went off during the funeral salute were
pretty impressive. Even more impressive were the deliberation and discipline
shown by those renactors who actually were involved in the transport and
committal of the caskets. The precision of their movement, especially the slow
hand salutes, equaled or bettered other military funerals I have seen.
Earlier in the week when various artillery units were firing salutes a
"target/skimmer" sailor said that they were louder than any five inch/38 he had
The President of the Hunley Commission gave a good eulogy which emphasized both
the bravery of the Hunley crew and their historical significance, but above all
emphasized the fact that this last Confederate burial was a religious
event..Sunday there was a steady stream of folks who hadn't gotten to Magnolia
Cemetary who passed by the still open grave throwing in more flowers and dirt.
One of the groups was a contingent of bikers, here for the Heritage Motorcycle
Rally, many of whom had Confederate flags on their jackets.