Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin

The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin

Fran Hawk
Illustrator:  Dan Nance 
For ages 6 to 12
Sleeping Bear Press, 2004   ISBN: 978-1585362189

When Queenie Bennett gave George Dixon a $20 gold coin as a token of her love there is no way she could have known that that coin would end up saving George's life. Indeed this is just what happened. George became a soldier in the Confederate Army and at the battle of Shiloh he was shot. Luckily Queenie's coin was in his pocket and it stopped the bullet thus saving George's leg and his life.

George was unable to be a foot soldier after this injury so he joined a group of men who were going to use a "fish boat" or a submarine to attack enemy ships from underwater. It was hoped that such a vessel might be able to break the Union blockade that was sealing in the port of Charleston.

After a long struggle getting the submarine built and after many trials were conducted (several of which were disasters), the eight-man team, under George's command, was ready to make its first attack. On February 17th, 1864, the Hunley began her journey towards the U.S.S. Housatonic. That night the Hunley did indeed succeed in sinking the Housatonic. Unfortunately, after successfully completing her mission, the Hunley and all her crew disappeared. This time Queenie's coin was unable to save young Lt. George Dixon.

It wasn't until 1995 that the wreck of the Hunley was finally found and on August 8th, 2000 a flotilla of boats and thousands of people watched as the Hunley was finally brought back to the world of the living. When archeologists began their analysis of the vessel they found, among other things, the coin that Queen Bennet gave her lover one hundred and forty years earlier.

By telling the story of the Hunley from the point of view of George and his coin, the author gives this extraordinary story a very human touch. We can put a face to the tragedy and understand how significant this event was even though the Hunley only succeeded in making one attack.

At the back of the book the author includes a great deal of information about the discovery, excavation, and restoration of the Hunley. Full color paintings and annotated photographs further bring this exceptional story to life.