Pioneer (submarine)

Pioneer was the first of three submarines privately developed and paid for by Horace Lawson Hunley
Horace Lawson Hunley
Horace Lawson Hunley , was a Confederate marine engineer during the American Civil War. He developed early hand-powered submarines, the most famous of which was posthumously named for him, H. L...

, James McClintock and Baxter Watson.

Hunley, McClintock and Watson built Pioneer in New Orleans, Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

. Pioneer was tested in February 1862 in the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, and was later towed to Lake Pontchartrain
Lake Pontchartrain
Lake Pontchartrain is a brackish estuary located in southeastern Louisiana. It is the second-largest inland saltwater body of water in the United States, after the Great Salt Lake in Utah, and the largest lake in Louisiana. As an estuary, Pontchartrain is not a true lake.It covers an area of with...

 for additional trials, but the Union advance towards New Orleans the following month prompted the men to abandon development and scuttle
Scuttling is the act of deliberately sinking a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull.This can be achieved in several ways—valves or hatches can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives...

 Pioneer in the New Basin Canal
New Basin Canal
The New Basin Canal, also known as the New Orleans Canal and the New Canal, was a shipping canal in New Orleans, Louisiana from the 1830s through the 1940s....

. The team followed with the American Diver
American Diver
American Diver, also known as the Pioneer II, was a prototype submarine built for the Confederate States of America military. It was the first successor to the Pioneer. The Diver was invented and built by the same consortium that built the Pioneer in New Orleans. It was composed of Horace Lawson...

, built after relocating to Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Mobile is the third most populous city in the Southern US state of Alabama and is the county seat of Mobile County. It is located on the Mobile River and the central Gulf Coast of the United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 during the 2010 census. It is the largest...


The scuttled "Pioneer" was raised and examined by Union troops.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune of 15 February 1868 reported Pioneer had been sold for scrap.

The Bayou St. John Confederate Submarine
Bayou St. John Confederate Submarine
The Bayou St. John Confederate Submarine is an early military submarine built for use by the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.-Description:...

, now in the collection of the Louisiana State Museum
Louisiana State Museum
The Louisiana State Museum , founded in New Orleans in 1906 and still headquartered there, is a complex of National Historic Landmarks housing thousands of artifacts and works of art reflecting Louisiana's legacy of historic events and cultural diversity....

, was for decades misidentified as Pioneer. The Bayou submarine and Pioneer may have undergone trials at about the same time and confusion between the two may date back to contemporary accounts; it is not clear which of the two was constructed first.

A life size model of the Pioneer can be viewed and explored at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum, in Madisonville, Louisiana.
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