Pioneer (submarine)

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The Confederate submarine Pioneer drawn by Ensign David M. Stauffer of the Mississippi Squadron, 1865
Builder: Horace Lawson Hunley, James McClintock and Baxter Watson
Laid down: New Orleans, Louisiana
Launched: 1862
Fate: Sold for scrap
General characteristics

Pioneer was the first of three submarines privately developed and paid for by Horace Lawson Hunley, James McClintock, and Baxter Watson.

While the United States Navy was constructing its first submarine, the USS Alligator, in late 1861, the Confederates were doing so as well. Hunley, McClintock and Watson built Pioneer in New Orleans, Louisiana. Pioneer was tested in February 1862 in the Mississippi River, and was later towed to Lake Pontchartrain for additional trials, but the Union advance towards New Orleans the following month prompted the men to abandon development and scuttle Pioneer in the New Basin Canal. The team followed with the American Diver, built after relocating to Mobile, Alabama.

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.[1]

The Bayou St. John submarine, now in the collection of the Louisiana State Museum, 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.