This is not one of the articles in the Hunley series, it is an apology. In my articles I always try to walk the fine line between sharing new information and “talking down” to my readers (I don’t like it when people do that to me either). People today are so very informed about a wide variety of subjects. The problem is that sometimes I forget that some things are not common knowledge. The Hunley‘s blue light is just such a case.
Some sources inter-change blue light and blue lantern. This is incorrect. The Hunley did have a lantern on board, but they did not use the lantern to give the famous blue light signal. At that time, blue light, was a term that described a signal flare that gave off a blue light. The blue light can be seen for about 4 miles at sea and a lantern can be seen for about 1 mile. Many people who searched for the Hunley also did not understand this difference, which led them to search for the Hunley in the wrong location.
Chris Rucker wrote a very good and surprisingly short article on this topic ( here is the link http://civilwartalk.com/threads/h-l-hunleys-blue-lantern-myth.64150/ ). Chris has conducted research using the orignal ingredients for the Civil War area flare, and shared his research on YouTube.com (the video titles are in his article). Chris’ research on this topic will be shared in a longer article in the first issue of Civil War Navy magazine.
I apologize that I was not more specific in my article. Thank you Chris for sharing your knowledge and efforts with us all.