The mystery of what killed the crew of the H.L. Hunley may finally be solved

The mystery of what caused the crew of the H.L. Hunley to suddenly die may finally be solved. 

The Hunley was a confederate submarine that, in 1864, became the first sub to sink an enemy battleship. However, after its victory, it also sank to the bottom of the ocean.

It was pulled from its resting place in the year 2000 and, although a number of theories have surfaced, one recently published in the journal Plos One may have cracked the case. 

The Hunley shot a torpedo that sunk the union ship the USS Housatonic. Biochemist Rachel Lance believes it was the shockwave the torpedo created that took the lives of the crew.

RELATED: Photos of the H.L. Hunley

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Civil war ship H.L. Hunley
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Civil war ship H.L. Hunley
Conservator Johanna Rivera walks past the bow of the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley as it stands free of the steel truss that was used to raise it from the ocean floor in 2000 after the truss was removed at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and was recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
Conservation crew members work on the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley as it stands free of the steel truss that was used to raise it from the ocean floor in 2000 after the truss was removed at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and was recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
A concretion layer covers the the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley as it stands free of the steel truss that was used to raise it from the ocean floor in 2000 at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and was recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
John King (L) of J.A. King & Company, senior conservator Paul Mardikian (2nd L) and archaeologist Benjamin Rennison look over the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley, as it stands free of the steel truss that was used to raise it from the ocean floor in 2000, at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and was recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
A concretion layer covers the hand crank that crew members powered the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley after it was freed of the steel truss that was used to raise it from the ocean floor in 2000 at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and was recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
An interior view of the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship. It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
A member of the conservation crew walks beside the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
Senior conservator Paul Mardikian looks at the x-ray of a portal on the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
Conservation crew members work on the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley as it stands free of the steel truss that was used to raise it from the ocean floor in 2000 after the truss was removed at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and was recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
Senior conservator Paul Mardikian wets down the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley after it was freed of the steel truss that was used to raise it from the ocean floor in 2000 at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship.It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and was recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
Senior conservator Paul Mardikian checks over the stern of the Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, South Carolina January 12, 2012. The Hunley was the secret weapon of the Confederacy and the world's first submarine to sink an enemy ship. It attacked and sank the Union warship Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864, and then disappeared. The submarine was found several miles off Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s and was recovered in 2000. REUTERS/Randall Hill (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY)
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The wave would have traveled through the cabin and caused pulmonary hemorrhaging. 

After testing several blasts herself and using prior knowledge of air blast experiments on larger animals, Lance says "any explosive we've seen in the field ... would definitely create a lethal wave."

And while some doubt Lance’s theory, a gold pocket watch that belonged to the Hunley’s captain stopped at 8:23, which historians say is right around the time the sub made history. 

The Hunley Project said in 2007 that something traumatic caused the watch to stop at that exact moment. 

Researchers are still studying the sub and it seems like it’s only a matter of time until we find out the truth about what really happened to the Hunley. 

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