EZRA'S Chamberlin'S ID TAG

Archaeologists discovered a Union Infantry button inside the submarine. These types of buttons have been recovered from other Civil War battlefields. Confederate soldiers had limited supplies, especially clothing, and it was common for them to collect and wear discarded or captured Union clothing and equipment. To date the buttons recovered from the Hunley submarine as a whole represent a diverse collection of both Confederate and Union military units.

When the Hunley project team began excavating the submarine, no one would have expected a Union Identification Tag to be found. But on April 27, 2001, a tag was found bearing the name and class of Ezra Chamberlain, Private, 7th Connecticut Infantry, Union Forces. The ID tag was found on the back lower portion of the skull of one of the crewmen. This is a position you would expect since the crewman would have been tilted forward while cranking the submarine. It is natural to assume that the crewman would swing the necklace and the tag around to hang down his backside.

Since the discovery, much speculation has surrounded Private Chamberlain and his ID tag:

The reverse side of the Ezra Chamberlin coin.

The obverse side of the Ezra Chamberlin coin.

Was Ezra onboard the Hunley on that fateful night?

Did he switch sides?

As a prisoner of war, was he forced to man the Hunley?

Was Ezra’s ID tag picked up from the battlefield by a Hunley crewman as a souvenir of war?



Discoveries made in early 2002 solved this Hunley mystery.Forensic experts working on the Hunley crews’ remains found that the Hunley crewman wearing the ID tag was in his thirties, while Ezra would have been only 24 at the time of the Hunley’s historic mission.  This corresponds with the conclusion drawn after careful study of Ezra’s life:  he could not have been aboard the Hunley.  Pvt. Chamberlain was killed-in-action, body-not-recovered, on Morris Island, July 11, 1863, and the artifact, bearing his name, discovered on the Hunley, was a battlefield souvenir.

Further research and DNA confirmation has found that the name of the Hunley crewmember wearing Ezra’s ID tag was Joseph Ridgaway.  It is possible Ridgaway picked up the tag while conducting picket duty on Morris Island. 

Related Pages:

Excavation Timeline
Lt. Dixon's Gold Coin
Ezra Chamberlin's ID Tag
Facial Reconstructions

Copyright (c) 2014 Friends of the Hunley.
All Rights Reserved.