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Byline: Scott Dodd and Dan Huntley
CHARLESTON, S.C. _ Confederate cannons thundered over this city's historic harbor Saturday as more than 30,000 people packed the streets for the Super Bowl of Civil War nostalgia.
The clomping of horses' hooves covered nearly five miles, past antebellum row houses to a moss-draped cemetery. The procession honored eight pioneering submariners who perished _ obscure and almost forgotten _ in a 40-foot ironclad tube at the briny bottom of Charleston hHarbor. It was called the H.L. Hunley.
One hundred forty years after the sinking, the men were celebrated and buried in a fashion usually reserved for fallen heads of state. Thousands of mourners followed horse-drawn caissons topped with flowered wreaths.
The eight Confederate crewmen _ some whose full names aren't even known _ were laid to rest alongside 13 others who perished in two earlier attempts to disrupt a Union blockade.
"It's a funeral, but I can't really feel sad," said Richard Barker of Jacksonville, Fla., the great-great-grandson of Hunley crewman James Wicks. "I'm just so overwhelmed at the response the boat and the crew continue to get."
Sandra Rogers of Orangeburg, S.C., needed just two words to explain why she and her husband, Al, came to Charleston for the procession: "We're Southerners." To them, the Hunley represents a victory against Northern aggression.
The men of the Hunley, Rogers said, "died to make us who we are today." The primitive sub's crewmen were the test pilots of their era, sweating to turn handcranks that powered their boat's propeller. Robert Neyland, head of the U.S. Navy's underwater archaeology program, has said the Hunley was to submarine warfare what the Wright brothers were to aviation.
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Karl Evans of Apex, N.C., agrees. A World War II submarine veteran who attended Saturday's ceremony in a wheelchair, Evans, 86, said he never even heard of the Hunley when qualifying for sub duty aboard the USS Porpoise. The Navy at the time believed submarine warfare reached back only to 1900. "I feel real sympathy for them and all …