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Smn James A. Wicks

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Smn James A. Wicks

  • Birth 1825 South Carolina, USA
  • Death 17 Feb 1864 Sullivans Island, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA
  • Burial Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA
  • Memorial ID 5793745

Civil War Figure, Crewman of the HL Hunley submarine. Thanks to information available from his family as well as Union records, we know a good deal about Wicks. It is known that he was born in North Carolina around 1819, one of only three members of the Hunley crew born in the South. Seaman Wicks grew up to be a robust young man, standing nearly 5'10" tall and was a heavy tobacco user. In 1850, in his early 30’s, Wicks joined the United States Navy and for over a decade served first as a Seaman and later as a Quartermaster. In 1850, the same year he joined the Navy, while stationed in Brooklyn, N.Y., he married and over time became the father of four girls. When the Civil War began, his wife and children were living in Fernandina, Florida. Because Wicks was called into service in a war against his native region it can only be assumed that this created a sense of conflicted loyalties. When the War began, Wicks may have wanted to be closer to his family and he may have wanted to fight on the side of his homeland. Circumstances, however, made it literally difficult for him to jump ship. In March 1862, he would have his chance, while serving onboard the USS Congress. When Wick’s ship was destroyed off the coast of a Southern state, he was given the opportunity to enter Virginia and cross to the other side of the battle lines. That he did, on April 7, 1862. In Richmond, Virginia, Wicks enlisted with the Confederate Navy and was classified as a Seaman. He was originally with the HL Hunley but left twice for two different missions but on February 5, 1864, Wicks was sent back to Charleston and must have arrived only days before the Hunley’s final voyage. His assignment was to man the Hunley’s sixth crank position. Wicks’ responsibilities included operating the crank and, in case of emergency, his job was to release the aft keel block. During excavation, a keel release mechanism was found below the station manned by Wicks. Also, if something were to happen to Seaman Ridgaway, the second-in-command, Wicks would have taken over his duties. Wicks surviving relatives and his service in the US Navy have enabled researchers to learn much about the appearance of this man. According to records, he had light brown hair, blue eyes, and a florid complexion. Two of Wicks’ daughters had children. Descendants of his oldest daughter were in Charleston, S.C. April 17, 2004 for the burial of their ancestor. The HL Hunley sank 4 miles off the coast of Sullivan's Island (Charleston), South Carolina, on February 17, 1864, after sinking the USS Housatonic. The submarine was raised in 2000 and the crewmembers reinterred with the first 2 crews in Magnolia Cemetery, April 17, 2004.

Bio by: Just another taphophile

Family Members


  • Created by: Pine
  • Added: 22 Sep 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5793745
  • Blockade Runner
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Smn James A. Wicks (1825–17 Feb 1864), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5793745, citing Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Pine (contributor 46502227) .