Obverse of $20 coin given to Lieutenant George E. Dixon

The Friends of the Hunley announced on 24 May that Lieutenant George E. Dixon’s gold coin was found inside H. L. Hunley on May 23, 2001. Dr. Robert Neyland, the Project Director and Head, Underwater Archeaology Branch of the Naval Historical Center, said, “the coin was found by Dixon’s remains and in the middle of some textiles, possibly he kept it in his pants pocket.”

According to the story, Lieutenant Dixon’s sweetheart, Queenie Bennett gave him a 20-dollar United States gold piece for luck, which he kept with him in his pants pocket. On 6 April 1862, at the Battle of Shiloh, Lieutenant Dixon was shot in the leg. Fortunately for Dixon, the story goes, the bullet struck the coin and stopped. When the coin was recovered, it was found to be bent, true to the story that it had saved Lieutenant Dixon’s leg and life. It was told that Dixon always kept that lucky coin with him and it now appears that he truly did. “The presence of the coin absolutely confirms the identity of Lieutenant George E. Dixon. It removes all doubt, and also speaks of his character and faith,” said Warren Lasch, Chairman of Friends of the Hunley. “Part of the Hunley’s excavation was to separate fact from fable. The discovery of the coin and its inscription is like discovering Cinderella’s glass slipper,” said Senator Glenn McConnell, Chairman of the Hunley Commission.

The coin was minted in 1860. Lady Liberty appears on the obverse, the side on which the bullet hit. On the reverse are the Federal shield and eagle symbol. That side appears to have been sanded and has an inscription in cursive script that reads, in four lines,

[Inscription on reverse of Dixon’s $20 gold coin]
April 6th 1862
My life Preserver
G.E.D. [Lt. Dixon’s initials]
The coin has been removed from the Warren Lasch Conservation Center and is now in a secured location.