The once former Confederate ironclad – CSS Georgia – will be recovered from the bottom of the Savannah River in Georgia according to an AP report. The CSS Georgia was sunk by Confederates in December 1864 to prevent it from being captured by Sherman’s Union forces. Ironically, the reason its being recovered is because the state wants to widen the busy seaport in Savannah but the CSA ironclad blocks the path. The AP reports that it will costs taxpayers roughly $14 million for the recovery project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to salvage the wreckage which has been under water for almost 150 years.
The Confederate Secretary of the Navy – Stephen R. Mallory – wanted to have 34 ironclad vessels built and used by the Confederacy. Only 21 such vessels were ever used by the Confederacy though, largely because Confederate iron was so hard to come by during the Civil War, and the Confederacy lacked the railroad system and logistics to ship it.
Most Confederate ironclads were modeled after the CSS Virginia, a former captured Union vessel known as the USS Merrimack.
What will the engineers find when they raise the ship?
Underwater surveys show two large chunks of the ship’s iron-armored siding have survived, the largest being 68 feet (21 meters) long and 24 feet (7.3 meters) tall. Raising them intact will be a priority. Researchers also spotted three cannons on the riverbed, an intact propeller and other pieces of the warship’s steam engines. And there’s smaller debris scattered across the site that could yield unexpected treasures, requiring careful sifting beneath 40 feet (12 meters) of water.
The AP story states:
Once the remains of the Georgia are removed from the river and preserved by experts, the Army Corps will have to decide who gets the spoils. Morgan said ultimately the plan is to put the warship’s artifacts on public display. But which museum or agency will get custody of them has yet to be determined.
Right now the Confederate shipwreck legally belongs to the U.S. Navy. More than 150 years after the Civil War began, the CSS Georgia is still officially classified as a captured enemy vessel.