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Shipwreck dating to the American Civil War found off North Carolina

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Shipwreck dating to the American Civil War found off North Carolina

Thu, 10/03/2016 - 13:59
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A large iron-hulled Civil War era steamer has been discovered in the Atlantic Ocean near Oak Island off the coast of North Carolina. The vessel is believed to possibly be the remains of one of three blockade runners used to penetrate the wall of Union naval vessels blocking the port of Wilmington during the Civil War.

A sonar image of the newly-discovered Civil War-era shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina
A sonar image of the newly-discovered Civil War-era shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina

The goal of the Union blockade was to keep supplies from reaching the Confederacy through one of its most important ports and to prevent the export of cotton and other marketable items by the Southerners.

Archaeologists discovered the shipwreck 44 km (27 miles) downstream from Wilmington near Fort Caswell, at the mouth of Cape Fear River — making it the first Civil War shipwreck uncovered in the region in decades, said Billy Ray Morris, deputy state maritime archaeologist and director of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology's Underwater Archaeology Branch.

At least three blockade-runners — the Agnes E. Fry, Spunkie and Georgianna McCaw — are known to be shipwrecked in the area, and the archaeologists said they would look for clues that will help them identify whether this vessel is one of them.

Researchers and archaeologists from the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology and the Institute of International Maritime Research made the discovery Saturday, Feb. 27 during sonar operations.

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