I MM Ml MM MM MM MM Ml MM MM MM MM Ml MM MM MM MM Ml MM MM MM MM Ml MM MM MM MM Ml MM MM MM MM MM
I wanted to write this book on Civil War shipwrecks from the time I was in the sixth grade. When I began, I thought there would just be a few hundred shipwrecks, but I was wrong. This book covers more than two thousand American or American Civil War period-related shipwrecks between the years 1861 and 1865. It is likely that I failed to find information on a few shipwrecks, but I feel confident that the vast majority of wrecks related to the Civil War are included. For some shipwrecks I found very limited information, while in the case of others there is much published and unpublished material.
In this book shipwreck means a vessel sunk, scuttled, burned, grounded, lost, capsized, missing, blown up, one that collided with another vessel or object and sank, or one that was generally made unusable without salvage and substantial repairs. Vessels temporarily grounded or beached have generally been excluded. For several vessels it was difficult to decide whether or not they were shipwrecks. Some blockade-runners listed as sunk in Union or Confederate records were actually grounded and quickly refloated. Examples of vessels that experienced temporary groundings are the blockade-runners Annie and Ranger off Cape Fear, North Carolina, and the Havelock and Flamingo off Charleston, South Carolina. Rowboats, small boats, most ferries, and canoes are excluded because of their small size. Several very small sloops and schooners are included, as they were listed in the Union or Confederate official records.
The entries are formatted to get as much information in as little space as possible. Each entry provides an overview of a shipwreck. There is a wealth of information on Civil War shipwrecks, with more becoming available all the time because of continuing cultural resources exploration. Environmental and cultural resources laws have resulted in a number of investigations that have discovered many shipwrecks from the Civil War period in recent years.
I did my best to determine the site of each shipwreck from various sources, but some locations are vague or unknown. The vessels I have listed in the "Shipwrecks of
Unknown Location" section near the end of the book have no location given where they were lost in the information I reviewed.
Otherwise, I divided the shipwrecks in this book into geographic location by state, country, or body of water, as seemed most logical to me. Because rivers meander over the years and are often dividing lines for states, I often list shipwrecks in river sections, since it is sometimes unclear in which state a shipwreck occurred. I list vessels without names, with unknown names, and with names I could not locate under "Vessels without Names"—by vessel type—at the end of each geographic section.
In general location names at the time of the shipwreck are used in the book. Many place names have changed since the Civil War. Some towns have disappeared. Rivers have moved or meandered, often leaving shipwrecks below dry land. The metropolis of New York is listed as New York City, and well-known cities are often referenced without their state (e.g., Boston without Mass.).
Vessels often had several names over their careers. Each vessel's name when it was sunk or its most common name is listed first, and its previous names or nicknames are listed in parentheses. Some vessel names are pre-Civil War, and a few names were post-Civil War names, in cases in which the vessel was raised and refitted. Some vessels served in both the Union and Confederate navies or as commercial vessels on both sides. Blockade-runner names were frequently changed to deceive Union spies, so there is frequently some confusion regarding their names. A number of vessels had the same name. It is likely that several vessels are listed twice if they had different data associated with different names. I have noted where I think there may be multiple listings of the same vessel.
At the start of each entry I have noted whether the vessel was in Union or Confederate service or, if neither, what its nationality was (unless it is unknown). Vessels listed as "USS" served in the Union navy or United States Navy, while those listed as "CSS" were part of the Confederate navy. Vessels noted as "Union" were American vessels un der Union control, while the label "Confederate" means the vessels were under Confederate control. Vessels noted as "U.S." were ships privately owned by Americans in 1861 prior to the start of the war or in 1865 after the war's end. Many foreign vessels traded with the Union and the Confederacy, so some vessels are designated as "British," "Spanish," "French," and so on. If the allegiance or nationality is unclear from the sources, which is often the case with blockade-runners, I have indicated that the nationality is unknown.
Information in this encyclopedia came from a wide variety of sources. Not surprisingly, data are often conflicting on dimensions and tonnage. Vessels were frequently modified or rebuilt to include technical innovations, to increase cargo capacities, or to be repaired. Many underwent dimension changes during conversion from commercial vessels to warships or from warships to commercial vessels. The most reliable information, in the author's opinion, is given first, with alternative information following in parentheses.
Hull dimensions generally are linear center-line distances from the stem to the main stern transom. The beam is the widest part of the hull. On stern-wheelers the vessel length could be eXtended considerably by the paddle wheel diameter at the stern. For side-wheelers the beam or width of the vessel could be eXtended because of the supporting structures for the side-wheels. Depth is usually defined as the vertical distance from the bottom of the main deck floor to the bottom of the vessel amidships.
Tonnage is given in the sources as displacement tons, British gross tons, registered tons, gross tons, net tons, burden tons, bulk tons, or simply tons. The measurement of tons was very loose and differed significantly, depending on the weight system or carrying capacity used and its tax consequences. Where the term tons was used, it generally meant about 100 cubic feet of vessel space to the ton. Tons could also be the number of tons of water a vessel would displace, such as the total vessel weight plus its cargo. Gross or registered tons were often based on internal cargo volume without non-cargo areas, such as the crew's quarters, engine room, and so forth.
Some vessel tonnages were estimates and others were precise measurements. A new measurement system was started in 1864. Until about 1865 tonnage also used fractions of 95th tons. After 1865 tons were rounded up or down to the whole ton.
Vessel modification also changed the tonnages assigned to some vessels as the length and beam increased or decreased. Many vessels had several published tonnages over the course of their lives. Merchant vessels converted to military vessels and then converted back to merchant vessels could have several different sets of tonnages based on the tonnage system used and type of vessel modification.
Vessel armament also varied through time. The first armament listing is my best guess for the vessel at the time of sinking, with armaments from other sources listed in parentheses. Crew size or complement was another variable, depending on the vessel's mission and modifications for combat or cargo.
Salvage and excavation information is provided where possible. Salvage boats and divers were widely available during the Civil War but were used only when military security could be provided. Some shipwrecks were salvaged and returned to commerce at the close of the war. Many shipwrecks were removed after the war by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as hazards to navigation when waterborne commerce returned to the southern states.
With the wide underwater access SCUBA has brought, many shipwrecks have been discovered and explored by divers, historians, treasure hunters, and archaeologists since the 1960s. Magnetometers, remote sensing devices, and remote operated robot submarines have helped discover many shipwrecks. There are many points of view relating to the exploration and recovery of material from shipwrecks. I have used information from sources with a wide range of views on these issues.
Salvage of the Bertrand (Missouri River, Neb.), USS Cairo (Yazoo River, Miss.), CSS Muscogee (Chattahoochee River, Ala./Ga.), USS Monitor (Cape Hatteras, N.C.), CSS Alabama (European waters, France), Brother Jonathan (Pacific Coast, Calif.), CSS H. L. Hunley (Charleston, S.C.), and Republic (Atlantic Ocean, off Ga.) has greatly increased public awareness of Civil War era shipwrecks and their place in American history. More shipwreck investigations and salvage remain to be completed on many shipwrecks.
preface | xi
Efforts to raise or excavate several of these old vessels are continuing, usually by the combined efforts of individuals, interested groups, universities, and state and federal agencies.
It is my hope that this book will provide interesting and useful information to students, historians, archaeologists, Civil War buffs, divers, and others. It should be noted that the U.S. Navy has laid claim to all Union and Confederate military warships and enforces its claims where the federal government has control. Also, many commercial vessels had insurance, and their cargo may still be subject to claims from the insurers. The Shipwreck Act set up a method by which all those interested in the discovery and recovery of these vessels' history may participate within United States waters.
A shipwreck is more than just an object for historical commentary. It can also be a habitat for water-dwelling species and a place of recreation and wonder for SCUBA divers as well as a kind of time capsule of discovery for archaeologists and historians. Treasure hunters look at the recovery of gold, silver, and valuables from shipwrecks as part of the capitalist process. Shipwrecks are a site where the present can touch the past. As time passes, we will continue to learn more about these time capsules of the nation's past.
I wish to thank the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Tulsa City-County Library, the Sacramento Public Library, the California State Library system, the University of Tulsa, and many other libraries for help, guidance, and the use of their archives, books, and facilities in the preparation of this book.
Was this article helpful?