NC researchers believe they have found Civil War-era wreckage

Marine researchers believe they have found the wreckage of a Cival War-era steamer near Fort Caswell at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. (Source: N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.)

KURE BEACH, NC (WECT) – Marine researchers believe they have found the wreckage of a Civil War-era steamer near Fort Caswell at the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

Researchers and archaeologists from the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology and the Institute of International Maritime Research believe the vessel is possibly the remains of one of three blockade runners used to penetrate Union vessels blocking Wilmington’s port during the Civil War.

The discovery was made on Feb. 27 during sonar operations. The wreck is located 27 miles downstream from Wilmington.

“A new runner is a really big deal,” said Billy Ray Morris, deputy state archaeologist-underwater and director of the Underwater Archaeology Branch. “The state of preservation on this wreck is among the best we’ve ever had.”

Three blockade runners are known to have been lost in the area – the Agnes E. Fry, Spunkie and Georgianna McCaw.

Researchers aboard the research vessel Atlantic Surveyor recorded the complete hull of the vessel. Students from East Carolina University’s Maritime Studies Program will join them as they continue gathering data as weather permits.

These operations are part of a major project funded by the National Park Service through the American Battlefield Protection Program.

The Underwater Archaeology Branch within the Office of State Archaeology is part of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Copyright 2016 WECT. All rights reserved.

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