|Shanna Daniel examines cannon (U.S. Navy: Spc. 2nd Class Mutis A. Capizzi)|
|CSS Georgia ammunition fuses (US Navy photo)|
More than 4,000 artifacts from the ironclad CSS Georgia that have undergone conservation are at the Washington Navy Yard, where officials are cataloging and storing them in hopes that an institution will eventually come forward with a exhibit plan.
The items -- which run the gamut from ammunition and machinery to an artillery piece and propeller -- rest in crates, wooden boxes and other containers.
Many are put in archival bags and are covered with foam and padding, said Shanna Daniel, a conservator with the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch.
The first shipment from Texas A&M University’s Conservation Research Laboratory in College Station arrived in Washington earlier this year and another was recently received.
|Propeller is pulled from Savannah River (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Savannah)|
Daniel and others ensure that the artifacts are kept in relative humidity between 40 percent and 50 percent and that rooms have a constant temperature of between 65 and 70 degrees. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers help keep conditions stable.
While items would normally go in cabinets, where they can be seen, the boxes will soon be moved to another facility as the warehouse is renovated.
The CSS Georgia was a floating battery on the Savannah River that kept any Union marauders away during the Civil War.
The scattered remains of the scuttled Confederate ship was moved by the US Army Corps of Engineers as part of a massive harbor-deepening project in Savannah. The contemporary salvaging of the ironclad began with the symbolic raising of a piece of casemate -- protective armor made up of railroad track iron -- in November 2013.
Since then, at least 14,000 artifacts were sent to Texas for conservation, which for several items will last many more years.
|Daniel shows a brass elevation sight (U.S. Navy photo)|
A unique aspect of the CSS Georgia was its armor: Builders in Savannah -- limited by resources and technology – used sections of railroad track for the casemate and other protective features. Some of those railroad pieces are now in storage at the Navy Yard.
“One archaeologist said there were seven types used to put this ship together. It was ingenious to come up with these resources to do that,” Daniel recently told the Picket.
The conservator said that story and those about other artifacts could be educational for a variety of audiences.
The US Navy -- which owns the vessel – has encouraged museums “to obtain a vision” on how they might display artifacts and tell the CSS Georgia’s story. Several institutions visited the salvage site in 2017, but there has been no recent contact from any, Daniel says.
|Artifacts in shipping crates (U.S. Navy: Spc. 2nd Class Mutis A. Capizzi)|
That’s not a rare situation, she said. The museums may be waiting for more of the artifacts – especially the larger cannon – to complete conservation. And institutions must comply with regulations regarding federally owned and administered archaeological collections and come up with a good bit of money for such an exhibit.
The Picket has reached out to the Army Corps’ office in Savannah for more information on the status and timetable of artifact conservation.