Sunday, May 8, 2022

CSS Georgia: Navy sends batch of ironclad artifacts pulled from Savannah River to National Civil War Naval Museum for display

CSS Georgia propeller is raised from Savannah River in 2015 (Dept. of Defense)
Updated May 18:

The National Civil War Naval Museum has received a first shipment of artifacts belonging to the CSS Georgia, the ironclad vessel that was part of Savannah’s effective river defenses.

The U.S. Navy recently lent about 20 conserved items to the Columbus, Ga., museum, which has worked for years to receive items from the Confederate floating battery. The CSS Georgia was scuttled by its crew when Union forces took Savannah in December 1864.

Museum executive director Holly Wait told the Picket that the shipment included a propeller, shaft, cannon, part of an anchor, part of a gun port, pipe stem, sword sheath, several glass bottles, an eye bolt, gun site and an elevation screw.

“It was a really big feather in our cap to get such a collection as this,” museum director of history and collections Jeff Seymour told the Ledger-Enquirer newspaper.

The Civil War Picket has written extensively about the CSS Georgia and reached out to the Naval History and Heritage Command for comment and further details.

"NHHC hopes that through display of the CSS Georgia artifacts at NCWNM, the public will benefit from a greater understanding of archaeology, conservation, Civil War history and US Navy history," said Lt. Anthony Ivester, public affairs officer for the command.

Conserved and shipped 6-pounder from CSS Georgia (Courtesy of NCWNM)
Most of the ironclad’s wreckage was removed a few years back as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ deepening of the Savannah River to make room for larger tankers. Thousands of artifacts have undergone treatment at Texas A&M University, which shipped them to the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. for storage.

The project, which involved contractors and U.S. Navy divers, recovered more than 30,000 artifacts, including 241 pieces of ordnance, five cannons and two large casemate sections. The latter were documented and left in the water.

In 2017, Navy officials invited several museums, including from Savannah, to the recovery site. The Columbus museum is the first to receive the artifacts from NHHC, which is the custodian of naval artifacts and history.

"We have received previous inquiries from other institutions, but there are no other active agreements for CSS Georgia artifacts," said Ivester.

The Navy and the museum reached an agreement on the loan in March and the items were shipped on May 3, officials said. For now, the CSS Georgia artifacts will be displayed in the museum's main gallery, Wait said.

When asked about long-term plans for a display, Ivester said:

"NCWNM has agreed to coordinate with NHHC as they develop the exhibit for the CSS Georgia artifacts. Archaeological artifacts are best compatible with certain materials and NHHC can provide specialized guidance on which materials are suitable for their continued preservation while on display."

Wait said the shipment was the first of a few expected over the next three to five years.

“The Navy has a standard 3-year loan agreement to confirm that items are cared for properly.  However, all our conversations with them have included our long-term plans," she wrote in an email.

The NHHC described the present loan as short-term, with the possibility of renewal.

Wait said the CSS Georgia will be the seventh Civil War vessel to be exhibited in the country. The museum has two others: the ironclad CSS Jackson and the twin-screw wooden ship CSS Chattahoochee.

Gordon Watts, who has dived on the CSS Georgia and was involved in its recovery and study of artifacts, told the Picket: "I think it is fantastic that museum personnel have been able to obtain a collection of artifacts from the Georgia. Now at least some of the numerous artifacts recovered from the wreck will be available for public access. Congratulations to the National Civil War Naval Museum on a significant addition to their already impressive exhibits."

No comments:

Post a Comment