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The South shall rise again! Confederate ironclad to be raised from Savannah River

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A sunken Confederate ironclad will soon be raised from the bottom of the Savannah River where the wreck lay for nearly 150 years. Officials hope to preserve the sunken artifact in advance of dredging which will deepen the waterway to allow for larger ships to enter the port.

SAVANNAH, GA (Catholic Online) - Known as the CSS Georgia, the ironclad ship was designed to destroy the wooden Union ships that blockaded every Confederate port during the American Civil War. She was built in 1862 and launched the following year.

It became immediately apparent the Georgia lacked power to compete with the faster Union vessels so it was decided she would be permanently anchored in the river where she would serve as a floating battery.

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Anchored in 1863, she remained afloat until General Sherman approached Savannah overland from Atlanta. As the city fell to Union invasion, it was decided to scuttle the ship to avoid it falling into Union hands.

On Dec. 21, 1865, the Georgia was sent to the bottom, some of her guns and ammunition still aboard.

Now at the murky depths of the muddy river, the Georgia would remain until today. On several occasions, starting in 1968, the Georgia would be struck by dredging equipment. The 1968 incident was the first time the Georgia was located since her sinking. She was marked as a hazard on navigational maps.

The Georgia has been stricken a few times by dredging and anchors, but overall it is believed to be in a fairly preserved state. Her guns and munitions have also been located.

The Georgia is 250 feet in length and 60 feet across. It will be a feat to raise the wreck, or any significant part of it, to the surface. Before that can happen, experts will need to decide how best to preserve the ship, which has rested at the bottom of the river, partially encased in mud, for almost 150 years.

To that end, experts raised a portion of the ship on Tuesday. The raised portion was already separated from the rest of the ship and was not broken off by the recovery process.

Divers have already been to the wreck to assess the difficulty they will face when it comes time to raise it. Among the challenges is low visibility. The water is muddy and murky and divers only have a few feet of visibility.

If the wreck is raised, it will probably have to be fragmented further, with portions displayed at museums. It is impossible to preserve the remains as a whole vessel. It is also possible the ship may already be more broken that currently thought. It is impossible to float the ship.

After the Georgia is removed and shipped to various museums, the channel into the Savannah River will be deepened by another 5 feet to a depth of 47 feet. At that depth, larger ships, now passing through the recently enlarged Panama Canal, can be serviced at the port in Savannah, boosting the economy there.

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