Shipwrecks and other obstructions the Union sank to the bottom of Charleston Harbor during the Civil War – along with submerged Confederate blockade runners – are mapped in a project that took scientists nearly as long as the four-year battle for the city where the war began.
The endeavor taken on by James Spirek and his colleagues from the University of South Carolina Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology cost almost $60,000 and provides a nearly complete map of the war relics in the busy harbor.
The project was financed with an American Battlefield Protection grant matched by the institute.
The map includes the locations of the so-called Stone Fleet and 13 wrecked blockade runners.
The Union brought the Stone Fleet of 29 old whaling and merchant vessels from New England, filled them with stones and sank the mess to obstruct Confederate shipping.
Spirek’s team located the first Stone Fleet by finding ballast mounds beneath the main shipping channel.
A second group of 13 ships is in another channel and its location has proved elusive, so Spirek plans to return this year to explore further.