An expert in the field of underwater archaeology brought his state-of-the-art technology to the Escatawpa River last week to look for a "small" piece of artillery thought to be a mid-19th century cannon.
A grant from the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area and private donations made possible an extensive magnetometer survey directed by Michael K. Faught of Tallahassee, Florida, a senior maritime archaeologist with Panamerican Consultants Inc., of Memphis, Tenn.
Newspaper accounts and oral history indicate Moss Point's town cannon was dumped in the river near and slightly north of the present-day downtown river walk and piers.
Dr. Chris Wiggins of Pascagoula is leading an effort to locate, raise and restore the cannon. A Jackson County orthopedic surgeon, he is president-elect of the Jackson County Historical and Genealogical Society.
"Tradition held that the cannon had been left over from the Civil War," Wiggins said. "Through the later part of the 19th century, it was fired at special town celebrations. However, after a premature detonation injured two teenagers in April 1864, it was thrown into the Escatawpa River where it has remained, all but forgotten."
Although the collected magnetic data has to be further processed and analyzed, initial findings did not disappoint.
"We obtained some very interesting hits with our equipment," Faught said. "Your waterway has been a busy little place over the years. But we definitely found one shipwreck, possibly a 19th century schooner, maybe another shipwreck, and one object that is most intriguing. We will have to process the data before we can come to any firm conclusions."
Using side scan sonar, Faught and his associate, underwater archaeologist James Duff, completed the Escatawpa River project in 3 hours. A 20-foot boat pulled the sonar equipment up and down the river while local society member Buck Redmond and a few other spectators watched.