The CSS Appomattox went down in flames in 1862 as her Confederate crew set her ablaze while fleeing Union forces.
A team of volunteer divers has located the Civil War shipwreck and its identity has been confirmed by the Underwater Archaeology Branch, N.C. Office of Archives and History in the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.
A silver-plated spoon inscribed with “J Skerritt” discovered by the divers was critical to establishing the identity of the wreck.
The volunteer divers knew that the Appomattox crew was on loan from the Confederate ironclad Virginia. Upon searching the Virginia’s crew list, reference was found to sailor James Skerritt.
The divers turned the research over to the state’s underwater archaeologists along with the spoon.
“We were searching for about 10 years,” recalls Philip Madre, who led the team that located the wreck in the . “In August 2007, we found the boat and the James Skerritt spoon.” Madre had heard of the shipwreck when growing up in the area.
His team included his son, Jason Madre, Jason Forbes and Eddie Congleton. They had worked on seven other boats earlier only to learn from Underwater Archaeology Branch experts that none of them was the Appomattox.
“When we found this one with the screw propeller and shaft, we felt this one could be it,” Madre said.