1989 Season


A reevaluation of the methodology used on the site in 1988 brought many refinements to the field operation. An intensive search located the stem post under one foot of bottom sediment. This allowed an accurate baseline to be established from the stem post to the rudder for reference and mapping. The baseline, however, rested on the paddle wheel shaft creating some inherent error due to problems of alignment. Permanent mooring clamps were placed on the stem post, rudder post and the paddle wheel shaft (Keith V. Holland, personal communication 1992; Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992; Manley 1992:152).

The primary objective for this season was to continue the previous excavation on a larger scale. In order to gain better control over the work the access hole was enlarged and a XYZ coordinate mapping system established. To enlarge the hole, an additional 4 feet of deck planking was removed from starboard side making it 8 feet athwart ship by 42 inches bow to stern as measured between the deck beams (Figure 8). The deck beam running through the center was then removed, cutting it flush with the port side of the hole and leaving ten inches projecting on the starboard side. The larger hole expedited artifact removal and increased safety for divers working inside the hold (Keith V. Holland, personal communication 1992; Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992; Manley 1992:152-153).

A coordinate mapping system was designed to provide localized provenience using the structural members of the ship. A reference datum was established on the top center of the protruding deck beam at the edge of the deck planking. Measurements on the bow to stern axis were taken by counting deck beams with 24 inch centers while athwart ship measurements were determined by counting the 5 1/4 inch wide deck planks. These measurements were then converted to feet and inches as necessary. Vertical control was maintained by establishing three arbitrary levels, each approximately 2 feet thick, beginning at the top of the deck beams. A folding rule with 6 inch sections was used to record rough depth measurements. Due to zero visibility conditions, all measurements were relayed to the surface via the hard wire communication system. With provenience recorded, the artifact or group of artifacts was given a recovery number which identified the lot throughout the recovery process and conservation treatment (Keith V. Holland, personal communication 1992; Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992; Manley 1992:153).

A nine day period, from May 19 to May 27, was allotted to excavate a four foot square hole down to the bottom of the hull and remove all material encountered. In practice, this hole was enlarged at the top and tapered towards the bottom to keep mud and cargo from sloughing into the excavation. The 1988 investigation indicated that most of the material in this area of the ship was packed in wooden boxes. Boxes with any degree of structural integrity were recovered by placing them on a lifting platform and securing support plates of the appropriate size around the sides using four foot carpenter vise clamps. Deteriorated boxes were dismantled and the artifacts placed in lifting containers for recovery. Artifact clusters not associated with a box and isolated finds were placed directly into lifting containers. When the work was completed, the access hole was covered with plywood without backfilling the interior excavation (Keith V. Holland, personal communication 1992; Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992; Manley 1992:152-153).


While most of the activities during this season concentrated on the stern, investigations at the stem provided structural information on the bow. Once the stem post was found, divers dredged down along side to determine the condition of the ship in this area. The stem post measured 10 inches sided and 12 inches molded. Six feet below, divers found the detached bow rail from the weather deck and recovered it for conservation and display at the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History. (Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992; Manley 1992:152).

In February 1992 the rail was inspected at the museum and measured drawings completed. This large V-shaped structure is composed of two arms fastened together at the apex by a horizontal knee (Figure 9). The back edge of the knee forms a composite mortise with the rails that once fitted around the stem post. The face of the knee measures 10 inches across and corresponds with the sided dimension of the stem post. Each arm of the V is a rail constructed of two timbers fastened together with iron bolts secured on the underside with square nuts. Crude chocks are cut into the top timber of each rail. Except for damage caused by wood boring molluscs on the forward ends of each rail, the entire structure seemed in excellent condition (Cantelas 1992).

Investigation within the aft cargo hold proceeded by three arbitrary levels each approximately two feet thick. A flat wooden surface was encountered six feet below the deck level. This was initially thought to be the bilge ceiling, but historical documentation clearly gives the depth of hold as 10.6 feet. The excavation area extended beyond the edges of the access hole, reaching a maximum dimension of 11 feet athwart ship and 6 feet 3 inches fore and aft in level 2. Level 3 narrowed to 6 feet 6 inches by 4 feet 6 inches and only a small area on the starboard side of the access hole was excavated to the wooden surface. Artifact associations were maintained as clusters and given recovery numbers (Keith V. Holland, personal communication 1992; Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992; SJAEI 1989).

Observations made during the work identified several possible stowage procedures. Heavy materials were packed low in the hold, possibly for vessel stability and to avoid breaking or crushing fragile cargo. Odd sized items, such as the wooden tent poles found floating under the deck beams, were probably packed last and laid on top of the cargo. The wooden remains of a possible partition, oriented along the longitudinal axis of the ship, was found approximately seven feet from the port side of the vessel. It was constructed of six inch planks, one half inch thick, fastened horizontally with tongue and groove joints. The partition was encountered three feet below the deck beams with three planks exposed for a distance of four feet and appeared in very poor condition. Whether this was an actual partition could not be conclusively determined because the terminal ends of the planks extended beyond the excavation unit and were not observed. All but three recoveries were made between the starboard edge of the access hole and the partition. These were Recovery 26 from Level 1 and Recoveries 28 and 31 from Level 2. The area beyond the partition may be another stowage compartment or the Recoveries found here may have shifted or floated over after the vessel sank (Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992; SJAEI 1989, n.d.).

The material removed during the investigation consisted of camp equipment and the personal belongings of officers and enlisted men. The belongings of at least three Union regiments are known to be on board the vessel; 112th New York Infantry, 169th New York Infantry, and 13th Indiana Infantry (Board of Survey 1864; New York Times April 13, 1864; Towart 1992:14). A total of fifty Recoveries were made and out of these, six contained artifacts associated with identifiable individuals. Five were from New York with four belonging to the 112 New York Infantry. They include Regimental Surgeon, Charles E. Washburn (Recovery 17), Private Benjamin S. Haight, Company B (Recovery 4), Private John Te Culver, Company D (Recovery 10), and Second Lieutenant William H. Potter, Company D (Recovery 20) (Hyde 1866: 145; Phisterer 1890: 152, 157, 3322, 3324) Also represented is Surgeon Asa B. Snow from the 1st New York Engineers, 61st Infantry (Recovery 12). The sixth individual is David G. Nash (Recovery 2) but no record of him has been found (SJAEI n.d.). This limited sample suggests that personal belongings were packed in separate containers and that containers were stowed by regiment without regard to rank or company.

A considerable drop in the water temperature was noticed at the bottom of the cargo hold. Two small holes were found in the flat wooden surface directly under the starboard edge of the access hole. Investigation suggested a positive pressure flow of cool water coming from these holes and no sediment had accumulated below the wooden surface. This may indicate that the vessel settled on top of a fresh water spring that somehow breached the hull. Proper equipment for sampling and testing the water was not available (Lee B. Manley, personal communication 1992). The effect of this phenomenon on the ship and its cargo is not known and could be important to the direction of future research.