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CSS Georgia (1863)
CSS Georgia
Name: Georgia
Laid down: 1862
Launched: 1863
Commissioned: 1863
Decommissioned: December 21, 1864
Fate: Destroyed to prevent capture
Notes: The Georgia DID fire at a small boat of Yankees coming up river.
In 1866 the sunken ship was salvaged,stripped of rail road iron, wooden hull destroyed by underwater charges.
General characteristics
Length: 250 ft (76 m)
Beam: 60 ft (18 m)
Complement: 200 officers and men
Armament: 4 to 9 heavy cannons

CSS Georgia, also known as State of Georgia and Ladies' Ram, was built in Savannah, Georgia in 1862 and was originally designed to be an ironclad warship.[1] Funding in the amount of $115,000 for her construction was provided by the Ladies' Gunboat Association.[2]

Placed under command of Lieutenant Washington Gwathmey, CSN, she was employed in defending the river channels below Savannah, training her cannons against the Union advance.[2] It is believed she lacked effective locomotive power for offensive engagement and was subsequently anchored in the Savannah River, protecting both Savannah and Fort Jackson as a floating battery rather than her intended design as an ironclad warship.[1] CSS Georgia had only been in operation for 20 months when Sherman's March to the Sea ended in Savannah on December 21, 1864; on that day the Confederates chose to scuttle her rather than abandon the ship to the Union. During her service history Georgia never fired a shot in combat.[1]

After settling to the bottom of Savannah River, the wreck lay unknown for more than 100 years; it was during a dredging operation in 1968 that the wreck site was discovered.[1] As dredging continued over the years, the site was avoided; however, possible accidental impacts from dredging equipment and anchors intended to mark site location may have damaged the ironclad.[1] Today, all that remains of Georgia are portions of her forward and aft casemate and remnants of her engines, including boilers, shafts, propellers, and condensers.[2] Several cannon were found near the wreck as well, along with assorted ordnance.[2]

By May, 2012, the Army Corp of Engineers had budgeted $14 million to raise the ironclad in order to accommodate further dredging of the river.[3] Archeologists working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, aided by teams from the U.S. Navy, retrieved a 64-square foot section of Georgia from the bottom of the Savannah River on November 12, 2013.[4]

According to news reports as recent as January 30, 2015, the wreck is to be recovered over a nine month salvage operation as part of an initiative to upgrade waterway access for deep sea vessels; as part of the operation the Savannah River approaches require dredging to 47 feet. The recovery of the ironclad offers an opportunity to research an otherwise forgotten piece of history. News reports allege that only one photograph of the Georgia was known to have been taken, and that has been missing for over thirty years. A photograph of the alleged picture was made in the 1980's, fueling debate as to its authenticity,[5] but on April 13, 2015, John Potter (the person who took the photograph of the alleged photograph of CSS Georgia) confessed that the framed image was a hoax.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 32°5′5″N 81°2′9″W / 32.08472°N 81.03583°W / 32.08472; -81.03583 This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

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