Monitor Artifacts

By Panaggio, Leonard J. | Sea Classics, February 2003 | Go to article overview

Monitor Artifacts


Panaggio, Leonard J., Sea Classics


Archaeologists and conservators from the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) and The Mariners' Museum recovered a wide array of artifacts after weeks of digging through more than four feet of 140-year-old silt that filled the USS Monitor's gun turret. The Civil War gun turret was recovered from the bottom of NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sactuary off North Carolina's coast on 5 August 2002, during a 41-day expedition that brought the turret to the Museum for further excavation and conservation.

"The objects we are recovering, along with their locations within the turret, provide more insight into the sequence of events that occurred the night the Monitor sank," said John Broadwater, manager of the NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and director of the turret excavation. The excavation is expected to be completed soon and then there will be the removal of the two eleven-inch Dahlgren guns and their carriages from the turret.

The skeleton remains of two of the ship's sailors were recovered from the turret's silt which were originally discovered during the recovery expedition. They were carefully removed and were sent to the Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, where scientists hope to identify each individual.

Since excavation efforts began in early August, archaeologists have discovered a number of artifacts that tell the human side of the Monitor's story in its legendary battle with the CSS Virginia on 9 March 1862. Some of the artifacts include three silver spoons, a silver fork, two bone or ivory knife handles, fragments of a wool overcoat, a key, coins, a variety of uniform buttons, a hard rubber Goodyear comb, a gold ring, three shoes, one boot, fragments of a wooden cabinet and cannon implements such as worms, a sponge, rammers, brass and wooden blocks, and coal. …

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