A plan to raise the wreckage of the CSS Georgia from the bottom of Savannah Harbor is generating lots of public comments, including at least one from Augusta.
The vessel, built in 1862 as an ironclad warship, spent its short life as a “floating battery” moored near Old Fort Jackson. It was scuttled in December 1864 to prevent its capture by Union troops.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental impact statement for the $653 million harbor expansion includes $14.2 million to recover the ship’s remains.
One of the comments is from Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy President Bob Young, a former Augusta mayor, who suggested that some of the artifacts to be recovered be shared with Georgia cities – including Augusta – whose residents helped finance the ship’s construction.
“The Corps’ own research highlights the financial contributions of a number of Georgia cities through the Ladies Gunboat Association to pay for the CSS Georgia,” his letter said. “These cities and counties would be well served by giving them the option of receiving an artifact or two from the collection. Such an artifact would enable the local host to interpret the role of the Association in their community and link it to a relic from the ironclad they helped purchase.”
Young added that only a portion of the ship remains intact and that items removed during previous salvage efforts are in locations other than Savannah, where the corps plans to establish a repository for artifacts recovered before the dredging.
According to a study of the shipwreck commissioned by the corps, the surviving remains are “limited,” and the lower hull no longer exists.
“Two large sections of iron casemate and a third smaller section are present along with the vessel’s propulsion machinery including steam cylinders and at least one propeller and shaft, three cannon, a possible boiler, and miscellaneous, small, as of yet unidentified components and artifacts,” the study concluded.
The public comment period for the harbor expansion closes May 21.