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Documentation of the Civil War Vessels CSS Florida and USS Cumberland, Hampton Roads, Virginia.

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Final rept.,

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In May 1993, archaeologists conducted underwater archaeological investigations and shipwreck documentation for two sunken Civil War vessels, the C.S.S. Florida and the U.S.S. Cumberland, the remains of which are sunk several hundred feet from each other near Hampton Roads, Virginia. The objective of the examination was to assess the current condition and integrity of the vessels with special attention given to documenting evidence of recent vandalism and looting of the two vessels. Research has revealed unique and colorful histories for each of the vessels. The battle that sealed the Cumberlands fate was to signal the advent of technologies that would transform not only the navies of the world but the engagements they would fight. Conversely, the Florida, one of the most successful Confederate raiders, represented an evolving naval technology that helped to shape the course and duration of the war. While archival research has detailed and defined the vessels and the roles they played, the underwater assessment of the two shipwrecks revealed sites with contrasting characteristics. Although environmental constraints in the form of swift currents and limited visibility prohibited an intensive assessment and mapping regimen in the allotted seven-day study period, it was readily apparent that the Cumberland site has been witness to far more destructive forces than the Florida. The Cumberland manifests itself as disarticulated and almost unrecognizable fragments of the fighting ship she once represented, while the Florida retains the intact lower hull of this once proud commerce raider. KAR P. 2-3

Subject Categories:

  • Marine Engineering
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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