Civil War Brown Water Navies

The Civil War in NE North Carolina

Summertime is approaching and still no divers

Barry Cullen and I hope to find the remains of the CSS Sea Bird this summer if we can just find a couple of divers to help. Barry  has a side-scan sonar unit and has scanned most of the rivers in this part of the state. His scans show 5 likely targets in the Pasquotank River.

Philip Madre, finder of the CSS Appomattox, gave up on the search two years ago. Richard Lawrence told him that he had found a reference in the Edenton port records that said the Fanny and Sea Bird were salvaged around 1867. Philip contends that means they took up everything. I disagree. Case in point: the Appomattox was salvaged in 1862, but only the engines, boiler, and propeller were removed. The hull was left behind.

The Baker Brothers and other salvage companies were actively salvaging Civil War vessels during the 1867 time period. I do not doubt the Fanny was lifted whole and carried back to South Norfolk to sell as scrap iron. She had a 1/4 inch iron hull, making her a valuable target. She was also grounded in shallow water near the shore rather than sunk by ramming as the Sea Bird was; she was possibly still seaworthy with some temporary repairs.

The USS Commodore Perry rammed the Sea Bird and reportedly almost split her in half. The hull was wooden and was not worth salvaging, plus floating her and carrying her back to South Norfolk would have been difficult. It is more likely her walking-beam engine and propeller were removed. Old timers have told me the top of the walking beam was visible above water after the war, so it wouldn't have been too difficult to remove the engine.

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