Friday, January 12, 2018

Likely graves stop development Tenn. project

View from Fort Negley (Library of Congress)

Developers halted plans Friday for a sprawling entertainment and residential complex in Tennessee after archaeologists discovered what they believe are graves on a site near Fort Negley, which was built by slaves. The decision gave preservationists a victory in the latest clash between historic conservation and growth in Nashville, a booming city with a complicated racial past. • Article

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Will Calhoun statue get context plaque?

The City Council in Charleston, S.C., couldn't decide Tuesday whether to approve or change the language for a proposed plaque in front of the towering John C. Calhoun monument in Marion Square, opting to defer the issue altogether without agreeing on what to do next. • Article

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mortar round seized near St. Augustine, Fla.; EOD experts will try to preserve artifact

Mortar shell that was recovered Tuesday (St. Johns County Sheriff's Office)

Story update: Kevin Kelshaw, media relations officer for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, gave this update Thursday: “Speaking with members of the EOD unit, they will make every effort to preserve the cannonball. The only way that it will be destroyed is if they cannot determine that it is safe or if they can’t render it safe. They will take it to Camp Blanding, an Army camp nearby, for determination. ...  Another resident in the beaches area (in the past week) also turned in a similar cannonball from that era (above) but in much better shape. They will also look to render this one safe. 


A bomb squad officer called to a neighborhood below St. Augustine, Fla., determined that a suspected cannonball is an 8-inch Civil War-era siege mortar round.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office posted photos on social media Wednesday of what deputies found the day before at a home near A1A and Dondanville Road.

A report written by an officer who was first at the scene said a resident told the deputy he had made the discovery while burying his dog in the back yard about a year ago. He kept the corroding round in the yard.

“Due to not being able to verify if it had any explosive material or not, it was deemed a possible threat to public safety and was seized,” a social media post said. “Should anyone else locate items like this in #HistoricStJohns, please contact your local law enforcement as they may be dangerous if active.”

Further investigation will be conducted to determine the contents of the item, the report said.

The department did not indicate whether the round will be destroyed, which is often the case when law enforcement is called in. Sometimes, artillery rounds are rendered safe and kept for historical purposes.

Charlie Crawford, president of the Georgia Battlefields Association, said the department should contact a Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team.

When a torpedo (as mines were then called) was found near Savannah about 15 years ago, the Fort Stewart EOD team was prepared to blow it up," Crawford told the Picket.

He said the Coastal Heritage Society contacted then US Rep. Jack Kingston's office, "Which intervened to take the more expensive option of rendering the mine safe and preserving it."

A museum conservator and local historian said such a find in the area is unusual.

“It would actually be pretty uncommon for Florida because there wasn’t a lot of Civil War action in this area,” Andrew Thomson, an archaeological conservator with the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, told the St. Augustine Record.

Local historian Susan R. Parker told the newspaper: “It’s very interesting, because the only thing I am aware of was that there were some Union vessels offshore trying to block inlets here.” 
She suggested the possibility that the relic may have previously belonged to a collector, which also sounded plausible to Thomson.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Experts: No blacks were Rebel soldiers in SC

Two South Carolina lawmakers want to erect a monument on the State House grounds to African-Americans who served the state as Confederate soldiers. But records show the state never accepted nor recognized armed African-American soldiers during the Civil War, the State newspaper reported Saturday. • Article

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2017's top 10 Picket posts: Hunley, USS Monitor and a burial a century after death

It’s clear that Picket readers gobble up anything about the H.L. Hunley and USS Monitor. Five of the blog’s 10 most popular items written in 2017, per Google analytics, were about the famous Civil War vessels. They were followed by other archaeological news and a feature on a Federal soldier who was finally buried more than a century after his death. We wish you all the best in 2018 and thank you for your abiding interest!

Section of CSS Georgia casemate (USACE)

10. ROUND TWO OF IRONCLAD RECOVERY: While divers and cranes in 2015 brought up all kinds of cool stuff – including artillery pieces -- from the CSS Georgia site in Savannah, Ga., archaeologists needed to return this year to pluck two giant pieces of protective armor from the river bottom. Julie Morgan of the US Army Corps of Engineers gave a preview. • Read more

Don Scarbrough/Georgia State

9. ACTION! FILMING RESUMES AT OLD MILL: The New Manchester Manufacturing Co. produced valuable textiles for the Confederacy before Yankee troops burned it during the Atlanta Campaign in 1864. The ruins, the focal point of Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County, Ga., were stabilized this past summer. Tours, weddings and movie and TV filming have resumed in the interior of the brick remains. • Read more

(U.S. Navy)

8. DIFFERENCES ON HUNLEY LOSS RUN DEEP: Grad student Rachel Lance said she’d solved the mystery about why the first submarine to sink an enemy vessel failed to return to its mission. But the US Navy and those working on the Confederate boat say it’s too soon to come up with a conclusion. • Read more

7. THEY DIG THEIR WORK: Archaeology students at Georgia Southern University have a compelling laboratory in which to work – the remains of Camp Lawton, which held 10,000 Federal prisoners in late 1864. We spoke with project director Ryan McNutt about priorities for this crop of students. • Read more

McAllister vest (Georgia State Parks)
6. PUTTING A FACE TO HISTORY: Joseph L. McAllister grew up on a large piece of coastal Georgia land that became a Civil War fort named for his father. The Rebel officer served at the fort before being sent to Virginia, where he died in a large cavalry battle. His personal effects, including a vest, sword and spurs, are now on display at a state park near Savannah. • Read more

5. USS MONITOR TURRET: Once or twice a year, conservators drain the Union ironclad’s signature artifact so that they can get inside to do further cleaning and analysis. The plan is to eventually turn the turret right side up. This post was a preview of the work. • Read more

Stucker ashes (Bob Patrick)
4. HE RESTS IN PEACE -- FINALLY: Union veteran Zachariah M. Stucker died in 1914, but no one ever claimed his cremains. Two groups worked together to finally bring closure – and a resting place near Seattle – for the member of the 48th Illinois Infantry. • Read more

3. WHAT DOOMED THE HUNLEY: Archaeologists and historians have long pondered what caused the submarine to disappear in Charleston Harbor; it could have resulted from a combination of factors. A report issued earlier this year addressed six leading theories. • Read more

Sections of conserved coat. (Image courtesy of Mariners' Museum)

2. TRICKY PUZZLE SOLVED: Reassembling a customized sailor’s coat found in pieces in the turret of the USS Monitor proved to be a real challenge. We looked at how the exhaustive conservation project turned out. • Read more

1. SURVEYING GETTSYBURG BATTLEFIELD: This post previewing archaeological work at Little Round Top and the George Spangler farm was by far the most popular item of 2017. It went viral, and I am sheepishly at a loss to fully understand why. But we’ll take it. • Read more