27 February 2022: Spring looms as February grows thin and March blusters in! Soon we'll be back on the water and going to the beach. I know some of our readers are already enjoying those delights (including your 'umble scrivener) but for the rest, I am sure the warmer weather can't come soon enough! And speaking of swimming, here's a piece from the ABC TV affiliate in Savannah Georgia (the state in the U.S., not the country!)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently recovered 15 Revolutionary War-era cannons from the bottom of the Savannah River, but how exactly were they discovered and why were they in the river to begin with?
According to archaeologists, the Army Corps first discovered the cannons back in 2021 while dredging regular maintenance areas.
"When the dredging occurred and one cannon was pulled up and we pulled up two more, we realized there had to be something down there because it is so rare to find one specimen like this, so to find multiple was really remarkable," said Andrea Farmer, an Archaeologist with the U.S. AThe Army Corps ended up calling in a team of experts with the Commonwealth Heritage Group. Over the course of a year, they uncovered 12 additional cannons along with some other artifacts like cannonballs at a deep spot near Old Fort Jackson called Five Fathom Hole.
Farmer said, "We believe [these artifacts] came from British naval vessels."
Archaeologists told WJCL during the Revolutionary War, when a large French fleet suddenly appeared off the coast of Tybee Island, the British, who had control of Savannah at the time, took quick action.
It is believed they sunk several of their own vessels, including the Rose, Venus and Savannah, in order to block the channel. This prevented the French from helping the rebels.
Stephen James, Director of Maritime Division for the Commonwealth Heritage Group said, "We suspect the cannon are solely or predominantly from his majesty's ship, the Savannah."
Archaeologists said it is possible the British simply did not have time to remove the cannon from the vessels, and that's how they ended up in the water.
"Things happen quick. When you know the French are approaching, they got it done," James said.
The 15 cannon are now sitting in water baths. They'll remain in those water baths for quite some time in order to remove any salt. That will make it easier for experts to determine exactly when and where the cannon were manufactured.
James said, "Once the salts come out, you are good to go. You can bring it out and look for maker marks." [ed:that process can take years!]
The Army Corps told WJCL it is possible more treasures are lying at the bottom of the Savannah River just waiting to be discovered.
"The Savannah River has a ton of secrets. There's probably thousands of ship wrecks in this river," Farmer said.
Of course, Savannah was important during the American Revolution and was occupied by the British from December 1778 until the end of the war in spite of American Patriot attempts to recapture in the Fall of 1779.
Until next time,