Wreckage of Civil War ship that bore slaves to freedom found off South Carolina coast
The Planter was commandeered by Robert Smalls 152 years ago
The wreckage of a Civil War-era ship that carried a group of African-American slaves to freedom 152 years ago has been located, US marine archaeologists believe.
Planter, a storied side-wheel steamship that sank in 1876, is thought to be buried beneath the waters off Cape Romain on the South Carolina coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
Magnetometer surveys found a large amount of iron signalling a sunken ship about half a mile offshore and buried under 10 to 15 feet of sand and water.
Tuesday marked the anniversary of its famous voyage on 13 May, 1862, when Robert Smalls, a slave who worked as a deckhand on the Planter during the Civil War, disguised himself as the ship's captain.
With his wife, children and other African-American slave families onboard, Smalls sailed the ship past Confederate sentries in Charleston Harbour and out to the Union blockade at sea.
He was lauded as a hero and went on to enjoy a notable career in the Union navy as a freeman; he later served five terms as a congressman for South Carolina.
Bruce Terrell, senior archaeologist and maritime historian with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said: “This story has had a lot of resonance, particularly in the Lowcountry communities, places where people still know Robert Smalls' story.”
The search for the Planter goes back to 2010, after research into historical documents showed that the ship grounded in a storm in 1876 and sprang a bow plank while trying to salvage another grounded vessel.
The ship had offloaded its cotton near Georgetown, South Carolina, but passengers and crew were rescued from it by the crew of the nearby Cape Romain lighthouse, Terrell said.
Mr Terrell said the decision as to whether the Planter should be excavated is “up in the air”, despite interest from museums. He said that because it is buried, recovery would be expensive and excavation could disturb sensitive loggerhead sea turtle nesting grounds in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.
On Tuesday a plaque identifying ”the last resting place of Robert Smalls' Planter” was dedicated to the refuge's education centre.
Additional reporting by Reuters
- 1 All Blacks Aaron Cruden misses New Zealand flight after drinking session, has brilliant excuse
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': TV reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Alicia Keys leaks nude photo 'to create a kinder and more peaceful world'
- 5 Clothes store Joy angers mental health campaigners with Twitter exchange on bipolar disorders
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...
£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...
£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...