Now awesome is this? They might be able to use DNA to identify two crewmen found in the Monitor‘s turret.
Hat tip to Battlefields and Bibliophiles.
Filed under Civil War
Tagged as ironclads, USS Monitor
That’s wonderful. I’d missed that human remains had been recovered in the turret, but such a discovery would generally be kept discrete. Archaeologists working on LaSalle’s ship Belle located human remains in some of the earliest dives, but it was held back until the following year, when that part of the ship was fully excavated. Though they tried, I don’t think any useful DNA material was recovered, although we do have an idea what he looked like.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to be visiting the Mariners Museum on other research business, and when I told them I had worked on other sites, I got a detour through the conservation lab where they were working on artifacts from Monitor. I remember a brass dial — from a steam gauge, I think — and they showed it alongside the “before” photos, and it was just fantastic.
The recover of the Monitor turret and engine is somewhat controversial in archaeological circles, as some of the remaining hull structure was wrecked in the process. The chief archaeologist, John Broadwater, argued that the vessel was rapidly deteriorating regardless, and action needed to be taken if anything was to be saved. In the end, I think Broadwater will be vindicated.
Yeah, I think salvaging the turret was the right thing to do. It’s a shame they couldn’t raise the whole thing, but I think saving as much as possible was the right thing to do.
We had some material owned by the ship’s commander at the museum where I used to work, and a collection of his papers. I used to love going through it.
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