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Archaeologists found three civil war cannons that belonged to a sunken confederate gunship

Boban Docevski
Fig 8
Fig 8

A team of underwater archaeologists from the University of South Carolina, managed to raise three civil war cannons – each weighing upwards of 15000 pounds – from the bottom of the Great Pee Dee River in South Carolina near Florence, S.C.

Two of them were Confederate Brooke rifle cannons (11.8 and 12.25 feet each) and one was a captured Union Dahlgren cannon (8.9 feet). This trio was the complete artillery of the “CSS Pee Dee”, a 150-foot Macon-class Confederate gunboat built for patrolling waterways and protect the coast of South Carolina.


A drawing of the CSS Pee Dee


The deck of the CSS Pee Dee


Just only three months after it was launched, the career of the CSS Pee Dee came to an end. On March 15, 1865, in response to U.S. Gen. William T. Sherman’s northward advance to North Carolina, fearing that the gunboat might fall into enemy hands, commanders ordered the cannons thrown overboard before the ship was set on fire and abandoned.

The team of archaeologists from the UofSC began searching for the CSS Pee Dee and its birth place – the Confederate Mars Bluff Navy Yard – back in march 2009.

Mars Bluff Navy Yard was one of seven Confederate naval yards. They were located inland so gunboats and support vessels for the war could be built and protected from U.S. forces.


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The three cannons recovered from the CSS Pee Dee


Fig 8
The 7-inch Brooke rifle cannon, the last to be recovered from the river


Facts about the cannons:

6.4-inch Brooke rifle:

• Model: No. S-53, cast in Selma, Ala., April 29, 1863, delivered to Peedee, S.C., on July 13, 1863
• Overall length: 141.85 inches (11.8 feet/3.6 meters)
• Bore Length: 117 inches (9.75 feet/3 meters)
• Weight 10,600 pounds (4,808 kg)

7-inch Brooke rifle:

• Model: No. S-46, cast in Selma, Ala., on Oct. 12, 1863, delivered to Peedee, S.C. on July 3, 1863
• Overall Length: 147 inches (12.25 feet/3.7 meters)
• Bore Length: 130-136 inches (10.8-11.3 feet/3.2-3.4 meters)
• Weight: 15,000 pounds (6,803 kg)

9-inch Dahlgren smoothbore:

• Model: FP-513, cast in Fort Pitt, Penn.; based on inspector mark, cast mid-1862
• Marks: On trunnion-JMB; on breech serial number
• Overall Length: 131.5 inches (10.9 feet /3.3 meters)
• Bore Length: 107 inches (8.9 feet/2.7 meters)
• Weight: 9,000-9,200 pounds (4,082-4,173 kg)

The cannons will be transported to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, S.C., where they will undergo conservation. When completed, CSS Pee Dee cannons will be returned home, as a permanent outdoor display at the newly constructed U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs building in Florence.


Source: heritagedaily290foundation,

Boban Docevski

Boban Docevski is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News