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Revolutionary War-Era Cannons Raised from the Savannah River

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Savannah District has raised 12 Revolutionary War-era cannons from the Savannah River, a year after they were first discovered in the heavily-trafficked Georgia waterway.

Revolutionary War-era cannon

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The cannons, which were first discovered in February 2021 near Old Fort Jackson, were raised in mid-January 2022. They were first noticed by the COE during the dredging process for the local port expansion project. Among the artifacts also discovered were three cannons dating back to the mid-1800s.

Speaking with CNN, Andrea Farmer, a COE Savannah District archaeologist, said, “There is no telling what all is down there, so much of the river is unknown.” Other artifacts found along the river’s bottom over the years include Native American pottery and debris from an American Civil War-era ironclad that sank in 1864.

Sonar image of four American Civil War cribs

Sonar image of four Confederate cribs. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

When word of the discovery spread, the British Royal Navy claimed the cannons may have come from the HMS Rose, a famed warship that was scuttled in the Savannah River during the American Revolution, along with two or more troop transports. This was to prevent French ships from coming to the aid of colonists.

The tactic failed, as the Rose sank further up the river than anticipated.

While it’s also possible that Civil War-era ships could have been carrying older weapons or that the cannons were discarded in the river by those stationed at Old Fort Jackson, Farmer feels this is unlikely.

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Experts are currently looking for distinguishing features and marks to help verify where the cannons came from.