Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Sunken Union gunboat nominated to historic register


Washington Daily News
By Eugene L. Tinklepaugh
March 01, 2005

The 'Picket' leading the ships of the Burnside expedition
over Hatteras Bar.

A week ago today, Leroy and Phyllis Carver gave up a piece of their hearts.

It weighed about 13 pounds, was shaped like a winch and made of brass.

Some 40 years ago, Leroy Carver was dredging out a channel in the Tar River. He needed the sand for a parking lot on the other side of the river from Washington.

"In a matter of days, we were digging into the Picket," he recalled.

A shipwreck from 100 years ago lay at the bottom of the Tar. Carver's sand dredge hit its hull, causing quite a commotion.

Carver was familiar with his custom-built dredge digging out treasures lost at sea.

His wife would occasionally watch the pipeline and pick up Indian pottery being pumped out of the river.

And when Carver was dredging out the foundation for Stewart Parkway, Phyllis Carver pointed out, bottle collectors appeared in droves.

"Bottles were just popping up like corks," she described the scene.

The treasure Leroy Carver uncovered jamming up his dredge pipe that dreamy day in the 1960s, consisted of a winch-shaped wing nut and pieces of chain.

"History books tell us the Confederate soldiers put up a chain that was connected to pilings all the way across the river to keep the Yankees from going up the river," Carver explained.

The wing nut that had clogged up his pipe was part of a compressor handle for a 12-pound howitzer boat carriage.

The carriage belonged to a U.S. Army gunboat, which sank during the Civil War.

Linda Clark, Leroy and Phyllis Carver's daughter, initiated the get-together last week with the Underwater Archaeology branch of the Department of Cultural Resources to turn the relic over to the proper authorities.

"I wanted my daddy to get the credit for discovering the Picket," Clark explained. Before he accidentally began pumping parts of the relic out of the river with his dredge, the ship's whereabouts were unknown, she pointed out.

"It's a fairly significant artifact," said Richard Lawrence, director of the underwater archaeology branch, in a telephone interview.

Lawrence's team excavates shipwrecks and other archaeological sites, he noted.

The Picket sank in the Tar River, upstream from the current U.S. Highway 17 bridge in Washington, on Sept. 6, 1862, according to state documents.

Lawrence indicated the department has collected several artifacts from the boat.

Landing of the national troops on Roanoke Island, under the cover of the Union
gunboats Delaware, and Picket.

"We will maintain that collection and, hopefully, make it available to a local museum for display," Lawrence said.

The state department has nominated the shipwreck for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

According to Lawrence, the National Park Service, a division of the Department of Interior, must approve the application.

There are 15 memorial shipwrecks still intact with tangible remains of the Civil War era, Lawrence said. Gaining the historic place designation is valuable from the research aspect, he added, because it helps preserve a piece of the past.

According to state documents nominating the Picket as a historic place, the gunboat was General Ambrose Burnside's headquarters ship; it led his fleet into Hatteras Inlet. In 1862, the Picket participated in the battles of Roanoke Island (Feb. 7-8) and New Bern (March 13-14).

It was destroyed in action, apparently by accidental explosion of its magazine during a raid by Confederate soldiers while it was stationed with the Naval contingent at Washington, the registration form notes.

The Picket, according to state documents, is "the only extant example of an Army gunboat of the Civil War era."

"The unexcavated, intact hull has high potential for recovery of artifacts of the Civil War," the document continues.

Phyllis Carver said of Lawrence, "He was extremely nice and seemed excited about this one piece.

"It's painful parting with something you'd really like to keep," she continued. "But we felt good about it because we knew it was in good hands."


que blog interessante!;)

bem parece que todos querem o patito morto.. que tal uma jantarada à beira mar? hehe**
pois em portugal parece que nao dao mt relevo a estas noticias.. pelo menos é o que me parece,com tanto artigo estrangeiro!
~vou linkar o teu blog,está mesmo muito interessante :)
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