Hurricane may have uncovered Civil War shipwreck

In 1865, the blockade runner Banshee made a rare day light dash
through the Union fleet into Galveston, relying more on speed and
audacity than the runners’ usual attribute, stealth.

GALVESTON, Texas – Historians and underwater archeologists know of about a dozen Civil War-era shipwrecks off the Texas coast. Recently, evidence of another emerged.

Contractors searching for debris from Hurricane Ike near Galveston Island recorded a sonar scan of what the Texas Historical Commission believes are the remains of a ship that sank in 1864. The Carolina (aka the Caroline) was a privately owned merchant ship that attempted to run through the Union blockade of Galveston. After Union ships chased the Carolina for several hours, her crew ran the Carolina aground in shallow water between Galveston and San Luis Pass before setting her on fire.

Historical records indicate the ship sank in the area where workers recorded the sonar image. It is likely that the powerful waves of Hurricane Ike scoured the sand from the remains.

The possible wreck was discovered about a month ago by General Land Office contractors hired to clean the surrounding bays of debris from Ike. Crews also have found two previously charted Civil War-era shipwrecks, the Acadia and the Will-o-the-Wisp. The two ships are protected state archaeological landmarks. To prevent looting, state workers will not reveal the location of the new possible shipwreck.


Union broadside announcing a period of amnesty
for citizens to leave Galveston.

Experts say this sonar image, taken by crews
surveying the Gulf of Mexico for Hurricane Ike
debris, could be that of the Civil War-era
merchant ship the Carolina. General Land Office

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