Recently discovered artifacts may be connected to 1700s British ship

BySam Bauman|March 8, 2021 at 4:47 PM EST - Updated March 8 at 7:27 PM

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A recent discovery in the Savannah River has stirred up a lot of questions and speculation.

Although the Army Corps of Engineers may have stumbled across the Pre-Civil War artifacts accidentally, their search for answers has come with clear intent.

“This was an exciting find while we were doing regular maintenance dredging to ensure the Savannah River stays navigable for some of the large ships coming in,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Archaeologist Andrea Farmer.

While clearing the way for ships of the future, they discovered pieces from a ship or ships of the past.

“This was very unexpected to recover these materials,” said Farmer.

Three cannons, an anchor and a piece of wood, likely ship timber, were luckily uncovered due to precautions they had taken because of the area they were dredging.

“The find was in the area where the CSS Georgia was recovered,” said Farmer.

Although it was close, Farmer is quick to dampen any possible connection.

“But what we found when looking at the coordinates is that it was outside the area where we anticipated anything from the CSS Georgia,” she said.

Another difference, is the age. Through measurements they’re able to place these cannons somewhere around the 1700s, or Pre-Civil War, putting it in a different time-frame than the CSS Georgia, leading them to widen their scope of investigation to get answers.

“We have already notified a foreign military,” Farmer said.

The British to be exact, as they ruled in this area during that time period. A representative from the British Embassy in Washington, DC did reach out to WTOC to provide the following statements:

Jenny Wraight, Admiralty Librarian:

“The source of these artefacts has yet to be definitively identified, but it is likely to date back to the American War of Independence when the British occupied Savannah. In 1779, HMS ROSE, a 20-gun 6th rate of the Royal Navy’s Seaford Class, was scuttled, with no loss of life, in the river to block the channel. After the war, the wreck had to be cleared to restore safe navigation.”

Commander Jim Morley, Royal Navy, UK Assistant Naval Attaché:

“It is exciting when artefacts from naval history are found. The discovery of an anchor, cannons, and ship timbers gives us a great opportunity to work with our US colleagues and allies to help identify them. The possibility that they may, in fact, be from HMS ROSE, a Royal Navy vessel that was part of our fleet operations during the American Revolutionary war is fascinating.”

As for closer to home, dredging has stopped, and the Army Corps of Engineers are focused on preserving what they’ve found while searching for more.

“We hope that we find something down there that has integrity that can tell more of the story or the history of the Savannah River. Of course, the 1700s there was a lot going on in Savannah at that time. So, it may just be a new part of the story that we’re able to uncover,” Farmer says

According to Farmer it may be months before we have more answers regarding this discovery.

As for the location, all they’ll say is it was down the river from Old Fort Jackson, but they aren’t releasing more as they don’t want to risk compromising the integrity of the site.

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.

Photo: WTOC, Jenny Wright, British Embassy Washington

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