Civil War artifacts found during cleanup of warship

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Four years after Navy divers pulled the USS Monitor gun turret from the ocean's grasp, the historic Civil War artifact has compiled a long record of surprising people with its secrets.

But few revelations have been more unexpected than the artifacts that turned up during seemingly routine excavations inside the new conservation facility at the Mariners' Museum this summer.

Probing through some of the last deposits that remain after the removal of tons of sediment, concretion and sand, conservators David Krop and Susanne Grieve knew their chances of coming across any overlooked finds were slim. Yet hidden under layers of accumulated grit that now measure as little as 2 inches thick was an assortment of unanticipated artifacts, including a trio of buttons, a mysterious iron crank and a piece of chalk that once stroked messages to the ill-fated vessel's sailors.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was a quartet of brass-jacketed bullets that seemed to come out of nowhere. Not only were they the first examples of ammunition found on the famous warship but they also emerged in an entirely unsuspected location.

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