Civil War-era cannons to be raised from Pee Dee

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Historical remnants from a Civil War-era gunboat will be pulled from the depths of the Pee Dee River by a team of underwater archaeologists looking to preserve and, in the future, display a part of the area’s early history.

The team is preparing to raise three Confederate cannons — each weighing more than 15 tons — from the watery resting places some 150 years after they were sunk by Confederate troops as Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops bared down on the Pee Dee, said state underwater archaeologist Christopher Amer.

Amer is leading the team of researchers from the University of South Carolina’s Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology who are conducting the project, which is funded in part by a $200,000 grant from the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation.

The cannons are from the CSS Pee Dee, a 170-foot gunboat constructed at the Confederate Mars Bluff Naval Yard, which was located on the east side of the Pee Dee River. The vessel was launched from the yard in 1865.

Researchers are surveying the river this week to determine the exact location of the cannons, Amer said.

Hopefully, the cannons will be recovered later this year or next spring at a water depth and time that would be ideal for raising the artifacts, he said.

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