Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Has NOAA Found the Steamboat Planter?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on April 2, 2014



Via Craig Swain at To the Sound of the Guns, there may be a big CW naval find announced soon.:

From the Post & Courier:


The wreckage of one of the most famous Civil War vessels to sail South Carolina waters may have been found off northern Charleston County.
Those behind the possible find aren’t saying much, but they plan to announce more details during an event here next month.
Early on May 13, 1862, enslaved pilot Robert Smalls seized the Planter, a 149-foot Confederate transport ship, from a Charleston wharf, maneuvered it past Fort Sumter and surrendered it to federal vessels outside the city’s harbor.
Newspapers called the move “bold” and “daring” and Smalls won freedom for his crew and several other slaves, including his wife and three children.
The Planter, a wooden vessel built in Charleston, continued to play a role in the war and later was sold to private owners, who returned it to its pre-war role of transporting people and goods up and down the coast.
By the account in the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, she sank in a storm off Cape Romain while assisting a stranded ship on July 1, 1876, said Stephen Wise, a military historian and director of the Parris Island Museum in Beaufort.
Wise said Gordon Watts, an underwater archaeologist with Tidewater Atlantic Research of North Carolina has been searching for the remains and believes he has found something.
“The only thing left are going to be the boilers,” Wise said. “They hit some things they thought were boilers. Of course, Cape Romain is an area where a lot of ships went down.”


And this:


NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is holding a reception and presentation, “The Search for USS Planter: The Ship That Escaped Charleston and Carried Robert Smalls to Destiny,” at 6 p.m. May 12 at the Francis Marion Hotel in downtown Charleston.
Special guests are expected to include descendants of Robert Smalls and the team that led the search for the Planter as part of NOAA’s African-American Voyage to Discovery Initiative.
Those interested should contact Pam Plakas at 301-713-7287 or by April 28.


Craig cautions that we should keep our “optimism guarded.” True enough, but for those familiar with CW history and underwater archaeology of that area, there may not be any more respected names than Stephen Wise and Gordon Watts. I’d bet my lunch money they’re onto something.

Previous coverage of Planter‘s story:




5 Responses

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  1. theravenspoke said, on April 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Super cool!

  2. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on April 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Very interesting.

  3. Christopher Shelley said, on May 2, 2014 at 1:24 pm


    I have only just discovered your blog this past month or so. While I enjoy it all, I’m especially fascinated by the maritime stuff you’ve collected, especially the CGI (I think) models you create. My only issue is I’m having a hard time navigating the site to find the past “naval stuff” posts. Can you give me a hint? I must be missing something.

    Much Obliged.

    • Andy Hall said, on May 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Christopher, thanks. The naval/nautical/maritime stuff is sporadic throughout. You might try the search tool at the top of the right-hand column and look for shipwreck, archaeology, naval, blockade, and similar words.

      There are also a number of posts on specific vessels, including Monitor, Hatteras, Hunley and Planter that might be worth dropping into the search engine. You can also see some of my 3D stuff on Flickr:

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