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Civil War-Era Shipwreck Found Off North Carolina Coast

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A century and a half have passed since the Civil War ended and many relics of the conflict are being discovered. Archaeologists found a shipwreck in the form of a large iron-hulled Civil War-era steamer off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 27.

The shipwreck discovered by a team from the Institute of International Maritime Research and Underwater Archaeology Branch of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology is likely one of three Confederate blockade runners known to have been lost in the area.

"A new runner is a really big deal," said Billy Ray Morris, director of the state's underwater archaeology branch. "The state of preservation on this wreck is among the best we've ever had," he added.

The archaeologists discovered the shipwreck during sonar operations 27 miles downstream from Wilmington at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. This is the first Civil War ship found in the area in many decades.

The archaeologists added that they are in the process of identifying the vessel since three blockage runners were recorded lost in the particular area: Spunkie, Agnes E. Fry and Georgianna McCaw.

Morris, however, suspects that the shipwreck is Agnes E. Fry considering its size. The shipwreck found was 225 feet long, which is bigger than the two other vessels. They plan to conduct further investigation on March 9 when a dive team surveys the area.

"It is almost guaranteed to be one of those three blockade runners," Morris said. "This one is spot on for where one of those runners ought to be. It's the right shape."

The Anaconda Plan During The Civil War

Confederate blockade runners were used during the Civil War to infiltrate the wall of the Union naval vessels blocking Wilmington port. They aimed to prevent supplies from reaching the Confederacy and block the export of cotton and other goods.

Part of the Union's "Anaconda Plan," the blockage played a major role in helping the Union win the war. Former General-in-Chief Winfield Scott recommended this strategy to former President Abraham Lincoln to end the Civil War as painlessly as possible. The name anaconda was used because like the snake, the strategy uses the same mechanism: trap the prey until it surrenders.

The Anaconda Plan allowed Union troops to surround the rebelling states to pacify the revolution. The troops were located at southern ports and blocked the Mississippi River from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico. Southern sea routes were also blocked. This forced the revolutionaries from the South to withdraw from the war.

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