Civil War Artifacts Emerge From U.S.S. Monitor

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Many of the items are "certainly things you wouldn't expect to be finding in the turret," said Broadwater.

The recovery effort has been thrilling for the excavation team, he said.

"It's been a tremendously exciting opportunity for those of us working on the turret excavation—to actually have it up now, and to be inside, sometimes we just kind of stop work and reminisce," said Broadwater. "We can look at those guns and look through the gun port and you just let yourself just steep in the history that this represents."

Yet the team remains puzzled by the question: Why were many of the artifacts of daily life aboard the Monitor found in that particular area of the ship?

The answer may not be all that complicated, and may shed light on the ship's sinking.

"After thinking about it," said Broadwater, "we realized that the turret sat on the hull amid the ship. Beneath it were storage units and also the galley. It's sort of a clue to the sinking sequence. We had wondered how quickly the turret fell off, but now it looks as if when the ship rolled, the turret stayed in place long enough for material from the hull to fall inside."

Sailors Finally Home

Also in the turret, the team came across something that brought home the human impact of the Monitor's sinking: the remains of two crew members.

"We knew that possibly there would be remains because the turret was the only way in or out of the ship," Broadwater said.

The remains of the two sailors were found very close to the starboard hatch, which may eventually help in piecing together the events of the ship's last night. Broadwater said the team has been careful to handle the human remains of the Civil War veterans "with dignity, respect, and honor."

The recovery team plans to work with the Navy's casualty office in an effort to identify the crew members.

"It may not be possible," said Broadwater, "but it would be nice to be able to do that." In any event, the long-lost sailors will likely be interred with honors in a military cemetery.

Related Stories from National Geographic:

The H.L. Hunley: Secret Weapon of the Confederacy
Forensic Team Studying Skeletons of Hunley Crew
U.S. Civil War Sub "Photo" Disproved as Image of Captain
Captain's Remains Found in U.S. Civil War Submarine Captain's "Lucky Coin" Found in Civil War Submarine
Curious Find on Confederate Sub Links North and South

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