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Pasquotank River wreck identified as Civil War ship

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.

A shipwreck found in the Pasquotank River in August 2007 has been identified as the remains of the Confederate ship Appomattox.

A silver-plated spoon inscribed with "J Skerritt" confirmed the ship's identity, according to North Carolina's Underwater Archaeology Branch. James Skerritt was a crew member on loan to the Appomattox from the ironclad Virginia.

The Appomattox was part of the South's Mosquito Fleet, a flotilla that had harassed Union ships along the coast and defended northeastern North Carolina waters.

On Feb. 10, 1862, 13 Union ships commanded by Capt. Stephen Rowan sailed up the mouth of the Pasquotank River, intent on securing Elizabeth City and destroying the Mosquito Fleet.

The Appomattox tried to escape to Norfolk, but it was too wide for the canal and its Confederate crew set the ship on fire while fleeing Union forces during the Battle of Elizabeth City.

Philip Madre, who led the volunteer four-member diving team, had worked on seven other boats looking for the Appomattox over the course of 10 years before finding its screw propeller and shaft in 2007.

There weren't many artifacts to be found among the charred wood. The Army Corps of Engineers might have removed the front of the vessel while clearing the river in the 1890s.

Lauren King, (757) 446-2309, lauren.king@pilotonline.com

Posted to: News North Carolina

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