December 2, 2022

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Historical Commission

Ironclad ships CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa officially listed in National Register of Historic Places

The submerged wrecks of the Confederate ironclad ships CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa, located in waters near Mobile, Alabama, were officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 18, 2022. The wrecked vessels are among the few surviving Confederate ironclads.
The CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa launched from the Confederate Navy Yard in Selma in early 1864, even though Huntsville was not yet equipped with an engine. After being outfitted and armed in Mobile, the vessels were commissioned and deployed to defend Mobile Bay, which was a vital shipping route for the South and the Confederacy. The vessels participated in the defense of Fort Powell in 1864 and in the Union siege of Mobile in 1865. As the Confederate forces retreated in April 1865, the CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa were abandoned and scuttled near a pre-war jetty to block Union access to inland waterways and the retreating Confederate navy.
The wrecks of the CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa were first excavated and identified in 1985. In 2019, a survey funded by the Alabama Historical Commission, was conducted by maritime archeologists from SEARCH, Inc. used remote-sensing technology to assess the shipwrecks and the jetty. The two vessels are the most intact examples of Confederate ironclad warships in the nation. Archeological investigations of these resources have the potential to reveal important information about the design and construction of Confederate ironclad vessels and about life on board a Confederate warship.
National Register designation for the ironclads was a cooperative effort among the Alabama Historical Commission, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the City of Mobile. The wrecks of Confederate vessels fall under the jurisdiction of the GSA, which is the federal steward of property surrendered to the U.S. at the close of the Civil War. The National Register nomination was funded by a Certified Local Government grant from the Alabama Historical Commission to the City of Mobile and was prepared by Dr. James Delgado, Kyle Lent, and Michael Brennan of SEARCH, Inc.
“The Mobile and Tensaw Rivers continue to add to our state’s history as more sophisticated technology discovers and reveals many of the delta’s secrets. These ironclads promise to provide important components to the rich history of Alabama and the United States,” said Jim Day, Chairman of the Alabama Historical Commission.
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a nationwide program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archaeological places.

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