CSS Alabama sinks the USS Hatteras, 11-Jan-1863 (Engraving courtesy US Navy)

USS Hatteras was originally a 126-ton side-wheel steamer that was purchased by the Union Navy early in the war. She was sent down to Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico, in November of 1861. After doing a bit of damage in and around Florida, Hatteras was assigned to the Gulf Blockading Squadron, harassing Confederate shipping and naval operations west of the mouth of the Mississippi.

After Rear Admiral David Farragut took New Orleans in May of 1862. his focus was on capturing the port of Galveston, TX. Action began around Galveston in November, 1862, but on January 11, 1863, Hatteras encountered the CSS Alabama, who engaged and sank the sidewheeler.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, along with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and various Texas state entities, have initiated a 3D mapping program for the Hatteras. Here’s their description of the wreck’s location and status:

The Hatteras today rests in 58 feet of water about 20 miles off Galveston. Her 210-foot long iron hull is completely buried under about three feet of sand. Only the remains of her 500-horsepower walking beam steam engine and her two iron paddle wheels remain exposed above the sea floor. Since the site’s discovery in the 1970’s, BOEM has engaged in periodic monitoring of the wreck to ensure that it is not damaged by surrounding oil and gas lease development. Although the wreck remains the property of the U.S. Navy, BOEM has joined forces with the THC and Texas A&M at Galveston to preserve this important archaeological treasure for posterity.

BOEM has a great video showing their progress:

(h/t Accessible Archives for the pointer to Hatteras and the project!)


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