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Wreck of Civil War ship found in gulf

March 9, 2009 at 12:30 PM

HOUSTON, March 9 (UPI) -- The wreckage of a ship sunk in the Gulf of Mexico may be that of the Carolina, a Civil War-era merchant ship, experts say.

Experts suspect the underwater wreckage found off the coast of Galveston Island, Texas, could be the same vessel that failed in its 1864 attempt to break through a federal blockade during the Civil War, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

After being chased by federal ships nearly 150 years ago, the Carolina's crew ran it aground and burned its cargo of cotton to keep it out of federal hands.

Steven Hoyt, a Texas Historical Commission state marine archaeologist, said it would be a major discovery if the wreckage does turn out to be the Carolina.

"It's certainly significant if it turns out to be a historic wreck, as we think it is," Hoyt said. "That's really exciting."

The Chronicle said the wreckage was found last month in nearly 20 feet of water, leading experts to suspect it was uncovered by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

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