The sonar image of the ship (Photo: NC DNCR)

In North Carolina, for the first time in decades, researchers have located the wreck of a Civil War ship, believed to be a Confederate blockade runner run aground by a Union ship.

The Underwater Archaeology Branch of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology has been researching the Fort Fisher campaign, during which Union forces launched an assault on one of the Confederacy’s last trade routes. Throughout the war, swift ships had left from the area of Wilmington, North Carolina, to bring cotton and other goods to the outside world and run arms and other supplies back to the south.

The North Carolina team used sonar to find the 225-foot-long, iron-hulled wreck. It’s 27 miles from Wilmington, and, according to Billy Ray Morris, the Director of the Underwater Archaeology Branch, it’s notably well preserved—“among the best we’ve ever had.”

There are three ships that were known to have been sunk in this area, but the team believes this ship is likely the Agnes E. Fry. That ship was named after a Confederate lieutenant’s wife, and sunk after the USS Monticello chased her aground. (Most of the cargo, though, was saved.) A team of divers will go underwater to examine the ship this week, and they should be able to identify it with more certainty.

Bonus finds: A mysterious safe, a mountain on Ceres

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