Experts Rebuild Faces of Civil War Sailors

Forensic scientists hope to identify men on USS Monitor
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2012 2:43 PM CST
This undated photo provided by Louisiana State University FACES Laboratory shows a phase of facial reconstruction.   (AP Photo/Louisiana State University FACES Laboratory)
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(Newser) – Talk about a cold case: Forensic scientists have reconstructed the faces of two sailors who drowned in the USS Monitor 150 years ago in the hope someone will identify them, the AP reports. Experts at Louisiana State University built the faces around skulls of two skeletal remains recovered from the turret, after DNA testing failed to match them with descendants of the Monitor's crew or their families. "The faces are really the last opportunity we have, unless somebody pops up out of nowhere and says, `Hey, I am a descendant,'" says the head of the project.

A quick history reminder: The USS Monitor fought in the historic clash of the world's first ironclads in the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862, engaging the CSS Virginia to a draw. The Monitor later sank while being towed through rough water, and 62 crew members died. The two sailors found in the turret—one 17 to 24, the other in his 30s, both Caucasian—were likely trying to abandon ship before it sank. If no one steps forward to identify them, the remains may end up buried at Arlington. (Read more Civil War stories.)

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