Over the past two decades, Bob Butler has dived down to the bottom of South Carolina's Pee Dee River and discovered not one (in 1995), not two (in 2006), but three (final one in 2013) Civil War-era cannons he says were dropped off a Confederate warship, the State reports. On Tuesday, Butler finally got to see the fruits of his long-term labors pulled out of the murky waters by a University of South Carolina team that's been searching for the CSS Pee Dee since 2009.
The cannons were found at the former site of a Confederate naval yard, the State notes, and were dumped from the Pee Dee ship as it tried to escape the troops of Union Gen. William Sherman, who was heading toward the area after torching Columbia in February 1865. Scientists, Civil War fanatics, and other spectators cheered as the three cannons—a Confederate Brooke rifle and a captured Union Dahlgren naval gun—were retrieved by underwater archaeologists via an excavator. "We brought a little bit of South Carolina history to the surface today," Butler tells the State. (The Navy went to raise a Confederate warship from the depths of a Georgia river in May.)