USS Westfield Lecture at Houston Museum of Natural Science (3/20/2012)
March 5, 2012USS Westfield, A Civil War Shipwreck in Galveston Bay
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 06:30 PM
Robert Gearhart, Amy Borgens, Edward T. Cotham, Jr.
In the fall of 2009, a team of marine archeologists working under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers supervised the recovery of artifacts from USS Westfield, a Staten Island ferryboat that had been converted into a Civil War gunboat after its purchase by the U.S. Navy in 1861. Westfield saw significant Civil War action, participating in battles at New Orleans, Vicksburg and other places along the Gulf Coast. Its destruction at the Battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863, was one of the most important and dramatic events of the Civil War in Texas. This audiovisual program uses rare historic documents and images to describe the conversion of a ferryboat to armored warship and examine the military career of this unique "fighting ferryboat" and its impact on the war in Texas. It retraces the series of events that led to the relocation of Westfield's wreck and the challenging project that resulted in recovery of tons of artifacts undergoing conservation at the Conservation Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University. Among the artifacts being conserved is a more than 4 ton Dahlgren cannon capable of firing a projectile almost 2 miles. Principal Investigator of the USS Westfield Project, Robert Gearhart is a marine archeologist and hydrographer at Atkins North American, Inc. Amy Borgens, project archeologist of the USS Westfield Project, is the State Marine Archeologist with the Texas Historical Commission. Edward T. Cotham, Jr., president of the Terry Foundation and USS Westfield Project historian, is author of Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston, which will be available for signing following the lecture.