Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunken Ships in Oklahoma?

So who says that you have to be near the coast to find a ship sunken by cannon fire? Well thanks to my partner in crime "Lefty", I came across this story of a sunken ship right here in our own wonderful state of Oklahoma. Now to weave this tale we have to start somewhere and that somewhere is on the banks of the Arkansas river June 15, 1864.
The Union stern wheel steamer "J.R Williams", along with a guard of 25 men from the 12th Kansas Calvary Regiment and its crew, traveled the waters of the Arkansas river from Ft. Smith to Ft. Gibson in the Cherokee nation.
Little did they know that on this ill-fated night that Col. Stand Watie's confederate Indian Brigade and a three-gun battery where waiting in ambush at Pheasant Bluff near the present day town of Tahmaha.
The confederate artillery sent shells into the night ripping holes into the upper works and smokes stacks. Having several of its members on board killed the Steamer became grounded on the opposite bank from the battery of artillery. During this time the confederate troops boarded the steamer and manage to capture a few more union soldiers as other union soldiers escaped into the woods. Now sitting on the south side of the Arkansas River the confederate's unloaded as much booty as they could carry and set the Steamer adrift down stream.
Now just so you know some of the cargo was 16,000`pounds of bacon, 150 barrels of flower, clothes, and other supplies needed to support a war effort. These things aren't high on a treasure hunters look list. How ever I think this would be a interesting site to find for the simple fact the site where the ambush took place could yield some great artifacts such as guns artillery rounds as well as if you could find anything of the steamer that might be left. There could even be some over looked loot or even some loot near by that was stashed by those who escaped.
I have to close this by saying that thanks to my old friend "Lefty" and the fact that we both are always searching for the next great clue to treasure, we both read a lot and I'm sure our wives blame us both for our ever growing library. With that, if this story interest you or you want to find a civil war shipwreck near you please find yourself a copy of "Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks" by W. Craig Gaines.

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