FLORENCE, S.C. – The three cannons from the CSS Pee Dee have returned to Florence.
The cannons were mounted Tuesday afternoon at the Florence County Veterans Center after nearly four years of conservation at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston, according to the Florence County Museum.
They will be a part of the museum’s Civil War exhibit and visitors will be provided directions to get from the museum to the Veterans Center on National Cemetery Road.
The cannons lay buried in the mud at the bottom of the Pee Dee for over 150 years before they were recovered by University of South Carolina archaeologists in 2015.
The cannons, two rifled Brooke cannons, called rifles, and a smoothbore Dahlgren, are between 10 and 12 feet long and each weighs between 9,000 and 15,000 lbs. The Brooke cannons were cast in Selma, Ala. The Brooke rifles were among the most technologically advanced weapons of their age.
The Dahlgren was a captured Union cannon, originally cast in Pennsylvania.
The three cannons were the primary armament of the CSS Peedee, a 150-foot-long steam- and sail-powered cruiser built by the Confederate Navy at the Mars Bluff Navy Yard on the east bank of the Pee Dee in 1863 and 1864. The Navy yard was among a dozen or so Confederate navy yards.
The ship was designed to break through the Union blockade of the Southern coast, and was known as the finest ship built by the Confederacy.
The cannons were thrown in the Pee Dee River in March 1865, three months after the ship was launched, just before the CSS Peedee was scuttled to avoid capture by Gen. William T. Sherman as he approached Cheraw.
The CSS Pee Dee had sailed to Cheraw to cover the river crossing of Confederate forces fleeing Sherman and moving into North Carolina.
The CSS Peedee was scuttled without ever seeing action, and its guns were never fired in combat.