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  1. #1
    rickgainey

    General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    I need a little help providing providenc for a relic from some years ago. The General Sherman lies in 52' of water 7 nm SE of Little River Inlet having sunk there after the Civil War in 1874. This vessel was a steam driven side wheeler. The locals who fish and dive this wreck call her the Robert E. Lee.
    In researching the providence the only USN ship named the General Sherman I can locate was sunk in the Taedong River near the capital of what is now North Korea (Pyongyang)in late 1865. This ship was formerly the Princess Royal, a captured blockade runner war prize utilized by the Confederates to run goods into the ports of Wilmington, Charleston and possibly Savannah.
    The Robert E. Lee was a blockade runner for the Confederates that plyed the same routes until captured by the USN and renamed the Fort Donelson in 1864. She was decommisioned in 1865 and sold back into private hands as the Isabella. In 1866 the Chilean Navy bought the ship and changed the name to Concepcion. The Chilean Navy sold the ship in 1868 and no record of her was listed after this date.
    So my question is "Does anybody know the actual idenity of the wreck discribed above that sits on the bottom off Myrtle Beach and has been a popular dive site for many years?

  2. #2
    us
    discovering & preserving our past for future generations

    Dec 2004
    Aquapulse, DetectorPro Headhunter, Fisher F75
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    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    The wreck is often incorrectly referred to as the General Sherman, when it was actually registered as the Sherman, by her new owners after the war.

    She was originally called the Princess Royal, a British blockade runner, which was captured off Charleston and converted to a federal gunboat. She was lost on January 10, 1874, off Cherry Grove, SC, exactly where you have her listed Rick.

    Why she is referred to as the Robert E Lee by the locals, I do not know.

    All of the information I provided comes from the book, Shipwrecks, Pirates & Privateers by E Lee Spence.

    Splash, Tom

  3. #3

    Oct 2006
    Coastal, NC
    Garrett Infinium LS, Garret Seahunter MK II, Geometrics 882, Marine Sonic SS
    1,326
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    These images are of the Sherman you refer to:
    http://forum.treasurenet.com/index.p...c,64662.0.html
    www.coastalmarinesalvage.com

  4. #4
    us
    ScubaGecko

    Jun 2004
    Beaufort, SC
    Garrett Sea Hunter Mk II
    1,905
    16 times

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    I just dove the wreck you are speaking about that is 7nm SE of Little River known as the "Sherman" about 3 weeks ago. Tom noted Lee Spence's account of the wreck, but Gary Gentile also has a first hand account in his book Shipwrecks of South Carolina and Georgia.

    I will try to post some pictures and video of the dive later. If you can get a hold of Gary Gentile's book it makes for great reading. It sounds like you are in the Myrtle Beach area. I purchased the book myself while I was there from a dive shop in N. Myrtle Beach on HWY 17. I cant remember the name but I know they had just moved from another location.

    The wreck was pretty interesting. The vis was only about 10', but I was still able to see the wreck fairly well. The Sherman was a single screw not sidewheeler. The rudder is turned hard over and actually bent to one side. The prop and shaft leading to the engine is very much intact. I have some great video of it. What was pretty neat was the pig-iron ballast that is not mentioned in any of the books. They almost looked like stacked silver bars. I had to pull one off the stack to make sure. Each one weighed about 50 lbs.

    I will try to post some more later tonight. I think NC Brad has some side scan images we took of it as well. (I see he posted before I could)

    By the way, welcome to the forum.

    Robert in SC

  5. #5
    rickgainey

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    Thanks guys,

    By putting my "Google" noggin to work I now have the complete history of this remarkable ship.... You would not believe this but the North Korean govt. holds this ship in great contempt as the prime example today of the U.S.'s intent to conquor Korea with Imperalistic aims as far back as 1866 when she was originally sunk.... in fact, a national park has been established at the site of the first sinking of this vessel in North Korea and none other than the U. S. S. Pueblo is on public display there to remind the NK's that we are still their biggest enemy! And go figure this....the former President of the NK's, Kim Il Sung (whose son, Kim Jong Sung now threatens the free world) proudly associated his great grandfather with the sinking of this shipand the massacre of it's passengers and crew. History is paradoxical! Thanks for confirming the information. If you want to know more, e-mail me at rickgainey@excite.com and I'll discuss what else I found out....

  6. #6
    us
    ScubaGecko

    Jun 2004
    Beaufort, SC
    Garrett Sea Hunter Mk II
    1,905
    16 times

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    Rick,

    You are correct about the "General Sherman" and the information you have found on the net, but the wreck that lies of the Little River Inlet is not the "General Sherman", just the "Sherman". The Sherman was never given this designation in any of her documentation.

    Robert

  7. #7
    tt
    Apr 2004
    Tesoro Sand Shark, Homebuilt pulse loop
    2,464
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    Shipwrecks

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    Quote Originally Posted by rickgainey
    Thanks for the information, guys.... I have confirmed that the Sherman is in fact the former U. S. S. General Sherman. I'm continuing my historical research into this ship. It would appear that "black ops" was invented/utilized by the U. S. Govt. long before the OSS/CIA connection. This ship is a cornerstone in our history regarding the current standoff between North Korea and the U. S.... perhaps I'll write a book.
    Rick, the "Sherman" of Little River inlet was built in 1861 for the Glasgow & Liverpool Steam Packet Company. Her name was the Princess Royal as Tom mentioned. She ran the blockade until 1863. In a twist of irony, the Union bought her and commissioned her as the USS Pincess Royal - a blockader, not a runner. She captured quite a few runners in the Gulf of Mexico. In August of 1865, she was sold at a public auction and then later sold again to the William F. Weld Company in 1868. It was then that she was renamed as "Sherman." You may find records that indciate her as the "General Sherman," but they are in error. Don't be fooled by the historians on this one. It's a simple error. She ran passengers and freight back and forth between New York and New Orleans. She sank in January of 1874 where she currently lies.

    Are you saying that after her auction in August of 1865, she went to North Korea? (It wasn't North Korea then, just Korea) The General Sherman is listed as a 187-ton side-wheel schooner. The Sherman is listed as a 973 ton screw steamer. Are you sure you've got the same boats here?

  8. #8
    rickgainey

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    According to records from the Department of the Navy/Washington Navy Yard the Princes Royal was a 774 gross ton screw steam gunboat that was captured by the USS Unadilla and the USS Housatonic off Charleston on 29 January 1863. She was commissioned in May of that year by the US Navy as the USS Princess Royal and did indeed serve in the blocade in the Gulf. Navy records state that she was sold in August of 1865 as the SS General Sherman..... there is reference to a name change in that year just prior to the sale. Sold to a Samuel Cook, the picture become murky. Other sources state that she was re-armed and sailed to China (unusual for a civilian ship?) where she supposedly participated in several "trade" ventures. There are references to her participating in the effort to trade with the Koreans and the demise of her crew, the refitting of her by the Koreans, the forced return of ownership (by the Chinese) to Cook, the transfer to Weld Company for Eastern Us commerce and her eventual sinking due to a leak during bad weather near Wilmington, N. C (in the vicinity of Little River Inlet). There are a lot of unanswered questions about what was really going on with her between 1865 and 1874. The sidewheeler that bore the General Sherman name was supposedly a "tinclad" in the area of Memphis during the war. Any other sources of historical information you might have to decipher this riddle would be apprecisted but I have to tell you, I have more information to indicate that the ship at the bottom off Little River Inlet is what I think it is than not....

  9. #9

    Oct 2006
    Coastal, NC
    Garrett Infinium LS, Garret Seahunter MK II, Geometrics 882, Marine Sonic SS
    1,326
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    Rick, from your research do you have any other specifics on the ship as far as construction details, length, etc that might be useful in determining whats what?

    I did find some of the Google references myself; and I have a difficult time lending any credibility to a researcher that spells Korea as Corea.
    www.coastalmarinesalvage.com

  10. #10
    us
    Oct 2006
    Herndon Virginia
    Minelab EX II & Musketeer, White's Classic
    5,331
    2062 times

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.

    I did find some of the Google references myself; and I have a difficult time lending any credibility to a researcher that spells Korea as Corea.
    "Korea" was actually spelled "COREA" before it was conquered by Imperial Japan in the early 20th century. There is no "C" in Japanese. That's not the worst of what Japan did to "Corea".

    Many Koreans and some European maps still spell it with a "C".

    DCMatt
    I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    R. McCloskey

  11. #11

    Oct 2004
    290

    Re: General Sherman Wreck off Little River Inlet, S.C.


    Korea was also called "Chosen".

    I did a few days there in 1953. Actually 360 days in Inchon.

    Dinkydick

  12. #12

    Nov 2015
    1
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    First to Dive "The Sherman" after The Three Sisters blew her for coral/stores of carg

    I am Gordon L. Smith, originally from Myrtle Beach. There were many stories about a wreck off of Little River inlet. No one really looked into who or what she was.
    During the Arthur Smith King Mackerel Tournament in 1979 a friend of mine Charles Hayes (participating in tournament) snagged on something, tied a life jacket to it (on surface) and told me about this that evening. He and I dove the wreck on October 26, 1979. The next twenty dives on the wreck were with Coit Mulligan (NMB Fire Dept.). I wrote several letters including one to the late Rep Strom Thurman asking for assistance in putting a navigational buoy on the wreck. In the mean time I drove to Wilmington and looked through the archives of the "Wilmington Morning Star" of which I found two articles concerning the sinking of the "Sherman".
    From the Star.. "The Sherman was caught in a storm off Frying Pan Shoals and having the bilge pumps go out it sank that evening . Two ships from Little River tried to pull her in but were unsuccessful. " The article states that she sailed from New York and contained stores. Her cargo was partially recovered prior to her sinking. She carried five passengers, a gentleman,a lady with children. All survived. In a next day article it says that one of her crew was put in jail one evening for being drunk celebrating being a survivor from the sinking.
    On December 9, 1979 under the direction of the South Carolina Dept. of Wildlife and Marine Resources (Charleston) DeWitt Myatt and myself placed a buoy on the wreck.
    Coit and I made well over 300 dives on the wreck and some of the "treasure" was turned over from me to Alan Albright of the SC Archeological and Anthropology Dept. Alan promised me these pieces would be put into the SC Museum in Columbia. We recovered paint cans, belt buckles, harness items for the U.S. Calvary (verified by the curator at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas), a brass scale, several locks and a few keys, brass taps for beer (ale) kegs and separate keys for the beer taps, ceramic door knobs, and medicine bottles
    In my opinion the ship that sank 180 degrees dead off of Little River Inlet and the ship that went to China are NOT the same. It would be nice to think so but the logistics do not warrant that assumption.
    Coit and I did make a dive on her on the 100th Anniversary of her sinking.
    When Coit and I dove it we made a promise we would never hurt the condition of the ship and would not permit anyone on a charter of ours take nothing more than the grape shot and bullets. We never moved, cut, displaced anything. Divers out of the shop that Bob Green ran in Myrtle did not have this same attitude. Pieces were cut from her brass railing, large pieces of metal moved to get to flatware and other things that are now on display in a local dive shop. I am certain that if the propeller was not made of lead it would have been taken also.
    The last dive I made on the "Sherman" was December 5, 1985. By the way, I came up with the idea to rename her back to "The General Sherman" and not the correct name of the "Sherman".

  13. #13
    us
    Pirate of the Martires

    Feb 2005
    Pinellas Park, Florida
    Aquapulse, J.W. Fisher Proton 3, Pulse Star II, AK-47
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    Well Gordon you took paint cans, belt buckles, harness items, locks, keys, beer keg taps, ceramic door knobs and other items. Why would you expect other divers to not take any items?

 

 

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