In late 1862 and early 1863, during the Civil War, the Federal blockade of Galveston reached its peak. Confederate ships bearing vital goods could get to the main supply depots and arsenals at Houston only by slipping around wary Federal patrols. One ship, believed to have been the Augusta, had arrived safely in Houston when it sprang a severe leak. Although it was quickly towed to the Milam Street landing, it sank before it could be unloaded. Then, inexplicably, the Confederates abandoned it. For years afterward, when the bayou water level was low, the ship would reappear, and divers were able to recover many relics. About 1910, however, due to unknown causes, the ship was blown up and its remains sank slowly into the bayou silt. In 1968 the Southwestern Historical Exploration Society determined to retrieve artifacts from the ship. At 8 a.m., July 20, an 80-ton dragline atop the Milam Street Bridge began dredging several feet of mud, and at 2:30 p.m. an aged cannon ball dropped out of the dragline clamshell. Subsequently musket balls, bayonets, coins, square nails, chest locks, and numerous pistol balls were raised-- slightly over a century from the date that they sank.
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