In Savannah, Georgia, one of the busiest ports on the Atlantic for container vessels, government officials are attempting to deepen the waterway connecting the port to the Atlantic. There is a significant obstacle to their plan, the remains of the CSS Georgia, an armored gunboat that was scuttled by Confederate forces to avoid capture by William Tecumseh Sherman’s Union army when he captured the city in December 1864. Currently, the vessel is on the National Register of Historic Places and dredging is prohibited within fifty feet of the wreckage.
In order to allow for the port expansion, the Army Corps of Engineers is going to raise and salvage the remains of the Georgia. Currently, two large pieces of the armor, as well as cannons, parts of the engines, and a propeller. The Corps notes that caution will be in order, as munitions are present and may still be active. The wreckage is important, as the war was the beginning of the age of iron-hulled vessels and was a fine example of what the South could do, despite a lack of industrial base. It will also represent what went wrong for the Confederacy during the late war.
This will be a wonderful opportunity for preserving another part of Civil War history, as only a few other naval vessels from the period have been preserved, including the USS Cairo, which sank in the Yazoo River in Mississippi, soon before the Vicksburg Campaign, which I have visited a couple time and is well worth seeing.
The SCV states that the proceeds from the plates will go to marking Confederate soldier graves, build monuments, and preserve artifacts. Texas considered the idea as we are beginning the 150th anniversary of the war, but the board that approves plate designs is deadlocked in a 4-4 tie, with another vote coming on Nov. 10. Several other states in the South have such plates and while attempts have been made to stop them, SCV has successfully sued and received approval.
Now, as a descendant of a Union veteran and a member of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), I am wondering how many states now have or would adopt plates for our organization, as I would like to have one. I have no real problem with an SCV plate, so long as it is done in good taste, which looking at the design seems so. While Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee calls the flag a “symbol of intimidation”, it is an object and is only intimidating if used in that way and allowed to be intimidating. I do find it interesting that those speaking out against the plates seem to be only Democrats. What are their motivations for opposition beyond political disagreement?
While some aspects of the SCV do annoy me, they have the right to be recognized and share pride in their organization. I seriously doubt that too many people are going to pay that close of attention to an SCV license plate, as they should be focusing on the road. I hope other states will consider adopting some sort of commemorative plate for the 150th anniversary. What are your thoughts on this?