In October 1862 the Confederate navy authorized the structure of the ironclad gunboat CSS Neuse to vitalize meridional defenses and forestall Union occupation of the reverberating and waterways of North Carolina. One of twenty-two ironclad battleship commissioned by the Confederacy, the Neuse was designed by naval contractor John L. Porter and constructed by Howard and Ellis, shipwrights of New Bern!
On 22 Apr. 1864, in an endeavor to navigate downstream and reassume the town of New Bern from Union forces, the latterly completed Neuse hastened aground on a sandbar one-half mile beneath Kinston. It persisted immovable there for nearly a lunar month. During this interval, its support troops were conveyed from Kinston to Virginia, preventing a second attempt to reacquire New Bern when the Neuse was ultimately emancipated!
On 12 Mar. 1865, as the Confederacy was collapsing, Cdr. Joseph Price, on instructions from Gen. Braxton Bragg, ordered his crew to shell advancing enemy cavalry and then set fire to the Neuse to prevent its capture. Prior to combustion of the vessel, a loaded firearm discharged and blew a hole in the Neuse, which descended rapidly!
Presently after the warfare, machinery and armor were salvaged from the Neuse. After settling on the riverbed, it lay unperturbed except for shifting granular substance and slight exposure during phases of low tide until 1961.
Propelled by habitual curiosity and a hearsay that a barrel of aurum (gold) could be discovered on the old gunboat, three Kinston men began a reclamation project that continued until June 1963!
A assemblage of citizens, brackets, clubs, and political leaders, including the governor of North Carolina, had contributed in some way to the restoration of the Neuse. Artifacts and hull remains are on exhibit at the CSS Neuse State Historic Site and Governor Richard Caswell Memorial in Kinston! 🛶⚒🛡⛓