The Georgiana is probably becoming the best known shipwreck of the Civil War. But, before E. Lee Spence's visit to the wreck, the ship was basically unknown to the citizens of the U.S. However, when Thomas Scharf found the ship, he said that it was a work of art.
The ship was 220' long. Georgiana as built out of iron planks and a wood frame. Georgiana was powered by a huge steam engine that circulated a 12' diameter propeller. Not only did she have that, she was also rigged for sail. She must have been a pretty sight to look at. Her masts were heavily raked and had a clipper bow which sported the figurehead of a woman. She was built to handle 14 guns and carry 400+ tons of cargo.
Georgiana was sunken on the night of March 19,1863. She was attempting to run past the Federal Blockading Squadron and get into the Charleston harbor. Her sinking happened after a wild chase in which she came pretty close to Yankee gunfire. Georgiana came so close that her crew even heard Yankee commands. With shots passing through her hull, her propeller and rudder damaged, and no hope for escape, Georgiana's captain ran her aground. Once she was run aground, the crew evacuated her and ran to safety. Angry Yankees set the ship on fire once she was evacuated. Although she was partially damaged, she burned and tore apart for 3 days. After she wrecked, the U.S. Secretary of Navy wrote that she was everything the Confederate navy wanted to get their hands on.
Once she was sunk, contemporary reports were beginning to be published in the Charleston Daily Courier (now known as the Post and Courier) about her cargo being consigned to Fraser and Company, a firm whose job was to make their way past the blockade. The firm was headed by George Alfred Trenholm. Dr. E. Lee Spence, underwater archeologist and historian, uncovered evidence showing that Trenholm was the historical basis for most of the character Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind.
Georgiana now sits at the bottom of the ocean floor. Her huge boiler is only 5' below the surface of the water. She is now decorated with Sea Fans, Sea Whips, living corals. Her hull is still intact. In places the starboard side of the fallen vessel remain 90' over the sand. Her purpose to serve has come and gone.