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Picking up the Pieces: Interpretation and Reconstruction of USS Westfield from Fragmentary Archaeological Evidence

Author(s): Justin Parkoff ; Amy Borgens

Year: 2014

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Summary

USS Westfield was the flagship of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron during the Civil War. Originally a New York Staten Island ferry, Westfield was purchased by the U.S. Navy in 1861 and converted into an armored gunboat. On January 1, 1863 USS Westfield was destroyed by her captain during the Battle of Galveston to avoid capture and then later detonated in 1906 to remove it as a navigation obstruction. In 2009, the remaining wreckage, consisting of a disarticulated artifact debris field, was recovered from the Texas City Channel in advance of a dredging project. The remaining artifacts offer abundant information about Westfield’s steam machinery and armor, as the hull itself was not preserved. This presentation will review these artifacts and demonstrate how even the most scant archaeological evidence can be an asset if properly documented and studied. Furthermore, the presentation will share the future plans for reconstructing the artifacts into an interpretative museum display that exhibits Westfield’s steam machinery and the vessel’s unique design.


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Cite this Record

Picking up the Pieces: Interpretation and Reconstruction of USS Westfield from Fragmentary Archaeological Evidence. Justin Parkoff, Amy Borgens. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436985)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-44,08

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America