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Faces of Civil War sailors from sunken USS Monitor reconstructed in hopes of identifying them
AP ^ | Saturday Mar 3, 2012 | Steve Szkotak

Posted on 03/04/2012 3:58:49 PM PST by DogByte6RER

Faces of Civil War sailors from sunken USS Monitor reconstructed in hopes of identifying them

Faces of 2 USS Monitor crewmembers reconstructed

Photobucket Recovery: The turret of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor is lifted out of the ocean off the coast of Hatteras, N.C. on August 5, 2002

RICHMOND, Va. — When the turret of the Civil War ironclad Monitor was raised from the ocean bottom, two skeletons and the tattered remnants of their uniforms were discovered in the rusted hulk of the Union Civil War ironclad, mute and nameless witnesses to the cost of war. A rubber comb was found by one of the remains, a ring was on a finger of the other.

Now, thanks to forensic reconstruction, the two have faces.

In a longshot bid that combines science and educated guesswork, researchers hope those reconstructed faces will help someone identify the unknown Union sailors who went down with the Monitor 150 years ago.

The facial reconstructions were done by experts at Louisiana State University, using the skulls of the two full skeletal remains found in the turret, after other scientific detective work failed to identify them. DNA testing, based on samples from their teeth and leg bones, did not find a match with any living descendants of the ship’s crew or their families.

“After 10 years, the faces are really the last opportunity we have, unless somebody pops up out of nowhere and says, ‘Hey, I am a descendant,’ ” James Delgado, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Maritime Heritage Program, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The facial reconstructions are to be publicly released Tuesday in Washington at the Navy Memorial, where a plaque will be dedicated to the Monitor’s crew.

If the faces fail to yield results, Delgado and others want to have the remains buried at Arlington National Cemetery and a monument dedicated in memory of the men who died on the first ironclad warship commissioned by the Navy.

The Brooklyn-made Monitor made nautical history, fighting in the first battle between two ironclads in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862. The Monitor’s confrontation with the CSS Virginia ended in a draw. Virginia, built on the carcass of the U.S. Navy frigate Merrimack, was the Confederate answer to the Union’s ironclad ships.

The Monitor sank about nine months later in rough seas southeast of Cape Hatteras while it was under tow by the warship Rhode Island. Sixteen of the Monitor’s 62 crew members died. Dubbed a “cheese box on a raft,” the Monitor was not designed for sailing on rough water. Rhode Island’s crew was able to rescue about 50 survivors.

The wreck was discovered in 1973 and designated the first national marine sanctuary in 1975. An expedition about a decade ago retrieved the revolving turret. It is now on display at the USS Monitor Center of the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News.

Of the Union sailors aboard the Monitor, some fell into the sea and died and some remain within the crumbling hull still on the ocean floor. The remains found in the turret probably reflect the desperate attempts of two crewmembers to abandon the ship before it sank.

Besides the comb, uniform scraps and ring, archaeologists also found other clues within the turret: a pair of shoes, buttons and a silver spoon.

None, however, conclusively identified the two dead men.

Delgado said this much is known about them. One was between 17 and 24 years old, the other likely in his 30s. They were Caucasian, so neither was among the three African-Americans who served on the Monitor’s crew, he said.

An examination of medical and Navy records narrowed possibilities to six people. The older man is one of two possible crew members, while there are as many as four possible matches for the younger one.

“At this stage we don’t know who these guys are,” Delgado said. “We can tell you a fair amount about them, but that’s about as far as forensic science takes us without a DNA match.”

Genealogist Lisa Stansbury, who was under contract for a year on the Monitor project, waded through pension records, the National Archives and other documents in hopes of conclusively identifying the two Monitor sailors in the turret. While she couldn’t make a positive match, she believes the older sailor to be the ship’s fireman who tended the coal-fired steam engine.

“I think there is strong evidence the older man in the turret is Robert Williams,” she said.

Stansbury was able to connect many dots in his military service and medical records, and one in particular. Records variously listed Williams’ height as 5-foot-8 and one-quarter and 5-foot-8 and one-half.

An examination of the skeleton revealed one leg was shorter than the other, meaning his height would vary depending on which leg he was favoring.

Stansbury said she had not sought out any possible family connection in Williams’ native Wales because of his common name.

The detective work was hampered, she said, by the use of aliases during the period — used to exit military service without a trace if it wasn’t to your liking — and the error-filled records of the day.

“It can be very frustrating when you can’t find information,” Stansbury said. Still, she said, “it was just an honor to have worked on this project.”

The facial reconstruction was done at the Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing Persons Information Database at LSU. Its director, Mary Manhein, declined to discuss the final product until the Tuesday announcement but called the facial renderings “very cool.”

David Alberg, superintendent of the Monitor sanctuary, said the reconstructed faces of the two unknown sailors cast the ship’s sinking in “very personal” terms.”

“The notion of putting a face on history suddenly rings true,” he said.

If no one steps forward following Tuesday’s announcement, Delgado said he hopes the remains can be buried at Arlington.

“After 10 years in the lab, maybe it’s time for these guys to get out of archival boxes and into a final resting place,” he said. Fundraising has also begun to erect a monument in Arlington to the 16 men on aboard Monitor, which he called an “iconic warship that changed naval history.”

“Like all who served and all who do pay the price, that in and by itself makes them important and worthy of remembrance and recognition,” Delgado said.


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; History; Military/Veterans; Miscellaneous; Science; Society
KEYWORDS: archaeology; archeology; civilwar; coldcase; cssvirginia; davyjoneslocker; deadmentellnotales; forensics; godsgravesglyphs; graveyards; ironclad; monitor; navy; usnavy; ussmonitor; virginia
Photobucket Face: In an effort to identify two Civil War sailors recovered from the shipwreck of the USS Monitor, Louisiana State University's FACES Laboratory is working on complete forensic facial reconstructions on the two men

Photobucket Scientific operation: The facial reconstructions have been done on the cast skulls in an effort to identify the victims

Photobucket Tracing the past: A diagram of where two skeletons were recovered when the USS Monitor was raised from the ocean bottom

Photobucket On board: The crew of the USS Monitor posing on the deck of the ironclad. Robert Williams, standing at the extreme edge of the photo with his arms crossed, is the likely candidate for the older sailor whose remains were discovered inside the wreck's turret in 2002

1 posted on 03/04/2012 3:58:54 PM PST by DogByte6RER
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Let’s get these sailors moved on and into their final resting place.

R.I.P. shipmates.


2 posted on 03/04/2012 4:00:39 PM PST by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: SunkenCiv; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach

ping


3 posted on 03/04/2012 4:02:40 PM PST by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: DogByte6RER

Let us keep green in our minds the memory of those who sacrificed so much that the life of the nation might be preserved

Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty.


4 posted on 03/04/2012 4:07:47 PM PST by rdl6989 (January 20, 2013 The end of an error.)
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To: DogByte6RER

Fascinating! Thanks for posting this.


5 posted on 03/04/2012 4:08:01 PM PST by livius
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To: DogByte6RER

Throughout our nation’s history, many blueunicorn6 ancestors have served proudly on US Navy vessels. They were mostly serving time in the brig, but there they were.


6 posted on 03/04/2012 4:08:09 PM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: DogByte6RER


7 posted on 03/04/2012 4:09:37 PM PST by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas gerit ;-{)
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To: blueunicorn6

lol

Maybe they were just sleeping it off in the brig so they would be ready for watch and to go to battle stations?


8 posted on 03/04/2012 4:19:19 PM PST by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: blueunicorn6

Yer’ ancestors were lucky. My great, great grandmother sailed from Naples to Staten island and ended up in Canada..took the wrong ship.


9 posted on 03/04/2012 4:26:11 PM PST by max americana (Buttcrack Obama is an idiot)
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To: DogByte6RER

You’re being kind, but out family crest is a chicken running from a redcoat.


10 posted on 03/04/2012 4:26:31 PM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: DogByte6RER
"Let’s get these sailors moved on and into their final resting place."

Amen. Homeward bound. Sound eight bells.
11 posted on 03/04/2012 4:40:22 PM PST by PowderMonkey (WILL WORK FOR AMMO)
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To: DogByte6RER

Those massive dents just below the gun port always get me.


12 posted on 03/04/2012 4:41:48 PM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: DogByte6RER

I was watching some show the other night and they were excavating ruins somewhere in the Middle East. And I wondered to my wife “How old does a grave have to be before you can rob it?”


13 posted on 03/04/2012 4:45:12 PM PST by Terry Mross ("It happened. And we let it happen." - Peter Griffin)
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To: theKid51

ping


14 posted on 03/04/2012 4:46:28 PM PST by bmwcyle (I am ready to serve Jesus on Earth because the GOP failed again)
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Photobucket Swamped by high waves while under tow by the USS Rhode Island, the USS Monitor sank on December 31, 1862 off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. 16 of the 62 crewmen were lost in the storm.
15 posted on 03/04/2012 4:55:51 PM PST by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: PowderMonkey
Photobucket
16 posted on 03/04/2012 4:59:01 PM PST by DogByte6RER ("Loose lips sink ships")
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To: DogByte6RER

He looks taller than 5’8’’. In fact he looks to about 6 ft. And those burly arms. Looks like a big shootin’ son ‘o’ gun. I hope these two soldiers are identified or at least laid to rest with the proper respect they deserve.


17 posted on 03/04/2012 5:10:38 PM PST by jmacusa (Political correctness is cultural Marxism. I'm not a Marxist.)
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To: DogByte6RER

Who is there going to be who can identify them. It could only be done from photos.


18 posted on 03/04/2012 6:12:57 PM PST by BenLurkin (This is not a statement of fact. It is either opinion or satire; or both)
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To: Terry Mross

It’s not the age of the grave, it’s whether or not you rob it with the government’s approval or not. Government sanctioned theft is ok. Haven’t you been paying attention lately? /sarc


19 posted on 03/04/2012 6:20:08 PM PST by ReagansShinyHair
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To: DogByte6RER; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; ...

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks DogByte6RER.

Ordinarily this wouldn't be pingworthy, but the Hunley *may* be the consistently hottest modern history subject here on FR.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


20 posted on 03/04/2012 7:07:27 PM PST by SunkenCiv (FReep this FReepathon!)
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To: BenLurkin

Do we have a list of those who lost their lives on the ship? DNA could eliminate some—other records like height and age could eliminate more. The ones that are left could be our guys. I am glad they were found and will be given a decent burial after these many years. How many more rest in the hull?


21 posted on 03/04/2012 7:29:32 PM PST by Forward the Light Brigade (Into the Jaws of H*ll)
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To: Constitution Day; upchuck

Pingvs Kakkilakkicvs


22 posted on 03/04/2012 7:39:51 PM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: DogByte6RER


Wow! Who woulda thunk it?
23 posted on 03/04/2012 7:43:13 PM PST by Thrownatbirth (.....Iraq Invasion fan since '91.)
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To: AdmSmith; agrace; AnalogReigns; Cacique; caryatid; Celtjew Libertarian; CobaltBlue; ...
Genetic
Genealogy
>> PING <<
Send FReepmail if you want on/off GGP list
Marty = Paternal Haplogroup O(2?)(M175)
Maternal Haplogroup H
GG LINKS:
African Ancestry
DNAPrint Genomics
FamilyTree DNA
GeneTree
Int'l Society of Genetic Genealogy
mitosearch
Nat'l Geographic Genographic Project
Oxford Ancestors
RelativeGenetics
Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation
Trace Genetics
ybase
ysearch
The List of Ping Lists

24 posted on 03/04/2012 7:46:46 PM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: DogByte6RER

The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, VA has a full size mock-up of the USS Monitor. It also has the most comprehensive displays on the Monitor-Merrimac battle.

http://www.marinersmuseum.org/

You can see the original turret of the Monitor being restored/conserved, in addition to full size models of what the turret looked like when it was found, and when it was new that you can walk through.

They also have a full size mockup of the officer’s quarters of the Monitor, and a walkthrough full size mockup of part of the CSS Virginia(the Merrimac). There are artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Monitor, films, displays,etc.

This week marks the 150th anniversary of that famous naval duel of the ironclads that changed history and began the era of metal ships. The battle was fought on March 9,1862.


25 posted on 03/04/2012 7:56:56 PM PST by exit82 (Democrats are the enemies of freedom. Be Andrew Breitbart.)
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To: BenLurkin
Who is there going to be who can identify them. It could only be done from photos.

I wonder if they have studied the ancestry sites on the net. They can have old pictures and details in them.

26 posted on 03/04/2012 10:12:29 PM PST by Bellflower (The LORD is Holy, separated from all sin, perfect, righteous, high and lifted up.)
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To: DogByte6RER

As a retired sailor, I am continually amazed at the brutal working and living conditions endured by my forebearers.


27 posted on 03/05/2012 5:16:21 AM PST by pabianice (")
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To: martin_fierro; DogByte6RER
Thanks martin.

Archaeology magazine's news page had the link for photos of the reconstructed faces today:

Forensic reconstruction has provided these two images of crew members from the USS Monitor.
The man on the left is believed to be the older of the two. (Courtesy of NOAA)

28 posted on 03/06/2012 10:17:25 AM PST by Constitution Day
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To: Constitution Day
Wow. Impressive reconstruction.

I'd've been hard-pressed to pick out the clay head.

29 posted on 03/06/2012 11:05:21 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: martin_fierro

Ha! That’s brutal. Nice work. ;)


30 posted on 03/06/2012 11:19:14 AM PST by Constitution Day
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