Underwater graveyard .. secrets revealed during the American Civil War
Only the grave of John Greer, a laborer who died on November 5, 1861, has been identified, but historical records show dozens of people buried at the same site on a sunken island in Dry Tortugas National Park.
The National Park Service said an outbreak of diseases, including yellow fever, on the island claimed dozens of lives between the 1860s and 1870s, and archaeologists plan to uncover any missing graves.
Dry Torjib National Park consists of seven protected islands and reefs and is home to the 19th century Fort Jefferson.
“This intriguing find highlights the potential for untold stories in the park both above and below the water,” said Josh Marano, a marine archaeologist at South Florida National Parks, in a statement.
Construction of the fort began in 1846 and continued for 30 years. The structure was created to protect one of North America’s most strategic deep-water anchorages during the Civil War.
The fort also housed prisoners after the Civil War, the most famous being Samuel Mudd, who was sent there for his involvement in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
After its use as a prison, Jefferson became a quarantine station for the Naval Hospital Service from 1888 to 1900, when the site was also used during the Spanish–American War.
The remains of the hospital along with the surrounding cemetery are documented as an archaeological resource and will be regularly monitored by members of the South Florida National Parks Cultural Resource Program.
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