Submarines, torpedoes, aircraft carriers, and armored battleships were first used in combat over a century ago during the American Civil War. Stories about these historic vessels, and much more, can be seen at the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus.
Located on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia, Port Columbus offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience naval service of a bygone era.
The museum is home to two Confederate Navy warships, the CSS Chattahoochee and the 225-foot long CSS Jackson. Built in a shipyard in downtown Columbus, the CSS Jackson was captured by Union forces at the end of the war, set ablaze, and cast adrift to float downriver before sinking to the river’s bottom. One hundred years later, the ship was raised and returned to Columbus for the Civil War Centennial and is a prized possession of the museum.
The 40,000 square foot structure also houses a dazzling array of original artifacts as well as three full-scale ship reproductions. Sections of the USS Monitor and USS Hartford allow visitors to witness what life was like in the 1860’s Navy, and the fascinating ironclad CSS Albemarle, offers visitors a realistic glimpse into an early battle experience through a combat simulator. Also featured is the new “Ramparts to Topmast: Flags of Triumph and Despair,” exhibit of incredibly rare Civil War naval flags.
In addition to the exhibits already on display, there are plans in place to begin constructing another full-scale ship reproduction of the CSS/USS Water Witch, a steamer that served in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Savannah during the Civil War. The ship will serve as an educational programming platform for Port Columbus, allowing visitors a hands-on experience to see how a Civil War Navy ship operated.
Throughout the year, Port Columbus hosts a variety of special events, the majority of which involve uniformed naval service re-enactors reliving activities on land and water. In March, Port Columbus holds its annual RiverBlast anniversary celebration that is a naval living history event complete with cannon firings and other interactive activities for guests. “Cool History” highlights the summer’s activities, where visitors can take a break from the heat and learn about “cool” people and events from Civil War naval history during the first weekend of each summer month.
The annual Civil War Naval Symposium is held in the fall, at which visitors have the opportunity to interact with and hear nationally renowned authors and scholars discuss a wide array of topics dealing with naval history during the Civil War. Finally, the winter months are marked by Victorian Holiday Open House, an event in December where the museum is decorated with Civil War era Christmas decorations and children can have their picture taken with a Civil War era Santa.
Ship or shore, a day’s worth of world-class learning and adventure awaits visitors to the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus.
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