In June 1862, the Confederate blockade runner the Modern Greece was attempting to evade a ring of Federal ships while entering the Cape Fear River. The USS Cambridge and the USS Stars and Stripes opened their guns on the Confederate ship. That heavy fire forced the Modern Greece ashore. Rather than have the cargo fall into Union hands, Fort Fisher fired on the stranded vessel. In 1962 a storm uncovered remains of the ship, which had been assumed totally destroyed. Over the next two years, the N.C. Office of Archives and History and the U.S. Navy recovered 11,500 artifacts.
Research on the Modern Greece led the State of North Carolina to establish one of the nation’s first underwater archaeology programs: while a number of artifacts were conserved and sent to museums, many remained at the UAB. Now work on conserving the remaining artifacts is underway. In addition to professional staff, graduate students from ECU’s Maritime Studies Program and interns from UNC-Wilmington have worked on the project.