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USS Hatteras - 3D sonar imaging provides a new look into the shipwreck a Union ship which was sunk off the coast of Galveston, Texas during the US Civil War Photo by: AP

Two Irishmen found entombed in Civil War ship off the coast of Texas

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USS Hatteras - 3D sonar imaging provides a new look into the shipwreck a Union ship which was sunk off the coast of Galveston, Texas during the US Civil War Photo by: AP

3D sonar imaging has provided a new look into the shipwreck of the USS Hatteras, a Union ship which was sunk off the coast of Galveston, Texas during the US Civil War. Only two men died the day the ship sank - Irishmen William Healy and John Cleary.

The Associated Press reports on the imaging of the ship, which has laid underwater since it sank in January 1863.

"This vessel is a practically intact time capsule sealed by mud and sand, and what is there will be the things that help bring the crew and ship to life in a way," said Jim Delgado, the project's leader and director of maritime heritage for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

"You can fly through the wreck, you're getting a view no diver can get," Delgado said.

The ship holds a special place in American history as it was the only U.S. Navy ship sunk in the Gulf of Mexico during Civil War combat.

Read more: Irish documentary capture the story of the American Civil War’s first casualty

On January 11, 1863, the USS Hatteras spotted and tracked down a ship that identified itself as British, then opened fire from 25 to 200 yards away and revealed it actually was the CSS Alabama, a notorious Confederate raider credited with some 60 kills.

Forty-three minutes later, the Hatteras was burning and taking on water. Commander Homer Blake surrendered, and he and his crew were taken aboard the Alabama as prisoners, eventually winding up in Jamaica.

Of the 126-man crew, two were lost and are believed to be entombed in the wreck. They were identified to be Irishmen William Healy, who was a 32 year old coal heaver, and John Cleary, a 24 year old stoker.

Read more Irish history article news

"Two of those guys paid the ultimate price," Delgado said of the two Irishmen. "This is a place where history happened and people died ... giving their all, making a choice to follow their captain and likely die, to try to do their duty and to serve."

With the new sonar imaging, researchers are getting a better look and understanding of the USS Hatteras than ever before.

"Very exciting," said Jami Durham, manager of historic properties, research and special programs for the Galveston Historical Foundation. "We knew the ship was out there, and to finally see the images. It seemed to make it more real."

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