During the summer of 2000, the American
Battlefield Protection Program awarded East Carolina Universitys Program in Maritime
Studies funding to conduct a Phase II archaeological survey of vessel remains located in
the lower Penobscot River, at Devereaux Cove, Stockton Springs, Maine. Well within the path of the retreating transports,
and in the vicinity of their reported destruction, the site is potentially associated with
the Penobscot Expedition of 1779.
Knowing that the failed campaign was
responsible for leaving a large number of eighteenth-century shipwrecks on the Penobscot
River bottom, determining the Devereaux Cove vessels association with the event
provides a logical beginning for interpreting the site.
The large number of expedition transports destroyed in the Devereaux Cove
vicinity provides an even narrower context. Through historical research, the present study
attempts to confirm the final locations of all but one of the expeditions armed
vessels, suggesting the Devereaux Cove vessel is not likely one of the American warships. In some cases, this historical evidence is
bolstered by archaeology. The context of the
Penobscot Expedition transports can be further narrowed, considering that with the
exception of one brig, all expedition transports were sloops or schooners and likely
possessed characteristics of New England-built merchantmen. As a necessary precursor to
archaeological evaluation, chapter six examines the design, construction, prevalence, and
use of sloops and schooners in eighteenth-century New England as reflected in the
historical record. This provides the context
within which expedition transports were likely built and operated.
Resting in a tidal flat, the Devereaux
Cove vessels visible portion is comprised of floor timbers and first futtocks, none
of which are preserved in their entirety. Left
dry at low tide, exposed remains encompass roughly a 52-foot by 12-foot area. Although the site has been significantly impacted
by years of tidal exchange and harsh weather, probing below the mud line revealed that
well buried structure is better preserved. Construction
details and wood sample analysis suggest the badly deteriorated remains represent an
eighteenth-century, American-built vessel. This
thesis uses a comparison of four known eighteenth-century shipwrecks, particularly those
characteristic of New England-built merchantmen, as a basis for these observations.
While a conclusive association between the
Devereaux Cove vessel and the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 cannot presently be
established, historical and archaeological research found nothing to the contrary. Indeed, historical and archaeological
investigations revealed much to suggest a connection.