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During the summer of 2000, the American Battlefield Protection Program awarded East Carolina University’s 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 vessel’s 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 expedition’s 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 vessel’s 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.