Observations and Artifacts
General Observations of the Wrecks by Underwater Archaeologists
Three hatches have been noted on the Hamilton deck, one forward of the foremast, one between the fore and mainmasts, and one aft of the mainmast. It is possible that another hatch exists just aft of the mainmast.
The bulwarks are open along the entire length of the deck of the vessel leaving the gun crews, and others on deck during any action, in a very exposed condition.
Sweeps appear to have been normally stowed along the outside of the bulwarks, resting on the outside edges of the carronade slides. Aside from convenience of stowage this arrangement provided some measure of protection in front of the open bulwarks.
Silt build-up below the deck can be noted in the aft hatch. The silt appears to rise within a few steps of the top of the hatch ladder.
The lake bottom appears to lie within one or two strakes of the lower end of the deadeye chainplates on the port side of the vessel. This level may be related to current induced silting-in along the port side, as well as to the vessel's known marked list to port.
The position of the ship's boat seems unusually squared-off where it meets the keel. This construction point suggests that the boat may have been capable of having its rudder moved to the bow to provide rudimentary steering while being used as a tow vehicle. The notch in the transom of the boat reinforces this suggestion.
Four hatches are evident on the Scourge deck, two aft of the mainmast, one aft of the foremast and one just forward of the foremast.
Silt build-up in the interior of the vessel has been noted inside the hatch just aft of the mainmast. The level of this silt appears to reach within perhaps 50 centimetres of the deck level. Similar silt build-up has been noted inside the stern cabin windows. Silt in this case appears to reach to at least the level of the sill of the window.
The interior of the bulwarks of the vessel have been planked in. This somewhat unusual construction detail undoubtedly relates to attempts to provide protection for those on deck during any action.
Silt has built up on the port side of the deck to at least a depth of several inches, sufficient to bury the front wheels of the gun carriages. The closed bulwark arrangement has obviously brought about this silt build-up.
The key-shaped opening just forward of the boarding steps on the starboard side is apparently a rowlock opening for a sweep. This is the only such opening noted. Small posts on the sill of the forwardmost gunports on both sides of the vessel may also have been used as thole pins for the sweeps.
Bilge pumps with their spears evident are located just forward of the mainmast. Brakes for the pumps are not in position. One cutlass can be seen positioned alongside the spear in the port pump.
A small circular object rising from the deck, just aft of the foremast on the starboard side, is believed to be a stove pipe or "Charley Noble" from the galley stove below.
The lake bottom surface appears to lie within one or two strakes of the deadeye chainplates on the port side of the vessel. As with the Hamilton, this may result from current-induced silting-in along the port side as well as the vessel's known severe list to port.
The figureheads are most likely carved from Eastern white pine, the wood used most commonly for figureheads. The join lines between the softer, more workable, wood used for the figurehead and the harder, stronger wood (oak) of the vessel structure itself, can clearly be seen in photographs of the figureheads.
The flat portion at the back of the figureheads is part of the same log from which the figure is carved. This appears to be the small post section projecting above the Hamilton figurehead. Apparently, it is unusual for this post to project to such a height. Usually these 'lacing' boards stop below the shoulders.
Both the bust and the walking figure are styles which seem to be common to the 19th century, with figures simply getting larger as the size of the vessels increased. Apparently, the highly decorative garland at the base of the Hamilton figurehead is somewhat unusual but not totally unique.
The early, tentative identifications of the Hamilton figurehead as the goddess Diana and the Scourge figurehead as Lord Nelson still seem valid. The former names of the vessels Diana (Hamilton) and Lord Nelson (Scourge) make these suggested identifications eminently logical. However, it will be necessary to obtain better detail of the hair and clothing of the figureheads before final identification can be suggested.
Condition of the Hulls and Artifactual Material
Although no physical testing of the hulls has yet taken place, some observations can be made based on the photographic and videotape information.
The general condition of the hulls appears to be quite good. From bow to stern there is no apparent evidence of structural damage to the outside of the hulls either from initial impact or later deterioration. No careful documentation was made of any extensive strake areas but, wherever observed, the caulking seemed to be still in place and the seams tight.
The decks of the vessels also appear to be in excellent condition. As pointed out during the survey work, the strongest evidence for retention of deck strength is the continuing deck support of all pieces of heavy ordnance.
Aside from evidence of surface "cheesiness" noted, the wood in all areas appears to have retained a large degree of its original integrity. One indication of this integrity is evidenced in the area of the port anchor of the Hamilton. A considerable amount of the weight of the anchor (perhaps 400 - 500 pounds) apparently is supported by only a small wooden top timber/stanchion on the plank-sheer, and a section of a nearby wooden channel. There is no evidence of either the stanchion (that is, the vertical support beam) or the channel giving way under this substantial pressure. Given the stability of the environment on the sites, it is reasonable to suggest that all similar wood on the site would retain the same degree of integrity. Further, it is likely that this stanchion would be made of the same material as all major hull members - most probably oak - which, in turn, suggests an overall retention of hull strength.
All observed hull sections, deck structures and spars retain well-defined surface edges. Whether squared-off, rounded, or chamfered, the original surfaces show little or no sign of deterioration. These sharply defined surface edges are clearly evident in both the larger structural pieces and much small pieces. This retention of surface definition provides evidence for an overall lack of deterioration in these hull sections, structures and spars.
The visual evidence clearly suggests that the hulls and associated structures retain a great deal of their original integrity and strength. Nevertheless, this evidence remains only visual and requires considerable support from physical testing of the hulls, decks and associated structures and spars.
As with the hulls of the vessels, all smaller wooden artifacts on the sites appear to be in very good condition. However, many ferrous objects present show signs of severe oxidation. This oxidation is most dramatically evident in the iron cannons on both vessels. On these larger objects the oxidation should not greatly affect the overall retained strength of the object. However, on some smaller objects where a substantial degree of corrosion can be noted, a resulting degradation of the object is clearly seen. This is evident, for example, in the badly deteriorated material in unit L20 located off the port stern section of the Hamilton.
As in the case of the hulls, we have only visual information on which to base observations concerning the condition of the artifactual material. While such observations are interesting, no meaningful discussion can take place until physical testing of the objects is undertaken.
The importance of the Hamilton and Scourge lies not only in their history but also in their artifacts. Archaeologists are interested in what the material remains on the wrecks can tell us about the people who served on them.
In the following text, the artifacts are described briefly for each wreck - choose a link at the bottom of the page for more information.
Notice the different weaponry on each vessel. If you look carefully at the ships in their current condition, you can tell which way they listed before they went down by looking at the carronades, the pivoting long gun, and the location of the majority of the oars (or 'sweeps') that have fallen overboard.
Artifacts on the Hamilton
Ordnance: All the guns along the gunwales are iron carronades mounted on slides. All guns are 12 pounder caliber. The central gun is a long gun, made of bronze, mounted on a circular swivel, set amidships. The caliber of the gun appears to be either 24 or 32 pounds, probably 32 pounds.
The following totals include all identifiable materials observed on the site and shown on the site plans.
The distribution of the material seen in the inventory is clearly the result of the list of the ship as it now rests on the lake bottom. The degree of list has not been accurately established but it has been suggested to be 15 to 20 degrees to port. It seems probable that during the ship's foundering the carronades slid to port and affected the configuration of the vessel as it slowly sank then finally struck and stabilized on the lake bottom. Some material would have gone over the side of the vessel on impact. Later, as ropes decayed, spars, blocks and other material would have dropped to the deck and rolled toward the port side until either falling over the side or being stopped by the other structures or material on deck. The vast majority of the observable artifactual material is located on the port side of the vessel and within 5 metres of the port side. Blocks and spars, originally located at a point high enough on the masts and rigging, would have dropped directly onto the lake bottom, off the port side of the vessel. The open bulwarks of the ship made it easier for material to have gone over the side at the time of impact or later after fastenings gave way and material dropped to the deck. Material attached to the side of the vessel, notably sweeps, would have dropped directly to the lake bottom. A large number of these are observable on the port side of the vessel. Only one is obvious on the starboard side, lodged along the outside edges of the carronade slides.
The artifactual material observable on and near the ship probably represents only a very small percentage of that present. Undoubtedly, much other material associated with the ship lies nearby but is covered with at least a light layer of sediment. The available distribution evidence suggests that the bulk of any additional artifactual material present should be located within a 5 to 10 metre area along the port side of the ship. Some additional material may also be located off the port bow and port stern sections.
Artifacts on the Scourge
Ordnance: The guns appear to be iron pieces of relatively small caliber mounted on standard carriages. Historical accounts suggest the pieces are 4 to 6 pounders.
The following totals include all identifiable materials observed on the site and shown on the site plan.
Essentially the same pattern of distribution can be noted for the Scourge as for the Hamilton. The vast bulk of the artifactual material is located on the port side of the vessel as a result of a port list of between 15 and 20 degrees. As well, the same basic scenario can be suggested for the sinking of the ship. Most probably, the port guns tilted directly downward as the ship went on her beam ends during the squall. The starboard guns, apparently held by a minimal securing around the cascabel, remained upright in their ports. After slipping below the surface in a port-listing configuration, she struck and stabilized on the bottom in that same configuration. In the case of the Scourge the closed bulwarks suggest that a considerable amount of loose material will have lodged along the inner edge of the port bulwark. This material is not now obvious because of the relatively heavy silting-in which has occurred along this side of the vessel.
As with the Hamilton, it is probable that only a small percentage of the artifactual material present on the site has yet been observed.
The distribution evidence from the Scourge suggests that the bulk of any additional artifactual material should lie within a 5 to 10 metre area along the port side of the ship, extending another 5 to 10 metres beyond the bow and stern.
With the now established distribution patterns for the Scourge and Hamilton, careful excavation of the sites should allow reconstruction of all aspects of the ships including the rigging details.
A Brief description of the Finds
Notes from the Artifact Inventory Binder, 1987, by John Ames
This section will briefly describe each object that was photographed aboard the wrecks. By returning to the virtual tour section of this site, you can see these objects as they were discovered.
On the Scourge
Cannon 10: This is the aftermost gun on the port side, possibly a 4 pdr. It is up-ended in the gunport, the carriage resting on the sill. The carriage is intact, with 4 steps. There is the remains of cordage around the cascabel. The quoin is in place, but its handle is broken off. Click here to see this artifact.
Cutlass: This cutlass is one of a pair (along with cutlass # 2) crossed over # 9 gun and secured, guard down, in brackets fastened to the face of the rail. The brackets appear to be constructed of metal. The cutlass appears to be in good shape, intact with no holes or broken parts. Click here to see this artifact.
Deadeye: Large deadeye, about 20 centimetres in diameter, lying on the bottom about 1 metre from the port side between two guns. One of four similar deadeyes in this area. This could be from a starboard shroud swung over to port after the lanyard gave way, since there were only three lower shrouds on each mast.
Rammer worm: This item lies across a cannon, butt on the deck aft of the gun. Originally thought to be a pike, however, because of its shorter length, about 2 metres, and largish mass on the end this may be a worm, with fragments of soft material tangled in it.
Anchor: The port anchor lies flat on the bottom, stock normal to the bottom, with the ring directly below the port cathead and the crown below #6 gunport. The anchor shank appears to be at least 2.4 metres long, and distance across the arms about 2 metres. The stock projects up about 1 metre. The stock is round iron, with the folding end up. Just visible is the small chain for the forelock keeper which locks the stock in place. The shank appears to be of polygonal section, most likely hexagonal. The arms are straight. The ring is puddened and at right angles to the arms. This anchor is obstructed from vertical removal by the cathead, spar and #6 gun. Click here to see this artifact.
Cannon 6: This gun is the forwardmost of the five on the port side, possibly a 4 pdr. The gun is up-ended in the gunport, rear trucks about 40 centimetres off the deck and the barrel resting in the aft lower corner of the gunport. The carriage appears to be intact. One ring bolt is visible and the sides seem to have 4 steps. One side tackle block is still attached securely mounted with silt and cordage remains. [The barrel] could be brass or bronze instead of iron. [Marginal note: one of York's captured guns?] Click here to see this artifact.
Grapeshot: Grapeshot charge lying on the bottom about 2.5 metres ahead and to port of stern, almost below the figurehead. Stands upright on the bottom in the shape of a squashed cone about 20 centimetres high, with what looks like a loop of rope on top.
Large spar: Long spar about 16 metres long lying over the bows of the vessel. One end is suspended over the forecastle hatch, the other lies on the bottom below the outer end of the jib-boom. The spar rests on the bowsprit between the knightsheads, and passes down to port of the figurehead. The presence of sheave blocks and studding sail, boom irons, plus the length, indicate that this is the foreyard.
Cannon 1: This is the aftermost gun on the starboard side, and may be a 4 pdr. The carriage is intact and upright, slightly inboard of the gunport sill. The carriage sides have 3 steps. Ring bolts, capsquares, keys and key chains are all clearly visible. Cordage remains can be seen in the ring bolts. The barrel is mounted securely and is horizontal. The porridge-like coating can be seem all over the barrel - this seems to be a concretion of rust, silt and possibly cordage remains. The tompion is missing, the open muzzle is partly filled with silt. The trucks are all visible and seem to be equal in size, about 20 centimetres in diameter. The quoin is intact and in place. Click here to see this artifact.
Pikes: These three pikes lie over a cannon, heads down into the aft companionway. Length is about 3 metres each. These three seem to be part of a larger group of pikes numbering approximately 20, which are lying over the hatches aft of the main mast. According to Ned Myers these pikes were secured to the main boom and have fallen to the deck after lashings gave way.
Cannon 2: This is the second gun from the stern on the starboard side of the ship, possibly a 4 pdr. The carriage is apparently intact and upright. The sides have four steps. Ring bolts are visible; other details are obscured by silt. The barrel is mounted securely on the carriage. It is elevated and passes through the gun port at an angle. The tompion is missing; the mouth of the barrel is filled with silt. The apron is intact and in place on the rear part of the barrel. The quoin is missing; hence the elevated barrel. The trucks are all present, and are of equal size.
Cannon 3: This is the centre of the five which are located on the starboard side of the ship, and is likely a 6 pdr. The carriage is apparently intact and upright. The sides have 3 steps. The ring bolts, capsquares, keys and chains are clearly visible. The barrel is mounted securely on the carriage and is coated with the porridge-like material seen on #1 gun. The tompion is missing; the barrel is partly filled with silt. The apron is missing. The quoin is not seen but may be jammed ahead of the stool bed of the carriage as something is holding the breech up. The trucks are intact and in place and are of equal size about 25 centimetres diameter. Click here to see this artifact.
Rammer swab: This combination rammer and swab lies on the starboard deck fore and aft between two guns. Length is about 2 metres. The rammer head is a cylinder about 6 centimetres in diameter lying beside the left rear truck of a cannon. The swab head is a turning also about 6 centimetres in diameter. No trace of the fleece remains.
Cordage: Numerous pieces of cordage lie on the deck between the main mast and the main hatch. Their condition is unknown, but are likely quite fragile. Some pieces seem to be at least 2 metres long, and of varying diameters. There is a light covering of silt over most of the cordage.
Cannon 4: This is the second gun from the bow on the starboard side of the ship, possibly a 6 pdr. The carriage is apparently intact and upright. The sides have 4 steps. Ring bolts, capsquares, keys and chains are seen. The barrel is mounted securely onto the carriage and is covered with the porridge-like coating. It is not centred in the gunport; it is pushed against the foreside of the gunport. Something remains blocking the mouth of the barrel: this appears to be the tompion. The apron and quoin are missing. All four trucks are present and intact, and seem to be the same size, about 25 centimetres.
Cutlass: This cutlass is one of a pair crossed over a cannon, each positioned guard down and set in a metal bracket fastened to the face of the rail. Click here to see this artifact.
Cannon 5: This is the forward most gun of the five on the starboard side, possibly a 4 pdr. The carriage is intact and upright, just inboard of the port sill, but shifted forward so the barrel rests against the top forward corner of the gunport. Carriage sides have 4 steps. Ring bolts, capsquares and capsquare keys are clearly seen, but no chains for the keys are visible. Some corrosion on metal seen. The barrel is mounted securely on the carriage. Silt and remains of cordage visible on barrel, and slight buildup of the porridge-like coating. Barrel is fairly smooth - it could be brass instead of iron. The barrel is elevated, resting on the top forward corner of the gunport. The muzzle is plugged, possibly with the inner part of the tompion. The apron not seen, but may be in place as its outline seems to show under the silt. Quoin is not seen. Click here to see this artifact.
Deadeye: Deadeye, about 15 centimetres in diameter, secured by a seized strop to an eyebolt on the hull about 30 centimetres below the starboard cathead. The strop seem remarkably well preserved and may have been painted or tarred. Click here to see this artifact.
Skeletal remains: Skull lying on the bottom, about 1.5 metres from the hull. The skull is most likely from the remains that are 2 meters further forward as there are no other bones in the immediate vicinity.
Skeletal remains: Numerous bones, possibly a complete skeleton except for the skull, on the bottom about 2 metres from the starboard side below #4 gun. There is a skull 2 metres further aft. Bones are spread out somewhat in a fore-and-aft direction, covering an area roughly 2.5 metres by 1 metre. A piece of heavy cordage is entangled in the remains. Leg bones, especially prominent. [Marginal note: body caught in rigging, otherwise would have floated away] Click here to see this artifact.
On the Hamilton
Pike: A long staff that is lying on the bottom partly below the jaws of LSP 502. It is most likely a pike, although neither end is visible to confirm this.
Small spar: This spar lies over the port side, one end over the carronade #5, the other end on the bottom about 4 metres from the ship, below the port anchor. The length is about 7 metres, the diameter is about 7 centimetres. It is likely one of the studding sail booms from the foreyard, having slipped out of the iron.
Longboat: This is the ship's longboat, lying upright on the bottom astern of the ship. The bow is to Hamilton's starboard, stern to port, below the stern davits. It is about 6.5 metres long. Its beam measures approximately 2 meters, and it is single-ended, i.e., it is pointed at the bow, with a transom at the stern. Click here to see this artifact.
The longboat's hull is listing to port, and is filled with silt to a depth of approximately 20 centimetres. The planking appears sound, except for the port sheerstrake which has sprung away from the stem by about 5 centimetres. Three thwarts are fitted: the foremost has a hole (possibly for a mast), while there is a large gap between the second and third. The presence of tholepins along the gunwale indicates that one or two more thwarts were fitted in this gap. No stern benches are visible.
Oars and what may be a gang board are in the boat or nearby (click here to see them). There is a large single block in each end of the boat, presumably for the falls.
Cutlass: A broken cutlass lying at the edge of the deck. The pommel part of the guard is missing, and the blade is broken in two about 20 centimetres from the hilt. The point appears to be resting on a lumpy mass that could be another canister round.
Grape-Canister: The aftermost of four canister rounds found lying on the after part of the port main channel, inboard of the deadeyes. The aft end has come open, revealing a lumpy rust-coloured mass. Click here to see this artifact.
Large spar: A gaff, about 8 metres long, with the jaw end lying over the pivot gun and the peak resting on the bottom, 3 metres from the ship to port of the main mast. The leather facing on the jaw is intact and in good condition. The throat halyard block is lying on the pivot gun, but its strop and hook are still connected to the gaff jaw.
Pivot Gun: This is the central pivot gun and carriage: a 12 pounder. It is mounted on a turntable-type slide, facing the port side. It is at fully-round-out position. The barrel is about 3 metres long and is capsized, with its muzzle resting on the port deck, yet it is still securely mounted to the carriage. It has the porridge-like coating seen on the other guns; many traces of cordage remain draped over it. There is no sign of a tompion or quoin. The breeching line is especially prominent. The apron is in place: the capsquares, keys and chains are clearly seen. There are 5 steps on the carriage, the lowest featuring substantial ring-bolts. Just below and behind the trunnions there is a lump which may be another ring-bolt. Click here to see this artifact.
Miscellaneous catface: Although this catface carving on the end of the port cathead is attached to the ship, and therefore does not belong in the artifact inventory, it is included because it appears to be lightly secured. It measures about 15 centimetres square and 3 centimetres thick, with what appears to be a red glass in the left eye. Click here to see this artifact.
Thimble: A large thimble, about 12 centimetres across, that is attached by a seizing to the outer face of the port knighthead.
Sweep: This sweep is on the starboard side, outboard of the rail. It rests across the outer ends of the carronade slides, with the blade forward and resting on a slide. It is about 8 metres in length. The blade is split down the centre, and the outer half is missing. The diameter of the loom is about 10 centimetres. Since all other sweeps are positioned with blades aft, it may be that this sweep was broken prior to the sinking and was stored in reverse position in order to indicate it was unserviceable. Click here to see this artifact.
Carronade 1: This is the aftermost carronade on the starboard side. All 8 carronades on the ship appear to be identical 18 pdrs. A Cousteau slide of #2 shows an apron with the impression "U.S. 18" on it. The slide is securely mounted to the pivot ring with a robust pin. The carriage is in full recoil position. The barrel appears to be securely mounted on the carriage. It exhibits the porridge-like coating seen on Scourge's guns. Also visible are cordage remains and rust-like streaks of colour. The muzzle is open exposing a build-up of silt within. Farther back in the bore a circular object can be seen. This is possibly a round shot, or canister round. There is a pair of large (12 centimetre) ring bolts attached to the upper side of the rear of the carriage, below the breech-ring. Portions of cordage remain in each. A quoin is visible beneath the barrel in a fitted position. Also on the rear of the carriage and the rear of the slide are sets of eyebolts, intended for the running out tackles and the training tackles, respectively. The hooks for the blocks still remain in these eyebolts. Click here to see this artifact.
Carronade 2: This is the second gun from the stern on the starboard side. Condition and details closely similar to Carronade 1. Click here to see this artifact.
Carronade 3: This is the third gun from the stern on the starboard side. Condition and details closely similar to carronade 1. Click here to see this artifact.
Gun ladle: This in an intact powder ladle which is lying on the deck between carronades 2 and 3. The scoop measures about 35 centimetres long and 10 centimetres in diameter. The handle is about 1.8 metres long. The ladle itself has a handle that seems to have a bracket or a loop of some kind, possibly metallic. The scoop shows no signs of corrosion or deterioration. Click here to see this artifact.
Grape canister: Canister round that is lying against the centre plate of the slide, over the deck pivot plate. It measures about 40 centimetres long and 12 centimetres in diameter; has a rust-coloured exterior. An additional cannister round may be jammed in beneath the slide. Click here to see this artifact.
Large spar: This spar is lying in the midsection of the ship, jaws just to starboard of the pivot gun circle. The spar passes aft to port at an angle of approximately 135 degrees to the centreline. It passes to port of the main mast and ends in the vicinity of carronade 6. Its length is about seven metres; its thickness is about 25 centimetres in diameter. The aft, or outer, end is not seen.
This spar may be a gaff, such as the fore gaff, as it seems to be shorter than the other gaff. However, the jaws seem unusually wide for a gaff, and they don't have the bevel on the inner face required of a gaff which stands at an angle to the mast. Our conclusion at this time is that it is the heel of the main boom, which has somehow broken in two, stuck in the lake bottom astern of the ship.
Pivot gun slide: The slide consists of two parallel side rails with three cross pieces. Each rail is about 30 centimetres by 15 centimetres by 4 metres long, with the top inner parts cut away in a dovetail for the carriage. This dovetail ends about 10 centimetres from the front of the slide, but is continuous at the rear. The crosspieces are flush with the bottom of the side rails and the dovetail surface. The central crosspiece has the pivot pin through it. The rear crosspiece is made of two parts lengthwise, with the sides curved to match the pivot ring.
The slide has lifted from its working position, and has been shifted about 30 centimetres to port, so that the front sits on the deck to port of the ring, the pivot pin rests on the deck.
Anchor starboard: This anchor is hanging upside-down, suspended over the rail by one arm, just forward of the starboard fore channel. It is a wooden stocked anchor of traditional design, with the following approximate dimensions: shank, 2.5 metres; stock, 2.7 metres; distance across the flukes, 2 metres. The stock has only two metal bands, instead of the traditional four bands. The ring is puddened, and the puddening is still intact. The metal parts are covered with the porridge-like coating seen on the guns, with streaks of rust colour also visible. The shank may be octagonal in form. There is definitely one and perhaps two bolts securing the two stock pieces at the outer ends. Click here to see this artifact.
Small spar: This spar is the jib-boom, still fitted in the bowsprit cap. The length is about seven metres, and the diameter is approximately 8 centimetres. there is a shoulder on the outer end, and also a vertical sheave. Around the spar, just ahead of the bowsprit cap, is an iron ring, apparently a traveler for a flying stay or the flying jib tack.