Three cannons discovered during routine dredging of the Savannah River are believed to be from a British warship that was intentionally scuttled during the Revolutionary War.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revealed the discovery in photos published this week, after recovering the pre-Civil War artillery pieces while clearing the river of obstructions.
Tentative research suggests the cannons may be linked to the HMS Rose, the British naval terror that was scuttled in the river to block French forces from rendering aid to the Americans during the Revolutionary War.
‘This was an exciting find while we were doing regular maintenance dredging to ensure the Savannah River stays navigable for some of the large ships coming in,’ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Archaeologist Andrea Farmer told WRDW-TV.
Three cannons discovered during routine dredging of the Savannah River are believed to be from a British warship, the HMS Rose, that was scuttled during the Revolutionary War.
Tentative research suggests the cannons may be linked to the HMS Rose, the British naval terror that was scuttled in the river to block French forces from aiding the Americans
The British warships Rose and Phoenix are seen in an engraving during an American assault on the ships in the Hudson River prior to the Battle of Brooklyn
The cannons were recovered along with an anchor and timber from a ship near the area where the wreck of the ironclad Confederate warship CSS Georgia was salvaged, but experts believe that they pre-date the Civil War.
During the Revolutionary War, the HMS Rose rained fury up and down the Atlantic Coast, leading to the creation of the U.S. Navy in response.
The British warship played a major role in the invasion of New York, helping to drive George Washington from his rebel base in the city and ranging up and down the Hudson River.
In 1779, the Rose was defending the loyalist stronghold of Savannah, after King George III’s forces shifted their focus to the Southern theater of the war following bitter disappointments in the north.
The British ship was sacrificed to created a blockade in a narrow part of the river channel, preventing the French fleet from rendering assistance to the American assault on Savannah.
The strategy succeeded, and Savannah remained in British hands until the war’s end.
A plan showing the body plan, sheer lines, longitudinal half breadth for building a 28-gun, Sixth Rate, Frigate such as the HMS Rose
Following the discovery of the cannons, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified the British government to share their findings
The wreckage of the Rose was removed after the war to clear the channel, but experts believe that the recovered artifacts were left behind at the bottom of the river.
Following the discovery of the cannons, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified the British government to share their findings, and the UK embassy responded with enthusiasm at the discovery.
‘It is exciting when artefacts from naval history are found. The discovery of an anchor, cannons, and ship timbers gives us a great opportunity to work with our US colleagues and allies to help identify them,’ Commander Jim Morley, the UK’s assistant naval attache in Washington DC, told WRDW.
‘The possibility that they may, in fact, be from HMS ROSE, a Royal Navy vessel that was part of our fleet operations during the American Revolutionary war is fascinating,’ Morley added.
Teams continue to search the area in hopes of recovering more artifacts that could positively identify the wreck
Jenny Wraight, an Admiralty Librarian with the Royal Navy Naval Historical Branch, said: ‘The source of these artefacts has yet to be definitively identified, but it is likely to date back to the American War of Independence when the British occupied Savannah.
‘In 1779, HMS ROSE, a 20-gun 6th rate of the Royal Navy’s Seaford Class, was scuttled, with no loss of life, in the river to block the channel. After the war, the wreck had to be cleared to restore safe navigation,’ Wraight said.
Meanwhile, teams continue to search the area in hopes of recovering more artifacts that could positively identify the wreck.
‘We hope that we find something down there that has integrity that can tell more of the story or the history of the Savannah River,’ said Farmer.
‘Of course, the 1700s there was a lot going on in Savannah at that time. So, it may just be a new part of the story that we’re able to uncover,’ she added.