Revolutionary find near Yorktown

By Amanda Kerr - The Virginia Gazette

Two years ago a sonar company in Gloucester was testing equipment in the York River when the crew hit the jackpot: an uncharted shipwreck on the river bottom.

“That was quite a surprise,” said David Hazzard, an archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

The area where the ship was found is well-documented. There have previously been nine documented shipwrecks in the York River associated with the Revolutionary War and the Siege at Yorktown. Seven ships are on the Yorktown side and two are on the Gloucester side.

The latest find is on the Yorktown side, near the fishing pier at the Archer Cottage.

“The proximity to the other shipwrecks suggests this is a Revolutionary War shipwreck and was one of the ships scuttled by Lord Cornwallis as a defensive maneuver against the French fleet,” he said.

Next week two consultants for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources hope to find out for sure when they do a multi-day survey of the ship. The survey is being funded through the Department of Historic Resources Threatened Sites Program.

Among the consultants is John Broadwater, who took part in the 1980s survey and excavation of the Betsy, the scuttled ship that became famous for a cofferdam in the 1980s.