Scuba divers examining a shipwreck underwater.
Virtual Fieldtrip
Come learn about archaeology, Maryland's history and some sites at the Park.

Gunboats

Based on the historical versions of the Battles of St. Leonard Creek, two gunboats were known to have been scuttled in this creek. In 1997, archaeologists discovered two wrecks. When these wrecks were first found, there was some uncertainty that they were in fact the remains of the scuttled Flotilla gunboats. So the archaeologists investigated further to see if they could confirm that the wrecks were the sunken gunboats, comparing the remains and artifacts from the site to what is known about the vessels from historical accounts.

Archaeologists took a look at the historical designs for these gunboats – listed as Gunboat Number 137 and Gunboat Number 138. Gunboat design in the early 19th century was not standardized and not as well understood as some other ship designs. Here is what they gleaned from the records - the gunboats in question were built in 1807 and 1808 in Baltimore, and were roughly 50 feet long and 16 feet wide (though there were some contradicting measurements). They were built of wood planking with copper and wooden fasteners. They had a deck where the guns were placed, and a hold underneath the deck. But the exact layout and specific construction was unclear and varied from ship to ship.

While the researchers did not find the designs for gunboats No. 137 and 138, they found other similar designs. Below is a drawing that shows the proposed arrangement of space on one of the early gunboats.


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