Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Wreck of 1813 Warship may have been found on Lake Huron


Daily Great Lakes
February 22, 2005

A British man-of-war, the HMS General Hunter, that was captured by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's American fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 mayhave been found buried and largely preserved under a sandy beach in Canada.

The shipwreck lies on the shore of Lake Huron at Southampton, Ontario, slightly tilted to its starboard side.

There is some damage to the port bow and severe shattering of timbers about midship along the hull, according to a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Researchers have found hundreds of ceramic pieces from bowls and plates, clay pipes, eating utensils, 36 buttons from U.S. and British military uniforms, four cannon balls, a musket bayonet, gunflints and parts of what appear to be pistols. The artifacts, which were recovered last summer, are at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, where they are being cleaned and preserved.

The ship was reburied last autumn to protect it. Researchers from the conservation institute will continue working with artifacts over the next several months. If the sunken vessel proves to be the General Hunter, it could be the oldest shipwreck ever located on the Great Lakes.

Canadian researchers and officials said in interviews this week that they are 99 percent certain the shipwreck was a fighting ship built in the age of sail. And the only currently known warship on Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior that closely matches the wreck's dimensions - about 70 feet long and 20 feet wide - was the two-masted brig that carried 45 sailors when it fought the fledgling U.S. Navy for control of the Great Lakes.

"We're not 100 percent sure, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty compelling we've got the General Hunter. You Americans captured it in 1813, but we've probably got it back as a wreck," said Pat Folkes, a Canadian marine historian studying the ship.

"There are two or three other possibilities, but the construction of the hull is for a naval, not a merchant, vessel. The timbers are very substantial," Folkes said. "And we've found a lot of military artifacts, including a cannon."


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