The remains of the schooner Royal Savage have finally found a home with the U.S. Navy. 239 years after the ship was burned by the British when she ran aground and was abandoned on Lake Champlain, the remains were transferred to the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) for preservation and protection.
“The United States Navy takes very seriously our obligation to protect and preserve the heritage of the Navy and our nation,” said director Sam Cox to USNI News. “The first thing we will do is go through a process of preserving and protecting them for the long term. “As we go through that process, we will open the process up to scholars. Archeologists and historians have much to learn from this,” Cox added.
Royal Savage was originally built by the British to defend Quebec during the Revolutionary War. The ship was sunk by colonial forces during the battle of St. Johns. It was raised and repaired by the Americans and became the flagship of Benedict Arnold’s forces on Lake Champlain during the Ticonderoga campaign. The ship was captured by the British and, even though the American forces attempted to recapture her, she was burnt to keep her out of their hands.
The remains of Royal Savage were discovered in 1932 by Lorenzo Hagglund and the ship was salvaged in 1934. In the following years, many pieces were given away or donated until the Hagglund family finally sold what was left of the ship to the city of Harrisburg, Pa. in 1995.
Harrisburg had no connection to the Royal Savage and attempted to auction the ship off in 2013. The final bid price was much lower than what they had paid for it and the winning bidder never took possession of the artifacts. During that time, the NHHC laid claims to the Royal Savage, but the city ignored the claim and the requests to gain access to the artifacts. At the beginning of July, however, the city of Harrisburg donated the remains to the NHHC.
“This ship, and its artifacts are now going to be preserved and cherished for the public for generations to come as they should be,” Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse said. “For the last 20 years, the artifacts have stayed in storage, out of public viewing, and we are pleased today to bring them to the light of day and to make sure they are being given the proper care.”
Royal Savage had a very short career as a warship. Built in 1775, she was burnt a little over a year later. Now, the NHHC can begin the long process of cataloging and restoring her remains. A tiny piece of our national heritage is now being preserved.
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