Naval History

British Warship From American Revolution 'Found' After Nearly 250 Years

A number of objects thought to belong to HMS Rose have been dredged from the bed of the Savannah River by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

US soldiers believe they have found the remains of a British warship from the American War of Independence. 

A cannon, anchor and other objects thought to belong to HMS Rose were dredged from the bed of the Savannah River in Georgia, USA, nearly 250 years after the ship was scuttled at the height of the conflict.

The artefacts are yet to be formally identified, but given their location and the fact they pre-date the American Civil War by a century, Royal Navy historians believe they are likely to date to the Siege of Savannah in 1779.

HMS Rose was deliberately sunk to act as a blockship to deny the French Navy access to the Georgian capital - held by British forces - in support of American troops besieging it.

The sixth-rate ship, armed with 20 cannons, had been active in the Americas throughout the 1770s.

Her success in intercepting smugglers to Rhode Island prompted the Americans to commission their first armed ship in response, the sloop Providence, and form the Continental Navy – a forerunner of today’s US Navy.

A contemporary engraving of HMS Phoenix and HMS Rose engaged by enemy fireships on the Hudson in August 1776 (Picture: New York Public Library/Royal Navy).

The British vessel frequently conducted forays up the Hudson River which helped to drive George Washington out of New York when war broke out and also patrolled the Eastern Seaboard.

The British abandoned Savannah in 1782, near the end of the war, and the wreck was largely cleared away to allow free navigation of the river to resume.

HMS Rose's remains were recently discovered by the US Army Corps of Engineers who were conducting dredging operations in the river.

Further dredging has now been put on hold while archaeologists and naval historians on both sides of the Atlantic seek to identify the wreck definitively.

An anchor was among the items found in the Savannah River (Picture: Royal Navy).

"It is exciting when artefacts from naval history are found," said Commander Jim Morley, the UK’s Assistant Naval Attaché in Washington DC.

"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.

"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."

Cover image: A cannon believed to be from HMS Rose (Picture: Royal Navy).