Reconsidering the "Royal Savage"
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The 1770s was a formative decade for the United States, most famously for the declaration of the colonies’ independence from Great Britain, but this era also saw the formation of the nation’s first navy. At the forefront of this was a small, ragtag, squadron on Lake Champlain led by a two-masted schooner, Royal Savage, with none other than Benedict Arnold, the famous traitor, in command. Royal Savage’s contribution to United States history, and to the field of Nautical Archeology, was not limited to this service, however. After sinking during the Battle of Valcour Island on 11 October 1776, the wreck was subjected to over a century and a half of looting and tampering by residents of the Champlain Valley until it was raised in 1934 by a salvor named Lorenzo F. Hagglund. The remains then suffered an additional eighty years without conservation before finally being returned to the U. S. Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in 2015, where they are currently being conserved. Because of this long and complicated history, Royal Savage has a great deal to offer nautical archaeologists, not only as an interesting historical specimen, but as a case study for managing and extracting information from wrecks that are no longer in their original context. The following thesis traces Royal Savage’s journey from her role as the first American flagship, through her tenure on the bottom of Lake Champlain and her initial recovery, all the way up to her condition at the time of this writing, through the lens of the people that interacted with her along the way. This was accomplished by reading original correspondence and contemporary newspapers, made available by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM), as well as interacting with the remains themselves during an internship at the NHHC. The resulting work is a comprehensive, though concise, record of Royal Savage and the people who have interacted with her.
Miller, Carrigan Rose (2018). Reconsidering the "Royal Savage". Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from