In Ghost Fleet Awakened, Joseph W. Zarzynski reveals the untold story of a little-recognized sunken fleet of British warships, bateaux, from the French and Indian War (1755–1763). The story begins more than 250 years ago, when bateaux first plied the waters of Lake George, New York. Zarzynski enlightens readers with a history of these utilitarian vessels, considered the most important vessels that transported armies during eighteenth-century wars in North America, and includes their origins and uses. By infusing the book with underwater archaeology doctrine, Zarzynski shows the nautical significance of these colonial craft.
In the autumn of 1758, the British command at Lake George made a daring decision to deliberately sink two floating batteries (radeaux), some row galleys and whaleboats, a sloop, and 260 bateaux, thereby placing the warships into wet storage and protecting them from marauding French during the coming winter. In 1759, many submerged boats were raised but some were not. Then, in 1960, two divers rediscovered several sunken bateaux, dubbed the “Ghost Fleet.” These shipwrecks were the focus of underwater archaeological investigations that provided archaeologists with opportunities to gain unprecedented insight into eighteenth-century lifeways. Zarzynski explores and explains shipwreck preservation techniques, the creation of shipwreck parks for scuba enthusiasts, and the many multifaceted programs developed by the nonprofit organization Bateaux Below to help protect these finite cultural treasures.
“Zarzynski offers fascinating new research on bateau shipwrecks through the use of manuscripts, period newspaper accounts, and interviews. It is an outstanding piece of research, explaining the chronological history of cultural resource preservation. No other book provides this level of documentation on the role of bateaux during the wars of the eighteenth century.” — Russell P. Bellico, author of Empires in the Mountains: French and Indian War Campaigns in Forts in the Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Hudson River Corridor
“This is a major contribution to the field of American history, New York State history, underwater archaeology, and cultural resource management. There is no equivalent book that documents this story.” — Timothy J. Runyan, editor of Ships, Seafaring and Society: Essays in Maritime History
Joseph W. Zarzynski is a maritime archaeologist, registered professional archaeologist, and award-winning documentarian. He is the coauthor (with Peter J. Pepe) of Documentary Filmmaking for Archaeologists and (with Bob Benway) Lake George Shipwrecks and Sunken History, and the author of Champ: Beyond the Legend and Monster Wrecks of Loch Ness and Lake Champlain. He lives in upstate New York.
Papas traces Staten Island's political sympathies not to strong ties with Britain, but instead to local conditions that favored the status quo instead of revolutionary change. With a thriving agricultural economy, stable political structure, and strong allegiance to the Anglican Church, on the eve of war it was in Staten Island's self-interest to throw its support behind the British, in order to maintain its favorable economic, social, and political climate.
Over the course of the conflict, continual occupation and attack by invading armies deeply eroded Staten Island's natural and other resources, and these pressures, combined with general war weariness, created fissures among the residents of “that ever loyal island,” with Loyalist neighbors fighting against Patriot neighbors in a civil war. Papas’s thoughtful study reminds us that the Revolution was both a civil war and a war for independence—a duality that is best viewed from a local perspective.