Valcour Bay Research Project: 1999-2004 Results from the Archaeological Investigation of a Revolutionary War Battlefield in Lake Champlain, Clinton County, New York


This report presents the results from the 1999 through 2004 field seasons of the Valcour Bay Research Project (VBRP), a Phase I underwater archaeological investigation of the submerged battlefield at Valcour Bay, in Lake Champlain. Valcour Bay is located in Clinton County, New York, between the town of Peru and Valcour Island within Lake Champlain. On October 11, 1776, General Benedict Arnold engaged the British Navy in perhaps the most important naval contest of the American Revolution. After an intensive five-hour battle with heavy casualties on both sides, darkness finally ended the conflict. With some 60 men killed and wounded on the American side and three-quarters of their ammunition gone, Arnold and his officers executed a daring nighttime escape past a British blockade. Two days later, on October 13th, the British fleet caught up with Arnold and a second running battle ensued. Outgunned and surrounded, Arnold deprived the British of battle prizes by intentionally destroying five of his own vessels at the spot known today as “Arnold’s Bay” and escaped south to Fort Ticonderoga. These engagements deposited an invaluable collection of Revolutionary War materials on the bottomlands of Lake Champlain.

In 1999, New York State Police scuba diver Edwin Scollon discovered a cannon in Valcour Bay. This discovery triggered the beginning of the Valcour Bay Research Project. The VBRP is a cooperative effort between a dedicated team of volunteer sport divers and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM). The VBRP is designed to systematically map the submerged Valcour Island battlefield, while providing volunteer sport divers a way to channel their interest in history and archaeology into a formally permitted project. At the end of the 2004 field season, a total of 185,000ft2 (17,187m2) of bottomlands had been surveyed, locating 209 Revolutionary War era artifacts, as well as 22 items from the recovery of the gunboat Philadelphia. The artifact scatter contains an area of debris resulting from the explosion of a cannon onboard the gunboat New York. Twenty-two artifacts were recovered from the site in 2001, and are currently displayed in the LCMM exhibit “Valcour Bay Research Project: Rediscovering a Moment in Time.”

Cite this Record

Valcour Bay Research Project: 1999-2004 Results from the Archaeological Investigation of a Revolutionary War Battlefield in Lake Champlain, Clinton County, New York. Arthur B. Cohn, Adam I. Kane, Christopher, R. Sabick, Edwin R. Scollon, Justin B. Clement. Vergenes, Vermont: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. 2007 ( tDAR id: 390909) ; doi:10.6067/XCV86T0P7B

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1776 to 1776 (Battle of Valcour Island and Battle of Split Rock Island)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -73.545; min lat: 43.884 ; max long: -73.257; max lat: 44.69 ;

Record Identifiers

Naval Historical Center Permit #(s): LCMM-2001-001

New York State Archaeological Permit #(s): AR9904

Department of the Interior, National Park Service Grant No.(s): GA-2255-01-008; GA-2225-03-009

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