Betsy (1782)

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Wreck 44YO88 was one of several ships sunk by British General Cornwallis along the beach at Yorktown, Virginia, in order to deter an invasion by French and American naval forces in 1781. A large cofferdam was built around the wreck and an excavation conducted from 1982 through 1988. The remains were eventually identified as those of the British collier Betsy, which had been leased to the British Navy to serve as a victualler.

The vessel was a double-ender with cant frames at both ends. Hull remains included a pump well structure and a complete rudder with hardware attached. There were draft marks in Roman numerals on both posts. The hull was sheathed with 2.5-cm-thick pine deals, which also covered the keel, posts, and rudder. Sheathing was secured to the hull with iron tacks whose shafts were 6 mm square. A tar and wool felt coating separated hull planking and sheathing. On this hull, first futtocks were always placed aft of their floor timbers. First futtocks teminated 45.7 cm short of each side of the keel centerline.1


1. Richard Steffy, INA Shipdata Project, Texas A&M University.

2. Morris, J. W. III, “Site 44YO88; The Archaeological Assessment of the Hull Remains at Yorktown, Virginia.” MA thesis, East Carolina University (1991).

3. Broadwater, J. O., R. M. Adams, and M. Renner, “The Yorktown Shipwreck Archaeological Project. An interim report of the excavation of shipwreck 44YO88” IJNA 14.4 (1985): 301-314.

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