Since the area Archeological Society is hosting a talk on the British raids on the Upper Chesapeake, we’re posting this brief piece looking back on some of the extensive research done on the Elk River.
Two graduate students finishing advanced degrees in archeology, part of a team exploring the sunken mysteries of the Elk River, spent several weeks here in the autumn of 1999 looking for history submerged under the waterway. Michael Plakos, the East Carolina University scholar told the Cecil Whig, “It is part of history that hasn’t been written yet. . It’s very exciting for us,” he continued as he spotted the hull of an old ship on his sonar. The researchers dove down to the wreckage to map it and retrieve artifacts. Mike Hughes was the other student involved in this project.
When the British came up the Elk River to Frenchtown on April 29, 1813, the local militia retreated after firing a few shots from a small battery. The enemy started burning the village, destroying quantities of flour and military goods. Two vessels moored in the river were also destroyed. One was run aground and burned. The other, a Baltimore – Frenchtown packet was burned.
The next year, Stephen Bilicki, the assistant underwater archeologist for Maryland, came back to complete a phase I survey of the Upper Elk River. These types of studies identify archeological sites and resources in a designated area.