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August 25, 2010

Donjon is lead salvor in quest for vessel from War of 1812

Donjon Marine, Co., Inc. served as the lead salvage contractor to the U.S. Navy to coordinate the locating and initial archeological investigation of the first USS Scorpion, the flagship of a U.S. Navy fleet known as the Chesapeake Flotilla during the War of 1812.

The recovery of the vessel from a location in the Patuxent River is to be accomplished in two to three phases. Phase 1, just completed, was designed to locate and conduct preliminary preparatory work for the more extensive archeological work to be done in concert with the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812. Further stages will involve installing a cofferdam so that the Scorpion recovery and excavation can be done in the dry.

The contract was awarded to Donjon on July 8, 2010 and will continue through the completion of the recovery in the summer of 2012.

“Donjon was very fortunate to be a part of this archaeological project and to touch a part of history at the same time,” said John A. Witte, Jr., Donjon’s Executive Vice President.

According to the Naval Heritage and History Command, the USS Scorpion was a sloop-rigged floating battery which could also be propelled by oars. It was probably built under contract for the United States Navy in 1812 for service during the war with England. Lt. Edmond P. Kennedy assumed command of the ship at Norfolk in September of 1812. On March 29, 1813, Scorpion was ordered to the Potomac Flotilla which was to protect Washington, D.C. Since Lt. Kennedy was to command the flotilla, Lt. George C. Read became the commanding officer of Scorpion on May 4, 1813.

On February 18, 1814, Scorpion reported for duty at Baltimore in Commodore Joshua Barney's Chesapeake Flotilla and became the Commodore's flagship. On May 24,1814, with Major Wm. B. Barney, Joshua's son, acting as captain of Scorpion, the flotilla sailed for the lower Chesapeake Bay in an attempt to stop the enemy from advancing toward Washington. On June 1,1814, a British squadron was encountered at the mouth of the Patuxent River and the flotilla was forced to retreat up the river. During the following weeks, Commodore Barney's flotilla engaged the enemy on several occasions and was able to delay the British advance.

Finally on August 21, 1814, facing overwhelming odds, Barney was forced to retreat and landed his men at Pig Point, near Upper Marlboro. Barney and his men then marched to assist in the defense of Washington, leaving Scorpion and the rest of the flotilla to be burned by a detail of men under Lt. Solomon Frazier.


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