Remnants of major naval defeat found (Penobscot Expedition of 1779)

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History is hiding in the murky waters of the Penobscot River.

Artifacts from the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 - the largest Revolutionary War naval expedition and worst naval defeat in United States history until Pearl Harbor - offer a peek into the country’s beginnings.

The battle, which ended with the loss of between 30 and 40 commissioned naval ships and sloops of war by the hands of their own crews, left everything from smoking pipes and shoe buckles to swivel guns and cannons along the bottom of the Penobscot River between Castine and Bangor.

Although findings are generally few and far between, some items that are possibly from the Penobscot Expedition emerged as recently as two months ago.

Relics from the naval disaster remain embedded in the river’s thick mud and are sometimes visible at low tide but often go unnoticed by unsuspecting residents. Others sit on the bottom of the river just feet from the surface but are hidden from view by the thick, murky and fast-flowing tidal waters of the state’s largest river.

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