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Human Remains

The sinking of the Hamilton and Scourge on August 8th 1813 led to the largest loss of  life in one day, suffered by the United States Navy on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812.  Based on returns of personnel for the fleet just after the sinking, a total of 73 men were aboard both vessels. 53 lost their lives and 20 survived. The names of the 32 men from Hamilton’s crew and the 21 men from Scourge who died in the sinking, are engraved on headstones at the Hamilton & Scourge Naval Memorial Garden in Confederation Park, Hamilton. It is believed that 47 of the sailors lay at rest within the confines of the hulls of the vessels as they were unable to get out due to the powerful inrush of lake water during the violent squall which sank the ships. During the struggle to save themselves as the schooners sank, some of the men may well have become tangled in the rigging. There are six areas around the vessels where human remains have been observed. The image shows a human skull and two femurs or thigh bones set amidst other bony remains on the lakebed. As the City of Hamilton moves forward with its efforts to preserve the vessels and tell their story, respectful treatment of the lost sailors will always be of paramount importance.