Findings

The main deck of the Maple Leaf is intact but displays considerable damage in certain areas. Features encountered include the windlass, Pawl post, a portion of the starboard hogging truss and two hatch coamings (Figure 8). Quite unexpectedly, little debris was found on deck or in overlying sediment. Apparently, salvage efforts in the late 19th century effectively removed all superstructure elements above the main deck in the area of the bow.

At the bow (Figure 7), the stem post rises 44 in. above the deck and has been badly damaged at the top by toredo worms. It is molded 1 ft. 6 1/4 in. and sided 1 ft. 1 1/4 in. The cutwater is fastened to the stem post with 3/8 in. diameter drift pins. The sided dimension is 9 in. but the forward edge is so badly eroded, precise measurement of the molded dimension was impossible. There is a 1 in. mortise cut into both sides and back of the stem post which supported the bow cap rail. The bow cap rail is now on display at the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History (Cantelas: 1992).

A hawse piece is fitted to each side of the stem post and trailed aft 8 ft. 3 in. along the bow at deck level. Each is sided 9 in. and molded 13 in. and fitted with a cast iron hawse pipe and fairlead. The oval hawse pipes have an inside diameter of 7 in. by 4 in. The fairleads are located 2 ft. 9 in. aft of the hawse pipes and measure 1 ft. 2 in. by 5 in. The top of each hawse piece is mortised to hold the bow rail stanchions. The hawse pieces are fastened to a breast hook located under the deck. Missing and damaged deck planking has partially exposed the breast hook but not enough to permit adequate measurements.

Eight feet aft of the stem lies the windlass assembly, the largest feature encountered on the deck (Figure 9). The wooden windlass is mounted on two carrick bitts held in place by cheeks and braced forward by large knees. An iron strongback (a 1 in. diameter iron rod) braced the carrick bitts against each other but is now broken. The pawl post is located just forward of the windlass and rises 5 ft. 2 3/4 in. above the deck. This massive timber measures 18 in. square and is likely stepped into the bow deadwood (Chapelle 1973:602). The pawl, a ratchet used to stop the windlass from turning in the wrong direction, is missing from the aft face of the pawl post (Paasch 1908:121-122). The windlass operated manually by inserting hand spikes into square holes along the barrel and turning the barrel by hand.

The windlass provided heavy lifting power for a number of tasks but its primary purpose was to raise the anchors carried at the bow. As anchor chain was brought aboard it passed over the windlass barrel and through the deck into the chain locker below. Normally the anchor chain passed through the deck by way of an iron chain pipe. Chain pipes are absent on the Maple Leaf and no other openings were noted near the windlass. However, two unusually wide deck planks located just aft of the windlass whelps may have been removable to provide access to a chain locker below.

No traces of the Maple Leaf's anchors or anchor chain remain on the site. They were probably salvaged soon after the vessel sank by Union forces stationed in Jacksonville. On April 9, 1864, a boat was sent to the wreck "to recover some of her equipment and anchors" but the outcome of the operation is not known (OR,I,XXXV,II:47). If the anchors were not removed during the war, Roderick Ross probably recovered them during his salvage operations in the 1880's. A marine contractor like Ross would have many uses for anchors and chain in his business.

The remaining deck is largely intact but several areas are extensively damaged. For the portions of deck examined, plank widths varied from 3 5/8 in. to 10 3/4 in. with a thickness of 2 1/4 in. The planks are fastened to each underlying deck beam with two 1/4 in. square spikes set in a diagonal pattern. The spikes are placed in counter sunk holes 7/8 in. in diameter and 3/4 in. deep and capped with wooden plugs. Deck beams are sided 5 in., molded 7 in. and placed on 24 in. centers.

Aft of the hawse piece there is considerable damage along the starboard edge of the vessel. The main impact of the torpedo explosion was concentrated on the starboard side, about thirty feet aft of the stem. Reportedly, "the hog frame was broken and the whole side of the vessel was stove in" (Board of Survey 1864). Additional damage may have been done during Ross's salvage operations in 1883 and 1889. As a result, the edge of the deck was destroyed making it impossible to define the vessel's bounds in this area.

Another damaged area is located between the forecastle hatch and the forward cargo hatch. Deck planking has been stripped off and several deck beams are broken. The surrounding deck is intact suggesting damage may have been caused by a salvage attempt. Union forces intended to recover some material from the vessel, including the anchors, but whether these efforts were successful has not been confirmed (ORA,I,XXXV,II:47, 123). Other groups in the area, including the Confederates and local civilians, would have found the vessel a valuable supply source during the war. Barnacles growing on material recovered from inside the hold during the test excavation, discussed below, clearly indicate that some planking was removed before the vessel filled with sediment.

A small hatchway is located 12 ft. behind the windlass (23 ft. 7 in. aft of the stem post). This provided access to the forecastle. The only known picture of the Maple Leaf is an ambrotype taken in 1856 (Figure 11). It shows a small square structure on the weather deck in the area of this hatch that probably covered a companionway leading from the upper deck to the forecastle. The exterior of the hatch measures 4 ft. 8 in. athwart ship by 3 ft. fore and aft. The coaming rises 6 in. above the deck and is 4 1/4 in. wide. Just aft of the forecastle hatch on the starboard side is a 6 in. circular hole passing through the deck. The edge is cleanly cut with no sign of wear and no evidence of a deck fitting mounted to the hole. A stove pipe may have passed through the hole for a stove used to heat the forecastle.

The forward cargo hatch is located 17 ft. 2 in. aft of the forecastle hatch (43 ft. 10 in. aft of the stem post). The coaming is badly damaged. Three sides remain intact while the aft side was found unattached, lying on the deck a short distance away. The deck beam supporting the forward coaming is broken at the hatch. Originally, the structure measured 3 ft. 11 1/4 in. athwart ship and 4 ft. 1 3/4 in. fore and aft on the outside.

The forward and port sides of the coaming were recovered to examine construction techniques (Figure 10). To fit the hatch in the deck, the center section of one deck beam was removed to create a large opening. On each side of the opening the cut ends of the deck beam were fitted into a mortise on the exterior face of a carling placed to support the hatch coaming. Both port and starboard coamings rest on the carlings and were fastened with two drift pins. The interior side of the port carling has a mortise with no apparent function since the coaming resting on top covers the opening of the mortise, making it inaccessible. Three mortise, on the interior face of the coaming held strongbacks to support the hatch cover. The forward and aft coamings, or head-ledges, rest on top of deck beams and are rebated on the ends. The rabbets form lap joints with the side coamings at each corner of the hatch and are through fastened with drift pins to the deck beam below.

The Maple Leaf ambrotype shows a mast placed well forward, just in front of the pilot house (Figure 11). It was stepped into the keelson and should have been located in the damaged area between the two hatchways. Obviously, it did not pass through the intact portion of the forward deck examined during the field school. Mast partners used to frame the opening in the deck through which the mast passed could not be found. However, several planks 2 ft. aft of the forecastle hatch appear to form part of a circular edge and may indicate the position of the mast. The torpedo explosion blew the mast out of its step and it settled forward as the vessel sank (Board of Survey 1864). That event could have caused some damage to the deck in addition to possible salvage attempts made at a later date. The mast was removed from the wreck sometime after the sinking.

The Maple Leaf had an arch-truss support structure, commonly called hogging trusses, to provide longitudinal strengthening to the hull. The stresses placed on the long, narrow and shallow draft hulls common to the Great Lakes required reinforcement to prevent the vessel from hogging. Figure 11 shows the port hogging truss running fore and aft, rising above the main deck to the top of the paddle wheel.

A portion of the starboard hogging truss was found near the end of the 1992 investigation. Bad weather and a lack of time allowed only a cursory examination. Beginning at deck level, 24 ft. aft of the stem, the truss gently arches up seven feet and is broken off just below the river bottom. The arch timber measures approximately 12 in. square and is composed of timbers scarphed together and iron fastened. The truss was very loose and leaning to starboard. Like much of the starboard side, it appeared damaged by the torpedo explosion. The Maple Leaf's Second Officer, Charles Farnham, stated that the explosion broke the hogging truss (Board of Survey 1864). Additional damage almost certainly resulted from Ross's attempts to clear the wreckage for safe navigation.

Preliminary documentation of the paddle wheel shaft was completed to produce a site map (Figure 12). The 12 in. diameter shaft crosses the baseline 103 ft. aft of the stem post and is heavily concreted. Normally, the two cranks located at the center of a paddle wheel shaft have the same orientation because they are joined by a connecting pin. On the Maple Leaf, the cranks have different orientations indicating the connecting pin is broken. In addition, the shaft is shifted aft on the port side. This port side section is a single piece while the starboard shaft is made of two pieces joined in the center by a large coupling. A large log rests on top of the port shaft.

Two flanges on the starboard shaft indicate the starboard paddle wheel. Half of the in-board flange is broken off and no spokes were found. The port paddle wheel is broken off and located aft of the shaft. It consists of two paddle wheel flanges attached to a section of shaft and several spokes buried in the mud. Iron pipes and rods, from the engineering spaces, stick out of the mud near the shaft. Just forward of the shaft, a fragment of the smoke stack from the port boiler protrudes above the bottom. This is 3 feet in diameter. Documentation of the engineering spaces, including the paddle wheel shaft, is planned for 1993.