For Immediate Release - July 16, 2009

National Park Service Grant Helps Preserve Site of the Battle of Chelsea Creek

Battle was the first naval engagement of the American Revolution

BOSTON - The Patrick Administration announced today that the Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources (BUAR) in the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) has been awarded a $48,300 grant from the National Park Service (NPS) to preserve and protect the battlefield where the Battle of Chelsea Creek - the first naval engagement of the American Revolution - was fought.

"This project will help restore the Battle of Chelsea Creek to its proper place in the siege of Boston," Secretary of the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles said. "It is an honor to receive this award from the National Park Service to document and preserve this historic battlefield."

The project's objective is to locate exact British and American military operations and the remains of the HMS Diana, the British Schooner that was sunk during the battle. BUAR will use non-destructive methods, such as archival research and field documentation, during the location process. BUAR will also create Geographic Informational System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) maps of various components of the engagement to help identify, delineate and interpret the battlefield, which will help assess present and future threats to the battlefield as well as guide management strategies, preservation and public interpretation. The grant will be used to fund the research and a community engagement program in Chelsea, Revere and East Boston.

'These funds will help us better understand the importance of the Battle of Chelsea Creek during the Revolutionary War and could lead to the discovery of many historical artifacts, including remnants from the HMS Diana," said Congressman Mike Capuano, whose district includes Chelsea.

The Battle of Chelsea Creek has long-been overshadowed by the Battle of Lexington and Concord, but it was the first naval engagement of the Revolutionary War. The battle resulted in the capture and destruction of the HMS Diana - a loss that hampered the British fleet during the Battle of Bunker Hill. Archeological investigation will endeavor to locate the remains of HMS Diana, and GIS mapping will record the sites of British and American military operations.

The grant is noteworthy because the Battle of Chelsea Creek is not listed as a priority site in the Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of the Revolutionary War. NPS typically doesn't provide funding to restore a battlefield unless it's listed as a Priority I or II site in the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields and the Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States.

The National Park Service awarded 33 American Battlefield Protection Program Grants totaling $1,360,000 to states and municipalities across the country. Other winning projects range from an archeological investigation of submerged remains at World War II battlefields to boundary identification at Mexican-American War battle sites.

The grants are administered by the NPS's American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP). Federal, state, local, and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions are eligible to apply for these battlefield grants each year. ABPP promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil. 

In Massachusetts, the grant will be overseen by the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources (BUAR). Established in 1973, the BUAR is the sole trustee of the Commonwealth's underwater heritage, promoting and protecting the public's interests in these resources for recreational, economic, environmental, and historical purposes. BUAR implements its mission through various programs including public outreach, technical assistance and project review, and resource identification, inventory, assessment and interpretation.

The Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is the agency within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs charged with protecting Massachusetts' approximately 1,500-mile coast. Through educational and regulatory programs, CZM seeks to balance human uses of the coastal zone with the need to protect fragile marine resources. The agency's work includes helping coastal communities anticipate and plan for sea level rise and other effects of climate change, working with cities and towns and the federal government to develop boat sewage no-discharge areas, and partnering with communities and other organizations to restore coastal and aquatic habitats.