Artistic rendition of the capsizing of the DeBraak by Peggy Kane, 1990.
Illustration of a Congreve rocket barge from the exhibit "Delaware and the War of 1812." Congreve rockets were used by the British in the bombardment of Lewes in 1813. This weapon was the inspiration for the term "rockets' red glare" in "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Two new ongoing-exhibits—"A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World" and "Delaware and the War of 1812"—will be on display beginning Dec. 1, 2012 at the Zwaanendael Museum, located at 102 Kings Highway in Lewes, Del.
"A Seaborne Citizenry: The DeBraak and Its Atlantic World" explores His Majesty's Sloop of War DeBraak, a British warship that was escorting and protecting a convoy of British and American merchant ships en route to the United States when it was capsized and lost off the Delaware coast on May 25, 1798. The remains of the ship's hull and associated artifact collection have been curated by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs since they were acquired by state of Delaware in 1992.
Because it is the only ship of its type that has been recovered anywhere in the world, the DeBraak represents a significant source of historical information on Royal Navy sloops of war, the fast and agile, yet well-armed, vessels that were seeing expanded service during the French Revolutionary Wars (1793-1801). The exhibit tells the story of the vessel, its place within the Royal Navy, and the broader historical context within which it operated in the Atlantic World of the late 18th century. Exhibited items shed light on shipboard life and the material culture of the DeBraak's officers and crew, while hull materials illustrate the many technological advances that were taking place in shipbuilding in the late 18th century.
"Delaware and the War of 1812" illuminates the service and sacrifice of Delawareans during the British-American conflict that took place between 1812 and 1815, raising awareness of the important role that the state played as the front line in the defense of the economically vital Delaware Valley. The exhibit utilizes maps, illustrations and artifacts from the state's collections to examine the history of the war within Delaware and its surrounding waters including the battle at Crow's Shoal near the entrance of Delaware Bay and the bombardment of Lewes which both took place in 1813. Artifacts on display include muskets, swords and other weapons; ordnance; and a military drum utilized by the state militia.
Operating hours at the Zwaanendael Museum are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays, from Nov. 1 to March 31; and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays from April 1 to Oct. 31. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information, call 302-645-1148.