After the Americans
in sad plight in June, 1776, Carleton
, the governor of Canada
and general of the forces there, appeared at the foot of Lake Champlain
with a well-appointed force of 13,000 men. Only on the bosom of the lake could they advance, for there was no road on either shore.
To prevent this invasion, it was important that the Americans
should hold command of its waters.
A flotilla of small armed vessels was constructed at Crown Point
, and Benedict Arnold
was placed in command of them as commodore.
A schooner called the Royal Savage
was his flag-ship.
, meanwhile, had used great diligence in fitting out an armed flotilla at St. John
for the recovery of Crown Point
Towards the close of August, Arnold
went down the lake with his fleet and watched the foe until early in October, when he fell back to Valcour Island
and formed his flotilla for action without skill.
advanced, with Edward Pringle
as commodore, and, on the morning of Oct. 11, gained an advantageous position near Arnold
A very severe battle ensued, in which the Royal Savage
was first crippled and afterwards destroyed.
behaved with the greatest bravery during a fight of four or five hours, until it was closed by the falling of night.
In the darkness Arnold
escaped with his vessels from surrounding dangers and pushed up the lake, but was overtaken on the 13th. One of the vessels, the Washington
, was run on shore and burned, while Arnold
, in the schooner Congress
, with four gondolas, kept up a running fight for five hours, suffering great loss.
When the Congress
was almost a wreck, Arnold
ran the vessels into a creek about 10 miles from Crown Point
, on the eastern shore, and burned them.
Then he and his little force made their way through the woods to a place opposite Crown Point
, just avoiding an Indian ambush, and escaped to the port whence he started in safety.
At Crown Point
he found two schooners,
two galleys, one sloop, and one gondela— all that remained of his proud little fleet.
In the two actions the Americans
lost about ninety men; the British
not half that number.
took possession of Crown Point
on Oct. 14, but abandoned it in twenty days and returned to Canada
When the War
of 1812-15 was declared, the whole American naval force on Lake Champlain
consisted of only two boats that lay in a harbor on the Vermont
had two or three gunboats, or armed galleys, on the Richelieu
, or Sorel
, River, the outlet of Lake Champlain
Some small vessels were hastily fitted up and armed, and Lieut. Thomas McDonough
was sent to the lake to superintend the construction of some naval vessels there.
In the spring of 1813 he put two vessels afloat— the sloops-of-war Growler
Early in June, 1813, some small American vessels were attacked near Rouse's Point
by British gunboats.
sent the Growler
, manned by 112 men, under Lieut. Joseph Smith
, to look after the matter.
They went down the Sorel
, chased three British gunboats some distance down the river, and were in turn pursued by three armed row-galleys, which opened upon the flying sloops with long 24-pounders.
At the same time a land force, sent out on each side of the river, poured volleys of musketry upon the American vessels, which were answered by grape and canister.
For four hours a running fight was kept up, when a heavy shot tore off a plank from the Eagle
below water, and she sank immediately.
was disabled and run ashore, and the people of both vessels were made prisoners.
The loss of the Americans
in killed and wounded was twenty; that of the British
The captured sloops were refitted, and named, respectively, Finch
They were engaged in the battle off Plattsburg
the next year, when McDonough
For a while the British
were masters of Lake Champlain
This loss stimulated McDonough
to greater exertions.
By Aug. 6 he had fitted out and armed three sloops and six gunboats.
At the close of July a British armament, under Col. J. Murray
, attacked defenceless Plattsburg
It was composed of soldiers, sailors, and marines, conveyed in two
The Royal savage.1|
sloops-of-war, three gunboats, and forty-seven long-boats.
They landed on Saturday afternoon, and continued a work of destruction until ten o'clock the next day. General Hampton
, who was then at
, only 20 miles distant, with 4,000 troops, made no attempt to oppose the invaders.
The block-house, arsenal, armory, and hospital at Plattsburg
ed; also private store-houses.
The value of public property wasted was $25,000, and of private merchandise, furniture, etc., several thousand dollars. Many then went on a plundering raid, destroying transport vessels and property on shore.
Such was the condition of naval affairs on Lake Champlain
at the close of the summer of 1813.