Battle of Valcour Isand

11th October 1776
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Tyrannicide vs Dispatch 12th July 1776
Next action : Occupation of Rhode Island 6th December 1776 - 8th December 1776

 

United States of America

 
Unknown Division
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
 
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Enterprise 12 
Trumbull 10Seth Warner
Washington 8 
Revenge 6 
Connecticut 3 
Jersey 3 
 

Great Britain

 
Unknown Division
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
 

Sources

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Posted by Brian Stephens on Thursday 1st of May 2014 17:39

Battle of Valcour on Lake Champlain, October 11th, 1776
Published 1876
(In part) The following account of the Battle, between the two fleets, is taken from Palmer's History Of Lake Champlain.
The route taken by vessels passing up the lake from Canada, lies along and nearly parallel to the west shore of Grand Isle. Opposite Cumberland Head the lake is two miles wide, but, as soon as that point is passed, it increases in width to five miles, and does not again contract until you approach the mouth of the Bouquet. On the western side of the lake, about four miles southwest from Cumberland Head, and nearly two miles to the right of the track of vessels sailing directly up the lake, is the island of Valcour, which is separated from the main shore by a channel about one half mile in width. This channel is deep enough for the largest vessels, and is hid from the view of boats sailing up the lake, until they have passed some distance south of the Island. Midway or this channel, and where it is most contracted, Arnold anchored his vessels in a line extending from shore to shore. "We are moored," he writes to General Gates, " in a small bay on the west side of the Island, as near together as possible, and in such form that few vessels can attack us at the same time, and those will be exposed to the fire of the whole fleet."
At eight o'clock on Friday morning, October nth, the English were discovered passing Cumberland Head with a strong north or north-west wind, and bearing in the direction of Crown Point, towards which it was supposed Arnold had retired. The fleet at this time was under the command of Capt. Thomas Pringle, of the Lord Howe, who made the schooner Maria his flag ship. General Carleton was also on board the Maria, but took no command of the fleet. As the English appeared in sight, off Cumberland Head, General Waterbury went on board the Congress galley, and urged that they should immediately set sail and fight the enemy on the retreat in the broad lake; but Arnold declined, at that late hour, to change his plan of defence.
Capt. Pringle was .some distance ahead of Valcour when he first discovered the American vessels. He immediately changed his course towards the Island, with a view to engage, but found great difficulty in bringing any of his vessels into action. About eleven o'clock, however, the gun-boats were enabled to sweep to windward and take a position to the south of the American fleet, when they opened a" fire upon the Royal Savage which, with the galleys, had advanced a short distance in front of the line. The British schooner Carleton soon after came to the assistance of the gun-boats. The Royal Savage sustained the fire of the British vessels for some time, during which her mast was crippled and much of her rigging shot away. She then attempted to return to the line, but, running too far to the leeward, grounded near the south-west point of the Island, and was abandoned by her men, who succeeded in reaching the other boats in safety. At night the British boarded the schooner, and set fire to her.
At half past twelve o'clock the Carleton and the gunboats had approached within musket shot of the American line, when the action became quite general, and continued without cessation until about five in the afternoon. During the engagement Arnold was on board the Congress, Waterbury on the Washington and Colonel Wigglesworth on the Trumbull. The Congress and Washington suffered severely. The latter was hulled in several places, her main-mast shot through, and her sails torn to pieces. Waterbury fought bravely on the quarter deck of his vessel, and towards the close of the action was the only active officer on board; the Captain and Master being severely wounded, and the First Lieutenant killed. The gondola New York lost all her officers except Captain Lee, and the gondola Philadelphia, Captain Grant, was so badly injured that she sank about one hour after the engagement. Arnold fought the Congress like a lion at bay, pointing almost every gun with his own hands, and cheering his men with voice and gesture. His vessel was hulled twelve times and received seven shot between wind and water; the mainmast was injured in two places, the rigging cut to pieces, and many of the men were killed and wounded.
On the side of the English, the battle was sustained by the gun-boats and the schooner Carleton, and by a party of Indians who were landed on the island, and kept up an incessant fire of musketry during the engagement. The English vessels suffered considerably. On board the Carleton eight men were killed and six wounded. Two of the gun-boats were sunk, and one was blown up, with a number of men on board. About five o'clock in the afternoon, Captain Pringle, who had made several unsuccessful attempts to bring his larger vessels into action, called off those engaged, and anchored his whole fleet just out of reach of the American guns. The Thunderer lay at the right of the line, a little south of Garden Island, the schooner Maria on the left near the main shore, while the Loyal Convert and the Inflexible occupied intermediate positions. The Carleton and gun-boats were anchored near and among the other vessels. By this arrangement, Captain Pringle hoped to prevent the escape of the American fleet during the night.
Arnold was well satisfied that he could not successfully resist the superior force, with which the English were prepared to attack him on the following morning. His men had fought with the most daring bravery and resolution, but he had only succeeded in retaining his position by the direction of the wind, which had prevented the larger vessels of the British fleet from joining in the action. Even under equally favorable circumstances, he could not resist a renewed attack, for his boats were already badly crippled, sixty of his men, including several officers, killed or wounded, and nearly three-fourths of each vessel's ammunition spent. A Council of War was immediately called, when it was determined that the fleet should retire during the night towards Crown Point.
At seven o'clock in the evening Colonel Wigglesworth got the Trumbull under way, and, bearing around the north end of Valcour, directed his course towards the upper end of the lake, passing outside of the British line. The Trumbull was soon followed by the Enterprise and Lee, with the gondolas; and about ten o'clock, Waterbury started in the Washington galley, followed closely by Arnold, in the Congress. In this order, with a light at the stern of each vessel, the fleet passed to Schuyler Island, about nine miles distant, where they arrived early the next morning. On examination Arnold found two of the gondolas too badly injured to repair. These he sank near the Island, and, having fitted up the other vessels as well as his limited time and means would permit, again set sail for Crown Point.
While Arnold was repairing his vessels, the British fleet weighed anchor and commenced beating up the lake in pursuit; the wind blowing gently from the south. Early on the morning of the 13th, the American fleet was off the Bouquet, and the English lay a little above Schuyler Island. Arnold now had the wind in the south, while a fresh north-east wind, blowing in the broader part of the lake, favored the English commander, who brought up his leading vessels soon after the former had passed Split Rock.—On this occasion Captain Pringle led in person in the Maria, closely followed by the Inflexible and Carleton. The Maria and Inflexible at first attacked the Washington galley, which was too much shattered to keep up with the rest. The galley struck after receiving a few shots. The two vessels then joined the Carleton, and, for several hours, poured an incessant fire into the Congress galley, which was briskly returned. Arnold kept up a running fight until he arrived within ten miles of Crown Point, when he ran the Congress and four gondolas into a small bay in Panton, on the east side of the lake, and, having removed the small arms, burned the vessels to the water's edge. In this action the Congress lost her first lieutenant and three men.
As soon as the boats were consumed, Arnold led his party through the woods to Crown Point, where he arrived at four o'clock the next morning. The sloop Enterprise, the* schooner Revenge and the galley Trumbull, with one gondola, had reached that place the day before, in safely. The galley Lee, Captain Davis, was run into a bay on the east side of the lake above Split Rock, where she was blown up. The only vessels taken by the enemy were the Washington galley and the gondola Jersey. The loss of the Americans in both engagements was between eighty and ninety, including the wounded. The English stated their loss in killed and wounded at forty, but, according to the American accounts, it must have exceeded one hundred.


Posted by Tim Oakley on Tuesday 31st of December 2013 17:15

British sqd Maria schooner cap Thomas Pringle, Carleton schooner Lt James Dacres [killed or injured] second in command ? Brown [killed or injured] Masters mate Edward Pellew took over command, Inflexible [180 tons] Lt John Schanck plus 25 gun boats and troop boats


Posted by Tim Oakley on Tuesday 31st of December 2013 17:13

British sqd Maria schooner cap Thomas Pringle, Carleton schooner Lt James Dacres [killed or injured] second in command ? Brown [killed or injured] Masters mate Edward Pellew took over command, Inflexible [180 tons] Lt John Schanck plus 25 gun boats and troop boats

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