The Battle of Valcour Island

The Battle of Valcour Island - The Battle of Valcour Island...

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The Battle of Valcour Island By Midn. Katie Davidson, USN Asst. Prof. Hsieh HH 104 Section 5003 11 October 2009
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Accounts from the battlefields in Washington’s army dominate the history of the American Revolution, but one of the most critical and least remembered battles of 1776 took place on a wilderness lake hundreds of miles north. The Battle of Valcour Island was a turning point in the war that set off a chain of events that led to an American victory. Valcour Island, however, is one of the most overlooked battles in history, and many historians only allow a cursory mention of it in their analyses of the Revolutionary War. Historians ignore the battle because of the involvement of notorious traitor, Benedict Arnold, and the fact that while it helped the American cause in the end, it was still a defeat. In contrast, other historians believe the Battle of Valcour Island was the key to America’s ultimate victory in the Revolutionary War. These historians make valid and agreeable points that prove the Battle of Valcour Island was important because they wasted valuable time. This led to the one-year delay of the British invasion from Canada won by Arnold’s gallant, outmatched fleet, which made the first major American victory of the Revolutionary War possible at Saratoga in 1777. This success ultimately convinced France to join America in arms and changed the outcome of the war. In the summer of 1775, when the American Army besieged the British forces in Massachusetts and Congress considered the creation of a Continental Navy, Washington offered the command of an American expedition on the remote outposts on Lake Champlain to Benedict Arnold. Captured on dubious authority, this outpost was the United Colonies’ chief defense against an invasion from Canada. After a difficult overland march, Arnold’s men met a force of three hundred Americans under BGEN Richard Montgomery outside Quebec. Their joint attack on the Canadian citadel was a failure. With Arnold wounded, and half of the American force taken prisoner, the future looked bleak for the Americans. Arnold tried to continue the siege of Quebec, but he fell back when the British arrived with reinforcements.
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With new troops and supplies, the British held the offensive. Major General Sir Guy Carleton commanded approximately eleven thousand men, and in June, he slowly began to make his way up the St. Lawrence River. In response, on June 17, 1776, the American Congress put Major General Horatio Gates in charge of the disheartened force. Carleton was primarily concerned with a road that ran along the western shore of Lake Champlain. He knew that if the British controlled that road, they had the ability to cut American forces in half, so he ordered his men to build a squadron of vessels to gain control of the lake.
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