Naval History Essay 1

Naval History Essay 1 - The Battle of Valcour Island: The...

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The Battle of Valcour Island: The Lopsided Battle that Won the War By Midn. Katie Davidson, USN Asst. Prof. Hsieh HH 104 Section 5003 11 October 2009 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. In a war marked by improbable turning points, the gory, one-sided Battle of Valcour Island proved to be the key to America’s ultimate victory in the Revolutionary War. Four years before Benedict Arnold’s treasonous attempt to betray the Revolutionary forces, he assembled a ragtag fleet that stood up to the might of the British Navy, which nearly obliterated Arnold's fleet. The one-year delay of the British invasion from Canada won by Arnold’s gallant, outmatched fleet made American victory possible at
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Saratoga in 1777, the first major American victory of the Revolution. The success is what ultimately convinced France to join America in arms and changed the outcome of the war. In the summer of 1775, when the American Army was in its infancy, Washington offered the command of an American expedition to Quebec. The remote outposts on Lake Champlain, captured on dubious authority and almost on a whim, were now considered the United Colonies’ chief defense against an invasion from Canada. After difficult overland march, Arnold’s six hundred men met another force of three hundred Americans under BGEN Richard Montgomery outside Quebec in December. They proceeded to lay siege to the Canadian citadel, but the attempt was a disaster. Arnold tried to maintain the siege of Quebec, but when British reinforcements arrived in the spring, he was forced to fall back. With new troops and supplies, the British held the offensive. Major General Sir Guy Carleton now commanded approximately eleven thousand men, and in June, he slowly began to make his way up the St. Lawrence River. The Americans fought unsuccessfully at Trois- Rivieres, putting them in full retreat back to Sorel and then up Richelieu River to the southern end of Lake Champlain. On June 17, 1776, Congress put Major General Horatio Gates in charge of the disheartened force. The key to success was the passable road that ran along the western shore of Lake Champlain. Carleton knew that if an enemy could control that road, they had the ability to cut it in half, and he ordered his men to build a squadron of vessels to gain control of the lake. Carleton had a ship-rigged vessel, the Inflexible , torn apart and reconstructed. The British fleet mounted about eighty-nine guns on approximately thirty-four vessels. Sailing south from Canada, the fleet also consisted of two schooners, the Maria and the Carleton , fourteen and
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twelve guns, an enormous radeau bristling with heavy weapons, the Thunderer , and a large gondola the Royal Convert. Arnold knew that his four small gunboats were no match for the armada that awaited him.
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Naval History Essay 1 - The Battle of Valcour Island: The...

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