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Formation of a little Fleet. Excursion down the Lake. Appearance of the British Fleet. Plan of the Battle.

ingly, General Sullivan, who was at Crown Point, withdrew with his forces to Ticonderoga, and active measures for offensive and defensive operations were there adopted. Materials for constructing vessels, as well as skillful artisans, were scarce. The latter had to be obtained from the sea-ports; yet such was the zeal of the Americans, that by the middle of August a small squadron, consisting of one sloop, three schooners, and five gondolas, was in readiness and rendezvoused at Crown Point under Arnold, who received the command of it from General Gates. The sloop carried twelve guns, one schooner the same number, the others eight, and the gondolas three each. Toward the close of the month Arnold sailed down the lake, under positive instructions from Gates not to pass beyond Isle Aur Têtes, near what is now called Rouse's Point, and to act only on the defensive. He halted at Wind-mill Point, four miles above Isle Auz Tetes, to reconnoiter, and anchored his vessels across the lake, to prevent any boats of the enemy from passing up. As soon as Carleton was advised of the movements of the Americans at Ticonderoga, he sent seven hundred men from Quebec to St. John's, to construct a fleet, and in the course of a few weeks several strong vessels were finished and armed for duty. A radeau called the Thunderer (a kind of flat-bottomed vessel carrying heavy guns), and twenty-four gunboats, armed each with a field piece or carriage gun, were added to the fleet. Forty boats with provisions accompanied the expedition. Convinced that his position was dangerous, for the British and Indians were collecting on the shores, Arnold fell back about ten miles to Isle La Motte, where he need not fear an attack from the main land. Here his fleet was considerably increased, and consisted of three schooners, two sloops, three galleys, eight gondolas, and twenty-one gun-boats. Ignorant of the real strength of the armament which he knew Carleton was prepar. two A GEM FM 7. ing at St. John's, and unwilling to en- – Beryon — gage a superior force on the broad lake, VALCOUR /. & AE WE o/3//085 ( Arnold withdrew his fleet still further back, and anchored it across the narrow channel between Valcour's Island and the western shore. Early on the morning of the 11th of October the British fleet appeared off Cumberland Head, moving up the lake, and in a short time it swept around the southern point of Valcour's Island. The enemy's force was formidable, for the vessels were manned by seven hundred chosen seamen. Captain Pringle was commodore, and made the Inflexible his flagship. Among the young officers in the fleet was Edward Pellew, afterward Admiral Viscount Exmouth, one of the most distinguished of England's naval commanders. The ac- * tion began about twelve o'clock, by the attack of the Carleton upon the American schooner Royal Savage and three galleys. The latter, in attempting to return to the line, grounded,

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Explanation of The MAP-A, American fleet under Arnold; B, 21 gun-boats; C, schooner Carleton, 12 six pounders; D, ship Inflexible, 18 twelve pounders; E, anchorage of the British fleet during the night, to cut off the Americans’ retreat; F, radeau Thunderer, 6 twenty-four pounders and 12 six pounders; G, gondola Loyal Convert, 7 nine pounders; H, schooner Maria, 14 six pounders, with General Carleton on board; I, the plaqe where the American schooner Royal Savage, of 8 six pounders and 4 four pounders was borned. This plan is copied from Brasrier's Survey of Lake Champlain, edition of 1779.


Severe Battle on the Lake. Escape of the Americans through the British Line. Chase by the Enemy. Another Battle.

and was burned, but her men were saved. Arnold was on board the Congress galley, and conducted matters with a great deal of bravery and skill. About one o'clock the engagement became general, and the American vessels, particularly the Congress, suffered severely. It was hulled twelve times, received seven shots between wind and water, the main-mast was shattered in two places, the rigging cut to pieces, and many of the crew were killed or wounded. Arnold pointed almost every gun on his vessel with his own hands," and with voice and gesture cheered on his men. In the mean while the enemy landed a large body of Indians upon the island, who kept up an incessant fire of musketry, but with little effect. The battle continued between four and five hours, and the Americans lost, in killed and wounded, about sixty men. Night closed upon the scene, and neither party were victors. The two fleets anchored within a few hundred yards of each other. Arnold held a council with his officers, and it was determined to retire during the night to Crown Point, for the superiority of the vessels, and the number and discipline of the men composing the British force, rendered another engagement extremely hazardous. Anticipating such a movement on the part of the Americans, the British commander anchored his vessels in a line extending across from the island to the main land. A chilly north wind had been blowing all the afternoon, and about sunset dark clouds overcast the sky. It was at the time of new moon, and, therefore, the night was very dark, and favored the design of Arnold. About ten o'clock he weighed anchor, and with the stiff north wind sailed with his whole flotilla, unobserved, through the enemy's lines. Arnold, with his crippled galley, brought up the rear. It was a bold movement. At daybreak the English watch on deck looked with straining eyes for their expected prey, but the Americans were then at Schuyler's Island, ten miles south, busily engaged in stopping leaks and repairing sails. The British weighed anchor and gave chase. Toward evening the wind changed to the south, and greatly retarded the progress of both fleets during the night. Early on the morning of the 13th the enemy's ves- october, sels were observed under full sail, and 1776. rapidly gaining upon the Americans. The == - ==Formo Congress galley (Arnold's “flag-ship”) and |ACTION or rae 13; •r oe * : the Washington, with four gondolas, were be* {{{...} &#7.25oz. 3.34; hind, and in a short time the British vessels o olo Carleton, Inflexible, and Maria were alongside, pouring a destructive fire upon them. The Washington soon struck, and General Waterbury the commander, and his men, were made prisoners.” The whole force of the

* Sparks's Life of Arnold.

* Among the prisoners was Joseph Bettys, afterward the notorious outlaw and bitter Tory, better known as “Joe Bettys”. He was a native of Saratoga county, and joined the Whigs on the breaking out of the Revolution. While a captive in Canada, after the battle on Lake Champlain, he was induced to join the royal standard, and was made an ensign. He became notorious as a spy, and, having been caught by the Americans, he was at one time conducted to the gallows. At the instance of his aged parents, Washington granted him a reprieve on condition of his thoroughly reforming. But he immediately joined the enemy again, and for a long time his cold-blooded murders, his plunder and incendiarism made him the teor of


Bravery of Arnold on the Congress Galley. Desperate Resistance.

Retreat to Crown Point. Effect of the Battle.

attack now fell upon the Congress, but Arnold maintained his ground with unflinching resolution for four hours. The galley was at length reduced almost to a wreck, and surrounded by seven sail of the enemy. Longer resistance was vain, and the intrepid Arnold ran the galley and four gondolas into a small creek on the east side of the lake, about ten miles below Crown Point, and not far from Panton. He ordered the marines to set fire to them as soon as they were grounded, leap into the water and wade ashore with their muskets, and form in such a manner upon the beach as to guard the burning vessels from the approach of the enemy. Arnold remained in his galley till driven off by the fire, and was the last man that reached the shore. He kept the flags flying, and remained upon the spot until his little flotilla was consumed, and then, with the small remnant of his brave soldiers, marched off through the woods toward Chimney Point, and reached Crown Point in safety. The rapidity of his march saved him from an Indian ambush that waylaid his path an hour after he passed by. Two schooners, two galleys, one sloop, and one gondola, the remnant of his fleet, were at Crown Point, and General Waterbury and most of his men arrived there on parole the next day, when all embarked and sailed to Ticonderoga. General october 14, Carleton took possession of Crown Point, and for a few days threatened Ticon- 1776. deroga, but the season was so far advanced that he prudently withdrew, and sailed down the lake to go into winter-quarters in Canada." The whole American loss in the two actions was between eighty and ninety, and that of the enemy about forty. Although the republicans were defeated, and the expedition was disastrous in every particular, yet such were the skill, bravery, and obstinate resistance of Arnold and his men against a vastly superior force, the event was hailed as ominous of great achievements on the part of the patriots when such fearful odds should not exist. Arnold's popularity, so justly gained at Quebec, was greatly increased, and the country rang with his praises. Sparks justly observes, respecting Arnold's conduct in the engagement on the 13th, that “there are few instances on record of more deliberate courage and gallantry than were displayed by him from the beginning to the end of this action.” We arrived at Plattsburgh at about two o'clock in the afternoon. The day was excessively warm, and I felt more like lounging than rambling. In fact, the spot has no Revolutionary history worth mentioning, for its existence as a lonely settlement in the wilderness is only coeval with that of our independence. Count Vredenburgh, a German nobleman, who married a lady of the household of the queen of George II. of England, obtained a grant for thirty thousand acres of land on Cumberland Bay, and just before the Revolution he settled there. When the war broke out he sent his family to Montreal, and soon afterward his splendid mansion, which stood where the Plattsburgh Hotel now is, and his mills, three miles distant, were burned. He had remained to look after his property, and it is supposed that he was murdered for his riches, and his house plundered and destroyed. In 1783 some Canadian and Nova Scotia refugees, under Lieutenant (afterward Major-general) Mooers,” who were stationed on the Hudson near Newburgh, left Fishkill Landing in a boat, and, proceeding by the way of Lakes George and Champlain, landed and commenced the first permanent settlement in that neighborhood, within seven or eight miles of the present village of Plattsburgh. Judge Zephaniah Platt and others formed a company, after the war, to purchase military land-warrants, and they located their lands on Cumberland Bay, and organized the town of Plattsburgh in 1785. Such is its only connection with the history

the whole region in the neighborhood of Albany. At last he was captured (1782), and was executed as a spy and traitor, at Albany.

* It is related that while Carleton was at Ticonderoga, Arnold ventured in the neighborhood in a small boat. He was seen and chased by young Pellew (afterward Lord Exmouth), and so rapidly did his pursu. ers gain upon him, that he ran his boat ashore and leaped on land, leaving his stock and buckle behind him. It is said that the stock and buckle are still in possession of the Pellew family.—See Ostler's Life of Admiral Viscount Ermouth.

* Benjamin Mooers served as a lieutenant and adjutant in the Revolution. He commanded the militia in the battle of Plattsburgh in 1814. For thirty years he was county treasurer, and often represented his *y in the Assembly and Senate of New York. He died in February, 1838.

Battle of Plattsburgh. Military Remains. Incidents of the Naval Battle. Relic of Washington.

of our Revolution. It is a conspicuous point, however, in the history of our war with Great Britain commenced in 1812, for it is memorable as the place where one of the severest engagements of that contest took place, on the 11th of September, 1814, between the combined naval and military forces of the Americans and British. General Macomb commanded the land, and Commodore M'Donough the naval forces of the former, and General Prevost and Commodore Downie' those of the latter. The engagements on the land and water were simultaneous, and for some time the issue was doubtful. The Americans, however, were successful. When the flag of the British commodore's ship was struck, the enemy on land, disheartened and confused, retreated across the Saranac, and the carnage ceased. The loss of the Americans was about one hundred and fifty; that of the enemy, in killed, wounded, prisoners, and deserters, more than one thousand. I passed a considerable portion of the afternoon with General St. John B. L. Skinner, who was a volunteer under Macomb in the battle. He was a member of a company of young men and boys of the village, who, after the military had gone out on the Chazy road, organized and offered their services to the commander-in-chief. They were accepted, and the brave youths were immediately armed with rifles and ordered to the headquarters of General Mooers. Only three of the company were over eighteen years old, and not one of them was killed, though for a long time they were exposed to a hot fire while occupying a mill upon the Saranac and keeping the enemy at bay. General Skinner's beautiful mansion and gardens are upon the lake shore, and from an upper piazza we had a fine view of the whole scene of the naval engagement, from Cumberland Head on the north to Valcour's Island on the south, including in the far distance eastward the blue lines of the northern range of the Green Mountains. The bay in which the battle occurred is magnificent, fringed with deep forests and waving grain-fields. A substantial stone break-water defends the harbor from the rude waves which an easterly wind rolls in, and the village is very pleasantly situated upon a gravelly plain on each side of the Saranac River. A short distance from the village of Plattsburgh are the remains of the cantonments and breast-works occupied by Macomb and his forces; and to the kind courtesy of General Skinner, who accompanied me to these relics of the war, I am indebted for many interesting details in relation to that memorable battle.” But as these have no necessary connection with our subject, on account of their remoteness from the time of the Revolution, I will bid adieu to Plattsburgh, for the evening is far gone, the lights of the “Burlington” are sparkling upon the waters near Valcour's Island, and the coachman at the hotel front is hurrying us with his loud “All aboard ” It was nearly midnight when we passed the light on Cumberland Head,” and we reached

* Commodore Downie was slain in the battle and buried at Plattsburgh. His sister-in-law, Mary Downie, erected a plain monument to his memory over his remains. * General S. mentioned one or two circumstances connected with the naval engagement worth recording. He says that, when the fleet of the enemy rounded Cumberland Head, M*Donough assembled his men on board his ship (Saratoga) on the quarter-deck. He then knelt, and, in humble, fervent supplication, commended himself, his men, and his cause to the Lord of Hosts. When he arose, the serenity of faith was upon his countenance, and seemed to shed its influence over his men. A curious incident occurred on his ship during the engagement. The hen-coop was shot away, and a cock, released from prison, o flew into the rigging, and, flapping his wings, crowed out a lusty defiance to the enemy's guns. o There he remained, flapping his wings and crowing, until the engagement ceased. The seamen regarded the event as encouraging, and fought like tigers while the cock cheered them on. A notice of a relic of Washington, in the possession of General S., may not be inappropriate here. It is a pouch and puff-ball, for hair-powder, which belonged to the chief several years. It is made of buckskin, and is about twelve inches long. The puff is made of cotton yarn. Mr. Gray, who was a number of years sheriff of Clinton county, readily recognized it as the one used by himself in powdering Washington's hair, when he was a boy and attached to the general in the capacity of body servant. When La Fayette was at Burlington, in 1824, Mr. Gray went up to see him, and the veteran remembered him as the “boy Gray” in Washington's military family. * On this point is situated the farm presented to Commodore M’Donough by the Legislature of Vermont. The point is connected with Grand Island, or North Hero (the largest island in the lake), by a ferry.


Rouse's Point and Military Works. The Territorial Line. Isle Aux Noix. Historical Associations.

Rouse's Point, the last landing-place on the lake within “the States,” between one and two in the morning, where we remained until daylight, for the channel here, down the outlet of the lake, is so narrow and sinuous that the navigation is difficult in the night. On a low point a little northward of the landing the United States government commenced building a fort in 1815, and, after expending about two hundred thousand dollars, it was discovered that the ground was British soil. The work was abandoned, and so remained until the conclusion of the treaty formed by Daniel Webster and Lord Ashburton in 1842, when the territorial line was run a little north of the fort. It is now in course of completion. The morning on which we left Rouse's Point was clear and calm. A slight awsuits mist lay upon the water, and over the flat shores of the Richelieu or Sorel River, 1848. which we had entered, a thin vapor, like a gauze veil, was spread out. We watched with interest for the line of separation between the territories. It was about four o'clock in the morning when we crossed it, twenty-three miles south of St. John's, and so became “foreigners.” A broad stripe like a meadow-swathe, running east and west, cut in the dwarf forest upon either side, denotes the landmark of dominion, and by a single revolution of the paddlewheel we passed from the waters of our republic to those of the British realm. In less than an hour we were at the landing-place on Isle Aux Noir, a small low island in the Sorel, strongly fortified by the British as one of their most important outposts in the direction of the United States. This island is all clustered with historic associations. While the fussy custom-house officer and his attendants are boarding our boat, let us look into the mirror of retrospection. When the French settlement at Chimney Point was broken up on the approach of Gen

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eral Amherst, in 1759, the people fled down the lake, and, landing upon this island, fortified it. The walnut and hazel abounded there, and they gave it a name significant of this fact. Commanding, as - it does, completely the outlet of Lake Champlain, the importance of its position, in a military view, was at once appreciated. But the French held possession only a few months, for in the spring of 1760 they were driven from it by Amherst in his march toward Montreal. After the treaty of Paris in 1763, the necessity for a garrison upon Isle Aux Noiz no longer existed, and the fortifications were allowed to crumble into ruins.

In the autumn of 1775 the island was occupied by the Americans, under General Schuyler. With a considerable force, destined to invade Canada, he sailed down the lake and appeared before St. John's. Informed that the garrison there was too strong for seromers him, he returned to Isle Aux Noiz and fortified it. From this post he sent out 1775. a declaration among the Canadians, by Colonel Allen and Major Brown, assuring them that the Americans intended to act only against the British forts, and not to interfere with the people or their religion.

* The sketch was made from the pilot's room of the steam-boat, about half a mile above the island, looking east-northeast. The landing is a little beyond the trees on the right, where sentinels are stationed. The island is small, and wholly occupied by the military works. A broad fen extends some distance from the northern side, and the wild ducks that gather there afford fine amusement for sportsmen during the hunting season.

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