Resource for Historians, Educators, Students and Visitors since 1997
The Battle of Lake Champlain
The simple monument is easy to miss. And even if the traveler happens upon it, the few simple words really do little to convey the events that took place here. VALCOUR ISLAND...
Scene of the first phase of the dramatic Battle of Lake Champlain at Valcour Island
Take a look at the photo of the monument- in the distance is the
island of Valcour. It is close, and yet here, within this space took place a desperate struggle between some 15 American warships and a much larger British fleet. These were the warships of the the new American navy, built a short time before in the southernmost reaches of the lake at a place known then as Skenesborough, today's
Whitehall, New York.
The significance of this delaying action was best summed up by Admiral Alfred Mahan in his "War of American Independence" when he wrote..."The little American navy on Champlain was wiped out: but never had any force, big or small, lived to better purpose nor died more gloriously, for it had saved the Lake for that year.*"
*Note: Most modern-day historians agree with A.T. Mahan's assessment of Arnold's actions on the lake. For another viewpoint- one that actually calls Arnold's actions "foolhardy" and blames Carleton (and the falls on the Richelieu) for the delay in taking Ticonderoga rather than crediting Benedict Arnold and the action at Valcour Island, see:
Guy Carleton versus Benedict Arnold: The Campaign of 1776 in Canada and on Lake Champlain by Paul David Nelson. July 1976-New York History. Volume LVII. Number 3. Cooperstown, New York: Quarterly Journal of The New York State Historical Association.
Last modified: 11/10/2012
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