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Notes on the Captains of the Vessels in the Battle of Valcour Island under Brigadier General Benedict Arnold

Part 1b:
Seth Warner- Trumbull Galley, John Reed- New York Gondola

by Stephen Darley


The Seth Warner who captained the Trumbull Galley is not the same person as the Colonel Seth Warner from Vermont, who was a member of the Green Mountain Boys and who was in the Battle of Bennington in 1777. Captain Seth Andrew Warner was born in Saybrook, Connecticut on January 28, 1742 or 43, depending on the source. Warner was the son of Andrew Warner, a farmer, and Sarah Graves. He was married to Hannah LeMoyne De Angelis from Boston, Massachusetts on December 19, 1773 in Bristol, Rhode Island.

There is no information on the life of Captain Warner prior to the Revolutionary War, although he must have had experience in the seafaring world of Connecticut in the 1760’s and 70’s. Benedict Arnold must have known Warner prior to the war through his own involvement in seafaring trading in Connecticut because on July 24 Arnold named him in a letter as “being a desirable person to raise a company of seamen for service on the lakes”. On August 8th, Arnold specifically requested to Schuyler that Warner be assigned to be one of the captains of his fleet. Warner accepted the assignment on August 12 and conferred with Governor John Trumbull to set pay rates for his men. By September 15th, Arnold’s letter to Gates indicates that Warner is one of four captains that he previously requested and that he has now been appointed to captain one of the galleys. Harrison Bird describes Warner as riding “out of the woods in an ox-cart, seated on his war chest, his sextant in its wooden box on his knee.” There is no record of any military service by Warner prior to his involvement in the Valcour battle.

Captain Warner has a payroll listed for the Galley Trumbull that is in Vol. VIII of the Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Revolutionary War Rolls and Lists. There is also a pay abstract for the Trumbull Galley marines in Henry P.  Johnston’s Record of Connecticut Men in the Revolution which lists Captain Seth Warner being from East Haddam.

The only other record of service in the Revolutionary War for Seth Warner is that in September 1779 he was commanding the Sloop Sally which captured a British brig and on March 8, 1780, he was commissioned as commander of Sally that had 16 guns and 50 men.  On June 1, 1780 he assisted in the capture of another British brig Cornelia, containing British provisions, which was brought into East Haddam, Connecticut. Captain Seth Warner died on April 9, 1790 at the age of forty-eight.[3]


John Reed as a captain of a gondola is mentioned by his first name in the pension application of Private Daniel McCay, who says that he “was ordered on Capt John Reed’s gunboat on Lake Champlain.” John Reed was born in Ireland in 1747 and came to America with his father. The family settled in Topsham, Maine and Reed married Rachel Thorne in March of 1769. Nothing is known about his life prior to the Revolution.

John Reed entered the army as an ensign in Captain Nicholas Blasdell’s Company on March 4, 1776. The company was assigned to the Ticonderoga area where Reed was promoted to second lieutenant. During July or August of 1776, Reed was appointed as a captain of the New York (also originally known as the Success) Gondola under General Benedict Arnold.

By January of 1777, he was a first lieutenant in Blasdell’s Company and in August of 1777, he was promoted to captain in the 6th Massachusetts Regiment. He was injured in battle prior to the surrender of Burgoyne in November of 1777 but he returned to duty in February of 1779. He was in the Sullivan Campaign in 1779 and was at West Point in 1780. Reed resigned from the army on October 20, 1780. He was subsequently listed as commanding a unit of soldiers in the Maine militia from 1781 through 1783.

Following the war, Reed was appointed as a lieutenant colonel of Massachusetts militia from Bath, Maine in 1788. He died in September 1797 at Topsham at the age of fifty and was buried with military honors.[4]


[3] Louis F. Middlebrook. History of Maritime Connecticut during the American Revolution, 1775-1783. Salem, MA: The Essex Institute, 1925, 209, 213; Harrison Bird. Navies in the Mountains. New York: Oxford University Press, 1962, 173; Henry P. Johnston, ed. Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution. Hartford: Adjutant General’s Office, 1889; Revolutionary War Rolls & Lists, Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Vol. VII ;; Royal Hinman. A Historical Collection from Official Records of the Part Sustained by Connecticut during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, CT, 1842, 3; William James Morgan, ed. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. Vols. 5 & 6. Washington, D.C.: Department of the Navy, 1970-2; Peter Force. American Archives. Washington, D.C., 1837-1853. Series V, Vol. 1, 714, Series V, Vol. 2, 531, 555; Seth Andrew LeMoyne Warner,; Seth Warner,

[4]Massachusetts Soldiers & Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Boston: Secretary of the Commonwealth, 1896, Vol. 13, 74; George A. Wheeler & Henry W. Wheeler. History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Hartswell, Maine. Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1878, 799; Francis B. Heitman. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army. Washington, D.C., 1914, 461; Myron C. Smith. Daniel McCay’s Military Daniel McCay Pension. National Archives & Records Administration, Revolutionary War Pension Files, M804,

Date this page was last edited: 1/23/2016

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