Whitehall in Washington County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Birthplace of the United States Navy
On October 11, 1776 at Valcour Island, off the western shore of Lake Champlain, a naval battle took place that may well have decided the fate of the American Revolution. Although they fought valiantly, the Americans lost the battle. However, they won valuable time for American forces to gather, arm and prepare for the British Campaign of 1777 that ended with the American victory at Saratoga, the “Turning Point” of the war. Valcour was the first naval battle of strategic importance during the Revolution, making Whitall, the place where America’s fleet was assembled, the Birthplace of the United States Navy.
The hero of the Battle of Valcour Island was Benedict Arnold, one of the colonies’ most courageous and resourceful military leaders and who was much revered by his men. Anticipating that the British would use the lakes as an invasion route to split the revolted Colonies in two, Arnold scraped together a fleet capable of at least delaying a British advance along Lake Champlain from Canada. Except for ships captured the year before, all of the ships were constructed during the summer of 1776 at Skenesborough from trees cut in the forests near the settlement. Carpenters, riggers and blacksmiths were imported from as far away as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Philadelphia to build the ships, using lumber
Arnold’s small fleet of 12 vessels of various sizes and capabilities sailed down the Lake to Valcour Island in August 1776 to surprise the British under General Carleton as they advanced south. Carleton’s armada, constructed at the north end of the Lake in St. Johns, set sail in October. A fierce battle ensued that lasted two days after the British encountered the American fleet at Valcour. The Americans were battered by the more heavily armed British vessels and were forced to retreat. Most of the American vessels were sunk and many causalities were suffered. But the battle caused the British to return north for the winter, delaying their ill-fated march south toward the Hudson and Saratoga to the following year.
“We have a wretched motley crew in the fleet. The Marines are the refuse of every regiment, and the seaman, few of them were ever wet with salt water.” Benedict Arnold – 1776
Location. 43° 33.229′ N, 73° 24.145′ W. Marker is in Whitehall, New York, in Washington County. Marker can be reached from Skenesborough Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is located behind the Skenesborough Museum. Marker is in this post office area: Whitehall NY 12887, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within Skenesborough Museum (within shouting distance of this marker); Lakes to Locks Passage (within shouting distance of this marker); Whitehall (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); U.S.S. Ticonderoga (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Birthplace of the United States Navy (about 500 feet away); World War Memorial (about 500 feet away); The Champlain Canal (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Whitehall.
More about this marker. An engraving of Benedict Arnold by H.B. Hall appears at the top of the marker. The bottom of the marker contains plans of the Gundalo Philadelphia – 1776 and of the Cutter Lee – 1776.
Categories. • War, US Revolutionary •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 18, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 223 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 18, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.