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mangement, Arnold says, – came, apparently unsupported, under the distant fire of the Inflexible, as she drew under the lee of Walcour at 11 A.M., followed by the Carleton, and at greater distance by the Maria and the gunboats. Three shots from the ship's 12-pounders struck the Royal Savage, which then ran ashore on the southern point of the island. The Inflexible, followed closely by the Carleton, continued on, but fired only occasionally; showing that Arnold was keeping his galleys in hand, at long bowls, — as small vessels with one eighteen should be kept, when confronted with a broadside of nine guns. Between the island and the main the north-east wind doubtless drew more northerly, adverse to the ship's approach; but, a flaw off the cliffs taking the fore and aft sails of the Carleton, she fetched “nearly into the middle of the rebel half-moon, where Lieutenant J. R. Dacres intrepidly anchored with a spring on her cable.” The Maria, on board which was Carleton, together with Commander Thomas Pringle, commanding the flotilla, was to leeward when the chase began, and could not get into close action that day. By this time, seventeen of the twenty gunboats had come up, and, after silencing the Royal Savage, pulled up to within point-blank range of the American flotilla. “The cannonade was tremendous,” wrote Baron Riedesel. Lieutenant Edward Longcroft, of the radeau Thunderer, not being able to get his raft into action, went with a boat's crew on board the Royal Savage, and for a time turned her guns upon her former friends; but the fire of the latter forced him again to abandon her, and it seemed so likely that she might be retaken that she was set on fire by Lieutenant Starke of the Maria, when already “two rebel boats were very near her. She soon after blew up.” The American guns converging on the Carleton in her central position, she suffered severely. Her commander, Lieutenant Dacres, was knocked senseless; another officer lost an arm; only Mr. Edward Pellew, afterwards Lord Exmouth, remained fit for duty. The spring being shot away, she swung bows on to the enemy, and her fire was thus silenced. Captain Pringle signalled to her to withdraw; but she was unable to obey. To pay her head off the right way, Pellew himself had to get out on the bowsprit under a heavy fire of musketry, to bear the jib over to windward; but to make sail seems to have been impossible. Two artillery boats were sent to her assistance, “which towed her off through a very thick fire, until out of farther reach, much to the honour of Mr. John Curling and Mr. Patrick Carnegy, master's mate and midshipman of the Isis, who conducted them; and of Mr. Edward Pellew, mate of the Blonde, who threw the tow-rope from the Carleton's bowsprit.” This service on board the Carleton started Pellew on his road to fortune; but, singularly enough, the lieutenancy promised him in consequence, by both the First Lord and Lord Howe, was delayed by the fact that he stayed at the front, instead of going to the rear, where he would have been “within their jurisdiction.”’’ The Carleton had two feet of water in the hold, and had lost eight killed and six wounded, — about half her crew, - when she anchored out of fire. In this small but stirring business, the Americans, in addition to the Royal Savage, had lost one gondola. Besides the injuries to the Carleton, a British artillery boat, commanded by a German lieutenant, was sunk. Towards evening the Inflexible got within point-blank shot of the Americans, “when five broadsides,” wrote Douglas, “silenced their whole line.” One fresh ship, with scantling for sea-going, and a concentrated battery, has an unquestioned advantage over a dozen light-built craft, carrying one or two guns each, and already several hours engaged. At nightfall the Inflexible dropped out of range, and the British squadron anchored in line of battle across the southern end of the passage between the island and the main; some vessels were extended also to the eastward, into the open Lake. “The best part of my intelligence,” wrote Burgoyne next day from St. John's, to Douglas at Quebec, “is that our whole fleet was formed in line above the enemy, and consequently they must have surrendered this morning, or given us battle on our own terms. The Indians and light troops are abreast with the fleet; they cannot, therefore, escape by land.” The British squadron sharing this confidence, a proper look-out was not kept. The American leader immediately held a conference with his officers, and decided to attempt a retreat, “which was done with such secrecy,” writes Waterbury, “that we went through them entirely undiscovered.” The movement began at 7 P.M., a galley leading, the gondolas and schooners following, and Arnold and his second bringing up the rear in the two heaviest galleys. This delicate operation was favoured by a heavy fog, which did not clear till next morning at eight. As the Americans stole by, they could not see any of the hostile ships. By daylight they were out of sight of the British. Riedesel, speaking of this event, says, “The ships anchored, secure of the enemy, who stole off during the night, and Sailing round the left wing, aided by a favourable wind, escaped under darkness.” The astonishment next morning, he continues, was great, as was Carleton's rage. The latter started to pursue in such a hurry that he forgot to leave orders for the troops which had been landed; but, failing to discover the fugitives, he returned and remained at Valcour till nightfall, when scouts brought word that the enemy were at Schuyler's Island, eight miles above.
1 Douglas's letter. The Isis and the Blonde were vessels of the British squadron under Douglas, then lying in the St. Lawrence. The officers named were temporarily on the lake service.
2 Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, to Pellew.
The retreat of the Americans had been embarrassed by their injuries, and by the wind coming out ahead. They were obliged to anchor on the 12th to repair damages, both hulls and sails having suffered severely. Arnold took the precaution to write to Crown Point for bateaux, to tow in case of a southerly wind; but time did not allow these to arrive. Two gondolas had to be sunk on account of their injuries, making three of that class so far lost. The retreat was resumed at 2 P.M., but the breeze was fresh from the southward, and the gondolas made very little way. At evening the British chased again. That night the wind moderated, and at daybreak the American flotilla was twentyeight miles from Crown Point, — fourteen from Valcour, – having still five miles' start. Later, however, by Arnold's report, “the wind again breezed up to the southward, so that we gained very little either by beating or rowing. At the same time the enemy took a fresh breeze from northeast, and, by the time we had reached Split Rock, were alongside of us.” The galleys of Arnold and Waterbury, the Congress and the Washington, had throughout kept in the rear, and now received the brunt of the attack, made by the Inflerible and the two schooners, which had entirely distanced their sluggish consorts. This fight was in the upper narrows, where the Lake is from one to three miles wide; and it lasted, by Arnold's report, for five glasses (two hours and a half), the Americans continually retreating, until about ten miles from Crown Point. There, the Washington having struck some time before, and final escape being impossible, Arnold ran the Congress and four gondolas ashore in a small creek on the east side; pulling to windward, with the cool judgment that had marked all his conduct, so that the enemy could not follow him – except in small boats with which he could deal. There he set his vessels on fire, and stood by them
Beatson, “Nav. and Mil. Memoirs,” says two hours.
until assured that they would blow up with their flags flying. He then retreated to Crown Point through the woods, “despite the savages;” a phrase which concludes this singular aquatic contest with a quaint touch of local colour. In three days of fighting and retreating the Americans had lost one schooner, two galleys, and seven gondolas, -in all, ten vessels out of fifteen. The killed and wounded amounted to over eighty, twenty odd of whom were in Arnold's galley. The original force, numbering seven hundred, had been decimated. Considering its raw material and the recency of its organisation, words can scarcely exaggerate the heroism of the resistance, which undoubtedly depended chiefly upon the personal military qualities of the leader. The British loss in killed and wounded did not exceed forty. The little American navy on Champlain was wiped out; but never had any force, big or small, lived to better purpose or died more gloriously, for it had saved the Lake for that year. Whatever deductions may be made for blunders, and for circumstances of every character which made the British campaign of 1777 abortive and disastrous, thus leading directly to the American alliance with France in 1778, the delay, with all that it involved, was obtained by the Lake campaign of 1776. On October 15th, two days after Arnold's final defeat, Carleton dated a letter to Douglas from before Crown Point, whence the American garrison was withdrawn. A week later Riedesel arrived, and wrote that, “were our whole army here it would be an easy matter to drive the enemy from their entrenchments,” at Ticonderoga, and — as has been quoted already – four weeks sooner would have insured its fall. It is but a coincidence that just four weeks had been required to set up the Inflexible at St. John's; but it typifies the whole story. Save for Arnold's flotilla, the two British schooners would have settled the business. “Upon the whole, Sir,” wrote Douglas in his final letter from