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Maritime History in Lake Champlain

Part 2: Rediscovering the Battle of Valcour Island

Rediscovering the Battle of Valcour Island, Brian Mann, 8/28/01

The gunboat Philadelphia (above) is a faithful recreation of the vessels built hastily by Benedict Arnold to slow the British advance on Lake Champlain in 1776.

This month—225 years ago—Benedict Arnold launched his fleet of ships on Lake Champlain. The history of that campaign is now being rediscovered and re-evaluated. As Brian Mann reports, archeologists are pulling long-lost artifacts from the muddy silt near the battle at Valcour Island. Re-enactors are bringing to life a desperate, brutal struggle that helped to launch the American Revolution.
Listen to story. (6:50)

Period Fife Music: "Free America" performed live by re-enactor Gregory Viennes.


Above: Benedict Arnold's gunboats operated in enemy territory, braving ambush whenever they steered too close to shore.


Above: The Philadelphia's big guns required a half-dozen men to fire. A cannon from the original Battle of Valcour Island was recovered last year from the bottom of Lake Champlain by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and is now being restored.


Above: In 1776, 400 British regulars with their Abenaki allies attempted to ambush one of Benedict Arnold's gunboats.

Left: Eric Tichonuk—manager of school programs at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum—is also captain of the Philadelphia.

Part 1 of Maritime History in Lake Champlain: Wreck Diving off Burlington.

Part 2: The Battle of Valcour Island

Part 3: The Battle of Plattsburgh

Related Story:Fort Ticonderoga Grand Encampment

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