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October 11, 2009

Battle of Valcour remembered on anniversary

Revolutionary War loss gave Americans the time to win

PLATTSBURGH — A local loss was one of the key battles that enabled the United States to win its freedom.

The Saranac Chapter of the New York State Daughters of the American Revolution held its 114th commemoration of the Battle of Valcour Sunday at Clinton Community College. The event marked the 233rd anniversary of the battle, considered a crucial piece of American history because it provided time to strengthen the revolutionary forces.

Susanne Jones, regent of the Saranac DAR chapter, said the patriots fought against superior forces in a fierce battle they knew they could not win. Although the battle was lost, it caused a delay that forced the British forces to eventually return to Canada.

"We honor those patriots who had the courage to fight for their beliefs and the sacrifice they made for our freedom," she said.

Local historian David Glenn presented an overview of the battle and its importance. He said the Revolutionary War was in its 18th month when the battle took place.

"This (Battle of Valcour) is one of the most important battles in American history," Glenn said.

The Americans had captured Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775. They were able to capture some vessels and take control of Lake Champlain, then launched an attempt to capture Quebec.

That was a disaster, Glenn said, and the Americans were out of Canada entirely by June 1776. They were then forced into a defensive position as the British moved to split the colonies along Lake Champlain and the Hudson River Valley.

The British constructed a fleet at St. Jean, while the Americans built theirs at Skenesborough, now known as Whitehall.

Benedict Arnold commanded the American fleet. He left Crown Point with 10 vessels on Aug. 24. He arrived at Windmill Point near Rouses Point Sept. 5 but was driven back and brought his 12 vessels to Valcour Island by Sept. 24.

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