Press-Republican

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August 1, 2010

Local history buff reveals new theory on Battle of Valcour

PLATTSBURGH — History has told us that Benedict Arnold used the cover of night to lead his small, battered fleet around the battle line of the larger British fleet following the 1776 Battle of Valcour.

Each vessel followed a lantern placed at the stern of the boat in front of it as Arnold's flotilla passed between the British armada and New York shoreline sometime in the night of Oct. 11, only to be discovered by the British miles down the lake the next morning.

There is no doubt that the Battle of Valcour played a significant role in the future direction of the Revolutionary War.

Although the British soundly defeated the Americans, Arnold's naval strategies helped force the British back into Canada for the winter, giving the Americans much-needed time to prepare for the next year's major victory at Saratoga Springs.

'DIDN'T ADD UP'

David Glenn has lived on Lake Champlain for nearly five decades and has a bird's-eye view of the battle site from his beach property.

An avid history buff of the historic battle, Glenn has spent countless hours researching the battle and reconstructing in his mind what happened during the fighting and subsequent American retreat.

"I've seen how that channel behaves out there," Glenn said from his home as he talked about his theory on Benedict Arnold's escape. "For me, it just didn't add up" that the Americans snuck by the British line heading south through the channel.

FALSE REPORTS?

Historians have used reports from participants of the battle to form their theories of Arnold's escape on a southern route along the New York shoreline.

But Glenn believes a lot of those reports may have been submitted to British authorities and the British press to cover up mistakes they may have made during the battle.

"As my mentor Addie Shields always told me, you've got to find the original, primary sources if you want to uncover the truth," Glenn said of his relationship with the former Clinton County historian, who died in late 2009.

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