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August 1, 2010

Local history buff reveals new theory on Battle of Valcour

(Continued)

PLATTSBURGH —

DIFFERENT ROUTE

In his interpretation of those primary reports from the battle, Glenn paints a different picture that suggests the Americans turned back north following the battle and rounded Valcour Island before heading south toward Crown Point and Ticonderoga.

For one thing, British Commander Guy Carlton sent Lt. James Dacres back to England following the battle to deliver his report of what took place. Dacres, commander of the British schooner Carlton, was injured during the battle and unconscious for most of the action.

The London Gazette published an article on the battle five weeks after the action took place, relying mostly on information gained from Dacres's return to the motherland.

MAP CHANGES

A well-known map of Lake Champlain was updated at the time to reflect the British description of the battle, including the location of each fleet's vessels and the apparent escape route used by Arnold and his flotilla.

"The map agrees completely with verbal descriptions in the Carlton letters (delivered by Dacres)," Glenn said.

"But what if it did not agree with other primary sources? What were we left with to believe?"

Those primary sources described the wind as calm on the evening of the 11th. The American fleet had to escape by rowing their vessels, and many of the troops were new arrivals and would not have had the skills to row quietly, especially after the day's exertion.

The vessels would not be able to follow one another in a straight line at a uniform speed, Glenn also noted. With as many as five types of sailing vessels, they would have all moved at varying speeds.

The night was pitch black with no moon from 6 p.m. on. Primary sources did not describe any presence of fog or rain or other factors that would have further blanketed the Americans' retreat.

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