A New Eyewitness Account of Valcour Island Resolves the Pringle Controversy

The War Years (1775-1783)

October 13, 2016
by C. E. Pippenger Also by this Author


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The Battle of Valcour Island was, in many ways, a waterborne version of the Battle of Bunker Hill: a greatly superior British force rushed, with little forethought or planning, into a fight against Americans making a stand on ground (or water) of their choosing. After a long and bloody battle, the British drove the American forces from the field in what was ostensibly a clear British victory. It was only much later, after the ultimate consequences of the fight became clear, that it did not seem so unadulterated a victory for the Crown.

Gen. Guy Carleton, Governor of Quebec Province, was commander in chief of British and Hessian military forces in the Northern theater in the fall of 1776, but he did not take command of the naval forces. As was often the case, major naval engagements during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were fought with junior officers commanding. In this case, command of the naval forces on Lake Champlain fell to Thomas Pringle.

Called “captain” by courtesy, Pringle had only achieved the rank of master and commander at the time the fleet was created, though he was still the most senior officer on Lake Champlain. As a lieutenant he had earlier been present at the Siege of Quebec and had been sent by Carleton in 1775 to England, where he delivered Carleton’s dispatches concerning the siege. Pringle returned to Canada with Capt. Charles Douglas, who was Commander of all British naval forces on the St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes. After the siege was lifted, Pringle was appointed Master and Commander.[1]To the best of our knowledge, Valcour Island was Pringle’s first naval engagement.

Command of the individual ships in the British fleet fell to the lieutenants who served under Pringle. These included James Dacres, who commanded the schooner Carleton, John Schank in command of the Inflexible, the largest ship on the lake, Edward Longcroft of the gondola Loyal Convert and John Starke, who commanded the Maria, the flagship for Captain Pringle and General Carleton.

On October 14, 1776, the day after the conclusion of the three day battle, Pringle did what officers have always done before and since; he wrote a report of the action to his superior officer, in this case Capt. Charles Douglas in Quebec. Though the battle had been a British victory, the fact that Arnold’s fleet had slipped away after the first day’s fighting, and not all the vessels had been destroyed, was something of an embarrassment. Pringle, no fool, understood the importance of getting his version of events off to Douglas quickly and before anyone else. As fleet commander he was in a position to see that that happened.

The fleet commander was not the only one who would be expected to submit a report. It was common practice following fleet engagements for each ship’s captain to also send a report of their and their ship’s role in any naval engagement. The fleet commander would then forward his own assessment of the engagement, recognizing exceptional efforts of the various ships and officers to his superior officers and the Admiralty. This mention of specific officers called the Admiralty’s attention to their names and increased their chance for promotion.

The British Admiralty, in turn, always published Officers’ reports of significant battles or ship to ship engagements in the London Gazette. Any officer’s whose name was published in the London Gazette was commonly referred to as having been “Gazetted.”[2] Such recognition was crucial to an officer’s advancement. For that reason, every officer was eager to be recognized in the official report.

Usually the fleet commander chose a messenger from the officers participating in the battle that he wanted specifically to call to the attention of his superior officers and the Admiralty for possible promotion. Since the messenger had participated in the battle, he could also provide a verbal report to those receiving the dispatches and answer any questions they might have. Pringle chose Lt. James Dacres, Commander of the Carleton, to carry the report. Not only did Dacres get the honor of carrying the report (despite having been knocked unconscious fairly early in the conflict), he was the only officer in all the fleet whom Pringle commended.

The other officers, of course, could also submit reports, but Pringle waited until half an hour before Dacres’s departure to inform them that the messenger was leaving. Obviously, none of the captains could finish their reports within that time frame. Dacres left the fleet for Quebec late in the day on October 14. He carried only Pringle’s report.

In 1928, The Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum published a letter signed by lieutenants John Schank, Edward Longcroft, and John Starke challenging the accuracy of Pringle’s October 14 report.[3] The controversy described in the letter was not about what Pringle said in his report, but, rather what he omitted. The roles played by Schank, Longcroft, Starke and others during the battle were completely ignored. The letter severely criticized Pringle for his inaction and poor leadership throughout the three-day battle.

There are striking differences between Captain Pringle’s official report to the Admiralty describing the events which occurred throughout the Battle of Valcour Island and those described by Schank, Longcroft and Starke in their letter. These differences quickly became known as the Pringle Controversy.

Until now, neither the American nor British eyewitness accounts were sufficient to explain the discrepancies raised by the Pringle controversy. We recently discovered two previously unpublished eyewitness accounts of the Battle of Valcour Island. The first was an eyewitness account by Lt. Thomas Butler, first officer of the Inflexible, written in early 1777[4] and reproduced previously in Journal of the American Revolution.[5] The second is a letter written by Lt. John Schank, captain of the British ship Inflexible, to Capt. Charles Douglas on October 16, 1776, three days after the Battle of Valcour Island.

Schank would have had no way of knowing then what was contained in Pringle’s report, but apparently Pringle’s behavior before, during and after the battle convinced Captain Schank that Pringle could not be trusted to file an honest report of the exploits of his fellow officers involved in the battle. He wrote his own report and sent his first officer, Lt. Thomas Butler, to deliver it to Captain Douglas. Starke also wrote a report to Douglas which was carried by Butler. It is unknown if any of the other captains also sent their own reports to Douglas with Lieutenant Butler. Butler left the fleet on October 16 for Québec, two days after Lt. Dacres.

Perhaps more important than its application to the Pringle controversy, Schank’s letter is critical to our understanding of the actual events which occurred during the Battle of Valcour Island. His detailed descriptions of what happened to the Carleton on October 11, General Waterbury’s surrender of the Washington galley without firing a shot and other events which occurred on October 13 are priceless.

Schank’s report to Douglas describing the battle is reproduced below:

A Copy

Dear Sir

On the 8th instant I left St Johns, called at the Isle aux Noix for two brass twelve pounders, And on the 9th joined the Ship at River LaCole where I found everything in as great forwardness as Circumstances could possibly admit of – Soon after Captain Pringle sent to know, when he might expect me I went up and acquainted him of the State & Condition of the Ship, returned directly to Secure the five guns not yet come.

– On the 10th received them, when mounting seventeen twelve pounders, got under sail[6], and joined Captain Pringle, in Company with all the other vessels, and 17 gunboats & 3 Tenders- Came to at Point aux Fer, and took in our provisions, then proceeded after the fleet- At 7 came too near Isle aux Motte, I went on board the Maria, and the General Acquainted me of the Enemy’s being at the Isle of Valcour.[7] On the 11th at 5 in the morning weighed and ran close in with the fleet. At 10 saw a strange sail get under sail. Captain Pringle ordered the Carleton to chase her, soon after my signal was made for the same purpose The Pilot Aquainted me that I could not get in, at the same passage, after the Chase, but must run to the Southwest of the island and should meet her there as was the Carleton Chasing at this time So soon as I came to the Southside of the island I ordered the Pilot to haul in for the Bay, and he being better acquainted with it than the Pilot of the Carleton (then ahead of us) we gained the wind of her, which brought us nearer the Enemy;[8] in a short time we saw the Royal Savage bearing down, with intention to Engage the Carleton, but when they saw this Ship, they hauled their wind. I immediately ordered a bow chase which Mr Butler pointed so direct to her that it sheared. Her bowsprit A second from the same hand struck her foremast, and the third killed A Man in the Cabbin; I now leave you to judge of the confusion on board the Royal Savage, as also on board four more, all under sail to come out and Engage us (indeed it seemed to be general on board their whole fleet, being 15 in number. At this time the Gunboats came round the Island in the most masterly manner, Each striving to be first, Never I am sure did boats behave so well in this world.[9] At this time the Radeau hauled round, but from her construction fell to Leeward, Came to anchor and began a fire on the Royal Savage; I thinking he did not see the Gunboats, went to acquaint them that I doubted their guns might hurt our own boats,[10] I, at this time left off for the same reason still plying to windward- the Maria now arrived in the Bay. Mr Longcroft finding his vessel could not work up, and anxious to be in the Action, left his vessel, and went with some men and turned the guns of the Royal Savage on the Enemy, where he lost three men and left her. The fire from the gun-boats, and their nearness to the Enemy was great indeed. Mr Starke now boarded the Royal Savage, and to the great surprise of the Rebels soon set her on fire.- About this time I proposed to Mr Dacres to attack the left wing of the Enemy, and that I would lead, and so sail round, and attack their whole line in succession. But the signal being made to Anchor, I went on board the Maria, and got leave for Mr Dacres and myself still to go on. At this time he having the wind favorable stood in to the Center of the Enemy’s line or rather to the Right, they being formed in a half moon, and seeing the signal out to anchor I believe he anchored accordingly and began a smart fire, but as I soon observed it to slacken, and at last not a gun was fired from her, And no one minding her I sent my two boats, manned and armed to her Assistance, which I found were in good time, She having eight killed & some wounded and in confusion. c, I now received Cap Pringles order to anchor the westermost Ship in the line, but to keep near the Maria to prevent its being to extensive. At 9 at night I ordered Mr Harrison in the Spitfire[11] to anchor between me and the Shore, to watch the Enemy, but just as he was going away I received orders from Captain Pringle to send her to cruize, between the fleet And the East Shore, which I did directly. The Rebels observing our action & before night, notwithstanding our Guardboats brought Constant reports that they were still in the Bay and not moving, they all escaped in the night. In the morning seeing them to withdraw the signal was made to sail, and we soon discovered the rest of the Rebel Fleet, the wind then at south, and freshing up, employed working to windward, the Carleton not being able to carry sail was under the land which soon proved to be my case with the Inflexible, for she was near sinking, and her not doing so was owing to Mr Butlers great presence of mind, the Maria soon after came to and anchored also. At four discovered some of the Rebel fleet to windward, getting under sail,[12] and the wind coming to the Westward, ordered our Chase vessels to get under sail, in sailing up we fell in with a prize gondalo taken by Cap Mooney with a party of his Canadians[13] The Rebel fleet Continued in sight, Gained Ground of them-kept working to windward all night in the morning found I was to the windward of our two Schooners, and the Spitfire, and taking one of them for the Enemy we Tacked and stood after her, but soon discovering our Mistake tacked and stood to the Southward- As the day came on I saw the Rebels & that we still gained ground of them- The wind better from about Seven in the morning till about 8 o clock-when a fresh breeze sprang up from the NE, the Rebels being then becalmed, we came up with them fast, And wishing to put them in Confusion, I fired a bow chase some time after fired another still gaining ground and discovering the remainder of the Rebel fleet- At 10 Captain Pringle in the Maria made the signal to Engage, when I watched every opportunity to fire on the Enemy. Our guns carrying a great way overreached those of the Maria, not withstanding She was ahead of us- Mr Arnold kept firing his Broadside guns at the Maria and his stern guns at us, and the Carleton, by this time we came so near that the Washington dreading our fire (as General Waterbury says) struck. In passing by I spoke to him and told him not to attempt swimming ashore[14] and that a great part of our fleet was folg near, Captain Campbell and Mr Curling, with a boats Crew, boarded him without losing a Moment- still gaining ground on the Enemy I found myself near enough for grape which all told, and with the guns of the Maria, still nearer than the Inflexible threw them into confusion, in a little time more we began to fire the Swivels from the tops and at the same time giving them a broadside, they all ran ashore –being only three more in sight I stood to the Maria to get leave of Cap Pringle to Chase the stern most of them, who had lowered down his sails and began to fire, Acquaing my pilot with my desire, he informed me of his being dubious of the depth of water, and on my speaking to the Maria, received orders to Anchor near the Shore, to prevent the Enemys burning their Vessels. by this time I had made two Tacks to get up where the water was deep, and the bay open, I received orders from the Maria by Mr Lanardine to chase the Vessels to (near as I could with safety which vessels were now within half a mile or less of Crown Point. At this time my Pilot told me he was sure of the want of water for us[15] and also that he knew not what force, but he knew of there being a battery of all this. I told Mr Dacres, and as the Chase was now past the point and I thought it looked like parade and as our orders were to proceed with safety, I thought it proper the pilot should explain the matter. Mr Dacres went himself; I heard no more of this. inclosed is a List the best I can get, of the vessels taken, sunk, burnt, missing and in their hands.[16] I should have written before but it seems that neither me nor Starke were acquainted of Mr Dacres going away till it was too late.

                                                               I am Sir&c

                                                               (signed) J Schank

At Crown Point

On board the Inflexible                                                                                              

Oct 16 1776                                                                          

The overall implication of Schank’s letter is simply mass confusion which occurred as a direct consequence of Pringle’s failure to provide direction both prior to and during the Battle.

Pringle first sent the Carleton and then the Inflexible to chase the strange sail. The gunboats came round the southern tip of Valcour Island in disorder and bunched together, making them more vulnerable to the severe fire from Arnold’s fleet. Pringle made no attempt to fight the Maria and ordered the ships to anchor, even though both the Inflexible and Carleton were beating up[17] to get closer to Arnold’s line. In fact, considering the closeness of the Carleton to the Rebel fleet, the order to anchor actually prevented Dacres from maneuvering the Carleton as the situation changed. Pringle was responsible for contracting the British line, which gave Arnold ample room to escape.

Even though the gunboats could row directly up to and engage Arnold’s fleet, the Western wind direction and narrowness of Valcour Bay prevented the larger ships from reaching Arnold’s line until later in the day. Based upon Butler’s chronology this didn’t happen until around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. As soon as Pringle’s signal to anchor was hoisted, Schank had himself rowed from the Inflexible to the Maria to obtain Pringle’s permission for the Inflexible and Carleton to continue their attack. Pringle agreed. That approval didn’t help Dacres who had already anchored.[18]

It has long been known that the Carleton was towed out of the battle. Schank’s letter gives specific details of the Carleton’s rescue. Schank was much closer to the Carleton. He was able to make a quick assessment of why the Carleton was in trouble (the Carleton’s spring had been destroyed by Rebel fire), and provide the solution. Considering the distance Pringle was from the actual engagement (about 8/10 of a mile), he probably had only a vague idea what was happening to the Carleton. Schank’s swift action and the Inflexible’s boats kept the Carleton from being sunk.

We previously described Schank’s desire to prevent the rebels from escaping by stationing the gondola Spitfire near the New York shore to intercept them.[19] In fairness to Pringle, he thought the greater risk was for Arnold to sail North around Valcour Island and then south along the east side of the island. As the senior officer, his choice was the final decision.

Schank’s account of the events on October 13 leading to Arnold’s defeat is the most specific published to date. Of particular interest is his decision to fire Inflexible’s bow chasers randomly to confuse the Rebels. His canon had the longest range.[20]

Pringle’s decision allowing Schank to pursue the remaining Rebel ships was appropriate. If the Inflexible had destroyed the remaining Rebel ships at Crown Point, the British would have achieved a major victory.

Over the years, General Waterbury has been severely criticized for surrendering the Washington without firing a shot. Whether he was right or wrong is still debatable.

One of the most interesting aspects of the newly discovered Schank letter is that it provides for historians validation of the contents of the Pringle Controversy Letter written by the three lieutenants. Since Schank signed the Controversy Letter, he clearly disagreed with Pringle’s conduct throughout the battle. For the first time, we are in a position to resolve the mysteries surrounding the Pringle controversy and its true significance.

Even today, it remains unclear if Pringle knew Schank and Starke had sent their own reports to Captain Douglas until Captain Douglas, as a direct consequence of the wide differences between Pringle’s and Schank’s reports, sent an inquiry letter to Pringle. Douglas’s letter inquiring about the discrepancies between the two reports to Pringle and Pringle’s response to Douglas have yet to be discovered, as does Starke’s report to Douglas.

Douglas was clearly concerned with getting the straight story, as evidenced by his apparently asking Butler, when they met in Quebec, to contact him with any other thoughts he believed relevant to resolving the discrepancies between Pringle’s and Schank’s and Starke’s reports. The result of that request was the Butler Letter, published previously in Journal of the American Revolution. Based on the evidence he had collected, Douglas sent a revised report to the Admiralty on October 29, 1776 describing the information contained in Schank’s and Starke’s reports with respect to the roles played by Schank, Longcroft and Starke in the battle.[21]

Starke, Schank and Longcroft all remained assigned to their commands on Lake Champlain after the Battle. They provided the naval support to Burgoyne’s 1777 invasion. After the British destroyed the remaining American vessels at Skenesboro, naval activity on Lake Champlain was limited to transporting troops and supplies. Both Starke and Longcroft returned to England in 1777 following Burgoyne’s defeat.

Pringle, upon his return to England, was promoted to Post Captain and given command of a frigate. While serving on the North Atlantic Station, he and Horatio Nelson became good friends. This assured he always had a ship and promotion. He commanded a ship of the line in the Glorious First of June fleet action against the French. He commanded a series of different ships over his career. His highest rank was Vice Admiral of the Red in 1801.[22]

Dacres was quickly appointed Master and Commander by the Admiralty after he delivered Pringle’s report. He was promoted to Post Captain then Admiral in 1799. Dacres fought in several major fleet engagements in the Napoleonic Wars and completed an outstanding career.[23]

Butler returned to England in 1777. To date, we have found no further information about him.

What happened to the careers of the British officers who had signed the Pringle Controversy Letter? Given how damaging such public condemnation of a superior officer could be to one’s career, the answer is surprising.

In early 1778, Lieutenant Starke, when back in England, filed an official complaint to the Admiralty, called a Memorial.[24] In this he complained about his lack of recognition for services performed during the siege of Quebec, the Battle of Valcour Island and his service on Lake Champlain in 1777 supporting Burgoyne’s campaign. Somehow Starke managed to get an interview with Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty, where he presented his case. Lord Sandwich asked Starke if he wanted to be employed. Starke said yes. A few days later he was posted as first officer to a new frigate, HMS Pomona, which was sent to the Caribbean to fight the French. In 1781, Starke was ordered to sail the British frigate HMS Niger to England. After his arrival, he was placed on half-pay and never served another day in the Royal Navy.[25]

As for Schank, Governor Carleton requested the Admiralty’s permission to appoint him supervisor of all naval vessel shipyards for the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. He remained in the Royal Navy during this time and was promoted to Post Captain in 1783. Unfortunately, cataracts caused his vision to fail. Schank served on the Board of Transport and improved the British convoy system. He remained on the Navy list and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1805 and Admiral in 1821.[26]

Schank was a brilliant engineer and inventor. Among many other things, he is credited with the invention of the centerboard for sailboats and small ships.

Longcroft remained in the Navy. He fought in the Battle of the Saintes, became a Post Captain and was assigned to prevent smuggling in Cornwall.

We’ll probably never know who instigated the actual idea of sending the Pringle Controversy Letter, though it seems most likely to have been Starke, the chronic complainer. Why Schank and Longcroft agreed to participate, especially if they knew it was intended for publication, is difficult to understand. Such public complaining by naval officers about the conduct of their superior, suggesting both Pringle and the Admiralty had falsified what really happened during the Battle of Valcour Island, would not have done their careers any good. Quite the opposite, in fact. But they were young and inexperienced in naval politics.

There is another letter, held in the Fort Ticonderoga archives, which accompanies the Pringle Controversy Letter and might offer some explanation as to why the letter did not seem to damage the signers’ careers. This letter was written by John Starke to his brother in England (name unknown) and was to accompany the Controversy Letter.[27] Starke’s letter complains bitterly about his unfair treatment by his superiors. It also provides instructions for publishing the Controversy Letter in the British newspapers.

We can only speculate, but certainly Starke’s brother would have known Starke was a chronic complainer. It seems likely that Starke’s brother, knowing the Controversy Letter would not only destroy Starke’s career but the careers of everyone involved, never published it. We must wait on future historians to confirm or deny our theory.

We emphasize that Pringle, to the best of our knowledge, never denied the accuracy of Schank’s report to Douglas. Without question, Douglas was very concerned about the truth of Pringle’s account. Anyone who reads Pringle’s report knows it is vague and nonspecific. Perhaps Pringle did this to protect his own reputation. Nor do we know whether or not General Carleton had any influence on what Pringle included in his report.

The escape of the American fleet on the night of October 11 was a major embarrassment to General Carleton, Captain Pringle and the entire British fleet. Worse, the time and effort Carleton took to build an overwhelming fleet ate up all of the campaign season of 1776. By the time the British made it to Ticonderoga it was too late to keep going, so they retreated to Canada with the intention of taking up the following spring where they had left off.

Carleton’s detractors in London, of whom there were many, were not pleased by this decision, and were convinced by the always persuasive John Burgoyne that he, Burgoyne, should take Carleton’s place, which of course he did the following year. The army that Burgoyne met, however, was not the shattered and disorganized mob that had been driven from Canada in 1776. In the year’s reprieve they had become a much more disciplined, organized and better equipped force, one that would stop Burgoyne at Saratoga and defeat him.

The Battle of Valcour Island, it turns out, was not so clear a British victory as it might have seemed.


Note on the transcription: The author transcribed both the Butler and Schank letters from photocopies of the original documents held at the University of Glasgow. Transcription accuracy was confirmed by Ms. Niki Russell, an expert in seventeenth and eighteenth century cursive writing. We elected to insert comments into the Butler letter text to provide an instant explanation of confusing passages, participants and naval jargon. In the Schank letter we did not. Comments on these two formats and which you the reader prefer are welcome.

Acknowledgements: We gratefully knowledge the assistance of James L. Nelson; Ms. Niki Russell, Public Services Manager, Special Collections Department, Library University of Glasgow; Chris Fox and the staff of the Pell Research Ctr., Fort Ticonderoga; Art Cohen, Emeritus Director, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Don N. Hagist and the JAR staff.

[1] List of officers promoted after Quebec siege Mss. 1968 Starke Papers, Pell Research Center, Fort Ticonderoga, NY

[2] Pringle’s report to the Admiralty was republished from the London Gazette in The Town and Country Magazine; or Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction and Entertainment. For NOVEMBER, 1776.

[3] The original manuscript (M-1975) of this document is filed with the Starke Papers held in the Pell Research Center Archives at Fort Ticonderoga, New York and was published in The Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum1(4):14-20, 1927-1929 July 1928.

[4] Butler to Douglas, 1777, University of Glasgow Special Collections Department, MSGEN 1035/224.

[5] C. E. Pippenger, “Recently Discovered Letters Shed New Light on the Battle of Valcour Island,” Journal of the American Revolution, October 11, 2016.

[6] The Inflexible is often assumed to have carried eighteen 12 pounders. She only had seventeen.

[7] General Carleton told Schank the Rebels were at Valcour Island. Pringle had to have known they were there before the battle.

[8] The Inflexible was the first British ship to enter Valcour Bay.

[9] A detailed description of the important role the gunboats played in the battle is found in Douglas Cubbison, The British Artillery in the 1776 Valcour Island and 1777 Saratoga Campaigns (Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press, 2007). He identified twenty-three gunboats that fought.

[10] In eighteenth and early nineteenth century naval engagements, it was common for boats to be rowed between ships carrying messages or individuals. In this case Schank was rowed from Inflexible to the Thunderer to confer with Thunderer’s Captain Scott. Later during the battle he went to Maria to confer with Captain Pringle.

[11] Lieutenant Schank had ordered the Spitfire to station itself between the Inflexible and the Western shore in case the Rebels tried to escape using that route. His ability to order another vessel to a specific task suggests the Spitfire had been assigned as a tender to the Inflexible.

[12] Some of the Rebel fleet, including the Washington, was just leaving Schuyler’s Island after repairing damage received during the battle.

[13] The captured rebel gondola was the New Jersey which was run aground and abandoned by her crew. The British found her. New Jersey was one of the vessels in the British lake fleet in 1777.

[14] “Swimming” was a term for sailing. Schank was warning Waterbury not to run the Washington galley ashore and destroy her.

[15] The water depth near Crown Point is very shallow(less than ten feet). The Inflexible drew approximately ten feet, and would have run aground if she went closer. A. Peter Barranco, Jr., Arthur B. Cohn, Kevin J. Crisman, Dennis M. Lewis and Timothy Titus, Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Upper Richelieu River Naval and Military Vessel Inventory 1742-1836 (Basin Harbor, VT: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 1999).

[16] Pringle as fleet commander would be expected to include a list of killed and wounded with his report. He did not. Apparently Pringle did not ask the other captains for a list of killed and wounded on October 14.Schank, realizing Pringle did not send this information, took time to collect it from the other captains and sent it to Douglas.

[17] The process of sailing against the wind is commonly called “beating up.” For brief description see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing#Close_Hauled_or_.22Beating.22

[18] Shortly after anchoring, Dacres was actually knocked unconscious by falling rigging. He was carried below and Midshipman Edward Pellew assumed command. James L. Nelson, Benedict Arnold’s Navy (Camden, ME: Ragged Mountain Press, 2006), 303-304.

[19] Pippenger, “Recently Discovered Letters Shed New Light on the Battle of Valcour Island.”

[20] The Inflexible’s 12 pounder cannon had a longer range (about two miles) than the Maria’s 6 pounders. Schank’s cannon could reach the Congress before the Maria’s were in range. For various cannon ranges see T. Fortune, The Artillerist’s Companion (London, 1778; reprinted Bloomfield, ON: Museum Restoration Service, 1992), 11.

[21] North Country Notes, April 1963, No. 13, 2-3.

[22] Horatio Rogers, ed., Hadden’s Journal and Orderly Books: A Journal Kept in Canada and Upon Burgoyne’s Campaign in 1776 and 1777 by Lieut. James M. Hadden, Roy. Art. (Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s Sons, 1884), 17-18.

[23] Ibid., 31-33.

[24] John Starke, “The Case of Lieutenant John Starke of His Majesty’s Navy, together with a short sketch of the operations of the War in Canada, in which he was employed during the years 1775, 1776 and 1777.”MS.49/129   (current NMM ID is BGR9), National Maritime Museum, Greenwich England.

[25] Sheldon S. Cohen, “Lieutenant John Starke and the Defence of Quebec,” Dalhousie Review 47 (1):57-64, 1967.

[26] Hadden op cit. Appendix 18 p537-545; Royal Naval Biography 1823 by John Marshall Vol 1:324-332.

[27] Starke’s letter to his brother is held in the Pell Research Center Archives, Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Ticonderoga, NY Starke Papers M2125.


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