Sunday, September 16, 2018

Episode 062: Three Headed Cerberus in Boston

When Gen. Gage sent his reports about the Battles of Lexington and Concord to London, he knew it would be months before he could get any response.  His message needed weeks to cross the Atlantic.  Officials would then have to decide on a military or political response, then send the necessary resources back across the Atlantic.  It could be late summer before any response from England could affect events on the ground in Massachusetts.

Fortunately for Gage though, he would not have to wait nearly so long.  The North Ministry had second thoughts about its decision in late 1774 when it told Gage to get the job done with the men he had.  Other reports over the fall and winter of 1774-75 made clear that trouble was brewing.  While not sending the 20,000 men that Gage had requested, the Ministry did decide to send a large force of soldiers and marines to supplement the regulars in Boston.

Gage’s force had dropped from about 5000 men to less than 4000 over the winter.  Only a small number of these losses came from battle.  Trapped in Boston with insufficient access to fresh food, in unsanitary conditions, regulars began to die a at a pretty good clip from outbreaks of disease.  Some also deserted.

HMS Cerberus
(from NavalActionWiki)
After Lexington, Gage immediately scrambled for reinforcements from Halifax and New York.  That helped a little, but he needed more. Fortunately for Gage, Reinforcements from Britain had set sail well before the battle of Lexington.  They would arrive in late May, before word of Lexington even reached London.  Combined, Gage’s army grew back to over 5500 and would continue to receive reinforcements, bringing him up to about 8000 over the summer.  The incoming Regulars, combined with the exodus of civilians from Boston, meant that the city had more soldiers than civilians in it by June 1775.

With the new regiments from England came three new Major Generals to assist Gage with his command.  They sailed aboard the HMS Cerberus, the name of the mythological three headed dog that guarded the gates of hell.  The irony of three new British Generals arriving on a ship of that name was not lost on either side.  Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne left London in April 1775 tasked with putting down the rebellion in New England.  Since all three Generals will go on to play major roles in the war, it seems appropriate to introduce each of them now.

Gen. William Howe

Maj. Gen. William Howe was the most senior general deploying to Boston.  He was third son of the Viscount Howe.  His mother was the niece of King George I.  So he came from the highest classes of British aristocracy.  His eldest brother, George, who inherited their father’s title, was the young Bbrigadier Ggeneral who died during the failed attempt to take Fort Carillon during the French and Indian War.  Brother George died in the arms of his aide, Israel Putnam, now a General in the Provincial Army.  Howe’s bravery and exploits had prompted the colonists to pay for a monument for him in Westminster Abbey.  The monument also meant a great deal to William, who held the colonists in the highest regard.  William’s next older brother Richard inherited the family title from their childless brother George and served as an Admiral in the Royal Navy.  Richard would join his brother in 1776 in their attempt to squash the American rebellion, but that is getting ahead of the story.

William Howe
(from Wikimedia)
William had purchased his first officer’s commission as a Cornet in 1747.  He fought in the War of Austrian Succession and began to rise through the ranks.  He soon became friends with Gen. Wolfe, and served under him in America during the French and Indian War.  Lt. Col. Howe commanded a regiment at the Siege of Louisbourg in 1758. He played a conspicuous role in Gen. Wolfe’s capture of Quebec.  After the French surrendered Canada, Howe returned to England where he continued on active duty for the remainder of the war.

In 1772, Howe received his promotion to Major General.  He advocated for more light infantry forces, the type of fighting that would prove most effective in America.  William Howe and his brother Admiral Richard Howe had expressed sympathy for the colonial cause.  Both served in Parliament as pro-colonist whigs.  But now, with war upon them, William Howe would do his military duty.  Like most British officers, he believed that the army would crush the colonial rebellion, with the proper leadership of course.

Gen. Henry Clinton

The second new major general, Henry Clinton was actually raised in New York.  He came from a noble family in Britain.  His grandfather was an earl.  His father, Admiral Clinton, had been Governor of New York.  Clinton received his first commission in New York, later rising to Captain through his father’s influence.  As a teenager, Clinton moved back to England to pursue his military career, starting as Captain and eventually rising to Lieutenant Colonel by the beginning of the Seven Years War.  Clinton served with distinction in Europe, rising to full Colonel.

Henry Clinton
(from Wikimedia)

After the War, Clinton played the patronage game and made influential friends.  In 1772, he received his promotion to Major General, and also won a seat in Parliament.  He did not seem to take much interest in Parliamentary debates though, spending much of his time on military tours of Europe before being called to join the expedition to America in 1775.  Clinton spent his time learning a great deal about German military tactics, something he would want to employ in the revolution.

Although Clinton had left America to pursue his career, he retained many ties to the colonies.  He owned thousands of acres of land in New York, which he inherited from his father.  Beyond personal advancement in the military, Clinton had a direct economic interest in restoring peace and British control of the colonies.

Gen. John Burgoyne

The third major general to arrive that day was John Burgoyne.  Burgoyne, unlike Howe and Clinton, had a common pedigree.  His father had been a Captain, though there is some speculation that John was actually the illegitimate son of an English Baron. For that or some other reason the Baron took an interest in his upbringing.  He was able to attend a prestigious military academy, where Gage was a classmate.  The Baron also provided fund so that Burgoyne purchased his first commission at age 15.  The young Burgoyne quickly developed a reputation for heavy spending and high living, well beyond his means.  He got the nickname “Gentleman Johnny”.  His debts though, caught up with him.  In 1741, at age 19, he had to sell his commission to pay off debts and avoid debtor’s prison.

John Burgoyne
(from Wikimedia)
A few years later, the War of Austrian Succession gave him the opportunity to join a new regiment without having to repurchase a commission.  He managed to come up with enough money to buy a Captaincy a few years later. After the war, Burgoyne married the daughter of an English Lord.  The father did not approve of the marriage.  After they eloped, he cut off his daughter.  Once again, Burgoyne sold his commission so that he and his wife could live in style.

Eventually, he convinced his father-in-law to provide some support.  He purchased a new Captaincy in time to participate in the Seven Years War.  Burgoine did not fight in America, but saw active duty in Europe, rising to Lt. Col.  He also got elected to Parliament and became a bright light in London society, where he wrote popular songs and plays.  He received continued promotion in the Army.  Like Howe, he was a vocal advocate for light infantry.  By 1775, he had become a Major General and prepared to work with his fellow officers in crushing the rebellion.

Like his two colleagues, Burgoyne had risen through the ranks through a combination of distinction in battle, personal charm, and the ability to play the political game in London.  None, however, had experience as a strategic theater commander.  But then, Gen. Gage remained the theater commander in America for now.

Gen. Frederick Haldimand

As long as I’m introducing Generals, I should mention one more.  Major General Frederick Haldimand had been serving in Boston as Gage’s second in command.  He was senior to all three of the Major Generals who had arrived on the Cerberus.

Haldimand’s rank matched his military experience in America.  He was second only to Gage himself.  He came from a German family, though they had lived in Switzerland for a few generations.  As a  young man, Haldimand joined the Prussian army as an officer, where he fought in the War of Austrian Succession.  After the war, he accepted a commission in the Dutch Army.
Frederick Hladimand
(from Wikimedia)

In 1755, the British prepared for imminent war with France, after young Captain Washington started a fight in the Ohio Valley a few months prior.  They recruited Captain Haldimand and a few dozen other German speaking officers to recruit and train German speaking Pennsylvania colonists for use in what would become the French and Indian War.  Haldimand received a commission as Lt. Col. in the British Army.  In 1758 he was wounded in the British assault on Fort Carillon.  The same action that saw the death of Gen. Howe’s older brother.

His wound did not slow him up any.  He continued to serve with distinction, receiving a promotion to full Colonel.  He was present at Montreal for the final French surrender of the war in Canada, and served as Gen. Gage’s second in command.  He proved equally capable in peacetime, as a military Governor in Canada.  In 1765, he received promotion to Brigadier General.  He then spent eight years in the rather unpleasant command of the Southern Department, stationed in Florida.  There, many officers and men succumbed to disease in that hot swampy land.  His work there earned him a promotion to Major General in 1772.  The following year, when Gage returned to Europe, he summoned Haldimand to New York to take command of all North American operations until Gage returned in 1774.

A few months after Gage returned to Boston and began to realize he was losing control, he called Haldimand, who had taken up a command in New York.  Haldimand and most of the regiments stationed in New York joined Gage in Boston for the months preceding Lexington and Concord.

With his extensive military and governmental experience in America, as well as his seniority among the Major Generals, Haldimand should have been the obvious successor to Gen. Gage.  Unfortunately for Haldimand, British officials decided otherwise.  His foreign birth raised concerns for his command of all British forces in North America during the war.  If something happened to Gage he would be the senior general.  So, The same ship that carried the three new Major Generals to Boston, also carried Haldimand’s orders to leave America.  He would return to London a few weeks later to great accolades for all his work, and would receive a cushy Inspector Generalship in the West Indies.  So, sorry for introducing Gen. Haldimand just as he is leaving us. I thought it worthwhile, though, to give this man some credit for all of his hard work.  He would eventually receive promotion to Lt. General, making him one of the highest ranking foreign born active duty officers ever to serve in the British Army.

Admiral Samuel Graves

More news arrived on the Cerberus for Admiral Graves.  He received a promotion from Vice Admiral of the Blue to Vice Admiral of the White.  He also learned of his additional orders pursuant to Parliament’s passage of the Restraining Act that I discussed a few episodes back.  His navy, already patrolling more than 1000 miles of North American coastline, also now would be responsible for preventing any colonial merchant traffic from carrying on any trade with any countries outside the British Empire.  The Navy would also prevent any colonists from fishing in the waters off Newfoundland.  He would have to do that while also defending and supplying the growing army in Boston.

Samuel Graves
(from Wikimedia)
Samuel Graves had replaced Admiral Montegu as Naval Commander in North America in 1774.  I’ve been giving the Navy rather little attention thus far.  Since I am using this episode to introduce all the Generals, I might as well give a little background on Admiral Graves as well.

Graves was in his 60’s when he received orders to take command of operations in North America.  He came from a family with a long naval tradition.  His grandfather had served as a Captain in the Royal Navy.  Samuel joined the Navy in 1732 at age 19. During the War of Austrian Succession, he served under his Uncle, Captain (and future Admiral) Thomas Graves where he served with distinction in combat.  He became Captain of his own ship in 1744.  After a series of successful commands during the Seven Years War, made Rear Admiral in 1762.  In 1770, he moved up to Vice Admiral.  Following the Boston Tea Party he received his orders to go to Boston and close the harbor in enforcement of the Boston Port Act.

It is not unusual for there to be friction between the army and navy.  Gen. Gage and Adm. Graves were no exceptions to this.  The two men did not get along well.  There were fights over the use of Royal Marines in land combat or how to deploy ships best to protect Boston.  But they also fought over little things.  The Navy controlled the harbor.  As the siege cut off food supplies, Admiral Graves charged a small fee for soldiers to take fishing boats into the harbor to feed themselves.  This frustrated the soldiers to no end.  Also, the Navy brought in food from other ports to feed the soldiers.  However, it skimmed off the best food for itself and gave the worst to the Army.

Graves played a crucial role in supplying and guarding the army in Boston.  But he and Gage remained at odds. The two men never developed a good working relationship.

Cerberus in Boston

So, with that background, The Cerberus, carrying Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne, arrived in Boston on May 25, 1775, about five weeks after Lexington.  Their regiments would continue to arrive over the next few weeks.  Before even arriving in Boston, the Generals aboard the Cerberus received word from a passing ship that the Boston garrison was besieged by 10,000 colonists.  They were shocked by this, thinking Regulars should be able to disperse civilian militia many times their number.

Gen. Gage remained commander in chief.  London had sent the three Generals to assist Gage, not to replace him.  But almost immediately, all three began writing back to friends and colleagues in London that Gage was weak and incompetent.  He had not shown any aggressive fighting spirit, and let the colonists run amok.

They arrived with the same attitude that Gage had shown a year earlier when he came to Boston as its new Governor General.  Just as Gage blamed Gov. Hutchinson for his failure to maintain a firm hand over the civilians, the new Generals hurled the same accusations at Gage.

Conventional wisdom of the time said that a professional army could always impose its will on a civilian population of much larger numbers.  Civilians and militia might talk tough, but they would not stand against a professional well trained army of regulars and take casualties with the same fortitude.  Therefore, a leader that marches around at will and unleashes the fury of the army on civilians will only remind them of what they lose when they reject the protection of the British Empire.

Gage had tried to push back against civil resistance to his policies as governor.  But he did not really use his army to enforce his will until Lexington and Concord.  Then, he sent out a party that was too small and without sufficient ammunition for battle.  The three new Generals assured themselves and each other that they could do better.

Remaining in Boston was not an option. Food and supplies were difficult to import and attempts to secure them would prove problematic.  I already discussed some of the skirmishes over resources last week.  But keeping thousands of soldiers in Boston only risked death from hunger and disease.  Sitting around would probably be more deadly to British soldiers than any attack.

Gage had not yet even declared martial law in the colony.  With some convincing, he finally would declare martial law on June 12.  His Declaration promised pardons for anyone who laid down their arms and returned home, with exceptions of Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who would be tried for treason.  Although released under Gage’s name, the pompous language sounds much more like it was the work of Gen. Burgoyne.  No patriots seem to have acted on this offer of pardon, and nothing changed.  The declaration, however, provided the legal justification for levying war on the rebellious population.

The three ambitious Generals pushed to take the newly enlarged army on the offensive.  The beginning of summer was the time one started a military campaign.  The obvious first steps were to reclaim the heights outside of Boston.  To the south of the city, near Roxbury, rose Dorchester Heights.  To the north of the city, on the Charlestown peninsula, sat Bunker and Breed’s Hills.  If the provincials occupied either of these heights with artillery, both Boston and the fleet in the harbor would be at risk.  So far, British threats had intimidated the provincials from occupying either.  But that could not last forever.  Taking control of these high ground areas would be the first step toward tackling the militia mobs surrounding Boston.

- - -

Next Episode 63: Buzzard's Bay and Machias (Available Sept. 23, 2018)

Previous Episode 61: Battle of Chelsea Creek

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Further Reading:

Web Sites:

Gen. William Howe:

Gen. Henry Clinton:

Gen. John Burgoyne:

Belcher, Henry “Burgoyne” Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, 1913, pp. 172-195

Gen. Frederick Haldimand:

Adm. Samuel Graves:

Gen. Gage’s Declaration of Martial Law:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

De Fonblanque, Edward Political and military episodes in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Derived from the life and correspondence of the Right Hon. John Burgoyne, London: MacMillan & Co. 1876.

Ford, Worthington British Officers Serving in the American Revolution, 1774-1783, by Worthington Ford, Brooklyn: Historical Printing Club, 1897.

French, Allen The Siege of Boston, New York: Macmillan, 1911.

Frothingham, Richard History of the Siege of Boston, Boston: CC Little & J. Brown, 1851.

Frothingham, Richard Life and times of Joseph Warren, Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1865.

Hudleston, Francis Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne: Misadventures of an English General in the Revolution, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co. 1927.

McIlwraith, Jean N. Sir Frederick Haldimand, Toronto: Morang & Co. 1910.

Swett, Samuel History of Bunker Hill Battle: With a Plan, Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1826.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Beck, Derek, Igniting the American Revolution 1773-1775, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2015.

Borneman, Walter American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2014.

Lockhart, Paul The Whites of Their Eyes, New York: Harper Collins, 2011.

Nelson, James George Washington’s Secret Navy, New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.

O’Shaughnessy, Andrew Jackson The Men Who Lost America, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013 (book recommendation of the week).

Philbrick, Nathaniel Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution,  New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

Wilcox, William Portrait of a general: Sir Henry Clinton in the War of Independence, New York: Knopf, 1964.

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Episode 061: Battle of Chelsea Creek

For the last few weeks, I tackled some more general issues about slavery and the army, and then the Patriot’s capture of Fort Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain.  Today I want to turn back to Boston, where the provincial army had laid siege to Gen. Gage and the regulars.  Today we look at several skirmishes between the two armies in the first weeks of the siege of Boston.

Boston Siege in Chaos

In the days and weeks following Lexington and Concord, the thousands of provincials besieging the British garrison in Boston looked more like a mob than an army.  The Massachusetts Provincial Congress commissioned Artemas Ward as Commander in Chief on May 19, 1775 and promoted him to full General.  Ward, of course, had already been running things for a month. He assumed command of the army on April 20, the day after Lexington.

The Provincial Congress initially called for a New England army of 30,000 men, with Massachusetts providing about half that.  Supporting that large a standing army though, proved impossible.  The numbers surrounding Boston sat between 10,000 and 15,000, from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.  With no central command or enlistment procedure, militiamen came and went at will.  Entire units would get bored and go home.  They often decided on their own that nothing was happening.  They might as well get back to planting or taking care of business back on their farms.

Gen. William Heath
(from Wikimedia)
Over time, leaders convinced most of the militia surrounding Boston to agree to serve for the remainder of the year, which reduced, but did not eliminate, the problem of soldiers simply coming and going at will.  Gen. William Heath took command of 2000 soldiers in Roxbury on the right flank of the American lines.  Heath also conveniently lived on his family farm nearby. Nothing like fighting on the front lines but still going home to sleep in your own bed each night.  Heath, a long time Massachusetts militia officer, had proven an effective commander during the attack on the British column returning from Concord.

His position immediately in front of Boston Neck was a critical one.  If the British did not want to conduct a water landing, they would have to force their way across Boston Neck.  This would probably be the only way they could seize Dorchester Heights.  Therefore, Heath’s position was what kept regulars from marching out of Boston.

British Gen. Thomas Gage and Admiral Samuel Graves warned provincial leaders not to occupy Charlestown, threatening to bombard the town if occupied.  Similarly, they warned colonists not to occupy Dorchester Heights or face British wrath.  Provincial leaders, many still believing a political compromise might avert further bloodshed, complied.  Charlestown stood empty, and Dorchester Heights unoccupied.

Another big problem was that units from outside Massachusetts did not feel any obligation to take orders from anyone from Massachusetts.  The New Hampshire, Connecticut, or Rhode Island militia considered Massachusetts officers to be members of a separate army.  They might be convinced to agree to instructions, but felt they were under no obligation to do so.  These separate colonies were cooperating, but they did not recognize Gen. Ward, or any other leader from another colony as having any authority to command them to do anything.

It was not just soldiers who refused to follow Massachusetts’ lead.  In early May, Connecticut Governor John Trumbull sent a delegation to meet with Gen. Gage and see if they could not work out a political solution.  Unlike most colonial governors, Trumbull was elected, meaning he could not simply be written off as a royal appointee who had more loyalty to London than the colonists.  His decision to work out a political compromise without Massachusetts would fall right into Gen. Gage’s plan to divide and conquer.

The Massachusetts Congress went nuts over this. They would lose about a third of their army if Connecticut decided to leave. Massachusetts President Joseph Warren sent Gov. Trumbull several letters about this, pointing out the dangers of not showing a united front. Trumbull’s delegation met with Gage, but in the end decided to remain with the provincials. After Gage had promised to let Bostonians leave the city then reneged on that promise, Trumbull decided he could not trust Gage.  Connecticut stayed with the Patriots and the provincial army.

As spring moved toward summer, men sat around camp with little to do.  They refused any orders they found unreasonable.  Thousands of men in such a confined area soon led to health problems.  Failure to dig proper latrines made things worse.  Typhus and other illnesses spread through the camps, eventually killing hundreds of them over the summer.  Disease also killed many regulars in Boston as well.  Disease would kill far more men than battle deaths over the course of the war.

The Provincials apparently also annoyed the British officers by flying the Union Jack in Cambridge and referring to themselves as the King’s Army.  They referred to the Regulars in Boston as the Parliament Army, an obvious comparison to the divisions in the English Civil War.  No one still considered this an independence movement.  Colonists still thought that Parliament was out of control and that appeals to King George would eventually convince the crown to order Parliament to stop infringing on colonial rights.

After a few weeks, both sides started pushing the other side with provocations that could possibly reignite active warfare.

Charleston Taunt

On May 13, Connecticut Gen. Israel Putnam, for no good reason, led 2000 men onto the no man’s land on the Charlestown Peninsula.  The battalion marched across Bunker Hill, Breed’s Hill, through the town and down to the water’s edge.  There, they shouted at the Naval vessels with cannon pointed at them, then eventually marched back out of Charlestown.

It was a dangerous move for no good purpose since the navy might have opened fire on them.  Putnam felt it was important to give the soldiers something to do.  An idle army is a dangerous one.  It also gave them a chance to test the enemy and see how trigger happy they were. British officers aboard the Somerset said they would have opened up on the provincials if any of the men had fired a single musket in their direction.  Everyone on both sides held their fire though.  Putnam and his brigade marched back off the Charlestown peninsula and back to the continental lines in Cambridge.

No one ordered him to do this. Putnam did not inform any other general officers about his plans. This was just another chaotic event that shows just how disorganized the provincial leadership was.

Battle of Grape Island

The British soon grew concerned about their access to fresh food.  The siege cut off trade with local farmers.  They lacked meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as hay for the horses and bedding.  Several small islands dotted Boston Harbor, where locals grew crops and grazed animals.  With the British navy in control of the harbor, Gage figured he could make use of these resources.

Gen. Israel Putnam
(from Wikimedia)
On May 21, Gage sent four small sloops over to Grape Island on the south side of the harbor, just a few hundred feet from the mainland.  The island’s Tory owner gave Gage permission to collect the harvested hay on the island and bring it back to Boston.

The site of regulars moving out of the city caused some locals along the coast to flee, fearing a surprise landing.  Gen. John Thomas, serving with Gen. Heath on the right flank of the Provincial line, deployed three companies of Massachusetts militia from Roxbury to engage the soldiers.  Provincial Congress President Joseph Warren joined them.  The Provincials fired at the island from the coast, but were too far away to hit anything.  The regulars went about loading the hay onto their ships, largely ignoring the provincials.

Like much of Boston Harbor, the water around Grape Island was too shallow for most boats, but the water and muddy bottom made it too difficult to wade out to the island either.  Provincials could not get to the island from the coast a low tide.

By early afternoon the tide came in enough that the provincials were able to launch a few boats.  They rowed out to confront the regulars. The two sides exchanged fire as the regulars retreated.  The regulars boarded their ships on one side of the island just as the provincials landed on the other. Neither side inflicted any casualties.

I have read two different sources, one saying the fleeing British burned the hay still on the island to deny it to the provincials.  Another said the provincials burned the hay after chasing off the regulars in order to prevent them coming back for more.  In either event, the crops remaining on the island burned so no one else could use them.

A few days later on May 25, the British landed a crew on another island, Long Island, in the harbor to obtain more hay.  This raid, further away from the coast, went without incident.

Battle of Chelsea Creek

The raids on Grape Island and Long Island raised provincial concerns over resources.  They needed to remove or destroy any crops or livestock on islands or near the coast that would provide potential resources to the Boston garrison.

Hog Island and Noddle Island, both sat near the north shore, separated from the mainland only by Chelsea Creek.  The two islands lay just east of Charlestown. Chelsea Creek was large enough to keep animals on the island from wandering away, making it an ideal location to graze livestock.  The islands were easy enough to access from the mainland.  The creek separating Hog Island from the mainland and the one separating Hog Island from Noddle Island were only knee deep at low tide, meaning soldiers could easily ford the water to get to the islands.

Gen. Gage received intelligence and warned Admiral Graves that the provincials might be planning an island raid.  Graves, told Gage to deploy soldiers to the island, but Gage decided the navy could defend the islands.  He was not going to take orders from the navy.  When Gage did not act, Graves deployed a small contingent of 40 marines to Noddle Island.  The navy had relied on the island for access to food supplies.  Of greater concern for Graves, the navy kept a large supply of wood materials on the island which was used for ship repairs.

Boston Harbor - See Hog and Noddle Islands near the top.
(from Wikiwand)
Gage’s intelligence proved correct.  The Provincials acted to remove the crops and animals for their own use, and to deny them to the enemy.  At dawn on May 27, The Committee of Safety ordered Massachusetts Col. John Nixon to lead several hundred soldiers onto Hog island to herd the animals onto the mainland.  They kept quiet and went unnoticed for most of the day.  Then, after moving onto Noddle Island, they set fire to a barn full of hay around 2:00 PM.  This fire alerted the navy to their activity.

Graves promptly ordered more marines to land on Noddle Island in support of the one company already responding to the incursion.  He also ordered his nephew, Lt. Thomas Graves, commander of a small sloop, the Diana to sail up Chelsea Creek to cut off the enemy retreat. With the Diana’s cannon cutting off their retreat and the marines attacking them on the island, the British hoped to surround and capture the provincial force.

The Diana’s gun’s though could not get close enough, the provincials continued to drive the livestock off the island, while a few of them formed a rearguard action at the creek between Hog and Noddle Islands. The provincial rearguard action effectively stopped the British marine advance, killing several of them and forcing a British retreat.

The Diana, in an attempt to get closer to the provincials, sailed a little too far up the creek into shallow waters, with the tide receding.  They attempted to tow the ship back down the creek, but took fire from the provincials as they did so.  The tow ships fled, and the wind died down, preventing the Diana from escaping under her own power.  The British ship was stuck in the mud as evening fell.

Adm. Samuel Graves
(from Wikimedia)
News of the grounded ship flew through Provincial camps around Cambridge. Gen. Israel Putnam and President Joseph Warren brought more men and cannons to the coast where they could fire on the now stranded Diana.  The ship attempted to fight back, supported by marine cannons firing from a hill on Noddle Island.  An overly excited Putnam led some of his soldiers hip deep into the water attempting to get closer to the ship with only their muskets.

Admiral Graves deployed at least two cannons to Noddle Island and the ship Britannia to provide further cover for the Diana.  The Provincials brought two smaller cannons, and about 1000 men to the site in an attempt to capture the ship.  This marked the first time the Provincials fired cannons in battle since fighting began.

The firefight lasted well into the night.  As the tide continued to flow out, the Diana, not only stuck to the bottom, but began to tilt to one site, making it impossible to fire her cannons.  Eventually the crew could not stand on the deck as the ship was almost on its side. Patriot fire had wounded several of the crew, who Lt. Graves ordered removed to the Britannia.

Around midnight. Lt. Graves had to accept the impossible situation and ordered his men to abandon ship.  They escaped on longboats.  The Provincials then stormed the abandoned ship.  Still under fire from Noddle Island and the Britannia, they looted anything of value, including four cannons and several swivel guns. They then set the ship on fire.  In the pre-dawn hours of May 28, the ship’s powder magazine exploded, leaving only a burning wreck by dawn.  Although it was a small ship, the Provincials saw the destruction of an armed naval vessel as great victory.

The Provincials only reported a few wounded, none killed.  Graves reported two sailors killed and several wounded.  However, according to other sources, Graves deliberately underreported the battle casualties.  A witness in Boston reported at least ten sailors were buried the day after the battle, with other dead from the battle buried elsewhere.  Some estimates report as many as thirty sailors and marines killed.  British officers frequently undercounted battle deaths when trying to minimize the failures on the battlefield.  The lost soldiers could easily be counted later as deaths from disease.

Israel Putnam’s bravery under fire at at Chelsea Creek, as well as the leadership of Provincial President Joseph Warren only enhanced the already good reputations of both men.  After the battle, Putnam and Warren met with Gen. Ward to discuss the day’s events.  Putnam, who had waded into the water, waving his sword as the Diana fired at his men repeatedly and missed, commented that he wished they could do that every day, if only to teach the men how little danger there was from cannon balls.  Gen. Ward still looking to end the conflict without an all out war chastised him, warning that he was going to provoke a British attack that they could not defeat.  Warren did not seem to want to disagree with either, simply said to Putnam: “I admire your spirit and respect Gen. Ward’s prudence.  Both will be necessary for us, and one must temper the other.

Several days later, the provincials crossed over to the islands again to remove any remaining animals.  The navy fired a few cannons at them but made no further efforts to engage the enemy.  The provincials also burned several more buildings on the island, including the mansion of the island’s owner Henry Howell Williams.  Mr. Williams supported the patriot cause, but the army deemed the home in danger of being of use to the enemy.  Williams would have to wait more than a decade to receive compensation for his losses.

In June the provincials made a third raid, destroying a warehouse, the last building on the island, and removing or destroying the last few items of value.  After that, neither side made much use of the islands for the remainder of the siege.

Provincial Congress Seeks Help

The civilian leaders of the Provincial Congress remained divided on how to resolve the current crisis.  The also grew concerned that their own provincial army could pose a danger.  As with any army, soldiers began muttering about the incompetence and imbecility of the politicians supposedly running the show.  These soldiers showed little deference, even to their own officers.  Soon the age old fears of standing armies threatening civilian government took hold.

Provincial Congress President Joseph Warren, was one of the few men who seemed to have a handle on how to keep control.  In addition to getting involved personally whenever there was a firefight.  Warren spent much of his time wandering through the camps, talking to the soldiers.  He not only got a good feel for what the men were thinking, he was able to squelch rumors and provide explanations for what was happening.  This went a long way toward keeping the men’s discontent from boiling over into desertion or mutiny.

Joseph Warren
(from Wikimedia)
On May 22, the Provincial Congress passed a law essentially declaring open season on all Tories who remained in the colony.  Any who had not already sought shelter in Boston or left the colony altogether had to go into hiding or have a sudden change of heart about their political views.

Congress also petitioned the Continental Congress in Philadelphia for guidance on how to proceed.  The Provincial Congress really had no legal authority to do anything.  A year earlier, the First Continental Congress ordered Massachusetts not to form any sovereign civilian government, which would be considered treason.  As such, Massachusetts was not sure how far it could go and still retain the support of the other colonies.  Mostly to ensure continued cooperation of other colonies, the Provincial Congress asked the Continental Congress to take command of the Provincial Army and make it part of a larger Continental Army.

President Warren entrusted the delivery of the petition to Benjamin Church.  It is not entirely clear why, he chose Church.  Some historians speculate that Warren suspected Church’s loyalty to the cause and guessed correctly that he might be providing intelligence to Gen. Gage.  Whether by luck or suspicion, Warren’s mission sent Church out of the colony for the three weeks before the battle of Bunker Hill, leaving Gage without one of his best sources for information.

- - -

Next Episode 62: Three Headed Cerberus Arrives in Boston

Previous Episode 60: Securing Lake Champlain

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American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Also, see the very bottom of this page to see how you can support this podcast by making purchases you would make anyway on Amazon.  Thanks, Mike Troy

Visit for a list of all episodes.

Visit for free downloads of all podcast episodes.

Further Reading:

Web sites:

Brown, Craig, Victor Masone, and Christopher Maio "The Revolutionary War Battle America Forgot: Chelsea Creek, 27-28 May 1775", The New England Quarterly Vol. 86, No. 3 (2013), pp. 398-432: (free to read online, requires registration).

Hsiung, David C. "Food, Fuel, and the New England Environment in the War for Independence, 1775-1776" The New England Quarterly, Vol. 80, No. 4 (2007), pp. 614-654: (free to read online, requires registration).

Bell, J.L. "The Rev. David Avery on the Fight off Chelsea" 2018:

Documents Related to Henry Howell Williams's Property Losses on Noddles Island:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Abbatt, William (ed) Memoirs of Major-General Heath, New York: William Abbatt 1901 (originally published by William Heath, 1798).

Allen, Gardner W. Naval Documents of the American Revolution, Vol. 1, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1913.

Bolton, Charles (ed) Letters of Hugh, Earl Percy, from Boston and New York, 1774-1776,  Boston: Charles E. Goodspeed, 1902.

Dana, Elizabeth Ellery (ed) Barker, John John Barker diary - The British in Boston, 1774-1776, Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press 1924.

French, Allen The Siege of Boston, New York: Macmillan, 1911.

Frothingham, Richard History of the Siege of Boston, Boston: CC Little & J. Brown, 1851.

Frothingham, Richard Life and times of Joseph Warren, Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1865.

Green, Samuel (ed) Three Military Diaries, Cambridge: John Williams & Sons, 1901 (Diary of Lt. Amos Farnsworth covers his participation in the Siege with the Massachusetts Provincial Army, including the raid on Hog and Noddle Islands).

Lincoln, William (ed) The journals of each Provincial congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of safety, with an appendix, containing the proceedings of the county conventions-narratives of the events of the nineteenth of April, 1775-papers relating to Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and other documents, illustrative of the early history of the American revolution, Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1838.

Swett, Samuel History of Bunker Hill Battle: With a Plan, Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1826.

VIDEO Uhlar, Janet Dr. Joseph Warren: Early American War Hero - a 1 hr video Bedford TV 2016.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Beck, Derek, Igniting the American Revolution 1773-1775, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2015.

Borneman, Walter American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2014 (book recommendation of the week).

Daughan, George C. Lexington and Concord: The Battle Heard Round the World, New York : W.W. Norton & Co., 2018.

Forman, Samuel Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty, Pelican Publishing, 2011.

Lockhart, Paul The Whites of Their Eyes, New York: Harper Collins, 2011.

Nelson, James George Washington’s Secret Navy, New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.

Philbrick, Nathaniel Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution,  New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Episode 060: Securing Lake Champlain

Last week, we left Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen in control of Fort Ticonderoga, fighting with each other, and neither really knowing what to do next.  Fort Ticonderoga sits at the southern tip of Lake Champlain.  British troops in Montreal or Quebec could move down the St. Lawrence River, then down the Richelieu River to arrive at the Lake for an assault to retake Ticonderoga.

Raid on St. Jean

Arnold and Allen were both men who did not like to sit on their laurels.  They quickly decided that the best defense was a good offense, that they needed to control all of Lake Champlain in order to prevent an attack on Ticonderoga.  They also did not want British troops threatening the settlement on the eastern banks of the Lake, where most of the Green Mountain Boys lived.  They needed to act before the British under Gen. Carleton in Quebec could arrange any sort of counter attack.

Within days of the capture of Ticonderoga on May 10, the patriots secured a decent sized ship named the Betsy which they promptly renamed the Liberty.  The sloop had belonged to a well known Tory named Richard Skene.

Both Arnold and Allen claim credit for its capture.  Neither of them were personally involved, but troops under both of their commands were present at the seizure.  By May 14, four days after the capture of Ticonderoga, Arnold had 100 soldiers under his command.  These were the volunteer militia from Western Massachusetts that his Captains had been recruiting for him while he rushed ahead to join Allen.  More men were arriving each day, while Allen’s force was shrinking.  The Green Mountain Boys left to go home with their booty, having considered their mission accomplished.  A week out, Allen still had a larger command than Arnold, but both knew Arnold would soon surpass his men in numbers.

For the moment, Allen remained in command of Fort Ticonderoga while Arnold took command of the Liberty, which made sense.  Arnold had spent years as captain of various merchant vessels, while Allen and his men had no experience on the water.  Arnold mounted four cannon on the ship as well as six swivel guns, selected a crew of about 35 men and set sail northward up Lake Champlain.  Both men knew it was best to separate their commands to avoid continued fighting over who was in charge.

The George became the Enterprise
(artist's conception) (from The Sextant)
At the northern tip of the Lake, Actually just past the lake up the Richelieu River, the British had an outpost at St. Jean.  Some documents referred to this as St. John’s. However, since there is another St. John in Nova Scotia, I try to avoid confusion by using the alternate name of St. Jean. This was about 25 miles north of the Canadian border.  At the Outpost, the British maintained a much larger sloop of war the George, with 12 cannons and 10 swivel guns.  It was not big by British Navy standards, but it dominated anything else on Lake Champlain.

On the morning of May 16, Arnold sailed the Liberty north toward St. Jean, arriving at the northern tip of the lake late on the evening of the 17th.  Because winds were against them, and to maintain the element of surprise, Arnold’s crew anchored the Liberty at the northern end of the Lake and rowed long boats up the Richelieu River to St. Jean that night.

Early on the morning of the 18th, Arnold’s men surprised the 15 man garrison at St. Jean, capturing them without any loss of life.  The garrison had heard about the attacks at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, but were still unprepared for the raid.   After capturing the garrison, Arnold’s men rushed the shipyard, surprising the seven man crew of the George. They also captured several batteaux, which are basically small flat bottom boats used for transporting supplies.  Because they did not have enough men, they destroyed the batteaux that they could not take with them.

Arnold renamed the George the Enterprise, and transferred his command to the larger ship, leaving the Liberty with a subordinate. After interrogating his British prisoners, Arnold learned that a contingent of several hundred regulars was moving on St. Jean from Fort Chambly and Montreal.  Without enough men to defend St. Jean from so large a force, Arnold decided it best to take his new fleet, his prisoners, and several field cannon, and retreat south.  By noon, he was back on Lake Champlain heading south back to Ticonderoga.

Fort St. Jean, 1775 (from Wikimedia)
Allen, however, was not content to leave all the action to Arnold.  He took a contingent of about 100 men in smaller rowboats and headed north up the Lake toward St. Jean.  Arnold, who was returning from his raid aboard the Enterprise, met with Allen’s logboats out on the northern part of the open lake.

The commanders met aboard the Enterprise and toasted Arnold’s success.  Allen then said he intended to continue his advance on St. Jean where his men would fend off any enemy force and then organize an invasion of Montreal.

Arnold thought this was folly.  He told Allen that he believed hundreds of regulars were advancing on St. Jean and might already be there.  Allen, however, decided to proceed.  Arnold could not stop him, and probably would be secretly happy to see him fail.

Allen’s men made camp about a mile south of St. Jean, sending out scouts to assess the situation.  The Scouts reported about 200 British regulars advancing on the town.  Not ready to engage in a night battle against a superior force, Allen pitched camp for the night, only to have the British wake them up near dawn with cannon fire.  The Regulars had seen that St. Jean had been plundered, and advanced south, finding Allen’s men.

Outnumbered, outgunned, and caught by surprise, Allen’s men jumped into their boats and rowed away before the British could reach them.  No one was killed or wounded.  They evacuated so quickly that they left three men behind. The British captured one.  The other two walked back through the woods over the next few days.

It took Allen’s force two days to row back to Ticonderoga where Arnold essentially said “I told you so.”  Arnold then turned his attention to the making a closer inventory of artillery at the forts, improving fort defenses in case of a British attack, and making sure his ships were ready for battle as well.

With their ships captured, the British did not attempt to move down the Lake, but remained at the north end.  Most of the Green Mountain Boys had returned home by now.  Allen now turned to the local Mohawks to join the cause.  They expressed sympathy, but said they were bound not to get involved as members of the Iroquois Confederacy.  The Iroquois were nominally neutral, but still had a heavy pro-British bias.  Allen’s command was by this time almost completely gone, while Arnold continued to receive reinforcements from Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Although they heard rumors of a British attack, with Indian assistance, nothing ever materialized. The British regulars pulled back from St. Jean and awaited further orders and reinforcements before attempting to advance down Lake Champlain.

The Battle of PR

Following the capture of Ticonderoga, Allen sent Captain John Brown to Philadelphia with a report to the Continental Congress. Allen also wrote letters to the Massachusetts and Connecticut Provincial Congresses.  In each report, he said that he commanded the expedition, with Col. James Easton as his second in command and Captain Brown next in line.  His account completely ignored Arnold and gave him no credit for anything.

Arnold wrote a report for the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, claiming he and Allen had joint command, but that Allen had no commission and had no ability to command troops as a professional soldier.

Region around Lake Champlain (from Wikimedia)
Despite the differing accounts of who did what, officials in Congress and in New England all received word of the capture within days.  Congress was not sure this was a good thing.  New York delegates were not completely on board with the war yet and were not happy about New Englanders, particularly Allen, invading New York and capturing British property there.

No one seemed sure who was in charge at Ticonderoga, who should be in charge, or what anyone should do next.  Arnold and Allen both received contradictory instructions over the next few weeks, both praising their action and calling for them to give back everything they had just captured.  Some moderates wanted everything returned to the British.  Others wanted it turned over to New York.  They also fought over whether Arnold, Allen, or some other officer should take command of the situation.

Arnold and Allen both thought they should get reinforcements so that they could take Montreal and eventually Quebec before Britain sent reinforcements from England.  That way, they could deny the British a launching point from which they could move down the Hudson River to New York thus cutting off New England from the rest of the colonies.

At the end of May Congress sent instructions that the army should pull back to the south end of the Lake, leaving all the patriot towns along the east coast, the homes of the Green Mountain Boys, undefended against a British assault.  Congress further instructed the men to keep an accounting off all arms and supplies they had captured so that they could be returned to the British, or reimbursed after they had reestablished peace.  Congress also said they were not to attack any other British garrisons that were not taking provocative actions.  Finally they had to turn over all their captured ships and cannon to New York.

Now, you have to remember, as we discussed about twenty episodes ago, that Allen and the Green Mountain Boys had essentially been at war with New York for years over the ownership of their land in the Grants.  You might as well have asked them to hand it back to the British.

Because Arnold had invaded Canada without orders and captured British prisoners and equipment there, many moderates saw him as a dangerous loose cannon, who was making it harder to make peace with Britain.  The fact that all the other officers making reports, Allen, Easton, Brown, and Mott all belittled, ignored or condemned Arnold’s actions, civilian leaders in Congress and New England began to develop a poor opinion of this new officer.

Arnold and Allen still did not trust each other and badmouthed one another at every opportunity.  But both men agreed that they were not going go give up their vital occupation of the Forts and the Lake based on idiotic political directives from civilians who clearly did not understand what was going on.

Congress takes Charge

Allen continued to hold command at Fort Ticonderoga while Arnold assumed command of Lake Champlain, patrolling it with his new fleet.  Fortunately for both men, the decision to ignore Congress’ initial order to pull back did not hurt them.  By the time they received the orders, Congress reversed itself and decided that they should hold onto the forts and control the Lake.

Lake Champlain May 1775 (from
With Massachusetts putting all of its resources into the Siege of Boston, Congress asked New York to provide food and supplies for the forces in and around Lake Champlain.  It also requested that Connecticut supply more troops to secure the region from any potential attack.

Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull agreed with the assessments that they needed reinforcements at Ticonderoga.  But he did not want to leave Arnold or Allen in charge of anything.  Instead, he sent 1000 troops under the command of Col. Benjamin Hinman.

Hinman, a veteran of Connecticut militia during the French and Indian War, had experience in theater.  He participated in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, Crown Point and Quebec during against the French twenty years earlier.  One of his junior officers during the War was Maj. Israel Putnam, now serving as a General outside of Boston.  His experience and political connections inspired far more confidence in political leaders than the unknown Arnold.

Although Arnold was from Connecticut and started as a Connecticut militia Captain.  Massachusetts had given him his Colonelcy and authorized his command at Ticonderoga.  Now Massachusetts wanted other colonies to deal with Ticonderoga so that Massachusetts could focus its men, money, and resources on Boston.  They only wanted Ticonderoga to send them the cannons they had been promised in the first place.

Fighting for Command

Massachusetts dispatched its own Colonel, William Henshaw, to evaluate the Massachusetts troops at Lake Champlain and to determine whether Arnold should remain in command or be discharged.  They sent Arnold a copy of these orders.  Rather than travelling to Ticonderoga, Henshaw went to Connecticut, where he conferred with Gov. Trumbull and learned that Hinman was on his way to Ticonderoga with 1000 troops.  Henshaw then sent written orders to Arnold that Hinman would take command of Ticonderoga.

That order only caused more confusion.  Arnold was no longer in Ticonderoga. He was commanding a fleet on Lake Champlain.  Arnold chose to interpret the order as meaning Hinman was in charge of the Fort, but Arnold continued to be commander of the Lake Champlain region.

William Henshaw
(from Find-a-Grave)
Arnold is to be forgiven for interpreting orders in his favor.  He seemed to receive new orders every day.  First the Massachusetts Committee of Safety ordered him to return with the promised artillery.  Then they ordered him to take orders from Henshaw, which meant turning over command to Hinman, then they sent him a message saying how much they admired what he had done and begging him not to leave his command.  Arnold simply continued his work on the Lake, shoring up defenses and doing what he thought best.

When Hinman arrived at Ticonderoga in early June, Allen and Easton turned over the Fort to his command.  They then went up river to Arnold’s command at Crown Point.  Allen attempted to claim command from Arnold.  Arnold, however, refused.  Allen had no commission or authorization to take command.  The troops at Crown Point were loyal to Arnold and Allen realized he had to back down.  If that had been the end of the matter, it probably would not have been a big deal to anyone.

The following morning though, Allen and Easton tried to leave camp when a sentry demanded to see their pass.  Indignant, the officers demanded they be allowed to leave.  Instead the sentry sent them back to Arnold to get a pass.  Now, with everyone in particularly bad mood, the conversation grew heated.  Arnold blamed Easton for bad mouthing him in Massachusetts.  He grabbed Easton by his lapels and dared him to draw a sword or pistol.  When the surprised Easton demurred, Arnold kicked and assaulted the officer, telling him to get out of Crown Point and stay out.  The officers who had always disliked Arnold now grew to hate him.

Arnold continued to push for more reinforcements and approval for an invasion of Canada.  Allen returned to Ticonderoga to push for his own command of an invasion of Canada.

About a week later, Col. Hinman came to Crown Point to meet Arnold.  Hinman demanded that Arnold turn over command, but Arnold refused saying Hinman had nothing that authorized the Connecticut Colonel to take command away from a Massachusetts Colonel.  Hinman simply returned to Ticonderoga and requested further orders on how to handle the Arnold situation.

Arnold Resigns

The members of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress seemed to decide they had no idea what was really going on out there on Lake Champlain.  They sent a three man delegation to to to Ticonderoga and figure out the best solution.  The delegation first met with Col. Hinman and was upset to hear that Arnold had refused to accept his command.  They then traveled to Crown Point to confront Arnold directly.  Arnold demanded to see their authorization.  Upon reading it, he decided it was now clear that Hinman was replacing him as theater commander

The delegation said that they were there to evaluate Arnold’s conduct and that if they deemed him worthy, he could continue to serve under Col Hinman.  Arnold was not going to turn over his command to some officer who just showed up after Arnold had conquered the whole region.  Instead, he opted to resign his commission and leave.

Benedict Arnold
(from Wikimedia)
The soldiers under his command grew concerned. Arnold still owed them a great deal of back pay.  When they asked him about it, Arnold basically told them not my problem - talk to your new commander.  The men took Arnold hostage aboard the Enterprise and sent their demands to Hinman and the delegation now at Ticonderoga.   The delegation defused the situation by paying off the men’s back pay, dismissing those who wanted to go home and reenlisting those who would continue.  No one on the scene blamed Arnold for the mutiny.  But that did not stop Col. Mott from publishing a report blaming Arnold for the mutiny and falsely accusing the mutineers of firing on the Massachusetts delegation.  No one took the report seriously, but it indicates how much just about every other officer who had served with or near Arnold now considered him an enemy.

To add further insult to Arnold, they offered command to his enemy Col. Easton and promoted John Brown to Major under Easton’s command.  Arnold’s other great frustration as he prepared to leave was over money.  Massachusetts had permitted him to borrow on credit for the supplies necessary to complete his mission.  The delegation refused to pay off his debts.  Arnold had to send for personal funds from home to pay off his debts then beg Congress to repay him.

Although Arnold had enemies, there were others who were impressed with his accomplishments.  Philip Schuyler of New York was one of them.  Schuyler had recently received a commission as Major General in the new Continental Army and took command of all forces in New York.  In early July, Arnold headed to Albany to see if he could find a command under Schuyler. The general requested that he be appointed Deputy Adjutant General.

The two men seemed to hit it off.  Then news arrived for Arnold that his wife had died back in Connecticut.  His three sons, ages 3-7 were now in the care of his sister.  Arnold decided to return home to settle affairs with his family.  He would then have to settle his financial affairs with officials in Cambridge and also meet the new Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington.

- - -

Next Episode 61 Battle of Chelsea Creek

Previous Episode 59: Taking Fort Ticonderoga

Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is 100% free.  If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Also, see the very bottom of this page to see how you can support this Podcast by making purchases you would make anyway on Amazon.  Thanks, Mike Troy

Visit for a list of all episodes.

Visit> for free downloads of all podcast episodes.

Further Reading:

Web sites: 

Fort Ticonderoga Blog:

Ethan Allen Takes Fort Ticonderoga:

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum: Revolutionary War,

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Allen, Ethan A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity, Burlington: H. Johnson & Co, 1838 (First written in 1779).

Arnold, Benedict Benedict Arnold's regimental memorandum book, Philadelphia: Collins 1884.

Bascom, Robert O. The Ticonderoga expedition of 1775; list of men with Ethan Allen, 1910

Chipman, Daniel Memoir of Seth Warner, Middlebury: L.W. Clark, 1848 (Also in this same volume is The Life of Ethan Allen by Jared Sparks).

Hill, George C. Benedict Arnold: A Biography, Boston: E.O. Libby & Co. 1858.

Lincoln, William (ed) The journals of each Provincial congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of safety, with an appendix, containing the proceedings of the county conventions-narratives of the events of the nineteenth of April, 1775-papers relating to Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and other documents, illustrative of the early history of the American revolution, Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1838.

Mott, Edward Papers relating to the expedition to Ticonderoga, April and May, 1775, 1860.

Trumbull, J. Hammond The origin of the expedition against Ticonderoga, in 1775: a paper read before the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford: Reprint from Hartford Courant, 1869.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Beck, Derek, Igniting the American Revolution 1773-1775, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2015.

Borneman, Walter American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2014.

Hatch, Robert Thrust for Canada, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

Martin, James Benedict Arnold: Revolutionary Hero, New York: NYU Press, 1997.

Nelson, James L. Benedict Arnold's Navy, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution,  New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

Randall, Willard Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor, New York: William Morrow & Co., 1990.

Randall, Willard Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1992.

Smith, Page A New Age Now Begins, Vol. 1, New York: McGraw-Hill 1976.

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link here and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.