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South Bay and East Bay are the extreme southern end of Lake Champlain which reaches up to the St Lawrence, Montreal, and eventually, the Atlantic Ocean. At the time of the revolution there were no railroads and travel by land was very slow and difficult. Waterways were of vital strategic importance. In May of 1775 several boats under the direction of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold left Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall) and headed up the lake. They surprised the British at Fort Ticonderoga taking control of the Fort and therefore the southern end of the lake. The cannon from the Fort were transported to Boston in a arduous overland journey in winter. Washington used them to fortify Dorchester Heights, forcing British Gen Howe to withdraw from Boston in march of 1776.
Arnold and Richard Montgomery eventually went north and captured Montreal on 12 November 1775, but were evicted and retreated to NY by the end of the year. By the summer of 1777 the British started a three corner campaign to split the colonies in two. Howe was to head up the Hudson from New York city, meeting Burgoyne coming down Lake Champlain and St Leger marching from Lake Ontario along the Mohawk Valley. Howe never got his marching orders and St Leger was defeated at Oriskany, about halfway to Albany and retreated to Canada. Burgoyne recaptured Fort Ticonderoga on 6 July persevered with 7000 men reaching the upper Hudson by 19 July. While waiting for supplies from Canada, he sent a raiding party to Bennington which was destroyed by militia led by John Stark, losing 900 men. By September he was in Saratoga where militiamen and regular troops under Horatio Gates inflicted even greater losses. Benedict Arnold gets much credit for the eventual surrender of the remaining 5000 British troops on 16 October.
Yes, this is the same Benedict Arnold who eventually switched sides because of perceived slights from the Americans. The British used him in the rest of the Revolutionary War, but refused to keep him in service after the war. He went to New Brunswick as a merchant in the West Indies trade but left under a cloud. He became a privateer in the West Indies during Britain's war with France, but was not successful. You won't find this last paragraph in the Skenesborough Musem in Whitehall.
The museum will tell you that the Skene for whom the town was named was on his way back from London with an appointment to the British Army when Arnold and Ethan Allen took over the town to build their Navy and actually fought for the British at the Battle of Saratoga. He was part of the surrender and was deported back to England. The town was not entirely patriotic when they changed the name from Skenesborough to Whitehall, the seat of the British government!
|Skene Manor sits partway up Skene Mountain. It is constructed of native stone and is in the National Register of Historic Places. The Whitehall Chamber of Commerce has quite a bit of information.|
|This statue at Lock 12 will help you find the Finch & Chubb Inn & Restaurant. In 1812, the U.S. Government gave charge of its naval operations on Lake Champlain to Lieutenant T. MacDonough who commissioned three sloops, the President, the Crowler and the Eagle. During the summer of 1813 the Crowler and Eagle engaged three British gun boats. After a fierce battle, the Eagle went down and the Crowler ran ashore. Both boats fell into the hands of the British who remodelled them, changing their names to the Finch and the Chubb.|