Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty
Jack Kelly, author and historian, on his new book, Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty, which covers the Revolutionary War battle on Lake Champlain—led by Philip Schuyler, Horatio Gates, and the heroic Benedict Arnold—that delayed British invasion until the following year.
During the summer of 1776, a British incursion from Canada loomed. In response, citizen soldiers of the newly independent nation mounted a heroic defense. Patriots constructed a small fleet of gunboats on Lake Champlain in northern New York and confronted the Royal Navy in a desperate three-day battle near Valcour Island. Their effort surprised the arrogant British and forced the enemy to call off their invasion.
Jack Kelly’s Valcour is a story of people. The northern campaign of 1776 was led by the underrated general Philip Schuyler (Hamilton’s father-in-law), the ambitious former British officer Horatio Gates, and the notorious Benedict Arnold. An experienced sea captain, Arnold devised a brilliant strategy that confounded his slow-witted opponents.
America’s independence hung in the balance during 1776. Patriots endured one defeat after another. But two events turned the tide: Washington’s bold attack on Trenton and the equally audacious fight at Valcour Island. Together, they stunned the enemy and helped preserve the cause of liberty.
[Recorded on September 9, 2021.]