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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Borer

Any of the insects or larvae which bore, particularly the shipworm.

(Galley: t. 70; l. 75'; b. 15'; dph. 4'; cpl. 40; a. 1 24-pdr., 1 18-pdr. columbiad)

Launched about June 1814, at Vergennes, Vt., by Adam and Noah Brown of New York City, Borer was placed under the command of Midshipman Thomas A. Conover and operated on Lake Champlain in the squadron commanded by Commodore Thomas Macdonough.


At the end of August, the British Governor General of Canada, Sir George Prevost, headed south from Canada with between 11,000 and 14,000 men and, on 5 September, occupied the northern part of Plattsburg, N.Y.--the main United States base in that area. Plattsburg's 1,500 American defenders retreated to a prepared position on the cliffs that form the southern bank of the Saranac River.

Meanwhile, Macdonough had stationed the warships of his squadron in two lines across the entrance to Plattsburg Bay. Borer, her sister row galleys, and the other small vessels of the flotilla were in the second or inner line where they were somewhat protected by the larger American vessels which they, in turn, supported. On the morning of 11 September, the British fleet--commanded by Commodore George Downie--sailed south past the tip of Cumberland Head, turned to starboard, and headed into the bay to attack Macdonough's warships. By slowing Downie's advance, the wind favored the American ships which, although anchored, were in the ideal tactical position of crossing their opponent's "T." During the ensuing action Macdonough's force defeated and captured Downie's fleet.


The victory gave the United States control of Lake Champlain and forced Prevost’s Army to retreat to Canada, thwarting the British strategy. After a treaty of peace was ratified early the following year, Borer was laid up at Whitehall, N.Y., and was sold in 1825.

James L. Mooney


3 January 2006