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

 

Boldness, energy, and invention in practical affairs.

 

I

 

(Slp: t. 70; cpl. 50; a. 12 4-pdr., 10 swivels)

 

The first Enterprise, a British supply sloop, was captured 18 May 1775 at St. Johns, Quebec, Canada, by Colonel B. Arnold, named Enterprise, and armed for use on Lake Champlain.

 

On 28 August 1775, Enterprise and other vessels embarked more than 1,000 troops as part of an expedition against St. Johns, Montreal, and Quebec. Though St. Johns and Montreal were captured, and Quebec was besieged, the arrival of strong British reinforcements forced the Americans to withdraw from Canada in the spring of 1776. Enterprise and the other craft sailed to Isle aux Noix in the Richelieu River where they waited while Arnold directed the building of a fleet at Ticonderoga and Skenesborough (Whitehall), and the British-built ships at St. Johns.

 

The battle was finally joined on 11 October 1776 at Valcour Island, near Plattsburg, N.Y. Arnold chose the site and deployed to await the British advance. Though markedly inferior in firepower, Arnold's fleet fought a valiant and effective action all day long, then slipped through the British line after dark. A running battle took place over the next 2 days, and resulted in the loss of all but five of the American ships. Enterprise and four others escaped to Crown Point, then sailed on to Ticonderoga. A tactical defeat, Valcour Island was nevertheless a great strategic victory for the Americans. Arnold and his little fleet so disrupted the British invasion into New York that it was nearly a year before the advance could be renewed. In that interval American troops were recruited and trained, and on 17 October 1777, under General Horatio Gates, defeated the British decisively at Saratoga, N.Y. This victory was a primary factor in bringing about the alliance with France, and bringing the powerful French navy to the aid of the Colonies.

 

During the British advance prior to the Battle of Saratoga, Enterprise was one of five vessels assigned to duty convoying bateaux in the evacuation of Ticonderoga. The small American force was no match for the British fleet on Lake Champlain, and after two ships had been captured, Enterprise and the other two were run aground on 7 July 1777, and burned to prevent their capture.