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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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New York

 

New York, the 11th of the original 13 states, ratified the Constitution 26 July 1788.

 

I

 

(Gon: cpl. 45; a. l long 12–pdr., 2 9–pdrs., 8 swivels)

 

The first New York was a gondola built by Gen. Benedict Arnold’s American troops on Lake Champlain at Skenesborough, N.Y. in the summer of 1776.

 

Originally commanded by a Capt. Lee, the new gondola was turned over to a Capt. Reed when Lee, probably due to illness, was unable to sail with General Arnold’s little fleet as it got under way from Crown Point 24 August. New York accompanied the flotilla up the lake, stopped at Willsborough 1 September to repair damage suffered during a severe storm and was at Isle la Motte on the 18th. On the 23rd the American ships retired into a defensive position between Valcour Island and the New York shore to await the British. Capt. Thomas Pringle, R.N., got his ships under way 4 October. A week later on the morning of the 11th, the two forces met in the Battle of Valcour Island which resulted in a tactical American defeat but was a great strategic victory for the patriots’ cause. Battered during the action off Valcour Island, Arnold’s ships slipped through the hands of the British fleet and retired south up the Lake toward Crown Point. About noon on the 13th, the British fleet pulled within range of the Americans and opened fire. Arnold’s flotilla fought defiantly for over two hours before their shattered condition forced him to run his ships ashore in a little creek about 10 miles from Crown Point and burn them. With his men, he then retired through the woods to Crown Point.

 

But the little fleet had served the American cause well. Its presence on the lake had delayed the British drive from Canada to cut the American colonies in two, while the redcoats were building their own fleet. After the Battle of Valcour Island, winter was too close to permit them to begin the campaign. Thus New York and her plucky little sister ships had bought the Americans a year to prepare for the onslaught—a year which made possible their stirring victory at Saratoga.