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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Royal Savage

 

(Schooner: tonnage 70; length 50 (estimated); beam 15; complement 40-50; armament 8 4-pounders, 4 6-pounders, 10 swivels)

 

Royal Savage, a two-masted schooner, was damaged and sunk by American forces under Richard Montgomery during the siege of St. Johns (St. Jean-Iberville), Quebec, in the fall of 1775. Raised and repaired after the capture of that fort on 2 November, she, with the small schooner Liberty and the sloop Enterprise (ex-HMS George III), formed the nucleus of the American Lake Champlain squadron. That squadron, under Benedict Arnold, denied the British the use of the lake during the fall of 1776 and thus contributed to Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga.

 

In June of 1776, the American force, pushed from Canada, fell back to Crown Point, Skenesborough, and Fort Ticonderoga. There Arnold pressed his force to complete a shipbuilding program before the British completed their squadron. In late August, 10 of his ships were finished and he moved north with Royal Savage as his flagship. Into September he scouted the lakeshore. On the 23d he moved his fleet into an anchorage at Valcour Island, separated from the western shore by a half-mile channel, to await the remainder of his squadron, and the British. With the arrival of the galley Congress, Arnold shifted his headquarters to that boat, and continued to wait.

 

On 11 October the north wind carried the British past the island. American ships, including Royal Savage, appeared; fired on the enemy, and beat back into the southern entrance to the channel, where the remainder of Arnold's force was positioned to meet the enemy, beat him if possible, but, at all cost, to delay him.

 

Coming in from the south, the British force was handicapped by the wind. Arnold's planning and the British acceptance of the bait had given the Americans a chance to carry out their mission.

 

Royal Savage, however, ran aground on returning to the American line, and, undefendable, was abandoned. Despite attempts to reboard her, she was taken by the British and burned.


21 October 2005