Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Related Content
Document Type
  • nhhc-document-types:ship-history
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
Location of Archival Materials

Washington III (Galley)

(Gy: t. 123; l. 72'4"; b. 19'7"; dph 6'2"; cpl. 80; a. 8-10 guns)

Washington, the 42d state, was admitted to the Union on 11 November 1889. The first six Washingtons were named for George Washington; the seventh and eighth, for Washington state.


The third Washington, a lateen-rigged, two-masted galley, was built on Lake Champlain at Skenesboro N.Y., in the autumn of 1776. On 6 October 1776, the galley joined the small fleet established and commanded by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold.

Washington, commanded by Brigadier General David Waterbury, Arnold's second in command, was among Arnold's ships that anchored in the lee of Valcour Island to await the expected English move. When that lakeward push began, Capt. Thomas Pringle, RN, led a 25-ship fleet past Valcour Island on 11 October. Pringle sighted the American fleet after he had passed it and attacked from leeward. In the ensuing action, Washington suffered the heaviest damage of any ship in Arnold's fleet; Waterbury, her commander, subsequently reported that she was ". . . so torn to pieces that it was almost impossible to keep her above water."

Arnold regrouped his shattered fleet and slipped past the British on 12 October with muffled oars, the Americans slipping noiselessly past Pringle's fleet in a desperate attempt at escape. However, after a long chase, the British caught the retreating Continental force the following day, on 13 October, at Split Rock near Crown Point.

Arnold managed to beach and destroy four of the galleys and his own flagship, Congress, while most of the remaining ships escaped upriver. Only Washington, at the rear of the van, was captured by the enemy; she struck her colors, as Arnold reported later, "... after receiving a few broadsides."

Washington was eventually taken into British service, apparently retaining her name, and was re-rigged as a brig. Her subsequent fate, however, is unrecorded.

Published: Mon Oct 26 12:11:31 EDT 2015