VALCOUR

The reenactment of the Battle of Valcour will take place this weekend [October 9 & 10, 1976]. Among the activities will be a symposium on Benedict Arnold, the battle with a British frigate included in the line-up, and a banquet. Valcour was the scene of action for 12 of the first naval ships built in Skenesborough.

One of the practices of museums is the exchange of items for cultural and practical information in special exhibits. Skenesborough’s part in the observance of the Battle of Valcour is such a loan of naval artifacts and art work to the Historical Society of Plattsburgh. This exhibit after the weekend will be on display in the rooms in City Hall from 2 to 4 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday until Oct. 31.

The fact that all the first navy’s ships were not destroyed or captured in 1776 is not well known. Many articles and orators still make the statement that the whole fleet was destroyed.

Part of Skenesborough’s celebration in 1977 (Bicentennial observance is not over) will be the reenactment of the battle in Skenesborough Harbor July 6, 1777.~ This was where the last five ships of the first navy were, destroyed or captured by Burgoyne’s navy when he followed them from Ticonderoga. Schooner Liberty and row galley Trumbull were captured while schooner Revenge, row galley Gates and sloop Enterprise were burned and sunk in the harbor.

When Lock 12 was constructed, at the time the canal was set over into Wood creek, the excavation turned up these remains. Two cannon on one, authorities think row galley Gates, were stored for a time in the Masonic Temple. Later, they were presented to the armory where they now rest on the lawn.

Boards from these ships were still usable. Many were taken to a carpenter who made them into billiard cues and checker boards, and probably other items. Many of them have been erroneously labeled as having come from Liberty.

The gift to the armory was made about 1928. The late Arthur Miller of Saunders Street constructed the frames for the cannon. Mr. Miller was a carpenter in the silk mill. Various examples of his work are in existence, including the frame for the church cross in Castleton. Mr. Miller was also a bee keeper and, extractor of honey; a business which he was still conducting at the time of his death at 93 years. He lived with his daughter Beatrice Miller, a 39 year retiree from The Bank. The bee business is still in existence in the country near Sciota under the management of Kenneth Miller a retired contractor from Hartford, Con. who has returned to Whitehall to live.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – October 7, 1976

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