656 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
May 10,1864. Nov. 21, Rev. James Milligan, England, at the Howard Hotel. Oct. 1, 1865, Dr. David S. Conant.*
By accidental drowning, Dec. 10, 1859, Russell J. Jones, 27 years.
Nov. 24, 1859, at Laguayra, Venezuela, Martin Chittenden Bradley, formerly of Burlington, and a graduate of the University of Vermont, of the class of 1854. He went to South America, as chief engineer of a railroad, and died of yellow fever.
"Jan. 13, 1863, Geo. Albert French, son of Hon. David French, aged 23 years. He was a graduate of the University of Vermont, of the class of 1862, and his active and intelligent mind gave evidence of a successful and honorable future. He spent some months of the time since he graduated in the service of his country, in one of the nine months New York Regiments, and on returning home last summer, was appointed and filled during the summer season the position of assistant captain on board the steamer Canada, on the Lake. Frank and courteous in his manners, with vivacity of disposition, and a genial, kindly nature, he endeared himself to a large circle of acquaintances. His loss will be felt among the young men of Burlington."
"Jan. 17, 1862, Charles Deming Baxter, son of Carlos Baxter, Esq., a young gentleman of education, fine abilities and excellent promise in life. His death was very unexpected. He was, however. seemingly well prepared to meet it. Such is life, the young and the old falling alike beneath the shaft of death. Life consists only of today."
DISCOVERY, NAVIGATION AND NAVIGATORS OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN.
BY THOMAS H. CANFIELD.
To the antiquarian and historian this title alone opens at once to the mind's eye an extensive field, interspersed with an innumerable variety of thrilling scenes distinguishing the various steps and gradations of civilization by ineffaceable vestiges, as Time in his onward march has transformed this continent.
No place of the same area has so long been the scene of disputes and conflicts, and none whose possession has been regarded of so much importance, both by the different tribes of Aborigines, as well as by the different civilized nations who have from time to time claimed control of the Valley of Lake Champlain. Forming, as it has for two and a half centuries, a great highway between the principal settled portions of Canada and the United States, it has consequently become closely identified with the great changes which have taken place in the progress of the nation during that period. The most memorable occurrences in its vicinity, especially the political and military, have already entered into the general history of the country.
So far, however, as these events may in any way give us information respecting the first boats used and the subsequent improvements in them or may shed any light upon the first attempts at trade and commerce and their future development, it will be necessary to recall some of the more prominent, and thereby trace the improvements which have been made, And here we must beg pardon, if we should omit many facts, or if we should seem to have shown partiality to Vermont. It has been impossible, in the short time at our command, to make as full researches as we could wish with satisfaction to ourselves, or justice to the subject; and besides, there are no early records of vessels preserved on either side of the Lake. We have had to rely to a great extent upon the memory of individuals, and incidental allusions, in works of history, to the earlier kind of boats in use. Besides, this article is intended more particularly to relate the part taken by the citizens of Vermont, in developing the navigation of the Lake, and especially those of Chittenden County, and we have had greater opportunity to obtain information in this direction than upon the New York side of the Lake.
In order to understand the subject more clearly, we shall divide it into three periods:
The first, embracing the time from the discovery of the Lake to the close of the revolutionary war, when there was little or no trade when it was entirely under the control of military power and navigated for military purposes, and canoes or bateaux were used.
The second, extending from the time peace was declared, in 1815, and Vermont admitted as a State into the Union, until the present
* Well known to the community as the able professor of Surgery in the Medical Department of the Universify of Vermont, died at his residence in New York city.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 657
time taking into consideration the origin, progress and present state of sail navigation.
The third, commencing in 1808, with the building of the first steamboat, terminating at the present time, having reference to steamboat navigation.
Lake Champlain was one of the earliest, if not the first inland water upon this continent navigated by Europeans. The love of adventure had been awakened in Europe by the new world which had so recently, as it were, sprung into existence and revealed by the daring spirit and adventure of Columbus. The Spaniards, intent upon enriching themselves with the treasures of the Indies, bent their course towards the tropics while the curiosity of the French, the adventurous spirit of the Dutch, and the ambition of the English, prompted them to seek the more northern latitudes, as yet comparatively unknown. Even at that early day, when the art of ship-building was in so comparatively an imperfect state, expeditions seem to have been fitted out with great care, and were carried on with a boldness and courage which would do no discredit to those of modern days.
Within thirty years from the landing of Columbus in the West Indies, the great gulf and river of Canada was discovered by Jacques Cartier, a Frenchman, which he entered Oct. 9, 1535, as far as the Indian town of Hochelaga, to which he gave the name of (Mont Royal,) now Montreal. As Thompson remarks, "this was doubtless the first voyage ever made by civilized man into the interior of North America, and the first advance of a civilized people into the neighborhood of the territory of Vermont."
Although attempts were made for three-quarters of a century after to found colonies by different explorers which proved unsuccessful, still the rivalry existing between European nations, and the desire to extend each their own dominions and power, kept alive the spirit of adventure, until the English succeeded in effecting a permanent settlement upon the James River in Virginia, (1608.) The same year, the French sent out a fleet to make further discoveries, and found a colony upon the St. Lawrence, which arrived at Quebec in July under the charge of Samuel De Champlain. Here he commenced clearing the forests, and making such preparations as were necessary to accommodate and protect his infant colony during the ensuing winter. Learning from the Indians, the Algonquins, who occupied the territory north of the St. Lawrence, that there was a large body of water to the South, which divided them from another powerful tribe, who were their enemies, the Iroquois, he determined to explore it.
Accordingly, April 10, 1609, he set out. from Quebec in his Chaloupe,* with some of his companions, accompanied by several Indians, in their birch bark canoes, passing up the St. Lawrence and thence up the Richelieu, river, arriving at the Falls of Chambly in June. Here he was joined by a war party of 60 Algonquins and Hurons. Finding it impossible to navigate the rapids of the Chambly with his chaloupe, his anxiety to see the great water and its beautiful islands, of which the Indians had boasted so much, determined him to proceed. But two of his own party were found willing to accompany him but with the help of the Indians the canoes, baggage and arms were soon "carried around" the rapids, when a muster was made and the party found to consist of 60 Indians and 24 canoes, besides himself and the two Frenchmen who had concluded to continue with him. With these he set out from the rapids of Chambly July 2d, and proceeded 9 miles that day to St. Theresa, where he stopped for the night, and on the morning of a day ever memorable in the history of this country, the 4th of July, he entered the Lake, to which he gave subsequently his own name.
The Abenakees called the Lake "Pe-ton-bonque," that is, "The waters which lie between," viz. them and the Iroquois. The Iroquois called it "Caniaderi-guarunte," that is, "The lake that is the gate of the country."
The Dutch and English called it "Corlear," after a Dutchman from Schenectady, who went down the Lake in 1665, and was drowned near Fort Cassin.
There were at this time two "great peoples" or nations of Indians, occupying this portion of North America. They are called the Abenakees, found in possession of the New England States, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Lower Canada, and north of the St. Lawrence of which the Algonquins
*Chaloupe a large boat with two masts, rigged something like a schooner.
658 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
were the Canadian branch or tribe. The other, the Iroquois or Six Nations, occupied the country south of the upper lakes and extended east nearly to the Hudson river who for a time, no doubt, encroached upon the Abenakees, and held possession of Vermont west of the Green Mountains. This possession was however temporary, and it was this encroachment upon the territory of the Abenakees which gave rise to the feuds and hostilities between these two nations, and made the valley of Lake Champlain their battle ground. In consequence of this, the Algonquins, fearing an attack from the Iroquois at any time upon the Lake, and especially as they passed up the west side beyond Split Rock Mountain, made an agreement with Champlain, as the condition of their accompanying him, that he should help them fight their enemies, the Iroquois, in case they should fall in with them, which they were liable to do at any time, especially as the latter came in by way of Lake George and carried on their hunting expeditions amongst the Adirondacks north of it.
This, as history informs us, was a most unfortunate compromise for Champlain to have made, and seldom, upon so trifling an affair, have so momentous consequences depended. Doubtless Champlain little expected in making such an agreement, that he should be called upon so soon as he was to ratify it by actual combat; for within 25 days after leaving St. Johns, he met a war party of the Iroquois at Crown Point. The sight of each other was the signal for combat. He remonstrated, but the Algonquins prepared at once for battle, and his own safety only lay in sustaining them.* The result was the death of three of the Iroquois chiefs from a discharge of his arquebuse, which so frightened the party that they fled. It was the first time the Indians had seen or heard of gunpowder, and they were alarmed at such terrible execution of a single shot. This conflict aroused the revenge of the Iroquois towards the Europeans, and was the origin and cause of the long continued hostility of these great tribes towards the French, and all Europeans from the direction of Canada.
July 4th, Champlain with his expedition set out from St. Johns and proceeded with great caution, traveling mostly in the night and encamping up the rivers some mile or two in the day time, lest they should be surprised by war parties of the Iroquois. It is probable that he kept along on the west side until he arrived at Cumberland Head, then crossing to the south end of Grand Isle, which would give him full view of the Lake, he continued to Colchester Point, and thence up the Winooski River, which the Indians had told him came down through a rich valley abounding with maize and an infinite variety of fruits.
And here we might mention additional circumstances, which would seem to leave but little doubt that Champlain landed in Burlington upon his first voyage up the Lake.** In the history of his voyages he says, "continuing our route upon the west side of the Lake," as they left St. Johns, "I saw on the east side, very high mountains capped with snow. I asked the Indians if those parts were inhabited? They answered, yes, and that there were in those parts beautiful vallies and fields fertile in corn, with an innumerable variety of other fruits, and that the Lake extended close to the mountains where canoes could go," meaning the Winooski River. The mountains here referred to, were probably Mount Mansfield and Camel's Hump. Inasmuch as the Iroquois inhabited the country beyond Lake George and came through it into Lake Champlain, and were passing on hunting expeditions all through on the west side, it would seem most likely that Champlain and his party would hardly go farther south upon that side than Cumberland Head and at all events, not farther than the mouth of the Ausable river or the south end of Valcour Island, but would cross to this side. where they could have a better view and not be so liable to a surprise by their enemies. He goes on to say, "And other mountains were soon discoverd south upon the west side of the Lake, which the Indians informed him were in the land of their enemies," being the Adirondacks. These could hardly have been seen from the west. Besides he says, (page 95,) he found upon the shores in the vicinity of the Lake, large chestnut trees, which were the only ones he had seen since his first voyage to this country." Inasmuch as there is but one spot upon either side of the Lake where the stumps of chestnut trees are found of as early growth as those, it must have
* Voyages de Champlain, Vol. I, page 200.
** 2d Vol., page 196.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 659
been at that place he landed and that place is about half a mile east of Robert Rogers', on the "Van Ness farm," near the brow of the hill in Burlington, before going down to the meadows upon Winooski. At that time, it is probable, the Winooski or one of its channels, ran nearer to this bank than it does now, and the level of the river afforded an obscure place to secrete their canoes, while from the bank a full view of the Lake, the Winooski valley and the Adirondacks: was afforded, by which they could be free from surprise by their enemies, while replenishing from the fertile vallies their stock of provisions. The stumps of these trees can now be seen, and were evidently 4 or 5 feet in diameter and 300 years old, and the ground about them is level and smooth, as if it had been prepared for a camp ground.
President Torrey of the Vermont University, and the late Charles Adams, Esq., both of whom have given the subject a thorough investigation, concur in this opinion. Prof. T. has examined both sides of the Lake, to ascertain if there was any other place where chestnut trees of so early growth could be found, but his researches have been in vain; while there may be a few of the "second growth," which have sprung from the seed, there are none, nor stumps of any, except those above mentioned, which would indicate an age of those referred to by Champlain.
This then, is the first knowledge we have of these waters having been navigated by a civilized man; and the first boat used was the birch bark canoe, made by the aborigines of the country.
Thus before the Dutch had commenced their settlements upon the Island of Manhattan, or Hendrick Hudson had discovered the noble river which bears his name before the May Flower with her cargo of Puritans had landed at Plymouth, or John Smith had explored the coasts of Massachusetts, had the western borders of Vermont been discovered and the waters of Lake Champlain been explored by Samuel De Champlain. This channel thus opened, formed the great highway between the Algonquins and Iroquois, as well as for the French and English between Montreal and Fort Orange,* and for a century and a half after became the theatre of the most savage and cruel wars between the great Indian tribes; and some of the most bloody battles recorded in American history, between the French and English were waged, near these waters, long before the struggle of the colonies for their independence commenced.
From 1609 to the surrender of Canada to the English, Sept. 8, 1760, the navigation of the Lake was confined to the predatory excursions of the Indian tribes, and the various military expeditions fitted out by the French and English for the conquest and defence of Canada, and occupancy of the country bordering upon Lake Champlain.
Oct. 2, 1666, M. de Tracy, M. de Courcelles, Seigneur deChambley and brother set out from Fort St. Anne's, on the isle La Mothe, with a large number of the regulars about 600, an equal number of volunteers habitants of the colony, and 100 of the most brave Huron and Algonquin warriors, to bring to terms the Mohawks. The expedition, which was then the largest that had ever been fitted out on the Lake, went up to Ticonderoga in 300 bateaux or bark canoes.
1690 Count de Frontenac built, at St. Johns, 120 bateaux and 100 birch bark canoes, in which to pass up the lake with a large army the next season, to invade New York; passing up Wood Creek to the "carrying place" (which commenced at Fort Anne and extended to the Hudson at Fort Edward), where he was to leave his boats and march against Fort Orange (Albany,) and then take bateau to New York, on the Hudson. Circumstances occurred in the winter which prevented the expedition.
Aug. 13, 1709 Capt. John Schuyler embarked from Whitehall with 29 men and 120 Indians in canoes, reaching Chambly the 21st, and made an attack upon La Prairie the 22d.
1709 The British Ministry determined to conquer the French Possession, and order a grand expedition to be fitted out against Montreal. One branch of it was to pass through Lake Champlain, under command of Col. Nicholson. 100 bateaux and a large number of canoes were built at the mouth of Wood Creek (Whitehall), for the transportation of troops down the Lake.
Fort St. Anne was built in 1642, by Capt. M. de La Mothe, on an island near the lower end of the Lake, which was to serve as a place of rendezvous, and which would protect the French from attacks of the Indians. The Island was named after the Captain, "La Mothe," now Isle la Mott, and this was the first building erected in the vicinity of Lake Champlain.
The exact place where the fort was built was about one mile from the north end of the island, on the west shore, upon what is known as Sandy Point, upon the farm now owned by Ezra Pike.
660 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
1713 The treaty of Utrecht was concluded, by which the French released the nominal sovereignty over the Iroquois.
1731 The Marquis de Beauharnois, then Governor General of Canada, erected a fort at Crown Point, which he called St. Frederic, a small village sprung up about this, making about 800 inhabitants. The boats used by these people were of three kinds bark canoes, dugouts or canoes dug out of a log of wood, and bateaux. The last mentioned were constructed with flat bottoms of oak and the sides of pine, and were used for the transportation of troops and supplies on the Lake.
FIRST SAIL VESSEL IN 1749.* When Kalm, the Swedish naturalist, visited the fort in 1749, a yacht or sail vessel, which made regular trips between that place and St. Johns in Canada. This was the first sail vessel built on the Lake.
1755 Baron Dieskeau transported 1800 troops from St. Johns to Crown Point and Lake George, to meet Sir William Johnson, in bateau.
1756 While the French were engaged building Fort Ticonderoga, canoes, bateaux and schooners were used in transporting troops and supplies from point to point, and from Canada. This is the first record we have of sail vessels being used for transportation, except the yacht at St. Frederic, which was a small affair, and used to carry officers and as a newsboat between the fort and Montreal. Major Rogers, an English scout from Johnson's army, with his party seized a schooner loaded with wheat, flour, rice, brandy and wine, north of Crown Point, and killed the crew.
1757 Montcalm left St. Johns with 200 canoes, manned by troops, for an attack upon fort William Henry, at the head of Lake George.
1758 Gen. Abercrombie left Fort William Henry with an army of 16,000 men, with all their military stores and artillery, in 900 canoes and 130 whale boats, to attack Ticonderoga.
1759 Three armed vessels were built by the French, to command the navigation of the Lake, anticipating another attack from the English under Gen. Amherst, who made art attack upon Ticonderoga and took it the 25th of June. On the 4th of August he
* Here, once for all, we desire to acknowledge ourselves under obligations for many facts to Thompson's History of Vermont. History of Lake Champlain, by Peter S. Palmer of Plattsburgh. To Capt. George Bush of Montreal, Capt. R. W. Sherman of Vergennes, John Boynton of Plattsburgh, Almas Truman of Burlington, Robert White of Shelburne, and Horace Loomis of Burlington, and many others who are now in active service upon Lake Champlain.
JOURNAL OF A SCOUT
From Fort William Henry, down into Lake Champlain, pursuant to an order from his Excellency Major General Sherley to Captain Robert Rogers, as followeth, viz.: June ye 20, 1756. Set out with a party of fifty men in five Whale Boats, and Proceeded at about 20 miles to an Island in Lake George, where we encamped ye next day, went five miles farther Down ye Lake and then landed, hailed out our Boats ashore and carried them over a mountain about six miles to South Bay, where we arrived ye 3d July, in the afternoon, and ye same evening went down ye Lake at about six miles Distance from ye Forts.
July ye 4th, towards morning we halled up ye Boats on the East side of the Lake and Concealed them and lay by until Evening, then set Out again and Passed by Ticonderoga and found we were not Discovered by being so near ye Enemy as to hear ye Sentry's Watchword. We judged from the number of their fires they had a body of about two thousand men, and
30 going loaded from Crown Point to Ticonderoga, two bark canoes with about 20 Indians, 0 empty, returning from Ticonderoga.
that ye Lake in this Place to be about Seventy Rods. Continued on till Day light about five miles from ye Fort, then halled up ye Boats and Concealed all day on Same Shore and discovered Sundry Battoes, loaded and unloaded which were Coming and going upon ye lake in ye Evening of ye fifth Day Put of again and attempted to Pass by Crownpoint But thought it imprudent to Persue this Intention by Reason of the Clearness and light of the night, so halled up ye Boats again Lay Concealed being the 6th Currant. This Day near one hundred 30 of them sailing Boats Passed up Seven of which came very [near] Boats empty and us and asked to land at the Point where we lay going Northward but their officer went further on and Landed about 3 loaded going 25 Rods from us Where they Dined in our View. But to Ticondoroga did not think it advisable to Attack them in the situation we were in. About 9 in ye Evening Set out again. Passed ye fort at Crownpoint and went ten miles from it Down ye Lake and halled up ye Boats about brake of Day.
July 7th, about 10 in ye morn 30 Boats Passed towards Canada also a Light Schooner of about 35 or 40 tuns. Set out again in ye Evening and went 15 miles further Down
Suppose part of those seen the day before.
went ashore about 1 o'clock a. m. upon a Point on ye East Side of it imediately and sent a party further Down the Lake for Discovery who saw a Schooner at Anchor Some Distance from ye Shore about a mile from us. And upon this Intelligence lightnen our Boats and prepared to Board them but were pursued about 3 of ye Clock by two Lighters Coming up the Lake who we found intended to Land in ye Place Where we were which Vessels we fired upon immediately and afterwards hailled them and offered them quarters if they would Come ashore which they said they would Comply with but Instead thereof put off in their Boats to ye opposite Shore but we followed them in our Boats and Intercepted them and after taking them found twelve men three of which were killed and two wounded one of the wounded Could not March therefore put end to him Prevent Discovery as soon as ye prisoners were Secure we employed our Selves in Destroying and Sinking Vessels and Cargoes Which was Chiefly Wheat and flour Rice Wine and Brandy excepting Some few Casks of Brandy and Wine which we hid in very secure Places with our Whale boats at some Distance on ye opposite Shore the Prisoners informed yt about five hundred men of which they were foremost, were on their Passage at about two Legs Distant which occasioned us to set forward on our return ye morning of the 8th Currant and persued our march till ye 12th When we arrived on the West Side of Lake George about twenty five miles from Fort Wm. Henry and sent Lieut. Rogers to said fort for Battoes and Provisions to Carry us by water the 14th in ye evening ye Lieut. Returned to us with thirty men and ten Battoes and ye 15th at two of the Clock we arrived safe With all my Party and Prisoners at Fort Wm. Henry.
To SIR WILLIAM JOHNSON.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 661
reached Crown Point with his army and finding it deserted by the French, immediately commenced that stupendous fortification which cost the government about $8,000,000. He also fitted out a small navy, in order to proceed to Canada with a strong force. A sloop of 16 guns, a brigantine, and a rideau or raft capable of carrying 6 large cannon, were immediately constructed. With these he set out, Oct. 15th, and met the French at Valcour Island, with a schooner and several sloops. The wind being so severe he returned to Crown Point to winter, and in the spring of 1760, Col. Haldimand, who succeeded Gen. Amherst, set out again with his vessels, at the head of 3300 troops, and on the 8th of September reached Montreal. Here he met Gen. Amherst, who had come down from Lake Ontario, and Gen. Murray, who had moved up from Quebec, with his army. The same day the city was surrendered, and Canada given up to the English. At this time New York contained about 12,000 inhabitants; Philadelphia, 13,000; and Boston, 15,000.
This closed the English and French wars, and consequently all occasion for fitting out armed expeditions were at an end.
From the above reference to some of the principal expeditions it will be seen that the primitive canoe of the red man, with its improvement, the bateau, were the principal kind of boats used by both the French and English as well as Indians up to 1760.
Not until the last expedition of Lord Amherst, were any used as means of transportation, or we do not find mention of any other in history. As Crown Point was the only place of settlement and that being a military post, there was no occasion for any vessels other than for supplying the post with provisions which could not he procured in the vicinity.
FIRST SETTLEMENT BY THE ENGLISH.
Now that the English had full possession of the country by treaty, emigrants from the provinces of Massachusetts and Connecticut, gradually came in and commenced settlements along the shore of the Lake. Major Philip S. Skene,* who had been with Abercrombie in 1759, established a large colony at the mouth of Wood Creek, which was called Skenesborough, (now Whitehall.) He out a road, at his own expense, through the woods to Salem, Washington Co., N. Y., which was extended by others to Bennington, Vt., and Williamstown, Mass. This became the route for emigrants from Connecticut and Massachusetts to go to northern Vermont.
During the time that Lord Amherst occupied Crown Point, one of his soldiers from Connecticut frequently came on the Vermont side to the salt licks in Panton to hunt for deer, and after the army was disbanded in. 1760, he contrived to come every year after, until he brought several of his neighbors with him. Among these, was John Strong, in 1765, who built the first house by an English settler in this section of the State.*
In 1766, Col. Doolittle, Marshall Manton, Paul Moore and others settled in Shoreham, and in the same year Donald McIntosh, a Scotchman, who was in Gen. Wolfe's army, moved to Vergennes. 1769 a saw mill and grist mill were erected upon the Otter Creek; about the same time Philip Stone came to Orwell from Groton, Mass., followed by Richardson, Smith, Chipman, Towner and others some under New York and some under New Hampshire titles. While these settlements were being made south of the Otter Creek, two Germans, by the name of Pottier and Logan, came to Shelburn, and settled upon points of land which are now known as Logan's Point and Pottier's Point. the latter more commonly called Shelburn Point, where since has been established the steamboat harbor with ship yards and machine shops. These Germans were the first persons who opened the lumber trade with the Canadians, by getting out large pine trees for ship masts and floating them in rafts to St. Johns, using a kind of jury-mast and square sail for the propelling power.
In 1772 Ira Allen and Remember Baker came from Arlington and commenced a settlement at Winooski Falls in Burlington. In May, 1774, Gov. Thomas Chittenden and Jonathan Spafford came down the Lake in a bateau, and following up the Winooski valley located at Williston. These settlements were all in Vermont. But few improvements had been made on the New York side as early as this, the principal of which
* See page 4, No. 1, Historical Gazetteer.
See His. Mag., County Chapter by Hon. David Read.
He had also built a schooner, called the "Liberty." and some long boats these were subsequently taken by Capt. Herrick and his rangers from Castleton, and used by Allen and Arnold, after the capture of Ticonderoga by the former, and Crown Point by Seth Warner, in 1776, to go to St. Johns, to seize an armed sloop which the British had fitted up.
662 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
were at the month of the Bouquet river, where Wm. Gilliland erected a saw mill, and a mile or two south of Port Jackson, where Col. Wm. Hay settled upon a tract of land granted to a Lieutenant Friesdell of the English army in 1765. From his house the family had a full view of the naval engagement between Arnold and the British fleet, Oct. 11th, 1776, not more than two or three miles distant.
As Whitehall was the first point at which the settlers touched the Lake on their way North, and as the intercourse became more frequent between Connecticut, Massachusetts and the new settlements, Major Skeene, to accommodate the small business which was springing up, built a sloop in 1770, and with it opened a communication with the settlements on the borders of the Lake and Canada.
This was probably the first vessel* which made any regular trips through the Lake or which was used for the purposes of trade. We find no mention of any other vessels which were built upon the Lake at this time for trading purposes, although there may have been others; but the small number of inhabitants on its borders would hardly warrant the building of many, and it is quite likely those of Major Skeene were the only ones. The Revolutionary War now broke out which stopped all further settlements, and even drove off nearly all the people who had come, so that the navigation of the Lake returned to the control and uses of the military power.
The army was composed of regulars under command of British officers, and the forts on the Lake were garrisoned by them.
It was the plan of the British Ministry to send a large expedition under Lord Howe, by way of New York, and another by way of Lake Champlain, under Sir Guy Carleton, to form a junction at Albany, cutting off the provinces east of the Lake and Hudson River from all communication with those west of it, and by this manuvre to bring the rebellious colonies at once into subjection. But the summary manner in which Gen. Ethan Allen captured Ticonderoga, and Col. Seth Warner Crown Point, and following these the speedy capture of the only vessel of war which the British had on the Lake at St. Johns by Gen. Arnold, and the subsequent capture of St. Johns and Montreal by Gen. Montgomery, frustrated the immediate execution of the plan, and gave to the colonies time to organize, collect an army, and occupy this important line of defence.
A movement by the colonists so bold and daring and withal so unexpected and disastrous to the British in its results, was a serious wound to their pride and assurance, and exceedingly humiliating to the officers who had been entrusted with the execution of this plan. Under such circumstances there remained but one course for Sir Guy Carleton to pursue, to save his reputation and sustain the honor of the British flag.
In the spring of 1776 the British force in Canada was increased by arrivals from England of 13,000 men, who were sent to the mouth of the Richilieu preparatory to more important movements in the direction of Lake Champlain. During the summer the English were busy in preparing a fleet at St. Johns for a formidable expedition up the Lake for the purpose of capturing Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and obtaining full possession and control of all important points. The vessels built in England the year previous for this campaign had arrived, but, to the great disappointment of Sir Guy Carleton, could not be got up the rapids at Chambly. Three of them were taken to pieces and transported by teams around the rapids and then reconstructed and appeared afterwards in the fleet at the battle of Valcour Island as the Inflexible, Carleton and Maria. Ship carpenters, mechanics and laborers were collected at St. Johns, and the work of construction of vessels of war, as well as transports, was carried forward upon an extensive scale and with dispatch. The works at St. Johns were strengthened, renewed and garrisoned with 3,000 men, while similar arrangements were made at the Isle au Noix. Troops were sent forward from Quebec, and seamen were detached from the various war vessels at Quebec and Montreal, to man and equip the fleet and to render it most certainly a complete and powerful army of invasion.
While these preparations were in progress, the Americans were no less active, having become fully aroused to the magnitude of the threatened invasion, and the importance of preventing a junction with Lord Howe, which
* Palmer's History of Lake Champlain, page 79.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 683
was the great design of the English Ministry to effect and in which, if they should be successful, a most fatal blow would be struck at the movement of the colonies.
Congress assembled in June, and the 17th appointed Major General Gates to the command of Ticonderoga and Crown Point. He at once set about putting the forts in a position for defence, and notwithstanding the troops were very much disheartened and reduced in numbers by sickness, he soon renewed their spirits by providing proper hospitals for the sick, and furnishing all with good accommodations, clothing, &c. The Eastern States were called upon for recruits, and requisitions for mechanics of all kinds were made, and every arrangement entered into to put Ticonderoga in a state of defence, and build boats of all kinds necessary for the transportation of an army. Most of the vessels were built at Skeenesborough, and the whole Lake south of Ticonderoga presented a busy scene of boats passing and repassing. Mount Independence and Mount Defiance were examined and fortified, and every effort made to render the passage of Ticonderoga by an enemy impossible, 10,000 men were collected there by the middle of September.
The fleets and vessels fitted out during the war have already been described in several historical works, but at the special request of the Editor of this work, we shall give a brief account of two of them.*
BATTLE BETWEEN GEN. ARNOLD AND SIR GUY CARLETON.
The construction of the American fleet was entrusted to Gen. Benedict Arnold, who entered upon it with great energy, although embarrassed for want of materials. It was fitted out at Crown Point, the timber and workmen being obtained in the town of Addison. When at anchor in the channel west of Valcour Island, on the 11th of October, it consisted of 15 boats of all kinds, one of which, the "Enterprise," was the sloop seized by Allen and Arnold at St Johns, and the "Liberty" being the schooner taken by Capt. Herrick from Major Skeene at Whitehall.
When drawn up in line of battle it consisted of the sloop Enterprise, Capt. Dickson, mounting 12 guns and 10 swivels; the schooner Royal Savage, Capt. Myrkoop, 12 guns and 10 swivels; schooner Revenge, Capt. Seaman, 8 guns and 10 swivels; the galley Lee, 6 guns and 10 swivels; the galleys Trumbull, Washington and Congress, each 8 guns and 16 swivels; the gondolas New Haven, Providence, Boston, Spitfire, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Jersey and New York, each mounting 3 guns and 8 swivels; mounting in all, 84 guns and 152 swivels. The Liberty was used as a supply vessel to run to and from the fleet and Crown Point. These were manned by about 700 men, some of them, being drafts from other regiments were inefficient and of but little assistance.
The British fleet, under charge of Sir Guy Carleton, consisted of 29 boats in all, as follows: The Inflexible, Lieutenant Schenk, mounted 18 guns; the schooner Maria, Lieut. Stark, 14 guns; schooner Carleton, Lieut. Dacres, 12 guns; radeau Thunderer, Lieut. Scott, 12 guns and 2 howitzers; the gondola Royal Consort, Lieut. Longcraft, 7 guns; 20 gun-boats, mounting one gun each, and 4 long boats, one gun each. There were 24 long boats accompanied the fleet with baggage and provisions. The whole was manned by about 700 picked men, seamen, soldiers and artillerists.
On the western side of the Lake, about four miles southwest of Cumberland Head, is the Island of Valcour, separated from the main shore by a channel about one-half mile in width. This channel is deep enough for the largest vessel, and hid from the view of boats sailing up the Lake, until they have passed some distance south of the Island. Midway of this channel and where it is most contracted, near the present landing at Port Jackson, Arnold anchored his vessels in line extending from shore to shore. "We are moored," he writes to Gen. Gates, "in a small bay on the west side of the Island, as near together as possible, and in such form that few vessels can attack us at the same time, and those will be exposed to the fire of the whole fleet."
At 8 o'clock, on Friday morning, Oct. 11th, the English were discovered passing Cumberland Head, with a strong N. or N. W. wind, and bearing in the direction of Crown Point, towards which it was supposed Arnold had retired. The fleet at this time was under the command of Capt. Thomas Pringle, of the
* We are indebted to Palmer's History, and Thompson's Vermont, for accounts of these battles, mostly from which we have compiled them.
664 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
Lord Howe, who made tho schooner Maria his flag ship. General Carleton was also on board the Maria, but took no command of the fleet. As the English appeared in sight off Cumberland Head, Gen. Waterbury went on board the Congress Galley, and urged that they should immediately set sail and fight the enemy on the retreat in the broad lake, but Arnold declined to change his plan of defense.
Capt. Pringle was some distance ahead of Valcour when he first discovered the American vessels. He immediately changed his course towards the island, but found great difficulty in bringing any of his vessels into action. About 11 o'clock, however, the gun-boats were enabled to sweep to the windward and take a position to the south of the American fleet, when they opened a fire upon the Royal Savage, which, with the galleys, had advanced a short distance in front of the line. The British schooner Carleton soon after came to the assistance of the gun-boats. The Royal Savage sustained the fire of the British vessels for some time, during which her mast was crippled and much of her rigging shot away. She then attempted to return to the line, but running too far to the leeward, grounded near the S. W. point of the island, and was abandoned by her men, who succeeded in reaching the other boats in safety. At night the British boarded the schooner and set fire to her.*
At half past 12 o'clock the Carleton and the gun-boats had approached within musket shot of the American line, when the action became general and continued without cessation until about 5, P. M. During the engagement Arnold was on board the Congress, Waterbury on the Washington, and Col. Wigglesworth on the Trumbull, The Congress and Washington suffered severely. The latter was hulled in several places, her main mast shot through and her sails torn to pieces.
Waterbury fought bravely on the quarter deck of his vessel, and towards the close of the action was the only active officer on board, the Captain and master being severely wounded and the First Lieutenant killed. The gondola New York lost all her officers except Captain Lee, and gondola Philadelphia, Capt. Grant, was so badly injured that she sank about one hour after the engagement. Arnold fought the Congress like a lion at bay, pointing almost every gun with his own hands, and cheering his men with voice and gesture. His vessel was hulled 12 times, and received 7 shots between wind and water; the main mast was injured in two places, the rigging cut to pieces and many of the men were killed and wounded.
On the side of the English the battle was sustained by the gun-boats and the schooner Carleton, and by a party of Indians who were landed on the island and main shore, and kept up an incessant fire of musketry during the engagement. The English vessels suffered considerably. On board the Carleton eight men were killed and six wounded. Two gun-boats were sunk, and one blown up with a number of men on board.** About 5 o'clock, in the afternoon, Capt. Pringle, who had made several unsuccessful attempts to bring his larger vessels into action, called off those engaged, and anchored his whole fleet just out of reach of the American guns. The Thunderer lay at the right of the line, a little south of Garden Island; the schooner Maria on the left, near the main shore, while the Royal Consort and the Inflexible occupied intermediate positions.
The Carleton and gun-boats were anchored near and among the other vessels. By this arrangement, Capt. Pringle hoped to prevent the escape of the American fleet through the night.
Arnold was well satisfied that he could not successfully resist the superior force with which the English were prepared to attack him. His men had fought with the most daring bravery and resolution, but he had only succeeded in retaining his position by the direction of the wind, which had prevented the larger vessels of the British fleet from joining in the action. Even under equally favorable circumstances, he could not resist a renewed attack, for his boats were already badly crippled, 60 of his men, including several officers, killed or wounded, and nearly three-fourths of each vessel's ammunition spent. A council of war was immediately called, when it was de-
* Arnold's account of the engagement. The hull of the schooner lies on the spot where she was sunk, and her upper timbers can yet be seen at low water in the lake. Arnold's papers were on board the schooner and were lost.
** Arnold states the loss sustained by the blowing up of this gun-boat at sixty. Letter to Gan. Schuyler, Oct. 16.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 665
termined that the fleet should retire during the night towards Crown Point.
At 7 o'clock, P. M., Col. Wigglesworth got the Trumbull under way, and bearing around the north end of Valcour, directed his course towards the upper end of the Lake, passing outside of the British line. The Trumbull was soon followed by the Enterprise and Lee with the gondolas; and about 10 o'clock Waterbury started in the Washington galley, followed closely by Arnold in the Congress. In this order, with a light at the stern of each vessel, the fleet passed to Schuyler island, about 9 miles distant, where they arrived early the next morning. On examination Arnold found two of the gondolas too badly injured to repair. These he sank near the island, and having fitted up the other vessels as well as his limited time and means would permit, again set sail for Crown Point. While Arnold was repairing his vessels, the British fleet weighed anchor and commenced beating up the lake in pursuit, the wind blowing gently from the south. Early on the morning of the 13th, the American fleet was off the Bouquet, and the English lay a little above Schuyler island. Arnold now had the wind in the south, while a fresh N. W. wind blowing in the broader part of the Lake favored the English commander, who brought up his leading vessels, soon after the former had passed Split Rock. On this occasion Capt. Pringle led in person on the Maria, closely followed by the Inflexible and Carleton. The Maria and Inflexible at first attacked the Washington galley, which was too much shattered to keep up with the rest. The galley struck after receiving a few shots. The two vessels then joined the Carleton, and for several hours* poured an incessant fire into the Congress galley, which was briskly returned. Arnold kept up a running fight until he arrived within 10 miles of Crown Point, when he ran the Congress and 4 gondolas into a small creek in Panton, now known as Adams' Bay, and having removed the small arms, burned the vessels to the water's edge. In this action the Congress lost her first lieutenant and three men.
As soon as the boats were consumed, Arnold led his party through the woods to Crown Point, where he arrived at 4 o'clock the next morning. The sloop Enterprise, the schooner Revenge, and the galley Trumbull, with one gondola, had reached the place the day before in safety. The galley Lee, Capt. Davis, was run into a bay on the east side of the Lake above Split Rock, where she was blown up. The only vessels taken by the enemy were the Washington galley and the gondola Jersey. The loss of the Americans in both engagements was between 80 and 90, including the wounded. The English stated their loss, in killed and wounded, at 40; but, according to the American accounts, it must have exceeded 100, at least 60 were on board the gun-boat which was blown up on the 11th.
The British followed them closely and took possession of Crown Point and Chimney Point, which commanded the passage of the Lake.
Gen. Carleton then made Crown Point his headquarters, and commenced preparations for an attack upon Ticonderoga, where Gen. Gates had collected an army of 12,000 men. Carleton made some two or three attempts to go to Ticonderoga, which were not successful, and fearing to remain at Crown Point over winter, he decided to return to Canada, leaving with his rear guard the fort Nov. 3d, which was occupied the same day by a detachment sent forward by Gen. Gates.
Although the results had been so disastrous, yet the Americans gained great credit for the obstinacy of their resistance. Even the English acknowledged that no man ever manuvered with more dexterity, fought with more bravery, or retreated with more firmness than did Arnold on both of these occasions. Gen. Gates, who knew all the circumstances, speaks of him in the highest terms. He says to Gov. Trumbull in his letter, "It would have been happy for the United States had the gallant behavior and steady good conduct of that excellent officer been supported by a fleet in any way equal to the enemy's. As the case stands, though they boast a victory, they must respect the vanquished."
This closed Carleton's campaigning on Lake Champlain, leaving behind him a sullied reputation, in permitting Arnold to escape from around Valcour island the night after the battle, when he really had Arnold in his own hands, had he the same evening
* Capt. Pringle says the action commenced at twelve and lasted two hours. Arnold says it continued "for about five glasses."
666 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
sent part of his fleet around the east side of Valcour, and blockaded the north end of the channel.
Some four miles west of Valcour island are Providence, Stave, and several other islands, on the line from Colchester Point to Grand Isle. Among them is a solitary rock rising from the water some 40 feet or more. Early in the dawn of morning, Carleton discovering that Arnold had escaped and knowing that he would steer south, and of course must pass to the east of him, immediately sailed to the east with his fleet to intercept him if possible. Coming in sight of these islands, in the gray twilight of morning, he took the rock, above mentioned, to be one of Arnold's vessels, and immediately opened upon it with the long guns of the Inflexible and Maria. After the discharge of several broadsides, the nearer approach of daylight removed the obscurity of twilight. and Sir Guy Carleton, much to his surprise, discovered Gen. Arnold, under full headway off Schuyler island, some 7 miles from him, while his immediate antagonist remained invulnerable, and still remains peering his ancient head above the waters of the Lake as an everlasting monument of Carleton's stupidity, and is pointed out to the traveler as the steamer between Burlington and Cumberland Head passes this battle scene, bearing the illustrious sobriquet of "Carleton's Prize."
GENERAL BURGOYNE'S EXPEDITION.
From the earliest discoveries of the Lake, while the English occupied New York, and the French, Canada and afterwards in the Revolutionary, as well as in the war of 1812, it was always a part of their plans to invade the country by way of Montreal and Lake Champlain from the north, and New York and the Hudson River from the south. By gaining possession of these routes, the principal northern cities of that day, from whence the sinews of war came, would be in their hands; and it was as much of an object to hold the Lake, as the Hudson River the former being as easily approached from the British dominions with supplies and arms as the latter.
The British Ministry, upon receipt of the intelligence of the evacuation of Lake Champlain by Carleton, after such a victory over Arnold and the annihilation of the American fleet, were very much chagrined, and resolved, cost what blood and treasure it might, to retrieve their losses and, if possible, still to carry out their original plan of taking possession of Lake Champlain and forming a junction with the army sent out under Lord Howe by way of New York and the Hudson River.
Sir Guy Carleton was removed and Lieut. Gen. Burgoyne placed in command of the British forces in America, sent out with a large army to, at all events, form a junction at Albany with Sir Henry Clinton in command of the Southern expedition. He was provided with an abundance of arms, artillery, ammunition, &c., and had under him the accomplished Generals Philips, Fraser, Riedesel, Powel, Hamilton, and Specht. No particular mention is made of the kind of vessels used by him in his expedition which left St. Johns in the early part of June. It is probable, however, that with his ample resources both in materials and men together with the garrisons at Chambly, St. Johns and Isle Aux Noix to guard the outlet of the Lake, that he fitted up some armed sloops, schooners and frigates, besides building a great number of bateaux, galleys and canoes. This was the largest and most fully equipped expedition ever fitted out on Lake Champlain, composed of the best English regulars, the volunteer habitans of Canada and the Indians, who joined it at the mouth of the Boquette River at Willsborough in New York, which is about opposite Burlington. Gen. Burgoyne proceeded up the Lake, forcing Gen. St. Clair to evacuate Ticonderoga, arriving at Whitehall July 6th.
The result of this stupendous expedition, after it left Whitehall and the fall of an army which was the flower of England, is too well known to need any extended account here. Oct. 17th, 1777, 5791, British and German troops were surrendered by Gen. Burgoyne to Gen. Gates at Saratoga.
As soon as the news reached Ticonderoga and Crown Point, the troops left in charge of them took to their boats, and the last of that proud host which four months previous had ascended the Lake with such military display, hurried quietly back to Canada, carefully avoiding the shores.
The approach of Gen. Burgoyne's army caused an entire desertion of the few settlers who had come into different towns upon the shores of the Lake, and although no decisive battles were again fought here during the
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 667
war, still the repeated appearance of armed vessels from Canada, by which the English kept control of the Lake, prevented any of the settlers from returning; so that in 1783 the whole population of both sides of the Lake did not exceed 600. But the treaty of Peace brought the deserters back to their new homes, retarded, however, by the disputes which had in the meantime sprung up between New Hampshire and New York respecting their claims to the territory of Vermont. There is, however, but little doubt, if the history of the operations upon Lake Champlain and its vicinity from 1778 to 1790 were brought to light, it would be found that the leading spirits who controlled the destinies of Vermont at that time, were in frequent secret correspondence with the British authorities in relation to the surrender of the province to the English Government; and while upon the one hand, the British may have taken great encouragement from those negotiations, and may have sent and withdrawn their fleets from the Lake without making any attack after the expedition of Burgoyne, for the purpose of producing an effect upon the inhabitants, it is evident that the government of the United States was not a little annoyed by the doubtful attitude of Vermont. And while Gen. Washington himself might have been in the secret, yet the indications of loyalty to Great Britain by many of the leaders had its effect in bringing to a termination the dispute between New York and New Hampshire. Vermont was admitted into the Union as an independent State, March, 1791.*
From 1783 to 1791 the population of the Champlain Valley increased some 6000. Vermont became the promised land for the hardy enterprising emigrants from Connecticut and Massachusetts. The route by way of Whitehall which had been used before the war, having been interrupted by the British armies, a road was cut through the woods and laid out by marked trees from Dorset, Castleton, Bennington, and Arlington (which were then the headquarters of Governor Chittenden, Ethan Allen, Baker, and others composing the Council of Safety), to Castleton, Vergennes, Shelburne, and Winooski Falls settlement.** By this route the settlers had come in mostly during the last years of the war, so there was very little communication by way of Whitehall, and consequently no vessels upon the Lake engaged in trade. The uncertainty also as to the future political destiny of Vermont from 1783 to 1790 and the hostility among the inhabitants toward New York prevented any trade from springing up by way of Whitehall, especially as the heavy articles, salt, iron, steel, &c. could be procured from St. Johns. We find no memoranda of any vessels being built on the Lake for the purposes of trade after the war and previous to 1788; whatever there were in use, if any, must have been fitted up from the vessels of the fleets at St. Johns, but it is not probable there was any one who would be likely to incur that expense.
It appears from the discovery of the Lake in 1609 to 1749 no sail had dotted its waters. Only canoes, dugouts, and bateaux were in use from 1749 to 1783, a military period. The only trade vessels were the sloop and schooners of Major Skeene at Whitehall, which were seized by Capt. Herrick for Col. Ethan Allen, when on his way to surprise Ticonderoga. The rest of the vessels were constructed for, and confined exclusively to, military use. When this ceased they usually rotted down, where they were abandoned. Occasionally, at very low water, portions of the wreck can be seen. The timbers of the "Royal Savage" of Arnold's fleet are visible at Valcour Island.
In 1862, Capt. Anderson of the steamer United States, procured a plank and spike from the wreck of the "Confiance," the British flag-ship in the battle of Plattsburgh, which he deposited in the Cabinet of the University of Vermont.
* An interesting account of the negotiation between the Commissioners of Vermont and the British Authorities will be found in Slade's State Papers & Thompson's Vermont, part 2d, p. 62. The two individuals who acted for the British as messengers during the war, are described in No. II of this Magazine, in note on p. 133, one of whom we had the pleasure of knowing, and have heard him relate repeatedly his numerous hair-breadth escapes from Ethan Allen and his posse. He was an intimate friend of Gov. Chittenden. His sister Polly married a son of Gov. Chittenden, and was the mother of Eli Chittenden, Esq., of Burlington.
** See Biographies of Ira Allen and Remember Baker, by Hon. David Read, History of Colchester, following. ED.
Except, perhaps, the following: July 1756, Major Rodgers captured two French schooners off Shelburne, while a third remained at anchor uncaptured. These were laden with merchandize, such as wheat, flour, rice, tobacco, wine, rum, brandy, &c. The Major run the two captured vessels to the west side of the lake, where he sunk them, with their cargoes after appropriating and burying a good supply of the wine, rum and brandy. [see Doc. Hist. of N. York, Vol. IV.Ed. ]
668 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
The cessation of hostilities and the admission of Vermont into the Union enabled those who had been driven off before the war, to return and bring with them their friends and neighbors and to commence in earnest the peaceful occupation of subduing the forests and cultivating the soil. The Allen family returned to Burlington, Governor Chittenden and friends to Williston. As these men with their friends were then the leading men in Vermont, and composed really the government, their influence together with the location of Burlington on such an extensive bay, as well as at the month of the Winooski valley, which was the route across the mountains to settlements on the Connecticut River, gave it a prominent and leading position among the towns in this section of the state. A successful trade soon sprung up with Montreal and Quebec in exchange for the pine timber, large quantities of which were floated down the Lamoille and Winooski Rivers to the Lake; and when rafted with a jury mast and sail, was propelled to St. Johns. Potash was also sent off in large quantities to Canada, and for these products, in exchange, fish, salt, iron, tobacco, &c., were returned. But many necessaries were not easily obtained in that direction, and hence a necessity soon arose for some kind of vessels to open communication with Whitehall, and trade with Troy, Albany, and New York. About this time Job Boynton, Benj. Boardman, and Gideon King appeared upon the stage, and commenced the building of boats, and became the pioneers of navigation.
Job Boynton came from Massachusetts as early as 1780, walked the last 100 miles on snow shoes through the woods, and built the third house in Burlington, which stood on the corner of King and Water streets, where the brick store lately occupied by William H. Curtis now stands. Jed Boynton, Elijah Boynton, John Boynton, and Peter Boynton were his sons the latter one still living in Hinesburg, and John at Plattsburgh, N. Y.
Benjamin Boardman came from Norwich, Ct., in 1788, and built a log house near the Winooski River, on the intervale now owned by John N. Pomeroy, Esq., near the brick house occupied at present by J. Storrs. He was a sea-faring man, had commanded vessels which ran on the southern coast and to the West Indies, and anticipating the necessity which must soon arise for boats upon the Lake, brought with him a boat builder from New London, Ct., by the name of Wilcox, who afterward removed to Grand Isle and established the ferry to Plattsburgh. New London then, as at the present day, was celebrated for ship building, and Wilcox understood fully the business. Wilcox being the first boat builder upon the Lake, adopted the style of vessel built at New London, which accounts for the superior models of the sloops here, which it will be observed are not like the heavy Dutch sloop of those days, in use upon the Hudson, but like the clipper vessels which were built at New London, New Haven and Hartford, to sail to New York through the Sound, for passengers, before the days of steamboats.
In 1782, three Eggleston brothers came to Essex, N. Y., from Williamstown, Mass., and there settled. They were great mechanics, though not boat builders. The son of one of them, however, Richard Eggleston, father of Capt. Martin Eggleston, who now resides at Essex, from necessity turned his attention to boat building, and, adopting the models of Wilcox, became with him the principal master builders on the Lake for years.
In 1788, Gideon King came here from the Shaker settlement at New Lebanon, and was a man of excellent sense and sound judgment. He built the house now standing on King street, east of Boynton's house, before mentioned. The street took its name from him. He had four sons, Gideon, Lyman, George and Joseph. The first of these, afterward known as "Gid King, the admiral of the Lake," was a very active and energetic business man, and was really the pioneer in commercial navigation and the controlling spirit of the time. His activity and business tact soon brought him into contact with what few merchants there were, and he made himself known throughout the ports on the Lake, as well as in Montreal and St. Johns; at the same time his sound judgment and efficient execution gained him the confidence of business men, and he subsequently became the agent of John Jacob Astor to attend to his fur trade in this section. His first movements were in connection with Jed Boynton, in building two small cutters of about 8 tons burden which they ran across to Essex and Plattsburgh. About 1790 they went to Canada, and found some of the old war vessels,
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 669
fitted up two schooners, which they sailed between Burlington and St. Johns. These were heavy and unmanageable affairs, and at the present day would be considered as entirely useless. King's was called "Horse-boat" because he had a place in it arranged especially for carrying horses to and from St. Johns. King had also what was called a Periauger which was a narrow ferry boat, with two masts and sails and a larboard, similar to what is now used at some ferries at the Islands.
FIRST BOAT BUILT AFTER THE WAR.
While these rude vessels were in use, Boardman & Wilcox came on from New London, and built a sloop of about 30 tuns burden, just below the railroad bridge at Winooski, on the north side of the river opposite the land now owned by Mrs. Doolittle. This vessel was floated down the river into the lake, and was engaged in running from here to Plattsburgh, where at this time a few mills and forge had been erected; but for provisions, grain, &c., the inhabitants were dependent upon the Vermonters.
Admiral King at once saw the superiority of this vessel in model and other particulars over the one he was using, and without delay engaged Wilcox to build a sloop for him, as did also Job Boynton. In the spring of 1793 the keels of the "Dolphin" and "Burlington Packet" were laid under a large "oak tree." which stood upon the shore immediately in the rear of the stores now occupied by Isaac Nye and Morrillo Noyes, at the foot of King street. These vessels were of about 25 tuns burden, the former belonging to King, and the latter to Boynton.
In 1795 a sloop of about 30 tuns burthen was built at the same place by Russell Jones, father of our townsman Latham Jones, (Wilcox, carpenter,) called the "Lady Washington." She was fitted up afterwards with a false bulk-head for smuggling, and became somewhat notorious in that business. The same year a sloop was built by Caleb B. Smith, father of Frederick Smith, of about 30 tuns burden, which he commanded himself. Smith was a courageous, daring man, and would go out in a storm when no others would venture. The consequence was, that on a passage to St. Johns, which he had undertaken in a severe storm, he ran upon a reef north of Tobias' landing, near Grand Isle, and nearly lost his life and vessel. This was the first discovery of the reef, and the sailors, glad to get up a joke at the expense of Smith, at once gave to it the name of "Bull Reef," and to his vessel the "Bull Sloop."
In 1797 the sloop Maria, of about 30 tuns burden, was built by Admiral King where the stone store stands, now occupied by Van Sicklin & Walker. The master builder was Richard Fittock, who kept a shanty for storing goods near where the Rutland & Burlington depot now stands. At this time there were no wharves at Burlington, and the woods reached down to the water's edge all along the shore from the Red Rocks to Rock Point. From Peterson's brewery to the stone store were trees, and the water in the cove came up to them so that vessels could enter the cove and tie up to the trees, the beach where the depot stands forming a breakwater for them.
In addition to a storehouse Fittock kept a scow, called the "Old Lion," for lightening vessels that anchored out some rods from the beach to discharge their cargoes. Pork, beef, liquors were thrown overboard and floated ashore, while dry goods and such articles were landed by the "Old Lion." He also kept a kind of "tavern," and in order to be popular with both loyalists and rebels, or those who in the war had been favorable to either, he had an oval sign, about 3 feet by 2 feet, swinging over his door, with Lord Nelson painted upon one side and George Washington upon the other.
King and others continued to build vessels as the demand for transportation increased, although King owned most of them and by his general knowledge of business kept control of it.
The following were the principal navigators and captains at this time:
Gideon King, Beach Smith, Elijah Boynton, John Boynton,* H. N. White, Daniel Davis, John Price, Russell Jones, Almas Truman,* all of Burlington; Joseph Treat, Birdport; Robert White,* Andrew White *Lavater White, of Shelburne; Caleb Barton, Ephraim Lake, Elijah Newell, Levi Hinkley, of Charlotte; Eben Holabird, Ruben Holabird, of Georgia; Hiram Ferrie, of Chazy, N. Y.
For further description of particular ves‑
* Still living.
670 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
sels, see table after where we have by the aid of some of the oldest captains* now living, collected the data given:
Table of the Vessels built upon Lake Champlain from 1790 to the time of the last war, say 1815.
For whom Where Master Ton- Year
Names. built. built. Carp'r. nage. built.
Unknown, B. Boardman, Burlington, Wilcox, 30, 1790
Dolphin, Gid. King, do. do. 30, 1793
Burl'n, Packet, Jed. Boynton do. do. 30, 1793
do. do. Beach Smith do. do. 30, 1796
Lady Wash'n, Russell Jones, do. do. 30, 1795
Maria, Gid. King, do. Fittock, 30, 1795
Unknown, do. do. do. do. 30, 1800
Union, Job Boynton do. do. 30, 1800
Elizabeth, Dan'l Ross, Essex, N. Y. Eggle'n, 40, 1800
Jupiter, Gid. King, do. do. 40, 1802
Juno, do. do. do. Wilcox, 40, 1802
Unetta, E. Boynton, do. Eggle'n, 30, 1803
Independence, S. Boardman, do. do. 35, 1805
Privateer, Gid. King, Burlington, Wilcox, 40, 1807
Hunter, do. do. do. do. 50, 1809
Emperor, H. & A. Ferris, Barber's Pt. Young, 50, 1810
Bising Sun, E. Boynton, Essex, N. Y. Eggle'n, 50, 1810
Eagle, S. Boardman Whitehall, do. 60, 1810
Essex, Gid. King, Essex, do. 50, 1810
Boston, do. do. Burlington, Wilcox, 30, 1810
Saucy Fox, do. do. Essex, Eggle'n, 50, 1810
Gold Hunter, E. Boynton, Whitehall, Young, 50, 1811
President, J. Boynton, Essex, Eggle'n, 75, 1812
Fair Trader, do. do. do. 75, 1812
Morning Star, S. Boardman Whitehall, do. 50, 1812
Jacob Bunker, Has'l & Chit'n Burlington, Bay, 65, 1812
Richard, Gid. King, Essex, Eggle'n, 60, 1812
Leopard, J. Boynton, do. do. 50, 1813
Boxer, Gid. King, do. do. 50, 1813
Paragon, do. do. Burlington, do. 75, 1814
From this table it will be seen from the year 1790 to 1815 trade increased rapidly. During this period King controlled and furnished business for nearly all the vessels, although many of them are put down in the table as being originally built for others; yet, in most instances, he advanced the money to build them, and soon they came into his hands in whole or in part. The population of the north part of the state was increasing rapidly, and a large trade was carried on with Montreal and Quebec; but the business with Canada was again interrupted by war with England and Lake Champlain, as in former years, became the great highway for the English to enter the United States from the north. The English getting possession of that northern part of the lake, all communication and trade was suspended until after the war. A more frequent intercourse was of necessity opened with Troy, Lansingburg and Albany, and King and others turned their attention in that direction. One of the Boardmans and Elijah Boynton went to Whitehall and commenced building boats there. The increase of population in this (direction attracted the attention of the merchants and others of Troy and Albany towards the north, and they soon became interested in the trade of the lake, and invested more or less upon and about it. This introduced a new element into the business which had its effect more in bringing forward the steamboat enterprise, by enlisting Albany merchants and capital, which resulted in the charter of the Lake Champlain Steamboat Company.
June 17, 1812, President Madison issued his proclamation of war against Great Britain. The State of New York took active measures to prosecute the war with vigor. Vermont, at that time under the control of the democrats, sustained the administration, while the federalists were the opponents of it, though her governor (Jonas Galusha) and the legislature pledged herself to sustain the government, and at once passed laws prohibiting all intercourse with Canada, and forbidding, without a permit from the governor of $1000 fine and seven years imprisonment at hard labor in the state prison, and for calling out the militia when necessary.
The passage of the resolution and laws in accordance with it, caused great excitement among the people, and party spirit was wrought up to a high pitch. Both parties exerted all their force for the election of governor, and upon the assembling of the legislature no one was found to be elected, and the parties were equally balanced. After many trials and much manuvering (see page 619) Martin Chitten den was made governor.
Governor Chittenden and his party were opposed to the war, and took grounds against the power of the national government for drafting and calling out the militia of the state arguing that the militia were for the protection and defence of the state alone. He carried out his principles shortly after by issuing his proclamation ordering back to
* Captains Robert and L. S. White, of Shelburne; Capt. Almas Truman, of Burlington; Hiram Ferris, of Chazy; and Capt. John Boynton, of Plattsburgh, all of whom were sailors and officers on most of these vessels at different times from 1805.
The "Saucy Fox" was the boat which sailed under Spanish colors in the last war, as a neutral vessel to carry out the scheme of which the Spaniard Monzuco was ostensibly the manager. He then resided in a house where the American hotel now stands, which was enlarged to form the present building. Moses Catlin, Gideon King, and Lynde Catlin of New York, with some few others, were doubtless the associates of Monzuco in this patriotic movement to aid the government. The vessel was mounted with two guns, and as she cruised near the shores at the north end of the lake, the firing of a gun was the signal for the inhabitants to come out to the banks with their furs and skins, which were taken on board in large quantities. For particulars of this scheme, see page 610, No. VI, of this Gazetteer.
LANE CHAMPLAIN. 671
Vermont a brigade of militia under Col. Luther Dixon, who had been sent to Plattsburgh to reinforce Gen. Macomb, in consequence of the withdrawal of a large body of troops under Maj. Gen. Izard by order of the secretary of war.
Inasmuch as similar questions are now raised by some citizens of the north with respect to the power or right of the national government to enforce a draft to suppress the present rebellion,* we have looked up the proclamation issued by Governor Chittenden at that time and the reply to it, both of which speak for themselves:
BY HIS EXCELLENCY
MARTIN CHITTENDEN, ESQ.,
Governor, Captain General, and Commander in Chief, in and over the State of Vermont,
WHEREAS, it appears that the Third Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of this State has been ordered from our frontiers to the defence of a neighboring State: And, whereas it further appears, to the extreme regret of the Captain General, that a part of the Militia of the said Brigade have been placed under the command and at the disposal of an officer of the United States, out of the jurisdiction and control of the Executive of this State, and have been actually marched to the defence of a sister State, fully competent to all the purposes of self-defence, whereby an extensive section of our own Frontier is left, in a measure, unprotected, and the peaceable good citizens thereof are put in great jeopardy, and exposed to the retaliatory incursions and ravages of an exasperated enemy: And, whereas, disturbances of a very serious nature, are believed to exist, in consequence of a portion of the Militia having thus been ordered out of the State:
Therefore to the end, that these great evils may be provided against, and, as far as may be, prevented for the future:
Be it known that such portion of the Militia of said Third Division, as may now be doing duty, in the State of New York, or elsewhere, beyond the limits of this State, both Officers and men, are hereby ordered and directed, by the Captain General and Commander in Chief of the Militia of the State of Vermont, forthwith to return to the respective places of their usual residence, within the territorial limits of said Brigade, and there to hold themselves in constant readiness to act in obedience to the order of Brigadier General JACOB DAVIS, who is appointed, by the Legislature of this State, to the command of said Brigade.
And the said Brigadier General Davis is hereby ordered and directed, forthwith, to see, that the Militia of his said Brigade be completely armed and equipped, as the Law directs, and holden in constant readiness to march on the shortest notice, to the defence of the Frontiers; and, in case of actual invasion, without further Orders, to march with his said Brigade, to act, either in cooperation with the Troops of the U. States, or separately, as circumstances may require, in repelling the enemy from our territory, and in protecting the good citizens of this State from the ravages of hostile incursions.
And in case of an event, so seriously to be deprecated, it is hoped and expected, that every citizen, without distinction of party, will fly at once to the nearest post of danger, and that the only rallying word will be "OUR COUNTRY."
Feeling, as the Captain General does, the weight of responsibility, which rests upon him with regard to the Constitutional duties of the Militia, and the sacred rights of our citizens to protection from this great class of community, so essentially necessary to all free countries; at a moment, too, when they are so imminently exposed to the dangers of hostile incursions, and domestic difficulties, he cannot conscientiously discharge the trust reposed in him by the voice of his fellow citizens, and by the Constitution of this and the U. States, without an unequivocal declaration, that, in his opinion, the Military strength and resources of this State, must be reserved for its own defence and protection, exclusively excepting in cases provided for, by the Constitution of the U. States; and then, under orders derived only from the Commander in Chief.
Given under my hand at Montpelier this 10th day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirteen; and of the United States the thirty-eighth.
By his Excellency's Command,
SAMUEL SWIFT, Secretary.
CANTONMENT, PLATTSBURGH, Nov. 15, 1813.
To His Excellency,
MARTIN CHITTENDEN, Seq.,
Governor, Captain General, Commander in Chief, in and over the State of Vermont.
A most novel and extraordinary Proclamation from your Excellency, "ordering and directing such portion of the Militia of the Third Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Vermont, now doing duty in the State of New York, both officers and men, forthwith to return to the respective places of their residence," has just been communicated to the undersigned officers of said Brigade. A measure so unexampled requires that we should state to your Excellency the reason which induce us and absolutely and positively to refuse obedience to the order contained in your Excellency's Proclamation. With due deference to your Excellency's opinion, we humbly conceive, that when we are ordered into the service of the United States, it becomes our duty, when required, to march to the defence of any section of the Union. We are not of that class who believe that our duties as citizens or soldiers, are circumscribed within the narrow limits of the Town or State in which we reside; but that we are under a paramount obligation to our common country, to the great confederation of States. We further conceive that, while we are in actual service, and during the period for which we were ordered into service, your Excellency's power over us as Governor of the State of Vermont, is suspended. If it is true, as your Excellency states, that "we are out of the jurisdiction or control of the Executive of Vermont," we would ask from whence your Excellency derives the right or presumes to exercise the power of ordering us to return from the service in which we are now engaged? If we were legally ordered into the service of the United States, your Excellency must be sensible that you have no authority to order us out of that service. If we were illegally ordered into the service, our continuance in it is either voluntary or compulsory. If voluntary, it gives no one a right to remonstrate or complain; if compulsory we can appeal to the laws of our country for redress against those who illegally restrain us of our liberty. In either case, we cannot conceive the right your Excellency has to interfere in the business. Viewing the subject in this light, we conceive it our duty to declare unequivocally to your Excellency, that we shall not obey your Excellency's order for returning, but shall continue in the service of our country until we are legally and honorably discharged. An invitation or order to desert the standard of our country will never be obeyed by us, although it proceeds from the Governor and Captain General of Vermont.
Perhaps it is proper that we should content ourselves with merely giving your Excellency the reasons which prevail upon us to disregard your proclamation; but we are impressed with the belief, that our duty to ourselves, to the soldiers under our command and to the public, require that we should expose to the world, the motives which produced, and the objects which were intended to be accomplished by such extraordinary proclamation. We shall take the liberty to state to your Excellency, plainly, our sentiments on this subject. We consider your proclamation as a gross insult to the officers and soldiers in service, inasmuch as it implies that they are so ignorant of their rights as to believe that you have authority to command them in their present situation, or so abandoned as to follow your insidious advice. We cannot regard your proclamation in any other light, than as an unwarrantable stretch of executive authority, issued from the worst motives, to effect the basest purposes. It is, in our opinion, a renewed instance of that spirit of disorganization and anarchy which is car‑
* This paper was written during our late war. Ed.
672 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
ried on by a faction to overwhelm our country with ruin and disgrace. We cannot perceive what other object your Excellency could have in view than to embarrass the operations of the army, to excite mutiny and sedition among the soldiers and induce them to desert, that they might forfeit the wages to which they are entitled for their patriotic services.
We have, however, the satisfaction to inform your Excellency, that although your proclamations have been distributed among the soldiers by your agent delegated for that purpose, they have failed to produce the intended effect and although it may appear incredible to your Excellency, even soldiers have discernment sufficient to perceive that the proclamation of a Governor when offered out of the line of his duty, is a harmless, inoffensive and nugatory document. They regard it with mingled emotions of pity and contempt for its author, and as a striking monument of his folly.
Before we conclude, we feel ourselves in justice to your Excellency, bound to declare that a knowledge of your Excellency's character induces us to believe, that the folly and infamy of the proclamation which your Excellency has put your signature is not wholly to be ascribed to your Excellency, but chiefly to the evil advisers, with whom we believe your Excellency is encompassed. We are, with due respect, your Excellency's obedient servants,
Luther Dixon, Lieutenant Colonel.
Elijah Dee, Junior Major.
Josiah Grout, Major.
Charles Bennet, Captain.
Elijah W. Wood. Captain.
Elijah Birge, Captain.
Martin D. Follet, Captain.
Amasa Mansfield, Captain.
T. H. Campbell, Lieutenant.
Daniel Dodge, Ensign.
Sanford Gadcomb, Captain.
James Fullington, Qr. Master.
Shepard Beal, Lieutenant.
John Fassett, Surgeon.
Seth Clark, Jr., Surgeon's Mate.
Thomas Waterman, Captain.
Benjamin Follett, Lieutenant.
Hira Hill, Surgeon's Mate.
At the time of the declaration of war, the force in Canada was about 10,000, quartered principally at Quebec.
The American force, collected at Plattsburgh under Gen. Bloomfield was about 8,000 during the summer of 1812.
Sept. 23d, the 6th, 15th and 16th regiments went into winter quarters at Plattsburgh under charge of Col. Pike, and the 9th, 11th, 21st and 25th regiments sent to Burlington under command of Brigadier General Chandler went into camp for the winter, upon grounds now inclosed for the battery and State fair grounds. The locust trees at the south-east corner of the Fair grounds mark the spot where those that died during the winter were buried.
These two brigades were removed early in the spring to the Ontario frontier for the invasion of Upper Canada, leaving but small detachments at each place the British force having been already sent forward in the fall, to accept the surrender of the incompetent and timid Hull at Detroit.
Before the commencement of the war the whole naval force of the Americans consisted of ten gun boats which lay near Basin Harbor at the mouth of the Otter Creek. Lieut. Sidney Smith was then in command, but was superseded by Lieut. Thomas Macdonough in the fall of 1812. He at once set about increasing the naval force by the addition of three sloops of war.
The sloops President and Fair Trader which had just been launched at Essex by Eggleston, sailed to Burlington, were seized by Macdonough while the Captains were at the Custom House getting the vessels registered, and taken to "Quaker Smith's Bay" in Shelburne, where with the Eagle which had been purchased by the government, they were refitted into sloops of war. Lieut. Macdonough superintended the work upon them, making his headquarters at Levi Comstock's. The President was his flag ship the next year. The "Fair Trader" was called the Growler, and commanded by Lieut. Smith, and the Eagle by Mr. Loomis.
About June 1st, 1813, the British appeared at St. Johns with an armed force, and Macdonough ordered Lieut. Smith to go with the Growler and Eagle, and drive them from the lake. He at once proceeded towards St. Johns, and on the morning of the 3d when near Ash Island beyond the lines, discovered and gave chase to three British gunboats. The wind was blowing fresh from the south, and Lieut. Smith soon found himself near the Isle Aux Noix, when he was attacked by the three new galleys, together with a heavy fire from musketry upon each side of the river. The action lasted some four hours, when the Eagle was sunk and 11 men wounded, and the Growler struck her colors. One man was killed and eight wounded, and the rest taken prisoners, among whom was the late Capt. Horace B. Sawyer. [For a full account of Capt. Sawyer and the engagement, see page 581.]
The Eagle was raised by the British, and with the Growler were refitted and composed part of the British fleet at the battle of Plattsburgh in Sept. 1814, under the names of the Chub and Finch. After the battle they were purchased by Gid King. The "Rising Sun" was seized also by the government and converted into a sloop of war, and was one of the American fleet at the battle of Plattsburgh, as the "Preble."
Macdonough, having in June fitted up some gunboats and two or three small sloops for the rest of the season, and as soon as the
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 673
winter set in he repaired to Vergennes where timber was plenty, and commenced building a new fleet upon the Otter Creek, where he would be safe from a surprise; the entrance to the river being protected by a fort under charge of Lieut. Cassin, after whom it was named, and knowing that the British would make a formidable attempt to gain possession of the lake. The next season an attempt was made by the British to blockade the Otter Creek and destroy the fleet, which proved unsuccessful. The enemy's force consisted of a brig, 3 sloops, and 13 galleys, which passed up the lake from Rouse's Point May 14th, 1814, and attempted to enter the Otter Creek, to force their way to Vergennes and destroy the shipping. A spirited fire was opened upon them by Lieut. Cassin from his battery at the mouth of the creek, which so disabled them as to cause them to abandon their plan and return to Canada.
Macdonough employed his time vigorously during the winter, and May 29th, 1814, brought his fleet out of the Otter Creek, and cast anchor the same evening off Plattsburgh which consisted of the ship Saratoga, commanded by himself; brig Eagle, Capt. Henley; schooner Ticonderoga, Lieut. Cassin; sloop Preble, Lieut. Charles Budd; and galleys, the Allen, Burrows, Borer, Nettle, Viper, Centipede, Ludlow, Wilma, Alwyn and Ballard, manned by 882 men, mounting in all 86 guns. The British had also been equally active during the winter and spring in fitting out their fleet, and under Capt. Downie the morning of Sept. 11, they passed around Cumberland Head into Plattsburgh Bay composed of the frigate Confiance, Captain Downie; brig Linnet, Capt. Pring; sloop Chub, Lieut. McGhee; sloop Finch, Lieut. Hicks, and 13 galleys, the Provost, Yeo, Beckwith, Broke, Murray, Wellington, Tecumseh, Simcoe, Drummond, and 4 unknown, manned by 1,000 men and carrying 95 guns in all.
[At the request of the Editor we here give a detailed account of the battle at Plattsburgh, both on land and water, taken mostly from Peter S. Palmer's valuable History of Lake Champlain, which is probably the most full and accurate account of the engagement ever published:]*
In the summer of 1813 General Izard had been ordered by the Secretary of War, for some unexplainable reason, to remove from this department to the west with the troops under his command, which left General Macomb at Plattsburgh with only about 3,000 men.
Sir George Provost, who was making preparations to invade the States, regarded this movement upon the part of the Americans as tantamount to a retreat, and rendering to him a victory sure and easy. And this would have been most certainly the result had not the militia of Vermont and northern New York hurried to the assistance of General Macomb.
General Izard protested against the order, and endeavored to convince the War Department that his retirement would greatly endanger the whole northern frontier and give to the enemy the possession of Lake Champlain; but his entreaties were unavailing and he abandoned camp at Champlain on the 29th of August, and took up his march towards Schenectady, and on the next day Major General Brisbane advanced his position from Canada, and occupied the camp.
"General Izard abandoned the camp at Champlain on the 29th of August, and the next day Major General Brisbane advanced his division from Odletown to that place. On the 3d of September 14,000 British troops were collected at Champlain. This force was composed of four troops of the 10th light dragoons, 300 men; two companies Royal Artillery, 400 men; one brigade of rocketeers, 25 men; one brigade Royal Sappers and Miners, 75 men; the first brigade of Infantry, consisting of the first battalion of the 27th Regiment, the 58th and 5th, and the 3d or Buffs, in all 3,700 men, under command of Major General Robinson; the second brigade, formed by the 88th and 39th, and the third battalions of the 27th and 76th, in all 3,600 men, under Major General Powers; the third brigade, composed of the second battalion of the 8th or King's, and the 18th, 49th and 6th, 3,100 men under Major General Brisbane. There was also a light brigade, 2,800 strong, composed of Muron's Swiss Regiment; the Canadian Chasseurs, the Voltiguers and the frontier light Infantry. The whole was under Sir George Provost, Governor General of Canada; Lieutenant General De Rottenburgh being second in command.
* As the Jurisdiction of Vermont covers the entire Lake, any history pertaining to Lake Champlain pertains distinctively to the State of Vermont. We asked, therefore, for a particular and full account of this important engagement, though we did not designate, we think, from whence it better be drawn. Our writer finding not elsewhere so reliable, detailed and satisfactory a record, quoted freely from the History of Mr. Palmer formerly published in three quite extensive numbers or volumes (paper covers); and which being considered out of print, more so than he would probably have done, had he been aware that a republication was intended. Neither were we cognizant of the same fact, till our paper was already in press, viz: of the republication of the very valuable and highly interesting "History of Lake Champlain," by the Hon. Peter B. Palmer, with important additions and emendations, which we here take the occasion to warmly recommend to all our historical readers who may be interested in the following pages, which are but an extract from one of its able and accurate chapters. Ed.
674 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
On the 4th, the main body reached Chazy village, and the next night encamped near Sampson's, about eight miles from Plattsburgh. At the same time Captain Pring, with a number of gun-boats moved up the lake as far as Isle La Motte, and erected a battery of three long 18 pounders on the west side of that island, to cover the landing of the supplies for the troops.
Brigadier General Macomb was now at Plattsburgh actively engaged in preparations to resist the expected attack. On the 3d of September, he issued a general order detailing his plan of defense. 'The troops (says this order) will line the parapet in two ranks, leaving intervals for the Artillery. A reserve of one fifth of the whole force in Infantry, will be detailed and paraded fronting the several angles, which it will be their particular duty to sustain. To each bastion are to be assigned, by the several commanders of forts, a sufficient number of Infantry to line all the faces (in single rank) of each tier. Should the enemy gain the ditch, the front rank of the part assailed will mount the parapet and repel him with its fire and bayonet. If the men of this rank are determined, no human force can dispossess them of that position.'
The American works were built upon an elevated plain, lying between the banks of the river Saranac and Lake Champlain. The river descends from the west until it approaches within about 160 rods of the lake, and then turns toward the north and runs about one mile in a northeasterly direction, to the lake. The land between the river and lake, at this point, is nearly in the shape of a right angled triangle; the perpendicular being formed by the lake shore. About 80 rods above the mouth of the river, and near the center of the village, is the lower bridge,' and about one mile higher up, following the course of the stream, was another bridge, on the road leading south to Salmon River, called the upper bridge.' One mile and a half above this bridge is a ford of the river.* The stream can also be forded at the bridges, and at a point about midway between them. The south bank of the river, above the village, is from 50 to 60 feet high, and steep. About 60 rods above the 'lower bridge' is a deep ravine; running back from the river, and extending nearly to the lake shore. The principal work, called Fort Moreau, stood opposite the bend of the river, and about half way between it and the lake. It was three fourths of a mile south of the lower bridge. A redoubt, called Fort Brown, stood on the bank of the river, directly opposite the bend, and about 50 rods west of Fort Moreau. There was another redoubt to the east of Fort Moreau, near the bank of the lake, called Fort Scott. On the point, near the mouth of the river, was a block-house and battery. Another block-house stood on the south side of the ravine, about half way between the river and the lake. The defense of Fort Moreau was entrusted to Colonel Melancton Smith, who had for its garrison the 29th and 6th Regiments. Lieutenant Colonel Storrs was stationed in Fort Brown, with detachments of the 30th and 31st, and Major Vinson in Fort Scott, with the 33d and 34th. The block-house near the ravine, was entrusted to Captain Smith of the Rifles, and had for its defense a part of his company and of the convalescents of one of the absent regiments. The block-house on the point was garrisoned by a detachment of artillery, under Lieutenant Fowler. The light artillery were ordered to take such position as would best annoy the enemy. When not employed they were to take post in the ravine, with the light troops.
As soon as the British had advanced to Chazy village, Captain Sproul was ordered by General Macomb, with 200 men of the 18th, and two field pieces, to take position near the Dead Creek bridge, and to abattis the road beyond, while Lieutenant Colonel Appling was stationed in advance, with 110 riflemen, and a troop of New York State Cavalry, under Captain Safford and Lieutenant M. M. Standish, to watch the movements of the enemy. Macomb also made arrangements with Major General Mooers for calling out the New York Militia, and addressed a letter to Governor Chittenden, of Vermont, requesting aid from that State. On the 4th, 700 of the Clinton and Essex Militia had collected at Plattsburgh. They were advanced the next day about 5 miles on the north road, and lay during the night in the vicinity of the present Stone Church in Beekmantown. The militia were directed to watch the enemy, skirmish with him as he advanced, break up the bridges and obstruct the road with fallen trees.
On the 5th, as we have already stated, the British occupied a position near Sampson's, on the lake road. The troops were there divided into two columns, and moved toward the village of Plattsburgh on the morning of the 6th, before day-light; the right column crossing over to the Beekmantown road; the left following the lake road leading to the Dead Creek bridge. The right column was composed of Major General Powers' brigade, supported by four companies of light infantry and a demi-brigade under Major General Robinson. The left was led by Major General Brisbane's brigade. Information of this contemplated movement having reached General Macomb on the evening of the 5th, he ordered Major Wool, with a detachment of 250 men, to advance on the Beekmantown road in the support of the militia. Captain Leonard, of the light artillery, was also directed to be on the ground, before daylight, with two field pieces.
* This ford is near the spot where General Pike encamped in 1812. The buildings were burned by Colonel Murray in 1813.
These belonged to Colonel Thomas Miller's and Colonel Joiner's regiments, Major Sanford's battalion and the 37th regiment.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 675
The right column of the British advanced more rapidly than the left, and, at an early hour, met Major Wool's detachment and the militia, who had taken a position near the residence of Ira Howe, in Beekmantown. Wool's party opened a brisk fire of musketry upon the head of the British column as it approached, severely wounding Lieutenant West of the 3d Buffs, and about twenty privates. Near this place Goodspeed and Jay, two men of Captain Atwood's company of militia, were wounded and taken prisoners. Wool, with his men, now fell back as far as Culver's Hill, four and a half miles from the village, where he awaited the approach of the British. He was supported by a few of the militia who had been rallied by their officers, but the greater portion had retreated precipitately, after the first fire near Howe's. The resistance at Culver's Hill was intrepid but momentary, for the British troops pressed firmly forward, occupying the whole road, and only returning the fire by their flanks and leading platoons, the latter of whom were once driven to the base of the hill, after having reached its summit. At this point, Lieutenant Colonel Willington, of the 3d Buffs. fell as he was ascending the hill at the head of his regiment. Ensign Chapman of the same regiment was also killed there, and Captain Westropp, of the 58th, severely wounded. Several of the Americans were killed, including Patridge of the Essex militia.
Learning that a large body of the British were advancing on a parallel road, leading from Beekmantown Corners, to gain his rear, Wool fell back as far as "Halsey's Corners," about one and a half miles from the village bridge. He was there joined, about eight o'clock in the morning, by Captain Leonard with two pieces of light artillery. Leonard placed his guns in battery at an angle in the road, masked by Wool's infantry and a small body of militia, and as the British approached opened a most galling fire upon the head of the column; the balls cutting a narrow and bloody lane through the moving mass. Three times were the guns discharged, but even this terrible fire did not check the progress of the column, for the men, throwing aside their knapsacks, pressed forward, the bugles sounding the charge, and forced Leonard hastily to withdraw towards the village. At this place, a number of the British were killed or wounded. Among the latter was Lieutenant Kingsbury of the 3d Buffs, who was taken into the adjoining farm-house of Isaac C. Platt, Esq., where he soon afterwards died.
Finding that the enemy's right column was steadily approaching the village, General Macomb ordered in the detachments at Dead Creek; at the same time directing Lieutenant Colonel Appling to fall on the British flank. The rapid advance of the column on the Beekmantown road had reversed Appling's position, and he had barely time to save his retreat, coming in a few rods ahead, as the British debouched from the woods a little north of the village. Here he poured in a destructive fire from his riflemen at rest, and continued to annoy the enemy, until he formed a junction with Wool, who was slowly retiring towards the lower bridge. The field pieces were taken across the bridge and formed a battery for its protection, and to cover the retreat of Wool's, Appling's and Sproul's men. These detachments retired alternately, keeping up a brisk fire until they got under cover of the works.
The left column of the British army did not arrive near the village, until after Sproul's and Appling's detachments had been withdrawn; their march having been retarded by the obstructions placed in the road, and by the removal of the bridge at Dead Creek. As this column passed along the beach of the lake, it was much annoyed by a brisk fire from several galleys, which Macdonough had ordered to the head of the bay. After this fire had continued for about two hours, the wind began to blow so heavy from the south as to endanger the safety of the galleys. Mr. Duncan, a midshipman of the Saratoga, was therefore sent in a gig to order them to return. As that officer approached, he received a severe wound from the enemy's fire, which for a few minutes was concentrated upon his boat.* About this time one of the galleys drifted under the guns of the British and sustained some loss, but was eventually brought off.
As soon as the American troops had crossed the river, the plank were removed from the lower bridge, and were piled up at its east end, to form a breast-work for the infantry. A similar breastwork was made by the militia, at the upper bridge. The British light troops made several attempts, in the course of the day, to cross at the village, but were repulsed by the guards at the bridge, and by the sharp fire of a company of volunteers who had taken possession of a stone grist-mill near by. An attempt was also made to cross at the upper bridge, which was gallantly resisted by the militia. The loss this day, on both sides, was greater than the whole loss during the rest of the siege; 45 of
* On the 26th of May, 1826, Congress passed a resolution of thanks to Midshipman Silas Duncan for his gallant conduct on this occasion.
This Company was caned "Aiken's Volunteers" and was composed of the following young men none of whom were old enough to be liable to perform military duty: Martin J. Aiken, Azariah C. Flagg,* Ira A. Wood, Gustavus A. Bird, James Trowbridge, Hazen Mooers, Henry K. Averill, St. John B. L. Skinner,* Frederick P. Allen, Hiram Walworth,* Ethan Everest, Amos Soper, James Patten, Bartemus Brooks, Smith Batemen, Melancton W. Travis* and Flavius Williams. They had been out on the Beekmantown road in the morning, where they behaved with great gallantry. In May, 1826, Congress authorized the President to cause to be delivered to each, "One Rifle promised to them by General Macomb, while commanding the Champlain Department, for their gallantry and patriotic services as a Volunteer corps, during the siege of Plattsburgh in September, 1814."
* Still living.
676 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
the Americans, and more than 200 British having been killed or wounded.*
The configuration of the land, on the north aide of the river, differs somewhat from that on the south side. The bank at the mouth of the river is abrupt and about 30 feet high. This bank, with a depression above the lower bridge, opposite the mill-pond, follows the margin of the stream, until within about 80 rods of Fort Brown, when the hill recedes from the river, and is less abrupt. The flat and hill opposite Fort Brown were covered with small trees and bushes. About one mile back from the river is an elevated ridge running to the north. At Allen's farm-house, which stood upon this ridge at the distance of one and one fourth mile from the American forts, Sir George Provost established his headquarters. The army were encamped upon the ridge, and on the high ground north of the village.
From the 7th to the 10th, Provost was busily engaged in bringing up his battering trains and supplies, and in preparing his approaches. He erected a battery on the bank of the lake north of the mouth of the river; another near the edge of the steep bank above the mill-pond; another near the burial ground, and one, supplied with rocket works, on the hill opposite Fort Brown. Besides these, there were three smaller batteries erected at other points, within range of the American forts.
While Provost was thus engaged, the American troops were diligently at work, day and night, in strengthening their defenses. The barracks and hospitals in the vicinity of the forts were burned, and the sick removed to Crab Island, about two miles distant, where they were protected from the weather by tents. A small battery was erected on that island, mounting two 6 pounders, which was manned by convalescents. The Americans also, during this time fired hot shot into and burned some 15 or 16 buildings, on the north side of the river, which had afforded protection to the British light troops.
From the 7th to the 10th, the pickets and militia were engaged in frequent skirmishes with the enemy at the two bridges, and at the different fords along the river. On the morning of the 7th, a party of British, under Captain Noadie, attempted to cross the river, at a ford about 5 miles west of the village. They were, however, met by a company of Colonel Miller's regiment of militia, under command of Captain Vaughan, and were repulsed with a loss of two killed and several wounded, The same day Lieutenant Runk, of the 6th, was mortally wounded, as he was passing in the street, near the present dwelling of A. C. Moore, Esq.
On the night of the 9th, while the British were engaged in erecting their rocket battery near Fort Brown, Captain McGlassin of the 15th infantry, obtained permission from General Macomb to take a party of 50 men and attack a detachment of British troops at work upon the battery. The night was dark and stormy and favored such an enterprise. Ordering his men to take the flints from their muskets, McGlassin crossed the river, and passing through a small clump of dwarf oaks, reached, unobserved, the foot of the hill upon which the enemy were at work. There he divided his force into two parties, one of which was sent, by a circuitous route, to the rear of the battery. As soon as this party had reached its position, McGlassin, in a loud voice, ordering his men to charge, "on the front and rear," when they rushed forward, with all the noise it was possible for them to make, and entered the work at both sides on the run. The working party were taken by surprise, and supposing themselves attacked by overwhelming numbers, retreated precipitately towards the main camp. McGlassin spiked the guns and led his party back to the American fort without losing a man. The whole affair was boldly conceived and most gallantly executed. It was long before the British officers would believe that fifty men could make so much noise. or so badly frighten over three hundred of their veteran troops.
When the British army reached Plattsburgh, their gunboats had advanced as far as the Isle La Motte, where they remained, under command of Captain Pring. On the 8th Captain Downie reached that place with the rest of the fleet, and on the morning of the 11th, the whole weighed anchor and stood south to attack the Americans, who lay in the Bay, off Plattsburgh.
As the British vessels rounded Cumberland Head, about 8 o'clock in the morning, they found Macdonough at anchor a little south of the mouth of the Saranac river, and abreast, but out of gun shot, of the forts. His vessels lay in a line running north from Crab Island, and nearly parallel with the west shore. The brig Eagle, Captain Henley, lay at the head of the line, inside the point of the Head. This vessel mounted 20 guns and had on board 150 men. Next to her and on the south lay Macdonough's flag-ship, the Saratoga, mounting 26 guns, with 212 men. Next south was the schooner Ticonderoga of 17 guns, Lieutenant Cassin, with 110 men, and next to her, and at the southern extremity of the line, lay the sloop Preble, Lieutenant Charles Budd. This vessel carried 7 guns and was manned by 30 men. She lay so near the shoal extending north-east from Crab Island, as to prevent the enemy from turning that end of the line. To the rear of the line were 10 gun-boats, 6 of which mounted one long 24 pounder and one 18 pond
* General Macomb, in his general order of the 7th, estimates the British loss at from two to three hundred. The "Burlington Sentinel" of the 9th states it to have been about three hundred.
The "Burlington Sentinel" says, that up to the evening of the 8th, the following buildings had been burned: Jonathan Griffin's house and store; Roswell Walt's house and store; Mr. Savage's house; D. Buck's house; Mr. Powers' store; Widow Beaumont's house and store; Charles Backus' house and store; Joseph Thomas' two stores, and Mr. Goldsmith's house. The Court House and Jail were also burned.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 417
Columbiad each; the other four carried one 12 pounder. The gun-boats had, on an average, 35 men each. Two of the gun-boats lay a little north and in rear of the Eagle, to sustain the head of the line; the others were placed opposite the intervals between the different vessels, and about 40 rods to their rear. The larger vessels were at anchor while the gun-boats were kept in position by their sweeps.
The British fleet was composed of the frigate Confiance, carrying 37 guns,* with over 300 men, commanded by Captain Downie; the brig Linnet, Captain Pring, of 16 guns and 120 men; the sloop Chub, Lieutenant McGhee and the sloop Finch, Lieutenant Hicks, carrying 11 guns and about 45 men each. To these vessels were added 12 gun-boats of about 45 men each; 8 of them carried 2 guns, and 4 one gun each. Thus the force of the Americans consisted of 1 ship, 1 brig, 1 schooner, 1 sloop, and 10 gun-boats, manned by 882 men, and carrying in all 86 guns. The British had 1 frigate, 1 brig, 2 sloops and 12 gun-boats, manned by over 1,000 men, and carrying in all 95 guns. The metal of the vessels on both sides was unusually heavy. The Saratoga mounted 8 long twenty-fours, 6 forty-twos, and 12 thirty‑twos, while the Confiance had the gun-deck of a heavy frigate, with 30 long twenty-fours upon it. She also had a spacious top gallant forecastle, and a poop that came no further forward than the mizzen mast. On the first were a long twenty-four on a circle, and 4 heavy carronades; 2 heavy carronades were mounted on the poop.
When the British fleet appeared in sight the Finch led and kept in a course toward Crab Island, while the other vessels hove to opposite the point of Cumberland Head, to allow the gun-boats to come up and to receive final instructions as to the plan of attack. The vessels then filled and headed in towards the American fleet, passing inside of the point of Cumberland Head; the Chub laying her course a little to windward of the Eagle, in order to support the Linnet, which stood directly towards that vessel. Captain Downie had determined to lay the Confiance athwart the Saratoga, but the wind baffling, he was obliged to anchor at about two cables length from that ship. The Finch, which had run about half way to Crab Island, tacked and took her station, with the gun-boats, opposite the Ticonderoga and the Preble.
As the British vessels approached they received the fire of the American fleet; the Brig Eagle firing first, and being soon followed by the Saratoga and the sloop and schooner.** The Linnet poured her broad side into the Saratoga, as she passed that ship to take her position opposite the. Eagle. Captain Downie brought his vessel into action in the most gallant manner, and did not fire a gun until he was perfectly secured, although his vessel suffered severely from the fire of the Americans. As soon however as the Confiance had been brought into position, she discharged all her larboard guns at nearly the same instant. The effect of this broadside, thrown from long twenty-four pounders, double shotted, in smooth water, was terrible. The Saratoga trembled to her very keel: about 40 of her crew were disabled, including her 1st Lieutenant, Mr. Gamble, who was killed while sighting the bow gun.
Soon after the commencement of the engagement the Chub, while manuvering near the head of the American line, received, a broadside from the Eagle, which so crippled her that she drifted down between the opposing vessels and struck. She was taken possession of by Mr. Charles Platt, one of the Saratoga's midshipmen, and was towed in shore and anchored. The Chub had suffered severely; nearly half of her men having been killed or wounded. About an hour later the Finch was driven from her position by the Ticonderoga, and, being badly injured, drifted upon the shoal near Crab Island, where she grounded. After being fired into from the small battery on the Island, she struck and was taken possession of by the invalids who manned the battery.
After the loss of the Finch, the British
* There were thirty-nine guns on board the Confiance but two of them were not mounted. Cooper.
Cooper's Naval History. Mr. Alison, (in his History of England, vol. 4,) says: "The relative strength of the squadron on this, as in every ether naval action during the war where the British were defeated, was decidedly in favor of the Americans" a statement unwarranted by the facts, and unnecessary to sustain the high reputation of the British Navy. The following are the number and size of the guns used on both fleets.
14, long 24 pounders. 31, long 24 pounders.
5, 42 pound carronades. 7, 18 "
29, 32 " 16, 12 "
12, long 18 pounders. 5, 6 "
12, long 12 " 12, 32 pound carronades.
7, long 9 " 6, 24 " "
6, 18 pound Columbiads 17, 18 " "
1, 18 pound Columbiad.
86 guns. 95 guns.
** The first gun fired on board the Saratoga was a long twenty-four, which Macdonough himself sighted. The shot is said to have struck the Confiance near the outer bawse-hole, and to have passed the length of her deck, killing and wounding several men, and carrying away the wheel. In clearing the decks of the Saratoga, some hen coops were thrown overboard and the poultry permitted to run at large. Startled by the report of the opening gun of the Eagle, a young cock flew upon a gun slide, clapped his wings and crowed. The men gave three cheers and considered the little incident as a happy omen. Cooper's Naval History and Niles' Register.
** Mr. Alison, (History of England, vol. 4,) referring to this event says, "The Finch, a British Brig, grounded out of shot and did not engage; and again, "The Finch struck on a reef of rocks and could not get action." Had Mr. Alison taken the trouble to read Captain Pring's official account of the engagement, he would have found in it the following statement; "Lieutenant Hicks, of the Finch had the mortification to strike on a reef of rocks, to the eastward of Crab Island, about the middle of the engagement, which prevented his rendering that assistance to the squadron that might, from an officer of such ability, have been expected." It is very convenient for the English historian to convert a small sloop of eleven guns and forty men into a Brig, and to keep large vessel out of the action altogether; but, as I have before said, such statements are unnecessary to preserve the well-earned reputation of the British navy for bravery or gallantry in action.
678 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
gun-boats made several efforts to close, and succeeded in compelling the sloop Preble to cut her cables and to anchor in shore of the line, where she was of no more service during the engagement. The gun-boats, emboldened by this success, now directed their efforts towards the Ticonderoga, against which they made several very gallant assaults, bringing the boats, upon two or three occasions, within a few feet of the schooner's side. They were however as often beaten back, and the schooner, during the remainder of the day, completely covered that extremity of the line.
While these changes were taking place at the lower end of the line, a change was also made at the other extremity. The Eagle, having lost her springs and finding herself exposed to the fire of both the Linnet and Confiance, dropped down and anchored between the Saratoga, and Ticonderoga, and a little in shore of both. From this position she opened afresh on the Confiance and the British gun-boats, with her larboard guns. This change relieved the Brig, but left the Saratoga exposed to the whole fire of the Linnet, which sprung her broadsides in such a manner as to rake the ship on her bows.
The fire from the Saratoga and Confiance now began materially to lessen, as gun after gun on both vessels became disabled, until at last the Saratoga had not a single available gun, and the Confiance was but little better off. It therefore became necessary that both vessels should wind, to continue the action with any success. This the Saratoga did after considerable delay, but the Confiance was less fortunate, as the only effect of her efforts was to force the vessel ahead. As soon as the Saratoga came around she poured afresh broadside from her larboard guns into the Confiance, which stood the fire for a few minutes and then struck. The ship then brought her guns to bear on the Linnet, which surrendered in about 15 minutes afterwards. At this time the British gun-boats lay half a mile in the rear, where they had been driven by the sharp fire of the Ticonderoga and Eagle. These boats lowered their colors as soon as they found the larger vessels had submitted, but not being pursued, for the American gun-boats were sent to aid the Confiance and Linnet which were reported to be in a sinking condition, they escaped together with a store sloop which lay near the point of Cumberland Head during the battle.
The engagement continued for 2½ hours, and was the most severely fought naval battle of the war. The Saratoga had 28 men killed and 29 wounded; the Eagle 13 killed and 20 wounded; the Ticonderoga 6 killed and 6 wounded, and the Preble 2 killed. The lose on the gun-boats was 3 killed and 3 wounded. Total killed and wounded 110, being equal to every 8th man in the fleet. Besides, the Saratoga had been hulled 55 times and was twice on fire; the Eagle was hulled 39 times. The carnage and destruction had been as great on the other side. The Confiance had 41 men killed and 83 wounded; the Linnet reported her casualties at 10 killed and 14 wounded, but the killed and wounded probably exceeded 50; the Chub was reported at 6 killed and 10 wounded, and the Finch at 2 wounded. No account is given of the loss on the gun-boats, but, from their close and severe contest with the Ticonderoga, it must have been large. The total of killed and wounded on the British side was equal to at least one-fifth the whole number of men in their fleet. The Confiance had been hulled 105 times. So severe had been the contest, that at the close of the action there was not a mast in either fleet fit for use.*
Among those killed on the side of the British were Captain Downie, who fell soon after the action commenced, Captain Alexander Anderson of the Marines, Midshipman William Gunn of the Confiance, and Lieutenant William Paul and Boatswain Charles Jackson of the Linnet. Among the wounded were Midshipman Lee of the Confiance, Midshipman John Sinclair of the Linnet, and Lieutenant James McGhee of the Chub. The American officers killed were Peter Gamble 1st Lieutenant of the Saratoga, John Stansbury, 1st Lieutenant of the Ticonderoga, Midshipman James M. Baldwin and sailing-master Rogers Carter. Referring to the death of three of these officers, Mr. Cooper, in his History of the Navy, says: "Lieutenant Gamble was on his knees, sighting the bow-gun, when a shot entered the port, split the quoin, drove a portion of it against his breast and laid him dead on the quarter deck without breaking his skin. Fifteen minutes later one of the American shot struck the muzzle of a twenty-four on the Confiance, dismounted it, sending it bodily inboard against the groin of Captain Downie, killing him also without breaking the skin. Lieutenant Stansbury suddenly disappeared from the bulwarks forward, while superintending some duty with the springs of the Ticonderoga. Two days after the action, his body rose to the surface of the water, and it was found that it had been cut in two by a round shot."
It is said that scarcely an individual escaped on board of either the Confiance or Saratoga, without some injury. Macdonough was twice knocked down; once by the spanker-boom, which was cut in two and fell upon his back, as he was bending his body to sight a gun; and again by the head of a gunner, which was driven against him, and knocked him into the scuppers. Mr. Brum, the sailing-master of the Saratoga, had his clothes torn off by a splinter, while winding
* "I could only look at the enemy's galleys going off in a shattered condition; for there was not a mast in either squadron that could stand to make sail on; the lower rigging being nearly all shot away, hung down as though it had been just placed over the mast heads." Macdonough's Report of the Battle. "Our masts, yards, and sails were so shattered, that one looked like so many bunches of matches, and the other like a bundle of rags." Letter of Midshipman Lee of the Confiance.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 679
the ship. Mr. Vallette, acting Lieutenant, had a shot-box, on which he was standing, knocked from under his feet, and he too was knocked down by the head of a seaman. Very few escaped without some accident, and it appears to have been agreed on both sides, to call no man wounded who could keep out of the hospital.* Midshipman Lee of the Confiance, who was wounded in the action, thus describes the condition of that vessel: "The havoc on both sides is dreadful. I don't think there are more than five of our men, out of 300, but what are killed or wounded. Never was a shower of hail so thick as the shot whistling about our ears. Were you to see my jacket, waistcoat and trowsers, you would be astonished how I escaped as I did, for they are literally torn all to rags with shot and splinters; the upper part of my hat was also shot away. There is one of our marines who was in the Trafalgar action with Lord Nelson, who says it was a mere flea-bite in comparison with this."
As soon as the British fleet was observed approaching Cumberland Head, on the morning of the 11th, Sir George Provost ordered General Power's brigade, and a part of General Robinson's brigade, consisting of four companies of light infantry, and the 3d battalions of the 27th and 76th, to force the fords of the Saranac, and to assault the American works. The advance was made, and the batteries were opened, the moment the action on the lake commenced.
The British attempted to cross the river at three points; one at the village bridge, where they were repulsed by the artillery and Smith; one at the upper bridge, where they were foiled by the pickets and riflemen, guards under Captains Brooks, Richards under Captain Grovenor and Lieutenants Hamilton and Smith, supported by a detachment of militia; and the third at the ford near "Pike's cantonment," where they were resisted by the New York militia, under Major General Mooers and Brigadier General Wright. At this latter point, several companies succeeded in crossing, driving the militia before them towards Salmon River. The British advanced, firing by platoons, but with such carelessness of aim as to do but little injury. At Salmon River the militia were joined by a large detachment of the Vermont volunteers, and were soon afterwards reinforced by Lieutenant Sumpter with a party of artillery and a field-piece. Here they rallied and were drawn up to meet the attack of the British troops, who were rapidly approaching. Just at this moment an officer ** rode up to the ranks, proclaiming the welcome intelligence that the British fleet had surrendered. With three hearty cheers the militia immediately pressed forward against the enemy, who having been at the same moment recalled, were now rapidly retiring toward the ford. In their retreat, a company of the 76th lost their way among the thick pines, where they were surrounded and attacked by several companies of militia and Vermont volunteers. Three Lieutenants and twenty-seven men were made prisoners, and Captain Purchase and the rest of the company killed. The rest of the British detachment regained the north bank of the Saranac with much loss.
Although no further attempt was made to cross the river, the British batteries continued their fire upon the American works until sundown. This fire was returned by the guns of Fort Brown, which were managed during the day with great skill by Captain Alexander Brooks and the corps of veteran artillery under his command
Sir George Provost had now under his command over 13,000 troops, more than half of whom had served with distinction under Wellington, while the American force did not exceed 1,500 regulars, fit for duty, 2,500 Vermont volunteers, under Major General Strong, 600 of whom had just arrived, and General Wright's brigade of Clinton and Essex militia, 700 strong, under command of Major General Mooers. With his superior force, Provost could have forced the passage of the Saranac, and have crushed Macomb by the mere weight of numbers. But the victory would have been attended with great sacrifice of life, and would have led to no permanent advantage to the British. Macdonough was in command of the lake, reinforcements of regulars were hastening to the support of Macomb, the militia were rising, en masse, in every quarter, and within two weeks Provost would have been surrounded, his supplies from Canada cut off, and an only alternative left to force his way back with the loss of half his army, or to have surrendered. In a dispatch to Earl Bathurst, after referring to the loss of the fleet, he says: "This unlooked for event depriving me of the cooperation of the fleet, without which the further prosecution of the service was become impracticable,
* Cooper's Naval History.
Letter to his brother, published In Niles' Register vol. 8. The result of the engagement depended, from the first, upon the Saratoga and Confiance. When Macdonough anchored his vessel he not only attached springs to the cables, but also laid a kedge broad off on each bow of the Saratoga and brought the hawsers in upon the two quartes. To this timely precaution he was indebted for the victory, for without the larboard hawser he could not have brought his fresh broadside into action.
I have conversed with several who boast of their activity during this retreat, and who felt a personal interest in the subject at the time, and they all state that the balls, at each volley, struck the pine trees at least fifteen feet from the ground.
** Chancellor Walworth, then Adjutant General of Major General Mooers' division.
it is said Captain Purchase was shot down while waving a white handkerchief over his head, as a notice that he had surrendered.
Sir George Provost, in his account of the battle, says: "Scarcely had his Majesty's troops forced a passage across the Saranac and ascended the heights on which stand the American works," &c. This would imply that the British had gained ground near the forts, but such was not the case. They crossed nearly two miles above the forts, and followed the Militia from, instead towards the American works.
680 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
I did not hesitate to arrest the course of the troops advancing to the attack, because the most complete success would have been unavailing; and the possession of the enemy's works offered no advantage to compensate for the loss we must have sustained in acquiring possession of them."
This was a just and merited compliment to the skill and bravery of the American regulars and militia. The former were few in number, but resolute and unflinching. Among the latter the greatest enthusiasm now prevailed. They had become accustomed to the "smell of powder," and, animated by the recollection of Macdonough's victory, were ready to oppose any force that might attempt the passage of the Saranac. It is due to the patriotism of the citizens of Vermont, to mention the fact that as soon as Governor Chittenden received information, from Gen. Macomb, of the invasion by the enemy, he issued a spirited address calling on the Vermont militia to rally to the aid of their countrymen on the opposite side of the lake. This address was most nobly responded to, for when the requisition of the President for a reinforcement of 2,000 militia to aid Gen. Macomb reached the Governor, he replied that the order had not only been anticipated, but far exceeded, by the voluntary enrollment of his fellow citizens. The same enthusiasm pervaded the militia on the New York side. When Major General Mooers' orders were received for the militia of Warren and Washington counties to assemble, en masse, and march to the frontier, there appeared, under arms, 250 men more than had ever mustered at an inspection or review.
Acting upon the considerations stated in his dispatch to Earl Bathurst, Sir George Provost prepared for an instant and hasty retreat. As soon as the sun went down, he dismantled his batteries, and, at 9 o'clock at night, sent off his heavy baggage and artillery, which were quickly followed by the main army; the rear guard, consisting of a light brigade, started a little before daybreak, leaving behind them vast quantities of provisions, tents, camp equipage, ammunition, &c. The sick and wounded were also left behind, consigned to the generosity and humane care of General Macomb. So silent and rapid was the retreat, that the main army had passed through Beekmantown before its absence was known in the American camp. The light troops, volunteers and militia were immediately sent in pursuit. They followed the retreating column as far as Chazy, and took a few prisoners. The roads were muddy, and very heavy at the time, which not only prevented further pursuit, but delayed Provost's retreat. The last of the British army did not leave Champlain until the 24th.
General Macomb, in his returns, states the number of killed, wounded and missing of the regular force under his command, during the skirmishes and bombardment, at 123. The only commissioned officer killed was Lieutenant George W. Runk, of the 6th Regiment, who was severely wounded on the 7th and died the next day. The loss among the volunteers and militia was small. The loss of the British has never been correctly ascertained. Their accounts fix the casualties of the expedition at under 200 killed end wounded, and 400 lost by desertion. This however is far below the true number. At the time, the American officers believed the total loss of the British, from the time they first crossed the lines until they again entered Canada, in killed, wounded and prisoners and by desertion, was over 2,000 men. 75 prisoners were taken.*
On the 12th the Vermont volunteers returned home, and on the 13th the New York militia were disbanded by General Macomb and orders issued countermanding the march of thousands who were flocking to the frontier.
On the morning of the 13th of September, the remains of the lamented GAMBLE, STANSBURY, BALDWIN, CARTER and BARRON were placed in separate boats, which, manned by crews from their respective vessels, proceeded to the Confiance, where they were joined by the British officers, with the bodies of DOWNIE, ANDERSON, PAUL, GUNN and JACKSON. At the shore of the lake, the procession was joined by a large concourse of the military, and citizens of Plattsburgh, who accompanied the bodies to the village burial-ground. Near the center of the grave-yard, beneath the shade of two pines, now rests the ashes of those gallant officers. The sailors and marines, who fell in the engagement, were buried on Crab Island, side by side, in one common grave.
With the Battle of Plattsburgh closed all active operations upon the Champlain frontier. For several months, however, the inhabitants were kept in a state of alarm, as it was rumored that the British authorities contemplated another campaign. Major General Mooers, of New York, and Major General Strong, of Vermont, ordered their respective divisions of militia to hold themselves in readiness for active service. General Macomb remained at Plattsburgh with a small force, and caused two redoubts to be thrown up a short distance to the south of Fort Moread, which he named Fort Tompkins and Fort Gaines.
The Treaty of Ghent was signed on the 24th of December, 1814, and, on the 17th of February following, was ratified by the United States Senate. With the publication
* The following list of British officers killed or wounded during the invasion was published in the London Gazette of the 19th and 26th of November, 1814:
KILLED. Captain (Brevet Lieut. Col.) James Willington and Ensign John Chapman, of the 3d Buffs; Capt. John Purchase, 70th Regiment, foot.
WOUNDED Captain T. Crosse, A. D. C., (slightly); Lieut. R. Kingsbury, severely, (since dead); Lieut. John West, (severely); Lieutenants Benson and Holmes, (slightly); all of the 3d Buffs. Captain L. Westropp, (severely); Lieut. C. Brohler and Adjutant Lewis, (slightly); of the 68th Regiment, foot.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 681
of this Treaty all fears of further hostilities ceased."
COPY OF MACDONOUGH'S LETTER.
United States Ship Saratoga,
Off Plattsburgh, Sept. 11, 1814.
The Almighty has been pleased to grant us a signal victory on Lake Champlain, in the capture of one frigate, one brig and two sloops of war of the enemy.
I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully, Sir,
To Wm. JARVES.
The subsequent ceremonies of erecting monuments to the illustrious dead, at Plattsburgh, Sept. 11, 1843, are now fully narrated in Peter S. Palmer's History of Lake Champlain, Part III, p. 197.
Business with Canada was resumed, but the interruption of intercourse for so long a time had diverted to a great extent the trade to the South, and intimate business acquaintance had grown up between the merchants of Troy and Albany, and those upon the lake. Admiral King had found abundant employment for his vessels, in transporting troops, provisions and stores for the Government, in addition to the regular trade for the inhabitants. He had entered into arrangements with Ezra Smith and Cyrus Boardman, at Whitehall, to operate with him; he also established a house there himself to attend to the transhipment of goods, and with Richard P. Hart, of Troy, who managed and kept on the road between Troy and Whitehall a train of horses and wagons, which performed all the transportation, both public and private, between those places. The sloops of King lay at Whitehall, and when the teams came in with goods and merchandise sufficient to load one, it took on the passengers and sailed for the north, and then took its place ready to discharge its cargo of produce to load the teams, and to load in return with merchandise. Thus the business was carried on between the ports on the lake, and Troy and Albany.
But the transportation by teams, between Whitehall and Troy, of heavy articles like iron which was now being manufactured to a moderate amount upon the west aide of the lake and lumber, could not be carried on to a great extent, and Canada still controlled the trade in the latter, which was the great product of export. But a new era in the mode of transportation between Lake Champlain and the Hudson river was at hand. DeWitt Clinton had already set in motion his theory of uniting the waters of the Lakes with those of the Atlantic, by a canal. The work was begun on the Champlain Canal by Ezra Smith and M. Wheeler, in October, 1817, and in about 7 years from its commencement the Champlain Canal was completed and opened for business, on the same day with the Erie, Oct. 8, 1823.
Vermonters were the first to navigate the canal, and the citizens of St. Albans are entitled to the credit of it. The canal boat "Gleaner" was the first to pass through the Champlain Canal to tide water at Troy. Julius Hoyt, N. W. Kingman and John Taylor were the owners. It was built in the summer of 1823, sailed in September of that year Capt. William Burton, master, having on board a cargo of wheat and potash. Messrs. Hoyt & Kingman accompanied him as passengers. The boat arrived at Waterford before the locks into the Hudson were completed, and was detained there several days, during which time many of the merchants and citizens of Troy called upon Messrs. Hoyt & Kingman on board their little vessel. On the completion of the locks the Gleaner passed into the river and proceeded to Troy, accompanied by a long procession of boats gaily decked with flags and streamers. On arriving at Troy she was received with the cheers of a large concourse of people, and a salute of artillery. Messrs. Hoyt & Kingman were escorted by a procession with music to the Troy House, then kept by Platt Titus, Esq., where they were honored by a public dinner, closed by toasts, speeches, &c. The boat, with the same passengers, passed on to New York, and was saluted at Albany, Hudson, Poughkeepsie, and at most of the large places on the way. At New York they were honored in much the same way as at Troy, except that it was upon a larger scale. The papers of that day were full of the subject, and the advent of the little craft even excited one of the great poets of New York to come out in a song in which the Gleaner was alluded to as the "Barque of the Mountains."
This new avenue created an entire revolution in the carrying trade, and a rapid decline took place in the business with Canada, which up to this time had commanded a majority of it, and especially in lumber, which
682 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
now found new markets at Troy and Albany. Meanwhile the discovery of valuable iron ore beds upon the west side of the lake, in the present counties of Essex and Clinton, had led to the erection of forges, furnaces and rolling mills upon the Ausable river at Keeseville, Clintonville, and Ausable Fork, and upon the Saranac river at Plattsburgh, and several miles above for the manufacture of iron in different forms. As early as 1792 four forges were erected in Addison County, two in Chittenden County, some at Fairhaven, Rutland County, and at other points on the Lake, which got their ore from Crown Point. Forges were put up about the same time at Plattsburgh by Judge Zephaniah Platt, Melancthon Smith, Peter Sailley, Thomas Treadwell and others. Iron ore was first found in the present limits of Clinton County, N. Y., in 1800, when the "Winter Bed" was discovered by George Shaffer, and in 1809 the celebrated "Arnold Bed" was opened. This ore was found to be of such a superior quality, that it was in great demand to mix with other ores for manufacture at Troy, Albany and other places, and is now, with the ores from Port Henry, transported in large quantities to Pittsburgh, Pa., to use with ores there in the manufacture of cannon and for other purposes. At the present time Messrs. Wetherbees, at Port Henry, employ in their own mills alone 200 men every day; and the Port Henry iron works, the rolling mills and nail factories of the Messrs. Kingslands, at Keeseville and Dennamore of the Peru Iron Company at Clintonville, the Messrs. Rogers at Ausable Forks, are among the most extensive in this country; and the iron made by them is celebrated far and near for its superior qualities, and known as the "Peru Iron." The enlarged facilities offered by the canal, and the additional tunnage upon the lake by the increase of iron, lumber and produce, caused the construction of a large number of first class sloops and schooners, some as large as 200 tuns, which formed a line from different ports on the lake, in connection with canal boats at Whitehall, where the property was transhipped to Troy, and there again transhipped on barges to New York. The same course was taken with merchandise and goods on the return from the cities.
Thus for a quarter of a century before the opening of the canal, Admiral King and his associates had held control of the lake and its transportation business, although in later years the steamboats had monopolised the passenger business. The competition between them and King's vessels had been warmly contested, and both parties believing a longer continuance would not be profitable, a compromise was effected, and King transferred his property in vessels to the steamboat company, and received as an equivalent an interest in the company, to whose success his efforts were afterwards directed until his death, which occurred at Burlington in 1826. No man, before or since, ever had the influence upon the lake which King possessed. He was a man of strong, comprehensive mind an iron will to execute, and withal of such integrity and good judgment as to command the confidence of the whole business community far and near. With agents at Whitehall and St. Johns, who worked for and with him, he was for a long time a formidable competitor of the steamboats. During the war of 1812 Hart & Bird were the forwarding house at Whitehall, and having the contract for the transportation of the government stores from Troy to Whitehall, operated with King, and the success of these operations laid the foundation of Richard P. Hart's wealth, as well as giving control of the shipping on the lake. In 1815 Hart & Bird retired, and King sent. Ebenezer Hurlburt to Whitehall, to act as his agent, who was succeeded by Jas. H. Hooker until 1821.
In 1816 Ezra Smith, a native of this county, collector of the District of Champlain under President Taylor, and now residing at Cambridge, Washington Co., N. Y., removed to Whitehall and established himself in the forwarding business. He was the first contractor on the canal, and was the agent of the steamboat company until 1825, and rather antagonistical to the interests of King.
In 1822 Asa Eddy came to Whitehall, from Sandy Hill, and engaged in forwarding and transportation on the canal. He established the first line of boats on the canal, which he run until 1831, when he sold out to Peter Comstock, who had been engaged in lumbering and taking rafts through the canal, more or less since its opening. During this time Eddy was interested in a store at the north end of College Green in Burlington, under the firm of Eddy, Munro & Hooker,
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 683
and was also one of the first directors of the Champlain Transportation Company.
Previous to the purchase of the line of Eddy, Comstock had two or three boats of his own, and upon the purchase of the others he entered into a copartnership with Barney & Martin of Whitehall. This was the commencement of the "Northern Transportation Line," which in 1840 passed into the hands of James H. Hooker, who was heavily interested at Troy with Patterson & Hart, in steamers and barges on the river. At his death it was incorporated into a stock association of the same name, which is now in operation upon the lake and canal.
In 1834 Asa and Hiram Eddy started another line of boats on the canal, called the "Northern Line." In 1837 Eddy, Bascom & Cc. purchased this line and run it until 1842 when it was sold out to Travis, Eddy & Co., who established what was called the "Six Days Line," the boats of the line not running upon Sundays. M. J. Myers, Wm. A. Travis, O. F. Blount, Asa Eddy, and others at Whitehall, composed this firm; subsequently, however, Wm. A. Travis, O. F. Blount and L. J. N. Stark became the owners of it, retaining the name of the Northern Line, connecting with it several vessels upon the lake; and for some years became, with the Northern Transportation and the Merchants' Lake Boat Line, the principal transportation lines between New York and Montreal. The Northern Transportation Line Association was formed in 1856, when this line and property were incorporated in it, Mr. Stark at the present time being the president of this association.
For a time after the canal was opened boats were built by several parties, simply adapted for use on the canal, and running between Troy and Whitehall, without any particular connection with boats at either place. But it was soon found, in order to do the business profitably as well as satisfactory to shippers, that a continuous line or interest must be formed, so that shippers could contract at ports on the lake with one and the same party for delivery of property in New York, and vice versa. This made it necessary for parties running boats on the canal to purchase vessels on the lake and Hudson river to run in connection with them to open and establish agencies in New York, Troy and Albany, and thus form a Line as it was termed. This involved the investment of considerable capital, as well as the employment of a large number of agents, clerks and other employees; and consequently concentrated the forwarding and transportation business into the hands of a few individuals or companies, who in effect controlled the whole business and became the regular and responsible lines. Vessels upon the lake or boats on the canal which were owned in whole or in part by the captains, if they were not purchased by the companies, were hired by them for the season and run in their business.
This manner of conducting the business continued until about 1845, when the Long Boat Lines were introduced and gradually changed the system of transportation by dispensing with the transhipments at Whitehall and Troy, by running boats direct from ports on the lake to New York, without unloading or change of cargo on the passage. From 1825 to 1845 navigation by sail upon the lake may be said to have been in the ascendant and to have reached its meridian, and from the first day of June, 1841 the day the Richard M. Johnson, Capt. Orson S. Spear, of the "Merchants Lake Boat Line," left Burlington wharf for New York may be dated the commencement of its decline. During this time there were in use the celebrated first-class sloops and schooners, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Montgomery, Hercules, Billow, General Scott, Lafayette, Water Witch, commanded by Captains Price, Allen, Chamberlain, Tisdale, Bush, Stoughton.
But notwithstanding the proprietors of these lines which were now principally concentrated into two, called the Northern Line, owned by Messrs. Travis & Co., of Whitehall, and the Northern Transportation Line, owned by Col. James H. Hooker, of Troy had a large amount of capital invested in them, employed capable and efficient men, and had abundant facilities and performed the business as well as it could be done under that system; still the delay and damage to butter, cheese, merchandise and other property, incident to transhipment at Whitehall and Troy, caused much trouble and dissatisfaction among shippers of produce and merchants, and induced Messrs. Follett & Bradley, of Burlington, in 1841, to establish the "Merchants' Line." This line was composed of the first-class canal boats, con‑
684 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
structed like a sloop, with frames sufficiently strong to stand the seas upon the lake, rigged with a mast and sail, which could be taken out in an hour at Whitehall, and the boat proceed at once through the canal, and upon arrival at Troy be towed direct to New York by steam tow boats on the Hudson; thus property put on board at one port went through to its destination without handling. This not only prevented damage and delay in transhipment at Whitehall and Troy, but saved some three or four days in time between New York and ports on the lake. They opened an office in New York at No. 9 Coenties Slip, and Lucius A. Johnson., Esq., of Burlington, then clerk on board of one of the steamers on the lake, was appointed their general agent, which place he held to the satisfaction of every one until his death, which occurred in August, 1850, when Mr. Canfield was appointed his successor.
Although, since the "Gleaner" made her first passage, there had from time to time been occasionally "long boats" through to New York, yet no regular line had been established until the Merchants' Line. For a few seasons a strong opposition was opened against it by the other two lines, but the well known responsibility of Messrs. Follett & Bradley, together with the superior facilities offered for prompt and reliable transportation by the long boats, secured to them a majority of the produce and merchandise, which was the most profitable freight, and enabled them to increase the number of their boats from one to twenty or more. Upon the retirement of Judge Follett from business, in the spring of 1847, to assume the presidency of the Rutland and Burlington Railroad, the line was continued by Messrs. Bradley & Canfield of Burlington. and Messrs. Nichols, Burton & Chittenden of St. Albans, and afterwards by Thos. H. Canfield of Burlington, sometimes having as many as 40 boats in the business, until about 1853 or 1854, when the opening of the Rutland & Burlington and Vermont Central diverted the produce of Vermont to Boston, and changed the trade mostly in that direction. The business for which the line was established having been changed, it was discontinued the proprietors turning their attention to the construction and operation of railroads. Meanwhile the "New York and Canada Line" of long boats had been established by Messrs. Smith and Wilkins of Burlington, who also did a successful business until the railroads were opened, when it was discontinued also.
This system of transportation gradually took the through business from sloops and schooners, leaving them mostly employed in freighting lumber, until the further building of them ceased, and the owners of them and the short boats on the canal found it necessary, in order to protect themselves from the inroads which the long boat system was making upon them, to build steam freight vessels upon the lake, to connect with their canal boats at Whitehall, abandoning the sloops and schooners so far as the transportation of merchandise, produce, or any property which required despatch.
The result of this was the building of the propeller James H. Hooker in 1846, the steamboat Ethan Allen in 1847, and the Oliver Bascom in 1856, which boats are now running for freight and towing upon the lake. At first the freight of the long boats was mostly confined to produce, iron, nails and merchandise; but the building of the above tow boats enabled canal boats without sails to be towed through the lake, and it was found that even lumber and all kinds of freight could be shipped cheaper and better in this way than by transhipment at Whitehall. The consequence was that most of the business is now done in this way, and all the vessels which have been built on the lake for the last 10 years have been of the long boat class. Hardly a sloop or schooner has been built in the same time, the use of them for through transportation being entirely dispensed with, and they will go out of service except so far as those now in existence may be used for local business, in carrying stone, wood, and such articles between different points on the lake.
The opening of the Vermont railroads to Boston having diverted a large amount of the business from the lake, and the "Merchant's Line" and "New York Canal Line" having been discontinued, the Northern and Northern Transportation Lines were consolidated into a stook company in 1856, under the name of Northern Transportation Line, which now owns the three steamboats above mentioned, and a large number of canal boats. This Line, with the Northern Express Freight Line, which is composed of the
LAKE CHAMPLAIN 685
steamboat company on the lake, the railroads from Whitehall to Troy and the steamers on the Hudson River, now do the principal part of the transportation and freighting buisness between Lake Champlain and New York. L. J. N. Stark, Esq., of Whitehall, is the president of the Northern Transportation Line, and Oliver Bascom, secretary, treasurer and superintendent. Mr. Bascom has been engaged in the forwarding and transportation business from a young man, having served under Col. Hooker for several years and afterwards the confidential agent and manager of his business on Champlain Canal and Lake. No man north of New York understands better the transportation business, or the wants and interests of the people upon the Lake and in Canada, and no man enjoys to a greater degree the confidence of the community, or sustains a higher character for business and integrity than Oliver Bascom.
LUMBER TRADE FROM CANADA.
We ought not to close this portion of this article without alluding to the great change which has taken place in the lumber trade, during the last 50 years. At the commencement of this century, there were large tracts of pine timber in Chittenden County, these have from time to time been cut down, and either as timber in rafts, or manufactured lumber been transported to Canada, Troy, and Albany, until there is hardly one of the first growth of pine trees left in the whole county. At the present time and for the last five years, Canada has been returning to us the products of her pine forests as bountifully as she received them from us 50 years since and Burlington has become the great port for the distribution of lumber to all New England, as it was formerly to Canada, Troy, and Albany. Large barges carrying 80,000 feet are now loaded at the mills upon the Ottawa, Three Rivers, and other streams in Canada, and towed to Burlington via the St. Lawrence, Richelieu Rivers and Chambly Canal, and while we are now writing, more than 30 acres in the vicinity of the wharves are covered with the finest quality of pine lumber of all dimensions, piled 30 or 40 feet high, which is being sent off daily by the Vt. central and Rutland and Burlington Railroads to Concord, Manchester, Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, Hartford, New Bedford, and even Boston itself where Maine claims control of the market. And while the business is already extensive, there is every indication of its continuing to increase for years to come. For many interesting facts relating to this trade we refer the reader to the excellent article of Henry Rolfe, Esq., on page 517, No. V, of this Magazine. Mr. R. is one of the principal lumber dealers, and knows whereof he writes.
We have omitted particular descriptions of vessels of later years built since the War, because all at the present day are conversant with their style and model. We may, for want of time* to collect and examine statistics and dates, have failed in all cases to state them correctly, and also for the same reason omitted to present many interesting facts and circumstances connected with the business of the Lake. We leave these portions of our subject, begging pardon of the reader for the imperfect and hasty manner in which we have traced the commencement, progress and present condition of sailing vessels upon the Lake, and from which he will perceive that the best days of that kind of navigation have departed, and that steam upon water or upon land, for locomotion, has usurped almost universal sway.
This brings us to consider the question of steam navigation upon the Lake. During the latter part of the 18th century, the application of steam as a moving force was first suggested. Numerous experiments were made for years afterwards, to produce a machine by which this new agent could be successfully used; none however seemed to answer the purpose, until Mr. Watt, of Glasgow, Scotland, in the year 1783 made an improvement in effecting the condensation of steam, by the use of a separate vessel from the cylinder, connecting the two by a pipe or tube. This however did not render the machine complete, and other improvements continued to be made by several mechanics and, inventors.
*Our best papers come from those whose business crowds. Such is the case here. There are a few honerable exceptions if we can call those such who from the burden of years have laid down the professional harness, and yet have not quite forgotten the olden and wholesome habit of work. This subject has been one demanding extensive research, and we consider our writer, in the year allowed for the preparation of his chapter, every moment of which was devoted to the same being snatched from the accumulating cares of the Company for which he is agent, eminently successful in his collecting and collating of statistics and facts, in a word that so comprehensive a paper needs little apology. Ed.
686 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
To the United States, however, belongs the honor notwithstanding the many rival claims which have been set up by foreigners, of first using the steam engine for propelling boats. As early as 1791, John Stevens of Hoboken, father to the present Commodore Edwin A. Stevens, who now resides at the same place, commenced experiments upon steamboats upon the Hudson; Ramsey and Fitch,* in this country, and Watt and Bolton in England, were also experimenting upon respective theories and modes of application of this new power to the vessel. Robert Fulton also, a native of Pennsylvania, had laid before the Earl of Stanhope, some time previous, his views and plans; and Robert Livingston's attention was also taken up with similar experiments. None however proved successful until Fulton and Livingston the latter then 'Minister to France, and the former stopping at Paris pursuing his studies in mathematics, mechanics and physics in 1803 built a boat upon the Seine, which demonstrated upon a small scale the practicability of the use of steam for propelling vessels. The result was so satisfactory, as to leave no doubt in the minds of these gentlemen, of the entire future success of the practical establishment of steam navigation, and they at once determined to give to their common country the advantages which might arise from it.
Mr. Fulton without delay left for America, and procuring from the Legislature of the State of New York an exclusive grant for the right to navigate its waters by steam, commenced building a boat upon the Hudson, which at that time was considered of extravagant size, as well as an extravagant experiment. But the trial upon the Seine had solved the difficult problem then existing, viz: the successful application of the power of the engine to the shaft, its relations to the velocity of the wheel, and the resistance of the water to the motion of the vessel; so that Fulton had no doubt himself as to the result of the experiment, and proceeded in its construction with entire confidence. This boat was 100 feet long, 12 wide, and 7 deep; the engine was constructed by Watt and Bolton of England, and the hull by David Brown of New York. She had no upper deck, and no wheel-houses, and was steered by a tiller. She left New York on her first trip, and according to the following advertisement, which appeared in the Albany Gazette, Sept. 1, 1807.
"The North River Steamboat will leave Pauler's Hook (Jersey City) on Friday, the 4th of September, at 9 o'clock, A. M., and arrive at Albany on Saturday, at 9 P. M. Provisions, good berths and accommodations are provided. The charge to each passenger is as follows:
To Newburg, dollars 3, time 14 hours
" Poughkeepsie, " 4, " 17 "
" Esopus, " 5, " 20 "
" Hudson, " 5½, " 30 "
" Albany, " 7, " 36 hours."
The same paper, Oct. 5th, says, "Mr. Fulton's new steamboat left New York the 2d, at 10 o'clock, A. M., against a strong tide, very rough water, and a violent gale from the North. She made a headway, against the most sanguine expectations, and without being rocked by the waves."
She was called the "Clermont," but the next year it was changed to the "North River," and she was lengthened to 150 feet, and widened to 18 feet. The success of this experiment laid the foundation of a great revolution in the art of shipbuilding and navigation throughout the world. Compare this to the New World now making the same trip in 9 hours, 400 feet long, accommodating 1000 persons as well as a first-class hotel; fare $1. What a change in 40 years. The citizens of Vermont were not ignorant of what was transpiring elsewhere, in developing the power of steam and the improvements in it application, and with their accustomed energy set about building a steamboat called the "Vermont," at Burlington, which was the second steamboat in the world; and was launched in 1808, one year after Fulton had made his first successful trip on the Hudson was completed and commenced navigating the Lake in 1809, just 200 years after Champlain had entered upon its waters in a bark canoe.
The owners and builders of this boat were two brothers, James and John Winans, who fitted up and lived in the house now occupied by James Kelly at the corner of King and Water streets. The boat was built under the "Oak Tree" in the rear of Isaac Nye's store, and was launched sideways into the sand like her celebrated successor the Great Eastern, where she lay for a long time, until by the assistance of their neighbors and the re‑
* The model of the first steamboat built by John Fitch is and has been in the possession of the late Col. Kilbourne and family, a brother-in-law of Fitch, near Columbus, Ohio, for the last 40 years.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 687
peated applications of a "spirit" which was not only "ardent" but abundant in those days, she was transferred to her future element. This boat was 120 feet long, 20 feet beam, 167 tuns burden, with an engine of 20 horse power, which was procured at Albany, and commanded by John Winans.
She was built without guards, with flush deck similar to and about the size of a large class canal boat, except being about 40 feet longer and 6 feet wider. Her decks were clear, having no pilot-house, being steered by a tiller, and her engine an horizontal one, being all under deck only smoke-pipe appearing above. There was but one room below about 25 by 18 feet, in which were berths upon the side, and this room was used for dining room as well as for sleeping. She was fitted up with second-hand engine and boilers; cylinder 20 inches by 3 feet stroke, "side lever bell crank" with a large balance-wheel some 10 feet in diameter withal very poor machinery. But they were the best that could be had at this time good substantial working engines were not to be found, and manufacturers of general machinery little understood the power of steam and the proportioning of machinery to resist its power. The consequence was she was continually subject to "breakdowns" which were a part of her programme, and could be relied upon to make the trip from Whitehall to St. Johns and back in about a week.
Her first trip was made in June, 1809, from Burlington, a large concourse of people assembling upon the shore to witness her departure or "breakdown" doubtless a majority supposing the latter would take place sooner than the former. Several of the citizens took passage on her, and among the number now living are our townsmen G. B Sawyer and Capt. Almas Truman, and Hiram Ferris, of Chazy, N. Y. Mr. Ferris was the pilot, and Mr. Truman a hand, and to him we are indebted for a full description of the boat and machinery and many other interesting particulars. The following notice, announcing her completion, appeared in "The Northern Sentinel at Burlington, June, 1809."
The Vermont Steamboat has been built and fitted up at great expanse for the convenient accommodation of ladies and gentlemen who wish to pass Lake Champlain with safety and dispatch. She will make the passage of the Lake, 150 miles, in the short time of 24 hours, and her arrival and departure has been so arranged as to meet the stage at Whitehall, and complete the line to St. Johns every Saturday evening exactly at 9 o'clock, will pass Cumberland Head about 5 on same day and arrive at Burlington at 8 o'clock in the evening. Leave Burlington at 9 the same evening and arrive at Whitehall 9 next morning. Leave Whitehall every Wednesday at 9, A. M.
She was run between these points, making the landings for passengers; in moderate weather could make about 5 miles an hour, but with a strong wind either fore or aft, the sloops of King could pass her easily. The consequence was, much competition arose between them, and strong efforts were made by King and others with whom he was associated at Whitehall and St. Johns, to control the business for the sloops, or packets, as some of them were called, which run more for passengers, and to prevent the "Vermont" from being sustained, inasmuch as only the Winans were owners, and the others had no interest in her. Intercourse with St. Johns being interrupted by the War of 1812, she was only run to Plattsburgh and occasionally to Champlain, and was engaged for the Government in transporting troops and stores.
After peace was declared the "Vermont" resumed her trips to St Johns, and in October, 1815, had her last "breakdown." On her trip up from St. Johns the connecting rod became detached from the crank, and, working by "bell cranks," before the engine could be stopped, it was forced through the bottom of the boat and she sunk a wreck near Ash Island, a few miles south of the Isle Aux Noix. The Messrs. Winans took out her engine and boilers, and sold them to the Lake Champlain Steamboat Company.
As we have before remarked, the intercourse which was of necessity kept up during the war with Lake Champlain, by the merchants and business men of Lansingburgh, Troy and Albany, led to the investment of considerable capital by them in the lumber mills, forges, ore beds, and shipping of the Lake. Vermont, which was being settled fast, and her resources being developed by the industry and enterprize of her citizens, became the most valuable and desirable customer to Troy and Albany and furnished to those cities an extensive business.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN STEAMBOAT COMPANY.
Meanwhile the experiment of the Messrs.
688 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
Winans, and the success of Fulton on the Hudson in the application of steam to vessels, did not escape the attention of the shrewd business men of Burlington. Satisfied that steam must supersede canvas as a motive power, Cornelius P. Van Ness, Moses and Guy Catlin, who had become sometime previous residents of Burlington and were men of great ability and business talent, with Amos W. Barnum an active citizen of Vergennes, resolved to establish permanently a line of steamboats on the Lake. These gentlemen, descending from some of the most influential and respectable families in New York and Connecticut, enjoying the acquaintance and confidence of leading and wealthy men in Albany and New York, found no difficulty in enlisting an interest in the enterprise, and in connection with Tunis Van Vechten, Abram G. Lansing, Isaiah and John Townsend, J. Ellis Winne, Sam'l T. Lansing and Joseph Alexander of Albany, procured a charter, March 12, 1813, from the Legislature of the State of New York under the name of the "Lake Champlain Steamboat Company," with a capital of $100,000 for the purpose of building and operating steamboats on Lake Champlain. Messrs. Van Vechten, Lansing, Townsend, and Winne from Albany, with Messrs. Van Ness, Catlin, Barnum and Sherman of Vermont, were the directors and managing men of the Company for many years after, until it was consolidated with the Champlain Transportation Company. This Company commenced building their first boat on the Lake at Vergennes, in the winter of 1813 and 1814. Their boat builder, Mr. Lacey, had only got the hull of the boat "into frames," when Commander Macdonough appeared with his shipbuilders the Messrs. Brown of New York, his carpenters, mechanics, officers, sailors, and armament, to build his fleet. Vergennes swarmed with workmen. The hull set up by Lacey was taken and fitted up for a war vessel which was called the Ticonderoga in the battle off Plattsburgh, and so expeditiously was the work carried on that the vessel was no sooner launched than the masts were "stepped" on board from the "Elm Tree," which was Nature's derrick, the shrouds were fitted and set "taut," the cannon mounted and she was ready for action.
The same year, 1814, in the latter part of the season, the company laid the keel for another boat called the Phnix, which was placed under the superintendence of Captain Jehaziel Sherman, who had been sent on from Albany the May previous to look after and settle with Commodore Macdonough for the one which had been seized by him on the stocks. He brought with him an engine and boilers which had been used on the steamboat "Perseverance" on the Hudson, which, with the "Hope," had been enjoined from running, by Livingston and Fulton, who had received from the State of New York the exclusive right to use steam in navigating vessels upon all the waters of the State of New York. But rather than to have continued trouble and an expensive litigation, they settled with the owners of the Perseverance and Hope at Albany, by gaining from them the exclusive right to use steam upon Lake Champlain; and it was these parties principally, in connection with those above mentioned from Vermont, who were the owners of the stock of the Lake Champlain Steamboat Company. This boat was launched and commenced running between Whitehall and St. Johns in 1815, Captain J. Sherman being commander; was 146 feet long, 27 broad, 9Ό deep 45 horse power with an engine 24 inch cylinder and 4 feet stroke. Unlike steamboats of the present day she had no upper deck or stateroom, the main deck being protected from the, weather by an awning of canvas. Both the ladies' and gentlemen's cabin were below, the stairs or entrance to them being protected by a small building 6 by 10 feet. She had "short" guards which extended from the bow to about 25 feet abaft of the wheels where the small boats were suspended and an accommodation ladder for the purpose of entering the small boats from the deck, which were at that time used almost altogether in landing passengers, except at one or two of the principal places on the Lake. Abaft the wheels each side was a space of about 8 feet for wood, and a small state-room and sitting and smoking room upon one side, and a baggage room upon the other. Forward of the wheels were the barber's shop and other rooms. The Captain's office was at the head of the gentlemen's stairs, and his state-room below which was entered from the gentlemen's cabin, and upon the opposite side was the kitchen and pantry. The boiler was below, and under the cabin stairs was the bar. The furniture of the cabin was of the best kind throughout and was considered very
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 689
stylish at that time and was kept in elegant order, our townsman Sion E. Howard then being steward and having charge of this department. There was a railing around the boat, but no pilot-house to protect the pilot from storms, and in fact there was no attempt made to shelter the deck, or to use it as at the present day in any way for passengers. She run very successfully between St. Johns and Whitehall for some years the price of passage at that time being $10, which included "board and lodging" be the trip longer or shorter until she was destroyed by fire at 1 o'clock in the morning, on the 5th of Sept., 1819, on her passage from Burlington to St. Johns.
BURNING OF THE STEAMER PHNIX.
Capt. Jehaziel Sherman was running the Phoenix that season, but upon her fatal trip was not on board, being confined at home by sickness; and his son, Capt. Richard W. Sherman, then a young man, was in command of her. At that time Port Kent had not "become the starting place for all other parts of the world," and the course of the steamers from Burlington was the same as at the present time, when running direct from Burlington to Plattsburgh, viz.: near Rock and Appletree Points, between Colchester reefs, and thence on the west of Stave and Providence Islands, and east of Valcour and Crab Islands.
It was on a clear moonlight evening, Saturday, September 4, 1819, as Capt. Sherman relates to us, "We left Burlington at 11, P. M. with every thing in apparent good order about the vessel, a regular watch being kept at night. I remained on deck until we passed the reefs of Colchester, in company with Geo. Burnham, the Custom House Officer. The passengers, I think, had all retired. Having been up all the night previous, I told my pilot to call me at Crab Island and Mr. Burnham said he would do the same and then went below to my stateroom, lay down and fell asleep, the wind blowing fresh from the north-east." Our townsman, D. D. Howard, was the steward and barkeeper of the boat, and occupied the same room with Capt. R. W. Sherman, which was in the forward end of the boat and was reached by another flight of stairs than those which led to the gentlemen's and ladies' cabin. There was no connection below between the cabin and forward end of the boat, the boiler being in the center, the state-room of Capt. Jehaziel Sherman upon one side of it and the kitchen and pantry upon the other, the latter adjoining the cabin. Col. Harry Thomas, whose wife and family still reside in Burlington, and John Howard, so long known to our citizens as "Uncle John" of the Howard Hotel, were on board, Mr. Howard being on his way to Montreal as a special messenger for the Bank of Burlington, with $8,000 in charge.
It was customary for the pilots and those on duty all night to take a lunch in the pantry about midnight and for some reason this night a candle was left by some of them burning between the shelves, which soon set fire to them, and the pantry being by the side of the boiler made the woodwork very dry and combustible, and soon it was all in a blaze. John Howard had deposited his money in the bar, which was in the cabin, and had taken the room next to the pantry, and was consequently the first to discover the fire. He at once aroused all the passengers in the gentlemen's cabin, and from thence rushing to the ladies' cabin awakened all there, hurrying all on deck as fast as possible most of them in their night clothes with such portion of their dress as they could seize in the hurry of the moment.
In a very short time the fire burst forth from the pantry, and, communicating to the oil about the engine, soon enveloped the whole center part of the boat in flames and almost cut off communication between the two ends. Meanwhile Capt. R. W. Sherman and D. D. Howard, who were in forward, had made their way over the top of the wheelhouse, without coat, hat or boots, and were attempting to save the money in the captain's office, but were foiled in the attempt, the fire having already come up through the skylight, encircling the office in flames.
It was now about 1 o'clock on the morning of the 5th of September, and the boat was some 14 miles from Burlington, about 4 miles from Colchester Point and 2 miles from Providence Island. The flames spread with great rapidity, and but one alternative remained, as death by fire was certain in a few minutes to those who should remain on board. Capt. Sherman says: "The starboard boat was then settled away and left with about 20 persons, including all the lady passengers, the stewardess, Mrs. Wilson, having pre‑
690 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
viously brought to the ladies in the boat all their things from the ladies' cabin. This boat was then started off for Providence Island in charge of Col. Thomas and D. D. Howard, the latter having the $8,000 in charge, while Capt. Sherman, John Howard, and Mrs. Wilson remained on board the burning steamer to aid in saving the rest with the larboard boat, which was much the larger boat of the two. This boat was then settled away, and my men placed at the bow line which held her to the steamer to prevent her being shoved off before all were on board, as she could carry all that remained without difficulty. After 14 persons had been lowered into it and while Mrs. Wilson had gone below for her things, the line was cut by some person in the boat and she dropped astern, leaving myself and ten others on board the burning steamer. Their names are as follows: Capt. R. W. Sherman, Vergennes; John Howard, Burlington; Samuel Harris, Hebron, N. Y.; Dr. Trinett, Boston, Mass.; Austin Wright, fireman, Whitehall; Gilbert Painter, about 12 years old, Quebec; Mrs. Wilson, stewardess, Charlotte, Vt.; Ziba Manning, pilot, Whitehall; Stephen Kellis, cook, New York; Harvey Black and Andrew Harrison, deck hands, Burlington. The five first mentioned were saved, and the other six were lost."
Mr. Elias Hall, late of Rutland, who was well acquainted with the lake and was a passenger, published an account of this disaster some years since, and also related to me, before his death, the circumstances. He says: "He was in the last boat, holding it to the vessel and watching the bow line, when John Pierson of Shelburne cut it, which let the boat swing around, when there was a cry to cut the stern-line or we shall go under, and Pierson then cut it off close to my side." When this act was done and the bowline severed, almost the last hope of life to the few left behind was cut off, and a scene ensued which was truly distracting and heart rending.
Eleven persons were left on board the burning steamer, in the dead of night, which was then nearly overspread with flames and those fanned by a strong wind blowing fresh from the north-east. The cries for assistance from those who could not swim were pitiable, and, to add to the horror and cruelty of the awful scene, McVein, the engineer of the steamer, who was in the larboard boat, a few rods off, refused to return to save those who had been left and when others who were in the boat insisted upon going back, he threatened "to knock the first man overboard with an oar" who should rise to make the attempt. The two boats made for Providence Island and landed their passengers, and immediately returned to the burning wreck, Col. Thomas in charge of one, and D. D. Howard of the other. In the meantime, while they were gone, John Howard and Capt. R. W. Sherman, with the same coolness and presence of mind which they had exhibited throughout the terrible scene, continued to provide the best means then left at their command to save the others until the small boats could return. Benches, boards, plank, tables, were thrown overboard as fast as persons were let down into the water. Mrs. Wilson was placed between two settees, but the rolling of the waves displaced them in a short time, and herself with five others who could not swim, soon sunk into a watery grave. Capt. Sherman was the last man to leave the vessel. He says: "The vessel was then on fire two-thirds her length or more, and soon after the others were overboard I took a table leaf and jumped into the water from the larboard quarter and made for Stave Island. Soon afterwards I hailed a person afloat some distance from me, which proved to be Austin Wright, and told him, if he was picked up by either of the boats, to say he had seen me, and that I should try to reach Stave Island, and that if I was living they would find me on or near it. I owe my life to having given him these directions; because one of the boats, upon their return from Providence Island found him, and upon his relating my directions to him, the boat was at once started in the direction of Stave Island, and I was picked up about 40 rods from it, having been in the water two hours and a quarter, and was quite insensible. When I came to my senses I found myself in the bottom of the boat, and at once ordered my men to put about and go to the wreck in hopes of saving others; and, after rowing around it and finding no one, we made for Colchester Point, where we landed and went up to a fisherman's hut, Mr. George Burnham carrying me in his arms. After remaining here an hour and recovering ourselves, we again went to the wreck, which had drifted some distance
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 691
from where the boat took fire, and lodged upon Colchester reef, now known as the outer reef, and extinguished the fire, the vessel having burned to the water line."
The light from the burning vessel had already been discovered in Burlington, and Capts. Robert and Lavater White, Capt. Almas Truman, Capt. Dan Lyon, all of whom are now living, with others put off early in the morning with their sloops for the scene of the disaster, taking with them provisions and all kinds of clothing for the passengers, which the residents of the village had brought down to the wharves. The citizens of Grand Isle also went over to Providence Island early in the morning with food and clothing, and during the day the passengers were all brought to Burlington, where every attention and kindness was shown them. We cannot too strongly commend the heroic exertions and noble efforts of Capt. R. W. Sherman, John Howard, and Harry Thomas, and Mrs. Wilson, nor admire too highly the coolness and presence of mind so strikingly manifested by them in saving the lives of so many in so short a time; as says a passenger, "It could not have been ten minutes from the time the fire was discovered, before every person had left the steamer, so rapidly did the flames communicate to every part of the vessel." Especially praiseworthy and commendable will the self-sacrifice of these persons appear on the page of history when compared with the selfishness and inhumanity of the person who cut the line of the last boat before it was half full, leaving on board a female who was neighbor of his, who had so bravely assisted all the ladies under her care into the first boat, and was willing to take her chance for safety in the second one, or with the cruelty of the engineer McVein, who refused when solicited by the passengers in his boat to return to rescue his own comrades and Captain, who had been his daily associates and friends for years. When we consider that this disaster occurred in the night with a fresh wind to scatter the flames, and create a sea with almost all on board in sound sleep, and with everything so combustible around them, we cannot give too much credit to the above named persons for their brave and noble conduct, and think there are but few instances upon record which would compare with them.
An instance of depravity which occurred in connection with this disaster it may be well to mention. When the small boats arrived at Providence Island the first time, no one but Colonel Thomas and D. D. Howard were willing to take charge of them, to return for those who had been left. Mr. Howard had the bag with $8,000, which his father had thrown into the boat to him as she left the steamer, but rather than not have the boat return he left the money in care of some of the passengers. Amidst the confusion which arose after he had left on his return trip, an Irishman got hold of the bag, rifled it, and with the first boat which came over from Grand Isle in the morning, he took passage back and as fast as possible made his course for Bell's Ferry upon the west side of the Island, in hopes to get to Plattsburgh before the loss of the money was discovered. Mr. Sion E. Howard,* who was one of the first citizens to arrive at Colchester Point, and Providence Island, was directed by his father to look after the money, and upon making inquiry found it had been stolen, and that the Irishman was missing. Mr. H. at once crossed over to Grand Isle, and soon getting track of him followed on as rapidly as possible, overtaking him near the Ferry, when the man, immediately suspecting the nature of his mission, turned upon him hors du combat with two large knives, threatening to stab him if he advanced. Mr. Howard, nothing daunted by his threats, stepped to the fence and drawing out a stake, summoned the man to surrender, which after some words he concluded to do, and gave up all the money to Mr. Howard.*
We close the account of this awful disaster with the following statements taken from the Northern Sentinel of Sept. 10th, 1819:
Mr. Henry Chapman and family, of Boston, Mass., and Thomas W. Thompson, of Concord, New Hampshire, acknowledge with great sensibility the efficient, humane and polite attention shown by the gentlemen and ladies of Burlington, to themselves and fellow-sufferers by the awful conflagration of the steamboat Phnix, on Lake Champlain in the night of the 4th-5th inst. They consider it but an act of justice thus publicly to say, that more judicious arrangements for their relief and the relief of those passengers who were destined to the northward and Canada, could not, in their opinion, have been made.
* Since this article was written, deceased. Ed.
692 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
Wishes to make his acknowledgments to the citizens of Burlington for their indefatigable exertions in attempting to save from the wreck of the steamboat Phnix, such property as was practicable to secure. They have also laid him under a more particular obligation for the promptness in which they turned out with clothing, provisions, liquors, &c., to comfort the surviving passengers and crew who escaped the ravages of the flames, and were providentially rescued from a watery grave. For this Godlike act, words are insufficient to express his feelings they can better be conceived than described; he can only say their humanity and benevolence on this distressing occasion will, during his life, be held in grateful remembrance. He cannot in justice to his own feelings, omit to make a single exception, viz. Mr. Samuel Wainwright, who refused to go with, or loan his boat to carry clothing to cover the nakedness of the suffering females and others who were cast upon a desert island. Capt. Richard W. Sherman wishes also to return his most grateful thanks to the citizens of Burlington for their kindness to him, and his distressed crew and passengers, in furnishing them with every comfort which was possible for human beings to bestow.
The second boat of this Company was put on to the stocks at Vergennes, in the winter of 1815 and 1816, and called the Champlain. Fearing the Messrs Winans, whose boat was wrecked this season, would build another, and desiring to avoid any competition and to dispose of them without trouble, the Company made a contract with them to build this boat, using the engine and boilers of the "Vermont," her construction being planned more to sink the engine than to accommodate passengers. Capt. George Brush, who now resides at Montreal, and to whom we are indebted for many particulars, superintended the construction and fitting out, and took command of her when she came out the following September. Her speed was but about 4 miles an hour. It should be borne in mind that these boats were far inferior to those of the present day in their manner and as well as style of finishing the Champlain being arranged similar to the Phoenix, with short guards, flush deck aft, with no cabins or covering above the main deck, except an awning of canvas.
The Company found upon trial that both these boats were too slow, and that something must be done to increase their speed. It was therefore decided during the winter of 1816 and 1817 to transfer the engine of the Phnix to the Champlain, which brought her up to a speed of 6 miles per hour. A new engine for the Phnix was built by McQueen in New York, 42-inch cylinder and four feet stroke, which gave her a speed of 8 miles per hour. The Champlain came out at the opening of navigation in 1817, making two trips a week between Whitehall and St. Johns, and the Phnix came out in July. Soon after she had taken her place upon the line, the Champlain was burned to the water's edge, while lying at the dock in Whitehall, caused by the imperfect construction and arrangement of her boilers.
In 1818, Captain Sherman and Amos W. Barnum of Vergennes, Guy Catlin of Burlington, and Tunis Van Vechten of Albany, built the Congress at Vergennes, using the engine and boilers of the Champlain which had been before used on the Hudson River and on the Phnix and tried by fire on the Champlain. This boat came out in 1818, and was commanded by Captain Daniel Davis during that season and most of the next, and in the winter of 1820 was sold by the owners to the Champlain Steamboat Company, and Captain R. W. Sherman was appointed to command her. The Phnix having been burnt the fall before, the Congress was now the only steamboat on the Lake, and she continued to run on the line alone until the Company, in the winter of 1819 and 1820, built another boat which they called the 2d Phnix, using the engine built by McQuean for the first Phnix, which had been saved from the wreck, and which came out in July 1820, under command of Capt J. Sherman, and was said to be at that time the fastest steamboat in the world. These two boats were arranged and finished similar to the first Phnix, although some improvements were afterwards made, and the guards were extended full all around. The Company having incurred serious losses in the destruction of two steamboats by fire, still persevered in their enterprise, and in the Spring of 1821 found themselves with the Phnix and Congress in good order. These boats were put on to the route between St. Johns and Whitehall under command, at different times, of the Messrs. Sherman, Harrington, Burnham and Lathrop, making three trips per week and continued to run with success for several years, being the only steamboats on the lake, the fare through between St. Johns and
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 693
Whitehall being $6.00. Thus far the Company had made Vergennes their place for building and repairing their boats during the winter, it being the residence of Captain J. Sherman, who had the superintendence of this portion of the business. But on account of the early closing of the Otter Creek by ice, and other reasons, which made it very inconvenient for them, they determined to find some other place more accessible at all seasons of the year, and Messrs. Follett and Van Ness were appointed a committee to carry out the resolution. In 1820 these gentlemen made choice of the present location at Shelburne Harbor and purchased some 4 or 5 acres of land, where since have been erected wharves, store-houses, ways, machine and carpenter shops, saw mills, and all the machinery necessary for hauling out, repairing and building boats, including engines and boilers. Boats can enter this harbor at the last moment, when the lake is closed by ice, and can come out as soon as it is clear in the spring, and withal a secure harbor is afforded at all times from all winds and seas, and has now become the main ship-yard on the lake for the repair of steamers and large vessels.
Meanwhile Captain J. Sherman, in 1817, had taken to Lake George the original engine of the Vermont which was tried upon the Champlain and then taken out, and in connection with the Messrs. Winans, built the "Caldwell." This was the first steamboat on Lake George, was 80 feet long, 20 feet wide, 8 feet deep, 20-horse power, and cost $12,000. She was burnt in 1821. Captain Sherman, in 1824, built the "Mountaineer," at Caldwell, 100 feet long, 16 broad, 8 deep, 20-horse power, cost $12,000, speed 6 miles an hour, run 13 years, and was condemned at Ticonderoga in 1837. The John Jay was built by Captain Sherman, in 1838, at Ticonderoga, 140 feet long, 17 wide, 8 deep, cost $20,000, 40 horse power, speed 12 miles an hour, and commanded by Captain L. C. Larabee, condemned in 1848. In 1849, the second John Jay was built. Length 145 feet, breadth 20, depth 8, cost $26,000, 75-horse power, speed 13 miles an hour, commanded by Capt. L. C. Larabee, burnt July 29, 1856, whereby 6 persons were lost.
Steamer Minnehaha built in 1849, by the Lake George Steamboat Company. Length 150 feet, breadth 20, depth 8Ό, cost $27,000, 75-horse power, speed 13½ miles an hour, commanded by Captain James Gale, and now running. She is a beautiful boat, and no place in the country offers more inducements for the traveler and tourist than Lake George.
Nov. 18th, 1824, the Champlain Ferry Company was chartered by the Legislature of Vermont, with authority to establish a ferry between Burlington and Port Kent, N. Y. The stock of this Company was liberally subscribed for by the enterprising citizens of Burlington, such as Samuel Hickok, John Peck, Luther Loomis, Prof. James Dean, Andrew Thompson, Timothy Follett, Philo Doolittle, E. H. Deming, Henry Mayo, Ozias Duel, Wm. A. Griswold and A. W. Hyde. It was organized by the election of Samuel Hickok, Timothy Follett, Philo Doolittle, John Peck, and Prof. James Dean as Directors; by the appointment of Samuel Hickok, President, and Philo Doolittle, Clerk and Treasurer.
About the first of July, 1825, this Company had built and put upon this ferry the steamer "General Green," a vessel of 160 tuns and propelled by a 30-horse power engine. This steamer, commanded by Capt. Dan Lyon, continued to ply between Burlington, Port Kent and Plattsburgh until the close of the season of 1832, making 8 years. In. July, 1833, the steamer Winooski was put on to the ferry in place of the General Green, which was converted into a sloop, and in 1834 the trip was extended to St. Albans Bay.
Oct. 21st, 1821, a charter was granted by the Legislature of Vermont to Charles McNeil, of Charlotte, Vt. and H. H. Ross, of Essex, N. Y. for a ferry between those points. Ferry boats propelled by horse-power were used, and this route for crossing the lake for many years was very popular, especially on account of the facilities furnished for carrying cattle, sheep, horses and teams.
In 1827, this Company' built the steamboat Washington, which proved to be too expensive for ferrying when she was employed for a time in towing up the lake towards Whitehall, and finally sold to the Cham. Trans. Co. March 9, 1829, the proprietors, Messrs. Ross and McNeil, becoming directors in the latter company, receiving for the Washington a certain amount of stock of the Co. In 1848 the proprietors built the steamer Bouquet which run for a few years, when, the business
694 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
being so much diverted by the railroads, it was found impossible to sustain her on the ferry and she was sold to parties in Canada.
Nov. 4th, 1826, a charter was granted for a steamboat company to Julius Hoyt, Orange Ferris, N. W. Kingman, L. Brainerd, Wm. O. Gadcomb, George Green, Joshua Doane, David Stevens, Jr. and Noah B. Wells, under the name of the St. Albans Steamboat Co. The company was organized by the election as Directors N. W. Kingman, N. B. Wells, L. L. Dutcher, John Lynde and John Palmer, the last two gentlemen residing in Plattsburgh; N. W. Kingman was appointed President, and L. L. Dutcher, Clerk.
This Company built, in 1828, the steamboat Macdonough Charles Lampson being master builder, and John Ward and Co., of Montreal, furnishing the engine. She came out under command of Capt. Wm. Burton, who now resides at Cleveland, Ohio, and run for several years on the route between St. Albans Bay and Plattsburgh, connecting at the latter place with the line steamers through the Lake and the steamers of the Champlain Ferry Co., until January, 1835, when she was sold to the Cham. Trans. Co., with all the rights, franchise and interests of the St. Albans Steamboat Co.
Oct. 26th, 1826, the Vermont Legislature granted a charter to Ezra Meach, Martin Chittenden, Stephen S. Keyes, Luther Loomis, Roswell Butler, Eleazer H. Deming, "for the purpose of transporting by use of tow boats or otherwise passengers, goods, wares, merchandise, or any other property on Lake Champlain," under the name and style of the "Champlain Transportation Company," which is the present "Steamboat Co." as it is usually called. The corporators and their associates met at the hotel of John Howard, in Burlington, Nov. 10th, 1826, and organized by the appointment of a board of directors and committees to procure subscriptions to the stock, to make such investigations, and devise such plans as were necessary for carrying out the objects of the charter. Several meetings of directors were held during the year 1827, subscriptions were procured for the whole stock of the company and arrangements were made for building a boat. This boat, called the "Franklin," was completed at St. Albans in the Fall of 1827, under the direction of a committee consisting of Luther Loomis, Roswell Butler and Philo Doolittle, Capt. Jehaziel Sherman having the immediate charge and superintendence of the construction. He had been at Troy for two or three years in the service of the Troy Steamboat Co., superintending the building of the steamer Chief Justice Marshall and other boats, and was conversant with all the improvements which had been made, both in machinery, models, and finishing. No pains were spared to make this boat complete, especially in the conveniences for passengers. She was provided with an upper deck throughout, with a ladies' cabin on the main deck, which was the first boat provided in that way. She commenced her trips Oct. 10th, 1827, between Whitehall and St. Johns, the rate of passage being reduced to $5, under command of Capt. J. Sherman, who resigned at the end of the season and retired from the Lake, Capt. R. W. Sherman succeeding him.
Business under the terms of the charter having actually commenced, the stockholders held their first annual meeting at Burlington, for the election of nine directors. January 31st, 1828. The following gentlemen were elected: Wm. A. Griswold, Samuel Hickok, Luther Loomis, James Dean, Jehaziel Sherman, Asa Eddy, N. W. Kingman, Lawrence Brainerd and Philo Doolittle. These gentlemen, with Timothy Follett, George Moore, John Peck, Henry H. Ross, Heman Cady, S. E. Howard and Andrew Thompson, after the number of directors was increased, continued to act with slight change until about 1846. Wm. A. Griswold was elected president, and Philo Doolittle treasurer and clerk, which office he held through all changes of the company with great acceptation to all parties until his death, January 19th, 1862. Mr. Griswold continued president until the year of his death, 1846.
The season of 1826 opened with the following steamboats on the Lake: the Franklin, Washington, Phnix and Congress, the General Green between Burlington and Plattsburgh, and the Macdonough in the latter part of the season between Plattsburgh and St. Albans, affording the public more facilities than the business required. It proved not to be the most profitable season, especially to the Cham. Steamboat Co., whose boats had become old and somewhat behind the age. The Cham. Trans. Co. was gaining ground with their "splendid steam packet Franklin," while the Cham. Steamboat Co. was losing;
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 695
and during the winter the latter leased for two years their steamers the Phnix and Congress to Timothy Follett and C. P. Van Ness. These gentlemen with their accustomed shrewdness and sagacity at once entered into an engagement with the Cham. Trans. Co., by which each party were to put a boat on to the line, and the proceeds of the business to be divided between them.
During the winter the Cham. Trans. Co. purchased the Washington of Messrs. Ross and McNeil, which ruder the arrangement with Messrs. Follett and Van Ness was used with the Phnix for towing; while the Franklin and Congress were placed upon the line between St. Johns and Whitehall as passenger steamers. This proved to be a profitable arrangement for both parties, and much more convenient for the public.
Meanwhile the affairs of the Cham. Steamboat Co. had become somewhat embarrassed, having already lost two steamers by fire, and the stockholders mostly residing at Albany with as much business of their own as they could attend to, and consequently unable to give the proper personal attention to their interests on the lake which was required to make them successful, they decided to relieve themselves of all further trouble by advertising the Phnix and Congress with all their other property for sale at public auction at Whitehall on the 20th July, 1830. The sale took place, and Isaiah Townsend, of Albany, became the purchaser and owner of the Cham. Steamboat Co. and all its property.
The lease of Messrs. Follett and Van Ness having expired at the close of the season 1830, also put an end to the arrangement with the Cham. Trans. Co.; but Mr. Townsend in behalf of the Cham. Steamboat Co. renewed it upon similar terms for 1831, '32, and '33.
While the Companies were operating under the new arrangement, negotiations were pending between their officers from time to time for consolidating the stock of the two, and uniting them in one permanent and common interest. Several propositions were exchanged, which finally terminated in an agreement entered into at Albany, Feb. 22d, 1833, between the two Companies, by which the steamers Phnix and Congress, the real estate at Shelburne Harbor, and all other property of every name and nature of the Lake Cham. Steamboat Co. was sold, and transferred to the Cham. Trans. Co., Isaiah Townsend, Esq., the president and owner of the former Company receiving therefor an equivalent in the stock of the latter Company. Thus these two rival companies were consolidated in one, and the permanent arrangement proved to be as profitable for the parties in interest, as the temporary ones before had been while these negotiations were pending. Capt. Jehaziel Sherman, in 1832, built at Fort Cassin a steamboat called the "Water Witch." This was a small boat, poorly arranged for passengers, but still of power and capacity enough to tow, and running between Vergennes and Whitehall would consequently take some of the travel, thus come in conflict more or less with the business of the Cham. Trans. Co. The St Albans Steamboat Co. and the Cham. Ferry Co. still continued to run their boats, which to a certain extent interfered with the business of the Cham. Trans. Co. The latter Company believing that the business then done by all three Companies could be performed with less boats by one Company, and thereby save the expense of three organizations and extra boats, appointed Wm. A. Griswold, Luther Loomis, and Philo Doolittle a committee with full power "to enter into negotiations with the owners of any steamboat or boats on Lake Champlain, and to make such arrangements with such owners as they might judge best for the interest of the Co." They at once held a conference with the owners of the "Water Witch," the "Winooski" and "Macdonough," and, after several interviews, agreed with each of these parties upon the conditions of purchase for their respective boats and property. The terms of this agreement having been submitted to the directors, the action of the committee was confirmed, and on the 27th day of Jan., 1835, the St. Albans Co. transferred the Macdonough with all their other property; the Cham. Ferry Co. conveyed their charter with all its franchise, the steamer Winooski and all their other interests, and Capt. J. Sherman delivered the "Water Witch" with all her apparatus, &c. to the Cham. Trans. Co., the several parties receiving for their respective interests a certain number of shares of the capital stock of the Cham. Trans. Co.
THE BURLINGTON AND WHITEHALL.
These negotiations being consummated, the Cham. Trans. Co., in the Spring of 1835,
696 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
found themselves the owners of every steam boat on the lake and free from all opposition. Their first object was to give the public all the facilities required, and at the same time so arrange their trips as to use as few boats as possible. The Franklin under command of Capt. Sherman, and the Phnix under command of Capt. Lyon, were put on to the line, and the Winooski under Capt. Flack run the Ferry between Burlington and St. Albans. Some of their boats however were old and deficient in many of the modern improvements, and they determined during the season to build a new boat of the most improved model and machinery, and while this boat was building to enlarge the Winooski and fit her up for passengers, to run on the line with the Franklin. Henry H. Ross, J. C. Sherman, and Philo Doolittle were appointed the committee to present a plan and estimate for the boat, and Capt. R. W. Sherman was appointed to superintend its construction at Shelburne Harbor. While this work was going on, Peter Comstock who was largely interested in passenger boats on the Champlain Canal, and was also extensively engaged in the forwarding and transportation business at Whitehall (and who by the way was one of the most persevering, energetic, and "driving" business men ever known in the valley of Lake Champlain), laid the keel of a steamboat at Whitehall. Knowing the energetic and determined disposition of Comstock, this movement upon his part not a little annoyed the Cham. Trans. Co., and especially as they were already engaged in building a new boat themselves, and besides in the purchase of the Cham. Ferry Co. property in which Comstock was interested they had "taken care of him liberally." Having however gone to the extent they had to get control of the lake, and believing prudence to be the better part of valor, they again resorted to compromise, and in August, 1836, closed an arrangement for the boat with Mr. Comstock, he binding himself for the term of 8 years not to build another boat, or operate in any way against the Company. It was then determined to make this boat, which was called the "Whitehall," equal in power and capacity to the one then building at Shelburne Harbor, which was called the "Burlington." Every effort was made by the Company to make these two boats equal to any upon any other waters at that time. The Burlington was finished and took her place in the line at the opening of navigation, 1837, under charge of Capt. R. W. Sherman, and the Whitehall came out the next season under command of Capt. Dan Lyon, both of them much larger than any boats before in use.
In 1841, the "Saranac" was built to run on the ferry in place of the Winooski which had become too old for passenger service. The Company were now provided with three good boats, which under their excellent commanders became very popular with the traveling public. Up to this time the price of passage through the lake had been established at $5, which included meals and berths. Although the accommodations furnished were superior, yet this price was regarded by many as extravagant, and furnished a sufficient pretext for the starting of an opposition company.
This pretext, with a variety of other causes which are always at hand to stir up opposition, induced certain individuals mostly in the State of New York, to procure a charter in that state for a Company under the name of the N.Y. and Cham. Steamb't Co. The grievances of these parties were not however so serious as to prevent them from entertaining favorably propositions from the old Company and finally to abandon their project and become stockholders and directors in it. The effect however of this manifestation of public feeling respecting the price of passage induced the directors to reduce the fare through the lake from $5 to $3, charging extra for meals and rooms, which has continued to the present time. This consolidation was no sooner effected than Peter Comstock again appeared upon the stage, and commenced building another boat, at Whitehall, which was called the "Francis Saltus." Some overtures were made to the Cham. Trans. Co., to purchase it, but having already decapitated several times the hydra-headed opposition, they decided to change their "base of operations" and put themselves upon the defence to arrest the advent of their opponent. It is however due to Mr. Comstock to say, that there was a rumor current at the time (which was believed to be well founded), that certain stockholders in the old company were secretly interested with him in this operation, and that he was induced to go into it by them, expecting the Cham. Trans. Co. would purchase the boat
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 697
as before, and a good speculation be made out of it. The directors of the Co. however denied any knowledge of the matter and strenuously resisted any attempt to identify the Co. in it.
The Saranac was fitted up for the purpose of entering the combat, and when the Saltus came out in 1845 under charge of her brave and fearless commander Capt. H. G. Tisdale, the Saranac took her place by the side of her, under her cool, popular, and experienced Captain P. T. Davis. These boats left each end of the Lake at the same time, making the passage by daylight, arriving at the opposite end about together, sometimes one leading up the narrow lake and sometimes the other.
The Burlington and Whitehall formed the night line through the lake at this time, charging the regular fare, $3. The Saltus continued to run for 3 years as an opposition boat, and during the time received a fair share of public patronage. This was the first opposition ever upon the lake which was sustained with any degree of firmness, and it being at a time when passengers went from Whitehall to Troy in canal boats or stages, the spirit of strife extended to them, and opposition lines were there formed which run in connection with the Saltus, adding greatly to the excitement, as well as to the popularity of an opposition.
The "indomitable" Comstock, was largely interested in business upon the lake and through to Troy in boats and stages, having a large number of experienced men as agents at this time, and consequently had an extended influence and a large circle of friends who warmly seconded his enterprise. But there was a serious obstacle to overcome, and it needed no great foresight to discover that unless parties joined him with an abundant capital, it was only a question of time how long he could sustain himself. The Champlain Transportation Company running the Burlington and Whitehall as night boats, at full fare, could well afford to run the Saranac at 50 cents fare, and still in the aggregate make money; and although the Saltus might even charge $1.00, it was not sufficient to pay expenses and provide for decay and repairs. It was an object for the public to cry "opposition," even if they did not patronize it, in order to keep the fare reduced, and this fact alone needed no demonstration to prove that the treasury of the opposition must sooner or later be exhausted, unless the zeal and liberality of the public and its friends should keep it replenished by donations. Such friendship is always of short duration and furnished, in this case as in all similar ones, a poor capital upon which to operate steamboats. Although Mr. Comstock displayed superior generalship in its management, and his immediate friends and employers fought manfully, yet the affairs of the "Saltus" became embarrassed and she was transferred to a party in Troy for moneys advanced, and, with her consort, the Montreal, which was then in frames, passed off quietly in March, 1848, into the possession of the Champlain Transportation Co., which had so kindly "relieved" many of her predecessors.
Here we should do great injustice to the history of the times as well as fail to call to the mind of our readers some of the most interesting reminiscences of their times, were we to omit to mention a celebrated class of public men who first appeared upon the stage under the auspices of these competing companies, and became as celebrated in their profession as did the rival steamers and their commanders. We refer to the passenger agents, more generally known in common parlance as "runners." We should also do great injustice did we fail to give to Whitehall the credit of first bringing forward these ubiquitous men to public notice, and of being afterwards the nursery and school of their training and education. Their business was to await the arrival of stages, packets, steamers, and then to accost the passengers, expatiating upon the superior comforts and facilities which their respective lines afforded and by the most ingenious arguments and eloquent appeals, which were peculiar to themselves, to induce the travelers to believe that each line was the best: "got through to Troy first," "was the mail line," "was the opposition to monopoly," was the line "which went right straight through," with a variety of other phrases, all expressive of the superior facilities of each. By some these agents were voted a nuisance, by others as great friends to the traveler. Conspicuous among them, and we may truly say the founder of the system, was Augustus Reed, Esq., a man of good address, great energy, and withal possessing
698 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
such powers of eloquence as to convince even the most skeptical that the "wrong route were the right." Under his instruction at Whitehall a large number of these agents graduated for years, who were employed in different sections of the country, being regarded for a time almost indispensable, until the through system of ticketing and checking baggage, adopted by the railroads, dispensed with their services. Mr. Reed still resides at Whitehall, in the enjoyment of a competence, and an acquaintance with more travelers whom he instructed and amused by his unequaled fund of "reliable information" than any man of the present day.
It was during the continuance of this opposition that the railroad between Troy and Whitehall was completed, which closed the career of packet boats on the canal, and the several lines of stages which had for years furnished the traveler with a conveyance between these points, although not at all times the most pleasant and agreeable.
The contest between the Saranac and Saltus being so nearly equal, the Champlain Transportation Co., in 1847, brought out a new boat much larger than any boat previously built, of greater power, making a speed of 19 miles, an hour, while only 15 had been reached before. This boat was built in the most substantial manner by Wm. Capes & Son, eminent boat builders of New York, and Capt. L. S. White of Shelburne, Lawrence Brainard of St. Albans, having the direction of it. This was the first boat on the lake fitted up with state-rooms upon the upper deck, and was called the UNITED STATES. She came out in August of that year under command of Capt. P. T. Davis, and took her place upon the day line in place of the Saranac. Her speed being so much greater than that of the Saltus, and withal her accommodations being so far superior, the contest became an unequal one, and the Saltus, as we have before mentioned, passed into the hands of the Champlain Transportation Co., before the opening of another season.
The increased demand for boats going directly through to New York for the transportation of produce and other freight, required, for their sure and regular passage through the lake, steam tow-boats. The propeller James H. Hooker was built in 1846, by the Northern Transportation Line, more with reference to carrying freight than for towing. Nov. 2, 1847, the legislature of Vermont granted a charter for a steam tow-boat company to John Bradley, Thos. H. Canfield, O. A. Burton, H. L. Nichols, N. A. Tucker, A. M. Clark, Horace Gray, J. C. Hammond, Charles F. Hammond and Allen Penfield. This company was organized by the election of Messrs. Penfield, Nichols, Clark, Hammond and Canfield as directors, the stock being taken by Messrs. John Bradley & Co. of Burlington; Nichols, Burton & Co. of St. Albans, and Hammond of Cm, Point, N. Y., these several firms employing most of the long canal-boats engaged in the business.
In 1847 a powerful tow and freight boat was built for them at Shelburne Harbor by Wm. Capes & Son of New York, called the Ethan Allen. This .boat was run two or three years between Rouse's Point and Whitehall, as a tow-boat, and afterwards sold to the Vermont Central Railroad, to transport passengers and freight between Rouse's Point and Alburgh, until the present bridge was constructed, when she was sold May 31, 1852, to the Champlain Transportation Co.. and by it to the Northern Transportation Line, where she is still employed. The same company have built another powerful tow. boat since, the "Oliver Bascom," which with the Ethan Allen and James H. Hooker form an efficient and powerful line through tin) lake for freight and towing.
We ought to add, in connection with this, that the iron works at Port Henry have boon enlarged by Benj. T. Reed, Esq., of Boston, and for a few years have been operated very extensively by him, requiring a large number of boats to transport the iron manufactured, to market, and the hard coal in return which is now used in the place of charcoal. Messrs. Wetherbee also, of the same place, are tensively engaged in mining, employing some 200 men daily, and the iron ore being sold at Troy and other places south, several boats are required for its transportation, and are engaged exclusively in this business. From this port alone towing is required sufficient to employ exclusively the propeller John H. Reed, Capt. H. G. Tisdale, to and from Whitehall.
In order to remove every excuse for further opposition and to satisfy every demand of the public for additional facilities, the Cham-
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 699
plain Transportation Co. concluded, in 1848, to establish a day line each way through the lake, thereby running four boats, the Burlington and Whitehall forming the night line, and the United States and Saltus or Saranac composing the day line. This was before the Rutland and Burlington and Vermont Central Railroads were completed, but after the railroad had been opened from Whitehall to Troy, and when the steamboats received nearly the whole passenger travel, and were doing much more business than they ever had before.
In 1849, for the first time since the organization of the company, a material change in its interest took place, by a transfer to Drew, Robinson and Co. of New York, the proprietors of the North River steamers, and Oscar A. Burton of St. Albans, a majority of the stock, which changed the directors of the company; Oscar A. Burton being elected in place of Henry H. Ross, who had filled the place since 1845. The number of directors was reduced from 15 to 7, and Daniel Drew, Nelson Robinson, Robert W. Kelley, John Bradley, Paris Fletcher, Philo Doolittle and Oscar A. Burton were elected. Under the administration of these gentlemen a through line was formed to New York in connection with the steamers on the Hudson river and the railroad between Whitehall and Troy. This line was called the North and South Through Line, embracing both passengers and freight. By this arrangement through tickets or checks for baggage between Montreal and New York and intermediate points were issued to the passengers, and freight was also contracted through from one point to another, requiring usually only 48 hours for its transportation between New York and Montreal. The same arrangement still exists.
REMOVAL OF STEAMBOATS FROM ST. JOHNS TO ROUSE'S POINT.
The Rutland and Burlington and Vermont Central Railroads being opened through from Boston in December, 1849, and the Ogdensburgh the next year, the Champlain and St. Lawrence also being extended from St. Johns to Rouse's Point in 1851, the latter place was made the terminus of steamboat navigation, and a common point of intersection of all.
The railroads from Montreal originally terminated at St. Johns, and even before the railroad was constructed this was practically the end of navigation, and all passengers as well as freight were transferred here and examined by the Custom House officers. The consequence was a large business was done in forwarding and making the requisite entries and transacting the business at the Custom House. This was Principally done for 30 or 40 years by natives of Vermont or those who had lived and been educated there in their earlier years. Prominent among them were Jason C. Pierce and Ephraim Mott at St. Johns, and at Montreal Horatio Gates. No men in Canada were more respected than they were, and no persons did more to promote business and good will between the two governments than Jason C. Pierce and Horatio Gates.
Mr. Pierce was a well educated merchant, an active and energetic business man was extensively known and connected in business throughout the States as well as in Canada, and possessing a high character for integrity, became the agent of all parties on both sides of the line to transact business and carry on negotiations; and whoever once entrusted business to Jason C. Pierce became satisfied that they were dealing with an upright and capable man and a gentleman.
When the Vermont Central and Ogdensburgh Railroads determined to make their termini at Rouse's Point, there was no alternative for the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad but to extend theirs to the same place. Mr. Pierce at once saw that an operation of this kind must change the whole business from St Johns to Rouse's Point, and not only affect the price of property at St. Johns, but also break up the extensive and pleasant business intercourse which he had so many years enjoyed with the leading merchants of Canada and the States.
St. Johns owed to a great extent her prosperity and success to him. For a quarter of a century or more he was the prominent man of the place had brought to it a large amount of business, and believed it was to remain in the future, as in the past, the great entrance to the "king's highway." When he saw it was to be shorn of its prominence by the extension of the railroad to Rouse's Point, and instead of being the head of business to be a mere way-station upon the road, he became so much annoyed and his mind was so much affected by it, that his health began to fail, and as the time approached when the
700 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
steamboat was to discontinue her trips there he became worse, and on the 6th of September, 1851, the same day that the steamer Whitehall, Capt. Lathrop, took her departure for the last time from St. Johns, the spirit of Jason C. Pierce took its departure from this world of care, anxiety and trouble.
We are indebted to an enterprising and highly respectable merchant* of Canada for the following notice of forwarders at St. Johns, Canada East.
"William Watson, previously a Captain of the Provincial Dragoons, was engaged in the business from 1815 to 1827, and subsequently became a hotel keeper, in which he continued until his death.
"Ephraim Mott, born in Vermont, was induced by "Admiral" King to remove to Canada to act as agent for him, first at Montreal, and then to St. Johns, in 1819, and there to act as a forwarder more especially with his line of vessels, which business he prosecuted until 1827. Mr. Mott then opened a hotel, which he continued until 1842, and was distinguished for his integrity and great fund of anecdote.
"Jason C. Pierce, born in Sandersfield, Mass. 9th of September, 1788, came to Franklin County, Vt., in 1810, was a volunteer at the battle of Plattsburgh, and taken prisoner by the British. After being released he continued in active business about the lake until 1817, when he removed to Montreal. In 1825 he commenced business at St. Johns as a forwarder, and continued the business until the day of his death, Sept. 6, 1851.
"In 1836, chiefly through his exertions, the Champlain and St. Lawrence R. R. was constructed, which was the first road built in Canada. Before this passengers were transported over this route in stages, and produce and freight in the carts of the habitans. To show the increase of business during the life of Mr. Pierce it is only necessary to mention the amount of duties collected at that port in 1825 was but $27,438. In 1851 the duties amounted to the sum of $289,995.
"In connection with the forwarding business here, should be mentioned the name of one who is now the oldest man connected with the navigation of the Lake, and who was, in the days of the Embargo, a terror to evil doers, the smugglers. We refer to William McCrae, Esq. He was appointed Custom House Officer in 1809, and in 1822 was appointed Collector, which office he still bolds at the age of 79 years is hale and hearty to day, and bids fair to live another half century."
While the Vermont Railroads were in progress of construction, others were also being built towards the south, and the opening of the Hudson River Railroad and the roads between Rutland and Troy, on the 15th day of May, 1852, made a new route in connection with the Rutland and Burlington, and Vermont and Canada Railroads, entirely independent of the steamboat line, and naturally diverted some of the business from it.
There was not however the best kind of an arrangement between the Rutland and Burlington, and Vermont and Canada Railroads at Burlington; and the former, in order to avail itself of the steamboats between Burlington and Rouse's Point at its option, and also to harmonize the conflicting interests arising between Burlington and New York, proposed to purchase all the property of the Cham. Trans. Co., and, with the steamboats under its control, to arrange their trips so as to accommodate not only their own trains, but also those of the Whitehall and Troy Railroad at Whitehall.
SALE TO THE RUTLAND AND BURLINGTON RAILROAD COMPANY.
This sale was perfected Aug. 30th, 1852, between Harry Bradley, President of the Rutland and Burlington Railroad Company, and Oscar A. Burton, President of the Cham. Trans. Co., and the property delivered accordingly, the latter Company however retaining its franchise and corporate rights.
Meanwhile Capt. T. D. Chapman, who had retired from the service of the Cham. Trans. Co. some year or two before, with his associates commenced building a boat at Whitehall in 1851, which he called the R. W. Sherman, now the America. Thomas Collyer, of New York, was the builder, and made all his plans with reference to speed, and so far succeeded as to make her the fastest boat ever built on the lake, and perhaps at that time as fast as any boat upon any other waters. This boat run from Whitehall to Rouse's Point as an opposition boat, under command of Capt. T. D. Chapman, during the season of 1852, making her trip in the day time, the United States running also as
*Charles S. Pierce, Esq.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 701
a day boat upon opposite days. In 1852, the steamer Canada, the largest boat on the lake, was commenced at Whitehall, by Geo. Schuyler, of New York, although strong suspicions were entertained that another gentleman who had been extensively engaged in steamboats on the lake, was interested in her, which was afterwards ascertained to be well founded.
In the winter of 1854, the Cham. Trans Co. purchased the steamers America and Canada. The Rutland and Burlington Railroad Company, failing to realize their expectations in the management of the boats, concluded to sell back to the Cham. Trans. Co., in the fall of 1853, all the property and boats which it had purchased the year before, except the steamers Boston and Francis Saltus, the former being retained for ferrying and freight between Burlington and Rouse's Point, and the latter having been sold for the use of the Plattsburgh and Montreal Railroad.
At the opening of navigation, 1854, the Cham. Trans. Co. had all the steamers on the Lake except the above named, and these subsequently came into their hands. They placed upon the route the America, Captain Wm. H. Flagg, and the United States, Capt. William Anderson, as the line boats between Rouse's Point and Whitehall, where they have continued to run up to the present time maintaining under these popular commanders the desirable reputation so long enjoyed by the former Captains and steamers. The Canada has been kept in reserve as an extra boat to run upon the day line when required, while the Montreal has been finished and keeps up the ferry route between Burlington and Plattsburgh under command of Captain Henry Mayo, who also has charge of the Canada when she runs as a day boat.
In 1858, the Messrs. Drew, Robinson and Kelley disposed of their stock to parties having a large interest in the Rutland and Saratoga and Whitehall Railroads, and retired from the direction. L. Grand B. Cannon of Burlington, L. W. Tupper of Troy, and John Davison of Saratoga, were elected to fill the vacancies; and these gentlemen, with O. A. Burton, Sion E. Howard, A. L. Catlin and V. P. Noyes of Burlington, form the present board of directors, L. W. Tupper being president, and Thomas H. Canfield treasurer and general agent of the Company.
Since the purchase of the steamers America and Canada in 1854, no attempts have been made to get up any other companies, and the Cham. Trans. Co. has owned all the steamers running for passengers, and the northern transportation line the steamers Ethan Allen, O. Bascom, and James H. Hooker, which are used for freight and towing.
GENERAL POLICY OF THE COMPANY.
From this brief sketch of the several companies, and individuals who have been engaged in navigating the lake by steam vessels, it will be seen that the Lake Cham. Steamboat Co. and the Cham. Trans. Co. have been the two companies who have been the most instrumental in introducing in a practical form the use of steam, and in continuing it through all the changes, and embracing all the modern improvements to the present time, the former from 1815 to 1831, and the latter from 1831 to date.
While the "Walk in the Water," the first steamboat on Lake Erie, was not launched at Black Rock until May 28th, 1818, and the "Ontario," the first steamboat on Lake Ontario, only made her first trip from Sackette Harbor in April, 1817, the keel of the "Vermont" was laid the same year Fulton launched his first boat on the Hudson, and, during the intermediate period as improvements have been made elsewhere, these companies have kept pace with them in everything which could add to power and speed, or contribute to the comfort and convenience of the traveler. It is said that in the earlier days of steamboats, those on this lake were not only equal in size, but in speed to any in the world at that time, and, although in later years the business has not been sufficient to require such mammoth boats as navigate the Hudson River, yet it is universally conceded that the steamers on Lake Champlain excel all others in the good taste displayed in their fitting up and general arrangements; the abundance with which their tables are supplied with the best substantials and choicest delicacies, as well as the exquisite manner in which they are cooked and served up; the cleanliness and good order which pervades every part of the vessel; the characteristic attention and politeness of officers and crew, and, above all, the thorough discipline and complete system of management which exists throughout the whole boat, most justly en‑
702 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
titling them to the well earned and enviable reputation which they have so long sustained amongst foreigners, as well as our own countrymen.
This may be attributed in a great measure to the uniform policy established by the Cham. Trans. Company in employing only such men for officers as fully understood their business, and extending the same principle in the selection of subordinates, then retaining them for years in the service without change, and rewarding the faithful subordinates with promotions as fast as vacancies occurred, until many a boy who started his career in the cabin has, by fidelity and attention to his duties, risen step by step until he has finally become commander of the vessel.
By reference to the list of officers of the Company, the captains and pilots it will be seen, most of them, have been engaged from 15 to 30 and 40 years. One pilot, Hiram Ferris, who now resides at Chazy, N. Y., in good health, came out pilot on the first boat, Vermont, in 1800, although absent some of the time, yet did not leave the business until 1858. The late esteemed Treasurer and Clerk, P. Doolittle, Esq., was one of the first directors, the first Treasurer and Clerk, and continued to hold these offices, with the exception of six months, from 1826 to the time of his death in January, 1862, during which time no other pen than his own made an entry upon the books of the Company, and no entry once made by him was ever questioned. We should not permit this to pass without a more full sketch of his character and virtues, had not a more able and delicate pen already prepared for this volume a biographical notice which will portray far more worthily his exalted character than any feeble attempt of ours. (See p. 640.)
Illustrative of the policy of employing and retaining good men in service, should be mentioned the fact that no person, since the introduction of steamboats on Lake Champlain, has ever been injured or killed, by accidents arising from steam. This is in a great measure owing to the vigilance, skill, and experience of the Chief Engineer, Elijah Root, Esq., and the faithful and trusty engineers whom he has placed in charge of the engines of the different steamers. Mr. Root entered the service in 1826, at the same time with Mr. Doolittle, when there were but three steamers on the lake, and as soon as the companies were consolidated so as to require a general superintendent of repairs and machinery, Mr. Root was appointed to that responsible place, having full charge of all the building and repairs of the boats and their machinery, selecting the proper persons for engineers, and personally every week while the boats are in service examining and inspecting himself the engines and boilers. No better proof of his fidelity and skill could be desired, than that he still occupies the same position, commanding the entire confidence of the company.
And now we should hardly do justice to our subject, or to those men who have been instrumental in establishing the thorough system of discipline and government on board of these boats which have commanded the admiration of so many thousands of travelers from all parts of the world, were we to stop without more particular reference to them.
To Captain Jehaziel Sherman should be given the credit of being the originator, and first one to put the system into practice. He had for many years been engaged in business at Albany, had commanded the first-class passenger packets on the Hudson until steamboats were introduced, and then the steamboat Perseverance before he came to Lake Champlain. His experience in the transportation of passengers had made him familiar with what was necessary for their comfort, and, being a man of energy and decision, he instilled it into all around him. When he came out with the Phnix in 1815, he was well prepared by experience to adopt and put in execution such rules for the government of his boat as would insure to the passengers every comfort and safety.
Under such training and influence, Richard W. Sherman, his son, came on to the stage and became associated with his father in command of the boat. It was not difficult for him to discover the many advantages of his father's example and practice, and with his own natural disposition to do well whatever he undertook, he soon carried more into detail the system, until he had himself become familiar with every part of the vessel and machinery personally attending to the supervision of every department was fully acquainted with the lake, its channels, points, reefs and shoals and had established such a thorough system of government upon his boat as hardly to be excelled on board of
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 703
a man-of-war, and finally to make the "Burlington" celebrated as the paragon of steamers, both in Europe and America. While all the gentlemen who have from time to time been in command, have done themselves credit in their respective stations, yet I doubt not all will agree with us that to the Messrs. Sherman belong the credit of having been the originators, while their compeers and successors, Captains Lathrop, Lyon, Davis, Anderson, Mayo and Flagg have equally distinguished themselves in aiding to carry out and develop a system which has conferred upon all of them honor and reputation. We leave to disinterested persons to testify further upon this subject and first call to the stand a celebrated gentleman who has traveled extensively, and withal has not been accused of partiality for Americans or American institutions, viz.: Charles Dickens. In his notes upon America, which he visited in 1842, and passed through Lake Champlain, on his way from Montreal to New York, he says:
EUROPEAN TRIBUTE TO THE BURLINGTON.
"There is one American boat the vessel which carried us on Lake Champlain, from St. Johns to Whitehall, which I praise very highly, but no more than it deserves, when I say that it is superior even to that in which we went from Queenston to Toronto, or to that in which we traveled from the latter place to Kingston, or I have no doubt I may add to any other in the world. This steamboat, which is called the Burlington, is a perfectly exquisite achievement of neatness, elegance and order. The decks are drawing- rooms; the cabins are boudoirs, choicely furnished and adorned with prints, pictures and musical instruments; every nook and corner in the vessel is a perfect curiosity of graceful comfort and beautiful contrivance. Capt. Sherman, her commander, to whose ingenuity and excellent taste these results are solely attributable, has bravely and worthily distinguished himself on more than one trying occasion. He and his vessel are held in universal respect, both by his own countrymen and ours; and no man ever enjoyed the popular esteem who, in the sphere of action, won and wore it better than this gentleman. By means of this floating palace we were soon in the United States again, and called that evening at Burlington, a pretty town, where we lay an hour or so. We reached Whitehall at six the next morning, where we took breakfast, and then took the stage-coach for Albany. At seven P. M. we started for New York on board a great North River steamboat, which was so crowded with passengers that the upper deck was like the box lobby of a theatre between the pieces, and the lower one like Tottenham court road on a Saturday night. But we slept soundly, notwithstanding, and soon after five o'clock next morning reached New York."
In 1843 Sir James Lucuzthm, an eminent merchant and Lord Provost of Glascow, Scotland, visited this country, and being at Montreal he accompanied a friend on his way to Boston as far as Burlington, about the first of July. Coming on board of the steamer Burlington at St. Johns, C. E., he says, in a small book which he published upon his return to Glasgow, in 1844, for private circulation amongst his friends:
"After having stopped a couple of hours and dined at a very poor inn, we went on board the Burlington, one of the most splendid and commodious steam vessels belonging to the States. The style of furnishing and general taste displayed in every department are attributable to the management of the commander, Captain Sherman, a person of easy and gentlemanly deportment, and most polite and attentive to all. The interior decorations are so truly splendid that you might fancy yourself in the drawing-room of a ducal palace. The cleanliness of the vessel, and the whole arrangements, are the admiration of all strangers. There is no unpleasant shouting or noise. All orders are given by bell signals from the officers on deck; no brawling to the engineer, "stop her," "turn a-head," "two back strokes," and such vulgar expressions as you hear on board of many of our steamers on the Clyde. I should like much to see some of our skippers set the example, and adopt this system of management; it would certainly be preferable to the jargon in which they generally give their directions. Every thing on board is like clock work, and the expert manner in which passengers are landed and taken on board is truly surprising. The men are all trained to particular duties every one at his post and the discipline equal to that on board of a ship-of-war. The arrangements at meals are excellent, and the greatest attention paid to the passengers by the stewards, who are numerous, and all dressed in neat, clean, fancy uniforms. Captain Sherman and his vessel are known in every quarter of the Union, as well as in the Canadas.
"Now fairly embarked on this romantic lake, passing Rouse's Point, we entered the American territory, which extends here on both sides of the lake. Twenty-three miles further is Plattsburgh, in the State of New York (where our countrymen experienced a stupid defeat during the last war, from the imbecility of Sir George Provost, the officer in command), containing about 3000 inhabitants, court-houses and county jail. Twenty-five miles onward is Burlington, on the opposite shore or east side, in the State of
704 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
Vermont. The steam-vessel stops here for about an hour, waiting the arrival of the one from Whitehall, commanded by Captain D. Lyon, who is in no way deficient in those gentlemanly accomplishments for which his colleague is so justly celebrated. Passengers not wishing to go further up the lake can return by this vessel, and again be in St. Johns next morning at seven o'clock. Had my time permitted, I should have traversed the entire length of the lake to Whitehall, as I am informed the scenery at the upper end is very fine, as is also that which is passed from St. Johns to Burlington. The situation of Burlington is most delightful, on a gentle acclivity, rising gradually from the lake. The public buildings generally are good, and the University of Vermont, on the summit of the high ground, commands a splendid view of the lake. There are several elegant and large hotels, and the town contains about 3000 inhabitants. I went back with Captain Lyon, from whom I received much attention, and arrived at St. Johns about seven the following morning."
From another author we quote the following, written in 1846:
"Capt. Lathrop, of the Whitehall, was long and favorably known as Captain of the Phnix and other boats that preceded it, and under many trying circumstances acquitted himself with honor, which has not been wholly forgotten or obliterated by his temporary absence from our waters. Well do we remember the presence of mind and devotion to duty exhibited by him on the occasion of the breaking out of that dreadful scourge, the Asiatic Cholera, among us, when stout hearts quailed and the timid shrunk from its presence. The first case that occurred in this vicinity happened on his boat, and proved fatal; the passengers and crew struck with consternation and fear, the disease at that time being considered more contageous than it afterwards proved to be. Capt. Lathrop ministered to his wants with his own hands until death terminated his sufferings; when, with a single assistant, he placed the body in a rude coffin, hastily constructed for the purpose, and conveyed it to the shore and gave it a solitary burial. This praiseworthy conduct of the Captain tended much to allay the excitement of the time and strengthen others in the fulfillment of their duty when placed in like circumstances.
" He has risen from the post of cabin boy to his present position by merit alone, without the aid of friends. and is consequently acquainted with the various duties connected with the successful management of a vessel. He is a gentleman of warm and generous impulses, always ready to do a favor, when in his power, and whose qualities of head and heart are warmly appreciated by the many recipients of his favor. We think that no one ever regretted that chance or inclination placed him in company with Capt. L.
"Captain Davis, of the United States, is decidedly the people's man and is one of nature's noblemen. He entered the service of the company in 1835, and by his fidelity in the various duties which have been assigned him, has risen, step by step, until he has become the commander of the best boat upon any waters. His coolness, even temperament, and uniform cheerful disposition and discretion, particularly fit him for the post assigned him, that of contending with an opposition. No better man could have been selected for this position. It is needless to say his boat runs full."
These are but solitary examples of the many complimentary notices which have appeared from time to time from disinterested pens. The present boats now in service are far superior to any of their predecessors, and make easily a speed of 18 miles an hour, coal having been substituted a few years since for fuel, instead of wood.
As to the gentlemen who now have command of them, it would hardly become us here to speak, or allude to the high esteem and confidence of the traveling community which they enjoy. When we say that Wm. Anderson, who now commands the United States, has been in the service of the Company 35 years, all of which time he has been Captain; that Henry Mayo, now in charge of the steamer America, sailed with Capt. Jahaziel Sherman in 1825, since which time he has been Captain from 1834; that Wm. H. Flagg, now Captain of the steamer Canada, has been in the employment of the Company since 1837, having commanded during the last 14 years some of the best steamers on the lake; and that these gentlemen have not only earned, but have sustained, in an eminent degree the reputation for faithful, competent, and gentlemanly commanders, which has been accorded by universal consent to their predecessors, we shall simply have said no more than all our readers know who have traveled with them.
At first glance, comparing the manner of doing business now with the numerous railroads running in competition, and diverting so much travel and business from the lake with the mode of doing it 25 years ago, when Lake Champlain afforded the only practicable way for the transportation of passengers and freight, it would seem that there was not enough remaining to sustain a line of steamers, much less to keep up good lines for freight.
LAKE CHAMPLAIN. 705
But upon reference to the Custom House records in the district of Vt. and the district of Champlain, in N. Y., we find that the tannage has increased very much the last few years, and, although the sail-vessels formerly in use are gradually disappearing, yet the canal-boats are taking their place, being towed through the lake by steam tow-boats, and thence to New York without, change or transhipment.
There are at the present time about 600 vessels of all kinds enrolled upon the records of the two districts. Of these 10 are steamers, about 15 schooners, and 575 sloops. Canal-boats are rated as sloops, and of the 575 probably not over 25 are regular lake sloops. Their aggregate tunnage is about 40,000 tons.
There are also engaged in the transportation of lumber from Canada to Burlington and Whitehall, large barges towed by steam tugs from the St. Lawrence via the Sorell River and Chambly Canal.
Should the Caughnawaga ship canal which has been proposed be constructed from the head of the Lachine Rapids to Lake Champlain, a distance of some 20 miles, the propellers and steamers which navigate the western lakes, passing through the Welland Canal and discharging their cargoes at Ogdensburgh and Montreal for Boston, would continue their trips and make Burlington their port for the transhipment of their freight destined for Boston, etc.
Canadians have already constructed ship-canals around the several rapids of the St. Lawrence, by which vessels can load at Chicago and pass to Quebec without unloading, and even to Europe. With the great increase of the productions of the West destined for Atlantic markets, and with two large lines of railroads leading from Burlington to Boston, and one from Whitehall to Troy in addition to the Canal, we think the day cannot be far distant when the last link in the chain of canals will be completed, and the propellers and vessels will clear direct from Chicago and Milwaukie to Burlington and Whitehall.
We close this article with a table of the steamers built upon the Lake, the captains and pilots who sailed them, and the officers of the Champlain Transportation Company:
Opening of navigation on Lake Champlain between Whitehall and St. Johns, being the date each year of the first trips of the Steam, era, as follows:
Steamer Franklin, April 3, 1828
" " " 27, 1829
" " " 10, 1830
" " " 11, 1831
" " " 25, 1832
" " " 10, 1833
" " " 1, 1834
" " " 20, 1835
" " May 2, 1836
" " " 1, 1837
" Burlington, Apr. 23, 1838
" " " 11, 1839
" " " 13, 1840
" " " 28, 1841
" ". " 13, 1842
" " " 28, 1843
" " " 19, 1844
" " " 10, 1845
" " " 14, 1846
" " May 2, 1847 to Whitehall.
" " " 6, " " St. Johns.
" Saranac, April 8, 1848 " "
" " " 11 " " Whitehall.
" Bur. & W'hall, " 10, 1849
" " " 15, 1850
" " " 6, 1851
" " May 3, 1852
" America, " 4, 1853
" Saranac, April 19, 1854
" Am. & Ca. Apr. 24 & 25, 1855
" " April 26, 1856
" U.S. & A. Apr. 16 & 22, 1857
" U. S. April 10, 1858
" U.S. & Am. " 12, 1859
" 9, 1860
" America, " 16, 1861
" U. S. " 29, 1862
" Canada, " 27, 1863
" " " 13, 1864
" " " 7, 1866
Officers, Champlain Transportation Company.
Last place of Time of
Name Last service.
*Luther Loomis; Burlington, Vt. 1826 to 1827
Julius Hoyt, St. Albans, Vt. 1827 to 1828
*Wm. A. Griswold, Burlington, Vt. 1828 to 1846
*Henry H. Ross, Essex, N. Y. 1846 to 1850
Oscar A. Burton, Burlington, Vt. 1850 to 1860
Lemuel H. Tupper, Troy, N. Y. 1860 to 1864
LeG. B. Cannon, Burlington, Vt. 1864
*Philo Doolittle, Burlington, Vt. 1826 to 1827
Lawrence Brainerd, St. Albans, " 1827 to 1828
Philo Doolittle, Burlington, " 1828 to 1862
Thomas H. Canfield, " " 1862 to 1865
V. P. Noyes, Burlington Vt. 1865
Captains of Steamers on Lake Champlain.
*John Winans, Burlington, Vt. 1809 to 1815
*JahazIel Sherman, Vergennes, " 1814 to 1827
George Brush, Montreal, C. E. 1816 to 1818
*Daniel Davis, Burlington, Vt. 1819 to 1820
Richard W. Sherman, Vergennes, " 1819 to 1847
*George Burnham, Burlington, " 1821 to 1823
706 VERMONT HISTORICAL MAGAZINE.
Gideon Lathrop. Stockport, N. Y. 1823 to 1850
* Isaac R. Harrington, Buffalo, N. Y. 1824 to 1828
Dan Lyon, Burlington, Vt. 1825 to 1844
* Ebenezer Hurlbut, Georgia, " 1828 to 1829
Edward Lyon, Detroit, Mich. 1828 to 1829
* James H. Snow, Whitehall. N. Y. 1828 to 1829
Wm. Burton, Cleveland, O. 1829 to 1831
Wm. H. Wilkins, Burlington, Vt. 1831 to 1833
Wm. W. Sherman, Vergennes, " 1832 to 1834
Wm. Anderson, Burlington, " 1831
* Cyrus Boardman, Whitehall, N. Y. 1835 to 1839
* Wm. Phillips, Burlington, Vt. 1838 to 1842
* R. N. Flack, Essex, N. Y. 1836 to 1838
P. T. Davis, South Hero, Vt. 1843 to 1858
H. G. Tisdale, Whitehall, N. Y. 1845
Henry Mayo. Burlington, Vt. 1834
T. D. Chapman, Charlotte, " 1847 to 1852
* John O. Grady, Burlington, " 1849 to 1854
A. P. Brainard, Elizabethtown, N. Y. 1849 to 1850
Lot Chamberlin, Plattsburgh, N. Y. 1848 to 1860
* Seth R. Foster, New York, 1852 to 1857
Moses H. Baxter, Chicago, Ill. 1852 to 1854
Wm. H. Flagg, Burlington, Vt. 1852
Z. B. Stetson, Plattsburgh, N. Y. 1860 to 1862
* Silas Hinkley, Burlington, Vt. 1846 to 1860
Heman R. Snyder, Port Kent, 1850 to 1860
A. D. Vaughan, Whitehall, 1856 to 1862
Richard Chapin, " 1857 to 1862
N. B. Proctor, Burlington, 1847 to 1852
Pilots of Steamers on Lake Champlain.
Hiram Ferris, Chazy, N. Y. 1809 to 1859
* John Wilson, Vergennes, Vt. 1811 to 1831
* Ziba Manning, Whitehall, 1815 to 1819
* Samuel Richardson, St. Johns, C. E. 1815 to 1829
George Cannon, Cumberland Head, 1819 to 1852
Phineas Durfey, Port Henry, N. Y. 1825 to 1840
* Abram Mockeridge, Burlington, Vt. 1828 to 1858
Latham Jones " " 1826 to 1834
Henry Barker, Essex, N. Y. 1825 to 1855
Wm. Bush, Burlington, Vt. 1831 to 1835
* Wm. Dixon, Essex, N. Y. 1831 to 1847
N. B. Proctor, Burlington, Vt, 1832 to 1847
* James H. Snow, Whitehall, N. Y. 1824 to 1828
* John Wheeler, Isle La Motte, 1835 to 1851
Benj. Jones, Whitehall, N. Y. 1834 to 1853
B. B. Farnham, Port Kent, N. Y. 1835 to 1836
* Edwin B. Loomis, Whitehall, 1835 to 1837
* Reuben Basely, Mooers, N, X. 1840 to 1860
Erastus Edwards, Essex, N. Y. 1845 to 1847
John L. Brown, Whitehall, 1845
Lewis Barton, " 1845
Nathan Hill, Burke, N. Y. 1846
Wm. Edwards Essex, N.Y. 1846 to 1849
Grant Rockwell, Alburgh, Vt. 1846 to 1860
Wm. Rockwell, " " 1847 to 1855
Ell Rockwell, " " 1855
George Rushlow, Highgate, " 1857
John Eldredge, Burlington, 1852
George Wells, Port Kent, N. Y. 1863
Wm. Newton, Burlington, 1863
Joseph Amblan, Champlain, N. Y. 1856
Edward Anson, Port Kent, " 1856
Byron Holt, Plattsburgh, N. Y. 1863
Harry Dow, " " 1848 to 1860
Wm. Norton, Whitehall, 1850 to 1860
CAPT. JEHAZIEL SHERMAN.
Born at Dartmouth, Mass., 28th July, 1770. He removed from Dartmouth to Bath (opposite Albany) in 1793, where he took command of a vessel called the Favorite, owned by Wm. and Jeremiah Clarke, merchants of Bath; he soon after purchased and took command of a vessel called the Anna, on the Hudson River plying between Albany and New York, and continued in command of her until 1805, having previously removed to Albany, and in 1802, in Dec., entered into partnership with S. P. Jermain, at Albany, in the mercantile business, Mr. Jermain taking charge of the business on shore and Capt. S. continuing in command of the vessel, and in the year 1805 Capt. Sherman built, at New Baltimore, for the firm of Jermain & Sherman, the then celebrated sloop Oneida Chief, the largest and finest vessel on the Hudson, and commanded by Capt. Sherman for five years, and part of the time she was run exclusively for passengers between New York and Albany, this was previous to steam navigation on the Hudson, which commenced in 1809, and, in 1810, the passenger packet business was abandoned and the firm of Jermain and Sherman dissolved. Capt. S. then purchased the sloop Lion, which he commanded about two years, and in 1812 he received from the Albany Steamboat Company the appointment to the command of the steam-boat Perseverance, which with the steamboat Hope, Capt. Elisha Bunker, the Albany Co. placed on the Hudson in opposition to Fulton, and Livingston, they having the patent and exclusive right of navigating the Hudson with steam. Messrs. Fulton and Livingston obtained an injunction against the Albany Co., and the Hope and Perseverance were laid up until a compromise with Fulton and Livingston giving the Albany Co. the exclusive right of navigating Lake Champlain with steam, and in May, 1814, Capt. Sherman left Albany for Lake Champlain, landing at Vergennes, and bringing with him the engine of the steamboat Perseverance, to be placed in a vessel on the Lake. He immediately commenced the building of a steamboat at Vergennes, which before completed was seized (in the stocks) by Com. Macdonough, for the Government, and converted into an armed vessel and which did good service in the memorable engagement on Lake Champlain.
In the summer of 1814, Capt. Sherman, at Vergennes, commenced the building of the steamboat Phnix, and which he commanded until a short time previous to her being destroyed by fire, as before related.
In 1821, Capt. Sherman built for the Lake Champlain Steamboat Co., at Vergennes, a boat which was also called the Phnix, and which he commanded until the year 1824, when he was called to New York to superintend the building of a boat called the Chief Justice Marshall for the Troy Steamboat Co., and in 1826 Capt. Sherman was called to St. Albans to superintend the building of a steamer called the Franklin for the Cham. Trans. Co., and which he commanded the year 1827, and at the close of the year he resigned this command and retired from the lake, still retaining his interest in the Cham. Trans. Co., and in which he was for many years one of the directors. Capt. S. for many years was engaged in the steamboat business of Lake George, and superintended the building of the steamers Mountaineer and Wm. Caldwell on that Lake, in the business of which as well as that of Lake Champlain, he took a deep interest until the time of his death which took place at Vergennes, 31st Oct., 1844.
Now in service.
Now in command.