A Narrow Escape

Due to a favorable wind, the rebel fleet had sailed ten miles to Schuyler’s Island by the morning of the twelfth. The Americans spent three-quarters of their ammunition on the eleventh. The crew of the Congress had many holes to repair after being hulled and taking shots below the water line the day before. Furthermore, the main mast was damaged in two places and the yard mast was damaged in one place. General Waterbury’s ship the Washington, (Capt. Thatcher of the Washington died from wounds received on the eleventh, Hawley of the Royal Savage took over) had also been hulled several times and needed a new main mast. All of Watebury’s officers were killed on the eleventh. The New York had lost all of its officers during the action on the eleventh. Two gondolas were purposely sunk because of the damage they sustained. By two o’ clock, the rebels caught a fresh breeze to take them to Crown Point. Washington fell behind because of shortened sails due to a patched mast, and was taking on water. By evening however, the rebels were getting a detrimental wind out of the South and the British were getting a fortunate breeze from the Northeast. Thus the distance closed between the pursuer and the pursued. [15]

After the British fleet came in site of the rebels early on the 13th, it took seven hours to catch up and reach striking distance. The British had a good wind until after spotted the rebel fleet on the thirteenth, therefore when it [the wind] died, the crews were fresh for rowing. On the other hand, the rebels had to row almost since leaving Schuyler’s Island on the twelfth. At noon, the Maria, the Carleton, and the Inflexible caught up with the colonial fleet at Split Rock. The fierce battle that followed was short-lived compared to that of the eleventh. The Congress and the Washington defended the rear while the rest of the fleet tried to make their escape. The Washington was attacked by the Maria and the Inflexible. General Waterbury continued to fight as his officers and crew fell around him. By the time the crew of the Washington was taken prisoner at 12:30, Waterbury was the only officer alive on the deck. After the defeat of the Washington, the Maria and the Inflexible turned their guns on the Congress, who was trading blows with the Carleton. Arnold’s first mate, Mr. Frost, was killed. He and three others of the crew were given a hasty burial at sea during the heat of battle. Supplies were so low that the surgeon cut up his own coat to stuff the gaping wounds of the injured. The Congress kept up the fight against the three British ships for two more hours with broadside cannonades and hulling, the smoke thick and the guns roaring, but in the end the Congress and four other gondolas were fired and the crews ran into thick forest. These men didn’t stop until they arrived at Crown Point at four a.m. on the fourteenth. By time Arnold had reached Crown Point, he and his men had been without sleep for three days. The Lee was blown up by her own crew, who then fled, and the Jersey was captured. Only the Enterprise, Revenge, Trumbull and a gondola escaped to Ticonderoga. The British could have destroyed the remainder of the fleet at Ticonderoga, but instead the rebels were allowed to escape. After the rebels fled Ticonderoga, the British moved in and stayed one month, but did nothing. Overall, there were only about twenty casualties on the thirteenth (there were forty on the eleventh). The British fared better on this occasion, there losses being “less than forty” over the course of the three days. [16]