The Battle begins

As the tension mounted, the rebel fleet sent out the Congress (Arnoldís flagship), Royal Savage, and two other gondolas. Carleton ran through the British line and dropped anchor. A broadside was initiated by the Carleton and the battle was begun at 11:00. According to a contemporary London Gazette, the Carleton was commanded by Lt. Dacres, who after the battle, would win recognition from Sir Guy Carleton and Capt. Pringle for his bravery upon engaging five rebel ships at once and refusing to retreat (against orders) until the Generalís own representative came aboard with orders to desist. Dacres was severely wounded during the first broadside by the rebel galleys, and was assisted to his cabin. When Dacres reached his quarters, he found the first mate (Mr. Brown), having the remains of a mangled arm being amputated by the shipís doctor. With Dacres and Brown wounded, teenager Edward Pellew, the youngest officer on the ship, was quickly forced to learn to be a captain. The Carleton was being riddled by the rebel barrage. At least half the crew was wounded, and there was two foot of water in the hold. Finally the flagship Lady Maria signaled the Carleton get out of range. The Carleton tried to acknowledge the return to line signal, but a fouled jib prevented the ship from turning. Recklessly exposing himself to the Americanís grape shot and rifle fire, Pellew climbed the rigging and freed the jib. Pellew went down to the bobstays to pass a hawser to Isis and to a boat from the Blonde so these two ships could tow the Carleton out of range of the rebels cannonade. Carleton badly riddled from the fire of Royal Savage, Congress, Enterprise, and the other gondola. These ships would come into range of the Carleton, fire, and then fall back to the lines to reload. The finest of their ragtag fleet, the Royal Savage, turned upstream but was delayed due to poor seamanship. Such a chance could not be passed up, so Inflexible broadsided her. The crew, in a panic, rammed the ship into the South end of Valcour Island. Lt. Longcraft, commanding the Loyal Convert, didnít want to see such a prize go to waste and seized the grounded Royal Savage. Longcraft was able to capture twenty of the crew members who didnít bolt, and was able to turn the Royal Savageís guns on the rebel fleet. Longcraft signaled to Pringle for support in capturing the Royal Savage but was ignored. After losing half of his boarding party, Longcraft realized that Pringle wasnít going to send help. He therefore abandoned the Royal Savage.[4]

General Arnold on the Congress and the other gondolas were able to make it back to the main fleet. At this point, Arnoldís fleet is composed of the 12-gun schooner Royal Savage commanded by Lt. Hawley (now grounded), a ten gun sloop Enterprise ( both of these had been captured by the rebels during an earlier attack on St. Johnís the previous May along with thirteen garrison prisoners and three other gondolas), an eight gun schooner Revenge which the rebels had built at Ticonderoga; three eight-gun galleys: Trumbull, commanded by Capt. Warner, Congress, and Washington, all three of which arrived to join Arnoldís fleet around the first of October, a six gun galley Lee, two five gun gondolas: Connecticut and Spitfire, and five 3-gun gondolas: Providence, Philadelphia, commanded by Lt. Rice, Jersey, New York, and Boston. These gondolas had flat bottoms and were fitted with square sails for use in blowing weather and fitted with sweeps for calm weather. Liberty was not in the fight because it had earlier left the fleet to retrieve supplies, but it did see a little action on the night of September 7th. On this occasion, the rebel fleet was off Cumberland Head. A man on the shore called to the Liberty who cautiously responded; a shot was fired from the woods, and three of Libertyís crew were wounded. [5]