During the summer of 1776, a British incursion from Canada loomed. In response, citizen soldiers of the newly independent nation mounted a heroic defense. Patriots constructed a small fleet of gunboats on Lake Champlain in northern New York and confronted the Royal Navy in a desperate three-day battle near Valcour Island. Their effort surprised the arrogant British and forced the enemy to call off their invasion. Jack Kelly's Valcour is a story of people. The northern campaign of 1776 was led by the underrated general Philip Schuyler (Hamilton's father-in-law), the ambitious former British officer Horatio Gates, and the notorious Benedict Arnold. An experienced sea captain, Arnold devised a brilliant strategy that confounded his slow-witted opponents. America's independence hung in the balance during 1776. Patriots endured one defeat after another. But two events turned the tide: Washington's bold attack on Trenton and the equally audacious fight at Valcour Island. Together, they stunned the enemy and helped preserve the cause of liberty.
.. vividly written ... In novelistic prose, Mr. Kelly conveys the starkness of close-quarter naval warfare, where retreat was impossible and men dismembered by solid iron shot were unceremoniously pitched overboard to clear the decks. Valcour also evokes the remote and rugged landscape where events unfolded and the raging storms that suddenly transformed Lake Champlain’s surface ... Ironically, without the tarnished hero of Valcour, the United States might not exist today.
... richly detailed ... Kelly delves deeply into the logistics of warfare, including shipbuilding and combatting smallpox, and gathers stirring accounts of heroism on both sides of the conflict. Readers will be intrigued by this evocative portrait of one of America’s greatest traitors at the height of his glory.
An expert chronicle of an early Revolutionary War operation that deserves to be better known ... Not content with biographies of the major figures and a fine account of the preparations and battle, [Kelly] ably describes the military culture of the times, the self-defeating politics of the Continental Congress, the design and operation of the various ships, and the tactical problems of fighting on lakes versus the ocean. A boon for fans of Revolutionary-era military history.