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when viewed from the lake. The whole summit of cleared land on both sides of the lake, was crowned with redoubts and batteries, all manned with a splendid show of artillery and flags. The number of our troops under arms (principally, however, militia) exceeded thirteen thousand."
Having learned to his satisfaction that the Americans. were capable of making a spirited defence at Ticonderoga, Carleton withdrew at four o'clock in the afternoon, and returned to Crown Point, where he made preparations to retire to Canada for the winter. The rear guard of the British army left the post on November 3, and the same day it was reoccupied by the Americans. General Reidesel, commander of the German troops, accompanied General Carleton on this expedition and in his "Memoirs" he noted the fact that on passing the bay where Arnold's ships were sunk, he observed British troops engaged in raising cannon and other sunken war materials. Carleton was criticized because he did not attack Ticonderoga at that time, and in Fonblanque's "Burgoyne," it is stated that "the English ministry were displeased with the unfruitful termination of the campaign."
General Gates wrote Col. Moses Robinson and Colonel Brownson of the militia of the New Hampshire Grants on November 9, thanking them for "the spirit and alertness" shown in marching to the defence of Ticonderoga, when it was threatened with an immediate attack from the enemy, and dismissing these troops with honor.
When Gates learned that Carleton had departed, he dismissed the militia, and with most of the regular
troops, departed for New Jersey to join Washington's army, Gen. Anthony Wayne being left in command.
Captain Douglas, under whose direction the British fleet had been constructed at St. Johns, sent a special message of the Lake Champlain victory to the British Ambassador at Madrid, "presuming," he said, "that the early knowledge of this great event in the southern part of Europe may be of advantage to His Majesty's service."
As rewards for the British naval triumph, General Carleton was made a Knight of the Bath, and Captain Douglas, a Baronet.
The battle of Lake Champlain was the first important naval engagement of the Revolution, and, although it must be counted an American defeat, yet, like the defeat of the American army at Bunker Hill, it was more than half a victory. It is true that the British loss. was not so great as in the famous Massachusetts engagement; but the masterly skill displayed by Arnold against overwhelming odds, the steadiness and courage shown by the rank and file, demonstrated alike to friend and foe that the Americans were at least the equal, man for man, of any fighting force in the world. Seldom has the personality of a commander so dominated an entire body of fighting men as did the gallant spirit of Benedict Arnold, which seemed to possess the officers and men of the little American fleet in the battle of Lake Champlain.
What this American defeat on Lake Champlain really won for the national cause is best told by Captain Mahan, whose supremacy as an authority in matters of naval history is beyond question. In an article on "The Naval
Campaign of 1776 on Lake Champlain," he says:
Captain Mahan's testimony of the importance of the naval battle on Lake Champlain is corroborated by that of Sir George Otto Trevelyan, in his "American Revolution." The English historian says: "His (Arnold's)
fellow countrymen repaid his frankness (in reporting his losses) with almost universal approbation and gratitude. He had lost them a squadron which, but for his personal exertions, would never have been built; and he had lost it to some purpose. * * * Carleton had
unduly delayed his onward movement out of respect for the preparations which the Americans were making for his reception; and no English General after him would have consented to be hoodwinked unless it was clearly shown that those preparations, which had been so widely and ably advertised, were a reality and not a sham. Gunboats and galleys, in Arnold's view, were made to be expended just as much as cartridges; and any fate would be better for his ships than to skulk away in front of the British advance until they were hunted up against the shore at the head of Lake George, and there trapped and taken like so many wild fowl in a decoy. For most assuredly, even at that late season of the year, Carleton would not have halted short of Albany, or New York itself, if the Americans, whether on lake or land, had made the ignominious confession. that they were afraid of fighting. ** It was something to know that a leader existed who was eager to hurl himself at the enemy, and fight an almost desperate battle as vigorously and obstinately as if victory were not a bare chance, but a cheerful probability. Arnold's example aroused an outburst of enthusiasm and martial confidence throughout the States, and most of all among those of his countrymen who were nearest to the danger."
Fortunate would it have been for the fame of BeneIdict Arnold if a kind Providence had decreed that a British bullet should have pierced his heart as he stood on the Panton shore, watching the flames consume the American colors, which he had saved by desperate bravery from the humiliating fate of being lowered to a victorious foe. Then he might have been enshrined as one of the immortal heroes of our national history.