British force advances down Lake Champlain


In the fall of 1814 a British force advanced down Lake Champlain to divide New England from the rest of the US. But a small American naval squadron led by Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough, and a contingent of militia, stood in the way. Aligned with British infantry, Captain George Downie’s British squadron entered Plattsburgh Bay on September 11, 1814. Macdonough had anchored his flotilla to intercept the British, adjusting the anchor lines to aim the guns. American fire shattered the British flagship, and the rest of the squadron surrendered or were destroyed. This victory and the repulse of the British on land (background) forced their retreat and negated British claims for territorial acquisition during peace negotiations. This 1816 engraving by Benjamin Tanner is based on a painting by Hugh Reinagle. (© Mystic Seaport Collection, Mystic, CT, #1961.39)