USS Lee (1776)
|Namesake:||Richard Henry Lee|
|Builder:||built under the direction of General Benedict Arnold|
|Laid down:||date unknown|
|Completed:||at Skenesboro, New York|
|Out of service:||1777|
|Fate:||ran aground and bilged, 1777|
|Complement:||86 officers and enlisted|
|Armament:||one 12-pounder gun, one 9-pounder gun, and four 4-pounder guns|
USS Lee (1776) was a galley built for the Continental Navy. She participated in the Battle of Valcour Island during which she was grounded and lost. However, her participation in the battle helped delay the British advance on New York City by a year.
The second ship to be so named by the Navy, Lee was a galley cutter built under direction of General Benedict Arnold at Skenesboro, New York, in 1776 for service on Lake Champlain. It was constructed of timber captured in October 1775 at St. Jean’s, the British shipyard on the lake.
Continental service and grounding
Lee, commanded by a Captain Davis, joined Arnold’s squadron 6 September 1776; the galley cutter operated on Lake Champlain for shortly over a month, ready to defend the inland water path which connected Canada and New York.
When the British moved south, the American flotilla met them in the Battle of Valcour Island 11 October 1776. Lee ran aground and bilged, during the action in which the small American squadron was all but wiped out.
Delaying the British advance
However, while suffering a serious tactical defeat, General Arnold’s ships won a great strategic victory by delaying for a year the British advance on New York City, a year in which the patriots prepared for the new British offensive which ended with the capture of the British Army at the Battle of Saratoga.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.