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By Albert G. MacKey 33*, William J. Hughan 32*, Edward L. Hawkins 30*

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Under General Philip Schuyler’s command in 1776, Arnold began building a navy on Lake Champlain to resist the expected British advance from Canada toward Ticonderoga and the upper Hudson Valley. With his fleet complete, Arnold sailed north with ten ships in August 1776 to block a British advance. The far stronger British fleet bested the Continental forces on October 11, 1776 in the Battle of Valcour Island, but Arnold managed to set fire to his vessel and stay with the ship until the flames made it impossible for the enemy to strike its colors on their arrival.

As the campaigning season ended, Arnold’s postponed court-martial resumed. In January 1780, after listening to his spirited defense, the court acquitted him of fraud but convicted him of improper conduct in the matter of the illegal pass and sentenced him to an official public reprimand, which Washington duly issued several months later. At this point, Arnold extended an offer to the British to arrange the capture of a major Continental prize, identity unspecified, in exchange for £10,000 and command of a battalion in the British Army.

The American rebels were better led than the British were, but initially faced the challenge of going up against European regulars with raw and untrained troops. Discipline and training improved over the course of the war with help from European officers attracted to the American cause either for ideological reasons or because it offered the possibility of military employment at a time when Europe was at relative peace. Introduction 3 American forces ranged from the Continental Army, drawn from all of the colonies, to various local militias and insurgent forces such as the Vermont “Green Mountain Boys” under Ethan Allen who took the fortress of Ticonderoga from the British on May 10, 1775.

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An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Volume 2 by Albert G. MacKey 33*, William J. Hughan 32*, Edward L. Hawkins 30*

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