225th Anniversary of Carleton's Raid marked by Lake Champlain Maritime Museum during "Rabble in Arms" - August 23rd & 24th
Travel back in time at two sites in Vergennes during the weekend of August 23rd & 24th at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's dynamic re-enactment, "Rabble in Arms: Carleton's Raid." Each year, a new "Rabble in Arms" re-enactment scenario gives LCMM archaeologists, educators and historians an opportunity to learn by doing, and takes visitors directly into the lives of Americans, British and Native Americans on Lake Champlain during the American Revolution. This year's event will take the museum's replica gunboat out onto the waters of the lake and Otter Creek to recreate the 1778 British raids up the lake into settlements around the Champlain Valley.
The gunboat Philadelphia II will be leaving her homeport at Basin Harbor on Friday to travel up the Otter Creek to the Basin in Vergennes. Saturday, the Philadelphia II will play the role of a British vessel leading a raiding party to "attack" the Falls on Otter Creek as a part of Vergennes Day in a re-enactment that will take place from 12:00–1:00. Following the engagement, the Philadelphia II will leave Vergennes to return to her home berth, traveling along the Otter Creek to Lake Champlain and the museum's North Harbor. This event is in partnership with Vergennes Day, the City of Vergennes and the Vergennes Chamber of Commerce, a division of Addison County Chamber of Commerce. For more information about Vergennes Day contact the Chamber at (802) 388-7951.
In addition, activities will be taking place on both Saturday and Sunday at the museum. Come walk through an authentic 18th century encampment at the Museum grounds. All weekend, re-enactors at the encampment will present elements of life on the frontier, camp life, and cooking as well as traditional maritime skills including blacksmithing and boat building.
Sunday the Philadelphia II will be at Basin Harbor for a new re-enactment of a raid on a frontier homestead. At 1:00 P.M. witness the effect of the raid as prisoners are taken, and a homestead and crops are destroyed. Other special presentations will take place on Sunday. At 11:00 A.M. author Ida Washington will talk on "Carleton's Raid", followed by a book signing. At 2:00 P.M. historian Don Wickman will present "Seasons of War: Weather and History on Lake Champlain in the Revolutionary War" (supported in part by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council). The day's events will conclude with "Meet the People of the 18th century" at 3:30 P.M.
The actual events on which this year's Rabble In Arms scenarios are based took place in October of 1778. A year earlier, the surrender of General John Burgoyne and his army at Saratoga had caused great celebration within the new United States, but tension in the Champlain Valley region remained high. Though the Colonists had secured the territories, the British still controlled Canada. In an effort to prevent another British invasion, Congress devised secret plans for an attack on Canada. British spies discovered their intent and devised a counter-plan, appointing 29-year-old Major Christopher Carleton, the nephew of Canadian Governor-General Guy Carleton, to command the secret expedition.
Christopher Carleton's force set out from Isle aux Noix, on October 24 with two large vessels, Carleton and Maria, two gunboats, and several smaller boats and canoes carrying 354 soldiers and around 100 Indians. His orders were to destroy all the food, supplies, animals, boats, and mills they found in the valley and to take prisoner all the men while sending the women and children further south into the colonies. After a period of only 21 days the British returned to Canada, having destroyed nearly one hundred structures, including two mills and over twenty barns full of wheat; burned over one hundred stacks of wheat and hay; and killed several head of cattle. It has been estimated that the supplies destroyed would have fed 12,000 men for four months. More importantly for the British, the region had been devastated and would not be able to support an invasion into Canada for the foreseeable future.
A Weekend Pass allows you to attend the Rabble In Arms event both Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for youth and under 6 are free. A special Family Weekend Pass is available for $24. For information contact the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum at (802) 475-2022.