December 4, 2009

The Gunboat Philadelphia

The National Museum of American History's website has this nice page about the Continental Gunboat Philadelphia.

The Gunboat Philadelphia is the oldest surviving American fighting vessel. Built in 1776, it was sunk in Lake Champlain during a naval battle with the British in the same year. The Continental Congress authorized the building of this 54 foot, 29-ton gunboat and eight other similar vessels for the defense of the Champlain Valley - the northern frontier of the colonies considered the key to the success or failure of the American Revolution. In the summer of 1776, under the leadership of the charismatic and controversial Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, Philadelphia and her sister-ships were hurriedly organized into what historians consider “the first American Navy.”
Here's the page from Transcript Journals of the Continental Congress (part of the Papers of the Continental Congress) where congress resolves, "that the president write to governor Cooke requesting him to order fifty ship carpenters to be engaged on the best terms at the expense of the continent and sent to general Schuyler at Albany as soon as possible, in order to build vessels for the defense of the lakes."
Continental Congress hires carpenters "to build vessels for the defense of

You can find some nice pictures of the Philadelphia here and more information about the history of the ship here.

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