The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty
by Jack Kelly
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Pub Date 06 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 08 Dec 2021
The wild and suspenseful story of one of the most crucial and least known campaigns of the Revolutionary War
"Vividly written... In novelistic prose, Kelly conveys the starkness of close-quarter naval warfare." —The Wall Street Journal
"Few know of the valor and courage of Benedict Arnold... With such a dramatic main character, the story of the Battle of Valcour is finally seen as one of the most exciting and important of the American Revolution." —Tom Clavin author of Dodge City
During the summer of 1776, a British incursion from Canada loomed. In response, citizen soldiers of the newly independent nation mounted a heroic defense. Patriots constructed a small fleet of gunboats on Lake Champlain in northern New York and confronted the Royal Navy in a desperate three-day battle near Valcour Island. Their effort surprised the arrogant British and forced the enemy to call off their invasion.
Jack Kelly's Valcour is a story of people. The northern campaign of 1776 was led by the underrated general Philip Schuyler (Hamilton's father-in-law), the ambitious former British officer Horatio Gates, and the notorious Benedict Arnold. An experienced sea captain, Arnold devised a brilliant strategy that confounded his slow-witted opponents.
America’s independence hung in the balance during 1776. Patriots endured one defeat after another. But two events turned the tide: Washington’s bold attack on Trenton and the equally audacious fight at Valcour Island. Together, they stunned the enemy and helped preserve the cause of liberty.
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Average rating from 70 members
Jack Kelly has written a thoroughly enjoying and exciting book about a conflict that isn't well known or even really talked about. very few knew about a British attack from Canada or that there was a small naval battle played out on Lake Champlain.
I certainly knew very little about it, I had heard that it. happened and that was about it. Jack Kelly gave me so much new information in a very entertaining fashion. I was instantly drawn in and couldn't wait to read the next page. His descriptions are phenomenal and I really enjoyed learning more about Benedict Arnold and his (frankly) brilliant strategy
It doesn't feel like a history book, which is a good thing! This book is great for anyone who is interested in history, the American revolution, Benedict Arnold, military history and naval battles. If you have a hard time reading historical books I would still suggest you give this a try, it's so action packed and well written you would think you're reading historical fiction.
5 Stars, well done Mr. Kelly!
Thank you NetGalley, St. Martins Publishing and the author for the opportunity to read an Advance Readers Copy of this book.
For those who do not know, the United States were once colonies of Great Britain. From 1775 to 1783, they fought a war for independence that ended after few military peaks and many valleys. The American Revolution is one my favorite subjects, both in fiction and nonfiction. VALCOUR by author JACK KELLY takes a nonfiction look at one aspect of that war.
During the first year of military engagements, the colonies had some ups and downs. They included a siege of British occupying forces in Boston (Battle of Bunker Hill) eventually forcing the Redcoats to abandon Boston, a successful raid on Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York (by Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys) and a disastrous winter attempt to seize Quebec City in Canada.
Benedict Arnold was one of the men leading the Canadian campaign. In America, his name is synonymous with treason for his attempt to turn over an important fort (West Point, New York, mid-Hudson River Valley) to the British later during the war. Mr. Kelly’s purpose of this book is to help understand Arnold, not as traitor but as a brilliant military leader mistreated by the Continental Congress and by some of his superior officers jealous of his successes.
Arnold took charge of the retreat from Quebec City in the latter months of a cold winter. His troops were suffering from smallpox and dysentery. He led them south into Lake Champlain that lies between the states of Vermont and New York. He took them to Fort Ticonderoga where other leaders had been assembling a fleet of small naval ships to stop the British before they could divide the New England colonies from the rest of the colonies. The British had been putting together a larger naval force at the north end of Lake Champlain.
The two forces made contact in October 1776 near Valcour Island. A daylong sea battle ensued. On paper, the British won. The American fleet snuck away during the night. However, it had made the British commander realize that this was not going to be an easy campaign.
Benedict Arnold was leader in charge of the rebel forces. He succeeded in delaying the British from moving south to Fort Ticonderoga until 1777. In that year, at nearby Saratoga, New York, American forces defeated a British Army further postponing a British march to New York City and Albany. The Battle of Saratoga directly led to the French decision to come to the aid of the American colonies.
This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for readers of military campaigns and the American Revolution.
GO! BUY! READ!
I do not usually read American history. However I wanted to read this non fictional account of the Revolutionary War battles fought on Lake Champlain. I have personal connections to this area and am very familiar with the Adirondack region.
This book is very well-researched and intelligently written. The author includes quotes from the people who participated in this conflict as well as an exquisite amount of detail about the battles and the horrible conditions military men had to contend with at this time. The author based this work on research and fact. Opinion and conjecture are kept to a minimum, if included at all. This would be an excellent scholarly read for a university course on American history.
Those who are particularly interested in this historical period will probably enjoy this book more than I did. I read over 60% of the book and found myself skimming the details that others would probably relish. At this point, I read the last chapter and afterward. They provided a concise conclusion.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, military-history, military-intelligence, american-rev-war
Excellent Publish or Perish history of early northern campaigns in the War for Independence in North America highlighting the Generals and battles involved culminating in the Battle of Valcour. It is finely detailed and obviously meticulously researched, but a bit above my pay grade despite having been involved in the Northwest Territory Alliance re-enacting for a number of years. I highly recommend it for readers of military campaigns and the American Revolution!
I requested and received a free ebook copy from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
In Valcour, Jack Kelly gives a detailed, up front account of the little-known battle of Valcour Island, thrusting the reader into the watery oblivion of this three-day naval battle on Lake Champlain. Out-maneuvering the British, Benedict Arnold acts here as a brilliant military leader and patriot. Kelly writes of Gates and Schuyler as well, noting that none of the three were given the distinction that they deserved after their efforts. Important to American history, this novel begs to be read.
Let's kick this review off with a big thank you to #NetGalley and #StMartinsPress for giving me this chance to read this outstanding book, and thank you to #JackKelly, the brilliant author, for compiling and writing this novel.
The Battle of Valcour, have you heard of it? Most have not, but it plays a huge role in the Revolutionary War. Jack Kelly takes real letters, real plans, and real people. Taking their stories and giving us a very detailed incredible account of what happened on that 1776 October day. Despite rebels losing most of their fleet, and a good handful of their men, they were able to delay the British just enough from progressing forward to the Hudson River valley.
Following the plans of three men who planned and fought for what they believed in against the British. The day-long battle on the sea was the first step in the British realizing this would be bigger than what they had imagined it would be; even though they won this small battle, they realized maybe they would not win the war.
I feel like everyone should read this book, especially if they are naturally drawn to history. They won't be able to put it down.
This is so intellectually written, so well constructed. It is by far the most exhilarating history book I've ever read. I want more from Jack Kelly.
I rate this book 5 stars; I'm in love with it. It is set to release April 6th, 2021.
i really enjoyed reading this book, I liked that I hadn't heard about and I learned about this book. The author did wonderful research and it kept me invested,
When someone thinks about pivotal battles or campaigns in the War of Independence, their minds probably don't got to the sea or lakes first. But important work was done on water too and this book does a good job at covering some of that work.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me a copy of this to review prior to publication.
Valcour is a finely researched and tightly woven look at the short naval campaign on Lake Champlain during the American Revolutionary War. Jack Kelly goes into detail about the location, the building of the boats and the environment these brave soldiers and sailors endured. Central to the cast is Benedict Arnold, probably one of the most enigmatic characters in early American history in regard to his motivations and actions. His command of the small naval force that tied up the British forces in the north was instrumental in the later actions of the war. The last chapter acts as a "where are they now" type of list where we see the fall of this patriot.
If you enjoy American history, pick up this book about a not widely known battle of the Revolutionary War.
Jack Kelly presents an interesting description of the revolutionary war in the north. The battles here early in the war were critical to preserving the colonies during 1776. Several interesting characters stride the stage with Benedict Arnold probably the most notable (before he turned into a synonym for treachery. If you enjoy military history, you will enjoy this book.
Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
"Valcour" by Jack Kelly is the story of the relatively little-known first true test of the infant U.S. Navy during the Revolutionary War. Following a disastrous attempt to invade Quebec and bring Canada into the rebel fold against England, led by Gen. Benedict Arnold, the British set their sights on a pincer movement. Their goal was to invade and occupy the Hudson Valley, from the north via Lake Champlain and Albany and from the south via New York City. Doing so, the British could cut off the more rebellious New England states from the relatively Loyalist mid-Atlantic citizens. By the end of 1776, Gen. Washington had slipped his army (at a high cost, of course) through New York City and into New Jersey, where he would go on to turn the tide and prevent an all-out defeat that the British hoped to secure early in the conflict. That story is told well by several other authors, including David McCullough. "Valcour" is the story of the other side of the pincer movement, where Gen. Arnold (yes, *that* Arnold) defended the northern route into the Hudson Valley by forming a leading, though contentiously, a small freshwater navy on Lake Champlain in upstate New York. The author's descriptions are all first-rate: the backstories and foregoing campaigns and battles, the personalities and egos involved and the politics among them, the preparations to defend Fort Ticonderoga and, finally, the naval battle that ended in defeat but still pushed the British back into Canada and demonstrated that the rebels would not go quietly. As a campaign to stall the end of the rebellion and give the new United States another season of fighting chances, Valcour was a pivotal event early in the American Revolution, and Mr. Kelly tells that story well and with proper context. With the maps that are planned for the published edition, I would have given it 5 stars.
This is a well-researched work that presents the desperate days and weeks in 1776 when a dispirited, beaten and sick U.S. force hastily retreated from their optimistic foray into Canada and had to regain cohesion, health, skill and build a fleet in a short period of time to stop the superior fleet, numbers and skill of the British navy prepared to foray down Lake Champlain and onto New York City where they could have crushed the rebellion in its early stages as well as the actual battle itself that many people don’t know about (I didn’t).
The battle itself doesn’t start until about 50% into the book; this does allow a thorough picture of the desperate position the people were in and the great accomplishment they were able to achieve. It also allows a portrait of some of the average people who were risking everything on the possibility of a better future and a new country. The focus, though, is on three people: Horatio Gates who “transformed the beaten, sick and discouraged army…they became a respectable fighting force”; Philip Schuyler (yes, the father of Eliza who married Alexander Hamilton) who “oversaw the construction of a fleet of war vessels in the wilderness”; and Benedict Arnold whose “actions on Lake Champlain in the summer of 1776 helped save the cause of liberty.”
Well-known as a traitor it is very interesting to see Benedict Arnold as a charismatic and daring leader whose bold behavior contributed to saving the day and stopped the British fleet from proceeding down to New York City. His skill and achievements are often overlooked in light of his later behavior. But this tells the story of the foundation of his later actions.
Kelly’s work is not a dry recitation of facts. The tension is palpable in the writing and he gives a good description of the conditions and chaos of the actual naval battle. He indulges a bit in atmospheric descriptions that I would expect more in a historical fiction story but it makes for good reading. Informative and interesting. Good job.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest review.
I love history, so reading this book was a no brainer. It was a very interesting book about a part of history not known by a lot of people. Very good job done by the author.
“Valcour” by Jack Kelly is about the run-up to, the battle of, and the aftermath of the Battle of Valcour Island during the U.S. Revolutionary War. The narrative starts in 1776 with the failed invasion of Canada. It describes actions prior to Valcour in the area of Lake Champlain and Quebec, the Battle of Valcour itself, and some parts of the Revolutionary War occurring in New Jersey and New York. The action on Lake Champlain is not a part of history that is generally known by the public.
There is a lot of historical background and detail for the reader on the region, military figures, native North American tribes, and the French and Indian War (1754-1763). There is also background on the beginnings of the United States Navy, which is interesting and really could have been expanded upon a little bit. Finally, living conditions for the soldiers are detailed, particularly the smallpox epidemics. The Whig political party is mentioned and the narrative could’ve benefitted from a few lines about it at this time in the Colonies. I recognize that distilling down the relevant parts of this history and keeping the narrative on-track is difficult.
The main focus of the book is the northern campaign of 1776, and of course, the Battle of Valcour Island (or Battle of Valcour Bay) on October 11, 1776. Notable are General Philip Schuyler, General Horatio Lloyd Gates, and General Benedict Arnold. General Arnold was in direct command of colonial forces at the Battle of Valcour, which was one of the first battles of the new United States Navy. The Battle was in many ways a loss for the Patriots as they needed to withdraw from the area, BUT it was a psychological victory for them because of inflicting losses on a far better armed and trained British force. The Patriots’ performance at Valcour also forced the British into a winter conflict which effectively slowed their advance into the colonies from Canada.
The narrative style of the book is not as dry as many history books and is quite readable throughout. I am wondering about some of the passages describing feelings or physical being of soldiers as to whether they were taken from journals or memoirs and hope that those passages are footnoted. There does appear to have been a lot of journal or memoir research done, with ample quotes of General Gates and General Arnold. I see a section of “Source Notes” at the end of the galley which I hope will function as either footnotes or endnotes for the final published book. The Bibliography is welcome and interesting. I looked up the article from the American Battlefield Trust about Women in the American Revolution. Thank you for including the brave widow who kept marching with the Colonial Army after her husband’s death.
I read an uncorrected galley of this book. I noted a few typos in the text that need to be corrected but I will not list them in this review. I would if this were a published copy. I like to give credit that the editorial staff will catch them prior to publication.
A large portion of this history is rightly spent on General Benedict Arnold. I suspect that this author will next be writing a book about him, which I would like to read.
One of the pluses of this book is the great detail with which it is written. I particularly like the afterword with the notes on the gondola "Philadelphia" exhibit at the National Museum of American History. A visit there is at the top of mine and my husband’s list the next time we are in Washington, D.C.
I definitely recommend this book to those interested in American History.
Thank you to Jack Kelly, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an uncorrected galley of this book.
Valcour is about the people involved in the 1776 three-day battle of the fledgling American Colonies against the pesky Brits. In the summer of that year, word came that the British were coming from Canada.
The Americans had wanted to maintain their hold on the upper rivers and knew that to do so they would have to make a stand. And what a brave stand these soldiers who were really just volunteers, made. A stand that would change the course of history.
You will recognize the names. Washington, Schuyler, a General who would become Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law by marrying Eliza. We also see a different side of Benedict Arnold. A bit rougher than some, but a brilliant strategist.
While Washington routed them in Trenton, Arnold sent the British Gates packing in a three-day battle on Lake Champlain and forced a retreat.
This is a well-researched book. I think we all are familiar with Benedict Arnold as a traitor, but he really is so much more. These men were young and untried but passionate about not being under the thumb of Britain. This was more than a history lesson. These were real people who overcame incredible odds to hold up our fledgling country against more powerful enemies and prevailed.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.
NetGalley/ April 6th, 2021 by St. Martin’s Press
A well researched account of a slice of American history that few have probably heard of. I'm eager to visit some of the places talked about in the book on my next trip to the area,now that I know more "insider knowledge."
It wasn’t until I visited Montreal that I learned that the United Colonies had attempted to invade Canada during the Revolutionary War. It didn’t end well. This book starts with the retreat. To be honest, I would have preferred a little more background before the story moves to the battle of Lake Champlain. I would have also really appreciated a map at the front of the book so I could have gotten my bearings as to where various locales were. But these issues aside, this is a well researched, educational book.
I’d heard of all the “big names” in this story - Schuyler, Arnold and Gates. Kelly does a great job of fleshing out these names and making them come to life. Kelly shows us over and over that the British were only one of the problems the Colonists dealt with. And that often, the fights between the military leaders were the biggest issues. And when he finally gets to the actual battle, I was ducking and weaving trying to escape the grapeshot and cannon balls - it was that realistic.
The book lays the groundwork for why Arnold finally betrayed the country. And shows us how much good he did initially to help the cause.
I really enjoyed Kelly’s previous book, The Edge of Anarchy. He has the ability to make nonfiction read like fiction. I will continue to read anything he writes.
My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.
I received an advance reader copy of The book from Net Galley in return for an honest review. I do not know if the final print book has illustrations, but the author painted brilliant enough word pictures .
“Valcour” by Jack Kelly is an excellent history of a campaign in the America’s War of Independence. From first page to last, it did more than hold my interest; I was entranced. How often can one say that about a history book of events in a war nearly 250 years ago centered on an obscure island far to the north of what is now a pleasant lake known for it’s beautiful scenery?
In 1776, Valcour , an uninhabited island in Lake Champaign just south of Canada became the site of a desperate naval battle where victory meant the difference in whether the fledgling American colonies survived their first year of independence. The unimpressive Colonial army which is usually and accurately deserved with the term “ ragtag” was facing a numerically superior army of Redcoats. Better trained, armed, supplied and fed, the British plan was to transport troops up the lake ( it flows south, so going “ up” is somewhat counter- intuitive) and overwhelm the weak militia forces at Fort Ticonderoga, thus opening an easy route to invade New York and New England to cut the new country in half. All that stood between the enemy and victory were a small force of hastily gathered troops commanded by Benedict Arnold.
Mr Kelly story of how Arnold inspired and lead his citizen army to victory, or at least the kind of victory needed to stall the British advance, is an exceptionally interesting and well- written book. The facts are presented: the people, the strategies, the struggle by the American to obtain needed supplies, the combat.The British had numerous ships and boats, all armed, and some heavily so, to swamps the few in the American fleet. Reading how Arnold directed the building of gunboats, galleys, and scows , the training men who never did more than row a boat to sail them into the face of the famously renown Royal Navy was truly fascinating. I learned a great deal more about Arnold than I ever knew from this book. He was a fascinating person and one wonders what effect he might have had had he remained loyal to America, or, conversely, if the British had put his daring and military acumen to good us to fight his former country.
That one day running battle when the two lakeside navies came in contact resulted in just what was needed - just enough of a victory to buy time for Ticonderoga to be re-in forced, and more importantly, to show the proud enemy that farmers and shopkeepers were resolute and daring and no pushovers. Arnold was never given the recognition he deserved. He resented being passed over for promotion while other, less able men passed him by.
There is not a dull sentence in “Valcour” . I have visited Fort Ticonderoga. Reading this book made me want to revisit it ( as soon we are allowed to travel out of our houses, that is.)
Recommended to all, even to those who shy away from non- fiction . Truth is better than fiction when written this well. Fully a five star rating.
Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This is one of those fine books on history that read like a novel. This exceptional writing style make the time spent so much more enjoyable. Most school texts tend to give the Battle of Lake Champlain short shrift in the bigger picture of the Revolutionry War. So much more was at stake and the issue was very much in doubt without the presence of Benedict Arnold. The detail is amazing and just the descriptions of the water craft and maneuvers will keep the reader enthralled.
Excellent historical read! Valcour beautifully weaves history with a narrative format highlighting the importance of this campaign. This oft overlooked story makes for a compelling read, particularly for fans of books like 1776.
This is a great adventure story that happens to be true. Valcour covers the battle for Lake Champlain in 1776 - one of the lesser-known encounters in the American Revolution, but one of great importance.
One of the heroes is Benedict Arnold. Yes, that guy, who was one of the Patriots' great military leaders before pride and grievance led him to the Dark Side.
Kelly is a fine adventure writer/historian: the story is well-paced, the backstory and context added without slowing the narrative, and he even manages to build up a good bit of suspense. Definitely worth reading.
This book is about the failed attempt to invade Canada early in the days of the Revolutionary War and the subsequent battle on Lake Champlain and Fort Ticonderoga. The key players are Benedict Arnold, Philip Schuyler and Horatio Gates and their roles in the success of the battle. The author points out that Arnold did much good for the Revolution before turning traitor. Something that is often overlooked in history. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Revolutionary War.
I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook page.
I received an advance reading copy (arc) of this book from NetGalley.com in return for a fair review. The Battle of Valcour Island took place in October of 1776 and was a defining moment in the Revolutionary War. To be honest, I had never heard of it until now. Of course, we all studied what happened at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill (or Breed's Hill) and maybe the Siege of Boston, but a little known island on Lake Champlain went unnoticed. Author Jack Kelly has done a magnificent job bringing to life this pivotal battle and the men who fought it. Unlike the usual textbook style, I have come to expect when reading about the Revolutionary War, Kelly's vivid prose allows you to smell the gunpowder, see the smoke, and feel the gut-wrenching fear these soldiers experienced. He eloquently describes the battered ships, the rough waters, and the men's stubborn persistence as cannonballs and bullets whizzed past them. Quotes taken from their diaries and letters tells first-hand what really happened as these men struggled not only to best the British, but to survive the assault. Led by Benedict Arnold, a charismatic leader who showed no fear in the midst of the action, these brave men with little training fought side by side in unfamiliar territory relying on Arnold to get them through. Though methods may have changed over the years, war is still war. There were horrific deaths and gruesome casualties that survivors witnessed and then lived with for the rest of their lives. In that respect, these Colonial soldiers were no different than today's service men and women. We certainly owe them a huge debt of gratitude. One last thing, Benedict Arnold is best known for his traitorous turn, but before his monumental decision to join the British, he was a trusted and respected officer serving under George Washington. The Battle of Valcour Island proved his abilities to act under pressure and at the time, he was hailed a hero. Sadly, his legacy is flawed. I highly recommend this book to history lovers, Revolutionary War enthusiasts, and anyone who likes action. Personally, I look forward to more work from Jack Kelly Excellent read!
I received an uncorrected proof of Valcour via NetGalley and I thank St. Martins for asking me to read it.
It was a shame for me to admit when I first started this work that I had studied little of the actual details of the Battle of Valcour Island. After reading this book, I’m happy to say that deficiency has started to be addressed.
The Battle of Valcour Island in October 1776 was a campaign led by Generals Gates, Arnold, and Schuyler to blunt a potential British invasion from the north via Lake Champlain, an invasion that would have allowed British forces to reach the Hudson River and link up with troops in New York. Though the battle was a victory for the British, American troops did slow down British troops enough to force them to winter in Canada, providing America a needed respite to regroup.
Jack Kelly does an excellent job of shifting back and forth between the two sides, providing the reader a good overview of thoughts of both the Americans and the British. The best part of the book, though, is the insight provided into those in charge. I’ve never been a fan of Gates, and this book wasn’t going to change that, but I now have more respect for him and the skills that he brought to the American war effort. The author also provides instructional background on Arnold as well, speculating on possible events that could have nudged him toward the traitorous course he finally took.
I also have to give the Kelly profs on his research. For me, the hardest part when I start a new historical nonfiction book is that authors often reference tangential events to set the stage for the rest of the work. As someone who reads history for fun, I usually have some idea of what’s being mentioned. However, if I’m unsure on anything, I will immediately look it up to guarantee I understand what the author is saying. Part of this is educational for me. However, on some level, it may be a bit arrogant in that I’m checking the author’s research to make sure I can trust it. I found nothing to give me caution in this book’s first chapters and that allowed me to truly enjoy it as a lover of history should.
There was a lot of warmth and humanity in this book of a little known historical event as well as rich portrayals of the actual events. I really loved the way Kelly portrayed the people – the soldiers as well as the officers, their wives and children as well. Nicely woven into the battle scenes were human emotions, sickness, betrayal, anger and despondency. Kelly definitely gave a picture of the colonists- those people who were simply struggling to make their way in this new continent, people who wanted the freedom to do so, but people who weren’t all that keen on leaving their homes and going to war.
Every time I think about our ancestors and what they accomplished in the short amount of time to independence, I am simply amazed all over again. In the battle for Valcour Island, they were not only ill trained soldiers, but had to deal with smallpox, hunger, black flies, dearth of equipment, etc.
And of course, it was fun to see the interaction of the generals in the heat of battle. I really appreciate learning about Benedict Arnold and how much he contributed to the success of the revolution before his fateful fall.
The only real criticism I have of this book is the lack of maps and perhaps that will be rectified in the finished product.
I am thankful to have received this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. I will definitely look for other historical works by Jack Kelly.
I had no idea that the United Colonies attempted to invade Canada during the Revolutionary War. This book leads up to the battle at Valcour Island. I thought it was well researched. I also found it very interesting. When I was reading it, I asked my husband if he knew that we had invaded Canada during the Revolutionary War. He didn't know either. I don't remember to this battle being covered during American History in school.
This books leads up to the battle. Benedict Arnold and his fleet of small ships, surprised the Royal Navy at this Island. It occured on Lake Champlain. If you are a history buff, or just like history, I recommend you read this book. As I said, I learned quite a lot.
Thanks to Netgalley for the Kindle Version of the book. All though and opinions are my own.
I had never heard of the pivitol revolutionary war "sea" battle at Valcour in the middle of Lake Champlain starring the controversial Benedict Arnold. Jack Kelly brings to life raw history weaving facts and faces into a highly entertaining and readable narrative. The difficult job of battle scene description and development including individual accounts of various participants both famous and otherwise are riveting. Reads like historical fiction only it's the real thing.
4 stars for a story of an overlooked battle in the American Revolutionary War. This history book starts out a little slow, but picks up the tempo at the battle. i thought that the description of the naval battle on Lake Champlain near what is now New York State's Valcour Island was excellent.
In 1776 Brtain sent a superior naval force with experienced sailors down the Richelieu river from Quebec to Lake Champlain with the goal of capturing Fort Ticonderoga and smashing the Revolution in its infancy. If they had succeeded, they would have split the colonies in two halves, separating New England from the rest of the colonies.
They failed because of Benedict Arnold, today reviled as a traitor. But he was the general who organized the building of warships and led his inexperienced sailors and soldiers against a superior British force. The British had more and bigger ships. Their ships had bigger and more accurate canons. But Arnold chose an excellent defensive position, forcing the British to attack him against the wind, while Arnold's stationary ships, between Valcour Island and the mainland, directed their fire at each individual ship as it attacked against the wind.
Then after his ships were defeated, but still afloat, he slipped through the British blockade and escaped to Fort Ticonderoga. The British retreated for that year and the Revolution lived on.
One quote: "The bay where the final act of the Battle of Valcour Island had been played out would afterward be kn own as Arnold's Bay. It is called so to this day, the only place named for him in the country he would betray."
Thanks to Sara Beth Haring at St. Martin's Press for sending me this eARC through NetGalley.
Every reader interested in the early American Revolution battles should read this book. Kelly presents a well-researched and well-written exploration of the Battle of Valcour Island in Lake Champlain, VT. This battle is not readily taught outside of New England and is one of many forgotten battles. Focusing on Benedict Arnold, we get to see another side to the man America views only as a traitor.
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy.
According to Shakespeare “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones. So, let it be with Caesar.” He forgot to mention all the other flawed people who have done great things, but some incident turned them into historical pariahs. Take Benedict Arnold for example. His name is synonymous with the word traitor. Should his good deeds at Valcour Island be forgotten and swept away?
Well, maybe so; however, had General Arnold not led brilliantly and decisively during the 1776 campaign, the Revolutionary War might have ended differently.
I enjoyed the book Valcour because it discussed a military campaign I knew nothing about. Through letters and other research, the author showed the personalities of Arnold, Gates, and Schuyler and described the battles in depth and how they were able to overcome extreme obstacles. The author treated the main characters professionally and in an unbiased manner. He also used humor to enrich the story.
The first part of the book moved slowly, but picked up quickly and energetically during the battles.
This is a great book for people who want to know more about early or unknown military battles, navy battles, war time personalities, or other early American incidence.
Thank you NetGalley, Jack Kelly, and St Martin's Press for the e-arc of this book. The opinions are my own.
If you love reading about historical battles this is a great book.
The only thing I knew about Benedict Arnold was that he was considered a traitor of the American Revolution. It was very interesting to read about the Battle of Valcour, what happened before and after.
You got a good feeling of the mental state of the fighting man. Because I’m familiar with most of the areas described I didn’t need a map to visualize the traveling or areas the fighting took place but I think the book could have used some simple pen drawings of the various ships used to see the size and differences. Like any historical book I’m sure there is some minor misinformation but the Author did major research on the subject and unless you were there you have to rely on documents, previously written books and letters. Even letters are not always 100 percent dependable. The writer might not outright lie but phrasing the contents in such a way that everything look favorable on his person.
Benedict Arnold was a unique person. Self-made business men who manage to accumulate his wealth. A good military person but could not play the political games to help his career which left him a bitter men. This was a very interesting read.
I learned something about the Revolution when I read this. I vaguely knew that there was some fighting around Lake Champlain, but didn’t know the extent of it. Kelly digs in and shows how Benedict Arnold (yes, that guy) stopped the British from swooping down from Canada and probably ending the fight in the first year. This is meticulously researched and written in great detail, while still being relatively easy to read.
If you like military history, this would be a good read. You need to pay attention because there is a lot going on, but you will come out the other side knowing a lot more.
Valcour by Jack Kelly gives a bit of history just prior to their independence from the UK. The notorious Benedict Arnold, Phillip Schyler (Alexander Hamilton’s father-in-law) and Horacio Gates try to invade Canada through northern New York around Valcour Island. This is a battle mostly left unheard in the history books. While they were mostly defeated, George Washington’s attack on Trenton and the battle of Valcour Island turns the tide for independence.
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy of this historic book.
#Netgalley #StMartinsPress #Valcour
I don't remember hearing about the Battle of Valcour Island before. I enjoy learning about history and this book was an eye opener for me. I found this to be an interesting read and the author did a good job of making me feel like I was there. I learned quite a bit and I will be looking for more books by Jack Kelly.
What an eye opener for the reader! Well researched and informative, especially for those lovers of history. Never having heard of the battle of Valcour and ignorant of the importance of Lake Champlain and Ticonderoga I eagerly read this well written account. Jack Kelly’s writing style is easy to read . The brutal battle at Valcour came to life within the pages of this read as did the heroic efforts of so many patriots. Sad to realize that politicians had the power, even in the 1770’s to make or break the careers of so many of the brave men fighting the British for our independence. I honestly did not know much about Benedict Arnold. One particular quote really hit home with me.
“Do their flaws erase their greatness? Can we honor their achievements while at the same time condemning their treachery?”
Many many thanks to Jack Kelly, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for affording me the opportunity to read an arc of this engaging account of the buildup, battle, and aftermath of the important 1776 campaign.
I selected this book from NetGalley in hopes of getting a better picture of Benedict Arnold than was taught when I was a kid (he was basically Evil McEvilness) or the revisionary version I encountered in late years as reaction to all that flag-waving rah rah of the fifties, in which pretty much everyone, including Washington, was depicted as an opportunistic scumbag.
I wanted an even-handed account, so that I could understand his motivations for his shift in sides. Though I’ve learned from other books that changing sides (sometimes two or three or five times) during the Revolutionary War was not unheard of at all. But this was a very high profile case, and came at a time that especially hurt.
The main focus of the book is on three people, though the author takes plenty of time to flesh out other figures of the time and place—revolutionaries, British and Native Americans, commanders and commoners.
The three are Horatio Gates, the commander who turned a disparate bunch of farmers and artisans into an effective army; Philip Schuyler, who served as a sort of task force engineer in putting together vessels for the water battle, and of course Benedict Arnold, who proved to be a smart, courageous, if impatient and arrogant commander on both land and water.
The actual battle does not commence until halfway through the book, permitting the author to build a vivid, excellent picture of the situation, the emotions, the motivations, and of course the cost.
I not only got what I asked for—a basic understanding of what led Arnold from Point A to Point B (and its cost) but I got the benefit of a vivid, well-paced book that lays out clearly the strategy and tactics of the period, without sacrificing interest.
Valcour is a fantastic telling of a lesser known and incredibly important Revolutionary War battle and the events surrounding it. I loved the very story-like way that the history was told, drawn heavily from first-person accounts and covering the perspectives of both the Americans and the British. From the beginning, I found it very engaging and I was genuinely fascinated by the history.
Hanging over the story is also the legacy of Benedict Arnold in particular, most notoriously known for being a traitor who shifted over to the British side during the war. Jack Kelly's handling of this is so well done, highlighting Arnold's triumphs amidst the knowledge that his actions later on would forever tarnish his name. I appreciated Kelly's efforts at complicating the narrative around Arnold, as well as around the figures of Horatio Gates and Phillip Schuyler, giving them due credit for their wartime efforts surrounding this battle and the ways in which the success of this effort helped save the revolutionary cause. For those looking for a really interesting and nuanced look at an often overlooked but deeply important part of the history of the Revolutionary War, I highly recommend this book!
This book explores a part of American history I did not know. Valcour Island on Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York was the stage for the ‘United States’ first naval battle. Although the force, led by Benedict Arnold, was defeated, it was an important step in the fight for freedom. I think those who enjoy American History, military history will find this informative and engaging.
I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Until now, little known events turned the tide of the Revolutionary war. With the ease of a story teller, the author shares the account of this battle for independence; the players and the skirmishes, the military insights and the behind-the-scenes drama on both sides. Well written and informative.
This was an interesting take on the war for independence. This book covers a lesser known conflict in Canada involving Benedict Arnold that I hadn't know much about going into the book and that's exactly why I enjoyed this read. The writing was entertaining and kept me sucked in and I walked away with a new understanding of Arnold.
I usually only hear about Benedict Arnold due to the traitor aspects of him, bit this book helped me understand why he was such an important figure due to his brilliant military strategy. The book explores the path that led to him becoming a traitor that made me more sympathetic to him than I expected to be. Highly recommend this for anyone interested in Benedict Arnold and the battle fought on Lake Champlain.
Disclaimer: I received an arc from the publisher in return for an honest review.
So much was never taught in my American History classes. Such a shame, too. I had no idea of our interaction with Canada and that the event was led by Benedict Arnold. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for offering me the chance to fill in a big gap in my education.
In school we learned the basics about 1776 and how Benedict Arnold was a traitor. This missing piece was a great read. If Arnold hadn't had the genius to figure out how to get the upper hand on the British when he was outgunned, outmanned and commanding a small fleet our revolution would have been ended then and there. Books as well written as Valcour bring history alive and it was more than the military aspect of this moment in history that hooked me, it was the authors ability to bring the people's voices alive.
Thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
Really interesting book about a battle a piece of history I knew nothing about.I was fascinated by this time in history very well written very interesting.#netgalley #st.martinsbooks
Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty by Jack Kelly is a look into the little known battle which helped continue the Revolution. At the front, Benedict Arnold, a man who fought with valor and courage, before he became known as the traitor to the American cause. During the summer of 1776, a British incursion in the north from Canada loomed. In response, a heroic defense was mounted. Under the direction of Philip Schuyler, underrated general and Alexander Hamilton’s future father-in-law, Horatio Gates, an ambitious former British officer, and the notorious Benedict Arnold, the Patriots constructed a small fleet of gunboats on Lake Champlain in northern New York. As an experienced sea captain, Arnold was able to devise a strategy that confounded their overconfident opponents. They would confront the full might of the British Royal Navy in a three-day battle near Valcour Island. Their effort surprised the arrogant British, who were forced to call off their invasion. At the core of Valcour is the story of people. In the early days of the Revolutionary War, the Patriots endured one defeat after another, with America’s Independence hanging in the balance. Two events would help turn the tide: Washington’s bold attack on Trenton on December 26, 1776 and the Battle of Valcour Island on October 11, 1776.
I love history, especially American history. So when I got the opportunity to read about the Battle of Valcour Island, a battle I knew nothing about, I jumped at the chance. Jack Kelly weaves a history account that is as wild and suspenseful as the American wilderness that flowed and captivates as you read about the crucial and least known campaign when the scrappy navy of the young nation took on the British and their mighty sea power. I loved learning more about Benedict Arnold before he became the infamous traitor we all know him as. Mr Kelly describes him as a paradox of history as the reasons for his decision to betray his nation have been left up to debate and conjecture. Although Mr Kelly does present situations and attitudes that would certainly have contributed to Arnold’s turn. I also enjoyed hearing about the place names which memorialize the battle’s events and keep the memory alive of this important event. I also enjoyed and was humbled by the stories of the men who fought the battle, whose names don’t appear in the history books. Without their sacrifice and courage under almost certain failure, the fight for American Independence would have ended before it truly began. I highly recommend Valcour, an excellent account of the crucial battle.
Valcour: the 1776 Campaign that Saved the Cause of Liberty is available in hardcover, eBook and audiobook.
I would like to thank St Martin's Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book and give an honest opinion. This is a time frame I have always been curious about, especially because of the musical Hamilton. This book was fascinating and made you feel that you were actually in the American Revolution. It was a meaty and descriptive book and I am glad that I read it.
Before reading this book, my knowledge of Benedict Arnold was that he attempted to betray the United States during the Revolutionary War. I did not have knowledge of his courageous exploits for the colonists before the war.
The book begins several months before the battle and details the preparations and the challenges of preparing for an inevitable British assault. Arnold did not expect this to take place before Autumn, and his goal was to prevent the British from gaining control of the northern lakes waterways , which would have provided him northern access into America. He knew it was strategically important to force them to have to winter in Canada and chose to fight the naval battle on Lake Champlain near Valcour Island. Arnold commanded a lesser naval force with mostly untested sailors, and his years of maritime experience would hold the key to whether or not he had a chance to stop the enemy navy.
Much of the time if felt like author Jack Kelly crafted the book to sound more like a thrilling war novel rather than a part of history. Even so, his research of documents, letters, and other important items provide the necessary historical facts to also make this book a great source for those interested in history. His description of the battle on Lake Champlain prompted me to check out maps online, enabling me to follow the events as they traveled south past Crown Point and on to Fort Ticonderoga. Learning the facts about Benedict Arnold provided me with an entirely different view of the man. Highly recommended. Five stars.
My thanks to NetGalley and St. martin’s Press for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.
This was an engaging work of non-fiction about the Revolutionary War, more specifically the battle to stop British troops from marching down into New York from Canada. There was a large naval battle on Lake Champlain that I had been unaware of prior to reading this book. The book also features many of the heroic actions Benedict Arnold took while he was firmly on the the side of the Patriots.
I'd recommend this to readers who are interested in learning more about the early days of a the Revolutionary War in a geographical area not usually featured much in the history books.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher via NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
I love it when I find historical non-fiction that does not read like a textbook. Jack Kelly’s “Valcour” sheds light on a little known battle between the British Canadians and the American colonists during the American Revolution.
The book also details Benedict Arnold’s role in the battle. I have to admit, I knew little about Arnold other than he was a traitor. After reading the account of what happened at Valcour, I have a new respect for Arnold, and a better understanding of why he turned his back on the colonists.
Kelly also describes in detail the ships and ammunitions, as well as the hardships that the seamen endured both before and after the battle at Valcour. These men definitely deserved to win.
Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read an advance copy. I’m happy to give my honest review.
This was a wonderfully written, very informative book. There is so much we don’t know about our history and Jack Kelly introduced me to this unknown (to me) moment in American history. It is easy to read with well-drawn characterizations, full of intrigue and information. I think it’s perfect for history book clubs.
Valcour Island was the scene of a impressive battle that was key in the American Revolution, but you won’t see it be a important factor in history books because of one of the keynote leaders involved.
Benedict Arnold is well known for his betrayal to our country, but what people forget is what he did prior for this country. Benedict was a outstanding strategist and fought many fights for America.
One of the greatest of them he was paired with a British recruit who fought for our country, and the man who was behind the scenes, but had a brilliant mind on seeing all the pieces was Philip Schulyer. This three men developed a very intriguing and intricate plan based on Benedict’s idea of a three prong hit and it all would focus around Valcour Island.
The authors descriptive writing style kept me glued to the pages that I forgot to put my dinner in the oven. Oh, well fast food! He wrote so that I literally felt as though you were following along with Benedict and experiencing what he saw and felt. The death and sickness in the camps.
This is a phenomenal book and I highly recommend It!
I received a free advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions.
I had read Jack Kelly's book "Band of Giants" a couple of years ago, so when I saw he had a new book coming out, I knew I had to check it out! "Valcour" is about 1776 during the American Revolution. This includes the time when Benedict Arnold was still a good guy, and for the most part still a hero, so he is featured rather prominently in this book, as well as Horatio Gates and Philip Schuyler. The naval engagements are a major focus of the book, and it was fun to read the descriptions of the gunners and their construction.
Structure and Formatting 4/5
I tend to prefer all-encompassing histories rather than more narrow-focused books. I felt this book did a good job of giving a snapshot into the American Revolution at this time, but some of the introductions of characters and places felt choppy as a result of the narrow scope.
Thoroughness of Research 4/5
Other than my standout "character" in this book (Colonel Wigglesworth), I didn't feel like this book introduced any new sources or gave a new analysis of existing sources. This was definitely more focused on the naval aspects of the war than some other books I have read, which was great. I may need to comb back through the notes section to see if I missed anything, but nothing jumped out at me as "ooh! Let me go look that up!" which is something I look forward to when reading history books.
Jack Kelly has a very easy writing style to read. I enjoy his books and will continue to look into his future books. The choppiness mentioned earlier is the only thing that I had issues with, but again I think that's just the nature of a more narrow-scoped book.
Level of Enjoyment 3.5/5
I think this book has shown me that I will never be sympathetic towards Arnold. I think that affected my enjoyment of the book a bit, but those less critical of him will probably enjoy this more. Arnold just seems to annoy me and seeing him page-after-page just started to grate on me a bit.
Prior Knowledge Needed 4/5
I don't know if I would recommend this book to people brand new to Revolutionary War history. (For that, I would definitely recommend his book "Band of Giants.") Because of the narrow-scope of the book, it definitely helps to have some background on the rest of the war and some of the players involved. That said, the length of this book could work well for those that are at least familiar with Benedict Arnold, are fascinated by our many attempts to take Quebec, and/or have maybe seen "Hamilton." :-P
Get ready for an adventure from the American Revolution that very few ever talk about.
Do you remember in history class when your teacher would say "there are so many things that we just do not have time to talk about?" Well, this is one of those things.
This book was amazing, and I loved it! For history lovers, this is going to cover a piece of history we would have been begging our teachers to spend more time on. For those that do not generally enjoy history - this book is still enjoyable - giving you the perspective of a battle from a bygone era, and brings to life some of the struggles of the new Navy.
Jack Kelly has delivered a book that is hard to put down, and breathes new life into a little talked about portion of the American Revolution. Get it now!
Courtesy of Netgalley and St.Martin's Press, I received the ARC of Valcour by Jack Kelly. I knew nothing about the early military career of Benedict Arnold and feel so fortunate to have benefitted from learning through the amazing words of Jack Kelly. Well researched, with magnificent imagery and descriptions, I was transported to 1776 with all the suspense and drama of a strategic battle.
I know a bit of American Reovolutionary history, but my knowledge of Benedict Arnold's service prior to his betrayal was pretty much limited to the Saratoga campaign and a vague idea of a lake battle.. This was a fresh story on a little-known part of the Revolution that is finally given its due attention and it's an amazing one.
It's odd to know the USA would probably not exist if not for the man who is now known as the country's greatest traitor, but it's fascinating.
I have really stayed away from books on the Revolutionary War for a good long time because I became so burned-out on the subject and nothing I was reading was new. I was offered this book by the publicist though and I am so glad I took a chance on it. This was an aspect of the war I knew almost nothing about and I found it to be an engrossing read that I could not put down. Definitely recommended for those who have an interest in the period, but also though who have read a lot like me and are looking for a new angle. Great read!
I always love reading historical novels of any kind really. They bring forward the people and places that built the world as we know it today. This is a little known tale from 1776 that features some of the biggest names of the time, people like young George Washington, an enterprising general a few years short of his well documented crossing of the Delaware, and Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor. In the dawning days of the country known as the United States of America, these men were involved in a life or death fight against the British. The British had a well documented history of navel superiority that was unmatched. The fledging Americans without an organized Navy hurriedly built a battalion of boats on the inland Lake Champlain. Their sole purpose was to defend the passage into New York and prevent the British from moving down and overtaking the meager forces stationed at Ticonderoga and other forts along the route. A David vs Goliath tale featuring the young Benedict Arnold. A young man with a mind made for military strategy who would lead the ragtag group of naval boats in a campaign to stop the British advance at all costs. The author gives us an in depth historical view of life at this time with many paragraphs almost having a poetic quality to the writing. It’s a fascinating story that reminds all of us of the blood, sweat and tears that were spilt to give this nation life. It can be a little dry especially early on in the book, but it does pick up steam and is generally fascinating. Review posted to Goodreads, Litsy, LibraryThing, Facebook, and Amazon.
Valcour was an outstanding, accessible historical account. I will be looking forward with great interest to Jack Kelly's future work.
I thought Jack Kelly's Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty was a fabulous read. Five plus stars.
Beautifully written story about the battle on Valcour Island. Historically significant to American History and the War on Independence. Very well researched based on real people and correspondences. I highly recommend reading this book.
Thank you #NetGalley, #StMartin’sPress, #JackKelly for the copy of #Valcour for my honest review.
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