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USS Washington (1776 lateen-rigged galley) was a galley in the service of the Continental Congress during the American Revolutionary War. Washington was capable of propulsion by sail or by the paddling of oarsmen. During a battle with British warships, Washington “struck her colors” and was captured by the British.

Built on Lake ChamplainEdit

The third ship to be named Washington—a lateen-rigged, two-masted galley—was built on Lake Champlain at Skenesboro, New York, in the autumn of 1776. On 6 October 1776, the galley joined the small fleet established and commanded by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold.

Battle of Valcour IslandEdit

Washington—commanded by Brigadier General David Waterbury, Arnold's second in command—was among Arnold's ships that anchored in the lee of Valcour Island to await the expected English move.

When that lakeward push began, Capt. Thomas Pringle, of the Royal Navy, led a 25-ship fleet past Valcour Island on 11 October. Pringle sighted the American fleet after he had passed it and attacked from leeward. In the ensuing action, Washington suffered the heaviest damage of any ship in Arnold's fleet; Waterbury, her commander, subsequently reported that she was

. . . so torn to pieces that it was almost impossible to keep her above water.

Arnold regrouped his shattered fleet and slipped past the British on 12 October with muffled oars, the Americans slipping noiselessly past Pringle's fleet in a desperate attempt at escape. However, after a long chase, the British caught the retreating Continental force the following day, on 13 October, at Split Rock near Crown Point.

After the battleEdit

Arnold managed to beach and destroy four of the galleys and his own flagship, Congress, while most of the remaining ships escaped upriver. Only Washington—at the rear of the van—was captured by the enemy; she struck her colors, as Arnold reported later, "... after receiving a few broadsides."

Final dispositionEdit

Washington was eventually taken into British service, apparently retaining her name, and was re-rigged as a brig. Her subsequent fate, however, is unrecorded.

ReferencesEdit

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