cover image Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty

Valcour: The 1776 Campaign That Saved the Cause of Liberty

Jack Kelly. St. Martin’s, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-24711-7

Historian Kelly (Band of Giants) spotlights an overlooked campaign of the American Revolution in this richly detailed account. In the summer and fall of 1776, British forces in Canada attempted to invade the colonies by way of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. One of the leaders of the American defense was Benedict Arnold, whose capture of Fort Ticonderoga had earned him the nickname “America’s Hannibal.” In October 1776, Arnold lured British ships into battle at Valcour Island in Lake Champlain. Kelly dramatically recounts the “boiling free-for-all” between American ships and British gunboats before Arnold made a fighting retreat southward and eventually escaped to Fort Ticonderoga. British commanders decided not to test the fort’s vaunted defenses, and instead returned north to Canada as winter approached. The British returned in 1777 with greater initial success, but met defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, “the last time Benedict Arnold would fight for the American cause.” Kelly delves deeply into the logistics of warfare, including shipbuilding and combatting smallpox, and gathers stirring accounts of heroism on both sides of the conflict. Readers will be intrigued by this evocative portrait of one of America’s greatest traitors at the height of his glory. (Apr.)