Addison County was “A nest of the greatest rebels in that part of the country,” when British forces led by Major Christopher Carleton invaded the area, determined to eliminate any possible supplies for rebel troops. Carleton’s 21 day expedition of 350 soldiers and 100 Indians, supported by naval vessels on the lake, proudly tallied up their success: crops destroyed, livestock slaughtered, barns and homesteads burned – nearly 100 structures and enough supplies to feed 12,000 men for four months.
On August 21 and 22, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s “Rabble in Arms” weekend offers an insider’s look at the experiences of British and Rebel combatants, and an average frontier family, during these volatile years of the American Revolution. With the defeat of General Burgoyne at Saratoga in 1777, the British feared a possible American counter-offensive from the Champlain Valley into Canada, and the following year Major Christopher Carleton, nephew of Canada’s Governor -General Sir Guy Carleton, led the invasion known as “Carleton’s Raids,” targeting homesteads in Addison County Vermont.
To recreate these dramatic events, some of the re-enactors take British roles, and even LCMM’s venerable gunboat Philadelphia II will be transformed into the captured American gunboat Jersey, carrying British troops. On Saturday, the British troops will make landfall and establish a foothold at the museum’s North Harbor, defended by local militia. A “homestead” will be raided and put to the torch on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, the public can meet the re-enactors of both camps, before a final skirmish with the departing British troops.
A further perspective on the Revolutionary War in the Champlain Valley is provided on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., when historians Paul Huey and Tom Barker, in Braunschweig Jaeger uniform, present the viewpoint of the Hessian troops in a special presentation “German Maps and Myths about the War for Independence.” Copies of their forthcoming book on the subject can be pre-ordered from the museum store.
Food service for the event is available on-site, or receive a 20% discount the Red Mill Restaurant with your museum admission. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm. For more information see www.lcmm.org or call 802 475-2022.