Continental Gunboat PHILADELPHIA
Smithsonian Institution Photo
Length: 53.3 feet
Continental gunboat Philadelphia is the only surviving gunboat built and manned by American Forces during the Revolutionary War. Part of a hastily constructed fleet, she is one of 15 small craft with which Benedict Arnold fought 29 British vessels off Valcour Island in Lake Champlain in October 1776.
Sunk during the battle, Philadelphia was remarkably well preserved by the cold water when she was identified and salvaged in 1935. In addition to the guns and hull, hundreds of other items were recovered from the vessel. These relics included shot, cooking utensils, tools, buttons, buckles and human bones.
Philadelphia was exhibited at various locations on Lake Champlain and the Hudson River before becoming a long-term display at Exeter, New York. Bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institution in 1961, the Philadelphia and associated artifacts are part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History.
Philadelphia is a National Historic Landmark.
By Ernest Haas, from the Collection of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.
Return to the HNSA Home Page.