Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kayaking on Lake Champlain: A Whiff of History

During a lovely, solo, kayak ride on Lake Champlain today, it stuck me that I was immersed in the very geography that proved so vital to the American Revolution, the subject of my novel.

The route along the Hudson River in, to Lake George, then  Lake Champlain -- with several portages (land interruptions) in between-- is essentially one long watery way from NYC to Quebec. Its capture was always at the forefront of British strategy: by holding any point along the way, they could easily transfer their troops between Canada and New York, block American supply lines, divide the Northern and Southern colonies.

This is what made Benedict Arnold's defection so dangerous. In 1780, before his treason was known, he pleaded with George Washington to be given command of West Point, a key fort on the Hudson along this passage to Canada. While working secretly for the Brits, Arnold intentionally kept the fort in disarray and passed military secrets about the point onto the British who, but for the discovery of the treason, might have likely seized West Point, the entire NYC- to- Quebec waterway and won the Revolution.

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