Tomorrow, May 11, will be the 198th anniversary of the taking of the ship LIBERTY, renamed from KATHERINE in honor of Philip Skene’s wife. This was effected by sailors and marines under the direction of Captains Brown and Sloan whom Benedict Arnold had sent to Skenesborough to finish the work intended for the Green Mountain Boys. The ship was taken down Lake Champlain and fitted out as a warship. Thus it became the first armed war ship of the United States Navy.
On May 9, 1775, occurred the capture of Skenesborough by the Green Mountain Boys under Captain Samuel Herrick. This capture took place during daylight hours. Another account reports that Captain Barnes from Salem arrived at dusk with another force for the same purpose. This brought the first military action of revolutionary nature into New York State and our community.
Perhaps many saw the account in the POST STAR May 3 that repeated the legends. In some respects true and in most false, even to the date of the capture, that are shallowly researched and written up sensationally to the discredit of Whitehall. The Town Historian sent a letter to the editor of that paper attempting to refute the implications.
James Lonergan of Mount Defiance gave a stirring talk before the Veterans of the Big “T” on that mountain Sunday, May 6. In giving a short history of the area and lauding our beautiful scenery, he gave to Skenesborough and so Whitehall its rightful place in the Revolutionary story that so many historians omit, for here it was that the first ships of the United States Navy were constructed for the fleet that saw action in Valcour – action that gave to us our United States.
Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – May 10, 1973