Our Name

The name of the club, Royal Savage Yacht Club, is steeped in the history of Lake Champlain. The Royal Savage, captained by Benedict Arnold, was the first American flagship.

The Royal Savage was a two masted schooner. She displaced 70 tons and had a beam of 15 feet. She carried a complement of 45 men, eight four-pound guns and four six-pound guns.  Over the past three centuries, there have been at least 9 British warships named “Savage” to honor a minor nobility family with that surname.

royal_savage_shipShe was first damaged and sunk by American forces under Richard Montgomery during the siege of St. Johns (St. Jean Iberville), Quebec in the fall of 1775. Raised and repaired after the capture of that fort on November 2, she, with the small schooner Liberty and the sloop Enterprise (ex-HMS George III), formed the nucleus of the American Lake Champlain squadron. That squadron, under Benedict Arnold, denied the British the use of the lake during the fall of 1776 and thus contributed to Burgoyne’s defeat at Saratoga.

In June of 1776, the American force, pushed from Canada, fell back to Crown Point, Skenesborough, and Fort Ticonderoga. There, Arnold pressed his force to complete a shipbuilding program before the British completed their squadron. In late August, 10 of his ships were finished and he moved north with Royal Savage as his flagship.  Into September, he scouted the lake shore. On the 23rd, he moved his fleet into an anchorage at Valcour Island, separated from the western shore by a half-mile channel, to await the remainder of his squadron, and the British. With the arrival of the galley Congress, Arnold shifted his headquarters to that boat and continued to wait.

On October 11, the north wind carried the British past the island. American ships, including Royal Savage, appeared, fired on the enemy, and beat back into the southern entrance to the channel where the remainder of Arnold’s force was positioned to meet the enemy — to beat him, if possible, but at all cost to delay him.

Coming in from the south, the British force was handicapped by the wind. Arnold’s planning and the British acceptance of the bait had given the Americans a chance to carry out their mission.

Royal Savage, however, ran aground on returning to the American line and, undefendable, was abandoned. Despite attempts to re-board her, she was taken by the British and burned.