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The Battle of Lake Champlain | The Battle of Plattsburgh
11 September 1814
The Battle of Lake Champlain–which FDR called the greatest feat of arms achieved by the US Navy during the War of 1812–came to an end on this day in history, 11 September 1814. Also known as the Battle of Plattsburgh, the engagement was a combination land/sea battle that had a large impact on the peace negotiations at the war’s end shortly thereafter.
A British contingent had marched south into New York from Canada and together with a naval squadron under Captain George Downie had converged on the lakeside town of Plattsburgh. An outnumbered American naval force under Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough was waiting in Plattsburgh Bay to help defend the town. When the British squadron launched an attack on 11 September, fierce fighting ensued. Shortly after the battle began, Downie was killed, and after several hours of fighting, the British surrendered. Prevost called off the land battle and the British retreated to Canada.
The American victory on Lake Champlain led to the conclusion of peace negotiations in Belgium, which resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on 24 December. American victory at Lake Champlain denied Britain the opportunity to lay any claim to American territory at the treaty negotiations. In the years immediately following the battle, the victory was spectacularly famous. Though it has become less well known in the years since, it should still be remembered as the greatest American naval victory of the War of 1812.