VERGENNES The name Enterprise was a part of American naval history even before the birth of the nation. In U.S. naval tradition, the name Enterprise was born right here on Lake Champlain. From the 18th-century to speculative 23rd-century science-fictional voyages on film, the name Enterprise inspires a spirit of adventure and exploration. In fact, the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships defines enterprise as meaning boldness, energy, and invention in practical affairs. The Continental Navy was established by the Second Continental Congress in October 1775 to supply and support the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. On May 18, 1775, five months before that historic beginning, Col. Benedict Arnold and other Continental Army officers mounted a surprise attack on the British garrison at St. John's, Canada, capturing a sloop and other smaller vessels. In a letter to the Committee of Safety of the Colony of New York, dated May 19, Arnold wrote: ...Capts. Brown and Oswald with 50 men enlisted on the road (took) possession of a small (British) schooner at Skeenesborough (Whitehall, N.Y.)... the King's sloop of about 70 tons with 2 brass 6 pounders and 7 men without any loss on either side.... We took such stores on board as were valuable and the wind proving favorable in two hours after our arrival weighed anchor... with the sloop and 4 of the King's batteau... We are masters of the Lake and of that I make no doubt as I am determined to arm the sloop and schooner immediately. The sloop was given 12 guns and the name Enterprise by Colonel Arnold, thus becoming the first American vessel to carry the name. She had previously been named the HMS George, supplying British posts in Canada. The first American Enterprise served with the Continental Navy's Lake Champlain squadron. Ethan Allen soon reported to the Congress that the colonies held command of Lake Champlain. Maintaining a captain for the Enterprise was, at least initially, a major problem. In a July 11, 1775 letter to John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler wrote that: The unhappy controversy which has subsisted between the officers at (Fort ) Ticonderoga relative to the command has, I am informed thrown every thing into vast confusion. Troops have been dismissedothers refuse to serve, if this or that man commands - the sloop (Enterprise) is without either Capt. (John Sloan) or pilot, both of which are dismissed, or come away. I shall hurry up there much sooner than the necessary preparations here would otherwise admit, that I may attempt to introduce some kind of order and discipline among them. In a followup letter of July 27, Schuyler wrote to John Hancock that Capt. Jeremiah Halsey was in command of the Enterprise, and in yet another letter, dated Aug. 2, Schuyler noted that Capt. James Smith had just taken command of the vessel. Regardless of the problems of maintaining a stable command, the Enterprise, along with the other ships captured by Arnold, formed the nucleus of the Lake Champlain squadron. On Aug. 28, 1775, the Enterprise and the other ships carried over 1,000 of Gen. Schuyler's troops for a campaign against St. John's, Montreal, and Quebec. After landing the troops ashore at St. John's, the Enterprise was kept inactive during the winter by ice on the rivers and lakes. After Gen. Schuyler's death, Gen. Richard Montgomery took command of the expedition and captured Montreal, while Col. Arnold attacked Quebec. At the Battle of Valcour Island, though outnumbered 52 to 15, the Enterprise and other ships in Arnold's fleet fought off the British from morning until nightfall. Only the Enterprise and four other vessels, of the original 15, survived. Gen. Arnold withdrew these remnants of his squadron to Fort Ticonderoga, where they became part of the defenses which kept the British from capturing the fort. During the summer of 1777, as Gen. Burgoyne was beginning his advance towards Saratoga, the Enterprise, with two schooners and two galleys, was sent to aid in the evacuation of Ticonderoga. On July 7, 1777, the two schooners were captured by the British, and the Enterprise was run aground and burned by her crew to prevent her from also being captured.