Wooden relic, lg. 11 in., wd. 3.125 in., with mounted silver presentation plaque engraved, " From a gunboat / of / General Arnolds / sunk in Lake Champlain / During the American Revolution / Presented by / Mrs John E. Milholland / 1900 ."
One of the first naval battles of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Valcour Island took place on October 11, 1776. Though the American forces, led by Commander Benedict Arnold, were overpowered by the superior British fleet, they did succeed in slowing the British advance to the upper Hudson River Valley. Throughout the course of the battle, most of the American ships were captured or destroyed, a fact recorded in a recently discovered manuscript titled "A Return of the fleet belonging to the United States of America on Lake Champlain under the Command of Brigadier General Arnold…" and dated October 22, 1776 at Ticonderoga. The document lists only two ships, the Spitfire and the Philadelphia , as having been sunk during the battle, meaning that the relic featured in this lot likely came from one of those two ships.
John Elmer Milholland (1860-1925), noted businessman, journalist, and sponsor of civil rights activists and groups, was known for helping to organize the Constitution League, a forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and for serving as the NAACP's first treasurer. He married Jean Torry Milholland (1863-1939, also referred to as "Mrs. John E. Milholland"), a political activist in her own right, and together they had three children including Inez Milholland Boissevain (1886-1916), who became famous for her key role as a suffragist and for her work as an advocate for other oppressed groups around the world.
Wear to each face and other spots on head, including some wood and finish loss. Plaque with some dents, and tarnishing at edges and a few spots throughout. Handle with minimal wear including what appears to be a possible repaired crack with some sort of residue remaining.