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Bateaux and 'Battoe Men':
An American Colonial Response to the Problem of Logistics in Mountain Warfare

Joseph F. Meany Jr., Ph.D.
Senior Historian
New York State Museum Bateaux were built at various costs to various specifications. In 1755, Major General William Johnson paid ,9 pounds each for the construction of large Bateaux, ,6 pounds ,10 for medium sized Bateaux and ,5 pounds each for small Bateaux.(9) The smaller Bateaux, sometimes called "Albany Bateaux" or "Albany boats" were "abt. 24 ft. long" with a beam measuring only three feet. The larger Bateaux, sometimes called "Schenectady Bateaux" or "Schenectady boats," because they were constructed at that village for use on the Mohawk River and ultimately the Great Lakes, may have been as large as forty-five feet in length, the upper limit for colonial Bateaux identified by small craft historian Howard Chapelle.(10) Bateaux in the thirty foot range appear to have been the more common. The only extant plan of a batteau, drawn for the British Admiralty in 1776, shows a boat 30'4" in length, with a 6'6" beam and a depth of 2'10".(11)


1.. Col. Edward P. Hamilton, The French and Indian Wars ("Mainstream of America; New York, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1962), p. 10.
2.. Ibid.
3.. Ibid., p. 11.
4.. Ibid.
5.. Howard H. Peckham, The Colonial Wars, 1689-1762 (Chicago History of American Civilization; Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1964). Don Higginbotham, The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice, 1763-1789 (Macmillan Wars of the United States; New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1971), and the forthcoming R.A. Preston and S.F. Wise, The War of 1812 (Macmillan Wars of the United States; New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 199-).
6.. On Fort Ticonderoga, Stephen H.P. Pell, Fort Ticonderoga: A Short History Compiled from Contemporary Sources (Ticonderoga, NY: Fort Ticonderoga Museum, 1985). On Fort William Henry, Stanley M. Gifford, Fort Wm. Henry: A History (Lake George, NY: Fort William Henry Association, 1955). On Fort Stanwix, John F. Luzader, Louis Torres, and Orville W. Carroll, Fort Stanwix: Construction and Military History, Historic Furnishing Study, Historic Structure Report (Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1976). On Fort Niagara, Brian Leigh Dunnigan, History and Development of Old Fort Niagara (Youngstown, NY: Old Fort Niagara Association, 1985).
7.. See, for example, Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Siege - 1759: The Campaign Against Niagara (Youngstown, NY: Old Fort Niagara Association, 1986).
8.. It was virtually flat-bottomed. Actually a slight camber, three inches over a length of thirty-four feet in the case of the Lake George Bateaux, facilitated dragging the vessel over shallows. See Footnote 28.
9.. "Sundry Acco. of Battows delivered in an Acct of Major General Johnson," dated 6 Aug. 1755. James A. Sullivan, Richard E. Day, Alexander C. Flick, et al. (eds.), Sir William Johnson Papers (14 vols.; Albany, NY: University of the State of New York, 1921-1965), Vol. I, pp. 839-840.
10.. Howard Chapelle, American Small Sailing Craft: Their Design, Development and Construction (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 1951), p. 34.
11.. William J. Morgan, ed., Naval Documents of the American Revolution (9 vols.; Washington, DC: U.S. Gov. Printing Office, 1964-1986), Vol. VI, p. 319.
12.. Johnson Papers, Vol. I, Accounts for Bateaux, pp. 839-840.
13.. Capt. Alexander Moneypenny, "Orderly Book," 30 June 1758, Bulletin, Fort Ticonderoga Museum, Vol. XII, No. 6 (Oct. 1970), 434.
14.. Caleb Rea, The Journal of Dr. Caleb Rea (1758), Edited by Fabius Maximus Rea (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1881), 28.
15.. Dennis M. Lewis, "Batteaux on the Champlain Waterway, 1755-1783," (Unpublished Research Report: New York State Museum, Div. of Research and Collections, 1983), 3-4. On the Davies painting, R.H. Hubbard, Thomas Davies c. 1737-1812: An Exhibition Organized by The National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1972), No. 13, The Rapids of the St. Lawrence, 1760, pp. 85-86, and Stephen Sears' commentary in American Heritage, Vol. XXIX, No. 4 (June/July 1978), 100.
16.. Lewis, "Batteaux," 4.
17.. Ibid.
18.. Rea, Journal, p. 28.
19.. Lewis, "Batteaux," 5.
20.. Lewis, "Batteaux," 6-7.
21.. Louis Antoine de Bougainville, Adventure in the Wilderness: The American Journal of Louis Antoine de Bougainville. Translated and edited by Edward P. Hamilton (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964), p. 61.
22.. John Lees, Journal of J.L. of Quebec, Merchant (Detroit, MI: Society of Colonial Wars of the State of Michigan, 1911), pp. 43-44.
23.. Johnson Papers, Vol. I, Estimate of Ordnance and Stores, dated New York, April 30th 1755, pp. 479-482.
24.. Moneypenny, "Orderly Book," 1 July 1758, Bulletin, Fort Ticonderoga Museum, Vol. XII, No. 6 (Oct. 1970), 436.
25.. Josiah Goodrich, "Journal," Bulletin, Fort Ticonderoga Museum, Vol. XIV, No. 1 (Summer 1981), 46.


New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: September 19, 2007

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