LECTURE AT Apprentices shop in Rockland
One of the advantages of being in Maine during the summer is the availability of many interesting events. I particularly enjoy speakers on nautical subjects concerning the Maine coast. I’ve attended he Apprentice Boat Shop lectures in Rockland where they do a fine job. When I received their email about a lecture on General Benedict Arnold by Hodding Carter and Rob Stevens, I asked my boating friends, Connie and Toby Vickery, to join me and they replied, “You bet!”
I was attracted to this lecture for a number of reasons. My late brother Peter’s friend, Lance Lee, founded various Apprentice shops, including the one in Rockland. I’d also known about W. Hodding Carter’s Grandfather who attended Bowdoin College (class of 1927). He was a Southern U. S. Progressive who founded the Greenville, Mississippi Delta Democrat Times and won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials. His son, Hodding Carter II was a close friend of Robert Kennedy and had dinner with RFK the night before Sen. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. He later served in the Jimmy Carter administration. W. Hodding Carter IV had followed his family’s career choices, becoming a journalist, writer, and lecturer.
General Arnold is known primarily as a traitor from the U.S. forces to the British later in 1980. He began the Revolutionary War as a captain and rose to the rank of general. He excelled in the battle to seize New York’s Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775 and on June 27, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized the invasion of Quebec at Arnold’s urging. Although not selected as the general in charge, Arnold proposed a second invasion of Quebec via a wilderness route starting at Bath, Maine on the Kennebec River in September and October of 1775.
W. Hodding Carter IV lives in Rockport and Rob Stevens lives in Woolwich on the Kennebec River. Carter led a prior trip on a duplicate of a Viking ship—which he wrote a book about (I’ve ordered a copy). He’d read about General Arnold’s ill-fated mission and decided to attempt a repeat of that trek in fall 2017. He asked his friend, Rob, to join him and Rob, a shipwright, agreed to build their boat.
Arnold’s mission used 220 wooden boats called ‘bateaus’ and Carter and Stevens had one boat—a duplicate of Arnold’s bateau. Arnold’s boats were all built in two weeks and I believe Stevens said his took a month to build. Carter/Stevens travelled in the same fall months Arnold selected. They told us much about General Arnold’s ill-fated mission with Arnold boats swamping early in their trip and the general receiving a severe leg wound and abandoning his mission. In addition, the Maine men with Arnold quit shortly after they started, experiencing severe weather with dams and rapids on the Kennebec River.
Although the speakers, particularly Carter, spoke softly, we thoroughly enjoyed their lecture. With photos and videos, they spoke about their determination to complete their trip notwithstanding the huge obstacles they encountered. As Carter said, “We drank a lot at night, just as the general had. Done.” After 38 days and nights of major difficulties, their small, determined group consisting Carter, Stevens and a couple of younger men, arrived in Quebec City, Canada in early November 2017—a distance of more than 300 miles. Amazing!