This 54-foot long Continental gunboat or "gondola" was part of a small American fleet designed by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold in the summer of 1776 to defend our northern frontier from the British in Canada. (The fleet consisted of 3 schooners, a sloop, 5 galleys, and 8 gunboats that looked like this one.)
By late September, the Americans had taken position in a small bay of Lake Champlain. Then, on October 11, 1776, Arnold fought the heavier British fleet to a stand-still in the Battle of Valcour Bay. The American fleet was badly damaged and the Philadelphia sunk off Valcour Island, but the battle here paved the way for the decisive American victory at Saratoga in October, 1777.
National Museum of American History
Today, Philadelphia is the only Revolutionary gunboat built and manned by American forces that survives. The exhibit at the National Museum of American History also includes shot, cooking utensils, tools, buttons, buckles, and human bones--but you have to imagine how it looked in 1776 with its single mast and canvas sails!