Learning About New York Part XII

Ruins of Fort Ticonderoga.

Ticonderoga is a small village at the outlet of Lake George, 95 miles northward of Albany, having a steamboat landing, etc. Two or three miles below it are the ruins of Fort Ticonderoga, the fortress so celebrated in colonial and revolutionary history. These are situated on a peninsula of about 500 acres, elevated nearly one hundred feet above Lake Champlain. The fortress was originally erected by the French in 1756.

The following account of the defeat of General Abercrombie before Ticonderoga, July 8, 1758, is from the 3d volume of Macauley's History of New York:

The expedition against Ticonderoga and Crown Point was conducted by Abercrombie in person. In the beginning of July he embarked his forces, amounting to nearly seven thousand regulars and ten thousand provincials, on Lake George, on board of nine hundred batteuax and one hundred and thirty five whale-boats, with provisions, artillery and ammunition. Several pieces of cannon were mounted on rafts, to cover the proposed landing at the outlet of the lake. Early the next morning he reached the landing-place, which was in a cove on the west side of the lake, near its, issue, leading to the advanced guard of the enemy, composed of one battalion, in a logged camp. He immediately debarked his forces, and after having formed them into three columns, marched to the enemy's advanced post, which was abandoned with precipitation. He continued his march with the army toward Ticonderoga, with the intention of investing it, but the route laying through a thick wood that did not admit of any regular progression, and the guides proving extremely ignorant, the troops were bewildered, and the columns broken by falling in one on another. Lord Howe being advanced at the head of the right centre column, encountered a French detachment, that had likewise lost its way in the retreat from the advanced post, and a warm skirmish ensuing, the enemy were routed with considerable loss, and one hundred and forty-eight were taken prisoners. This advantage was purchased at a dear rate. Lord Howe and one other officer, beside privates, were killed. The former is spoken of in very high terms for his bravery.

Abercrombie perceiving the troops were greatly fatigued and disordered, deemed it advisable to fall back to the landing place. Then he detached Lieutenant-Colonel Bradstreet, with a detachment, to take possession of a saw-mill in the vicinity of Ticonderoga, which the enemy had abandoned. This post being secured, Abercrombie advanced again toward Ticonderoga, where, he understood from the prisoners, the enemy had assembled eight battalions, with a body of Canadians and Indians, amounting in all to six thousand men. The actual number, however, was considerably less, not exceeding four thousand men, as was afterward ascertained. These, they said, being encamped before the fort, were employed in making a formidable intrenchment, where they intended to wait for a reinforcement of three thousand men, who had been detached, under the command of M. de Levi, to make a diversion on the side of the Mohawk, but upon intelligence of Abercrombie's approach were now recalled for the defense of Ticonderoga. This information induced Abercrombie to strike, if possible, some decisive blow before the junction could be effected. He therefore early next morning sent his engineer to reconnoiter the enemy's intrenchments, and he, upon his return, reported that the works being still unfinished, might be attempted with good prospect of success. A disposition was made accordingly for the attack, and after proper guards had been left at the saw-mill and the landing place, the whole army was put in motion. The troops advanced with great alacrity toward the intrenchments, which, however, they found altogether impracticable. The breastwork was raised eight feet high, and the ground before it covered with an abattis, or felled trees, with their boughs pointing outward, and projecting in such a manner as to render the intrenchment almost inaccessible. Notwithstanding these discouraging difficulties, the troops marched up to the assault with an undaunted resolution, and sustained a terrible fire. They endeavored to force their way through these embarrassments, and some of them even mounted the parapet, but the enemy were so well covered, and defended their works with so much gallantry, notwithstanding their greatly inferior numbers, that no impression could be made; the carnage became fearfully great, and the assailants began to fall into great confusion, after several attacks, which lasted several hours. Abercrombie by this time saw plainly that no hope of success remained, and in order to prevent a total defeat, sounded a retreat, leaving about two thousand men on the field. Every corps of the army behaved, on this unfortunate day, with remarkable intrepidity; the greatest loss sustained among the corps was that of the regiment of Lord John Murray."

The seizure of the fortress of Ticonderoga, by Col. Ethan Allen, on the 10th of May, 1775, is thus related by Ramsey in his History of the American Revolution:

"It early occurred to many that if the sword decided the controversy between Great Britain and her colonies, the possession of Ticonderoga would be essential to the security of the latter. Situated on a promontory, formed at the junction of the waters of Lake George and Lake Champlain, it was the key of all communication between New York and Canada. Messrs. Deane, Wooster, Parsons, Stevens, and others of Connecticut, planned a scheme for obtaining possession of this valuable post. Having procured a loan of $1,800 of public money, and provided a sufficient quantity of powder and ball, they set off for Bennington, to obtain the co-operation of Colonel Allen, of that place. Two hundred and seventy men, mostly of that brave and hardy people who are called Green Mountain boys, were speedily collected at Castleton, which was fixed on as the place of rendezvous. At this place Colonel Arnold, who, though attended only with a servant, was prosecuting the same object, unexpectedly joined them. He had been early chosen a captain of a volunteer company by the inhabitants of New Haven, among whom he resided.

As soon as he received news of the Lexington battle, he marched off with his company for the vicinity of Boston, and arrived there, though 150 miles distant, in a few days. Immediately after his arrival he waited on the Massachusetts' committee of safety, and informed them that there were at Ticonderoga many pieces of cannon and a great quantity of valuable stores, and that the fort was in a ruinous condition, and garrisoned only by about 40 men. They appointed him a colonel, and commissioned him to raise 400 men, and to take Ticonderoga. The leaders of the party which had previously rendezvoused at Castleton admitted Colonel Arnold to join them, and it was agreed that Colonel Allen should be the commander-in-chief of the expedition, and that Colonel Arnold should be his assistant. They proceeded without delay, and arrived in the night at Lake Champlain, opposite to Ticonderoga. Allen and Arnold crossed over with eighty-three men, and landed near the garrison. They contended who should go in first, but it was at last agreed that they should both go in together. They advanced abreast, and entered the fort at the dawning of day. A sentry snapped his piece at one of them, and then retreated through the covered way to the parade. The Americans followed, and immediately drew up. The commander, surprised in his bed, was called upon to surrender the fort. He asked, by what authority? Colonel Allen replied, 'I demand it in the name of the great Jehovah, and of the continental congress.' No resistance was made, and the fort, with its valuable stores and forty-eight prisoners, fell into the hands of the Americans. The boats had been sent back for the remainder of the men, but the business was done before they got over. Colonel Seth Warner was sent off with a party to take possession of Crown Point, where a sergeant and twelve men performed garrison duty. This was speedily effected. The next object calling for the attention of the Americans was to obtain the command of Lake Champlain, but to accomplish this it was necessary for them to get possession of a sloop of war lying at St. Johns, at the northern extremity of the lake. With the view of capturing this sloop, it was agreed to man and arm a schooner lying at South Bay, and that Arnold should command her, and that Allen should command some batteaux on the same expedition. A favorable wind carried the schooner ahead of the batteaux, and Colonel Arnold got immediate possession of the sloop by surprise. The wind again favoring him, he returned with his prize to Ticonderoga, and rejoined Col. Allen. The latter soon went home, and the former, with a number of men, agreed to remain there in garrison. In this rapid manner the possession of Ticonderoga and the command of Lake Champlain were obtained, without any loss, by a few determined men."


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Learning About New York State Part XII
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Our whole country; or, The past and present of the United States, historical and descriptive. In two volumes By John Warner Barber ... and Henry Howe ...Cincinnati, H. Howe, 1861.
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