Updated: Jan 23
Video from the 1930's filmed by the Dickinson family. The first segment has scenes along the Delaware River in Burlington, New Jersey. Next is Ausable Chasm, New York, followed by Fort Ticonderoga, New York. See more about the Dickinson family on the Dickinson page.
HISTORY OF FORT TICONDEROGA
After their stalemate with the British at The Battle of Lake George the fort was ordered to be built by the governor of the French Province of Canada, Marquis de Vaudreuil. The Governor sent his cousin Michel Chartier de Lotbiniere to draw up the plans and carry out construction for the new fort. The fort was originally to be named Fort Carillon the name originating from a former French officer named Philippe de Carrion du Fresnoy, who established a trading post there in the late 17th century. Construction began in 1756 and continued on for the next 2 years. By 1758, the fort was mostly complete. The only work left to complete was the dressing of the outer walls with stone.
Importance in the French and Indian Wars
During the French and Indian War the French captured Fort William Henry, the attack itself originating from Fort Carillon. The French continued to be victorious in 1757 which prompted the British to plan a large-scale attack against the Fort in hopes of using the fort as a launching pad to delve deep into French Canada. The attack taking place on July 8, 1758, the British being led by General James Abercrombie while French were being led by General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the chevalier de Levis. General Abercrombie led his army of 18,000 militia, rangers, and natives into a frontal assault of the fort only to be met by General Montcalm accompanied with mere 3,600 men. General Abercrombie whether out of inexperience or incompetence decided to attack the entrenched French position without using any artillery which was undoubtedly his downfall. This was the only major battle ever fought near the fort’s location before being abandoned the following year by the French only to be taken over by the British and renamed it as we know today, Fort Ticonderoga due to the location of the fort.
Importance in the Early Revolutionary War
With Fort Ticonderoga in despair it still held an important role for the British during the Early Revolutionary War as a supply and communication link between Canada and New York. Though during the spring of 1775 (less than one month after the revolution was ignited) the fort’s inhabitants were surprised by a small force of Green Mountain Boys and some local militia men totaling 48 men altogether led by Ethan Allen and later infamous Benedict Arnold and together they overthrew and forced the British to surrender the fort to them. With the capture of the fort also came a large supply of cannons and other armaments which became instrumental in ending the Siege of Boston in 1776. The capture of the fort made communications between British Canadian and American commands much more difficult. Arnold remained in command of the fort until 1,000 Connecticut troops under the command of Benjamin Hinman arrived in the early summer of 1775, though Arnold was never notified of the change in command.
During the summer of 1777 a British General named Burgoyne led 7,800 British and Hessian mercenaries south from Quebec to occupy the nearby Fort Crown Point without opposition he prepared to besiege Ticonderoga. Realizing his tactical advantage from the nearby Mount Defiance where he was able to set up cannons fixed on the fort. Without a single shot being fired the fort was ordered surrendered by General St. Clair on July 5, 1777. The British forces occupied the fort the very next day.
One Final Siege
After the capture of the fort by the British, the fort was garrisoned by 700 troops. George Washington sent General Benjamin Lincoln into Vermont in hopes of dividing and distracting the enemy. Knowing that the British were housing American prisoners of war in the area, Lincoln decided to push through the British defenses into Skenesboro, which they found abandoned by the British. Colonel John Brown led the troops on the west side and was ordered to attack the fort if it seemed reasonable. On the morning of September 18th, Brown’s troops surprised a squad of British troops holding prisoners near Lake George landing. Over the next 4 days, Brown and his troops led a campaign which ended in their hasty withdraw. Though he did fail, his actions resulted in the freeing of 118 American’s and the capture of almost 300 British troops, while suffering less than 10 casualties.
Fort Ticonderoga today
The fort stands today as a tourist attraction, early American military museum, and research center. The fort opens around May 10, coinciding with its 1775 capture. Though because of the poor condition it has been placed on the National Historic Landmarks watch list since 1998. In summary Fort Ticonderoga has served the United States very well. Five different naval vessels have been named after the fort and the declaration of it as a National Historical Landmark can attest to its importance in history.