PO Box 390
Ticonderoga, NY 12883

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Spirit of 76

A History

By the 1700s, both France and England were laying claim to the frontier which stretched north and west of the thirteen American colonies. Rivers like the Hudson and the St. Lawrence, and large inland bodies of water like Lake George and Lake Champlain helped to A bronze Spanish 12 pounder  -   photo by D. Siekonicpromote trade and travel throughout this frontier. The British and French built forts along these waterways to protect their interests, and Fort Ticonderoga is one of these.

Originally named Fort Carillon, the fort was built by the French Marquis de Lotbiniere in 1755. The next four years would see two British attacks on the fort - one in 1758 and another in 1759. The British force the French to retreat and then take possession of the fortification, renaming it Fort Ticonderoga. The fort would remain in British control until May 10th, 1775, when a small American force under the command of Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen defeat the British and take the fort.

From August to November, 1775, American forces move northward, taking control of Lake Champlain and defeating British forces at St. Johns, Chambly and Montreal.

That fall saw Henry Knox's arrival at Fort Ticonderoga to inventory its artillery. By March of 1776, Knox's "noble train of artillery" - fifty-nine guns in all - were transported by oxen three-hundred miles from Ticonderoga to Boston where George Washington was conducting a seige of the British-held town.

Five inch howitzer on Southwest Bastion.  Mount Defiance is visible in the background  -  photo by D. SiekonicFort Ticonderoga was held by the American forces until July, 1777, when General Burgoyne and eight-thousand British regulars traveled south across Lake Champlain and laid seige to the fort. After ineffective fighting by both sides, Burgoyne ordered artillery batteries placed atop Mount Defiance (shown in the distance behind the howitzer at left). British artillery were soon capable of bombarding the fort without fear of retaliation by the American troops. American General St. Clair soon ordered his garrison to give up the fort and retreat south. The British pursued and eventually over-ran the American rear guard, causing it to disperse. Burgoyne followed up this success with an attack on Fort Edward a month later.

Place of Arms  -  photo by D. SiekonicToday the fort remains much as it did two-hundred years ago. The barracks which once housed the garrison now display weapons and artifacts from the 18th century. Living history demonstrations with music, crafts, muskets and artillery are common on the weekends, and there is a restaurant and a museum shop with an incredible selection of books pertaining to the 18th century. The park is about four hours north of New York City, and two hours south of Montreal. Admission is charged.


Last updated November 23rd, 1999

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