Ticonderoga, Capture of

views updated


TICONDEROGA, CAPTURE OF (1775). The French fort built in October 1755 by Marquis de Lotbinière, commanding the route between lakes Champlain and George, fell into English hands during the French and Indian War after Sir Jeffrey Amherst's successful siege in 1759. The English renamed it Fort Ticonderoga, New York.

In 1775, Massachusetts revolutionaries hatched a plan to capture Fort Ticonderoga to obtain cannon for the siege of Boston. Early in the morning of 10 May, Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and eighty-three men crossed Lake Champlain in two boats. The expedition passed through the ruined walls and, without bloodshed, quickly subdued the sleepy garrison of two officers and forty-three men. On 5 December, Henry Knox arrived at

Ticonderoga to supervise the moving of fourteen mortars and coehorns, two howitzers, and forty-three cannons. The guns were taken in groups by water to Fort George, at the southern end of Lake George; on sleds drawn by oxen and horses to Claverack, New York; and thence east through the mountains to Cambridge, Massachusetts. By 24 January 1776, Gen. George Washington was able to use these cannons to force the British from Boston.

In 1777, the British moved to recapture Fort Ticonderoga. British Gen. John Burgoyne's army of more than nine thousand was opposed by Gen. Arthur Saint Clair with about twenty-five hundred men. The British dragged cannon up Sugar Hill (Mount Defiance), which commanded the fort from the southwest. Shortly after midnight on 6 July, Saint Clair wisely retreated southward along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, leaving the fort to the British.


Billias, George Athan. George Washington's Opponents: British Generals and Admirals in the American Revolution. New York: Morrow, 1969.

Bird, Harrison. March to Saratoga: General Burgoyne and the American Campaign, 1777. New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.

French, Allen. The Taking of Ticonderoga in 1775. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1928.

Gilchrist, Helen Ives. Fort Ticonderoga in History. [Fort Ticonderoga? N.Y.]: Printed for the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, [192-?].

Hargrove, Richard J. General John Burgoyne. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1983.

Edward P.Alexander/a. r.

See alsoBoston, Siege of ; Bunker Hill, Battle of ; Burgoyne's Invasion ; Oriskany, Battle of .