Tag Archives: Lake Champlain

The Season’s Last Crown Bridge History Tour


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On Sunday, September 30, 2012, state historic site managers Thomas Hughes at Crown Point, New York, and Elsa Gilbertson at Chimney Point, Vermont, will lead a guided round-trip walk across the new Lake Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont.

For centuries, this crossing has been used by Woodlands Indians, the French, the British, and Americans. The narrow channel passage for water vessels and the peninsulas, or points, on either side made this one of the most strategic military locations along Lake Champlain, especially during the 1700s.

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Northeast Open Atlatl Chamionsphip Begins Today


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People from all over the northeast begin gathering today at the Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison, Vermont, for this weekend’s annual Open Atlatl Championship. The event is back at Chimney Point after two years at Mount Independence, due to the site’s closure during the Lake Champlain Bridge construction project.

The atlatl is the ancient tool used the world over before the bow and arrow to effectively project darts and spears for hunting. During the bridge project archeology work, a number of projectile points were found here, indicating the atlatl was used historically on the very location of this championship, now in its 17th year. Continue reading

Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Sept 11)


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On September 11, 1814, the American and British naval squadrons on Lake Champlain engage in a long awaited duel to the death, culminating in a decisive American victory.

Owing to the masterful strategic planning of Commodore Thomas Macdonough, the American fleet is able to defend Plattsburgh Bay and defeat the Royal Navy following a fierce 2 1/2 hour battle, the largest of the entire War.

On land, the British commander, General Sir George Prevost makes a monumental blunder when he allows his troops to wait for an hour before commencing the land attack while they finish breakfast. What should have been a simultaneous naval and land assault became delayed and although Prevost’s ground forces succeed in crossing the Saranac River at Pike’s Cantonment, a mile and a half above Plattsburgh, by this time, the naval battle had been decided.

Believing his forces could not hold Plattsburgh without naval superiority on the Lake, Prevost quickly issued orders to his commanders to withdraw. This order was met with shock and frustration by his veteran Generals, who clearly knew a land victory over the meager American Army and Militia was easily within their grasp…The grand British master plan of invasion from the north had been halted at Plattsburgh.

This Battle of Plattsburgh Countdown to Invasion fact is brought to you by the Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company. If you enjoyed this fascinating snippet of North Country history, find them on Facebook

North Country’s Union General H. Judson Kilpatrick


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H. Judson Kilpatrick, a Union general during the Civil War, has been described as flamboyant, rash, and tempestuous. There’s no doubt that he was often a rogue officer, sometimes to disastrous effect. The South developed a deep hatred of him for the extreme methods he employed, but he was certainly part of the team effort that led to the North’s victory.

As every leader knew during the war, many levels of support were necessary in order to win. Despite being brash and confident in his abilities, Kilpatrick famously cited a North Country man, Captain John Viall, as critical to the general’s own success, and the Union’s as well.

John Greeley Viall, son of William and Mary Viall, was born in November 1829 in Westport, New York, on the western shore of Lake Champlain. In January 1852, when he was 22 years old, John left New York and settled in Texas. Nine months later, he purchased the San Antonio Tin, Copper, and Sheet Iron Ware Manufactory, which sold and/or fabricated stoves, cookware, water pipes, and just about anything made of metal.

Texas was still wild territory, having attained statehood just seven years earlier. Viall maintained contacts in Westport, and in a letter home in 1854, he described San Antonio as in “a state of intense excitement.” Several families had been killed by Indians, while others were scalped and left for dead in disputes along the state’s border. Viall had chosen a tough place to make a living.

In 1858, six years after he purchased the metal manufactory, the business failed. Viall returned to the North Country, where he became involved in politics. That same year, he was among the delegates to the convention in Springfield, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln was nominated to succeed Stephen Douglass in the US Senate.

On September 17, 1861, several months after the outbreak of hostilities between North and South, Viall enlisted at Crown Point. For three years following induction, he served as a private, second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and captain of Company H, Fifth New York Cavalry.

From that point (July 1864) forward, John served as captain and assistant quartermaster of volunteers until his honorable discharge in November 1865. Those final 16 months of service prompted General Kilpatrick to offer high praise for Quartermaster Viall, a man burdened with tremendous responsibility.

The duties of the quartermaster were remarkably varied, deeply complex, and absolutely critical to victory. The Quartermaster Review of 1928 noted that the success of all military operations relied on the promptness and efficiency of the quartermaster.

That may sound like an exaggerated assessment of any position, but consider the Review’s description of what the job entailed during the Civil War.

“The quartermaster’s department is charged with the duty of providing the means of transportation by land and water for all the troops and all the material of war. It furnishes the horses for artillery and cavalry; supplies tents, garrison equippage, forage, lumber, and all materials for camps; builds barracks, hospitals, wagons, and ambulances; provides harness, except for artillery horses; builds or charters ships and steamers, docks and wharves; constructs or repairs roads, bridges, and railroads; clothes the army; and is charged generally with the payment of all expenses attending military operations which are not expressly assigned by law or regulation to some other department.

“… wagonmasters, agents, teamsters, scouts, and spies, all … come under the supervision and pay of the quartermaster. He must … anticipate every want of the army.

“The quartermaster … builds the warehouses at every post; repairs, refits, and furnishes all houses and offices for army use; provides all hardware and building material (nails, glass, rope, etc.) and all the machinery used; fits up hospitals for the sick; and furnishes coffins for the dead.

“He pays the mileage of officers; expenses of courts-martial, per-diem of extra-duty men; postage on public service; expenses incurred in pursuing and apprehending deserters; burials of officers and soldiers, interpreters, veterinary surgeons, clerks, mechanics, laborers, and cooks.”

For General H. Judson Kilpatrick, one of the roughest, gruffest, most controversial men in the Union army, Viall provided those services better than any of the hundreds of men who undertook them for the Union cause. The general bestowed lasting glory on him with the oft-quoted pronouncement: “John Viall is the best quartermaster in the Army of the Potomac.”

Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs, the top man in the department, urged Viall to remain in the army at war’s end (ill health forced him to leave the service). Meigs himself was cited as indispensable to the Union cause by Secretary of State Seward. Clearly, Meigs’ assessment of Viall’s value was the highest of commendations.

Though working as quartermaster was the hallmark of his career, Viall did much more on the Union’s behalf, complementing a family history of stellar military service. His grandfather had fought in the Revolutionary War, “from Bunker Hill to Yorktown,” and his father had served in the War of 1812.

Impressive, for sure, but Viall’s own field experience took a back seat to none. He fought in the battles of Fredericksburg, Second Bull Run, Gettysburg, Appomattox Court House, Richmond, and dozens of others.

Throughout the remainder of his life, Viall consistently supported the military, though he struggled for reciprocation from the government. His health had suffered badly from the war, and when the military pension program was instituted in 1890, Viall began receiving $12 per month (equal to $300 in 2012).

A request for increased benefits due to stomach, kidney, and liver problems was rejected in 1892 (he was 63 at the time). Another rejection followed in 1900, even though a board of surgeons found him “totally disabled by reason of indigestion, enlarged prostate, and age.”

Finally, in 1907, the House of Representatives looked at Viall’s entire record from the Civil War. His great service was noted, leading up to a physical breakdown “from exposure and hardships in the West Virginia campaign.” Upon recovery, he had been “promoted to division quartermaster, and at the close of the war was acting quartermaster for the cavalry corps.” In retrospect, it was recognized that his efforts for the Union cause had been truly heroic.

A physician’s affidavit informed lawmakers of Viall’s current condition: “… the beneficiary is totally unable to perform any kind of manual or clerical labor due to general physical and mental debility, imperfect heart action, and senile decay.

“Other proof filed shows that the officer, owing to unfortunate financial ruin, has now nothing to live upon except the small pension of $12 per month, which is totally inadequate to maintain him. In consideration of the officer’s meritorious services for the period of four years, his great age, total inability to labor, and destitution, an increase of his pension to $24 per month is believed to be warranted.”

By an official Act of Congress on February 25, 1907, his pension was increased to $24 (equal to $575 per month in 2011).

Six years later, on September 1, 1913, John Greeley Viall—Westport native, loyal soldier, and among the best supply men to support the Union troops—died in Washington at the age of 85. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

Photos:  Captain’s medal of John Greeley Viall; Major General H. Judson Kilpatrick.
Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Aug 31)


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On this date in 1814, invading British troops, numbering some 11 – 15,000 men, began their march in earnest across the Canadian frontier and into the United States, massing at the small village of Champlain, New York. Under the overall command of Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of Canada, the ranks of this massive army had been recently swelled by the British victory over Napoleon in Europe.

This fact had allowed battle hardened veterans of Wellington’s Army to be shipped directly to North America to bolster Prevost’s forces and these forces were now just 21 miles from Plattsburgh. The British quickly set to work commandeering any local teams of horses and wagons they could find, pressing them into service hauling the massive quantities of heavy baggage and supplies needed by the advancing Army…

Today’s Battle of Plattsburgh – “Countdown to Invasion” fact is brought to you by the Greater Adirondack Ghost & Tour Company. If you enjoyed this fascinating snippet of North Country history, find them on Facebook.

Invasion of Canada Living History Weekend Sept 1-2


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Visitors can explore the Continental Army’s first major initiative during the Revolutionary War at Fort Ticonderoga’s upcoming living history weekend “Onward to Canada: Reinforcements Head North to Join the Attack on St. John.” The September 1-2 event will recreate how the American army prepared to invade Canada in the fall of 1775.

Special programming offered throughout the weekend will recreate a unique and busy moment in Fort Ticonderoga’s history when the “Old French Fort” served as hub of activity for the fledging American Army and a launching point for an invasion into Canada. Programs will highlight close-order marching; the issuing of muskets, supplies, and clothing to the troops; special tours, weapons demonstrations; and regimental training exercises.

The objective of the invasion of Canada was to gain military control of the British province of Québec, and convince the French-speaking Canadians to join the Revolution on the side of the thirteen American colonies. In the fall of 1775 two invasion forces were launched with the goal of meeting in Québec. One expedition under the command of Brigadier-General Richard Montgomery set out from Fort Ticonderoga, besieged and captured Fort St. John, and very nearly captured British General Guy Carleton when taking Montreal. The other expedition left Cambridge, Massachusetts, under Colonel Benedict Arnold, and traveled with great difficulty through the wilderness of Maine to Québec City. The two forces joined there, but were defeated at the Battle of Québec in December 1775.

“Visitors can watch as Colonel Seth Warner’s Green Mountain Boys are transformed from recruits into a regiment to join Brigadier-General Richard Montgomery’s invasion of Canada. Learn about the practical concerns of getting soldiers and supplies to the front lines during a military campaign in a land of expansive lakes and dense woods. See bateaux in action as they move men and materiel to and from Fort Ticonderoga as we celebrate 1775 and Vermont’s military history,” said Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Interpretation. “The event will explore how new soldiers learned to move, think, and fight together as a team as they evolved into disciplined soldiers committed to defending the fledgling cause of liberty.”

Admission to “Onward to Canada” is included with Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission ticket. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30 am until 5 pm daily. A complete event schedule is available online.

Crown Point: The Remarkable Life of Enos Dudley


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“Card of Thanks” entries were routine fare in newspapers of years past. They were commonly used by families acknowledging those who provided aid and comfort during times of bereavement. The “Cards” shared a standard formatciting doctors, nurses, and friends, followed by the names of the immediate-family members who were doing the thanking—but some stood out as unusual. The death of Crown Point’s Enos Dudley in 1950 is a case in point.
Shortly after he passed, a Card of Thanks noted “the death of our beloved father, Enos J. Dudley” and featured the names of seven family members. Below it was a second Card of Thanks referring to Enos as “our beloved husband and father.” It ended with the names of six other family members.

Intriguing, for sure. My suspicion was that there had to be a story there somewhere, so I began digging. As it turns out, Enos led a pretty normal life, spent almost entirely within a few miles of his birthplace. A few details about his family, however, proved to be anything but ordinary.
He was born in 1869 and married Frances Kinney of Ticonderoga in 1888. Within a year they began raising a family. Sons Roy, Jerry, and John came in quick succession, followed by twins Ella and Della. By 1902, Walter, Greta, and Keith had brought the count up to eight children.
At that same time, newspaper mention was made of the ninth daughter (unusual in itself) born to the Evangelist Cassina family of Ticonderoga, a fact that will tie in to Enos’ story later.
In the early 1900s, typhoid fever was the scourge of many North Country communities. Deaths were common, and in 1909, the family of Enos Dudley was hard-hit. His wife, Frances, after frequent illnesses, succumbed to the disease in late June.
The Dudley children, beset by sickness, were tended to by local doctors. Various women in the community looked after the family’s everyday needs as Enos struggled with the loss of his wife. In September, tragedy struck again when 20-year-old Roy, the oldest child, died.
A few months later, six of the Dudley children were stricken with scarlet fever, but all survived and were on their way to recovery by spring, thanks once again to community support.
In late 1912, Enos, 43, was engaged to marry 21-year-old Christina Cassina (second daughter of the aforementioned all-girl Ticonderoga family). They were joined on November 28 in Montreal.
Nine months later, both of Enos’ families expanded. On August 7, he welcomed a grandson (his son Jerry was the father), and on August 10, Enos himself became a father again when Florence was born. There were two numerical twists associated with the births: Enos’s new wife (Christina) was one year younger than his son (Jerry), and Enos’ new daughter was three days younger than his new grandson!
Unusual, certainly, but perhaps not qualified for the upper stratosphere of rarities. Still, Enos and Christina weren’t finished just yet. In 1915, when he was 46 and she was 24, they had a son, Roy. (This was Enos’ second Roy. His first Roy had died in 1909 from typhoid fever.)
A series of health issues—back pain, a serious logging injury, and disabling bouts of sciatic rheumatism (sciatica)—plagued Enos as he aged, but in 1924, when he was 55 (life expectancy for a man then was 58), Christina gave birth to daughter Frances (named after Enos’ first wife).
There was certainly no lack of drama or trauma in the life of Enos Dudley. Six months after Frances was born, Enos was buried beneath a load of wood that tipped over. He was hospitalized in critical condition with kidney damage and two broken ribs, but eventually recovered.
In 1927, while working on road construction, he suffered serious injuries that almost resulted in the loss of an eye. Again, Enos survived, damaged but intact.
In 1929, he nearly lost 14-year-old Roy in a winter sledding accident on Sugar Hill at Crown Point. On a roadway seldom used by automobiles, Roy was seated behind a 12-year-old friend when their speeding sled collided with a passing car. The younger boy was killed instantly, but his body cushioned the impact for Roy, who escaped with only minor injuries.
Enos also suffered recurring bouts of severe rheumatism that required hospitalization. After one such incident, he was released from the hospital in spring 1930.
Maybe it was the remarkable curative powers of the folks at the Moses-Ludington Hospital in Ticonderoga that kept him going. Whatever it was, apparently Enos felt realbetter real soon. In January 1931, nine months after his release, wife Christina gave birth to a daughter, Bernice. Already a grandfather many times over, the proud new dad was now 62 years old.
Over the years, Enos worked many jobs to support his families, including farming, logging, operating an apartment building, driving a school bus, and working construction. In 1931 he ran one of the 20 gas stations (another very unusual number) that existed in Crown Point, and took a second job as night watchman at the Crown Point State Historic Site.
Soon he returned to farming in the daytime while still maintaining the watchman job at night. Meanwhile, the family continued to grow, and within a few years, Enos was twice made a great-grandfather. Clearly his golden years would be filled with children of all ages.
Perhaps that’s a bit of an understatement. On June 23, 1936, grandson William Enos Meldon was born to Enos’ daughter, Florence. And 20 days later, on July 13—if you haven’t already guessed—Enos and Christina welcomed their sixth child, Hugh.
As crazy as it seems, this new son was younger than all of Enos’ grandchildren—and younger than his two great-grandchildren! Now THAT might qualify for any list of rare occurrences.
Hugh was his 14th offspring. One child of Enos and Christina’s six children had not survived, so when Hugh was born, seven of eight children from Enos’ first marriage and five of six from his second marriage were all alive.
In an interview, Enos said he worked two jobs and slept only four to five hours a day (and that any more sleep than that was a waste of time). Through hard times and near-fatal accidents, he had endured. No one would be questioning Enos Dudley’s stamina for those reasons, and perhaps one other: his youngest (Hugh) and oldest (the first Roy) children were born over 47 years apart … and long before the development of little blue pills.
Another interesting coincidence: at that point, Enos’ wife Christina was 45, and he had been married for 45 years—21 to Frances and 24 to Christina.
In 1939, Enos was hospitalized for heart problems and high blood pressure, but as tough as he was, two more years passed before he finally retired from the watchman job at age 72.
Enos was finished having children of his own, but the family continued to grow, and the ups and downs of life continued. Daughter Frances was valedictorian of her class; son Roy served two years in Europe during World War Two; and wife Christina fell and broke her shoulder in 1948.
Enos required more hospital stays and eventually moved to the Wells Nursing Home in Ticonderoga. In 1950, his grandson, Kenneth, 39, died following surgery. Three months later, Enos, 82, passed away, prompting two Cards of Thanks from two very appreciative families.
Photo L to R: Daughter Florence Meldon, grandson William Meldon, son Hugh Dudley, and Enos Dudleygreat-grandfather, proud new grandfather, and proud new father (1936).
Lawrence Gooley has authored eleven books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 23 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Fort Ticonderoga 1759 Living History Weekend


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Join General Amherst’s British and provincial army at Fort Ticonderoga this Saturday and Sunday, August 4 and 5 and experience the daily life of a soldier in the aftermath of the destruction of France’s southernmost stronghold on Lake Champlain.

Hear the roar of musketry as these well-trained soldiers continue to prepare for conflict. Lend a hand as these soldiers move men and material from Lake Champlain to supply the army encamped around the Fort. Meet British staff officers and learn about their overall strategy in the French and Indian War in 1759.


Highlighted programming will be offered throughout the weekend including musket drills and firing demonstrations, activities on the shores of Lake Champlain as troops unload supplies, Fife & Drum Corps performances, and even an 18th-century Sunday morning Divine Service. Admission to “1759 Relief & Refit” is included with FortTiconderoga’s general admission ticket. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30 am until 5 pm daily. A complete event schedule can be found online or by calling 518-585-2821.

“’Relief & Refit’ will take place on the very ground where General Amherst’s troops secured this strategic victory,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation. “This weekend-long program will dramatically bring to life the experience of the British and American provincial soldiers who were part of the 1759 campaign. In this British living history weekend event, we will recreate and practice the regular, naval, and ranging elements of this Army as it prepared to move on towards Canada in August of 1759.”

“Fort Ticonderoga offers an unparalleled and unique experience for visitors to be immersed in a dramatic moment in time,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga’s Executive Director. “What took place at Fort Ticonderoga determined in part the fate of North America. The capture of the Fort in 1759 was critical to the overall British strategy which ultimately led to their victory during the French and Indian War.”

This living history weekend will include a Friday evening program at the site of the 18th-century French saw mill, located in present-day Historic Ticonderoga. Visitors will watch as a detachment of Massachusetts Provincial soldiers haul timber back to the Fort with a bateau. Talk with men from Rogers’ Rangers, fresh from a scout up Mount Defiance. The French & Indian War history ofTiconderoga will come to life in this fascinating evening program located in the town park from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

Recent Fort Ti Acquisition Reveals New Rev War Details


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“The Care of the Fortresses of Tyonderoga and Mount Independence being committed to you as commanding Officer…” begins a letter written by General Philip Schyler as he turns over command of Ticonderoga to Colonel Anthony Wayne in the fall of 1776 was recently acquired by Fort Ticonderoga through generous donor support.

This letter provides unique documentation of the minute details Ticonderoga’s officer’s had to be concerned with in order to protect the post from attack and properly care for its troops. “Letters like these are amazing resources that enable historians to better understand how people lived at Ticonderoga during the American Revolution,” said Christopher D. Fox, Fort Ticonderoga’s Curator of Collections. “The information contained within this letter will help museum staff develop accurate and engaging programs for the public.”

Written November 23, 1776, this important letter relays orders to Wayne regarding the security and maintenance of Ticonderoga through the winter. Colonel Wayne is given specific instructions to “continually keep scouting parties on the Lake as long as the Season will permit it to be navigated” and to “pay the strictest Attention to your Guards & Centinels and punish severely the least Remissness in Duty” in order to keep the fortresses secure through the winter. In making sure that the forts can be properly defended in case of attack, Schuyler orders that “All Huts & Buildings that may in the least obstruct the Defense of your posts must be levelled.”

Keeping the winter garrison healthy is also a chief concern on which General Schuyler instructs Colonel Wayne. He writes that a considerable quantity of provisions, livestock, and vegetables are being forwarded to supply the men for three months stating that “You will know of what Importance it is that the greatest attention should be paid to the Health of the Men” and that “having their Victuals properly dressed are capital points and greatly tend to the preservation of the Men.” In addition to provisions being forwarded for the troops, Colonel Wayne is also notified that to help keep the men healthy through the winter “Bedding… will be sent as soon as possible together with a Number of Iron Stoves… to be put up in your Barracks for the greater Conveniencey of the Men” and instructs that barracks chimneys be swept every two weeks.

Fort Ticonderoga’s archival collections consist of thousands of manuscripts, diaries, orderly books, maps, and photographs. The manuscript collections include correspondence of both officers and common soldiers who served at Fort Ticonderoga in the 18th century. Found within the collection are the letters, reports, and returns of Ethan Allen, George Washington, Benedict Arnold, James Abercromby, the Marquis de Montcalm, Robert Rogers, John Burgoyne, Philip Skene, and Jonathan Potts, surgeon to the Northern Department of the Continental Army. Thirty journals and orderly books contain first-hand accounts and day-to-day orders of an army at Fort Ticonderoga and the Lake George / Champlain Valleys during the Seven Years’ War and War for American Independence.

The Fort Ticonderoga Association is a not-for-profit historic site and museum whose mission is to ensure that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history. Serving the public since 1909, Fort Ticonderoga engages more than 70,000 visitors annually and is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Fort Ticonderoga’s history. The historic site and museum includes the restored fort, museum galleries, Thompson PellResearch Center, and approximately two-thousand acres of land including the King’s Garden, Carillon Battlefield, Mount Defiance, Mount Hope and the northern end of Mount Independence. Fort Ticonderoga is home to one of America’s largest collections of 18th-century military material culture and its research library contains nearly 14,000 published works focusing on the military history of northeastern North America and New France during the 18th century. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of Fort Ticonderoga.

Photo:  General Philip Schyler letter to Colonel Anthony Wayne, 1776, acquired by Fort Ticonderoga.

Defiance & Independence Battle Re-enactment at Ticonderoga


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Fort Ticonderoga will hold a two-day battle re-enactment highlighting the climatic summer of 1777 as the Fort’s American garrison was outflanked by a British invasion force descending from Canada. The event takes place this Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, 9:30 am to 5 pm.

Highlighted programming featured throughout the weekend is planned to bring to life the surprising American retreat and British capture of Fort Ticonderoga in early July 1777.  American and British armies will maneuver across Fort Ticonderoga’s historic landscape at 1:30 pm each day. This two-day battle re-enactment will dramatically show how General Arthur St. Clair’s decision to evacuate Ticonderoga set the stage for British General John Burgoyne’s advance towards Albany.
“‘Defiance and Independence’ will take place on the actual ground where the events of early July 1777 took place,” said Stuart Lilie,Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Interpretation. “British artillery officer, General William Phillips’, brilliant decision to place cannon atop Mount Defiance will be recreated in historic downtown Ticonderoga Saturday evening as Fort Ticonderoga staff and volunteers haul artillery up Montcalm and Defiance Streets on their way to the mount’s summit.” Sunday morning visitors and re-enactors will experience shock and chaos as General Phillips’ heavy guns break the dawn over Ticonderoga.

“Visitors will experience the excitement as mounted command staff gallop into the Fort announcing its imminent capture,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga’s Executive Director. “They will be immersed in the moment when American Continental command staff assess their dire situation and debate whether or not to abandon America’s critical stronghold on Lake Champlain. Meanwhile in the British camp, visitors can explore General Burgoyne’s battle-hardened army of British, German, and Loyalist troops and discover the sights and sounds of an army on campaign as soldiers cook their rations, clean their muskets, and enjoy the humble comforts of a bed of straw and canvas tent.”

Schedule for “Defiance & Independence” Battle Re-enactment, July 21-22

Saturday, July 21

9:30 am: Fort Opens to Visitors

10 am: Inspection (British Army in the King’s Garden, Continental Army on the Fort’s Parade)

See General Arthur St. Clair’s Continental soldiers and militia muster together to defend Fort Ticonderoga and the vital waterways it guards. Meanwhile General John Burgoyne’s Army parades before maneuvering to surround the American fortifications.

10:30 am -1 pm: British & American Guards and Pickets Posted (Along the Recreated French Lines)

Watch the scouts skirmishes that happened along the front lines, as advanced scouts of two armies worked to lift the fog of war that could cloud each general’s battle plan.

11 am: Mapping Ticonderoga, Surveying the Northern Army (Inside Fort Ticonderoga)

11:30 am: Artillery Demonstration (Adjacent to the British Camp)

1 pm: Alarm, Assembly & Inspection (British Army in the King’s Garden, Continental Army on the Fort’s Parade)

With a few quick shots in an expected place along the front lines messages rush back to the headquarters of each Army. Staff officers and generals alike take this message from the front lines and a slew of others to make a decision. Alarm! The orders go out; soldiers assemble and are inspected before marching off to their place in the battle line.

1:30 pm: Skirmish at Recreated French Lines

Watch as General Burgoyne’s advanced guard of soldiers probe the American Fortifications rebuilt from the famous French Lines of 1758. Unlikely to assault these Fortifications, British soldiers keep up a hot fire as they probe around these lines, finding out where to flank them, and valuable information about the American soldiers facing them 100 yards away.

2:30 pm: Program: The Northern Army of 1777: The Northern Department General Staff (Inside Fort Ticonderoga)

General Arthur St. Clair and the senior officers of his staff, discuss the British attack, their situation, and even evacuating Fort Ticonderoga, the great American bulwark to protect Albany and certain British victory.

3:30 pm: Program: People of the Brigade – Soldiers and Citizens in July of 1777. (Adjacent the Fort)

Meet some of the average people and soldiers you would have met in the Armies of the Northern Campaign in 1777.

4 pm: Program: British Engineers Discuss and Demonstrate the Science of their Trade. (Inside the British Camp)

4:30 pm: Program: Sutlers for the Army – Phil Dunning explains the role of sutlers within the Continental and British Armies. (Inside the British Camp)

5 pm: Fort Closes to Visitors

6:30 pm: Royal Artillery Gun crews haul their cannons through downtown Ticonderoga, on their way to the summit of MountDefiance. (Downtown Ticonderoga)

Sunday, July 22

9:30 am: Fort Opens to Visitors

9:30 am: Guns on Mount Defiance Open Fire

Discovered by an errant shot, General Burgoyne’s cannons atop Mount Defiance announce their presence to a baffled Continental Army.

10 am: Continental Musick Beats the “General”

General Arthur St. Clair prepares his Army for what he hopes will be an orderly retreat. American soldiers break camp. They prepare for what will at best be a fighting withdrawal, at worst a panicked retreat. Veterans and green soldiers alike ready themselves to live on the march.

10:30 am: Guards and Pickets Posted (Along the Recreated French Lines)

Watch the scouts skirmishes that happened along the front lines, as advanced scouts of two armies worked to lift the fog of war that could cloud each general’s battle plan.

11:00 am-12:00 pm: Program: Joel Anderson, Fort Ticonderoga Artificer Superviser, describes the flight of the Continental Army from the Fort.

Learn about the brave actions and misadventures of General Arthur St. Clair’s army as it began its retreat south from FortTiconderoga to fight another day.

11:30 am: Artillery Demonstration (Adjacent to the British Camp)

1 pm: Alarm, Assembly & Inspection (British Army in the King’s Garden, Continental Army on the Fort’s Parade)

With a few quick shots in an expected place along the front lines messages rushes back to the headquarters of each Army. Staff officers and generals alike, take this information and a slough of others to make a decision. Alarm! The orders go out; soldiers assemble and are inspected before marching off to their place in the battle line.

1:30 pm: Skirmish at Recreated French Lines

Hemmed in from the north, east and west, the Continental Army holds their lines against the advances of the British army, emboldened by its advantageous position.

2:30 pm: Program: The Northern Army of 1777- The Northern Department General Staff (Inside Fort Ticonderoga)

General Arthur St. Clair and his senior officers discuss their desperate situation and attempt to bring some order to what no doubt will be a rushed evacuation of the Army. With supplies to salvage, wounded to transport and a bridge across the lake to destroy behind them, these officers attempt to make the best preparations to fight another day.

3 pm: Continental Army Evacuation

See the Continental Army packing up tents, supplies, loading up their wagons to save what they can for what will be another long campaign.

5 pm: Site Closes to Visitors

Admission to “Defiance & Independence” is included with Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission ticket. A complete highlighted event schedule can be found online, or call 518-585-2821 for more information.

Photo provided. 

The Champlain Memorial Lighthouse Centennial


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What follows is a guest essay by Thomas Hughes, Director of the Crown Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Essex County, NY. The site includes two National Historic Landmarks: the ruins of French-built Fort St. Frédéric (1734-59) and the ruins of Crown Point’s British fort (1759-73).

Dedicated 100 years ago this month on July 5, 1912, and located at a prominent site that is steeped in history, the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse serves as a monument to the 1609 voyage on Lake Champlain by French explorer Samuel Champlain. Continue reading

New Concise History of the Battles of Plattsburgh


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Battle of PlattsburghLake Champlain was a corridor for warfare beginning with Samuel de Champlain’s exploration, but perhaps no moment in the Champlain Valley was as important as the Battle of Plattsburgh, something recognized by both Roosevelt and Churchill.

Although other, more famous, engagements of the War of 1812 were ruses meant to divert U.S. troops away from the prize – Plattsburgh. The Chesapeake Campaign for example, which included the British capture of Washington, DC, the bombardment of Fort McHenry captured in the National Anthem, was intended, as Donald Graves notes, “as a large raid to draw off American troops from the northern theatre of the war.” Continue reading

Pre-European Agriculture in the Champlain Valley


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When I set out to write From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in New York’s Champlain Valley, I became discouraged by the mixed information coming from various authors.

While there is archeological evidence of Native settlements in Plattsburgh at Cumberland Bay, across Lake Champlain in Vermont and along the Hudson River and its tributaries, little information exists for the rest of the Adirondack Coast. Continue reading

Q&A: Douglas Cubbison on British General Burgoyne


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Douglas R. Cubbison is a military historian, who authored Burgoyne and the Saratoga Campaign: His Papers (2012, Arthur H. Clark Company), which presents the documents and letters of British General John Burgoyne.
 In 1777, Burgoyne began an attempt to divide the rebellious United States in the American Revolutionary War by moving south from the British Canada to gain control of the Hudson River Valley, separating the New England states from those to the south.

After Burgoyne’s early capture of Fort Ticonderoga, his campaign had become bogged down in difficulties and ended with surrender on October 17 of his entire army after the Battles of Saratoga.
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Chimney Point Historic Site Reopens


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The Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites have opened for the 2012 season. The Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison has reopened to the public after two years of closure due to the Lake Champlain Bridge construction project. This location is one of the most strategic on the Lake, important to Native Americans, the early French, and early American settlement. Continue reading

New York’s Jehudi Ashmun, Founder of Liberia


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Thursday, April 21, marked the birthday of one of the most famous men you never heard of, and surely the least known of all North Country figures who once graced the world stage. It is also appropriate to recall his story at this time for two other reasons. It has ties to slavery and the Civil War as we mark the 150th anniversary of America’s darkest period. And, in relation to recent world news, it involves fighting for change in Africa.

If you’re well familiar with the work of Jehudi Ashmun, you’re in a very small minority. Even in his hometown, little has been done to mark his achievements other than a single roadside historical marker. And yet, if you look, you’ll find him in dozens of encyclopedias and reference books as an important part of African and Liberian history.

Jehudi Ashmun was born in Champlain, a small village in the northeastern corner of New York State, just a mile from the Canadian border. Early on, he proved capable of advanced learning, and after schooling in Champlain, he attended Middlebury College in Vermont at the age of 16, preparing for life as a Christian minister.

Ill health, a problem throughout his life, found Jehudi back home in Champlain during the War of 1812. On healthier days, despite his young age, he preached in the local church and organized a military company to protect the village from British attackers threatening from Canada.

After returning to schooling at Middlebury, he entered the University of Vermont. Graduating from UVM in August, 1816, Ashmun gave the salutatory address and presented “An English Oration upon the Philosophy of the Mind.”

Jehudi soon found employment as school principal and Professor of Classical Literature at the Maine Charity School, one of the first educational societies in the country. Guided by a strong Christian belief, he published extensively, including sermons, lectures, and essays.

Ashmun’s opinionated persona was not always well received, and six months after marrying Catherine Gray in October 1818, he resigned from the school and moved to Washington, D.C. There, he linked with the Episcopal Church for three years, studying religion, continuing to publish, and becoming alarmingly aware of the plight of slaves in nearby Virginia.

Christian doctrine deplored slavery, and the more Ashmun (a white northerner) learned, the more he felt compelled to act. He became an active participant in the American Colonization Society (ACS), a group that many supported with the best of intentions, but an organization that attracted a pro-slavery element as well.

To understand that dichotomy, it is necessary to at least somewhat grasp the situation in America around 1820. As a young nation proudly touting “all men are created equal,” the US was embarrassed by other countries pointing out in newspaper editorials the great hypocrisy of allowing slavery to exist for any reason within America’s borders.

By 1808, the importation of slaves had been strictly forbidden by federal law, but some southern states claimed the feds had overstepped their bounds. Still, a very powerful anti-slavery movement existed in America. The problem was—what constituted a solution?

Groups like the American Colonization Society faced an unusual number of arguments for and against their efforts. Many leaders, both black and white, believed all citizens should remain in the US and battle for full equal rights for all. Others, including many black leaders, felt that blacks would never be treated justly or be free of discrimination in America, and thus favored the establishment of a colony where they could flourish.

Some said that promoting colonization was simply a cover for the goal of ridding America of blacks. Others saw great promise in black colonists succeeding, and helping to spread the Christian faith across Africa. Many slave owners supported the society because they feared that freed blacks would urge those in slavery to rise together in rebellion. By sending them to colonies, the owners were removing rabble-rousers from their midst.

At the time, the idea of going to Africa did seem sensible to some blacks since that was their place of origin. However, by that time, many had been in America long enough to have children born here and had established roots. A great number preferred to stay in the US and face the devil they knew, rather than the uncertainties of life (the devil they didn’t know) in Africa.

At various times, plans were made for colonies in Canada, Mexico, Africa, the Caribbean, and in several Central American countries. Finally, a real effort to settle on Africa’s west coast was tried, but it failed. Another similar attempt was made within two years.

The second opportunity arose when the Georgia state legislature authorized its governor to sell about 40 slaves who had been brought to the state illegally. Money from the sale was destined for state coffers, but by law, before selling the slaves, the state had to allow anyone the opportunity to purchase freedom for the slaves or assume the expense of taking them to a colony.

In stepped the ACS, and it was 18 of those slaves who formed the bulk of the colonization effort in Africa. The leader of the expedition was Jehudi Ashmun, who avoided many debts by leaving the country, but whose devotion to the cause was beyond reproach. He also saw the opportunity to establish trade and perhaps find a way to pay his own financial commitments.

Throughout his life, Ashmun had been a deep thinker and an activist, but was frequently beset with periods of strong self-doubt. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine his thoughts when, arriving on Africa’s west coast on August 9, 1822, he found wretched living conditions and violent conflicts involving several regional tribes.

Adjacent to the British colony of Sierra Leone, he gained permission to land and establish a community. He managed interactions and informal agreements with several local tribes, but it soon became clear that they intended to set upon Ashmun’s group and destroy them.

Jehudi’s settlers were suffering badly from illness, and were certainly in no condition to defend themselves. Their position on the peninsula of Cape Montserado provided at least some natural protection, but their sickness was disabling, and the meager rations they shared were barely enough to sustain life. The future looked bleak for this fledgling enterprise.

Ashmun himself seemed near death at times, but feared more for his wife, who was dreadfully ill. She finally succumbed on September 15, barely a month after their arrival from America. Jehudi was devastated. There was great doubt that he could survive and carry on the mission.

Next week―the conclusion: A battle for the ages … twice! and one of the greatest all-time underdog stories.

Photos―Top: Jehudi Ashmun, native of Champlain, New York. Bottom: Ashmun’s Liberian settlement at Cape Montserado.

The Jehudi Ashmun story is one of 51 original North Country history pieces appearing in Adirondack Gold: 50+ New & True Stories You’re Sure to Love (352 pp.), a recent release by author Lawrence Gooley, owner of Bloated Toe Publishing.

Fort Ticonderoga’s War College of the Seven Years’ War


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Limited space is still available to attend Fort Ticonderoga’s Seventeenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 18-20, 2012. This annual seminar focuses on the French and Indian War in North America (1754-1763), bringing together a panel of distinguished historians from around the country and beyond. The War College takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open to the public; pre-registration is required.


Begun in 1996, the War College of the Seven Years’ War has become one of the premier seminars on the French & Indian War in the country. It features a mix of new and established scholars in an informal setting for a weekend of presentations related to the military, social, and cultural history of the French & Indian War. Speakers include:

De Witt Bailey, British author and 18th-century arms expert, on British weapons of the war.

Maria Alessandra Bollettino, Framingham State University, on slave revolts in the British Caribbean during the war.

Earl John Chapman, Canadian author and historian, on the experiences of James Thompson, a sergeant in the 78th Highlanders.

Christopher D. Fox, Fort Ticonderoga, on Colonel Abijah Willard’s Massachusetts Provincials in 1759.

Jean-François Lozier, Canadian Museum of Civilization, on the use of paints and cosmetics among Natives and Europeans.

Paul W. Mapp, College of William & Mary, on the role the vast western lands played in the battle for empire.

William P. Tatum III, David Library of the American Revolution, on the British military justice system, using ten courts-martial at Ticonderoga in 1759 as case studies.

Len Travers, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, on the “Lost Patrol of 1756” on Lake George. The weekend kicks of Friday evening with a presentation by Ticonderoga Town Historian William G. Dolback on “Historic Ticonderoga in Pictures.” Dolback is also President of the Ticonderoga Historical Society and leading local efforts to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the first settler in Ticonderoga in 1764.

Registration for the War College is $145 for the weekend ($125 for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga). Registration forms can be downloaded from the Fort’s website under the “Explore and Learn” tab by selecting “Life Long Learning” on the drop down menu and then clicking on the War College. A printed copy is also available upon request by contacting Rich Strum, Director of Education, at 518-585-6370.