The Memorial Day weekend brings the start of the 2013 season at the Chimney Point, Mount Independence, and Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Sites. The sites open this Saturday, May 25, at 9:30 a.m.
The Chimney Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Addison commands one of the most strategic locations on the Lake, of importance to human beings for over 9,000 years. The site presents the Native American, early French, and early American settlement of the area. The special exhibit is What Lies Beneath: 9,000 Years of History at Chimney Point, highlighting the archaeological findings from the 2009-2011 bridge and temporary ferry project—including the likely location of the “chimney” that gave Chimney Point its name in 1759. Continue reading →
Limited space is still available to attend Fort Ticonderoga’s Eighteenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 17-19, 2013.
This annual seminar focuses on the French &- 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. Continue reading →
The other day, driving home from Kingston, I could not help but notice the sea of New York State Education Department signs (NYSED) that lined the roadside. The blue and yellow plaques are designed to alert those passing by of significant historic events that had occurred somewhere in the vicinity of the signs. These signs made me think about when I lived in Boston and followed that city’s Freedom Trail. Continue reading →
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.
“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 FortTiconderoga.
Fort Ticonderoga will present the Fifth Annual Scots Day on Saturday, June 16. The commemoration of Scottish heritage and their significant contributions to 18th century North American history runs from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Visitors can tour the Scottish Clan tents and vendors to discover more about your own connection to Scottish Culture, and explore the stories of centuries of Scottish soldiers in the British Army through a military timeline offered throughout the day.
Special Memorial CeremonyA special memorial ceremony honoring the 42nd Highland Regiment, also known as the Black Watch, will take place at the Scottish Cairn on the Carillon Battlefield located at Fort Ticonderoga. The procession to the Cairn will begin at 11 am at the Log House Welcome Center. The Memorial Ceremony will take place at 11:30 am and will remember the incredible bravery and discipline of the Black Watch against insurmountable odds at the 1758 Battle of Carillon.Bagpipe Performances
Hear the sounds of Scottish bagpipe music throughout the day as the Plattsburgh Police Pipes and Drums will perform during the day on the Fort’s historic Parade Ground at 12:30 pm and 2 pm. The Police Pipes and Drums of Plattsburgh, formed in 2005, perform at police and fire functions, as well as at events throughout the North Country. The Plattsburg Police Pipes and Drums performance is made possible, in part, by the Arts Council for the Northern Adirondacks CAP Grant, supported by the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
Participating Scottish Clans and organizations
· St. Andrews Society of Vermont · Clan Buchanan · Clan Campbell · Clan Forbes · Clan Hamilton · Clan Johnston/Johnstone · Clan MacIntyre · Clan MacPherson · Clan Murray · Clan Rose
Black Watch Military Living History Programs
Meet some of the present-day Scottish soldiers of the Canadian Black watch to learn about the modern legacy of Scottish military heritage and learn the history of the Black Watch Regiment through living history programs presented throughout the day by members of a Black Watch reenactor unit from Montreal. Highlighted programs include a living history time-line of the Regiment. The re-enacting group depicts its history from the 18th century through the early 21st century, with various members representing different significant points in the unit’s history. Learn about the incredible bravery and discipline of the Black Watch against insurmountable odds at the 1758 Battle of Carillon.
The 42nd Highland Regiment, also known as the Black Watch, played a crucial role at Ticonderoga during the Battle of Carillon on July 8, 1758. The regiment suffered over 50% casualties during the failed British assault on the French Lines at Ticonderoga during the French & Indian War. Ticonderoga continued to be an important part of the regiment’s history. During its involvement in the Iraq War, the Black Watch Regiment’s base near Basra was called “Ticonderoga.”
On Tuesday, June 5, 7 p.m. at Thurman town hall underwater archaeologist Joseph W. Zarzynski will present a talk on Bateaux Below’s study of “The Sunken Fleet of 1758,” a notable event at Lake George during the French & Indian War (1755-1763).
In the autumn of 1758, the British sank over 260 warships in Lake George to protect the vessels over the winter of 1758-1759 from their enemy, the French and their Native American allies. Many of the sunken warships were recovered in 1759 and reused by the British. However, over 40 sunken warships were never retrieved by the British forces in 1759 and they offer underwater archaeologists an excellent opportunity to study these shipwrecks to find out about the colonial soldiers that used them. Zarzynski’s talk will give details on Bateaux Below’s 24-year-long study (1987-2011) of “The Sunken Fleet of 1758.”Zarzynski is co-founder of Bateaux Below, co-author (with Bob Benway) of the book Lake George Shipwrecks and Sunken History, and co-authored the documentary Search for the Jefferson Davis: Trader, Slaver, Raider. The documentary, written with Dr. Samuel Turner, was a 2012 Peabody Awards nominee, and an “Official Selection” in the Orlando Film Festival (2011), Amelia Island Film Festival (2012), and the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival (2012). The documentary was named one of three finalists for “Best Documentary” in the 6th Buffalo Niagara Film Festival.
Zarzynski’s June 5th program, hosted by the John Thurman Historical Society, is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served. Thurman town hall is located at 311 Athol Road, Athol, NY, about 6 miles from the Warrensburg Health Center via route 418 and Athol Road. For more information, call 518-623-9305.
Photo: Joseph W. Zarzynski holds a model of the type of 18th century radeau that plied the waters of Lake George during the French and Indian War (Photo courtesy Peter Pepe).
Fort Ticonderoga has unveiled its newest exhibit, Bullets & Blades: The Weapons of America’s Colonial Wars and Revolution. The exhibit highlights over 150 of the museum’s most important weapons and is a comprehensive and expanded reinterpretation of its world renowned historic arms collection.
Divided into seven sections and including a wide variety of muskets, pistols, swords and powder horns (some of which are one of only two or three of their types known), the exhibit explores the weapons used in America from the early 1600s through the end of the American Revolution. The exhibit is included in Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission price and will be on display throughout the 2012 season. “This is the first major new weapons exhibit the museum has undertaken in over half a century. The creation of this exhibit is an important step in a process to improve Fort Ticonderoga’s exhibits and make them more engaging and informative for the public,” said Chris Fox, Fort Ticonderoga Curator of Collections.
Bullets & Blades: The Weapons of America’s Colonial Wars and Revolution features important, never before seen, pieces from the Grafton H. and Barbara W. Cook Collection of historic weapons donated to Fort Ticonderoga in 2009. Highlights in the collection include numerous rare and important examples of British cavalry swords and pistols and the massive basket-hilted swords carried by Scottish Highland troops.
Additional important highlights from the Cook Collection include an extremely rare British military pistol used during the reign of England’s King James II and a fine example of the important Ferguson patent breech loading rifle whose technological innovations resulted in the British army’s first breech loading firearm adopted in 1776. The oldest weapons in the exhibit were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Cook including a rare early 17th century matchlock musket similar to the type used by Samuel de Champlain during his brief engagement with the Iroquois Indians on the Ticonderoga peninsula in 1609.
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-Francois 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.
A living history event at Fort Ticonderoga highlighting Major Robert Rogers and the Battle of Snowshoes will be held on Saturday, March 10 from 10 am – 4 pm. Visitors will be able to encounter the French Garrison in the middle of winter inside Fort Ticonderoga and tour through opposing pickets of British rangers and French soldiers adapted to frontier, winter warfare. At 1 pm on Saturday, visitors will experience the hectic tree to tree fighting in a recreated battle during which the rangers make a stand against superior numbers, only to retreat through the deep woods. Visitors will be invited to tour Fort Ticonderoga as it appeared in the winter of 1758, meet the French and Indians who overwhelmed Roger’s experienced woodsmen, and see how native and French soldiers survived the deep winter at this remote military post. More adventurous visitors can take a hike led by a historic interpreter through the opposed pickets of soldiers in the deep woods. In these tours visitors can see how rangers kept a vigilant watch for subtle signs that might reveal their ferocious enemy.
“The Battle on Snowshoes event recreates the savage fight between Robert Roger’s rangers, and a mixed French force of regular soldiers, milice, and allied native warriors on March 13, 1758,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation at Fort Ticonderoga. “This event is designed to be a rich experience for both participants and visitors alike.”
Re-enactors portraying French soldiers and native allies will live inside the period furnished barracks rooms of Fort Ticonderoga. They will recreate the winter garrison for Fort Carillon, as it was known until 1759. Just as in the March of 1758 these re-enactors will sortie out from the Fort to meet and overwhelm Roger’s men.
Major Robert Rogers force of both volunteers from the 27th foot, and his own rangers headed out on an extended scout from Fort Edward along Lake George, following an attack on a similar patrol from Captain Israel Putnam’s Connecticut rangers. Hiking on snowshoes due to the three feet of snow, the tracks of Roger’s force were spotted on its march up the west side of Lake George. Near the north end of Lake George, Major Rogers, advanced scouts spotted their French counterparts. Rogers and his Rangers took up positions in a ravine, setting his force in ambuscade to await whatever French patrol would come to meet him.
The French patrol that met Roger’s men proved far larger than he imagined, and in this Battle on Snowshoes, the rangers’ ambush was itself surrounded and overwhelmed. In deep woods on deep snow, the rangers were forced to retreat with heavy casualties as the French regulars, malice, and natives pressed home their attack. Despite stands along the way, this retreat quickly became chaotic as rangers, Roger’s included, ran for their lives from superior numbers of French.
Illustration from Gary S Zaboly‘-s “A True Ranger: The Life and Many Wars of Major Robert Rogers” (Garden City Park, NY: Royal Blockhouse, 2004).