• Exploring American History

A bastion between two waters aides in America’s independence

Located near the south end of Lake Champlain in upstate New York is Fort Ticonderoga. Built in 1755, this area was under the French flag with Michael Chartier de Lotbinere the Governer-General Vaudreuil. He sensed the need to build a fort in order to protect the surrounding waterways which were used by the French for their fur trade network. In time, this location would become an important advantage for colonial Americans during the Revolutionary War.

Originally named ‘Carillon’ by the French, the fort was designed in a star shape from logs stabilized with mud. Stone quarried from a valley nearby was later placed over the wooden walls. A number of buildings were constructed within the fort, including barrack space to house 400 men and a sizable powder magazine.

During the siege of Fort William Henry in August 1757, General Montcalm of the French army used Fort Carillon as a base of operations for his troops. The French won this battle, but the celebration was short-lived. On July 8, 1758, the Battle of Carillon, also known as the '1758 Battle of Ticonderoga' took place. During the battle, General Abercrombie was in command of 16,000 British troops. Aware of the approaching British army, the French vacated the fort, but not before blowing up the magazine. General Abercrombie repaired the magazine and renamed the bastion Fort Ticonderoga – the Iroquois Indian word meaning ‘land between two waters’ (Lake Champlain and Lake George).

As with the French, the British possession of the fort was also short-lived. On the night of May 10, 1759, Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold, along with a number of the Green Mountain Boys, arrived on the scene. Some historians claim Allen was heard to say, "Come out you old rat!" to Captain William Delaplace, the fort's current commander. Later, he demanded the British commander surrender the fort, “In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!”

The colonists needed Ticonderoga due to its strategic position between the two lakes and the artillery it housed. They were able to seize the fort from a small British garrison without firing a shot. After the fort was captured, the Green Mountain Boys partied for a time on the casks of rum they found.

In addition to the rum, there was an impressive collection of armaments housed within the fort – 78 cannons - with a sizable assortment of cannonballs, flints and powder, three howitzers and six mortars.

A portion of this bounty would soon be transported by Henry Knox to aide the Siege of Boston.

Knox’s efforts in the depths of winter would later be chronicled among some of the most extraordinary acts of determination in the history of American warfare.

The colonists’ victory at Fort Ticonderoga also has several significant points of history attached to it:

  • By capturing the fort, the colonists were able to gain control over invasion routes from Canada, at least for a time, which helped to strengthen the will of an anxious populace regarding their ability to defeat the British.

  • By being the main leader of the Green Mountain Boys, Ethan Allen became known as a hero.

Ethan Allen’s heroism became the turning point for Benedict Arnold. Prior to the conquest of the fort, Arnold became quite upset over the fact he missed out on the opportunity to gain the spotlight due to the fact the Green Mountain Boys refused to serve under his command. This turned into the first in a series of events that eventually eroded Arnold's devotion to the Patriot cause.

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Over the course of time, five US Navy ships have worn the name ‘Ticonderoga’:

  • The first to do so was a gunship launched in 1814 and kept in service until 1825.

  • The second, launched in 1862, was a steam-powered, wooden-hulled sloop-of-war. She saw action against the Confederacy and later became the first steam-powered ship to circumnavigate the world during the years 1878-1881.

  • A German freighter impounded by the US in 1917 was number three and used as a transport ship. Apparently the Germans were not happy about the acquisition because, on September 30, 1918, she met her fate when the German submarine U152 torpedoed her. Ticonderoga #3 sank and carried 113 American sailors to a watery grave.

  • Fourth to wear the Ticonderoga name was an aircraft carrier, CV/CVA/CVS 14 and served from 1944-1975.

  • Rounding out the list at number five was an Aegis Cruiser (CG 47)that served from 1982-2004.

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As man has ventured into the heavens, the legendary Ticonderoga name has journeyed with him. Applied to the Akira Class starship, Ticonderoga began her service in the year 2364. Within a short amount of time, she proved to be Starfleet’s pride in the next generation of starships.

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