Page images

Topography of Ticonderoga. The Fortress. Its Investment by Abercrombie. Bravery of Lord Howe.

ters, and was applied by the Indians to the rushing waters of the outlet of Lake George at the falls. The French, who first built a fort at Crown Point (Fort St. Frederic), established themselves upon this peninsula in 1755, and the next year they began the erection of a strong fortress, which they called Fort Carillon." The Indian name was generally applied to it, and by that only was it known from the close of the French and Indian war in 1763.” The peninsula is elevated more than one hundred feet above the lake, and contains about five hundred acres. Nature and art made it a strong place. Water was upon three sides, and a deep swamp extended nearly across the fourth. Within a mile north of the fortress intrenchments were thrown up, the remains of which may still be seen at each side of the road, and are known as the French lines. The whole defenses were completed by the erection of a breast-work nine feet high, upon the narrowest part of the neck between the swamp and the outlet of Lake George; and before the breast-work was a strong abatis. Here, as I have already mentioned, was the general rendezvous of the French under Montcalm, August a preparatory to the attack on Fort William Henry. It continued to be the head1797. quarters of that general until Quebec was threatened by an expedition under Wolfe, up the St. Lawrence, when he abandoned the posts on Lake Champlain, and mustered all his forces at the capital of Lower Canada. Montcalm commanded a force of four thousand men at Ticonderoga when Abercrombie July 6 approached, and was in daily expectation of receiving a re-enforcement of three thou17*. sand troops under M. de Levi. The English commander was advised of this expected re-enforcement of the garrison, and felt the necessity of making an immediate attack upon the works. His army moved forward in three columns; but so dense was the forest that covered the whole country, that their progress was slow. They were also deficient in suitable guides, and in a short time were thrown into a great deal of confusion. They pressed steadily forward, and the advanced post of the French (a breast-work of logs) was set fire to by the enemy themselves and abandoned. Lord Howe, who was Abercrombie's lieutenant, or second in command, led the advanced column; and as they pressed onward after crossing the bridge, Major Putnam, with about one hundred men, advanced as a scouting party to reconnoiter. Lord Howe, eager to make the first attack, proposed to accompany Putnam, but the major tried to dissuade him, by saying, “My lord, if I am killed the loss of my life will be of little consequence, but the preservation of yours is of infinite importance to this army.” The answer was, “Putnam, your life is as dear to you as mine is to me. I am determined to go.” They dashed on through the woods, and in a few minutes fell in with the advanced guard of the French, who had retreated from the first breast-works, and, without a guide and bewildered, were endeavoring to find their way back to the lines. A sharp skirmish ensued, and at the first fire Lord Howe, another officer, and several privates were

GRound PLAN.


* This is a French word, signifying chime, jingling, noise, bawling, scolding, racket, clatter, riot.— Boyer. Its application to this spot had the same reference to the rush of waters as the Indian name Cheonderoga.

2 T. fortress was strongly built. Its walls and barracks were of limestone, and every thing about it was done in the most substantial manner.

Explanation of the ground plan: a, entrance and wicket gate; b, counterscarp twenty feet wide; c c, bastions; d, under-ground room and ovens; ee ee, barracks and officers' quarters; f. court or paradeground; g.g, trench or covert-way, sixteen feet wide and ten feet deep; h, the place where Ethan Allen and his men entered by a covert-way from the outside.

* Humphrey's Life of Putnam.


Fight with the French, and Death of Howe. Attack on Ticonderoga, and Defeat of the English. Other Expeditions.

killed." The French were repulsed with a loss of three hundred killed and one hundred
and forty-eight taken prisoners. The English columns were so much broken, confused, and
fatigued, that Abercrombie marched them back to the landing-place on Lake George, to
bivouac for the night. Early the next morning Colonel Bradstreet advanced and took pos-
session of the saw-mills, near the present village of Ticonderoga, which the enemy had
Abercrombie sent an engineer to reconnoiter, and on his reporting that the works were
unfinished and might easily be taken, the British troops were again put in motion toward
the fortress. As they approached the lines, the French, who were completely shel- July a
tered behind their breast-works, opened a heavy discharge of artillery upon them, but 17°.
they pressed steadily forward in the face of the storm, determined to assault the works, and
endeavor to carry them by sword and bayonet. They found them so well defended by a
deep abatis, that it was almost impossible to reach them; yet, amid the galling fire of the
enemy, the English continued for four hours striving to cut their way through the limbs and
bushes to the breast-works with their swords. Some did, indeed, mount the parapet, but
in a moment they were slain. Scores of Britons were mowed down at every discharge of
cannon. Perceiving the rapid reduction of his army, Abercrombie at last sounded a retreat;
and, without being pursued by the French, the English fell back to their encampment at the
foot of Lake George, from which the wounded were sent to Fort Edward and to Albany.
The English loss was nearly two thousand men and twenty-five hundred stand of arms.
Never did troops show bolder courage or more obstimate persistence against fearful obstacles.
The whole army seemed emulous to excel, but the Scotch Highland regiment of Lord John
Murray was foremost in the conflict, and suffered the severest loss. One half of the privates
and twenty-five officers were slain on the spot or badly wounded. Failing in this attempt,
Abercrombie changed his plans. He dispatched General Stanwix to build a fort near the
head-waters of the Mohawk, at the site of the present village of Rome, Oneida county.
Colonel Bradstreet, at his own urgent solicitation, was ordered, with three thousand troops,
mostly provincials, to proceed by the way of Oswego and Lake Ontario, to attack Fort Fron-
tenae, where Kingston, in Upper Canada, now stands; and himself, with the rest of the
army, returned to Albany.”
While misfortunes were attending the English under the immediate command of Aber-
crombie, and the power and influence of the French were gaining strength on the lake, a
British force was closely beleaguering Louisburg, on the Island of Cape Breton, at the mouth
of the St. Lawrence, then the strongest fortification in America, and the rallying point

of French power on this Continent. Early in 1758 Admiral Boscawen sailed from May 28.

* George, Lord-viscount Howe, was the eldest son of Sir E. Scrope, second Wiscount Howe in Ireland. He commanded five thousand British troops which landed at Halifax in 1757, and, as we have seen, the next year accompanied General Abercrombie against Ticonderoga. Alluding to his death, Mante observes, “With him the soul of the army seemed to expire.” He was the idol of his soldiers, and, in order to accommodate himself and his regiment to the nature of the service, he cut his hair short, and fashioned his clothes for activity. His troops followed his example, and they were, indeed, the soul of Abercrombie's army. He was in the thirty-fourth year of his age when he fell. The General Court of Massachusetts Bay, as a testimony of respect for his character, appropriated two hundred and fifty pounds sterling for the erection of a monument in Westminster Abbey. Captain (afterward general) Philip Schuyler, who was highly esteemed by Lord Howe, and who at that time was employed in the commissary department, was commissioned to carry the young nobleman's remains to Albany and bury them with appropriate honors. They were placed in a vault, and I was informed by a daughter of General Schuyler (Mrs. Cochran, of Oswego) that when, many years afterward, the coffin was opened, his hair had grown to long, flowing locks, and was very beautiful. * General James Abercrombie was descended from a wealthy Scotch family, and, in consequence of signal services on the Continent, was promoted to the rank of major general. In 1758 fifty thousand troops were placed under his command by Mr. Pitt, and sent with him to America to attempt a recovery of all that the French had taken from the English. He was the successor of Lord Loudon, but was not much superior to the earl in activity or military skill. He was superseded by Amherst after his defeat at Ticonderoga, and in the spring of 1759 he returned to England.

[ocr errors]

Siege and Capture of Louisburg. Preparations for the Conquest of Canada. Capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point.

Halifax, Acadia," with forty armed vessels, bearing a land force of twelve thousand men under General Amherst. General Wolfe was second in command; and in appointing that young soldier to a post so important, Pitt showed that sagacity in correctly appreciating character for which he was so remarkable.

On the 2d of June the fleet anchored in Gabarus Bay, and the whole armament reached the shore on the 8th. The French, alarmed at such a formidable force, called in their outposts, dismantled the royal battery, and prepared for a retreat. But the vigilance and activity of Wolfe prevented their escape. He passed around the Northeast Harbor, and erected a battery at the North Cape, from which well-directed shots soon silenced the guns of the smaller batteries upon the island. Hot shots were also poured into the small fleet of French vessels lying in the harbor of Louisburg, and three of them were burned. The town was greatly shattered by the active artillery; the vessels which were not consumed were dismantled or sunken; and several breaches were made in the massive walls. Certain destruction awaited the garrison and citizens, and at last the fortress, together with the town and St. John's (now Prince Edward's) Island, was surrendered into the hands of the English by capitulation.

The skill, bravery, and activity of General Amherst, exhibited in the capture of Louisburg, gained him a vote of thanks from Parliament, and commended him to Pitt, who, the next year, appointed him to the chief command in America, in place of the less active Abercrombie. So much did Pitt rely upon his judgment and ability, that he clothed him with discretionary powers to take measures to make the complete conquest of all Canada in a single campaign. His plans were arranged upon a magnificent scale. Appreciating the services of Wolfe, one expedition was placed under his command, to ascend the St. Lawrence and attack Quebec. General Prideaux was sent with another expedition to capture the strong-hold of Niagara, while Amherst himself took personal command of a third expedition against the fortress on Lake Champlain. It was arranged for the three armies to form a junction as conquerors at Quebec. Prideaux, after capturing the fort at Niagara, was to proceed down the lake and St. Lawrence to attack Montreal and the posts below, and Am. herst was to push forward after the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, down the Richelieu or Sorel River to the St. Lawrence, and join with Wolfe at Quebec.

Amherst collected about eleven thousand men at Fort Edward and its vicinity, and, moving cautiously along Lake Champlain, crossed the outlet of Lake George, and appeared

before Ticonderoga on the 26th of July. He met with no impediments by the way, and at once made preparations for reducing the fortress by a regular siege. The gar

rison were strong, and evinced a disposition to make a vigorous resistance. They soon discovered, however, that they had not Abercrombie to deal with, and, despairing of being able to hold out against the advancing English, they dismantled and abandoned the fort, and fled to Crown Point. Not a gun was fired or a sword crossed; and the next day Amherst marched in and took possession of the fort. He at once set about repairing and enlarging it, and also arranging an expedition against the enemy at Crown Point, when, to his astonishment, he learned from his scouts that they had abandoned that post also, and fled down the lake to Isle Aux Noix in the Richelieu or Sorel. Of his operations in that direction I shall hereafter write.

June 12.

June 25.

July 21.

July 26.

* Acadia was the ancient name of the whole country now comprehended within the boundaries of Nova Scotia, or New Scotland.

Ticonderoga and its Associations. Visit to the Ruins of the Fort. A living Soldier of the Revolution.


“I’m not romantic, but, upon my word,
There are some moments when one can't help feeling
As if his heart's chords were so strongly stirred
By things around him, that 'tis vain concealing
A little music in his soul still lingers,
Whene'er the keys are touched by Nature's fingers.”

ATURE always finds a chord of sympathy in the human heart harmoniously respondent to her own sweet music; and when her mute but eloquent language weaves in with its teachings associations of the past, or when, in the midst of her beauties, some crumbling monument of history stands hoary and oracular, stoicism loses its potency, and the bosom of the veriest churl is opened to the genial warmth of the sun of sentiment. Broken arches and ruined ramparts are always eloquent and suggestive of valiant deeds, even where their special teachings are not comprehended; but manifold greater are the impressions which they make when the patriotism we adore has hallowed them. To impressions like these the American heart is plastic while tarrying among the ruins of Ticonderoga, for there the first trophy of our war for independence was won, and there a soldier of the British realm first stooped a prisoner to the aroused colonists, driven to rebellion by unnatural oppression. A glimpse from the coach, of the gray old ruins of the fortress of “Ty,” as we neared the Pavilion, made us impatient as children to be among them. Our own curiosity was shared by a few others, and a small party of us left early and ascended the breast-works, over scattered fragments of the walls, and eagerly sought out the most interesting localities, by the aid of a small plan of the fort which I had copied for the occasion. Without a competent guide, our identifications were not very reliable, and our opinions were as numerous and diverse as the members of our party. We were about to send to the Pavilion for a guide and umpire, when a venerable, white-haired man, supported by a rude staff, and bearing the insignia of the “Order of Poverty,” came out from the ruins of the northern line of barracks, and offered his services in elucidating the confused subject before us. He was kind and intelligent, and I lingered with him among the ruins long after the rest of the party had left, and listened with pleasure and profit to the relation of his personal experience, and of his familiar knowledge of the scene around us. Isaac Rice was the name of our octogenarian guide, whose form and features, presented upon the next page, I sketched for preservation." Like scores of those who fought our battles for freedom, and lived the allotted term of human life, he is left in his evening twilight to depend upon the cold friendship of the world for sustenance, and to feel the practical ingratitude of a people reveling in the enjoyment which his privations in early manhood contributed to secure, He performed garrison duty at Ticonderoga under St. Clair, was in the field at Saratoga in 1777, and served a regular term in the army; but, in consequence of some lack of doc

*Mr. Rice sat down in the cool shadow of the gable of the western line of barracks while Isketched his person and the scenery in the distance. He is leaning against the wall, within a few feet of the entrance of the covert-way to the parade-ground, through which Allen and his men penetrated. In the middle ground is seen the wall of the ramparts, and beyond is the lake sweeping around the western extremity of Mount Independence, on the left beyond the steam-boat. For a correct apprehension of the relative position of Mount Independence to Ticonderoga, the reader is referred to the map, ante page 115.


Isaac Rice. Position of Affairs in the Colonies at the beginning of 1775. Secret Agent sent to Canada.

uments or some technical error, he lost his legal title to a pension, and at eighty-five years of age that feeble old soldier was obtaining a ---precarious support for himself from the freewill offerings of visitors to the ruins of the fortress where he was garrisoned when it stood in the pride of its strength, before Burgoyne scaled the heights of Mount Defiance. He is now alone, his family and kindred having all gone down into the grave. His elder brother, and the last of his race, who died in 1838, was one of the little band who, under Colonel Ethan Allen, surprised and captured Fort Ticonderoga in the spring of 1775. We will consider that event and its consequences before further examining the old ruins around us. The contempt with which the loyal and respectful addresses of the first Continental Congress of 1774 were treated by the

at Boston, and

o ( British ministry and a majority in Par- o 22 A co- of other colo

liament; the harsh measures adopted by nial governthe government early in 1775, to coerce ~ % ors, convinced the colonists into submission, and the (No. 2e. 5 the Americans

methodical tyranny of General Gage that an appeal to arms was inevitable. They were convinced, also, that the province of Quebec, or Canada, would remain loyal," and that there would be a place of rendezvous for British troops when the colonies should unite in open and avowed rebellion. The strong fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point formed the key of all communication between New York and Canada, and the vigilant patriots of Massachusetts, then the very hot-bed of rebellion, early perceived the necessity of securing these posts the moment hostilities should commence. Early in March, Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren, members of the Committee of Correspondence of Boston, sent a secret agent into Canada to ascertain the opinions and temper of the people of that province concerning the great questions at issue and the momentous

• On the 26th of October, 1774, the Congress adopted an address to the people of Canada, recounting the grievances the American colonies suffered at the hands of the parent country, and including that province in the category of the oppressed, urging them to affiliate in a common resistance. But its Legislative Assembly made no response, and Congress construed their silence into a negative.—Journals of Congress, i., 55

« PreviousContinue »