Witness the French Military Campaign to Capture Lake George on 260th Anniversary

Join Fort Ticonderoga for a one-day living history event Saturday, March 25th to witness how French soldiers, Canadians, and Native warriors prepare for an attack on Fort William Henry on March 16, 1757. From wool leggings and moccasins to snowshoes and toboggans, explore traditional tools and supplies that were vital to winter survival on the frontier of New France. Discover France’s military situation and their strategy against the British as they entered 1757 with outnumbered troops and isolated by a blockade. How could they possibly overcome such odds?

“This living history event will highlight the story of the people who provided the groundwork and material to take Fort William Henry during a vicious winter attack in 1757,” said Beth Hill, President and CEO of Fort Ticonderoga. “Our commitment to bring the dramatic and real story of our past to life through unforgettable programs, such as this event, is an opportunity to share with our visitors the importance of this place in the Atlantic world in the 18th century.”

Highlighted programs including tours, living history demonstrations, historic trades, weapons demonstrations, and fife and drum corps performances throughout the day transform Ticonderoga into the year 1757 and bring this dramatic story to life when the British and French Empires were vying over this strategic region in North America.

Weapons demonstrations go beyond loading and firing to explore how weapons designed for European warfare served in winter raids in America. Tour through the Fort Ticonderoga of today and see what materials were used to construct strong fortified walls. Join museum staff for a presentation that examines the rich story of regiments of French soldiers who built and defended Carillon, later named Ticonderoga. Listen to the stirring tunes that directed the soldiers’ day and eased long bitter winter campaigns during Fife and Drum Corps performances.

Admission to the event is $10 for the general public and free to Fort Ticonderoga Members, Ambassador Pass holders, and children age four and under. For the full event schedule, visit http://www.fortticonderoga.org/events/fort-events/four-divisions-formed-at-fort-carillon-rigaud-s-attack-of-fort-william-henry/detail.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo: Credit: Fort Ticonderoga. The Four Divisions Formed at Fort Carillon Living History Event will take place on March 25th at Fort Ticonderoga.

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Students from the North Country District Advance to New York State History Day

Twenty-five middle and high school students from New York’s North Country District won top prizes at the North Country History Day that took place on Saturday, March 4th at Fort Ticonderoga. The event was held in the Mars Education Center. These students will advance to compete at the New York State History Day in Cooperstown on April 24th.

“It is so rewarding to see students so passionate about history,” said Rich Strum, Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Education and North Country’s Regional Coordinator for New York State History Day. “History Day provides students with an opportunity to delve into a topic which interests them while also relating to an annual theme. This year’s theme is ‘Taking a Stand in History.’ Students explored a number of historic events, eras, and people that reflected that theme.”

National History Day is the nation’s leading program for history education in schools. The program annually engages 2 million people in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.

Teachers and students from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, and Warren counties interested in participating in North Country History Day during the 2017-18 school year should contact Rich Strum at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org or at (518) 585-6370. Next year’s timeline is “Conflict and Compromise in History.”

Junior Division (Grades 6-8) North Country Regional winners include:

  • Leylanis Perez, from Gouverneur Central School, placed first in the Historical Paper category with her paper “The Civil War: From Preserving the Union to Abolition.”
  • Aiden Breckenridge, Cole Siebels, and Christopher Weaver, from Gouverneur Central School, placed first in the Group Documentary category with their documentary “The Twentieth Maine and the Stand that Saved the Union.”
  • Kolby Wells and Lauren McCarthy, from Gouverneur Central School, placed first in the Group Performance category with their performance “Malala Yousafzai: Standing Up for Girls’ Education around the Globe.”
  • Jaelyn Stevens, Sean Farrand, and Felicia Tallon, from Gouverneur Central School, placed second in the Group Performance category with their performance “Stand Up for Civil Rights Talk Show.”
  • Kathryn Moran, from St. Mary’s School in Ticonderoga, placed first in the Individual Exhibit category with her exhibit “Rosa Parks.”
  • Riley Seaman, from Gouverneur Central School, placed second in the Individual Exhibit category with her exhibit “Queen Elizabeth I Takes a Stand for England.”
  • Janay Smith and Grace Mashaw, from Gouverneur Central School, placed first in the Group Exhibit category with their exhibit “The Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s Stand Against Slavery.”
  • Randi Griffith, Elizabeth Riutta, and Drew Jenkins, from Gouverneur Central School, placed second in the Group Exhibit category with their exhibit “Hippocrates Takes a Stand.”
  • Alex Clancy, from Gouverneur Central School, placed first in the Individual Website category with his website “Susan B. Anthony: Taking a Stand for Women’s Rights.”
  • Skylar Barber, from St. Mary’s School in Ticonderoga, placed second in the Individual Website category with her website “Protecting the Environment: The Establishment of the National Park Service.”
  • Clayton Wilhelm and Jackson Wilhelm, homeschool students from Glens Falls, New York, placed first in the Group Website category with their website “How Men Stood Up for Women.”

Senior Division (Grades 9-12) North Country Regional winners include:

  • Jacob Andre, from Peru Central School, placed first in the Historical Paper category with his paper “John Brown and the Fight for Freedom: The Events that Sparked a Country’s Divide.”
  • Ray Bryant, from Moriah Central School, placed first in the Individual Documentary category with his documentary “The Burden of a Generation.”
  • Grace Sayward, Liam Sayward, Trent Yourdon, and Ben Caito, homeschool students from Essex and Clinton counties, placed first in the Group Documentary category with their documentary “Fanny Hall.”
  • Nicholad Manfred, Sophie Bryant, and Samantha Staples, from Moriah Central School, placed first in the Group Exhibit category for their exhibit “The Awakening of Omniscience: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Stance Against the Gulag.”
  • Mackenzie Peters, Jonathan Gibbs, Sarah Anderson, and Dyani Bryant, from Moriah Central School, placed second in the Group Exhibit category for their exhibit “Malala, the Girl Who did the Unthinkable.”

A special prize for the best use of primary sources, sponsored by the New York State Archives and the New York State Archives Partnership, was awarded to Grace Sayward, Liam Sayward, Trent Yourdon, and Ben Caito, from North Country Homeschoolers, for their documentary “Fanny Hall.” A special prize for the Junior Division entry that best addressed the theme of “Taking a Stand in History, sponsored by the Adirondack Torch Club, was awarded to Randi Griffith, Elizabeth Riutta, and Drew Jenkins, from Gouverneur Central School, for their exhibit “Hippocrates Takes a Stand.”

Participating schools included Gouverneur Central School, Moriah Central School, Peru Central School, and St. Mary’s School (Ticonderoga) as well as home school students from North Country Homeschooling in Clinton County and Edison Academy Homeschool in Warren County.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo: Credit: Fort Ticonderoga. Grace Mashaw and Janay Smith, from Gouverneur Central School, placed first in the Group Exhibit category with their exhibit “The Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s Stand Against Slavery” during the 2017 North Country History Day at Fort Ticonderoga.

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Fort Ticonderoga Offers Scholarships for Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War

Fort Ticonderoga offers four middle or high school teachers the opportunity to attend the Twenty-Second Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 19-21, 2017, on scholarships. With a panel of distinguished historians from across the United States, this seminar focuses on the Seven Years’ War in North America, also known as the French & Indian War. The War College takes place in the Mars Education Center and is open to the public; pre-registration is required. The scholarships are available for educators who are first-time attendees at the War College

Begun in 1996, the War College of the Seven Years’ War has become the premier seminar on the French & Indian War in the United States. 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.

Since 2001, Fort Ticonderoga has provided scholarships for 68 teachers from across the United States to attend the War College, and a total of 130 teacher scholarships to attend seminars and conferences at Ticonderoga.

Teachers interested in applying for a scholarship to attend this year’s War College can download an application at www.fortticonderoga.org by clicking on “Education” and selecting “Educators” on the drop down menu. Applications are due by March 15th. Successful applicants will receive free registration, two box lunches, and an opportunity to dine with the War College speakers at a private dinner on the Saturday of the War College. Contact Rich Strum, Director of Education, at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org if you have questions.

Non-teachers can register to attend the War College as well. The cost is $130 if registering before March 15th; $155 after that date. There are discounts for Members of Fort Ticonderoga. Registration forms can be downloaded from the Fort’s website at www.fortticonderoga.org by clicking on “Education” and selecting “Workshops and Seminars” on the drop down menu. Printed copies are available by calling (518) 585-2821.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo:  Fort Ticonderoga presents the Twenty-Second Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 19-21, 2017. Registration is now open for this annual seminar focused on the French & Indian War in North America. Early Bird Registration—with a savings of $25—closes March 15th.

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French Architecture at Carillon focus of Fort Fever Series Program March 12th

Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” continues on Sunday, March 12th, at 2:00 p.m. with “Basse Ville: Vernacular Architecture of the Lower Town at Carillon,” presented by Assistant Director of Interpretation, Nicholas Spadone. The cost is $10 per person and can be purchased at the gate; Fort Ticonderoga Members and Ambassador Pass Holders are admitted free of cost. The program will take place in the Mars Education Center.

This Fort Fever presentation will examine the vernacular architecture of Ticonderoga’s temporary structures and shed light on how the peninsula appeared from 1755-1759.

“Today, the impressive stone fort protrudes on the peninsula prinently,” said Nicholas Spadone, Assistant Director of Interpretation. “Much less known are dozens of temporary structures that dotted the landscape during the French occupation at Carillon, later named Ticonderoga. What remains of those structures are simply stone foundations or merely a drawing on a map. However, new research has revealed the structure’s rich story.”

The “Fort Fever Series” is just one of several programs taking place at Fort Ticonderoga this winter and early spring. Clothing and Accoutrements Workshops are offered March 11 & 12 and April 8 & 9. Fort Ticonderoga presents the living history event “Four Divisions formed at Fort Carillon: Rigaud’s Attack of Fort William Henry” on March 25th. The Sixth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium will be held on April 8th. You can learn more about all of these programs by visiting www.fortticonderoga.org. Some programs require advanced registration.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo:  French vernacular architecture at Carillon will be the topic of the next Fort Fever Series program on Sunday, March 12, 2017, at 2:00 P.M. presented by Assistant Director of Interpretation, Nicholas Spadone. Admission is $10; free for Members of Fort Ticonderoga and Ambassador Pass Holders.

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Area Students to Compete at North Country History Day

A student from St. Mary’s School talks with judges about her project at last year’s North Country History Day. On March 4th, 60 students will compete at Fort Ticonderoga, representing the region at New York State History Day in Cooperstown in late April.

Sixty students from across the North Country will compete in the regional New York State History Day contest held in the Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga on Saturday, March 4th. Students placing first and second in their categories will advance to the New York State History Day Contest in Cooperstown on April 24th. This year, our presenters are from Clinton, Essex, St. Lawrence, and Warren counties.

Participants research history topics of their choice related to an annual theme and create exhibits, documentaries, performances, research papers, and website designs to present to a panel of judges. This year’s theme is ‘Taking a Stand in History.’

Students may enter in competition at the regional, state, and national level. Participants include students in grades 6-8 in the Junior Division and grades 9-12 in the Senior Division. National History Day also provides educational services to students and teachers, including a summer internship program, curricular materials, internet resources, and annual teacher workshops and training institutes.

“Each year two million students from across the United States participate in the National History Day program,” noted Rich Strum, Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Education and North Country History Day Regional Coordinator. “Recent research shows that students who participate in the National History Day program consistently outperform their peers in state standardized tests, not only in social studies, but in science and math as well. Students learn valuable research and critical-thinking skills essential to success in today’s business world.”

Members of the public are invited to view student projects from 1:00 pm-3:15 pm. Student-created performances run from 1:15 pm-2:15 pm, and exhibits are open from 2:15 pm-3:15 pm. The public can also attend the Awards Ceremony at 3:15 pm.

There is no charge to attend North Country History Day. Donor support makes possible this program and many others offered at Fort Ticonderoga throughout the year.

To learn more about North Country History Day and how students can participate, visit www.fortticonderoga.org and on the “Education” tab select “Students.”

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

 

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Calling all GROUPS!

It’s time to turn the page and experience all that 2017 has to offer. Whether you are planning a school field trip, a group outing, a youth overnight experience, or a scout day trip, Fort Ticonderoga has something to make each trip an unforgettable experience! Here are 19 ideas along with useful information to help you plan an extraordinary visit:

  1. More opportunities to explore the beauty of the site.

Bring your group to experience the sweeping vistas of Vermont’s Green Mountains and New York’s Adirondack Mountains combined with the captivating views of Lake Champlain. The scenery alone makes for a picture perfect trip—any time of year!

  1. A new year – a new experience!

Did you bring a group here last year? Every year is a new experience at Fort Ticonderoga thanks to our rich history and talented staff!

2017 is 1757: Have you heard of the book, “Last of the Mohicans?” Discover the real story of 1757. Imagine Fort Carillon (later named Ticonderoga) filled inside and out with French soldiers, native warriors, and cannon preparing to take the fight for New France all the way up Lake George.

  1. Let’s get personal!

Fort Ticonderoga’s professional interpretive staff offers historical introduction tours that pertain to whatever your group’s interest is. Whether your group loves the beauty of the breathtaking King’s Garden, or seeks adventure in our military history, introductory tours make any group trip more memorable and personalized.

  1. Get out of the classroom and onto our 2000 acre learning campus.

Teachers, it’s time to plan an unforgettable day for your students! The To Act as One United Body program is just one special way to bring history to life! You’ll be delighted watching your students portray the soldiers they learn about in their history books. This is a dynamic activity and great for students of all ages!

  1. Did somebody say lunch?

Enjoy fresh farm-to-table meals with a view! America’s Fort Café, located inside the Log House Welcome Center, is a favorite stop for groups! Whether your group wants to dine in and relish in the beauty of the lake and mountains—or pre-order boxed lunches to enjoy at a picnicking area on site (our favorite is in the King’s Garden), fresh salads from our gardens, homemade soups, and other specials are sure to delight anyone’s taste buds! Beer and wine is available.

  1. The show must go on!

So…you scheduled your group’s visit months before the visit date and now the day is here and it’s…raining. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Fort Ticonderoga is a rain or shine facility and we won’t let a little rain get in the way of your special day! Explore our world-class museum collection in our exhibition galleries.

  1. Living History.

It’s right out of the history books—you can’t go wrong! Our staff brings to you the latest research straight from our museum collections to create a one of a kind experience. Be sure to attend a program too!

  1. A field trip that will go down in history.

A field trip this spring provides an energizing experience for your students. Students can engage with our historic trades, interact with our staff portraying French soldiers at Ticonderoga during the French & Indian War, watch a weapons demonstration, explore exhibits, and immerse themselves in our beautiful landscape. Consider one of our special programs to expand your experience.

  1. The King’s Garden – do we need to say more?

One of the most popular places at Fort Ticonderoga for groups is the magnificent King’s Garden. The walled colonial revival flower garden designed by Marian Kruger Coffin, takes your breath away with its fragrance and vibrant colors. Be sure to capture the picture-perfect beauty of the “Young Diana” statue by Anna Hyatt Huntington which graces the reflecting pool in the center of the garden.  Also, explore the discovery gardens outside the walls which always delight children of all ages including the Children’s Garden, the Garrison Garden, the farm to table garden, and more! This is a perfect location to have a picnic lunch from our America’s Fort Café featuring nothing else but fresh produce from the garden!

  1. Is that you down there?

How about the experience of viewing Fort Ticonderoga atop historic Mount Defiance? With guided tours offered daily and self-guided exploration permitted from 9:30-4:30, this general admission ticket-included experience allows you to gain a bird’s eye view of the fort and all the beauty that surrounds it. There is even a picnic pavilion at the top where we welcome you to enjoy your lunch or a tasty snack!

  1. Attention scouts!

Enroll your troop in the Planting the Tree of Liberty program where they are immersed in the daily routine of the Continental soldiers garrisoning Fort Ticonderoga in the weeks after the capture of the fort by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold in 1775.  Boy and Girl scouts form a platoon of soldiers, learning teamwork and discipline as they undergo a typical day in the life of soldiers. They learn about the training used to prepare soldiers to meet a powerful enemy, what soldiers ate, where they slept, and experience the confusion of battle.

  1. “What if our group can’t make it between 9:30-5?”—I’m glad you asked.

Fort Ticonderoga offers incredible evening experiences, from a sunset cruise aboard M/V Carillon to the flash of musketry and roar of cannon fire during the Guns by Night program; this will be an experience your group will never forget!

  1. Shoemaking, tailoring, carpentry, oh my!

Witness the production of soldier-life necessities right up close and personal! The Historic Trades Shops provide groups with information, demonstrations, and reasoning behind the technique, material used and strategies of the 18th century French solider.

  1. Ah-mazing!

40% of Fort Ticonderoga’s 2000 is farm land today.  The site’s agricultural history dates back to pre-European contact.  The story continues today, and as part of that, is our very unique 6 acre Heroic Maze where groups receive a special rate!  Every year the maze has a new design shaped in the likeness of the fort.  Explore this life-size puzzle while tackling questions related to Fort Ticonderoga’s story.  You may want to brush up on your history by taking a tour before you try to conquer the maze.  Also be sure to include Maze by Moonlight on your late fall calendar. This experience is great for young and old alike!

  1. All aboard!

Give your group the waterway adventure of a lifetime aboard the luxurious M/V Carillon. During your 90-minute tour, discover the centuries of stories shared by your on-board narrator about historic Lake Champlain and its important role in North American history and the founding of America.

  1. We know we are the best at special events!

Not to brag, but… we know that we put on the best special events out there. Schedule your group visit on the day of an event and get swept into the action! From battle re-enactments to living history events to the Heritage, Harvest & Horse Festival, your group is sure to experience an adventure they will never forget! Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar for different options throughout the year!

  1. Artificer’s Apprentice.

During this program, your students learn the historic trades of carpentry, tailoring, saddlery, and shoemaking. Fort Ticonderoga opens just for you and your students for this special hands-on program. Rotating through four stations, students learn about the local and global economy that supplied the leather, cloth, and other materials used by artificers to clothe, arm, and supply soldiers at Fort Ticonderoga. Students pick up needle and thread, hammer and saw, and work alongside our staff.

  1. We will come to you!

One of our absolute favorite things to share is the history of Fort Ticonderoga and its importance in the founding of our nation.  Our dedicated education and interpretive staff members travel to schools in New York, Vermont, and beyond to engage youth in a multi-disciplined hands-on program that provokes thought and yes, is fun!

  1. Scouting overnights.

How many people get to say they have stayed the night at Fort Ticonderoga? Give your troop the opportunity of a lifetime by scheduling an overnight trip that comes with an entire activity itinerary. They eat a soldier’s dinner, prepared on the soldiers’ camp kitchen or on the hearth. Similarly, scouts begin their morning with a simple soldiers’ breakfast before launching into another day of exploration. Spots are limited, don’t miss out!

For more information and reserving your group visit, contact our Group Tour Coordinator at rwiktorko@fort-ticonderoga.org or (518) 585-2821.

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Bed Rugs, Blankets, Bolsters, and Berths

As a crowd walks into the barracks at Ticonderoga one person shouts out “I would never want to sleep here, that bed looks so uncomfortable!”  For visitors and re-enactors alike, this is often the first thought upon seeing beds, which at a glance look very different than the modern mattress and box springs.  But, just how comfortable or uncomfortable were these beds for soldiers trying to sleep over 200 years ago?

Even after the French and Indian War, British soldiers guarded posts through the interior of North America. Not surprisingly, these posts required furniture and bedding to house these soldiers.

In July of 1759, French Fort Carillon, was blown up and burnt as French troops retreated north. Following the destruction of Fort Carillon, British and American provincial soldiers rebuilt this French fort as Fort Ticonderoga, including the barracks inside. After just a year of British reconstruction, French forces in Canada surrendered in Montreal. Still, the British Army continued to build and maintain the fort’s barracks to house British soldiers in this region of North America.  Even in the peace that followed the 1763 Treaty of Paris, ending the global French & Indian War, Fort Ticonderoga’s barracks continued to house detachments of British soldiers, like Captain William Delaplace’s guard of the 26th Regiment of Foot, who were awoken from their beds by Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys.

Between 1759 and 1762, carpenters labored away to create proper beds for the barracks space. The, “Return of Bedding, Utencels, &c In my Charge Belonging to the Crown at Ticonderoga 1st May 1762,” listed 101 beds. While no records survive to describe the size or construction of the beds at Ticonderoga, those built at British Fort Number Four were described with their dimensions in 1759. The return of the, “Necessaries to be provided for soldiers… at [Fort]No. 4,” defined them as, “…berths four feet wide & six feet two inches long within the boards.”

“Berth” was the designated word to describe the place where one slept in, or the bed itself.  A profile view of the barracks at Half Moon, NY in 1757 depicts beds that are double, akin to modern bunk beds.  The only way to fit 101 beds inside the barracks of Fort Ticonderoga was exactly that, doubled like bunk beds. These beds would have been constructed just like other contemporary military pieces of furniture would have been.  Four end posts of oak or other hardwood would house a series of mortise holes to accept boards from all four sides.  In-between, smaller oak boards were joined into those posts with tenons, and held secure with wooden pins.  Between these boards, lying level will the ground, were more hardwood boards that created the berth. This simply made up the physical space for the soldier to sleep.

Bedding, provided by the British army, made these wooden boards into comfortable berths for soldiers.  A letter dated March 20th, 1766, from the Barrack Master General in North America; General James Robertson derived a, “Proposal for furnishing the Kings Barracks…in America with Beddings and Furniture.” Robertson proposed a system of bedding and furnishings for his Majesty’s barracks rooms.

A room for non Commissioned officer and soldiers is to contain at least twelve men and is to be furnished in the following manner—six bed cases and six bolster cases to be filled with straw, twelve blankets, six coverlets, two iron potts, two trammels, a pair of tongs, a fire shovel, a pair of dogs, two cross bars, a hatchet, a candlestick, a table, two benches, and a bucket….. as bedding can be had in England for one half of what it could cost here, this should be got from England immediately, that what is wanted may be sent to the post before winter….All the different articles should be mark’d with GR and a Crown in undelible colors, or some stripes of thread to distinguish them should be wove in by the maker.

An August 1783 return of “Barack Beding wanted,” for barracks in the Province of Quebec described the bed cases and bolsters in further detail.

The bed cases were of strong osnaburg linen six and one half feet in length by four and one half feet in width… bolsters four and one half feet long by one and one half feet broad. While the dimensions of the bed case appear larger than the dimension of the bed itself, when filled with straw the bed case would expand in thickness, and reduce in width and length. These dimensions ensured the filled bed case fit firmly inside the boards of the bed. Bed cases were made open at one end so that they could be filled with straw.

Two beds or, ‘berths,’ were stacked together as bunks. By regulation, each of these berths was for two soldiers.

The case would then be coarsely sewn or basted closed until it was time to change out the straw again. The long cylindrical linen bolster laid across the top of the bed case. When filled, this bolster was akin to a modern pillow, but large and firm enough to raise the soldier up at a slight angle. With twelve soldiers assigned to a room with six beds, the 1766 orders from the Barracks Master General assume there would be two soldiers sharing a berth. This may sound cramped to a modern reader, but it is worth considering that a typical British soldiers’ tent housed an average of five to six soldiers. Likewise, contemporary French army regulations assigned three soldiers to a similar sized bed.

While much later than the period of 1775, records during the War of 1812 indicate the continuation of this mode of bedding, including some great details on other pieces for a proper army bed.

The Commissariat Record for 1814

Ordered for the Barrack Dept.

Blankets (6 ft broad and 7 ½ ft long)—40,000

Rugs, Green Knotted—18,000

Sheets of Russia Sheeting—36,000 pairs

Paillasses[bed cases] of Oznaburg (6ft by 7 ½ ft)—18,000

Bolsters of Oznaburg (1 ½ ft by 4 ½ ft)—18,000

To be stamped each with durable marking stuff (G.R.) in each corner.

Eight original British barrack blankets still exist today, one of which resides in the Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum.  Robert Stone, master weaver, examined these original examples.  His findings indicate that each blanket was made of white wool, heavily knapped, has the marking “GR” and are woven with two stripes on each end, exactly as proposed by the Barracks Master General back in 1766.  All such blankets varied from 75” to 90” in length and 60” to 72” in width and could easily fit over the bed case and sheets and still be tucked in neatly.

Each barracks room at Ticonderoga was filled with six berths as well as a table and two benches for twelve soldiers. Strict regulations required adequate room for furniture, gear, and living space.

The coverlets described by General James Robertson are likely better understood as bed rugs.  In August of 1765, Thomas Gage, Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in North America ordered that, “The Furniture of a Barrack Room to consist of Six Palais[bed cases], Six Coverlids or Rugs, Twelve Blankets…”General Gage noted, “Coverlids or Rugs,” indicating they actually mean the same thing.  Moreover, Samuel Johnson’s, “Dictionary of the English Language”, published in 1755, and described bed rugs as, “a coarse nappy coverlet used for mean beds.” With strikingly similar bedding requirements in the 1814 Commissariat Record to those from 1765, it is quite likely that bed rugs or coverlids at Ticonderoga in 1775 were literally rugs, with a deep pile of green yarns knotted onto backing canvas.

According to the Commissariat Record for 1814, heavy-duty sheets were commonplace. However, their use in the 1760s and 1770s was less frequent. Commander in Chief of British Forces in North America, General Thomas Gage, was ambivalent about their use in barracks berths in his August 10, 1765 orders.

At such Barracks where sheets are now provided, one pair of clean sheets is to be furnish’d for each Bed of the Non Commission’d Officers and Soldiers, once every thirty days, for which they are to pay two pence Sterling no more sheeting will be provided than what the Barracks are already furnish’d with.

Welbore Ellis, Secretary at War, shared General Gage’s skepetism about the utility of sheets in barracks room. In a letter to General Gage received September 6, 1765, Secretary Ellis pointedly stated his thoughts on bed sheets.

The Article of Sheets I thought might very well be saved to the Crown; The Soldier will not find the want of them unless He is used to them, He will be much fitter for service without them, and it is better He shou’d not be used to them.

Given that no sheets appear on any return at Ticonderoga between 1759 and 1765, and no new sheets were provided to barracks without, it is likely that the beds never had any sheets.

Imagine a double wooden berth inside the barracks at Ticonderoga.  Inside each berth lay an oznaburg bed case filled with straw.  At the head of each bed lay a round bolster also filled with straw. To cover those was one of the large white blankets, tucked in neatly on all sides. Next, the two soldiers assigned to the bunk would find their cozy place inside. On top of the soldiers lay another large wool blanket and a green bed rug to cover everything.  Does this sound comfortable yet?

By the time of the 26th Regiment’s arrival at Ticonderoga in the 1770s, layers of boards, oznaburg, straw, and wool helped to outfit the 101 berths with a pleasant means of bedding. According to records and regulations, the barracks at Ticonderoga could feasibly house just over 200 soldiers.  Yet, the reality is that only 18 soldiers and an equal number of wives and children were stationed at Ticonderoga in the winter of 1775.  Given those ratios, each person would have their own bed.  Even when more reinforcements of the 26th Regiment arrived in April, there was still plenty of bedding to accommodate all the soldiers, wives, and children within.

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Registration Now Open for Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War at Fort Ticonderoga

Registration is now open for Fort Ticonderoga’s Twenty-Second Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War, May 19-21, 2017. With a panel of distinguished historians from across the United States, this seminar focuses on the Seven Years’ War in North America, also known as the French & Indian War. The War College takes place in the 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 the premier seminar on the French & Indian War in the United States. 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:

  • Brady J. Crytzer, Robert Morris University, “The Kittanning Raid of 1756: The Politics of Indian War and the End of Pennsylvania’s Peaceable Kingdom.”
  • John M. Dixon, College of Staten Island, City University of New York, “Colden’s War: A View from the New York Frontier.”
  • Joseph Gagné, Laval University, “Unconquered: Two French Retreats to Louisiana in 1760.”
  • Paul Kelton, University of Kansas, “Disease Diplomacy: How Rumors of Smallpox, Outbreaks, and Diabolical Schemes Shaped the Course of Empire in North America.”
  • David MacDonald, Illinois State University (retired), “French Illinois and the Seven Years’ War.”
  • Gary G. Shattuck, researcher, “Colonel Ephraim Williams and the ‘Bloody Morning Scout’: An Evolution in Colonial Warfare.”
  • Jessica L. Wallace, George College & State University, “‘A Little Stumbling Block’: The Cherokee War and Challenges of Alliance on the Southern Frontier.”

The War College will also feature a presentation by Matthew Keagle, Fort Ticonderoga Museum’s Curator. His presentation “Breaking the Rules and Dressing the Part: Dress and Traditions of Light Troops by the Seven Years’ War” explores the European precedents for both dress and operations of specialist troops in North America. European soldiers who found themselves in North America had both practical and theoretical experience with a wide range of irregulars from the fringes of the Western world and in ways both explicit and subconscious they drew on those sources during the war in America.

A Saturday evening program by Researcher George A. Bray III will highlight “Lieutenant Colonel John Bradstreet and the Fall of Fort Frontenac.”

Sunday’s sessions conclude with an optional boat cruise aboard M/V Carillon to explore the events of 1759 on Lake Champlain. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis to War College participants.

Registration for the War College is now open at $145 ($120 for those registering by March 15th); additional discounts available for Members of Fort Ticonderoga. Registration forms can be downloaded from our website at www.fortticonderoga.org under the “Education” tab by selecting “Workshops and Seminars” on the drop down menu and then clicking on the War College. A printed copy is also available upon request by contacting the Business Office at 518-585-2821.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo:  Registration is now open for Fort Ticonderoga’s Twenty-Second Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 19-21, 2017. Early Bird Registration—with a saving of $25—closes March 15th. Register Today!

 

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Signs of the Times

Americans were hitting the road in the years after World War II. The post-war economic upswing in the United States allowed for more consumerism and leisure time, and what better way to take part in the flourishing of America than the great family road trip. The authorization of the Interstate Highway System in 1956 would lead to construction of thousands of miles of highway roads. The “Adirondack Northway,” the corridor of I-87 that runs from Albany to the Canadian border and the major highway closest to Fort Ticonderoga, was finished by 1967. As these roadways expanded, conveniences and entertainment along routes followed—gas stations, motels, even strange roadside curiosities. But for most travelers, these roads brought them to their ultimate destination: majestic landscapes, historic monuments, and sites celebrating the country’s patriotism. Here, Fort Ticonderoga stood (and still stands today) as the best site in America to tell the story of the origins of the nation’s military and its role in the founding of our country.

The Fort Ticonderoga Museum opened to the public on July 6, 1909. A look into the museum’s early Visitor Record book shows travelers coming from as far as Ohio, Missouri, Texas, and in August of 1913, even Sydney, Australia. While curious visitors have walked the ruins on the Ticonderoga peninsula as early as the 1790’s, there was the new draw of the museum in the rebuilt Barracks and an extensive object collection. The Museum Notes section of the Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, started in January of 1927 by founder Stephen H.P. Pell, kept readers up to date with recent collection acquisitions. Over the first half of the 20th century, the museum acquired numerous objects either owned by figures connected to the fort’s history or reflecting, in general, the two wartime eras of the site. As the history of the site grew, so too, did other parts of the campus. The wider entrance area would include a post office, gas station, and lodgings. An old house outside the entrance gate was converted by Curator Eleanor Murray into the Black Watch Lodge. The growing group of American road trippers had much to experience at the ‘Old Fort,’ and what better way to direct and teach travelers than nice, helpful (and even colorful) signage.

Two members of the collections catalog team, Tabitha and Persis, hanging the Entrance sign in our collections storage facility.

The Fort Ticonderoga Museum’s focus on collecting material culture of the 18th century still remains, but in its one-hundred-year history, the museum itself has produced its own cultural heritage. Now, years later, these objects have taken on their own symbolic meaning as part of the institution’s history. A team of collections catalogers, hired through a major Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant, have been busy cleaning, photographing, and cataloging a variety of these collections, including mid-20th century informational and destination signs from the main campus and in-town locations. No doubt, some of these signs can be found in the back of old family road trip photographs!

Many of the signs date from the 1920’s through 1960’s and are made from wood and bright paint. Popular colors include rich earthy green and brown. A photograph from the 1950’s shows the signs “ENTRANCE FORT & MUSEUM” and “OPEN 9 A.M. CLOSED 6 P.M.” hanging on the stone pillars to the site’s entrance. Other signs direct to destinations that developed in the wake of Fort Ticonderoga and were later acquired by the museum: “FORT MOUNT HOPE 1/2M.” and “THE BURGOYNE TRAIL TO MOUNT DEFIANCE.” The 4-foot tall “THE BLACK WATCH LODGE” sign would have (hopefully) caught the eye of guests about to enter the grounds. These signs have now been accessioned into our museum collections management database, which holds digital records and photographs of the museum’s collection.

The Tea Room opened up in the Log House in the 1920s and served as family-friendly stop for refreshments.

Inside the main campus, informational signs gave facts about the British 6-Pounder Knox gun or Punishments for infractions and crimes committed by soldiers. In the 1920’s and 30’s, a sign sporting “THE LOG HOUSE TEA ROOM” directed hungry visitors to the site’s own version of a family-friendly roadside eating establishment. Today, the Log House now holds the America’s Fort Café and is a living reminder of the first generation of site orientation, refreshments, and cultural tourism on the campus. As our institution has expanded on research and visitor hospitalities, older signs have been changed out for new and updated versions. And though no longer having their original use, these older signs now are part of their own history – as part of a more than century-old museum. Unlike like the “CLOSED FOR THE SEASON “sign now hanging in collections storage, we remain open year round for events with daily visitation starting May 6th. Make sure to plan your family road trip for 2017 season and don’t forget to check out some of our signs!

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant # MA-30-16-0178-16.

 

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1775 BRITISH GARRISON AT TICONDEROGA FEBRUARY 18TH LIVING HISTORY EVENT

Join Fort Ticonderoga for a one-day living history event Saturday, February 18th, highlighting British garrison life in February 1775, three months before Ticonderoga was pulled into the American War of Independence.  Be part of the action as living history demonstrations feature the weapons, tactics, trades,and people during peacetime at the fort.  From blanket coats, to fur caps and mittens, discover the special clothing and equipment needed for service in Canada and along Lake Champlain.

Admission to the event is $10 for the general public and free to Fort Ticonderoga Members, Ambassador Pass holders, and children age four and under. For the full event schedule, visit http://www.fortticonderoga.org/events/fort-events/living-history-event-1775-british-garrison-at-ticonderoga/detail.

Highlighted programming throughout the day brings to life the routine of soldiers in the 26th Foot and their wives and families who made their homes inside the walls of the fort. Weapons demonstrations allow you to go beyond loading and firing to discuss what military traditions remained and what tactical innovations were standard on the eve of the Revolutionary War. Tour through the reconstructed Fort Ticonderoga of today and see what made this much vaunted fortification so vulnerable to be captured by the Green Mountain Boys in the spring of 1775. Join Matthew Keagle, Fort Ticonderoga Museum Curator, for a presentation that traces the experiences of the 15 different regiments that held Ticonderoga for Britain.

“This living history event will highlight the story of the people that provided the peacetime services and efforts to prepare Ticonderoga for war once again in 1775,” said Beth Hill, President and CEO of Fort Ticonderoga. “Our commitment to bringing the dramatic and real story of our past to life through unforgettable programs such as the 1775 British Garrison at Fort Ticonderoga is an opportunity to share with our visitors the importance of this place in the founding of America.”

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo: The 1775 British Garrison at Ticonderoga takes place February 18th at Fort Ticonderoga. Photo credit: Fort Ticonderoga.

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