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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“Vive le Roi!” French Regiments at Carillon focus of Fort Fever Series Program February 12th

 

Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” continues on Sunday, February 12th, at 2 p.m. with “Vive le Roi! French Regiments at Carillon,” presented by Senior Director of Interpretation, Stuart Lilie. Tickets are $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.

Most Americans have heard of the Black Watch and Inneskilling Regiments who served the British army at Ticonderoga. Much less well-known, but equally fascinating, are the regimental histories and traditions of the French army. During this “Fort Fever” program, Lilie will trace the rich history of the French army regiments who served at Carillon (later named Ticonderoga) by exploring their lineage and traditions that continue today.

“2017 is a French year at Ticonderoga,” said Lilie. “Our programming throughout the year will focus on the French soldiers that served the fortification in 1757, a year that highlights a fundamental shift in French tactics and native participation in the Seven Years’ War in America. This presentation will set the stage for our upcoming programs and highlight the legacy of these soldiers who travelled across the Atlantic to North America to fight for the French empire.”

“Each year Fort Ticonderoga focuses its programs on a specific year and regiment that served here historically,” said Beth Hill, President and CEO. “Through extensive research in the Fort Ticonderoga Museum collections, staff is able to recreate a very specific moment in Ticonderoga’s history and create new experiences for guests each year from the top of Mount Defiance, to the waters of Lake Champlain, to the fort and gardens. Because of this unique story telling approach, Ticonderoga has become a repeat must-see destination for people from across the United States.”

The “Fort Fever Series” is just one of several programs taking place at Fort Ticonderoga this winter and early spring. Clothing and Accoutrement Workshops are offered March 11 & 12 and April 8 & 9. Fort Ticonderoga presents living history events February 18th (1775 British Garrison at Ticonderoga) and March 25th (Four Divisions formed at Fort Carillon; Rigaud’s Attack of Fort William Henry). The Sixth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium will be held on April 8th. You can learn more about 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: The Fort Fever Series continues on February 12th as Senior Director of Interpretation, Stuart Lilie, goes into depth about the French Regiments at Carillon. Admission is $10; Fort Ticonderoga Members and Ambassador Pass Holders are admitted for free. 

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Fort Ticonderoga Receives Grant from International Paper for Shoreline Buffer Garden

The $1500 grant from International Paper in Ticonderoga will be used to purchase the plants, compost, and mulch for the shoreline buffer garden, and for the development and installation of interpretive signage. The garden will be open to the public beginning in May 2017. Copyright Fort Ticonderoga. Photo credit: Carl Heilman II.

The Ticonderoga International Paper Foundation has recently awarded Fort Ticonderoga a grant supporting a shoreline buffer garden designed to educate visitors on how native plants prevent erosion, provide a buffer on the Lake Champlain shore, and promote pollination. Specifically, the $1500 grant will be used to purchase the plants, compost, and mulch for the shoreline buffer garden, and for the development and installation of interpretive signage. The garden will be open to the public beginning in May 2017.

“Fort Ticonderoga is grateful to the International Paper Foundation and to our partners at the International Paper Mill at Ticonderoga for their support,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga’s President and CEO.  “The grant provides important funding for our horticultural program to create and interpret the new garden. We look forward to this opportunity to highlight our shared commitment to Lake Champlain’s regional environmental goals of land preservation and water quality.”

The shoreline buffer garden will be located at the entrance of the newly installed Fort Ticonderoga dock.  Beautifully situated in front of the historic 1826 Pell home, the Pavilion, the garden sits between the sweeping Pavilion front lawn and the stunning natural beauty of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains.

The new garden is an addition to a $350,000 waterfront recreation and maritime project that was completed in 2016. Fort Ticonderoga acquired the 60 ft M/V Carillon tour boat in 2015.  Boat tours embark from the 200 ft dock, which was installed in the summer of 2016. Daily tours, charters, and sunset cruises carry guests onto the historic waters of Lake Champlain from May through October.

“From the top of Mount Defiance, to the fort and the gardens, and onto Lake Champlain, Ticonderoga is the transformative American history experience that provides an unmatched combination of grand, immersive storytelling and breathtaking scenic beauty,” said Hill.

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

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Fort Ticonderoga Presents Sixth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium

The King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga presents the Sixth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium on Saturday, April 8th in the Mars Education Center. Geared for both beginning and experienced gardeners, this day-long symposium provides helpful insights from garden experts who live and garden in upstate New York and northern New England. This event is open by pre-registration only.

Focusing on easy-to-implement strategies for expanding and improving your garden or landscape, these programs are offered in an informal setting that encourages interaction between presenters and attendees.

This year’s featured speaker is Dr. Lee Reich, an advocate of “farmdening”—more than gardening, but less than farming. Dr. Reich conducted plant and soil research with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cornell University, and now writes, lectures, and consults. His farmden serves as a test site for innovative techniques in soil care, pruning, and growing fruits and vegetables. His presentation “Luscious Landscaping, with Fruiting Trees, Shrubs, and Vines” explores ways to beautify your yard and put local, healthful, and flavorful food on the table.

Dr. Leonard Perry, Fort Ticonderoga’s Horticulturist in Residence, will speak on “Deer in the Garden: Controls and Deterrents,” providing tricks to outsmart deer in a number of low-cost approaches. Dr. Perry is an emeritus professor of Horticulture at the University of Vermont and continues as a regular contributor to “Across the Fence” on WCAX television.

Dr. Annie White is the owner of Nectar Landscape Design Studio & Consulting in Burlington, Vermont. She is also a part-time lecturerof landscape design at the University of Vermont. Her presentation “Top Perennial Flowers for Attracting Pollinators in Northern Gardens” identifies some of the top flowering perennials that pollinators love and that flourish in northern gardens.

Riley Clark-Long is an Environmental Studies graduate of Connecticut College and was the 2016 Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellow in Horticulture in the King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga. His research based on the apple orchard adjacent to the King’s Garden identified important survivors of a different era in the history of American fruit cultivation and provides the basis for his presentation “The Pell Family Apple Orchard and the Golden Age of Pomological Diversity.”

Space for the Garden & Landscape Symposium is limited. The cost, including the day-long symposium and a lunch prepared by Libby’s Bakery Café, is $85 ($75 for Members of Fort Ticonderoga). There is an Early Bird rate for registrations received by March 15th: $75 ($65 for Members of Fort Ticonderoga).

A brochure with the complete schedule and registration form is available on Fort Ticonderoga’s website at www.fortticonderoga.org by selecting “Education” and then “Workshops and Seminars” on the drop-down menu. A printed copy is also available upon request by calling 518-585-2821.

The Garden & Landscape Symposium is one of numerous opportunities for continuing education for the public at Fort Ticonderoga in 2017. You can learn more about these programs, including the annual War College of the Seven Years’ War and the Seminar on the American Revolution, by visiting the Fort’s website at www.fortticonderoga.org and selecting “Education.”

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

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga presents the Sixth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium on April 8th in the Mars Education Center.

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Uncommon Sufferings

On the morning of January 21st, 1757, Robert Rogers and seventy-six of his officers and Rangers ambushed a column of French supply sleds headed from Fort Carillon towards Fort St. Frederic at Crown Point. Rogers’ Rangers successfully ambushed the front of the column. At the rear, French officers sent word to Fort Carillon, with a soldier riding a sleigh horse, cut from its harness. On hearing the news, Captain de Lusignan, the commandant at Carillon, sent out 100 French regulars, Canadians, and Native warriors to ambush Rogers’ Rangers on their escape back to Fort Edward.  By mid-day, Rogers’ men were surrounded and in a fire-fight lasting five and one- half hours. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the day closed with nearly total defeat.  News of the attack was recorded in the Journal of Louis Antoine de Bougainville which noted “the English seized the opportunity to retire in disorder leaving food, snowshoes, and 42 dead, 3 of them officers on the field of battle. Our people made 8 prisoners…” The publication Boston News Letter, printed on February 2nd, 1757, recorded Rogers’ account of the Battle and “A List of the Killed, Wounded and Taken.”

After a successful ambush on the morning of January 21st, 1757 Robert Rogers chose to halt, so that men and guns could dry out. Despite about two feet of snow on the ground, there were rain showers through the day.

Capt Robert Roger’s Company.
Capt. Robert Rogers, wounded in the Hand and Head.
Samuel Martin, badly wounded in the Belly and Hip.
Thomas Burnside, wounded thrugh the Hand.
Serj. James Henry, missing.
William Mirrice[Morris], missing.
Hugh Morrison, taken Prisoner.
Thomas Stinson, killed

Captain Spikeman’s Company.
Himself, killed.
Lieutenant Kennedy, killed.
Thomas Brown, killed.
Robert Avery, killed.
Samuel Fisk, killed.
Serjeant Morre, wounded slightly in the Arm.
John Catull, wounded in the Mouth.

Voluntiers.
Mr. Baker, of the 44th Regiment, killed.
Mr. Gardner, in my Company, killed.

Through the eyes of the reader, these names on a printed page were the aftermath of five and one- half hours of fighting. However, for many of the individuals whose names were printed on that page, the five and one-half hours of the battle were merely the beginning. Thomas Brown, a seventeen year-old Ranger from Charlestown, Massachusetts, was one of the unlucky captives. During the battle, Brown was the first Ranger to be shot, right through the body. His second wound came one hour into the battle, when he was shot in the knee, and crawled to the rear of his fellow rangers for cover. Shortly after, near the end of the battle, Brown took his last hit directly through the shoulder. By night fall, Rogers escaped with any men he could, leaving the wounded behind. For the wounded, this was the real fight for their lives. Ranger Thomas Brown survived to write about the immediate aftermath.

Roger’s Rangers themselves were ambushed by the French, who waited for them as the Rangers attempted to return south on the same path they used that morning. Fighting for the high ground, Rogers’ rangers managed to hold out for five and one-half hours.

Capt. Spikeman, one Baker and myself[Thomas Brown], all very badly wounded… All hope of Escape now vanish’d; we were so wounded that we could not travel; I could but just walk the others could scarce move; we therefore concluded to surrender ourselves to the French

At the moment that these Rangers gave up hope, Brown noticed “an Indian coming towards us.” Instinctively, Brown crawled away from the fire to be out of site. However, with the others unable to move, Brown witnessed the horrifying attack.

Capt. Spikeman, who was not able to resist, and stripp’d and scalp’d him alive; Baker, who was lying by the Captain, pull’d out his Knife to stab himself, which the Indian prevented and carried him away…But not being far from Capt. Spikeman, he saw me and beg’d me for God’s sake! to give him a Tomahawk, that he might put an End to his Life! I refus’d him, and exhorted him as well as I could to pray for Mercy, as he could not live many Minutes in that deplorable Condition… He desired me to let his Wife know (if I lived to get home) the dreadful Death he died.

With some hope of getting away now, Thomas Brown began his journey back towards Fort Edward. He decided to follow the snowshoe path left by the rest of the Rangers. Although the path was guarded by French sentries, he was able to successfully sneak around them. The cold coupled with his wounds made escape problematic.

…the Snow and Cold put my Feet into such Pain, as I had no Shoes, that I could not go on; I therefore sat down by a Brook, and wrapt my Feet in my Blanket. But my Body being cold by sitting still, I got up, and crawl’d along in this miserable Condition the Remainder of the Night.

Induced to crawl home, Brown was certainly not able to make it very far; by 11 o’clock the next morning, he was quickly spotted.

I heard the Shouts of Indians behind me, and I suppos’d they saw me; within a few Minutes four came down a Mountain, runing towards me: I threw off my Blanket, and Fear and Dread quickned my Pace for a while; but, by Reason of the Loss of so much Blood from my Wounds, I soon fail’d. When they were within a few Rods of me they cock’d their Guns, and told me to stop; but I refus’d, hoping they would fire and kill me on the Spot; which I chose, rather than the dreadful Death Capt. Spikeman died of.

Yet, they did not shoot. Instead, Brown noted that, “took me by the Neck and kiss’d me… They took some dry Leaves and put them into my Wounds, and then turn’d about and ordered me to follow them.” Once brought to the main body of the enemy, more Natives came to greet him. Thomas Brown knew his only possibility of survival was not by escape, but instead the protection of a Frenchman. Brown recounted:

The Indians ran to meet us, and one of them struck me with a Cutlass a-cross the Side; he cut thro’ my Cloaths, but did not touch my Flesh; others ran against me with their Heads: I ask’d if there was no Interpreter, upon which a Frenchman cry’d, I am one: I ask’d him, if this was the Way they treated their Prisoners, to let them be cut and beat to Pieces by the Indians? He desired me to come to him; but the Indians would not let me, holding me one by one Arm and another by the other: But there arising a Difference between the four Indians that took me, they fell to fighting, which their commanding Officer seeing, he came and took me away and carry’d me to the Interpreter; who drew his Sword, and pointing it to my Breast, charged me to tell the Truth, or he would run me through:

Although Brown was in the hands of a Frenchman, his suffering would continue. The interpreter immediately began interrogating Brown. He then brought him back to the battlefield, showing him the carnage from the day before, most horrifying was “Captain Spikeman, who was laying in the Place I left him; they had cut off his Head, and fix’d it on a Pole.”

Still, Brown’s plight continued. On the journey back towards Fort Carillon, he ran into Gentleman Volunteer Robert Baker.

…we were ordered to march on towards Tionderoga: But Baker replied, he could not walk. An Indian then pushed him forwards; but he could not go, and therefore sat down and cried; whereupon an Indian took him by the Hair, and was going to kill him with his Tomhawk: I was moved with Pity for him, and, as weak as I was, I took his Arms over my Shoulders, and was enabled to get him to the Fort.

Finally after 24 hours of fighting for his life, Thomas Brown made it to a means of “safety.” While the battle is marked just five and one-half hours of fighting and a list of names killed, wounded, or captured, the fight continued well after that for many of these Rangers. The captives were carried to Montreal in March of 1757. The June 6th 1757 publication of the New York Mercury recorded, “Since our last came to Town, one William Morris, a Ranger, who was taken Prisoner by the French, in the Engagement near Ticonderoga, on the 21st of January last.” Even as late as the summer, Rangers were streaming home. The article mentions the means of escape for Morris:

…he found an Opportunity, when the Indians were gone upon a Scout, to make his Escape, with three more, having left Montreal the 7th of May, with about 4 Days Provisions, a Gun, and some Powder and Ball, which he took out of the Indian Hut, as he was left to take Care of their Things, in their Absence; They all arrived safe at Fort William Henry the 18th of May, much fatigued.

The January 21, 1757 Battle on Snowshoes was a disaster for the Rangers. For those captured, their sagas were just beginning.

For individuals like Thomas Brown, this took much longer. In fact, he never gave up the fight. After making a safe transport back to Albany in May of 1758, Brown re-enlisted with the 80th Regiment of Foot, Light Armed Infantry. In this corps, Brown found himself captured again on Lake Champlain. Finally, by November of 1759, Brown was sent back to Crown Point by a flag of Truce. Thomas Brown finally had enough:

After repeated Application to General Amherst I was dismissed, and returned in Peace to my Father’s House the Beginning of January, after having been absent 3 Years and almost 8 Months.

“A plain narrative of the uncommon sufferings, and remarkable deliverance of Thomas Brown, of Charlestown, in New-England;” Boston, Fowle and Draper, 1760; reprinted in The Magazine of History, extra number 4 (1908), page #5.

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17 things we are looking forward to in 2017!

2016 was so last month!  It’s time to turn the page and experience all that 2017 has to offer. Whether you are making summer plans to visit the Lake George/Adirondack area or you are just interested in everything at Fort Ticonderoga, here are the top 17 things we are looking forward to this year:

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

We can’t help it. We know we may be a bit biased, but we think Fort Ticonderoga is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Our sweeping vistas of Vermont’s Green Mountains and New York’s Adirondack Mountains combined with views of Lake Champlain make for a picture perfect day – every day!

  1. A new year – a new experience!

It’s true, most historic sites give the same old, same old experience every year.  Why visit more than once?  Well, we have the solution for that!  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. Get out of the classroom and onto our 2000 acre learning campus.

Teachers, it’s time to plan an unforgettable day for your students!  Whether they participate in the National History Day competition, take part in our immersive field trip programs, or discover the importance of the Lake Champlain/Hudson corridor aboard the boat M/V Carillon, our team is ready to help you plan a day that will go down in the history books! Remember, Fort Ticonderoga isn’t just for students–we have some great learning opportunities for teachers too!

  1. It’s a blast – literally!

New in 2017 – ah, we mean 1757 – is an artillery park.  Blast back into the past every day (beginning May 6th) at 2pm for an artillery demonstration like none you have ever seen. Artillerymen’s work was half art and half science, carefully measuring powder, wadding, and iron cannon balls, to make powerful, perfectly-aimed shots. In 1757 how did French Artillerymen take their guns over mountains and lakes to batter British forts? Prepare to find out!

  1. Don’t wait until summer!

Winter is one of our favorite times to explore Fort Ticonderoga.  Join us for exciting winter programs including the upcoming 1757 Battle on Snowshoes Reenactment on January 21st.  Step inside the beautiful Mars Education Center during our Fort Fever Series programs or participate in one of our unique historic trades programs led by our talented museum staff.

  1. Get a handle on this!

Have you ever wanted to handle a genuine 18th-century firearm from Fort Ticonderoga’s museum collections?  Now is your chance! Book your special program with Curator Matthew Keagle in the highly acclaimed “Beyond Bullet’s and Blades” program offered weekly in July and August.  Book your 90 minute behind-the-scene experience soon as it quick to sell out!

7. The King’s Garden – do we need to say more?
One of our very favorite places at Fort Ticonderoga is the magnificent King’s Garden. The walled colonial revival flower garden designed by Marian Cruger Coffin, takes your breath away with its fragrance and vibrant colors. Be sure to capture the beauty of the “Young Diana” statue by Anna Hyatt Huntington which graces the reflecting pool in the center of the garden.  Also, check out our latest plantings as our horticulture team continues to refine the garden’s plan dating to the 1920s. 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 a perfect location to have a picnic lunch from our yummy America’s Fort Café featuring nothing else but fresh produce from the garden!

8. SO. MUCH. STUFF.

Did you know that only about 2% of Fort Ticonderoga’s museum collection is on display? We have a lot of stuff!  Our museum collection is considered one of the most comprehensive military collections from the long 18th century in North America. Our hard working collections management staff spend their time organizing and caring for the collections.  They enter all the information in our database in order to make the information more accessible for everyone. From fine art, to the premier 18th century and early 19th century uniform collection, to the largest collection of 18th-century artillery in the western hemisphere, our museum collection’s team is excited to make big strides in 2017 in the cataloging of our collection.

9. Ah, lake days!

Have you ever wanted to take a boat ride on Lake Champlain?  Discover what it was like for the great armies of the 18th century as they traveled this strategic waterway to conquer North America.! Take a 90 minute boat tour aboard the M/V Carillon and enjoy the views while your guide entertains with stories of our epic past.  We love being on the lake and hope you will join us!  Be sure to book your evening cruises, field trips and special charters too!

10. An Opportunity to Make an Impact.

We love working at Fort Ticonderoga. Everyday our team makes an impact and serves our mission of preservation and education. You can become part of our mission too!  Join our membership program and enjoy FREE Admission, become a volunteer to learn a new skill and meet great people, or make a tax-free donation. All proceeds go 100% to educational work.

11. What’s App with that?

Fort Ticonderoga will take a giant leap into the 21st century in 2017 when we unveil a mobile application! Explore the incredible history of our artillery collection that sits majestically on the fort walls. Let the app take you into the Mars Education Center to explore our major exhibition “Last Argument of Kings.” Be sure to finish to check out the Artillery Laboratory located on the second floor of the Mars Education Center. Kids (and kids at heart) love the artillery pinball!

This project is funded in part by a major grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Grant # MA-30-16-0178-16.

12. We will come to you!

One of our absolute favorite things to share 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! 

13. America’s earliest preservation effort.

We are so proud of our history! Did you know that in 1820 William Ferris Pell acquired the Fort Ticonderoga’s land and with that launched America’s earliest private preservation effort?  Pell built a home called the Pavilion on the fort property in 1826.  The house, later to become a hotel in the second half of the 19th century, is an important architectural treasure and one that encapsulates Ticonderoga’s epic story literally in its beams. Thanks to dendrochronology, we now know that beams in the house date to the 1690s, 18th century, 19th century and 20th century when our museum founders restored the house. Today, plans are set for the future adaptive reuse of the home and work is underway to raise funds to complete the project in by remarkable structure!

  1. Ah-mazing!
    40% of Fort Ticonderoga’s land 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! 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.
  1. Mount Defiance.

Speaking of amazing – we never tire of the stunning views from Mount Defiance and we love sharing our beauty with you! Your daily pass to Fort Ticonderoga includes the Mount Defiance experience.  Whether you pack a lunch and enjoy the breathtaking views of the historic landscape or join our 4pm tour offered daily May – October, this is one Fort Ticonderoga experience you won’t want to miss!

  1. But I’m still thinking about lake days!

It’s January and we are all having dreams of warm days on beautiful Lake George.  Admit it! Well, if you just can’t peal yourself away from the lake during the day, we have a solution for you! Check out our awesome and always exciting evening programs. Get the whole family or all of your friends to visit Fort Ticonderoga when the crowds aren’t here to experience the site in a whole new and fun way. “Guns by Night” is our favorite evening program, but also be sure to check out other new and exciting programs!

  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. Imagine getting swept up into a battle surrounding you on all sides with horses galloping around as commanding officers drive their troops into conflict telling a very specific Ticonderoga story. A Fort Ticonderoga special event experience is unforgettable. From re-enactments and living history weekends, to other special events – every year our crowds get bigger and our events never disappoint!

 

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Fort Ticonderoga Presents Epic “Battle on Snowshoes” Re-enactment on Saturday, January 21, 2017

Join Fort Ticonderoga as we recreate the epic 1757 Battle on Snowshoes on the anniversary of the event. This lesser known, but no less dramatic, Battle on Snowshoes brings to life the fierce clash in the woods between French soldiers and Rogers Rangers as the roar of muskets highlight Ranger warfare and the struggle for North America. Discover the peoples, weapons, and stories through living history vignettes, exhibitions and hands-on programs. March out with French soldiers and their allies before they spring upon Rogers’ Rangers.

Highlighted programming featured throughout the day brings to life both the British Ranger story and French history at Fort Carillon, later named Ticonderoga. Discover the fight for survival as the Rangers struggle to escape back to Fort Edward, behind British lines. See how French soldiers and officers lived in their quarters inside the fort barracks and watch as soldiers work together to keep each other in fighting shape. In addition to the living history program, step inside exhibition spaces and discover the incredible French artifacts on display in the museum. To view a detailed visitor’s schedule, visit http://www.fortticonderoga.org/events/fort-events/1757-battle-on-snowshoes-battle-re-enactment/detail. Snowshoes are optional/weather dependent.

Historical Background: Battle on Snowshoes 1757

Each year as the French and British armies retreated to winter quarters, only token forces were left at the forts at either end of Lake George to hold the posts over the winter. These troops battled the cold as well as probing parties of enemy irregulars in a bitter war where even a few yards outside of the walls of Fort Carillon could be a deadly no-mans-land. January 21, 1757 began as a normal day for French soldiers garrisoning Fort Carillon. Horse-drawn sleighs and a guard of soldiers left for Crown Point to bring back food and supplies, however, this column never reached its destination, thanks to an ambush by Robert Rogers and his Rangers. A French soldier riding a draught horse detached from a sleigh galloped with the news into Fort Carillon. A party of one-hundred French soldiers, Canadians, and Native warriors marched on moccasins out into the cold forbidding woods to ambush the Rangers flushed with their early success.

 

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

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga’s Battle on Snowshoes Re-enactment will be presented January 21, 2017.

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President Taft’s Visit to Fort Ticonderoga focus of Fort Fever Series Program January 8th

Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” begins on Sunday, January 8th, at 2 p.m. with “President Taft Comes to Ticonderoga,” presented by Director of Education, Rich Strum. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the door; Fort Ticonderoga Members are admitted free of cost. The program will take place at the Mars Education Center.

“William Howard Taft is the only sitting President of the United States to visit Fort Ticonderoga. Taft’s visit came early in his term, July 6, 1909, as part of the week-long Champlain Tercentenary Celebrations throughout the Champlain Valley,” said Rich Strum Fort Ticonderoga Director of Education. “The early restoration work at Fort Ticonderoga, undertaken by museum founders Stephen and Sarah Pell, was underway, and the President was given a tour of the work by Sarah Pell. Thousands attended the day-long event on the Ticonderoga peninsula. Learn about the advance planning, the scope of the celebration, and the details of Taft’s visit.”

Rich Strum is the Director of Education at Fort Ticonderoga, serving as the Project Director for the Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute. He is managing Editor of The Bulletin of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum and the North Country Coordinator for New York State History Day.

The “Fort Fever Series” is just one of several programs taking place at Fort Ticonderoga this winter and early spring. Clothing and Accoutrement Workshops are offered March 11 & 12 and April 8 & 9. Fort Ticonderoga presents living history events January 21st (1757 Battle on Snowshoes), February 18th (1775 British Garrison at Ticonderoga), and March 25th (Four Divisions formed at Fort Carillon; Rigaud’s Attack of Fort William Henry). The Sixth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium will be held on April 8th. You can learn more about 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:  President Taft speaks at Fort Ticonderoga during his visit on July 6, 1909. Taft’s visit will be the topic of the Fort Fever Series program on Sunday, January 8, 2017, at 2:00 P.M. given by Director of Education Rich Strum. Admission is $10; free for Members of Fort Ticonderoga.

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3 Steps to a Better French Army Portrayal for the French & Indian War

By Senior Director of Interpretation, Stuart Lilie

In 2017, Fort Ticonderoga will be portraying the year 1757, with daily on-going programs, weapons demonstrations, and guided tours. The year will also feature epic living history events bringing to life French soldiers serving right here at Fort Carillon. Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, these French soldiers defended Canada for nearly five years, winning Pyrrhic victories against vastly larger British and Anglo-American armies. Equally fascinating is the blend of unique military cultures embodied in the clothing, equipment, and food of the French army soldier in North America. Here are three simple details that really bring the story of French soldiers to life.

  1. Havresac not Haversack

    Everything a French soldier needed, extra clothing, personal items, & rations could be carried inside the gran haversac. These large bags are often shown in the period filled to the gills.

This distinction is more than just a ‘k,’ it’s a gulf between two completely different military systems. In his 1768 book, “A System for the Compleat Interior Management and Oeconomy of a Battalion of Infantry,” Captain Bennet Cuthbertson defined the British army haversack, saying, “…a Soldier cannot conveniently get through the Duties of a Campaign, without a Haversack of strong, coarse, grey linen (which is always issued as part of the Camp-equipage) to carry his bread and provisions on a March…”

In contrast, the French soldiers’ haversack was two distinct bags. In, “Institutions Militaire” from 1754, the haversacs’ dimensions and use was defined:

The Havresac of good and useful dimensions for Officers, Sergeants, and the same for soldiers, is a plain sack of linen 4 feet long, 2 feet, 6 inches wide at the corners, still giving him a hide/skin for normal usage to wrap up in for sleeping on campaign, and contains a small leather sack to carry cloths and keep out the rain. Closing the sack is a flap of the dimensions, closing with 4 buttons closing the outer part. It is 2 feet long and 1 foot wide. It would carry all that a Dragoon on foot would have independent of his personal equipment. The knapsack/haversack has a leather strap 2 feet long of Russia or buff leather, as wide as a waistbelt. The buckle is attached with another strap of Moroccan in the same width, 3 inches long sewn do the side the same distance from the opening. Above the strap, it folds over to keep out the rain, closed around the middle by a leather strap or cord. The little haversack is carried in the middle of the open space of the bag. The strap of the bag is carried over the right shoulder, but is long enough to be carried over both shoulders, which is less work. (1)

This soldier’s ration of tobacco is depicted in a small bag with two ties to close it. Collection of the Musee de la Armee. 

In English parlance, the French havresac is much closer to their snapsack or knapsack of the time. The gran and petit haversacs together were to carry all a soldier’s personal items. Blankets were not a standard issue item to French soldiers serving on the continent of Europe. Unique to French service, the gran havresac was large enough to serve as a sleeping bag. Blankets were issued as part of the colonial clothing issue to French soldiers in North America and were used in conjunction with their gran havresacs and bearskins in the winter.  It does beg the question, how were rations carried, if they didn’t have haversacks in the English sense? The answer is that rations were carried in the gran havresac as well, but likely in privately acquired linen bags. Some pieces of camp equipment, issued to individual British soldiers, like canteens, were issued to a tente, or chambree (or mess in English) of 8-10 French soldiers. In the case of canteens, or bidon, it was common for French soldiers, to procure gourd canteens for their personal use. It appears a similar practice was common for rations. The 1757 official watercolor of a soldier of the Berry regiment shows him enjoying a smoke, drawing his tobacco from a small bag with two ties closing it at the top. Tobacco, was a ration like any other in the French army. These small bags may well have been used more commonly to keep other rations like salt pork, flour, & all away from the sleeping soldier inside the gran havresac at night.

  1. Pea Soup and more Pea Soup

French army officers had a surprising diversity of foods available. Chevalier de la Pause of the Guyenne regiment noted officers’ rations as they prepared for campaign in the summer of 1755.

Given moreover to the commandant and major a barrel of pigs ears, two pots of goose thighs confit, and two barrels of wine and a parcel of groceries, thirty-two for them, and more a ham of each officer, two for the commandant, the same as the major, and in the place of the second ham each officer was given a wheel of gruyere cheese that was shared among all. Issued for stores to the major was one barrel of oil, one of vinegar, one of prunes, one of raisins and one crate of 50 pounds of soap, ten pounds of powder and eight pounds of lead.

Eating split pea soup and bread with the other members of you tent or barracks room was a daily ritual for French soldiers.

This was not the case for enlisted soldiers. In the spring of 1756, Chevaliar de la Pause outlined the soldiers’ rations for each soldier also per month:

60 pounds of bread

13 pounds of lard (salt-pork)

7 ½ pounds of peas

1 pot of brandy

1 pound of tobacco

These rations were either dry or salted, and so could be preserved without refrigeration. In the summer of 1755, this ration of flour often came as biscuit, a kin to ship’s biscuit in British service, or hard tack a century later. At established posts like Carillon, bake ovens were built to allow proper bakers to turn rations of flour into proper fresh bread. French soldiers ate a lot of bread, but other than bread, dried peas and salted pork were the bulk of their rations. This meant two to three meals a day consisted of split pea soup. Each mess of eight to ten French soldiers had a marmite or iron kettle and a gemelle or tinned-iron mess bowl. They shared these to cook with along with a bidon or tinned-iron canteen for all of them, their tent, and a pot ladle. This meant that a cornerstone of daily life for a French soldier was eating together with the members of his mess, sopping up split pea soup with bread or biscuit.

  1. Hats: Collect All Three!

If French army soldiers serving in North America lacked for anything, it wasn’t hats. The full dress uniform of a French soldier included his chapeau, a cocked hat of black felt, bound in wide faux gold or silver lace. This lace matched the color of the metal of the buttons on the coat and sleeved vest underneath. More important soldiers, like sergeants, were distinguished by fine, not faux gold or silver lace. While the cocked hat looks great, it really had to be preserved for full dress occasions, like mounting guard or battle itself. For messier duties, French soldiers’ had a bonnet, which later was called a bonnet de police, or fatigue cap in English. Article LXVII of the 1753, “Royal Ordinance, Covering Regulations on the Service of the Infantry on Campaign,” directly stated,

Blankets were issued by the colony of Canada in North America. For service in Europe these French soldiers are shown sleeping under their coats with their legs inside the gran havresac.

“When the troops are in camp, two or three men per mess, in vest and bonnet, will be conducted in good order for wood and straw, as the Officers& Sergeants command to this effect.” Generally, these bonnet were made in the colors of their regimental coats, turned up in the color of the coat’s cuff.  The French naval ministry, which administered Canada, shipped brand new bonnet from France to go with new uniforms for French army soldiers arriving in 1755. These white bonnet were turned up at the bottom up with either blue or red wool cloth, to match the coat cuff colors of the six battalions arriving from France.  The only thing better than two hats…is three. French army solders received an annual clothing and equipment allotment from the colony of Canada. This was similar, but not identical, to what Canadian malice and colonial regulars received. This clothing included another bonnet, which French officers like Aide Major, Chevalier de la Pause noted as a bonnet d’laine. This hat was the tuque, the red wool knit cap worn in France by sailors and worn in Canada by most men. This bonnet or tuque was often made double layered and in the Canadian winter must have been a welcomed comfort from the cold. The tuque was also a tangible symbol of serving in North America. These many hats represent the many roles of French soldiers in America; well-disciplined regular soldiers, skilled laborers, and fighters in the varied seasons and country of North America.

1: All measurements are in Paris feet and inches, not English measure. A Parisian inch is approximately one and one-eight English inch.

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

For more information on 2017 Fort Ticonderoga events and the recreation of 1757, visit the events calendar.

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