A tall peak which dominated Fort Ticonderoga within cannon shot on the south side of the mouth of the La Chute River. During the French & Indian War, the French (who called it “Rattlesnake Mountain”) decided not to fortify the position because it seemed so steep as to be inaccessible. In the same war, the English used the Mount to scout out French activity below. A generation later, at the outset of the Revolution, the Americans also neglected to fortify the position. But in 1777, British General John Burgoyne had the position scouted anew. His artillery and engineering officers determined that cannon could be positioned there, given 24 hours and a force of 400 men to cut a road. Regarding the effort, General William Phillips of the British Royal Artillery is quoted as saying “Where a goat can go, a man can go, and where a man can go he can pull a gun up after him.”. As a result, the Americans awoke on July 5, 1777, to find the first two guns staring down at them. They evacuated Fort Ticonderoga and its companion post, Mount Independence, and began a retreat that continued for four months and as far south as Saratoga (Stillwater) – where Burgoyne was finally defeated.
Fort Ticonderoga was characterized then as “the key to the continent.” Mount Defiance was the key to Fort Ticonderoga!
Mount Defiance Today
Fort Ticonderoga maintains a tour road to the top of Mount Defiance, which provides one of the most spectacular views in the northeast. You can see up and down the Champlain basin, and get an aerial view of Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. It is a grand location for appreciating the great water highway which stretches from Montréal to New York City. There is a picnic pavilion at the top.