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 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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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

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 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 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 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.

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!


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 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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