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 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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Satisfy That Sweet Tooth With American Heritage Chocolate!

American Heritage Chocolate has captured the sophisticated flavors of our forefathers, recreating the delicious, slightly spicy, decadently rich flavor and texture in their chocolate drink. You can also find the chocolate in bites and blocks, creating the foundation for other unforgettable sweets! From chocolate gingersnaps, to chocolate chunk cake mix cookies, to peppermint sipping chocolate, American Heritage Chocolate allows you to get creative this season and make treats to delight the whole family!

To purchase American Heritage Chocolate, visit

Chocolate Gingersnaps

4 ounces butter
4 ounces brown sugar
½ cup molasses
2 teaspoons water
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
6¾ ounces flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces American Heritage Finely Grated Chocolate Drink
3½ ounces granulated sugar
*recipe makes 36 2-inch cookies


  • Cream butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add molasses, water and ginger. Scrape bowl as necessary.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. Slowly add to the mixer, blending thoroughly. Stir in American Heritage Chocolate Drink, mixing until it forms a dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape the dough into 1½ inch balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Back for 14-16 minutes. Store baked cookies in an airtight container.
  • If not baking all the cookies, refrigerate dough in airtight container until next use.
  • You can also roll out the dough and cut into shapes, bake and decorate.

Chocolate Chunk Cake Mix Cookies

4 sticks (0.85 oz.) American Heritage® Chocolate Bites
1 Box Devils Food Cake Mix
2 Eggs
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
Powdered Sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix eggs, cake mix and oil until well combined.
  • Finely chop 4 American Heritage® Chocolate Bites and mix them into the cookie batter mix.
  • Scoop batter into 1-inch balls and roll into a bowl of powdered sugar until well covered.
  • Place powdered sugar covered cookie dough balls onto cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Peppermint Sipping Chocolate

3 Tbsp. American Heritage® Finely Grated Chocolate Drink
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp sugar
whipped cream
crushed peppermint sticks


  • Heat milk until almost about to boil.
  • Whisk in AMERICAN HERITAGE® Finely Grated Chocolate Drink and peppermint extract. Adjust the amount of milk and grated chocolate for taste and consistency.
  • Top with whipped cream, a pinch of AMERICAN HERITAGE® Finely Grated Chocolate Drink and crushed peppermint sticks.

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

Photos: MARS Chocolate North America has made the world’s most beloved chocolates. With a rich heritage in chocolate making, recipes have been created to bring satisfaction to all. Recipe credit and for more ideas, visit To purchase yours today, call (518) 585-2821 or visit 


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2017 Fort Fever Series Schedule at Fort Ticonderoga Announced

ffs-2017Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” will begin in January and run through April 2017. The lecture series will be held on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m. in the Mars Education Center. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the door; Fort Ticonderoga Members are admitted free of cost.

“The Fort Fever Series is a wonderful opportunity for Fort Ticonderoga Museum Staff to share their latest research with the public,” said Beth Hill, President and CEO. “New discoveries found in Fort Ticonderoga’s vast museum collections inform our annual programs. Fort Fever programs give guests the opportunity to have a preview of the content and learn more about Fort Ticonderoga’s history, collections, and upcoming initiatives.”

Fort Fever Series Schedule:

January 8th: “President Taft Comes to Ticonderoga”— In the early months of his term as President of the United States, William Howard Taft came to Fort Ticonderoga on July 6, 1909, as part of the Champlain Tercentenary Celebrations. Rich Strum, Director of Education, explores this only visit to Fort Ticonderoga by a sitting U.S. President.

February 12th: “Vive le Roi! French Regiments at Carillon” — Join Senior Director of Interpretation, Stuart Lilie, to examine the regiments of French soldiers who built and defended Carillon, later named Ticonderoga. Look beyond their service in the French & Indian War to the broader history of these regiments. How did the defense of Canada fit into these regiments’ fight for France in the 18th century?

March 12th: “Basse Ville: Vernacular Architecture of the Lower Town at Carillon”— Supplying the rising walls of French Fort Carillon was a collection of storehouses, kilns, and ovens, known simply as the “Basse Ville” or Lower Town. Join Assistant Director of Interpretation, Nicholas Spadone, to explore the melding of old world French framing with Canadian materials and practices that characterized the building below the walls of the old French fort.

April 9th: “Gribeauval’s Guns: French Artillery Reforms from Montcalm to Napoleon”— Following the French & Indian War, the French artillery went through the most radical changes in its history. The reforms of General Jean-Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval transformed the way French cannon were designed, made, and operated. Join Curator, Matthew Keagle, to learn how the artillery doctrine changed from Montcalm’s sieges to Napoleon’s battles and tour Fort Ticonderoga’s collection of 18th-century French artillery, containing some of the earliest surviving examples of Gribeauval’s cannon.

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 December 3 & 4, 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 all of these programs by visiting Some programs require advance registration.

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

Photo:  The 2017 Fort Fever Series take place on January 8th, February 12th, March 12th, and April 9th at 2:00 pm in the Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga. Photo credit: Fort Ticonderoga.

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Fort Ticonderoga Seeks Applicants for 2017 Graduate Fellowships


2016 Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellow Riley Clark-Long, from Connecticut College, conducts research at the Thompson-Pell Research Center at Fort Ticonderoga as part of his fellowship. Fort Ticonderoga is accepting applications for the 2017 Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowships from now through February 1, 2017.

Fort Ticonderoga is seeking applicants for the 2017 Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowship Program, a program designed for students seeking a practical, hands-on internship experience at a historic site and museum with cutting-edge programs. The Fellowships run from June 12 to August 18, 2017, and include internships in Education, Exhibitions, Collections Management, and Interpretation.

“These Fellowships for graduate students in museum studies, art history, decorative arts, museum education, public history, history, American studies, or military history offer an opportunity to work side by side with our dedicated team,” noted Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO Beth Hill. “These interns will focus their research and creative energy to support exhibitions and programs related to upcoming projects at Fort Ticonderoga.”

“While working individually with their project supervisors,” added Rich Strum, Director of Education, “Fellows will also meet and work together throughout the two-month experience. They will have an opportunity to work with Fort Ticonderoga’s professional staff as part of our team-approach to all major projects.”

This year’s Fellows will be helping lay the groundwork for exhibitions, programs, and educational initiatives to be offered to the public in 2018. Interns will need to be self-motivated and able to work independently, as well as contribute to a dedicated team to create and develop ground-breaking exhibitions and programs for a diverse audience.

Successful applicants for the two-month Fellowship will receive a $2,500 stipend along with on-site housing. Graduate students and qualified undergraduates interested in learning more details and applying should visit Fort Ticonderoga’s website at Applications are due February 1, 2017.

The Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowship Program was launched in 2015 and has included eight students from the following universities over the past two summers: Connecticut College, New York University, North Carolina State University, Stony Brook University, Texas State University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Western Michigan University.

The Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowships at Fort Ticonderoga are made possible with the support from the Edward W. Pell Education Endowment at Fort Ticonderoga and generous individual donors.


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

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A President Visits Ticonderoga

By Rich Strum, Director of Education


President William Howard Taft at the Grandstand at Ticonderoga.

Several future U.S. Presidents visited Fort Ticonderoga in the late 18th century, including George Washington (1783), Thomas Jefferson (1791), and James Madison (1791), but to date, only one sitting President has visited Fort Ticonderoga—William Howard Taft on July 6, 1909.

President Taft’s visit came during the Champlain Tercentenary Celebrations, commemorating the 300th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of the region in the summer of 1609. The week-long celebration took place at Crown Point, Ticonderoga, Plattsburgh, Burlington, and Isle La Motte, in addition to locally-sponsored events throughout the Champlain Valley (Vergennes, VT had its own Tercentenary Day in early July, as did the Village of Ticonderoga).

Fort Ticonderoga was the official location for the second day of the Champlain Tercentenary Celebration on Tuesday, July 6, 1909. Restoration work on the Officers’ Barracks of the old Fort had gotten underway earlier in the year under the direction of Stephen and Sarah Pell. Tercentenary Day at Fort Ticonderoga would be the first day the restoration work would be open for the inspection of the public and President William Howard Taft was expected to attend.

In March 1909, the New York Tercentenary Champlain Commission added Ticonderoga to the President’s itinerary. He was already committed to attend the events in Plattsburgh on July 7th and in Burlington on July 8th.

A full day of activities and events was planned for the Fort grounds on July 6th. Sham battles (what we would call re-enactments today) depicted Champlain’s encounter with the Mohawks here in 1609 and then the epic 1758 Battle of Carillon. The Native Americans participating in the Tercentenary events throughout the week were primarily from Canada and presented an “Indian Pageant” on a floating island constructed on barges moved from venue to venue up and down Lake Champlain. These Indians participated in the sham battle between the Mohawks and Champlain’s allies. Members of Company I of the Tenth Regiment took on the role of Champlain and his fellow Frenchmen. Company I also made up both the French and British in the re-created Battle of Carillon. Company I participated in both sham battles in their regular uniforms.

Literary exercises included a host of speeches and orations, culminating in a brief address by the President. Other speakers included New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes, British Ambassador James Bryce, and French Ambassador Jean Jules Jusserand. The newspapers estimated that a crowd of up to 20,000 gathered on the plain to the north of the Fort to listen to the speeches and to cheer on President Taft.

During his brief visit, Taft was given a tour of the restoration work by Sarah Pell and took a refreshment at the Pavilion before departing northward aboard the Lake Champlain steamer Ticonderoga.

Taft, like many of the attendees that day, arrived by train. The Delaware & Hudson Railroad added additional special trains throughout the day to transport thousands to the Fort grounds and then to take people home afterwards. The trains discharged passengers at Addison Junction, located near the present-day Amtrak station on NYS Route 74. From there, attendees walked the three-quarters of a mile to the Fort and the site of the festivities.


The Officers’ Barracks Restoration in 1909.

Taft departed Norwich, Connecticut, late on July 5th, traveling in the private car “Mayflower” to Grand Central Station in New York City overnight. His car, attached to the “Adirondack and Montreal Express,” departed Grand Central Station for Albany at 7:45 in the morning. A special Delaware & Hudson train then took the President North from Albany to Addison Junction, arriving at 2:45 in the afternoon.

Taft was met at the station by a delegation that included Colonel Robert Means Thompson, father of Sarah Pell. An automobile carried the President from the station to the Fort for a brief tour before the same automobile took the President to the grandstand, where the literary activities were already underway.

The Ticonderoga peninsula had been inundated by a heavy rain overnight, and on and off showers had plagued the festivities throughout the morning and early afternoon. As the President’s automobile headed down the hill from the Fort, “the big machine, its wheels locked by the brakes, slipping over the treacherous surface, began to skid toward the edge of the roadway. The chauffer quickly got the car under control, however, and the danger was over in an instant. The president was the least concerned of any person in the large throng.”

Rain, and the thick, slippery clay, was the on-going topic of the day. Even President Taft couldn’t resist a humorous start to his remarks to the crowd: “Had a good deal of rain here, haven’t you?” he asked. While the rain had ceased during the majority of the literary exercises, it began again just as the speeches concluded, leaving the President to walk the quarter mile from the grandstand to the Pavilion and the dock where the steamer Ticonderoga awaited his arrival in the rain.

President Taft departed aboard the Ticonderoga, which carried him and the ambassadors to Port Henry, where they found the private car “Mayflower” waiting to take them to Plattsburgh for the following day’s festivities.

The regional and national newspapers were full of details about President Taft’s visit to Fort Ticonderoga on July 6, 1909. The New York Sun featured especially poetic descriptions of the day. An example follows, describing the fair-like atmosphere on the Fort grounds:

They strolled over the grounds, in woods and meadows, and picknicked and made merry—yes, some of them gambled with the sharpers, who did not worry about [Governor] Hughes being present, and got stung—and everything was nice until the rain fell and then there was a lot of scampering and soiled finery and displays of—well, the styles of hosiery in upper New York seem about the same in the city, but it was noticed that walking up and down the hills here seems to tend toward a larger, more rotund development of calf measure than in the cities.

Join us on Sunday, January 8, 2017, for our first “Fort Fever Series” program of the year where I will be sharing much more about President Taft’s visit to Fort Ticonderoga in “President Taft Comes to Ticonderoga.” Cost is $10 per person; Members of Fort Ticonderoga are admitted free of charge.


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Chipmunks in the Garden

By Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulturalist in Residence

If you’re like me, or the gardener’s in the King’s Garden, you’ve experienced a banner year for chipmunks in the garden.  I’ve been lucky—they’ve merely uprooted new plants and seedlings.  In the King’s Garden they’ve not only done this, but climbed flower stalks to end buds of lilies and other perennials!


Photo courtesy of Sharon Flaherty

Chipmunks may be cute to many, especially if they’re not damaging gardens or aren’t present in large numbers.  Otherwise, they can be a serious nuisance.  Knowing a few facts about chipmunks may help prevent them from eating or relocating spring bulbs you may plant this fall, damaging young plants, or even causing more serious structural damage.

I find it amazing that chipmunk burrows may extend 20 to 30 feet.  There is no soil around the openings because chipmunks carry it away from the burrows in their cheek pouches and scatter it away from the openings.  The burrows are complex, usually with chambers for nesting, food storage, side pockets, and escape tunnels.

Usually there are two generations of chipmunks born per year, with two to five in early spring and again in late summer.  So if your landscape seems to have many, this is why.  They may range over about a half-acre, but only defend about 50 feet around their burrow opening.

Chipmunks gather and store food, often seeds, throughout the year.  If you have seen clumps of sunflowers coming up in flower pots or the lawn, or small bulbs blooming far away from where you planted them, you can thank a chipmunk!   This is one of their purposes in natural woodlands– to sow seeds for forest regeneration.  Although chipmunks mainly eat seeds, berries, nuts, insects and mushrooms on the ground, they also can climb trees to gather these or to prey on young birds and bird eggs.

Chipmunks do not hibernate during fall and winter as woodchucks do, but remain rather inactive, subsisting on their stored food.  You may see them active on warm, sunny days.  In addition to their damage in gardens, chipmunks can cause structural damage from burrowing under stairs, retention walls, or foundations. They may kill flowers from burrowing under them.

Exclusion can be used to keep chipmunks from buildings and some flower beds.  Fill openings at building foundations, fill and caulk openings, or use one-quarter inch mesh hardware cloth.  Cover annual flower beds with this hardware cloth, at least a foot past the edges.  You can cover the wire lightly with soil to hide it.

Where bulbs may be damaged, if planting a whole bed, first dig out all the soil.  Then line the bed with similar hardware cloth before refilling and planting.  Cover the top with the mesh cloth until spring when the bulbs emerge.  If planting bulbs in individual holes, place some sharply crushed stones or shells in each hole before refilling.  This will help deter their digging.  Such products often can be found, just for this purpose, at feed and garden stores.

Habitat modification may lessen chipmunk damage.  Try not to continuously connect, through vegetation and plantings, wooded areas with garden beds and homes.  Such areas, wood piles, and debris provide protection for them, plus their openings are hard to find under such cover.

Spilled bird seed from feeders is a common attractant for chipmunks, as around my own home.  Place bird feeders 15 to 30 feet from buildings or gardens.  Keeping grass cut short around such areas will provide little cover for them and encourage them to burrow elsewhere.

Taste repellents, such as those for squirrels, can be used for chipmunks too and may be a good first line of defense.  These can be used on bulbs, seeds, and foliage not meant for human consumption.  These need to be reapplied, can be expensive over time, and generally don’t provide complete control.

Trapping is an effective means of control around homes and gardens.  Common rat snap-traps are used by some.  If using these, place boards or a box over, with small opening for the chipmunk, to prevent children, pets, birds or other non-target wildlife from getting caught.  I like to put an upturned, large clay pot over such—they’re more attractive in gardens (just don’t leave them out over winter or the clay will get wet and crack when frozen).

Many prefer to use a live-catch wire mesh trap, then transport them several miles away so they don’t return. While relocating chipmunks is not illegal in Vermont (as is the relocation of most larger wildlife), it is in some states.  This generally is not recommended, though, as they may not adapt well or even survive in a new site.  Another alternative for live-trapped chipmunks is to humanely euthanize them.  If relocating to a property other than your own, make sure you have the landowner’s permission.  In New York state it is illegal to relocate animals to a property other than where they were caught (

If using traps, a variety of baits can be used including peanut butter, seeds, raisins, or breakfast grains.  Place traps in areas, and along routes, where the chipmunks are seen.  You may want to fix the traps open a couple days to condition the chipmunks to them, before setting.  Check traps often to remove captured chipmunks and to release non-target animals such as birds from live traps.

If chipmunks are in your garden and landscape, and aren’t a big problem, start with exclusion and deterrents from your flowers and vegetables.  If they’ve become a serious nuisance, and you seem overrun with them, then you may need to resort to traps.  Learn more about chipmunk biology and controls, as well as many other wildlife problems, from publications from Penn State Extension (

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All that Glitters is not Gold

By Matthew Keagle, Curator


Plate 89, Vol. II, Surirey de St. Remy, Memoires d’Artillerie, third edition, 1745. The text for this plate indicates it would take four men working five days to saw such a large gun in half! Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum.

Quite often it is bronze. Bronze, an alloy of roughly 90% copper and 10% tin (although exact alloys in the 18th century varied), was one of the two primary materials used to cast artillery in the early modern period. The task took considerable technical skill. Gun founders had to be able to manipulate thousands of pounds of molten metal into hollow molds to cast cannon that could then withstand the enormous pressure of many pounds of exploding gunpowder packed behind solid iron projectiles.Gun founders in the period were sought after tradesmen. Many used their technical skill across national borders. For example, Swiss founders regularly worked in France and Spain, while Dutch founders, trained by Swiss, worked in England.

This cannon, named “El Poderoso” or “the powerful,” is the largest gun in Fort Ticonderoga’s collection and weighs 6510 pounds.

The gun founder had to know the proportions of the alloy he was preparing for casting the cannon, just one part of the skill of his trade. Generally, raw copper and tin were added to the furnace to make bronze, however, many founders used condemned or captured cannon to recast into new pieces. Captured cannon could simply be turned against an enemy, but the different systems of artillery across Europe meant enemy cannon were not always that easily employed. For example, a Spanish 16-pounder did not fire the same sized shot as a French 16-pounder, since until the 1740s, they were based off of different systems of weight. The English didn’t even have a 16-pounder as part of their arsenal, meaning capture guns were useless unless captured with ammunition. Often the best use for captured cannon was to have them re-made into new ones.

Surirey de St. Remy’s Memoires d’Artillerie, first published in 1697, includes a plate depicting four men sawing a bronze 24-pounder cannon in half. A bronze 24-pounder, like two Spanish guns in Fort Ticonderoga’s collection, could weigh up to 6500 pounds – three and a quarter tons! Sawing such a massive piece in half was required to maneuver it into the furnace to be melted and re-made.


The Left Trunnion of this Spanish 12-pounder cast in 1747 is engraved indicating it was made from old bronze, such as older condemned or captured cannon. The opposite trunnion is engraved with the weight of the gun. Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum.

At least one Spanish 12-pounder in Fort Ticonderoga’s collection bears the phrase “Bronzes Viexos” on the face of its left trunnion. This translates as old bronze, indicating that this particular gun was cast by melting down old cannon. This could be important information as virgin bronze was deemed to be stronger. One wonders what old cannon were sacrificed to the gun founders furnace to cast this cannon in 1747.

See this recast cannon, and our two massive 24-pounders, at special events all winter as they keep silent sentinel on Lake Champlain.


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Fort Ticonderoga Sponsors 2017 History Day: North Country Students Participate in National Program Shown to Boost School Performance and Job Skills

large_lorelei-leerkes-web-sizeNational History Day (NHD) is a year-long academic program for elementary and secondary school students focused on historical research, interpretation, and creative expression. NHD students become writers, filmmakers, web designers, playwrights, and artists as they create unique contemporary expressions of history. Fort Ticonderoga sponsors, administers, and coordinates History Day in six New York counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, and Warren. North Country History Day takes place on Saturday, March 4, 2017; however, students are encouraged to begin working on their projects now. This year’s theme is “Taking a Stand in History.”

Fort Ticonderoga has coordinated the regional competition and provided support for teachers and students throughout the school year since 2007. North Country teachers interested in learning more about History Day can contact Rich Strum, Director of Education at Fort Ticonderoga, at

According to the first national evaluation of the widely used curricular program, students who participate in the National History Day perform better on high-stakes tests, are better writers, more confident and capable researchers, and have a more mature perspective on current events and civic engagement than their peers. Participants also show a greater ability to collaborate with peers, manage their time and persevere.

The full report, National History Day Works, is available at Some of the important findings include:

  • NHD students outperform their non-NHD peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies, but in reading, science and math as well.
  • NHD students are better writers.
  • NHD students are critical thinkers.
  • NHD students learn 21st Century skills.
  • NHD has a positive impact among students whose interests in academic subjects may wane in high school.

The study looked at performance assessments, surveys and standardized test scores to evaluate students’ research and writing skills, ability to interpret historical information, academic performance and interest in past and current events. Researchers then compared their evaluations of students who participated in National History Day (NHD) to their peers who did not participate in the program. The study, conducted at four sites around the country, found that on nearly every measure, NHD students’ scores or ratings were higher than their peers who did not participate in the program.

About National History Day

National History Day (NHD) is a year-long academic organization for elementary and secondary school students. Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in a national competition each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park. Visit

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

Photo: A St. Mary’s School student talks with judges about her History Day project on Samuel de Champlain at North Country History Day in March 2016. Recent research shows that students participating in the National History Day program develop skills necessary for the work world.

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Fort Ticonderoga’s Living History Event on November 12th Highlights British Withdrawal in 1777: Explore the Complex Story from the British, German, Loyalist, and Native Perspectives


Join the German soldiers, who formed the core of the British garrison at Ticonderoga in late 1777, as they prepare to evacuate Ticonderoga, the “Gibraltar of the North” during an exciting living history event Saturday, November 12th from 10am – 4pm.

Be part of the action as Fort Ticonderoga portrays the British soldiers, loyalists, refugee families, and native allies at Ticonderoga in November 1777 who were cut off from the rest of the British line, short of food and supplies, and facing the inevitable decision to withdraw back to Canada following the surrender of British forces at Saratoga.

Programs and demonstrations highlight the weapons, tactics, and trades of the British garrison in the late fall of 1777. Tours will explore the decision to evacuate the soldiers back to Canada and the choice to destroy Ticonderoga in their wake to leave nov-12nothing useful for Continental forces.

A musket demonstration at 11am will provide military perspective from the loyalist forces. These soldiers, recruited from loyalist refugees, were the eyes and ears of British army along Lake Champlain. Whether New England fowlers, native trade guns, or old French Muskets, see the arms of the loyalists and discuss fighting for King and country without a home.

Another musket demonstration at 12:30pm will interpret the German Brunswick soldiers. German soldiers made up nearly half of the British Army in 1777.  Far from stiff and rigid, see how Brunswick soldiers used their muskets in defense and attack.  Thrill at the flash of weaponry and learn how European methods of fighting were adapted to the landscape of North America.

The event will also feature lectures on the myths of the “Hessians” in the American Revolution and explore the story of the soldiers from the Duchy of Brunswick who served at Ticonderoga.

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 or call (518) 585-2821.

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

Photo: The “Now Left to their own Defense.” German and British Soldiers Leave Ticonderoga-Living History Event takes place on Saturday, November 12, 2016. Photo Credit: Fort Ticonderoga.

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