Fort Ticonderoga’s Fort Fever Series Highlights Rare Collections, Behind-the-Scenes Discovery, and Sneak Peak of New Programs!

Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” returns this winter with monthly programs January through April 2015. Programs take place on Sunday afternoons at 2 pm in the Mars Education Center. The cost for each program is $10 per person and will be collected at the door; free for Members of Fort Ticonderoga.

Ranger talk photo 1January 11th, “Clothing Rogers’ Rangers”— The infamous Rogers’ Rangers played an important role in the French & Indian War history of Fort Ticonderoga. Despite the numerous accounts of them spying on the French encampments and their attacks on wood-cutting parties, their clothing and appearance is something of a mystery. Artificer Tailor Gibb Zea will discuss and translate the documentation known about the rangers to give a better idea of what they wore, how they wore it, and what textiles one might expect to find on a ranger in the 1750s. A focus on the clothing will revolve around the appearance of Rogers and his men as they would have appeared to the large French scouting party that they met on March 13, 1758, the day of the Battle on Snowshoes.

February 8th, “Beyond Founding Fashion”— Fort Ticonderoga has the largest collection of 18th-century military uniforms in North America. Spend an afternoon with Director of Baldwin Coat, three quartersExhibitions Matthew Keagle for a special guided tour of the remarkable uniforms in the Founding Fashion exhibit. Following that we will see some of the uniforms not currently on display that show how military fashion evolved in the decades after the American Revolution.

March 15th, “Horsepower at Ticonderoga”— In this land of strategic waterways, look at the role of horses in the military campaigns against this strategic crossroads. Join Director of Interpretation Stuart Lilie to piece together the evidence for the lives and labors of horses on the grounds of Ticonderoga.

April 19th, “A Layered Legacy”— Discover the continuing story of Ticonderoga, after the guns had ceased firing; see the flowering of agriculture, tourism, and hospitality as told through the King’s Garden. Join Assistant Director of Interpretation Cameron Green to get a sneak peak of all the new ground being broken for the 2015 season, as well as some of the great structures and stories recently uncovered.

The “Fort Fever Series” is just one of several programs taking place at Fort Ticonderoga this winter. Clothing and Accoutrement Workshops are offered one weekend a month January-April. Fort Ticonderoga presents Living History events on January 17th, and February 21st. The Fourth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium will be held on April 18th.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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“Lodging as the Nature of the Campaign will Admit”

British Lieutenant James Wintersmith created this map of the American Works, captured in July of 1777. Though not shown in his drawing, Pennsylvanians build rows of soldiers' huts just inside these works, whose foundations testify to their presence event today.

British Lieutenant James Wintersmith created this map of the American Works, captured in July of 1777. Though not shown in his drawing, Pennsylvanians build rows of soldiers’ huts just inside these works, whose foundations testify to their presence event today.

The 4th Pennsylvania Battalion, along with the other regiments of their brigade, completed their fortifications along the Old French lines by early September in 1776. Officers and men had lived in tents since they encamped on this hill in July. With the works finished, Colonel Anthony Wayne issued the order to begin building better housing to shelter the men of the regiment.  The regimental orderly book records on September 14th, 1776 the succinct command to begin construction.

The Colos. Next wish is to see the officers and soldiers as comfortably accommodated with regard to their encampments and Lodging as the Nature of the campaign will admit.

Fort Ticonderoga’s September event, “Lodging as the Nature of the Campaign will Admit,” kicked off an on-going project to reconstruct and experiment with possible interpretations of the housing created by the regiment from these orders. The soldiers’ huts produced by this project will serve as new interpretive spaces, as well as a laboratory to learn about these semi-permanent structures which covered the bare Heights of Carillon off to the west of Fort Ticonderoga.

The Pennsylvanian's camp on the Heights of Carillon is unusual. Many famous Continental Army Encampments like Valley Forge or even Mount Independence could use logs from the forests cleared for the camp. The Pennsylvanians had to use mill sawn boards from the Army's sawmill on the LaChute River.

The Pennsylvanian’s camp on the Heights of Carillon is unusual. Many famous Continental Army Encampments like Valley Forge or even Mount Independence could use logs from the forests cleared for the camp. The Pennsylvanians had to use mill sawn boards from the Army’s sawmill on the LaChute River.

A couple essential facts stood out in researching these huts which informed interpretation of other details. The location of the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion’s huts shaped much of their construction. Unlike many other Continental Army encampments, which were begun deliberately in wooded areas, the Pennsylvanians built their huts on ground already cleared of timber since the 1758 battle. In fact, years of military construction had pushed the wood line miles west into what today is the town of Ticonderoga. The diary of chief engineer, Colonel Jeduthan Baldwin records on August 17th1776, “went into the woods near the Saw mill by a Spring where we had a fine dinner.” The saw mill stood on the lowest falls of the LaChute river, now a public park in Ticonderoga. Close to the wood line, the saw mill was ideally located to rip-saw logs (felled, sectioned, and skidded from the woods) into boards and beams for the construction of military works across the Ticonderoga camp. With the Heights of Carillon bare of timber, this saw mill provided the lumber for the construction of Pennsylvania soldiers’ huts.

Commissioned by General Lafayette after the campaign, this map of 1777 engagements at Ticonderoga clearly shows the location of the saw mill.

Commissioned by General Lafayette after the campaign, this map of 1777 engagements at Ticonderoga clearly shows the location of the saw mill.

In his orders to construct huts Colonel Anthony Wayne did not mention materials. However, his orders to leave the huts on November 23rd, specifically state, “Any Soldier who demolishes any of the Hutts or carries away any of the Boards or Timber of them shall receive 100 Lashes.” The source of these boards and timber must have been the saw mill. Previously in the summer, Captain John Lacey procured boards from the saw mill to augment his tent. He recalled in his memoires, “I had procured some Boards from the Saw Mill, made a good and Drie floor, raised the sides of my Tent two Boards high.” This recollection is corroborated by the journal of Massachusetts Lieutenant Henry Sewell, who the following summer wrote on June 20th, “went to the mills & got slabs to build us a house.” Unfortunately, there are no receipts for the purchase of this timber. The lumber used to build these huts may have remained property of the army. Briefly encamping at Sorrell, during the retreat from Canada on May 15th, 1776, Massachusetts Colonel Elisha Porter noted in his diary, “Drew huts and pitched them in confusion.” The way in which he described “drawing” huts and throwing them up is similar to how he would have drawn tools from Continental Army stores, which were to be returned when work was completed. Colonel Anthony Wayne went to great lengths to keep these huts, and their materials, in the property of the Army. As Colonel Wayne took command of the whole army at Ticonderoga and regiments prepared to march home he ordered them to leave huts intact.

 The commanding Officers of those Regiments now under marching Orders are not only to be accountable for the Huts of their respective Regiments, but Col: Wayne declares he’ll not allow them to march if their Huts are demolish’d.

-Col. Anthony Wayne’s Orderly Book November 24, 1776

The Pennsylvanians' hut sites from 1776 survive today in long rows as if lines of tents in an army camp were replaced by huts. The foundations indicate huts about 10'x10' set up to 2' into the ground.

The Pennsylvanians’ hut sites from 1776 survive today in long rows as if lines of tents in an army camp were replaced by huts. The foundations indicate huts about 10’x10′ set up to 2′ into the ground.

The location of the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion’s huts on the Heights of Carillon informs more about their construction than materials. Foundations of these soldiers’ huts remain just inside the French Lines today. A matter of yards behind the earthworks of the French Lines rows of soldiers’ hut foundations remain. The ground of these hut sites has not been excavated archaeologically. These foundations have remained largely untouched and should remain preserved as they are for future generations. Merely surveying the hut foundations from the contemporary ground’s surface shows some variability in size. Surviving foundations fall between ten feet by ten feet and ten feet by twelve feet. Though erosion and leaf litter fills in much of these huts foundations, they remain relatively deep even today. Without excavation, measurement from the surface indicates these huts were set approximately two feet into the ground. The exact reason for digging these huts below ground level is unknown, though the reconstruction project has yielded some interesting possible benefits.  The practice is not without outside precedent, as contemporary Germanic plates about tents and soldiers’ shelters show dug out foundations inside some tents. This also coincides with descriptions of earthen chimneys. Captain John Lacey, described tent augmented with boards, including a, “a chimney & fireplace at the back end with Sods of Dirt or Earth,” in his memoirs.

The 1788 boo, "Was ist jedem Officier wahrend eines Feldzugs zu wissen nothig. Mit zehen Kupferplatten," illustrates some field housing practices, including wooden tents. These are shown simply as boards laid up against a ridge pole. This matches some 1776 descriptions of quickly improvised housing. This image also shows a plan for a dug out foundation in a tent with a fireplace, much like evidence for the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion's huts.

The 1788 book, “Was ist jedem Officier wahrend eines Feldzugs zu wissen nothig. Mit zehen Kupferplatten,” illustrates some field housing practices, including wooden tents. These are shown simply as boards laid up against a ridge pole. This matches some 1776 descriptions of quickly improvised housing. This image also shows a plan for a dug out foundation in a tent with a fireplace, much like evidence for the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion’s huts.

Taken together, the rough dimensions the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion’s huts and their construction using saw milled boards as well as timber are known. Every other aspect of the construction of these huts is a matter of interpretation. The 1776 encampment of the Continental Army at Ticonderoga included a broad spectrum of soldiers’ housing, with overlapping terminology. General Orders from October 3rd 1776 include mention of an odd General Court Martial case, charging two officers of Colonel Winds New Jersey Regiment for, “ungentlemanlike behavior for setting fire to a Bow house belonging to Ensign Ross of the same Regt.” This would appear to describe some sort of house or hut built of branches or pine boughs. The journal of Connecticut surgeon, Lewis Beebe described more substantial housing on Mount Independence in a September 29th journal entry. He wrote, “In general the Regt. Have built Log Huts, & some of the officers have good framed houses, so that we live much more comfortable than in tents…”

With simply timber and boards it is possible that the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion’s huts were simply boards laid upon a central ridge pole, like a tent. The journal of Lieutenant Henry Sewell described this construction on Mount Independence in his diary on September 4th, saying, “The regt. Employ’d building wooden tents and without tools too-almost.” However, the labor needed to dig out the relatively deep foundations of the soldiers’ huts on the Heights of Carillon could indicate that Pennsylvania soldiers put more labor into the framing of their huts. Based on this Fort Ticonderoga’s interpretive staff tried building framed houses, covered with boards as one interpretation to test. This interpretation is has some corroborating evidence.

Based on the evidence at hand, the Soldiers' Hut Building Project has experimented first with timber frame construction. Initially, this seemed like far more labor than was practical. However, the after the practice of framing the first hut, the joinery for the second proceeded very rapidly, hinting that this may well have been their basic design in 1776.

Based on the evidence at hand, the Soldiers’ Hut Building Project has experimented first with timber frame construction. Initially, this seemed like far more labor than was practical. However, the after the practice of framing the first hut, the joinery for the second proceeded very rapidly, hinting that this may well have been their basic design in 1776.

As early as April 8th, 1776 Massachusetts Colonel Elisha Porter, wrote of similar construction near the Ticonderoga camp. “Built us a fine house and covered it with boards which we brought from-ye landing.” Later in the summer on Mount Independence, Colonel Porter’s journal went into more construction detail. On August 7th, 1776 he wrote, “Got most of ye timber for my house hewed this day.” The following day he noted, “In ye afternoon got my house almost raised.” In less than a week he wrote, “Got nails and shingled my house.” If an archaeological investigation of the Pennsylvania soldiers’ hut sites revealed large numbers of nails or if receipts surfaced for procuring nails for soldiers’ huts, it would be very solid evidence for timber framed houses covered in boards.  However, the absence of nails may not be evidence against timber framed construction. Similar houses, build around Fort Crown Point in 1759, were described in an October 1759 letter from provincial soldier William Gavit to his brother.

 I Shall jest Acquaint You that I have

Been Building as Well as You and Have Got a Snug Little House the Dementions are as follows

it is 9 feet Square 6 feet Hig[h] Sharp Rough

it is Studed 3 feet Apart and Not Having Nails I cut a G[ro]ve in the

Studs With a Chissel and So put in My Clabboards Being Very Good

About 10 inches broad and Raisd a Side at A time and Cicured the

Rough with the Same and

Peg[ge]d them on and have a fine stove.

The reconstruction project has not only shown that it is possible to cut tenons with a hatchet, in practice this has proved by far the fastest tool.

The reconstruction project has not only shown that it is possible to cut tenons with a hatchet, in practice this has proved by far the fastest tool.

While far from certain, there is plenty of precedent for timber framing soldiers’ huts to make it a viable interpretation. The reconstruction of these huts has experimentally shown this as a viable method of construction. Provided with milled boards and timber (as was procured from the Sawmill) the mortise and tenon joints required for basic timber framing can be achieved with simple soldiers’ axes and a handful of carpentry tools: hammer, chisel, and handsaw. Joinery for the reconstructed huts was gleaned from simple post and beam construction, though further study of surviving period coarse structures may yield different techniques.

The Pennsylvanians' huts may have been floored with boards to ward off the moisture. Colonel Wayne's orderly book on May 12th, mentioned, "boards for the tents." Captain John Lacey of the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion,  said he set the trend of officers flooring their tents in boards by the summer of 1776. It is likely this practice carried over to these semi-permanent huts as well.

Colonel Wayne’s orderly book on May 12th, mentioned, “boards for the tents.” Captain John Lacey of the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion, said he set the trend of officers flooring their tents in boards by the summer of 1776. It is likely this practice carried over to these semi-permanent huts as well.

As per the remains of Pennsylvania soldiers’ huts, interpretive staff and volunteers set the frame of the reconstructed huts down into a two foot deep foundation. This foundation was lined in boards, both to support the frame, but also to serve as a floor inside. Earlier in the campaign, Captain John Lacey’s tent included, “a good and Drie floor,” made from boards he procured from the sawmill. This and other descriptions of board floors in tents from diaries and orders in the Northern Department in 1776 and 1777 made the board floor in the soldiers’ huts a reasonable interpretation. After raising the frame and sheathing the lower walls with boards, dirt excavated for the reconstructed hut was filled back in around the walls. Right away it became apparent just how insulating the ground could be. In the rapidly cooling weather of the fall of 1776, this may have been a large concern. The earthen sill created to the back of the hut created the perfect location to build a fireplace. The naturally clay rich soil in the Lake Champlain valley easily shapes into a simple hearth. With boards or sticks creating a frame to the back of the hut, dirt excavated from the foundation was mounded up creating a substantial chimney. This experiment in the recreated soldiers’ huts coincides with Captain Lacey’s description of, “a chimney & fireplace at the back end with Sods of Dirt or Earth,” in his tent. Accounts from Mount Independence indicate just how common chimneys and fireplaces were in soldiers’ huts. Lieutenant Henry Sewell among several other accounts from 1776, noted in his diary on September 20th, “Began to build a chimney.” The following day he wrote, “Finish’d the chimney & mov’d into our new hut.” Unfortunately, Sewell’s account nor other officers on Mount Independence give any further details.

Thus far the hut floors have stayed dry. The sill created at the back of each hut creates the perfect place to build a fireplace, much like the fireboxes dug into earthen camp kitchens commonly used.

Thus far the hut floors have stayed dry. The sill created at the back of each hut creates the perfect place to build a fireplace, much like the fireboxes dug into earthen camp kitchens commonly used.

An initial concern about the foundation of these reconstructed huts was flooding. Many visitors pointed out this potential problem during the September, “Lodging as the Nature of the Campaign will Admit” event. This potential problem has thus far been prevented by simple ditches cut around the huts for drainage. This coincides with later regulations for cutting drainage ditches around tents in the 1779 published version of Baron Von Steuben’s Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. Despite driving rainstorms, the initial reconstructed soldiers’ huts still have dry floors, a testament to utility of the original foundations near the French Lines.

Above the framing, two different styles of roofing have been tried in the reconstructed huts. Contemporary German images of board tents show board roofs created by laying boards vertically against a central ridge. Accounts of these from the journals of Lieutenant Henry Sewell and Colonel Elisha Porter from 1776 indicate this practice. Reconstructing a soldiers’ hut with boards set vertically requires a central ridge beam joined at the top of roof rafters. Even mill sawn lumber does not line up perfectly, creating gaps between the boards. To avoid this, boards had to be overlapped. Conversely, descriptions of huts from Mount Independence describe shingles, which would have been set in horizontal courses. Henry Sewall’s journal entry on October 10th,1776 stated, “Went in the woods & made shingles.” The following day, he “Finish’d shingling our house.” Similarly, Colonel Porter wrote, “Got nails and shingled my house,” on August 14th, 1776. With boards as the principle construction material, they could have been nailed horizontally, each board overlapping the previous board, in the manner of shingles or clapboards.  The second of the two reconstructed huts has been roofed in this manner for comparison. Without definite orders either way, each style is possible. In the short time both huts have been up together, laying roofing boards horizontally has yielded fewer leaks. However, time and further research will tell more.

The first hut experimented with roofing the soldiers' hut with boards set vertically as was common on temporary wooden tents. This roof construction is very quick, but requires a lot of nails. It has proven a little leaky in driving rain.

The first hut experimented with roofing the soldiers’ hut with boards set vertically as was common on temporary wooden tents. This roof construction is very quick, but requires a lot of nails. It has proven a little leaky in driving rain.

Based on the few solid pieces of information, dimensions and materials, there are many possible and documentable interpretations of the Pennsylvania soldiers’ huts to try. Thus far on the reconstructed huts mill sawn boards have only been nailed in place. Future reconstructions will have to try notching and pegging boards as in the 1759 account. Siding boards have only been butted up together; at least one future hut will try overlapping the boards like clapboards. The first two reconstructed soldiers’ huts used mill sawn timber for the frame. The third will incorporate hand hewn timber, as accounts of the saw mill on the LaChute River only directly mention boards and slabs. One nagging question is the presence or omission bunk racks inside the huts. None of the sources about the hut construction at Ticonderoga have yielded mention of bunks or any sleeping arrangements inside. Soldiers may well have simply laid on the board floors, possibly even dirt floors, but research will continue. Beyond creating interpretive spaces, specific to the Ticonderoga, the long-term project of reconstructing Pennsylvania soldiers’ huts provides a laboratory to turn speculation into experimentation. It is an opportunity to learn more about temporary military construction that was not designed to last into posterity. As Fort Ticonderoga delves into this style of military architecture visitors, young and old, get to join us in the laboratory as this interesting experiment continues.

The second soldiers' hut experimented with setting roofing boards overlapping horizontally like courses of oak shingles. With a little notching to make the boards overlap nicely, this has produced an excellent roof. The goal building these is to keep experimenting with interpretations of the evidence available and bring visitors into the fun of this process.

The second soldiers’ hut experimented with setting roofing boards overlapping horizontally like courses of oak shingles. With a little notching to make the boards overlap nicely, this has produced an excellent roof. The goal building these is to keep experimenting with interpretations of the evidence available and bring visitors into the fun of this process.

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The Noble Train Begins

The Noble Train Begins

The Noble Train Begins

 

Discover the story of Henry Knox’s “Noble Train” of artillery at Fort Ticonderoga’s upcoming living history event, Saturday, December 6, from 10 am – 4 pm. The event will feature a lively program highlighting Henry Knox’s arrival to Fort Ticonderoga and recreate the beginning of the epic feat that ultimately forced the British evacuation from Boston on March 17, 1776. Admission to the “The Noble Train Begins” living history event is $10 per person and payable at the gate. Friends of Fort Ticonderoga and children 4 years and under are free. For more details visit www.fortticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821.

Be inspired by the story of Henry Knox, the unassuming Boston book seller, whose physical and mental might would be first tested with the ‘noble train’ of artillery. See man power and oxen power in action as fifty-nine cannons and mortars are carefully selected from Fort Ticonderoga. Watch as soldiers, days before their enlistment expires, work as carpenters to maintain Fort Ticonderoga. Experience the raw power of oxen as these thousand pound animals pull sleds of cannon tubes along.

Examine the science of gunnery, preserved in Fort Ticonderoga’s massive cannon collection. Stand inside the stone walls in the stark beauty of winter on the very spot where Henry Knox began his Noble Train of Artillery.

“The Noble Train Begins” living history event will feature interpretive staff working with oxen as they move the artillery in place for the journey, cannon tours and cannon demonstrations will also be presented. Historic trades programs such as pit saw demonstrations and sled building demonstrations will highlight the material needs and

The event will also include a presentation by Matthew Keagle, Director of Exhibitions. Keagle will discuss the tools of the artilleryman’s trade as he highlights the Fort Ticonderoga Museum’s artifact collection. See tools, ammunition, and evidence of the use of artillery recovered from Fort Ticonderoga’s ruins. Keagle’s presentation will take place at 12 pm inside the Mars Education Center.production of the new fledgling American army and in particular the resources needed for Knox’s epic journey to Boston.

Historical Background:

The siege of Boston, April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776 was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War in which New England militiamen, who later became part of the Continental Army, surrounded the town of Boston, Massachusetts, to prevent movement by the British Army garrisoned within. In November 1775, Washington sent a 25 year-old bookseller-turned-soldier, Henry Knox, to bring heavy artillery that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga to

Boston. Knox knew the challenge before him as he wrote to George Washington on December 5, 1775.

Cart and Noble Train in Winter

The garrison at Ticonderoga is so weak, the conveyance from the fort to the landing is so difficult, the passage across the lake so precarious, that I am afraid it will be ten days at least before I can get them on this side. When they are here, the conveyance from hence will depend entirely on the sledding; if that is wood, they shall immediately move forward; without sledding the roads are so much gullied that it will be impossible to move a step.

In a technically complex and demanding operation, Knox began the “Noble Train” in January 1776 at Ticonderoga and carried sixty tons of artillery through the dead of winter to Boston in just forty days. In March 1776, these artillery pieces were used to fortify Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston and its harbor and threatening the British naval supply lifeline. The British commander William Howe, realizing he could no longer hold the town, chose to evacuate it. He withdrew the British forces, departing on March 17, for Halifax, Nova Scotia thus giving Washington his first great victory of the war.he roads are so much gullied that it will be impossible to move a step.

Fort Ticonderoga is the location of the first Knox Trail marker in the Knox cannon trail that traces the route of the noble train. The Fort Ticonderoga Museum owns 2 original artillery pieces that made the epic journey in the winter of 1776.

Event Schedule:

10 am Fort Ticonderoga Opens to Visitors

10:15 am Guided Tour (Begins at the Large American Flag)
From Ethan Allen, to the Canadian campaign, to Henry Knox, see how the events of 1775 fit together. Tour through Fort Ticonderoga to see the great exhibits and demonstrations open to explore. Imagine the first year of the Revolutionary war at this frontier post.

11 am Cannon Demonstration (Fort Demonstration Area)
How do you know a gun barrel won’t blow up? Learn about the process of proofing, using two to three times a cannon or mortar’s normal charge to test its strength. See how this process was vital for weapons destined to be carried all the way to the siege of Boston.

11:30 am Pit-Saw Demonstration (Located at the Glacis, Adjacent the Parking Lot)
With the saw mill on the LaChute River frozen, soldiers work to saw out beams and boards with which to repair and rebuild the fort. Watch two men work as a team to cut with a six-foot long whip or rip-saw.

12 pm Traces of the Noble Train (Mars Education Center Great Room)
Join Director of Exhibitions, Matthew Keagle, to explore the real tools of the artilleryman’s trade with artifacts in the collection of Fort Ticonderoga. See tools, ammunition, and evidence of the use of artillery recovered from the ruins of the Fort.

1:15 pm Cannon Tour (Begins Inside Fort Ticonderoga)
Join Senior Director of Interpretation Stuart Lilie to examine the real guns of Ticonderoga located within the Fort Ticonderoga Museum’s world-renown cannon collection. Touch real cannons and mortars from the Noble Train of Artillery and hear their incredible stories.

2 pm Cannon Demonstration (Fort Demonstration Area)
How do you know a gun barrel won’t blow up? Learn about the process of proofing, using two to three times a cannon or mortar’s normal charge to test its strength. See how this process was vital for weapons destined to be carried all the way to the siege of Boston.

2:30 pm Sled Building & Loading Demonstration (Inside Fort Ticonderoga)
Watch how simple hand-hewn beams could be turned into ox sleds. Explore how these humble sleds, common to any farm, were used as a vehicle for a critical military expedition. See cannon tubes, flints and powder loaded up for transport with Henry Knox’s Noble Train of Artillery.

3 pm Guided Tour (Begins at the Large American Flag)
From Ethan Allen, to the Canadian campaign, to Henry Knox, see how the events of 1775 fit together. Tour through Fort Ticonderoga to see the great exhibits and demonstrations open to explore. Imagine the first year of the Revolutionary war at this frontier post.

Available 10 am to 4 pm
Pork, Pigeon, & Pottery (Ground Floor of the Soldiers’ Barracks)
In this exhibit of original artifacts recovered from the ruins of Fort Ticonderoga explore the meals of soldiers and officers who served inside this “Old French Fort.”

It Would Make a Heart of Stone Melt (Ground Floor of the Soldiers’ Barracks)
Smallpox was a looming threat on the horizon for the Continental Army in Canada. In this visually compelling exhibit see how this disease, as well as battlefield wounds, were handled in the Revolutionary War.

Founding Fashions (Downstairs in the Mars Education Center)
From original 18th-century uniforms to real remains of clothing from the American Revolution, explore this great presentation of myths and realities of clothing from the great campaigns that made Ticonderoga so famous.

Officer’s Quarters (Second floor of the Officer’s Barracks)
See the perks of rank living in the quarters of a small mess of junior officers. From beds to brandy, learn about officers’ duties and comforts. Take the opportunity to discuss the strategic situation in the late fall of 1775 with one of these officers.

Public Store (Ground floor of the Officer’s Barracks)
See the array of supplies and tools needed to maintain an army fighting up north in Canada. Watch as new bedding for the barracks of Fort Ticonderoga are sewn and stockpiled.

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New NEH Grant Supports On-Going Teacher Education

We are delighted to announce that the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant of $169,232 to Fort Ticonderoga to host two week-long Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers in the summer of 2015. The workshops will focus on “The American Revolution on the Northern Frontier: Fort Ticonderoga and the Road to Saratoga.” Fort Ticonderoga was one of five institutions in New York State to receive grant funding for NEH Landmarks Workshops in 2015.

Smaller Web Version 2014 NEH Teachers

Participants in the 2014 NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers on “The American Revolution on the Northern Frontier: Fort Ticonderoga and the Road to Saratoga.”

This prestigious grant allows Fort Ticonderoga an unparalleled opportunity to play a vital part in educating and inspiring America’s youth through their teachers’ participation in this program. Fort Ticonderoga is a national leader in teacher education and this program helps add to our diverse offerings and increased reach.
I’m really excited to welcome 72 teachers to Fort Ticonderoga next summer as part of the NEH Landmarks Workshops as the NEH Project Director for the workshops in 2015. Providing these NEH Summer Scholars with a unique learning experience combining a top-notch slate of visiting scholars and the talented staff and amazing resources at Fort Ticonderoga makes for a very memorable experience. It’s gratifying to think of the long-term impact a week like this has on teachers and their future students for years to come.

This NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for School Teachers will be offered twice: July 12-17, 2015 and July 26-31, 2015. There is no fee for this program and all participants receive a $1,200 stipend to help defray expenses. Teachers wishing to earn three graduate credits during the workshop can do so through an arrangement with Castleton State College in Vermont.

Visiting scholars for the workshops include some of the most prominent historians in their fields and include James Kirby Martin (University of Houston), Holly Mayer (Duquesne University), Douglas Egerton (LeMoyne College), Carol Berkin (City University of New York), William Fowler (Northeastern University), and Jon Parmenter (Cornell University). Participating teachers have the opportunity to discuss issues related to the Revolution with these scholars as well as utilize the inexhaustible resources of Fort Ticonderoga.

Fort Ticonderoga played a crucial role in the early years of the American Revolution on the northern frontier. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured the Fort and its valuable artillery in May 1775 for the colonial cause. It was a hive of activity in 1776, fending off an aborted British invasion from Canada. In 1777, when news reached London that the Fort fell to the British in July, King George III reportedly shouted to the Queen “I’ve beaten them! I’ve beaten them!” These week-long workshops explore Fort Ticonderoga and the first three years of the Revolution on the northern frontier.

“The American Revolution on the Northern Frontier: Fort Ticonderoga and the Road to Saratoga” is open to all teachers nationwide through a competitive application process open now. Full-time and part-time classroom teachers and librarians in public, charter, independent, and religiously-affiliated schools, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to participate. Other K-12 school personnel, including administrators, substitute teachers, and classroom professionals, are also eligible to participate, subject to available space.

Fort Ticonderoga hosted NEH Landmarks Workshops for School Teachers in 2011 and 2014 and also offers the annual Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute each summer. To learn more about programs for educators follow this link.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this workshop do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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“by Taylors of their respective Companies”

Within the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion of 1776, Captain Lacey's Company had a particularly sharp, custom uniform, but one which did not hold up for the entire campaign.

Within the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion of 1776, Captain Lacey’s Company had a particularly sharp, custom uniform, but one which did not hold up for the entire campaign.

Many of the documents from 4th Pennsylvania Battalion Quartermaster John Harper reside in the collection of Fort Ticonderoga today. These papers document many aspects of the supply of this regiment, including its resupply with clothing and materials while encamped at Ticonderoga in 1776. These papers include receipts for large amounts of cloth for the regiment which have been puzzling for many years. However, a careful study of the regiment in 1776 may indicate how this cloth was used.

The 4th Pennsylvania Battalion was supplied by merchants and tailors in and around Philadelphia. Many captains of this regiment relied on the regiment to supply their companies with clothing and equipment, leaving a wonderful paper trail in the files of Quartermaster John Harper. These papers even include the purchases of blue and white cloth for the regiment’s distinctive uniform, signed by the regiment’s Colonel, Anthony Wayne. Conspicuously absent from these regimental clothing purchases is Captain John Lacey’s company, an absence explained in Lacey’s memoires.

I had used more industry to clothe my men than any of the other Captains, their regimentals were made in Philadelphia, by the taylors there, mine at Darby by my own men, and others at that place, under my own direction and of cloth that I had procured myself. Our regimental coats were deep blew faced with white, white vests and overalls edged with blew cloth. A very beautiful uniform, but on experience was found much better adopted for parade than utility in the hardships of a camp, as they too easily became soiled and hard to keep clean.

With tailoring being one of the most common trades, captains could count on finding tailors within their companies who could repair or even make clothing for their men.

With tailoring being one of the most common trades, captains could count on finding tailors within their companies who could repair or even make clothing for their men.

Three companies of the regiment were fully raised, equipped, and encamped on Long Island by May of 1776, just in time to go north to join the American army teetering near disaster in Canada. These three companies, including Captain John Lacey’s company, retreated with the American Army in Canada all the way back to Ticonderoga, where the rest of the companies finally completed the regiment. After briefly encamping below the walls of Fort Ticonderoga The 4th Pennsylvania Battalion moved up to the west of the Fort onto the French Lines in order to fortify them beginning July 16th. The work of building fascines, digging ditches, raising parapet walls, and cannon batteries continued up through September 18th. Then the regiment set to work building huts to replace their wet and worn tents.

Constructing earthworks and soldiers' huts was hard work, work which likely wore out breeches, waistcoats, and shirts faster than other uniform garments.

Constructing earthworks and soldiers’ huts was hard work, work which likely wore out breeches, waistcoats, and shirts faster than other uniform garments.

This constant fatigue work must have put a great strain on clothing as it coincides with regimental purchases of cloth. By August 27th, regimental Quartermaster John Harper purchased from Continental Army stores, 60 shirts and 191 ¾ yards of wool cloth. This cloth included, “29 yds narrow brown knap, 31 yds ditto, 14 yds coarse broadcloth, 6yds green knap, 15 yds Red ditto, 24 ¾ yds Green Broadcloth, 16 yds purple motheaten cloth, 11 ½ yds drab cloth ditto, 15 ½ yds Green Knap, 29 yds brown Broadcloth” While the regiment’s official uniform of blue coats faced in white and white vests, the majority of this cloth was brown, green, red, drab or purple. Two days later, the papers of Quartermaster Harper show an additional draft of cloth from Army stores of 181 ¾ yards of various types and colors of woolen cloth.

August 29, 1776 received of Major Hay 12 ½ yds narrow brown knap, 8 yds ditto red knap, 31 yds narrow red knap, 7 ¼ yds black bearskin, 15 yds fine knap sarge, 2 ¼ yds wide knap light coloured (purple crossed out), 29 yds narrow red knap, 30 yds narrow brown knap, 32 yds drab cloth, 7 ½ yds clarrett coloured wide cloth, 4 ¼ yds black wide cloth, 13 yds Brown wide cloth much motheaten, 181 ¾ yds——

By September 2nd, the regiment purchased an additional,” 7 yds camblet cloth, striped,” a stout worsted upholstery cloth along with 32 pairs of leather breeches.  In only seven days the regiment procured 380 ½ yards of woolen cloth of various types and colors. These summer receipts of cloth for clothing were just the beginning.

By October, remaining clothing must have needed to be replaced en masse, especially with temperatures dropping and rain falling. Between October 9th and 11th, the Regiment drew 334 pairs of leather breeches. With 502 enlisted soldiers (excluding those, “sick & absent,” in the regiment by November 17th) this total of 366 leather breeches would have clothed a majority of the regiment .By October 25th the papers of Quartermaster John Harper list the clothing purchases for individual companies. Captain John Lacey procured for his men.

Capt Lacy- 3 yd. Light Coulored wide knap, 26 ½ yd narrow brown knap, 4 ½ yds wide black cloth, 11 ¾ yd light coulored wide cloth

By the end of October, 1776 most men in Captain Lacey's company likely had leather breeches and waistcoats made from the brown, black, or light colored cloth procured by Captain Lacey.

By the end of October, 1776 most men in Captain Lacey’s company likely had leather breeches and waistcoats made from the brown, black, or light colored cloth procured by Captain Lacey.

These company purchases of cloth total to 333 ¾ yards of enlisted grade woolen cloths, similarly in various colors and finishes.  In total, between August 27th and October 25th, the regiment drew a total of 714 ¼ yards of various woolen cloths. Compared with the November 17th muster roll this equals a little less than 1 ¼ yards per man, assuming these various cloths were distributed equally through the regiment. Taking Captain Lacey’s Company as an example, he procured for his company 45 ¾ yards of wool cloth. In mid-July Captain Lacey was disappointed to find his company had lost twenty-eight privates since it left Long Island back in May. In his memoires he recalled, “I ordered my Orderly sergant to make me a return of the Company, which to my inexpressable mortification I found to stand as follows, viz. one Cap*, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Ensine, 2 Sergants, 2 Corparals, no Drum or Fifer, and but 48 privates-“ With approximately one yard of cloth needed for  the front, back, and other pieces of a waistcoat, 45 ¾ yards of cloth would produce nearly enough waistcoats to cloth every enlisted man.

By itself there is no evidence that these woolen cloths were distributed equally, but the yardage procured coincides roughly with the amount needed for unlined waistcoats. This is an intriguing possibility given that so many pairs of leather breeches were issued out during the same time period. Together this would constitute a new set of small clothes, or a pair of breeches and a new waistcoat, for the majority of the regiment. With much of the regiment issued leather breeches prior to marching, it’s quite possible that the rest of the men still had their initial issue breeches, but need a new waistcoat. The need to replace breeches and waistcoats coincides very nicely with the fatigue work carried out by the regiment. It was a common practice for soldiers to work wearing merely their small clothes or shirt, waistcoat, and breeches, preserving their coat from being soiled. With Colonel Anthony Wayne’s attention to the dress and appearance of his regiment he may well have made this common practice for his men. Working every day in breeches and waistcoats would have worn out small clothes very rapidly, quickly creating the need for replacement clothing, but not new regimental coats..

It appears quite likely that this cloth was turned into clothing by tailors within the regiment or even each company. This practice is evident even during the raising of Captain John Lacey’s company. He noted his attention to his men’s dress in his memoires stating, “their regimentals were made in Philadelphia, by the taylors there, mine at Darby by my own men, and others at that place, under my own direction and of cloth that I had procured myself.” However, this practice was ordered for the whole Northern Continental Army while it regrouped at Crown Point in early July. Colonel Anthony Wayne’s orderly books do not include the chaotic days of early July. However, the orderly book of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment includes the general orders from the army. On July 6th, General Horatio Gates ordered all the tailors in the regiments to be accounted for, stating, “A Return to be Immeditaly to be maide by the Adjuants of the Sever Regt. of the Taylors of the Several Corps.” This order was in preparation for replacing clothing lost or worn out while in service in Canada. By July 8th General Gates ordered, “The Cloathing may be wanted by their Respective Corps, that each may have a Proportionable Share of what is now Here.”

Regimental orders during the period when the 4th Pennsylvanai Battalion drew large amounts of woolen cloth do not directly refer to the use of the cloth. Instead regimental orders repeated encourage the men to maintain their clean and neat appearance. However, Colonel Wayne did specifically mention waistcoats in his regimental orders from December 5th, 1776.

Capns and Commanding Officers of Companies in the 4th P. Regt. will immediately settle with and pay their Men, stopping out of their Wages the weekly Allowance for the Barber. They will with all possible Expedition cause the Cloathing of the Men to be repair’d in the neatest Manner by Taylors of their respective Companies, and as white Waistcoats and Stockings are now to be had they will draw sufficient for the Men, as also Leggings and Shirts.

Complete button bone cores and partially made button corps still set into cattle ribs provide further evidence of clothing production at Ticonderoga. These round cores were made to be covered with cloth to make cloth buttons. Production of these button cores may explain the lack of button purchases with cloth from Continental Stores in 1776.

Complete button bone cores and partially made button corps still set into cattle ribs provide further evidence of clothing production at Ticonderoga. These round cores were made to be covered with cloth to make cloth covered buttons. Production of these button cores may explain the lack of button purchases along with cloth purchases from Continental Stores in 1776.

Wayne’s orders state that the, “Taylors of the respective Companies,” are to carry out repairs to the clothing. This is consistent with the practice indicated by General Orders in the army in July as well as the initial clothing of Captain Lacey’s company. Further, the order would indicate that it was regimental practice to have replacement clothing made by the tailors within the regiment or each company. This practice could explain how the cloth procured by the regiment was made into clothing. More importantly within the order Colonel Wayne specifically noted that, “as white Waistcoats and Stockings are now to be had they [Captains and Company Commanders] will draw sufficient for the Men.” If Colonel Wayne had merely mentioned waistcoats it would just indicate more replacement clothing, but he noted that white waistcoats were then available. Such a specific detail quickly conjures the image of men of the regiment in a myriad of waistcoats, which Colonel Wayne was eager to replace for the sake of uniformity. Such an interpretation certainly would match his constant attention to the appearance of his men. These white waistcoats must not have clothed every soldier, as that same day the regiment drew only 150 waistcoats from Continental stores inside Fort Ticonderoga. That same day the regiment drew another 16 ¼ yards of broadcloth and 32 pairs of breeches, along with 97 pairs of leggings* and 104 mittens. All of this coincides with regimental orders from two days later. Colonel Wayne in his December 7th orders mentions all these clothing items, stating:

The Officers commanding Comps will give in the Returns of Waistcoats, Mittins, and Leggins, wanted for their Comp[an]y immediately.

When available, buckskin breeches were ideal leg wear for 4th PA soldiers. Today Fort Ticonderoga shoemakers are experimenting with building leather breeches based on some period boot maker's advertizements offering them. The majority of leather breeches came from specialist leather breeches makers.

When available, buckskin breeches were ideal leg wear for 4th PA soldiers. Today Fort Ticonderoga shoemakers are experimenting with building leather breeches based on some period boot maker’s advertizements offering them. The majority of leather breeches came from specialist leather breeches makers who used merely needle and thread to sew the breeches’ seams.

All this evidence together is circumstantial, but it’s the current interpretation of the usage of all the cloth drawn by the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion. It is possible that some of the cloth was made into breeches. Regimental orders and the papers of Quartermaster John Harper are equally silent on building breeches as about building waistcoats. However, accounting by the state of Pennsylvania for their 4th Battalion carried out after 1776 counted 444 pairs of leather breeches issued to the battalion, though it is unclear if this number reflects any breeches drawn Continental stores in 1776.  The large number of ready made leather breeches indicates that the majority of this cloth was not needed for breeches, leaving waistcoats as the most likely explanation.  Perhaps more important than whether or not the regiment’s purchases of cloth were used specifically for waistcoats, is the amount of effort they represent to keep the 4th Pennsylvania Battalion clothed in the late summer and fall of 1776. The sheer quantity of clothing worn out by these soldiers is a testament to the massive fatigues they undertook. Despite all this effort to keep the regiment clothed, by December 4th Colonel Wayne sent Captain Persifor Frasier off to Philadelphia to procure complete new uniforms for every man in the regiment. All the cloth and clothing delivered to the regiment still was not enough to clothe them into the winter.

 

*The leggings mentioned in Colonel Wayne’s December 7th regimental orders, appear to be made of Russia drilling. Reports from Pennsylvania Committee of Safety member Owen Biddle, from the fall of 1776 for supplying their battalions include hundreds of, “Drilling leggings”, which were occasionally alternately labeled, “Drilling Spatterdashers.” This indicates that leggings that arrived for the regiment were similar short, or calf-length leggings.

 

 

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Author Series Program October 5th

Fort Ticonderoga’s 2014 Author Series concludes on Sunday, October 5, with Gary Shattuck, author of Artful and Designing Men: The Trials of Job Shattuck and the Regulation of 1786-1787. The program takes place at 2 pm. in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is followed by a book signing in the Museum Store at 3 pm. Artful and Designing MenThe program is included in the cost of admission; members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga and Ticonderoga Ambassador Pass holders are admitted at no cost.

It is not often that descriptions of historical events can be rewritten absent compelling evidence that those past accounts were somehow in error. But that is precisely the result when new-found court documents, presumed to not even exist, shed surprising new light on the involvement of Capt. Job Shattuck, one of the principal leaders in the event history has come to call “Shays’s Rebellion.” In Artful and Designing Men: The Trials of Job Shattuck and the Regulation of 1786-1787, Gary Shattuck (half-nephew, seven generations removed) delves deeply into the significant contributions made by this charismatic and well-respected veteran of the Seven Years’ War, the Revolutionary War, and community member as he transitioned from peaceful town father to protest leader. Tried and sentenced to death for high treason, shocking new information provided during his trial now forces a reassessment of this honorable man’s actions, resulting in the deserved rehabilitation of a reputation that history has denied until now.

Author Gary Shattuck

Author Gary Shattuck

Gary Shattuck is a native of Nashua, New Hampshire, grew up on the west coast, and graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Anthropology. He is a magna cum laude graduate of the Vermont Law School, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Military History, concentrating on the Revolutionary War.

He served thirty-five years in the law enforcement community as a supervisor with the Vermont State Police, an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Vermont prosecuting cases for the Drug Task Force, and then with the United States Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Vermont working on guns, drugs, and organized crime matters. Following the events of 9/11, he was named anti-terrorism coordinator for the district. He has also served in Kosovo and Iraq working to re-establish their court systems following those particular conflicts, retiring from the department in 2006.

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Seeing Red

exhibitionist, red

Visitors to our Founding Fashions exhibit in the Mars Educations Center are often confused by seeing three scarlet uniforms lined up in the gallery. Nowhere else in North America can you see so many 18th-century uniforms in one place, but you might ask, why only redcoats? What about the Americans?  In fact, only one of the uniforms on display is actually that of a regular British soldier. The two others are both American, although on opposing sides. This is where the story becomes a little more complicated.

Piedmontese

A different kind of Redcoat. Just one of many examples of red uniforms worn by troops across Europe in the 18th century. This Swiss soldier appears in a manuscript volume of uniforms of the Kingdom of Sardinia from around the middle of the 18th century. (Collections of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum)

Red is well known as the color of the uniforms of the British army, perhaps best known from Paul Revere’s erroneous cry of “The redcoats are coming!” Red coats had been worn by the English military as early as the New Model Army during the Civil Wars of the 1640s. By the 1770s it was very recognizable. However, red was not unique to the British. The Danish army wore red uniforms throughout the 18th century. Both the French and Spanish armies had multiple regiments of Irish troops that wore red uniforms. Red-coated Irish soldiers even fought red-coated British soldiers during the American Revolution. Red was also the color traditionally worn by Swiss soldiers. Red-coated Swiss served notably in the French, Sardinian, and Neapolitan armies throughout the 18th century.

Lieutenant Jacob Schieffelin, an American loyalist, wore the scarlet uniform, faced with black velvet and trimmed with gold lace currently on display in the Mars Education Center. Red seems an appropriate color for a loyalist but it was not a foregone conclusion. Schieffelin himself may have worn rather different dress in the field as a Lieutenant of the Detroit Volunteers. In 1779 he and his company was captured along with the rest of the British garrison of Fort Sackville, in present-day Vincennes, Indiana by Colonel George Rogers Clark. A vivid account of his travails was published in a New York newspaper after his escape from captivity in 1780. In it he described the ordeal of two, “Frenchmen in his Majesty’s service,” sergeants in the Detroit Volunteers, who had been serving with an Indian party when they were captured. The men witnessed the execution of the Indians they had been captured with, and were themselves saved only when one of them was recognized by an onlooker. As Schieffelin described: “his father who was an officer with the rebels did not know his son until they informed him that he was in the circle in Indian dress.” It is unclear if wearing Indian dress, likely a pair of woolen leggings, moccasins, a breechcloth, and a shirt was typical for the rest of the Detroit Volunteers, but at least some wore this clothing when operating with Native Americans. Regardless, once back in British lines Schieffelin clearly chose to procure the red coat so identifiable with Britain and her empire, even if he may have worn different clothing on the frontier.

Schiefflin

It seems obvious that Loyalists like Lieutenant Jacob Schieffelin would have worn red uniforms like the British, but that was not always the case. (Collections of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum)

During the New York Campaign in 1776, many loyalists had no uniforms at all and wore red ribbons in their hats to distinguish them from the Americans. The first uniforms many of these “Provincial” regiments received later that year were green, procured directly by the British Treasury department. Loyalists that fled to Canada from parts of New York and New England were also initially clothed in green uniforms, which had been intended for Canadian militiamen. It was clear though, that red was preferred. A report to General Guy Carleton in January of 1777, indicated the preference of loyalists for red uniforms. Ebenezer Jessup’s men were provided uniform coats described as, “…the cheapest that could be got at Montreal, very common Red Stuff turn’d up with Green; as Red seemed to be their favorite colour…” They wore these uniforms as part of John Burgoyne’s expedition along the Champlain valley in 1777.

In 1778, the survivors of Burgoyne’s loyalists and new recruits were issued blue coats with collars, cuffs and lapels of white. The officers lobbied against these coats, pleading to the Governor of Quebec Frederick Haldimand that, “our wishes only are that Your Excellency will Order us, Red Clothing, as along [sic] as any remains in Store, and that the Blue may be made use of the last.” Their justification was that they might be confused for Continentals, especially by Native Americans. One has to suspect that their preference for red was as much cultural as practical. These various colored uniforms may not have been intended as a snub, but it is not hard to image that these and other Provincial troops felt like they were being treated as second class soldiers when not clothed in the vaunted scarlet of the redcoats. But that was not necessarily the reason these other colors were used. Thousands of new suits of clothes were needed on short notice, especially in 1776, and green cloth may have simply been affordable or available at the time. Red uniforms started to appear as early as 1777, and although some green uniforms continued to be issued by the end of the war red became the standard uniform for most Provincials.

Red uniforms visually linked the loyalists to the cause they were fighting for, but red had no negative connotations for Americans prior to the Revolution. During the French and Indian War colonial troops from Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia all wore red uniforms at some point or another. Even during the crises of the 1760s and 70s Americans volunteer companies and militia from Boston to Charleston continued to wear red uniforms. It is most likely that Benedict Arnold wore the scarlet faced buff uniform of a member of the 2nd Company of the Governor’s footguards when he and Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga in 1775.

Baldwin Coat, three quarters

Cyrus Baldwin wore this coat as a member of the Governor’s Independent Company of Cadets, 1772-1774. (Collections of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum)

The most important uniform in our collection and the oldest surviving American military coat could be somewhat misleading due to its color. The uniform is that of the Governor’s Independent Company of Cadets of Boston, Massachusetts and it is bright red. Formed in 1741 the company acted as a guard for the colonial governors. John Hancock (yes the John Hancock) became the company’s commander in 1772. In April of that year the company met at the Bunch of Grapes tavern to hear a report from the committee of the company tasked with designing a new uniform. Their choice of scarlet for the body of the coat was never in question. What was debated was the color of the lapels, cuffs and collar, as well as the breeches and waistcoat. Ultimately buff was chosen. Despite the active role of many members against British taxation and colonial interference, the company wore their red uniforms until they disbanded in 1774, just eight months before hostilities erupted at Lexington and Concord.

American troops though, continued to wear red uniforms. Some of these were made in the colonies and later states. The dire need for suitable clothing though, made captured garments extremely valuable, despite the danger of wearing the enemy’s colors.  the Continental army benefited from as many as 15,000 uniforms captured from the British over the course of the war. Although some were dyed brown, most of these captured uniforms were issued to Americans unaltered, and as red as the redcoats they were intended for.

General Washington admitted, “the impolicy of any part of our Troops being Clothed in Red and that many injurious and fatal consequences are to be apprehended from it.” Even so there were times when it was advantageous. For generations one of the most storied objects in Fort Ticonderoga’s collection has been the “silver bullet” that a British spy tried to swallow to conceal a message being sent from General Clinton to General Burgoyne. The spy was apprehended by a guard of Colonel Samuel B. Webb’s Additional Regiment, which was dressed in captured uniforms which had been intended for the British army in Canada. Somewhat later the Americans hatched a plot to abduct General Clinton from New York. Although the plan was never executed Washington suggested that, “if the Scheme is practicable at all may add not a little to the success namely to let the Officers & Soldiers imployed in the enterprize be dressed in red and much in the taste of the British Soldiery—Webbs Regiment will afford these dresses.” As late as 1780 Washington was still suggesting Webb’s men might be used as decoys for clandestine operations.

Evidence of some of these captured uniforms can be found in Fort Ticonderoga’s collections. Amongst the hundreds of buttons recovered from the site are a number that we can directly attribute to uniforms that were once red. Among these are the buttons of the 7th and 26th regiments of the British army. These two corps garrisoned Canada when the Revolution began. When St John’s (Saint Jean, QC) fell to the Americans in November of 1775, the clothing taken in the fort caused something of stir in the American lines. The American commander General Richard Montgomery explained to General Philip Schuyler:

“The officers of the First Regiment of Yorkers, and Artillery Company, were very near a mutiny the other day, because I would not stop the clothing of the garrison of St. John’ s. I would not have sullied my own reputation, nor disgraced the Continental arms, by such a breach of capitulation, for the universe; there was no driving it into their noddles, that the clothing was really the property of the soldier, that he had paid for it, and that every Regiment, in this country especially, saved a year’ s clothing, to have decent clothes to wear on particular occasions.”

General Richard Montgomery, a former British officer, understood that the uniforms in the possession of the captured soldiers were their own property, having technically paid for them from stoppages taken out of their wages. He remained obstinate over the right of the British soldiers to their clothing even as the army was in dire need of warm clothes as winter was setting in, believing it important for the American cause to wage war in a civilized and lawful fashion.

The capture of additional stores of clothing from Montreal was more clear cut and provided relief for the survivors of Colonel Benedict Arnold’s heroic march across the Maine wilderness to the gates of Quebec City. Montgomery acknowledged the distinction between what was a lawful seizure and what was personal property:

“With a year’ s clothing of the 7th and 26th, I have relieved the distresses of Arnold’ s corps, and forwarded the clothing of some other corps. The greatest part of that clothing is a fair prize, except such as immediately belonged to the prisoners taken on board; they must be paid for theirs, as it was their own property.”

Buttons recovered archaeologically from the 26th regiment are to be expected as they garrisoned Ticonderoga itself in 1775. Buttons from the 7th have been found here as well, suggesting the presence of some of Arnold’s men at Ticonderoga as the army withdrew from Canada.

Buttons

These British buttons found in the early 20th century during the reconstruction of Fort Ticonderoga are all from from uniforms known to have been captured by American forces, (Collections of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum)

Buttons from the 22nd regiment of the British army have also been found on site. The 22nd never served at Ticonderoga and was not in Canada after numbered buttons were adopted by the British army in 1768. In 1775 however, a British vessel carrying clothing for the 22nd and 40th regiments was captured in Philadelphia and the clothing was immediately put to use by the Americans. Arriving in the Continental army’s camp in Cambridge, Massachusetts in August of 1775, some of the clothing may have been dyed brown. Recoveries of buttons from the 22nd regiment at Fort Ticonderoga indicate that at least some of the troops to whom this clothing was issued joined the garrison here, probably later in 1776.

Examples of all these captured buttons are currently on display in the Founding Fashions exhibit in the Mars Education Center. Loyalists in blue and green and Continentals in red don’t fit the traditional narratives of the Revolution, but truth is often stranger than fiction. The evidence on display at Fort Ticonderoga provides a deeper picture of the complex story of the American Revolution. History is rarely black and white, or in this case red versus blue.

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A Sword with Three Centuries of History

 

Edmund Freeman's sword.

Edmund Freeman’s sword.

Fort Ticonderoga preserves an extensive collection of swords spanning more than two centuries encompassing an encyclopedic array of styles and types.  While the memory of who used most swords faded away long before they became part of the museum’s collection, a few notable examples have important provenances.  One such sword is that owned by Edmund Freeman.

Edmund Freeman was born in June 1657 in Eastham, Massachusetts.  While very little is know of his personal life, records indicated that Freeman served in the military as early as 1690 as a private or possibly non-commissioned officer.  As with many people during that era, he likely served in local militias throughout is life, but is probably around the time that he joined the 1707 expedition to Port Royal that he acquired this sword.

During the early 18th-century conflict known as Queen Anne’s War, French ships based in Port Royal, Acadia (Nova Scotia) regularly harassed New England’s colonial fishing, trade, and navigation industries.  In 1707 the 1st [Massachusetts] Regiment sailed to Port Royal, Acadia to capture the port town and end French hostilities with New England.  Edmund Freeman enlisted as a captain in the regiment on April 23, 1707, and set sail on the expedition led by Colonel John March on May 13.  The expedition was fraught with hardship from the beginning.  By early September, after two failed attacks on Port Royal, the expedition returned to Boston and Captain Freeman returned to private life until his death in 1717.

The sword is an exceptionally fine example of an English infantry small sword popular ca. 1700-1740.  The Freeman family has lovingly cared for Edmund Freeman’s sword since his death in 1717.  After passing through eight generations of Freeman family ownership Freeman’s descendants, Harvey Freeman, Caroline Jacobson Freeman, and Hope Freeman Schultz presented the sword to the museum in 2006 so that it will be preserved and Edmund Freeman’s role in America’s history will always be remembered by future generations.  The sword and its history is presently exhibited in the museum’s weapons exhibit Bullets & Blades: The Weapons of America’s Colonial Wars and Revolution.

Blog post by Christopher D. Fox, Curator Fort Ticonderoga

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Girl Scout Day at Fort Ticonderoga October 4th

Fort Ticonderoga joins forces with the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York to host Girl Scout Day on Saturday, October 4, from 9:30am-5:00pm. Girl Scout troops will have an opportunity to take part in a series of programs while learning about life at Fort Ticonderoga during the American Revolution.

1016050_10151645390019033_1890167924_nDuring the day scouts will discover a remarkable story that defined America in the first year of the American Revolution, learning specifically about the Pennsylvania troops at Ticonderoga during the year 1776. Interacting with these American soldiers, students explore what daily life was like for an 18th-century American soldier defending liberty on the northern frontier.

Throughout the day scouts will explore the Fort and museum exhibitions. They can take guided tours, learning about Ticonderoga’s history, and observe musket demonstrations. Scouts will visit the historic trades shops where shoes and clothing are produced by the Fort Ticonderoga museum staff, and learn about the global economy of the 1700s.

10592920_10152356442169033_6868519686863529802_nIn addition, special programs for Girl Scouts take place in the historic trades shops at 10:30am, 12:30pm, and 2:30pm. Programs at 12:00pm and 1:00pm illustrate the process of feeding the troops as the mid-day meal is prepared.

A visit to the King’s Garden will expand the Girl Scout experience by delving into additional stories about Ticonderoga’s rich 19th and 20th history and how the story of horticulture at Ticonderoga continues to thrive today! Scouts will participate in the “Lady Bug Investigators” program exploring the importance of lady bugs as garden ecosystem helpers at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm, and take part in the self-guided activity “Watercolors in the Garden” from 10 am – 4 pm. In addition, Fort Ticonderoga’s Heroic Corn Maze will be open for scouts from 10 am – 4 pm.

To register your Girl Scout troop to participate, please email Nancy LaVallie, Group Tour Coordinator at Fort Ticonderoga at nancy@fort-ticonderoga.org. The cost is $7 per scout; $12 for adult leaders and chaperones.

To learn more about programs for scout groups at Fort Ticonderoga click here.

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Ensuring that Present and Future Generations Learn From History

Fort Ticonderoga states that our mission is to “ensure that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history.” While many museums and historic sites have some version of “preservation and education” in their missions, Fort Ticonderoga steps out on a limb—not only do we want our visitors to “learn about” our history, we want them to “learn from” that history.

We all know the saying about “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” but how often do we take that mantra to heart? For many of us, our idea of relaxation is a nice comfortable chair and a good history book. But I’ll be truthful—when I’m reading a history book, I’m usually looking to learn about rather than learn from what I’m reading.

But at Fort Ticonderoga, we are learning from history everyday. And that learning starts with the staff. Whether it’s the tailor trying to replicate a uniform for the first time or our carpentry interpreters constructing a soldiers’ hut based on written descriptions, “getting there is half the fun.” It’s one thing to read about how something was done, it’s quite a different experience to try to do it.

Experiencing history is what Fort Ticonderoga is all about. Everyone who sets foot on the Ticonderoga peninsula walks away learning something. Our challenge is taking it to the next step—how do we get them to apply what they’ve learned in their daily lives?

That’s a tall order, but we see examples of success everyday.

My own experience this past summer dealt mostly with working with a great group of teachers from New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, California—33 states in all. Over the course of three weeks in July 80 teachers took part in week-long workshops at Fort Ticonderoga. These workshops focused on the American Revolution at Ticonderoga and on the northern frontier. Teachers took part in lecture-discussions with a great line up of visiting scholars, experts in their areas. They examined documents and artifacts, analyzing them and developing lessons and activities based on them to use with their students back in the classroom. Teachers had the opportunity to experience what it was like to pull on the oars of a bateau as they crossed Lake Champlain to Mount Independence. They worked in the carpentry yard, hefting axes to help square posts for our new pit saw area.

Educators hammer home that the more involved a learner is and the more senses they use, the more likely he/she is to walk away with a memorable experience. We continue to endeavor to give every teacher that experience to then take home to all parts of the United States to share with their students for years to come. We estimate that the teachers that each spent a week at Fort Ticonderoga this past summer will impact over 65,000 students over the next ten years. And that’s just the 80+ teachers who were here in 2014. We’ll have another 80+ teachers coming to Ticonderoga in July 2015 to take part in our NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers and our Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute.

Working with teachers is one of the rewarding parts of my job. I could go on telling you about our great programs for teachers, but let me conclude with some words from participating teachers:

“Much appreciation for a fantastic week of learning that will be passed on to 100s of students in California! A great experience!”—California teacher

“Thanks so much for a reinvigorating content experience! I am excited to teach the Revolution again thanks to your program.”—Maryland teacher

It’s been a rewarding summer, but there’s still much work to be done.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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