Support Fort Ticonderoga at the 21st Annual Ticonderoga Ball: A Fundraising Event at the Union League Club in New York on Friday, March 6

Ti BallSpend an elegant evening at the Union League Club in New York City celebrating Fort Ticonderoga’s history and future. The Ticonderoga Ball will be held on Friday, March 6, 2015 beginning at 7 pm. Music, dancing, a silent auction and a lavish dinner make for a festive black-tie evening benefiting Fort Ticonderoga. Individual tickets are $325 and junior tickets are $210 (30 years old and under); Reservations are required.

“The Ticonderoga Ball is Fort Ticonderoga’s largest fundraising event of the year, “said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO.  “The event, set in the elegant and historic setting of New York’s Union League Club, brings together Fort Ticonderoga supporters from across the United States to celebrate Fort Ticonderoga’s epic history, current programs, and future plans. The Ticonderoga Ball’s theme this year is inspired by Fort Ticonderoga’s 2015 annual focus on its French history in the year 1756. The elegant dinner will be inspired by Fort Ticonderoga’s rich French history which dates to its origin in 1755 when the fort was first established as Fort Carillon in the southernmost part of New France. Support for this event makes possible Fort Ticonderoga’s educational programs, exhibitions, gardens, and all other preservation and restoration efforts.”

The Ticonderoga Ball attracts more than 170 people each year who attend in support of Fort Ticonderoga’s mission of preservation and education. Event honorees for the 21st Annual Ball are Dr. and Mrs. C. Wayne Bardin, longtime Fort Ticonderoga supporters and enthusiastic advocates of Fort Ticonderoga’s French connection. The night begins with a cocktail reception and silent auction at 7 pm; followed by an elegant dinner at 8 pm. A live auction and dancing complete the night. Dance music will be provided by the Lester Lanin Orchestra, known for their unique, homogenized music with lively patina. For more information or to receive an invitation, please contact Martha Strum at 518-585-2821 or by emailing There is a flexible RSVP deadline of February 20.

Fort Ticonderoga is an independent non-profit educational organization.  All proceeds for the Ticonderoga Ball support Fort Ticonderoga’s mission 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.

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Fort Ticonderoga Names Matthew Keagle as Curator of Collections

Curator-MattFort Ticonderoga has announced the appointment of Matthew Keagle to serve as Curator of Collections at Fort Ticonderoga, one of the oldest and most significant historic site and museum in North America.

“Matthew begins his tenure as Curator with tremendous vision and enthusiasm for the future as we move forward with bold plans toward an expanded curatorial program,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “He is extremely competent as a leader in the museum profession and has a clear and passionate commitment to developing a premier comprehensive curatorial program that will bring to center stage Fort Ticonderoga’s world renowned collections through exhibitions, digital media, research, programming, and publications.”

“Fort Ticonderoga has always been at the forefront of collecting and interpreting the conflicts that shaped the 18th century. It is a great honor to be entrusted with forwarding a mission begun over a century ago and build upon my predecessor’s excellent work,” said Matthew Keagle. “Material culture represents the most immediate and honest record of the past. The things people engage with everyday are subjected to alteration, wear, and use that reveal many stories if we take the time to look. Fort Ticonderoga’s enviable collections contain all of the elements to narrate the layered stories of this remarkable place and the people that shaped it. Archeological collections reveal what actually happened here at Ticonderoga, while the artifacts collected in the 20th century give context to the archeological material, and the library collections position all of it in the broader theoretical understanding of the 18th century, making the mute objects of Ticonderoga’s past relevant and meaningful in the present.”

Matthew Keagle joined Fort Ticonderoga’s leadership team in May of 2014, serving as Director of Exhibitions. He was named Interim Curator in December 2014 and was recently named Fort Ticonderoga’s Curator of Collections. As the new Curator of Collections, Keagle will utilize his training, scholarship, expertise, and experience to present, augment, and preserve Fort Ticonderoga’s extensive library, archival, and artifact collections as well as oversee Fort Ticonderoga’s broader cultural resources.

Originally from Vermont, Matthew Keagle has been involved in curation, exhibitions, research, historical interpretation, and program development for historic sites and museums in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, Virginia, North and South Carolina.  He holds a Bachelors degree from Cornell University, a Masters in American Material Culture from the Winterthur Museum, and is currently writing a cultural history of military dress in the Revolutionary Atlantic as a doctoral candidate at the Bard Graduate Center in New York.

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Experience the Battle on Snowshoes at Fort Ticonderoga: Living History Event and Re-enactment Planned for Saturday, February 21

Experience an exciting living history event and battle re-enactment at Fort Ticonderoga highlighting Major Robert Rogers and the Battle on Snowshoes on Saturday, February 21, from 10 am – 4 pm! Visit the French Garrison in the middle of winter inside Fort Ticonderoga and tour through opposing pickets of British rangers and French soldiers, both well trained and adapted to frontier, winter warfare. At 2 pm on Saturday, visitors will experience the hectic tree to tree fighting in a recreated battle. Watch as the rangers make a brave stand against superior odds, only to retreat through the deep woods. Event tickets are $10. Members of Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga Ambassador Pass holders and children age 4 and under are free. For more information call 518-585-2821 or visit

Visitors will be invited to tour Fort Ticonderoga as it appeared in the winter of 1758, and meet the Native American warriors, French soldiers, and Canadians, who delivered the rangers’ worst defeat. See how Natives Americans and French soldiers alike survived the deep winter at this remote military post. More adventurous visitors can take a hike led by a historic interpreter through the uneasy quiet of opposed pickets of soldiers in the deep woods. In these tours visitors can see how rangers kept a vigilant watch for subtle signs that might reveal their ferocious enemy.

“The Battle on Snowshoes event recreates the savage fight between Robert Roger’s rangers, and a mixed French force of regular soldiers, malice, and allied native warriors on March 13, 1758,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation at Fort Ticonderoga.  “This event is designed to be a rich experience for both participants and visitors alike.  It will investigate the myths and facts of Robert Rogers and explore why his exploits in the North Woods still fill the popular imagination today.”

Major Robert Rogers force of both volunteers from the 27th foot, and his own rangers headed out on an extended scout from Fort Edward along Lake George, following an attack on a similar patrol from Captain Israel Putnam’s Connecticut rangers. Hiking on snowshoes due to the three feet of snow, the tracks of Roger’s force were spotted on its march up the west side of Lake George. Near the north end of Lake George, Major Rogers’ advanced scouts spotted their French counterparts. Rogers and his Rangers took up positions in a ravine, setting his force in ambuscade to await whatever French patrol would come to meet him.

The French patrol that met Roger’s men proved farlarge_Rangers-2 larger than he imagined, and in this Battle on Snowshoes, the rangers’ ambush was itself surrounded and overwhelmed. In deep woods on deep snow, the rangers were forced to retreat with heavy casualties as the French regulars, malice, and natives pressed home their attack. Despite brave stands along the way, this retreat quickly became chaotic as rangers, Roger’s included, ran for their lives from superior numbers of French.

Visitor Schedule

10 AM Site Opens to Visitors

10:15 AM Guided Tour of Fort Carillon (Begins at the American Flag)

Examine the historic walls and landscape of Fort Carillon and delve back into its early years as a remote, but vital French outpost. Imagine the snow-drifted walls and barracks alive with activity in the winter of 1758 as its soldiers sortied to meet another of Robert Rogers’ patrols.

11 AM Guided Tour of Petite Guerre in the North Woods (Begins at the American Flag—Winter Footwear Recommended)

Beginning from Fort Carillon, take a guided hike into the deep woods around Ticonderoga to encounter Rogers’ Rangers taking a brief respite and weighing their options as they consider what Native warriors or French soldiers might lurk behind the next ridgeline.

12 PM “Their Attire Is No Longer the Ancient One, Made of Skins” Winter Adaptations among Natives in the Colonial Period (Inside the Mars Education Center Great Room)

Join Michael Galban, Public Historian at Ganondagan State Historic Site, as he discusses winter survival and technique among the Native inhabitants of eastern NY. This lecture will focus on the cross-cultural nature of life in the Northeast woodlands.

1:15 PM Guided Tour of Fort Carillon (Begins at the American Flag)

Examine the historic walls and landscape of Fort Carillon to explore its early years as a remote but vital French outpost. Imagine the snow-drifted walls and barracks alive with activity in the winter of 1758 as its soldiers sortied to meet another of Robert Rogers’ patrols.

2 PM Battle on Snowshoes (Begins at the American Flag—Winter Footwear Recommended)

Follow guides out to the deep woods to the west of Fort Ticonderoga to watch the ambush of Rogers’ Rangers become a fight for survival as they struggle to escape back to Fort Edward. See Native warriors and French soldiers overwhelm and shatter Rogers’ 180-man patrol.

2:30 PM Vestiges of Les Troupes (Inside the Mars Education Center Great Room)

Join Fort Ticonderoga Curator of Collections Matthew Keagle to examine what the French troops stationed at Fort Carillon left behind. See what the archeological evidence reveals about the material conditions of French military life on the front lines of New France.

3:00 PM Guided Tour of Fort Carillon (Begins at the American Flag)

Examine the historic walls and landscape of Fort Carillon, to delve back into its early yearsas a remote, but vital French outpost. Imagine the snow-drifted walls and barracks alive with activity in the winter of 1758, as its soldiers sortied to meet another of Robert Rogers’ patrols.

4 PM Site Closes to Visitors


Available 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Soldier’s Quarters (Ground floor the Soldier’s Barracks and Officer’s Barracks)

Which is more important to you: staying warm or personal space? See how French soldiers lived in their quarters inside the barracks and see how messes of soldiers worked together to keep each other in fighting shape.

Officer’s Quarters (Second floor of the Officer’s Barracks)

From a real bed to a servant, from goose comfit to red wine, see how French officers still live like gentlemen at this remote front-line post.

Exhibit: 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.’

Exhibit: It Would Make a Heart of Stone Melt (Ground Floor of the Soldiers’ Barracks)

Smallpox was a very real threat for armies fighting along Lake Champlain. In this visually compelling exhibit see how this disease, as well as battlefield wounds, was handled in the Revolutionary War.

Exhibit: Founding Fashion (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.

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Fort Ticonderoga Launches New Graduate Fellowships

Fort Ticonderoga is launching the Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowships for students seeking practical, hands-on internship experience at a historic site and museum with cutting-edge programs. The fellowships run from June 15 to August 15, 2015, and include internships in Collections, Exhibitions, Education, and Interpretation.

“These fellowships for graduate students in museum studies, museum education, history, public 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 the year 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga.”

“While working individually with their project supervisors,” added Rich Strum, Director of Education, “interns will also meet and work together throughout the two month experience. Interns will have an opportunity to work with the Fort’s professional staff as part of our team-approach to all major projects.”DCIM100MEDIA

Each year Fort Ticonderoga’s interpretation focuses on a specific year in the site’s multi-layered history. This year’s fellows will be helping lay the ground work for exhibitions, programs, and educational initiatives to be offered to the public in 2016. 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 living stipend along with an additional housing stipend. Graduate students and qualified undergraduates interested in learning more details and applying should visit the Fort website at Individual fellowships are available in Collections, Education, Exhibitions, and Interpretation.

The Edward W. Pell Graduate Fellowships at Fort Ticonderoga are made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support comes from the Edward W. Pell Education Endowment at Fort Ticonderoga and other generous individual donors.

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Fort Ticonderoga presents Fourth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium

The King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga presents the Fourth Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium on Saturday, April 18. This day-long symposium, geared for both beginning and experienced gardeners, provides helpful insights from garden experts who live and garden in upstate New York and northern New England. This springtime event takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open by pre-registration only.

This one-day program focuses on practical, easy-to-implement strategies for expanding and improving your garden or landscape. The programs are offered in an informal setting that encourages interaction between presenters and attendees. Speakers and sessions include:

  • Landscape Sympoisum 2015“The Healing Garden: Traditional Medicinals for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” by Nancy Scarzello
  • “Save the Monarchs! Native Plants for Native Pollinators” by Emily DeBolt
  • “A Favorite Place of Resort for Strangers: The King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga” by Lucinda Brockway
  • “Getting Control of Your Perennial Garden” by Amy Ivy
  • Panel Discussion with all the speakers facilitated by Master Gardener Diane O’Connor

Registration for the Garden & Landscape Symposium is limited, so register early. The cost, including the day-long symposium and a lunch prepared by Libby’s Bakery Café, is $75 ($65 for members of Fort Ticonderoga). A brochure with the complete schedule and registration form is available on Fort Ticonderoga’s website at by selecting “Education” and then “Workshops and Seminars” on the drop-down menu. A printed copy is also available upon request by calling 518-585-2821.

The Garden & Landscape Symposium is one of numerous opportunities for continuing education for the public at Fort Ticonderoga in 2015. You can learn more about these programs, including the annual War College of the Seven Years’ War and the Seminar on the American Revolution, by visiting the Fort’s website at and selecting “Education.”

About Fort Ticonderoga’s “King’s Garden” 

Fort Ticonderoga has a long and layered horticulture history. The center of Fort Ticonderoga’s horticulture program today is the walled Colonial Revival King’s Garden which was designed in 1921 by leading landscape architect Marian Coffin.  The formal elements – a reflecting pool, manicured lawn and hedges, and brick walls and walkways – are softened by a profusion of annuals and perennials, carefully arranged by color and form.  Heirloom flowers and modern cultivars are used to recreate the historic planting scheme. Visitor favorites include the lavender border, towering hollyhocks, bearded irises, dinner plate dahlias and many types of phlox.

Outside of the nine-foot brick walls of the colonial revival King’s Garden, the Discovery Gardens include a children’s garden, military vegetable garden, native garden, cut flower garden, and early 20th century tenant farmer garden. The restored Lord and Burnham greenhouse, charming gazebo, sweeping lawns and shady picnic spots invite visitors to explore the landscape at one of America’s oldest gardens dating to the French occupation of the fort in the mid-18th century.

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Beyond Founding Fashion: Fort Fever Series Program February 8th Highlights Fort Ticonderoga’s World Renowned Museum Collections

Fort Ticonderoga kicks off its second “Fort Fever Series” with a special guided tour led by the Curator of Collections, Mathew Keagle, to explore Fort Ticonderoga’s collection of military clothing—the largest collection of 18th-century military uniforms in North America. “Beyond Founding Fashion” is a unique opportunity to discover the evolution of military fashion in the decades after the American Revolution. The program takes place on Sunday, February 8 at 2 pm in the Mars Education Center. The cost for the program is $10 per person and will be collected at the door; free for Fort Ticonderoga members.

UniformsThe program begins with a guided tour of the Founding Fashion exhibit in the Mars Education Center gallery. Get a behind-the-scenes perspective of new research on the uniforms featured in the exhibition, the stories of the men who wore them, and how they fit into the evolution of military clothing. This will be followed by a rare chance to examine additional original garments from the collection not on display. These garments will complete the story of 18th-century military dress and show how military dress evolved from those worn during the Revolutionary War through the early years of the American Republic. Many of these garments and related accessories are one-of-a-kind survivors preserved only in Fort Ticonderoga’s collections.

“With the installation of Founding Fashion in the Mars Education Center, Fort Ticonderoga has finally been able to showcase its excellent collection of 18th-century military uniforms,” said Mathew Keagle, Curator of Collections. “But Founding Fashion is just the beginning; the museum’s collection is much larger—stretching through the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and beyond.”

Founding Fashion: The Diversity of Regularity in 18th-Century Military Clothing Exhibition opened in May of 2014 and runs through November of 2015. The exhibit explores how European military fashion and global commerce influenced American martial appearance throughout the American Revolution. Funding for the Founding Fashion exhibit was made possible in part by the following supporters: Best Western Plus Ticonderoga, D&E Technologies, Glens Falls National Bank, History Channel, Lake George Mirror, National Grid, Ticonderoga Credit Union, and individual donors.

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A Layer of Ice Shielding Infinite Layers of History

From May to November you can find Fort Ticonderoga bustling with the sounds of history. Often, you will witness the flash of musketry, the march of soldiers and the echoing of the Fife and Drum Corps. It is hard to fathom that on a white, wintry day like today, it is quiet enough to hear the branches of trees dripping with melting snow and the subtle winds whirling through the Champlain Valley—a perfect opportunity to ponder the history of the land far before the fearless acts of heroism took place on this battleground—lands which are rich in agricultural, forest, and biological resources. It’s hard to believe that just 550 million years ago (remember that Earth had already been around for roughly 4 billion years by this point), the eastern edge of proto-North America was covered by the Iapetus Ocean. If you were to place yourself where our museum campus is now, rather than witnessing the majestic, tall Adirondack Mountains to your west, and vast Green Mountains to your east, you instead might find the extensive formation of sedimentary layers resulting from the slow deposition of sediments, precipitates, and fossil remains.

Champlain Valley when ADKs formed

The proto-Champlain Valley is pictured in the center as a long chain of hills, derived from a major fault known as the “Champlain Thrust”. The main metamorphic rocks of the Green Mountains are to the east, the land to the west captures the uplift and development of the steeper topography of today’s Adirondack Mountains.

Over time, this slow accumulation of sediments is interrupted by ruptures of tectonic activity. The initial formation of Vermont’s Green Mountains occurred through orogeny (a mountain-building process brought about by plate tectonics) about 450 million years ago, as a smaller entity of the formation of the entire Appalachian chain. Only a mere 20 million years ago—what seems like yesterday—the Adirondacks we know begin to make themselves known through the uplift and exposure of buried metamorphic and indigenous rock that date over a billion years old (hence why they are referred to as “new mountains from old rocks”). During this time, we can stand back on the museum campus grounds and see the beginnings of our dome-shaped Adirondacks to the west and our sharply defined, much taller, Green Mountains to the east. The Green Mountains we see today are significantly worn down due to erosion.

On this quiet day in February, I am able to listen to the cracking ice on Lake George and Lake Champlain—the only masses separating Fort Ticonderoga from the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains. It is difficult to imagine that at one point, Lake George was two rivers; one flowing south into the present day Hudson River, and the second flowing north into the present day Lake Champlain. Lake George as we know it today was not formed until approximately 11,000 years ago, just 10,000 years after Lake Champlain, as a result of glacial retreat. Now, we can witness the outflow of Lake George drained into southern Lake Champlain via the La Chute.

Champlain Valley today

Today, Lake Champlain divides the old metamorphic rocks of the Adirondacks from the faulted sedimentary rocks of the Champlain Valley, which eventually give way to the younger (compared to the ADKs) metamorphic rocks of the Green Mountains.

Fort Ticonderoga has its own very unique history, as it relates to our own kind, but it is important to understand that this area is much more than that. All it takes is a quiet, wintry day to tune into momentous geological transformations that have sculpted the beautiful landscape we are able to observe today. And we are not the only ones taking advantage of these resources. Although sometimes hard to imagine in what seems like a desolate environment in the middle of winter; a few months from now, we will see an incredible amount of biological diversity coming out of the woodwork. Gulls, Bald Eagles, and osprey soar above the valley, overlooking ideal habitats for bobcats, coyotes, fishers and white-tailed deer.

As you prepare for another lively summer season at our site, do not forget to also take a good, far look around. There is a lot to see outside of these walls.

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Fort Ticonderoga Purchases Carillon Cruise Boat: Waterway tours will be offered beginning in spring 2015

Fort Ticonderoga, a not-for-profit educational organization and major cultural destination, announced today that it has purchased the Carillon cruise boat, formerly located on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shoreham, Vermont.  Waterway tours will be offered by Fort Ticonderoga beginning in the spring of this year.  The acquisition of the boat is part of a larger Fort Ticonderoga waterway recreation and transportation initiative that is anticipated to continue to develop over the next several years.

Carillon Boat

“Fort Ticonderoga is thrilled to have the opportunity to expand its cultural destination experience to the internationally significant waters of Lake Champlain. The lake is a tremendous asset for our region and with Fort Ticonderoga’s 2 miles of shoreline and story that is intricately linked to Lake Champlain, the development of a water experience is an obvious next step in our program development,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “Thanks in part to a New York Empire State Development grant and other generous supporters, Fort Ticonderoga’s waterway experience will expand our tourism demographic, increase the length of stay of our guests, connect our historic properties on both sides of Lake Champlain, and highlight Ticonderoga’s epic story in a new and exciting way. We are particularly enthusiastic about this project as it is directly linked with a Town of Ticonderoga priority to increase access and waterway experiences through tourism development.”today that it has purchased the Carillon cruise boat, formerly located on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shoreham, Vermont. Waterway tours will be offered by Fort Ticonderoga beginning in the spring of this year.”

“We are extremely pleased to acquire this iconic vessel,” said Sanford W. Morhouse, Fort Ticonderoga Chairman of the Board. “My wife and I were privileged to be guests of Captain Paul Saenger and his wife Rene, the Carillon’s prior owners, on Captain Paul’s last Carillon cruise prior to his passing. Captain Paul clearly wanted the boat to stay in the southern part of Lake Champlain, and we at Fort Ticonderoga are exceedingly pleased that we will fulfill that wish while greatly enhancing the Fort Ticonderoga experience.”
The Carillon boat, a replica of a 1920s 1000 Islands cruise boat, is a 60 foot luxury vessel previously owned by Paul and Rene Sanger. The Saengers owned and operated the boat from a dock in Shoreham, Vermont, offering scenic and educational tours in southern Lake Champlain that highlighted the region’s history, beauty, and nature. Fort Ticonderoga plans to finalize ownership of the boat this spring as it builds plans for waterway tours on Lake Chaplain for the 2015 season.

Fort Ticonderoga recently received a funding in the latest round of the New York State Regional Economic Development grant awards. The grant was awarded to Fort Ticonderoga to support the first phase of development in a waterway transportation and recreation system. Specifically, the funding will be used to construct a dock. Fort Ticonderoga continues to seek philanthropic support to fund the development of this waterway initiative and related educational programs.

Fort Ticonderoga: America’s Fort™

Located on Lake Champlain and nestled in the beautiful 6 million acre Adirondack Park, Fort Ticonderoga is an independent not-for-profit educational organization, historic site, museum and cultural destination whose 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. Serving the public since 1909, Fort Ticonderoga engages nearly 70,000 visitors annually and is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Fort Ticonderoga’s history. Accredited by the American Association of Museums, Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, historic interpretation, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year and is open for daily visitation May 9 through November 1, 2015. The 2015 season will feature four new exhibitions, two new gardens in the King’s Garden, and the French story highlighting the year 1756. Visit for a full list of ongoing programs or call 518-585-2821.

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

Photo: Fort Ticonderoga announced today that it has acquired the Carillon cruise boat, 60 foot replica 1920s 1000 Islands cruise boat. Plans are underway for 2015 waterway tours and programs at Fort Ticonderoga.

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Damnatio Memoriae

exhibitionist Cover

In Latin the phrase damnatio memoriae means “to condemn the memory.” It refers to the practice of erasing someone’s presence from history by removing images or references to them. Whether legally sanctioned or spontaneous, it was a powerful form of punishment. Damnatio memoriae could take many forms. In ancient Rome portraits and statues were often simply removed, as if they had never been there. Names and initials were occasionally chiseled off of statues and engravings, leaving blank spaces. Disfigured statues, with eyes, ears, and noses broken off or shattered, were meant to destroy not just the representation but the legacy of the dictators, despots, and tyrants they represented.

Removing traces of people, regimes, and ideologies did not end with the fall of the Roman Empire. Fort Ticonderoga’s collections contain a handful of 18th century objects that bear witness to this violent and conscious act of forgetting. The biggest example is hiding in plain sight, and seen by nearly every visitor to the fort.

Along the south battery wall are five French cannon made between 1702 and 1800. They include some of the most beautiful artillery pieces in the museum’s collection and represent the evolution of French gun making over the course of a century. One of these guns bears the marks of a long and troubled history, emblematic in many ways of Europe’s convulsions over the long 19th century.

Its name is le Conquerant, the conqueror, and it is a 10 foot long, bronze, 16 pounder. It was cast in 1780 in the French city of Douai, the heart of the French gun founding industry.  The nearby guns cast in 1702 reflect the exuberance of the baroque era with grotesque ornaments, animals, and scrolls. Le Conquerant represents a more restrained taste, part of the artillery reforms of General Jean-Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval in the late 1760s. Unlike the deeply cast designs of the earlier guns le Conquerant is more delicately engraved with the twin L cipher of King Louis XVI of France, surmounted by the royal crown. Near the muzzle is an engraved ribbon proudly bearing the name of the gun.

At some point during its life it suffered a damnatio memoriae directed against the French monarchy. The prominent royal crown was chiseled off, as were the flourishes at the edges of each of the scrolled L’s. Although possibly later, the defacement of the royal crown is most likely to have occurred during the French Revolution when royal and religious symbols and images were destroyed or defaced by Republicans. The removal of le Conquerant’s crown may have accompanied the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, the literal loss of the crown.


Seen side-by-side with a similar gun also cast in 1780 just a few months earlier, the removal of the royal crown on “Le Conquerant” (right) is clear. Despite this, the deep lines of the engraving that outline the crown are still discernible underneath the chisel marks. (Collections of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum)

This was not the end of le Conquerant however. Although the details are unknown, the gun likely served during the long wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon. Despite the former monarchism of the gun’s decoration it continued to be a serviceable military tool. At some point it was even sighted and rifled. Other cannon in the Musée de l’Armée’s collection in Paris were rifled in the middle of the 19th century. This may have been in response to the rapid obsolescence of smoothbore cannon in the face of effective rifled weapons in the middle of the 19th century, as proved in the Crimean war, the American Civil War, and the Austro-Prussian War.

However updated, Le Conquerant, a 90 year-old veteran, did not stand a chance against the Prussian army that swept over France in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. The gun was trucked off to Germany where it remained for another 50 years. Now thoroughly and irrevocably obsolete it was nevertheless transferred back to France in 1919 after the treaty of Versailles ended the First World War. In 1921 it was placed in the Musée de L’Armée where it remained for just seven years before being purchased for Fort Ticonderoga. Perhaps the defaced insignia and the “modern” additions added in the 19th century caused the French to consider it a less-than-perfect specimen. Regardless, it now graces our walls, a mute reminder of the rise and fall of kings and empires, despite the efforts to erase them.


This 19th century plate depicting the mob tearing down the statue of George III in New York City shows what a violent act this was, but loaded with symbolism. (Collections of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum)

America is of course not immune to such violent acts of forgetting, and our revolution saw similar attempts to erase parts of our history. Perhaps the most famous incident was the mob that tore down the gilded lead statue of King George III in lower Manhattan. The statue was in George Washington’s words, “pulled down and mutilated” and much of it melted into musket balls for the Continental army. The assault was likely a spontaneous response to the news of the Declaration of Independence, which had been read to the army the day before. However patriotic, General Washington feared the lack of order such a “riot” would have on the discipline of the army.

Toppling the king was perhaps most overt act of this kind from the American Revolution, but many smaller incidents occurred during the eight years of war. On both sides the insignia and emblems of the enemy were defaced or obscured. Loyalist regiments recruiting from American deserters demanded that, “all Remnants or badges of the Rebel Service on the Cloaths of any of them [should be] Carefully taken off and conceal’d.” Preventing friendly fire was likely one motive, since many loyalists early in the war had no uniforms (see the Exhibitionist’s previous post “Seeing Red”). Another likely motive may have been to erase any attachment to their previous service in the Continental army, and to prevent them from returning.

In the Founding Fashion exhibit in the Mars Education Center there is a gorget attributed to William Knox, the brother of Henry Knox so well-known for hauling Ticonderoga’s artillery to Boston. A gorget was the last vestige of the suit of armor, formerly the piece that protected the juncture between the helmet and the breastplate, worn by officers in the 18th century as a mark of rank. This gorget bears the vivid depiction of an arm clad in armor, holding an unsheathed sword. Below this bellicose insignia is the Latin inscription Inimica Tyrannis, translated roughly to “hostile to tyrants.” Above this are the capital letters U and S, added no doubt after July of 1776.

Knox Gorget 1

Like a Revolutionary palimpsest, the royal coat of arms is faintly visible beneath the American insignia of William Knox’s gorget, on display through 2015. (Collections of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum)

This powerful symbol of American belligerence it is made all the more powerful by the faint remains of an earlier inscription underneath. Discernible in the right light are file marks on the surface of the metal that just barely reveal a British coat of arms. The lion, the unicorn, the garter, and arms have all been erased, or barely so, and re-engraved with the newer American insignia. A similar gorget with its original British engraving is displayed nearby, clearly showing what it originally looked like. Although it may simply be a matter of re-using materials on hand, the political sentiment contained in this one object speaks deeply to the creation of a new American identity.

Despite toppling the king literally and figuratively his memory has remained in America through the many Georgetowns, Kingstons, and other royal place names. The most notable victim of damnatio memoriae from the American Revolution is almost certainly Benedict Arnold. Reviled for his treason in 1780 Arnold’s name and image were consciously removed or omitted from documents, engravings, and monuments commemorating the Revolution. The famous boot monument at the Saratoga Battlefield may be the most prominent, refusing to identify its subject, a way of acknowledging his service, but denying him the memory. As late as the 1930s Benedict Arnold’s name on public monuments was appalling to many, testament to a man whose legacy remained controversial for generations.

History and memory are slippery things though. Removing someone from history often results in absences that provoke more questions. Blank spaces ensure that the memories of reviled figures are not forgotten. Just like the sea, which often turns up what is thought to have been lost, history uncovers what people, countries, and regimes have tried to erase.

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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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