New Opportunities for Scouts

Over the last year, Fort Ticonderoga’s Education and Interpretive staffs have been working together to develop new program opportunities for scouting groups. Just last week we unveiled our latest program—an Overnight Scouting Experience!

This fall, a limited number of slots are available for scout groups to book an overnight experience at Fort Ticonderoga. This scouts will have the chance to stay in the Soldiers’ Barracks, working closely with our Interpretive staff to learn about life as a Continental soldier in a way most of our visitors can’t—by living it.

Scouts from Troop 818 in Enfield, Connectitcut, take part in “Planting the Tree of Liberty” in September 2012.

Scouts and their leaders will establish their base in the barracks room, gather wood, start a fire using flint and steel, prepare and eat their evening meal over an open fire, participate in other fatigue duties, and go on a night-time hike before settling in for the night. In the morning, there’s more wood to gather, a fire to kindle, and breakfast to fix before cleaning up.

Space is extremely limited and this unique experience is limited to 16 scouts and leaders. Larger scout groups of up to 30 scouts and leaders can participate, but will have to bring their own tents rather than sleeping in the barracks.

Once we have a season under our belt, we anticipate that the program will expand in 2014 to accommodate more groups throughout the season. You can learn more about this and other programs for scouts here.

During the 2012 season we introduced two new programs for scout groups. In “Planting the Tree of Liberty,” scout groups spend a couple of hours with the Fort’s interpretive staff. They learn about the life of a Continental soldier as they watch a musket demonstration and practice formation tactics as they form a platoon. They work alongside an Interpreter as they construct a brush shelter like those used in 18th-century military camps. Seven troops with a total of 156 scouts and leaders participated in this program in the fall of 2012.

We also introduced the Boy Scout Discovery Tour in 2012. This self-guided tour uses elements of the Boy Scout Law to help make connections to historic events and personalities at Fort Ticonderoga. Scouts use the tour to locate specific exhibits and locations and then answer a question. As an example: A Scout is Clean. A scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. In 1776, Colonel Anthony Wayne insisted that his men make themselves presentable by shaving and caring for their hair regularly. This could be a challenge in camp. Find the case about American garrison life at Fort Ticonderoga. What item(s) in this case might help soldiers follow Colonel Wayne’s orders?

Scout Fun Patch scouts can earn while participating in the “Boy Scout Discovery Tour” or in “Planting the Tree of Liberty.”

Scouts successfully completing the Discovery Tour are eligible to receive an exclusive Scout Fun Patch available only at Fort Ticonderoga (pictured to the left). The Boy Scout Discovery Tour is available for individual scouts visiting the Fort with their families or as a group activity while visiting with their troop or pack. The Boy Scout Discovery Tour is available to download on our website as a PDF in advance of a visit to Fort Ticonderoga. A limited number are also available at Guest Services on the day of your visit. We distributed 86 fun patches in the fall of 2012.

You can learn about all our programs for scout groups on our website. During 2013, we will also be working with the Girl Scouts to develop additional programs for this growing audience.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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A Very Old, New Look at New France

The memoirs of Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac provide a window into the Champlain Valley in 1755.

For the 2013 visitor season we are really excited to portray Fort Ticonderoga in its naissance back in 1755. Looking at the transformation of a French army camp at Carillon into a fortified outpost is a great opportunity to talk about the origins and early days of the French & Indian war. Focusing on 1755 also presents a great chance to look around and explore New France and the Champlain valley with all its natural beauty and peoples at that time. This season Fort Ticonderoga’s costumed staff of interpreters will be portraying soldiers from the Languedoc infantry regiment of the French army. We chose this particular unit partly because it was one of the first military units to garrison Carillon, and partly because of a wonderful diary from the regiment.

Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac was a very young second Lieutenant when he arrived in Quebec. His wide eyed enthusiasm and sense of adventure is apparent even in his terse diary entry:

June 27th 1755, 2:30 in the afternoon, we disembarked at Quebec very eager to put our feet on solid ground and look at the settlers of the new world.

By the time he actually set foot in the New World he had already had a chance to see some of the exotic sites and wild life of the North Atlantic. On the 28th of May he saw his first icebergs, which he described as, “mountains covered in snow: they appeared twice as large as a Ship of the Line.” He noted with glee as the naval gunners on board his ship, the Lys, fired cannon shots at these icebergs to no effect.  While sailing across the Atlantic Ocean he also first experienced some of the wildlife in the New World. D’Aleyrac grew up in the town of Saint-Pierreville, in the foothills of the Alps, eating salted codfish on Catholic fast days. He proudly ate his first fresh codfish pulled from the waters Grand Banks on June 7th, 1755. Waterfowl, which he called, “hapefoys,” received a similar treatment as the icebergs dodging barrages of buckshot as they flew over from the ship’s deck.

Once in Canada, Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac carefully noted the geography and landscape around him. He summed up Canada as, “a vast forest interspersed by an infinite number of strong wide rivers, filed with rapids. “ Traversing this vast country by river appears to have been a large part of his experience defending New France as he described in some detail the difficulties in moving by bateau:

These flat bottomed wooden boats were the primary means of transportation on both sides during the French & Indian War.

These rapids are very dangerous to descend, whether by the presence of vortexes, or rocks that strike the bottom or overturn the bateaux. In addition, ordinarily the shock means one loads the boats lighter and use three to four additional men to steer. The rest followed along the river while the rapids’ height exceeded what you could pass. Ascending these rivers is no less difficult: not only do you unload the bateaux, but sometimes you must pull it with ropes, what is called pulling, “a la cordelle.” To pull a bateaux, you ordinarily have twenty to thirty people; to climb little rapids one simply needs to stand and pole the river bottom with a large pole. We were still obliged to carry the boats when climbing or descending rapids, because the least rock was enough to pierce the boat.

Hundreds of soldiers in the Languedoc regiment faced these exact difficulties as they ascended the rapids on the Richeleau River on their trip to Carillon in 1755.

The experiences and impressions of soldiers like Lieutenant d’Aleyrac in this wild landscape are critical as we imagine the rocky peninsula of Carillon when it too was a wild place. Coming from France, d’Aleyrac had the same outside perspective that we too would have if we travelled back in time to 1755. It’s easy to imagine the wild beauty of Carillon in 1755, reading about, “pine trees and others one hundred feet tall,” with an understory filled with, “strawberries, raspberries, and wild blackberries,” Likewise d’Aleyrac encountered, beavers, black bears, brown bears, polar bears, elk caribous, muskrats, and ground hogs, among a whole menagerie of wildlife. He was particularly perturbed by the, “very long and very big” rattlesnakes he encountered. British and American accounts of Carillon and rattlesnake hill across the lake corroborate his concern over these serpents.

Beyond the wild landscape, Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac’s impressions of the people he encountered are perhaps the best part of his memoirs. With Canadian milice and native warriors encamped at Carillon in 1755 along with the French regulars, his perceptions are fascinating as we imagine encountering these people over 250 years ago. He described Canadians as, “well-made, big, robust, adroit in the use of the gun and ax,” and, “used to hunting and making war.” While d’Aleyrac appreciated the Canadians’ strength and skills for living in the Canadian wilderness he was concerned about their personal habits. He stated, “the Canadians have an extreme passion for brandy and smoking tobacco,” noting that these habits extended to children and even smoking in bed. Differences in clothing also perturbed this French Lieutenant:

The average Canadian hardly wears French clothing, but one species of, “capots” crossed in front with lapels. The buttons and collars are of another color. A sash around the capot closes it: simple and impractical clothing.

With a hood and buttons of a contrasting color, this represents one interpretation of the ‘capot.’

D’Aleyrac encountered several unique garments worn by Canadians including breechcloths, leggings, and soulier de beouf, a Canadian version of the moccasin worn in the summer. Ironically despite his critique, this French Lieutenant probably had to wear this clothing in his service. Another French officer, newly arrived in Canada like d’Aleyrac, received their own officers’ versions of Canadian clothing by the 22nd of July 1755.

Like Canadians, Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac encountered Native Americans for the first time in his service in New France. While his vivid account of their customs and dress is interesting, he begins his account with the admission that Native Americans were different than he had been told:

The Indians of Canada are very different than that idea one commonly has in France. Far from being all hairy as we believe, they are much less hairy than us, they have no beard, they pluck the eyebrows with a type of brass gun-worm. Even more, they cut and pluck the hairs from the top of their heads to the fronts, along the temples and above the neck, leaving only that on the back of the head only 2-3 inches long. They attach from here grand white, red or blue feathers with little silver or porcelain ornaments. They rub the top of their heads, the temples and the neck with vermillion, they finally paint their faces with vermillion, of blue, black and white, and they pierce the nose through the septum with a silver ring, they cut the earlobe and attach 3 to 4 bullets to stretch it in order to enlarge the opening. When they are about half a foot lower, they wiggle on a brass wire in the shape of a gun-worm and attach silver pendants. The kind of this country are tall, brown colored, almost olive, erect, well made, black hair and teeth as white as ivory. In any nation no one stands as straight as these Indians who always march with their heads very high. They are of a robust complexion, enduring the cold, heat, hunger and thirst.  They are very agile in a race or swimming because they are always in exercise hunting, fishing, dancing, playing lacrosse, or especially the game of, “paume ou de mail.” They play whichever of these games, nation versus nation, and the prizes are sometimes worth 12 to 15 pounds. They are excellent shots with the firelock and the bow and arrow, they do many exercises to use these advantageously and with sure shots.

As a traveler from France he too had his idea of Native Americans challenged by actually meeting them, much as happens to us as we delve back into the history of this Fort in 1755.

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“In sight of the ruins, a quarter mile distant…” Part 3


The story of a visit to Fort Ticonderoga in 1872.

Part 3, The ruins.

This photograph records where Stoddard believed Ethan Allen entered the Fort on May 10, 1775.

After a short visit to the Fort Ticonderoga Hotel, Stoddard begins his tour of the Fort retracing the route, as he understood it to be, that Ethan Allen followed when capturing the Fort in 1775.  In setting out on his tour Stoddard writes “From the south end of the hotel a path leads across the field, where, at its outskirts, we climb over the stone wall, and, following along under the locusts, a little way to the south… crossing the road we follow along up the stone fence over the very road pursued by Allen on that May morning nearly a century ago.”  As Stoddard approached the Fort he noted “A great pile of stones mark the spot where once existed the entrance to the covered way where the sentry snapped his fusee at Allen.  The walls are thirty-three inches apart, and can be easily traced to where they seem to enter the fort.” 

Next after exploring the southeast corner of the Fort, Stoddard ventures out to the end of the Ticonderoga peninsula to view one of the site’s earliest fortifications.  “Half way down the point of the promontory a rocky ledge crops out.  Extending beyond is the remains of an old battery or covered way.  On the brow of the promontory, commanding the lake for quite a distance, as it circles around, is the grenadier battery, a substantial looking, stone and earth fort, designed for heavy guns, having seven angles, the side fronting the water curved inward.  It is said to have been the one commanded by Baron Dieskau in 1755.”  Stoddard is indeed describing what is today referred to as the Lotbinière Battery, named for the French engineer who designed the Fort.  It may have been the first real fortification at Ticonderoga constructed just prior to the construction of the main fortification that is the subject of Stoddard’s further explorations.  The battery remains today a ruin, not terribly different from what Stoddard observed 140 years ago.

The French ovens located inside the northeast bastion were regularly misidentified by 19th-century visitors as the powder magazine.

Upon returning to the Fort Stoddard remarks that the bastions each held underground rooms two of which have long since collapsed.  Of one, however, Stoddard notes “to the north-east corner, you stand over the third, which is one of the best preserved portions of the ruins.  To enter you climb down into the cellar, now nearly filled with broken stones and overrun with vines, and, stooping low, make your way through the opening before you.  At one time a man could enter erect, but now stones stop the way, and earth and stones half fill the room beneath. It is a bomb-proof, about twelve feet wide by thirty long, with arched roof; the entrance at the south-west corner; at the south is a large sky-light; at the east end a small, chimney-like aperture; at each corner of this end are small circular rooms, with arched roof, one about seven the other ten, feet in diameter.”  In his photographs and drawings, Stoddard usually titles this space as a magazine though he admits in his book that it is generally thought to be a bakery.  Indeed this space, largely intact today, contains bake ovens constructed by the French in 1755.

Standing on the top of the northeast bastion after having climbed out of the ovens Stoddard remarks “At our feet is a deep ditch; in the center, on the north and west, are two high bastions commanding the approach from these directions; around them also flows the trench in which troops could be marched and massed at any desired point within the circuit.  Outside the ditch, following its various angles, is the outer wall, once breast high, but now almost level with the plain, and the glacis slopes off toward Champlain on the north, and upward toward the old French lines at the north-west.

The “two high bastions” Stoddard refers to are the north and west demi-lunes constructed by the French in 1756.  These structures provided additional protection and greater fields of fire for the Fort in the event of a siege.

Stoddard’s view of the officers’ barrakcs in the distance and soldiers’ barracks on the left was one of his most popular views of Fort Ticonderoga.

Before leaving the outside of the Fort, Stoddard gives us a remarkable view of the Fort’s walls and officers’ barracks inside.  This image not only provides a wonderfully-detailed view of a seldom seen part of the ruins, italso highlights Stoddard’s keen artistic eye in positioning his camera in a way to capture maximum depth and visual appeal for his stereoviewing audience.  In approaching the barracks inside the Fort, Stoddard remarks “The walls of the barrack, on the west, where the commandant slept, are still standing.

After having examined the inside of the Fort, Stoddard ventures to the southern exterior side of the walls.  He exits the Fort “out over the fallen bomb-proof room [in the south-west corner], down into the ditch, and, crossing at the left of the west bastion.”  He proceeds around to the south side of the Fort where the land slopes dramatically down to the lake.

The “great, wavy elm” is pictured in this stereoview looking towards Mount Defiance from the walls of Fort Ticonderoga.

Pausing to note the sloping expanse and ruins below, Stoddard offers a final observation on what lays before him “Toward the west the surface of the promontory breaks suddenly away, descending nearly a hundred feet in its slope to the water’s edge.  That ditch, in which stands the great, wavy elm, is said to have been a covered way to the lake.  Alders and thorn-trees grow on the hillside; the red-plumed sumachs press up the steep, and clinging ivy, mounting upwards, where an enemy could not hope to climb, covers the gray rocks with a robe of living green.  Across the valley is Mount Defiance, sloping gently to the north, up which, many years ago, Burgoyne’s men went, dragging the heavy cannon which greeted St. Clair, as he looked toward its summit, the morning after.”  Even today the sumac and ivy can be seen in all the same colors observed by Stoddard.

In the distance can faintly be seen the railroad bridge described by Stoddard. This bridge was used until about 1910.

With Stoddard’s visit toFort Ticonderoga’s ruins nearing its end, he takes a moment to reflect on the day’s adventure.  “Seated here, on the western wall, of a summer afternoon the mind is entranced, and the spirit held captive, by the exquisite beauty of the scene.  What harmonious combinations of strength and delicacy in the brilliant, rocky foreground, and dreamy, tender distance; what sparkling bits of light, of broad, sweet shadow, down in the depths of that radiant sea of haze, out of which gleams glittering gems, and bits of fallen sky.  A long bridge stretches away across the lake, and a huge, white floating draw swings open and shut as the steamers come and go.”  The bridge Stoddard mentions is the railroad bridge that spanned the lake between Ticonderoga and Shoreham, Vermont.  The center of the bridge swung open to allow steamboats to pass.  The bridge is visible in the distance and was in the open position when this photographed was taken.

To be continued…

Blog post by Christopher D. Fox, Curator

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A New Year’s Resolution that Will be Fun to Keep

Many of us make New Year’s Resolution this time of year, only to discover by the end of January that most (or all) of them have fallen by the wayside. I’d like to encourage you to make a resolution that will be a pleasure to keep—why not try participating in one educational program at Fort Ticonderoga this year that you’ve never tried before!

The number and variety of programs available throughout the year at Fort Ticonderoga continues to grow. Whether you spend a weekend attending one of our five seminar programs or just set aside an hour for one of our Fort Fever Series programs, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people with similar interests and a passion for Fort Ticonderoga!

In January alone we offer a number of educational opportunities. Our annual Fort Fever Series! program gets underway on Sunday, January 13th, when Curator of Collections Chris Fox talks about “The Realities of War.” Using petitions filed by Massachusetts Provincials following their service in the French & Indian War, Chris talks about the experiences of those soldiers during the 1758 campaign against French-held Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga). The Fort Fever Series! features Fort Ticonderoga staff one Sunday afternoon a month January through April. Programs begin at 2:00 p.m. These programs cost $10/person and are free for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga. Additional programs are scheduled February 10th, March 17th, and April 21st.

The Interpretation Department is running four clothing and accoutrement workshops this winter/spring. The first, “Basic Sewing Skills and Breeches Construction” takes place January 19th & 20th. These workshops, led by Artificer Supervisor Joel Anderson, make available Fort Ticonderoga’s outstanding collections, resources, and expertise to facilitate higher standards of authenticity in living history. These workshops draw upon both staff and guest experts to lead detailed sessions in the construction of historically accurate clothing and accouterments. Workshops cover mechanical issues like patterning, cutting, and stitching, and provide, whenever possible, opportunities to view and discuss original artifact examples associated with these projects. Additional workshops take place in February, March, and April.

The Third Annual Material Matters: It’s in the Details seminar takes place January 26th & 27th. This weekend seminar focuses on the material culture of the 18th century and provides attendees with an opportunity to learn more about the “stuff” of history. This seminar, smaller than our others later in the year, provides an intimate setting and enables presenters to share elements of their work in an up-close environment. There are still openings available and you can download a registration form here.

Throughout the remainder of the winter and early spring you will find a couple of programs each month as we approach opening day of the 2013 season on May 17th. On April 13th, we hold the Second Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium, highlighting the King’s Garden while sharing tips from experienced gardeners and landscapers that you can implement at home.

Never been to the War College of the Seven Years’ War? The oldest of our seminar programs, dating back to 1996, celebrates its eighteenth edition May 17th-19th with a program featuring presenters from across the country. Over 150 people come together each May to share their enthusiasm for the French & Indian War in North America. Likewise, the Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution September 20th-22nd, entering its tenth year, focuses on aspects of the American War for Independence.

New last summer, the Conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain takes an interdisciplinary look at the history, geography, culture, ecology and current issues related to these magnificent lakes that are so integral to Fort Ticonderoga and the region. Topics in 2013 include “Hulled between Wind and Water: The Attack on Diamond Island, Lake George’s only Naval Battle,” “Farmhouse Summers: O’Keefe and Stieglitz on Lake George,” and “The Floods of 2011: Impacts and Long-Term Implications for Lake Champlain.”

The Fort Ticonderoga Author Series returns in 2013, featuring the authors of recent books related to the region and the Fort Ticonderoga story. Most programs take place on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., followed by a book signing in the Museum Store at 3:00 p.m. These programs are included in the cost of admission and are free for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga and Ticonderoga Ambassador Pass holders. The schedule for 2013 is still evolving, so be sure to check the above link later in the spring for the most up-to-date list of authors.

Other programs are also in the works, so check out Life Long Learning on our website to keep updated with all our programs for adult learners. I look forward to seeing you at one or more of these programs in the coming year!

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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Raising Montcalm’s Cross

Young and old are fascinated by great battles in history.  In addition to these generic themes of the roar of cannons, musketry, and grim statistics, every battle has a unique story. It is these unique stories that have filled the imaginations of armchair generals and casual history buffs alike for centuries.  Fort Ticonderoga has been remembered, preserved, and restored because its grounds hosted five great battles in the course of two wars. In the process of planning a living history event to recreate these battles and wars, our goal is to bring the unique story of each encounter to life.

This summer’s upcoming ‘Montcalm’s Cross’ event is going to tell the story of the July, 8th 1758 Battle of Carillon. Unprecedented in military casualties in North America to that time, this battle made Ticonderoga a household name. The recreation of this battle is nothing new. Less than three months later it was re-enacted back in France in front of the Paris city hall. Two hundred and fifty-five years later, when bringing this story to life, there are a lot of factors to consider for the visitors of Fort Ticonderoga. The history of the battle and the unique narrative of its events and characters is a basic starting point. But to ensure that participants and visitors alike have an enjoyable and engaging experience, we have to broaden our planning. The battle will be recreated predominantly by re-enactors, dedicated historians who volunteer to recreate historic events. We have to take into account what is feasible to ask of these valuable volunteers. In addition, there are the various safety, comfort, and educational considerations for visitors coming to enjoy and engage in the living history event. The history of the battle and timeline of the event only tell a part of the story. In order to make the experience for visitors and participant as enjoyable and engaging as possible, we seek to recreate not only the basic facts, but the visceral details of the battle. To this end, one of the key considerations in re-enactment will be the setting of this important battle.

By July of 1758, Fort Carillon sat on a cleared tip of the Ticonderoga peninsula that was otherwise surrounded by virgin forest. These trees were tremendously old, so tall and large that they blocked most the light that could filter down to the forest floor. This prevented the usual growth of dense underbrush as with many secondary growth forests in the Northeast today. Most of the woods around this isolated Fort were surprisingly open inside, though the trees themselves were dense enough to obscure one’s view beyond thirty to fifty yards. In fact, French engineer Michele Chartier de Lotbineire described the density of these old growth trees as the cause of placing the Fort west of its initial design. The immediate area of the Fort had been cleared for almost three years by 1758, with the foundation of the fort itself blasted flat by French soldiers beginning in 1756. Therefore, the mown grass surrounding the present day Fort is not too far off the historical reality for 1758.

The Saturday of this two-day living history event will feature the skirmish that erupted as the British advanced from Lake George landing through the LeChute valley towards Ticonderoga. For our visitors attending the entire weekend of events, this will create two distinct days, both telling essential pieces of the story of the Battle of Carillon. Portraying the story of this skirmish is important to understanding the assault on the heights of Carillon. It was in this encounter that Brigadier General Lord Howe, darling of the British Army, was killed undermining British morale and command. This skirmish took place in the heavily forested landscape that dominated the LeChute Valley. To recreate this skirmish we are searching for a location on the site that has that same setting of dense forest. While trying to find a place on the landscape that has that same look, we have to take in to consideration that our visitors have the ability to get there and see what’s going on. They need to be comfortable and not in any actual danger while watching this recreation. Ideally, we are hoping to locate our visitors under the cover of the forest canopy. In this July event, the shade will be a welcome comfort and the perfect place to be immersed in this ancient forest landscape. Standing in amongst tree trunks, visitors can imagine taking shelter from buckshot and bullets, only to rush forward or retreat to the next.

For Sunday, our goal is to recreate the July 8th  direct assault on the heights of Carillon. The real battle of Carillon took place on the rise one mile to the west of the Fort. That hilltop, until a matter of hours before the battle, was still the old growth, virgin forest. The Marquis de Montcalm ordered his soldiers to entrench on that hillside, clearing off the forest for about a 100 yard radius around the top of the high ground. They used the trees they cut down to build the breastwork, their defensive position. Logs were stacked eight feet high, and one half mile long, zigzagging around the heights of Carillon to give intersecting fire against their British assailants. The tops of the trees were arrayed out thirty yards in front with the sharpened branches facing outwards, acting almost like barbed wire. Given the size and age of the trees used, this abatis hid the log breastwork from view.

Though we have the advantage of recreating the Battle of Carillon at the original location, using the actual battlefield itself is not an option. It is an archaeologically sensitive location and we hold our mission of preservation of these historic grounds equal to our mission of education about them. We have to find a place on the landscape where we can create the overall appearance of the Heights of Carillon on that day in July, 1758. Since the French lines were constructed rapidly right before the battle, the area around it was an open landscape of pine needles and leaves dotted by rocks and the remaining stumps from the cleared forest. The grounds for the re-created battle should capture the feel of the real setting. We cannot recreate the full half-mile of the French lines; it would take an army to do so. What we can do is recreate a representative section of the French lines, but have them be as visually faithful to our best understanding of the historic battlefield.

In so doing, we will reuse segments of the eight-foot high log breastwork that were recreated for the 250th anniversary of the battle. These were put together with the effort of many volunteers and have weathered the five years since then in surprisingly good shape. We will restore those segments to recreate a part of the French lines, but we want to move them up to the crest of the hill, which better matches the natural rise of the placement of the actual historic French lines.

Another key aspect of these recreated French lines is the abatis: the tree tops intertwined together, with sharpened branches pointed out in front of the breastwork. Historically, they served as a barbed-wire like barrier to that log breastwork, but they also visually screened the breastwork from the opposing forces. Overall, in recreating the French lines, visitors and participants alike should be able to see a log breastwork, screened by sharpened tree tops, overlooking about 100 yards of dead, barren, no-man’s land. In this way we can, in terms of setting, capture the real drama of that 1758 battle.

As with the skirmish that caused the death of Lord Howe, to portray the actual assault on the French lines, we have to consider where visitors will be. And this question certainly has the same considerations of comfort, safety, and accessibility. In addition, the location for viewing the battle is important in what part of the story we’re trying to tell. Placing visitors looking down from the French lines, just by the nature of where they are, tells the story from a very French perspective. Visitors would see wave after wave of British and provincial soldiers rushing up towards the French soldiers protected by the breastwork. They would feel the immediacy of the French firing as fast as they can to maintain their position and their lives. Conversely, placing visitors down far below the French lines outside this dead, no-man’s land space, lends itself to a more British or provincial perspective. Visitors would see in close detail the restless moments for British and provincial soldiers before they rush out into this open killing field. Visitors would look up at the worried faces of American provincials pinned down by fire from the French soldiers, huddling behind the stumps and rocks, anxiously awaiting nightfall. Still another option is to place viewing along a line perpendicular to the recreated French lines. In this way we would create a cross-sectional view to see the anatomy and the mechanics of the French victory and British defeat.

All these considerations go into telling the story of the 1758 Battle of Carillon at this summer’s, “Montcalm’s Cross,” event. As we figure out the best way to capture the visceral details of this great piece of history, we could not be more excited to have the opportunity to bring the stories of struggle and sacrifice of the individual soldiers to life.

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Diana in the King’s Garden


Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973)

In the center of the King’s Garden rests the bronze sculpture, The Young Diana, that depicts Roman mythology’s goddess of the hunt.  Displayed on a pedestal in the reflecting pool, the statue is located on a cross-axis and serves as a focal point when viewed from the garden entrances.  It was a gift from museum founder Stephen Pell’s cousin, Anna Hyatt Huntington, one of the foremost American sculptors of her time and one of the first women to achieve recognition in the medium.  Originally commissioned in 1923 by north Boston socialite Mrs. John Hays Hammond as a fountain for her summer estate, The Young Diana at the King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga is one of six versions of this sculpture, five of which are on display to the public. 


The youthful version of Diana was a departure from the classical treatment of the subject previously done by Huntington.

The sculptor and her philanthropist husband, Archer Milton Huntington, were staunch supporters of the restoration of Fort Ticonderoga beginning in 1928. Archer was named a Patron of the museum, then its highest form of recognition to donors.  A month after the couple visited in 1937 to observe the progress made in the Fort’s reconstruction, The Young Diana arrived in a crate much to delight of Stephen Pell.  His granddaughter recounted that he later said “How would you feel if you were expecting Mae West and got Shirley Temple taking a bath?”  The statue is a lithe, adolescent Diana with short cropped hair blown forward around her face.  Pell admitted that it was exactly right for the garden. 


The statue’s grace inspired Stephen’s wife, Sarah, to praise it in poetry.





At the same time, the artist had begun offering her sculpture to schools, colleges, museums, and garden parks.  More than 200 institutions throughout the world proved willing recipients.  The Huntingtons also established the largest outdoor sculpture garden in the United States on a 6,000-acre estate near Myrtle Beach, S.C., known as Brookgreen Gardens.  Anna Hyatt Huntington is best known for her animal and equestrian figures, and was an expert horsewoman.  She was the only female artist at that time to be awarded membership to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the U.S.


Pedestal detail

Her interpretation of Diana displayed here includes a base made up of three twisted dolphins holding a shell, with the goddess perched atop, having released her arrow to the sky.  It weighs over 1000 pounds and contains internal piping, which is consistent with its original design for use as a fountain.  The statue was repaired and restored, then reinstalled during the major restoration period of the King’s Garden which took place between 1995 and 2001.


By Heidi teRiele Karkoski
Curator of Landscape


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“In sight of the ruins, a quarter mile distant…” Part 2


The story of a visit to Fort Ticonderoga in 1872.

Part 2, Overland passage to the Fort.

Upon leaving the docks on the stagecoach bound for Fort Ticonderoga, Stoddard records that William Baldwin immediately set to entertaining and educating his passengers during the hour-long journey to the Fort; sometimes boasting of the famous passengers he has had the pleasure of carrying and at other times pointing out natural curiosities along the way.  Upon nearing the village of Ticonderoga Baldwin exclaims “Ladies and gentlemen, you will see, if you please, on your left, a great natural curiosity – an oak and an elm growing from one stump; you can see by the bark and by the leaves that there is no mistake about it; it is truly a great natural curiosity; and what God has joined together let not man put asunder!”


Ticonderoga had several sets of waterfalls around which its 19th-century industries developed.

In passing through Ticonderoga and by its several sets of waterfalls on the La Chute River, Stoddard records that Ticonderoga is a “thriving little village containing about 1,500 inhabitants, three or four churches, schools, an academy, woolen factory – noted for producing a remarkably good quality of cloth – two hotels, several stores, black lead mill, etc.”  Upon leaving the bounds of the village, Stoddard remarks “Glancing backward we see the lovely little village; its white houses and church spires gleaming through the dark green foliage of oaks, shut in by mountains that come down round about on every side; the divided falls flashing and foaming white, with a foreground of waving grasses and lily-pads.”  19th century Ticonderoga was surely a prosperous town.


In the 1870s the Carillon battlefield was marked by a wooden sign nailed to a tree.

As Baldwin’s caravan approaches the Fort’s historic garrison grounds Stoddard notes that “Arriving at the top of the hill we find a broad plateau, along which, in a south-easterly direction, we go, and entering a field through a gate, which is opened by a muddy little boy, are upon the bloody battle ground in front of the old French lines.”  He further states “We cross the “old French lines,” full of angles, fronted by a deep ditch, and extending through the woods to the water on either side, past two or three redouts, and come in sight of the ruins, a quarter of a mile distant.”  But to Stoddard’s chagrin, the ruins are not Baldwin’s prime objective; getting his passengers to the Lake Champlain dock below the Fort in a timely manner is his priority.  Upon catching his first glimpse of Fort Ticonderoga’s ruins Stoddard writes “What memories cluster around the gray old promontory? What a history is thine, oh, crumbling Ticonderoga? Enough for another chapter!  So, let us hasten to the hotel, down among the locusts, where a good dinner is awaiting, after which we can moralize, and paw among the ruins to our heart’s content.”


The Fort Ticonderoga Hotel entertained guests for sixty years between 1840 and 1900.

The hotel that Stoddard refers to is the Fort Ticonderoga Hotel which he describes, “was built in 1826, by William F. Pell, for a summer residence, and first occupied as a hotel in 1840, at which time the grounds were thrown open to the public.  The central portion is two stories high, with a double piazza; the front supported by massive columns on which vines climb to the roof above; on either side extend long, low wings with glass enclosed verandas, and rooms en suite at the extreme ends.  The house faces the east, and is fronted by an extensive lawn covered by locusts and Lombardy poplars through which a plank walk leads down to the steamboat dock and a road leads north through the fields to Addison Junction, over which a free carriage conveys guests to and from all trains.  Just back of the house are the ruins.  The accommodations are first-class, but limited, the chief business being the dinner provided for excursionists, and for which the house has become celebrated.  Altogether it is a very enjoyable place.”

This handbill describes the amenities offered at the Fort Ticonderoga Hotel in 1868.


To be continued…

Blog post by Christopher D. Fox, Curator, Fort Ticonderoga.

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On the Road

One of the parts of my job I enjoy the most is the opportunity to get out into the surrounding area to work with different audiences, from a group of 6th grade students developing project topics for this year’s National History Day program to college students looking for internship opportunities in 2013.

Rich Strum, Director of Education, with students from Peru Middle School during a recent visit to discuss History Day topics.

Part of my role as Coordinator of North Country History Day is to meet with teachers and students to orient them to the National History Day program and help them as they begin to identify possible topics for their projects related to the current year’s theme: “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.” Since late September I’ve met with several groups of students, including a group of homeschool parents and students here at Fort Ticonderoga during “Homeschool Day” in October.

Students at Peru Middle School just south of Plattsburgh meet every other week in an afterschool club to work on their History Day projects. I was able to meet with these students on a recent Thursday at the end of their school day to talk about History Day. Several students participated in the History Day program last year and have now encouraged classmates to take part in the coming year. Students are now entering the “crunch time,” with registration to participate in North Country History Day coming up in early February and the competition in early March. They are currently immersed in research related to their chosen topic.

Director of Interpretation Stuart Lilie with students from Ticonderoga Elementary School during the outreach program “A Soldier’s Life.”

Students are also the focus of our new school outreach program “A Soldier’s Life.” I’ve been working with Director of Interpretation Stuart Lilie to re-launch a formal school outreach program. In early November, Stuart, interpreter Cameron Green, and I went to Ticonderoga Elementary School to field test the new program with fourth grade students. Stuart and Cameron focused on the life of soldiers at the Fort in 1775, using food and clothing as tangible links between the soldier’s life and that of the students. This new program is now available for schools throughout the region. Grants from the Walter Cerf Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation and the Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Fund cover most of the costs for select schools.

I’ve also been out working with teachers in the region. On November 2nd, I spent the day working with a group of 45 teachers from across the state of Vermont at an event on “Changing Perspectives in History” sponsored by the “Turning Points in American History” Teaching American History NEH project. I worked with the teachers in groups of 15, using historic documents and images to talk about “Changing Perspectives on Benedict Arnold.” Many of these same teachers will spend a day at Fort Ticonderoga next August learning about ways to use museum exhibitions and interpretive programs to enhance their teaching of the American Revolution.

As I write, I am preparing to present on “The Common Core, Literacy, and Historical Thinking in Social Studies” at the Vermont Alliance for the Social Studies annual conference in Burlington later this month. This is one of several conferences for teachers that I try to attend each year. I’ll also be presenting at the New York State Council on the Social Studies conference in late February in Westchester, New York.

This fall I’ve also taken part in two internship fairs for college students: at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, and at SUNY Plattsburgh. These venues provide an opportunity for college students seeking practical, real-world experiences to learn about the options for internships and project-based collaborative relationships.

Finally, I gave a presentation to a group of 120 senior citizens at SUNY Adirondack as part of their life-long learning. The overview of Fort Ticonderoga’s history was followed by a lively discussion about the role of Fort Ticonderoga in 18th-century American history.

The road trips continue through the winter. Maybe I’ll be passing through your town.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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Never Say Never

To historians, perhaps as much as scientists, proving yourself wrong is often more exciting than being correct.  Often visitors ask about how the cavalry was used in battle around Fort Ticonderoga, to which our answer would be that we haven’t found any evidence of cavalry at Fort Ticonderoga. Typically, we elaborate on this answer to mention many instances of mounted officers as well as large numbers of artillery horses in use during the American Revolution and even the French and Indian War. However, it appears that this explanation is not quite true.

With woods, wetlands, and few good roads military operations along Lake Champlain were not conducive to cavalry operations.

During Fort Ticonderoga’s military history, the Lake Champlain valley that surrounded the Fort was not conducive to effective cavalry operations. The scattered farms that dotted both the Vermont andNew York sides of theLake did not offer enough open ground to justify the presence of mounted soldiers. Instead the deep forests and many marshlands made horse-powered transport very difficult outside of the few roads between lakeside landings. Beyond this, pasture space to maintain horses around Fort Ticonderogawas limited and of poor quality during summer droughts. Large scale and rapid maneuvers were more easily executed by boat during the great campaigns around this key to the continent. Despite these factors it appears there was one very small cavalry operation atTiconderogain the fall of 1775.

For the purpose of reviewing the debts of the Continental Army, the Continental Congress appointed a smaller committee. This Committee of Claims initiated this small cavalry operation during their meeting in Philadelphiaon October 10th, 1775. General Phillip Schuyler kept a constant stream of correspondence with the Continental Congress as he managed the supply, personnel, and military operations of the Northern Department. From his quarters at Fort Ticonderoga, General Schuyler kept the Committee of Claims abreast of open accounts with merchants, teamsters, contractors, officers, and soldiers. This October 10th meeting found that there were ‘reasonable’ claims for payment within the Northern Department of the Continental Army. These included, “The Account of Du Simitiere, amounting to eight Dollars, for translating the Address of the United Colonies to the Inhabitants of Quebeck.” Among others, payment was authorized for “Christopher Ludwig’ s Account, for sundry expenses in forwarding Powder to Ticonderoga, amounting to 41.2 Dollars.” In order to get this money to Ticonderoga, the committee discussed “On motion, Resolved, That the Money be sent to General Schuyler, under an escort of four of the Light-Horse.” After an hour break the president of this committee summarized their decision: “The President reported that he had dispatched an express to General Schuyler with £6,364, Pennsylvania Currency, in Silver and Gold, ($16,970 2-3,) with an escort of four of the Light-Horse of this City. “

We know that four members of the Philadelphia Light Horse rode all the way to Fort Ticonderoga to deliver this money to General Schuyler. The minutes of the Continental Congress from November 25th, 1775 includes a resolve to pay “Levi Hollingsworth, for expenses of himself and three others, to Ticonderoga and back again, who took with them a sum of money for General Schuyler, the sum of 128 Dollars.” Levi Hollingsworth was a prominent Philadelphia merchant who specialized in flour, as did much of his family.  Like many other wealthy merchants in Philadelphia, Levi Hollingsworth was a member of the Philadelphia Light Horse, a gentleman’s volunteer cavalry troop.  In 1775, and perhaps throughout the war, the Philadelphia Light Horse was the best uniformed and equipped cavalry available to the Continental Congress and Continental Army. Much like any other independent gentlemen’s company, the members of the Philadelphia Light Horse voted on their uniform.

A dark brown short Coat, faced and lined with white, white Vest and Breeches; high topped Boots; round black Hat, bound with silver cord and a buck’s tail; and ARMS a Carbine, a pair of Pistols and Holsters, with flounces of brown cloth trimmed with white; a horseman’s Sword; white belts for the sword and carbine.

One of the few known images of the Philadelphia Light Horse. It largely agrees with uniform described in the minutes of the troop.

Every member had to equip themselves accordingly, creating a very fine unit of cavalry. They even purchased a fine yellow silk standard which survives to this day. These gentleman volunteers are best known for being General Washington’s escort during the 1776 and 1777 campaigns. Charles Wilson Peale portrayed two members of the Philadelphia Light Horse in the background of his portrait ofWashington at Princeton, giving us another pictorial source on this unit.

For his part, Levi Hollingsworth is much better known as an important merchant during the early years of the US Army.  During the Revolution, he supplied some foodstuffs to the Continental Army, beginning a very long relationship with military supply. During the early years of the US Army in the 1780s and 90s he expanded his dealings from simply foodstuffs into munitions and arms. During the war of 1812, he served as a very outspoken critic of the war as well as an important merchant to the US Army. Levi Hollingsworth’s correspondence after the American Revolution is very well known, as it was catalogued in the War Department Papers, as well as his own collection of papers later in life. As we delve more into the life of Levi Hollingsworth, we hope to know more about his trip to Ticonderoga than simply that he got there and back to Philadelphia, dressed pretty nicely. Further research may well give the names of the other three horseman and some answers to practical questions of riding up to this Old French Fort. In the best of all possible worlds, we may find a personal account of the trip so that when we portray 1775 again, we may be able to tell this neat story about the one real cavalry operation at Fort Ticonderoga.

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“In sight of the ruins, a quarter mile distant…” Part 1


The story of a visit to Fort Ticonderoga in 1872.

Part 1, The photographer and his book.

This is the first in a four-part blog series describing a visit to the ruins of Fort Ticonderogain 1872 by Seneca Ray Stoddard.  Stoddard (1844-1917) was a prolific photographer and writer focusing much of his work on New York’s Adirondack mountain region.  His guidebooks to northern New York are valuable resources that provide a unique window into the past.  Stoddard’s work at and about Fort Ticonderoga offers a rare glimpse into an aspect of the Fort’s past that we are only now beginning to fully appreciate.

Seneca Ray Stoddard left an exceptional combination of photographs and a written record that, when used together, offer unique insight into the history of Fort Ticonderoga.  By studying his works in tandem, we have the ability to retrace the steps and thoughts of a visitor to the Fort at a time when the Fort was still a romantic ruin and the events that occurred at the site were still vivid in people’s imaginations. 

In 1873 Seneca Ray Stoddard published Ticonderoga: Past and Present.  This book chronicles his visit to Fort Ticonderoga in 1872.  He begins his narrative with a description of the trip to Ticonderoga via Lake George steamboat, and the overland stagecoach ride to the ruins.  Upon reaching Fort Ticonderoga, Stoddard provides a rare and detailed description of a visit to the ruins and its outlying defenses and offers an interpretation of the Fort’s historic landscape and features; an interpretation based in part on his own knowledge of the Fort’s remarkable history and, in part, on the interpretation of other, more military-minded individuals who have visited the ruins before him.  While not necessarily published to be a guide to the Fort, Stoddard’s Ticonderoga does read as an unofficial guide book to this historic site that in the 19th century was already a well-known destination for America’s earliest generations of heritage tourists.  When combined with Stoddard’s extensive stereo photography of Fort Ticonderoga’s ruins, this book creates a veritable time machine in which one can travel 140 years into the past and visit the Fort at a time when it was still a pristine ruin.

Seneca Ray Stoddard visited Ticonderoga at least five times between 1868-1874. We can document his visits to the day through his signatures in Fort Ticonderoga Hotel guest books.

To get to Ticonderoga, Stoddard traveled the route followed by countless people before him; by boat down Lake George.  Whether idle travelers seeking respite in the peace of the northern lakes, businessmen traveling between New York City and Montreal, or armies seeking to capture or control Fort Ticonderoga during the French & Indian War and American Revolution; Lake George was the crucial link in the historic water highway passing through northern New York.  In the 19th century the Lake George steamboats disembarked their passengers at the Baldwin docks south of Ticonderoga.  From there travelers passed overland by stagecoach to the steamer dock on Lake Champlain below Fort Ticonderoga’s ruins.  By the early 1870s, with the construction of the railroad along Lake Champlain, travelers had the option of catching the speedier train to continue their journey.

William Baldwin’s stagecoaches at Fort Ticonderoga, September 25, 1874. This rare stereoview illustrates some of the very stagecoaches that Stoddard describes in his book.

Upon landing at the Baldwin dock, Stoddard boarded a stagecoach for the second leg of his journey to Fort Ticonderoga.  Of the transportation before him, Stoddard notes “Five great box-like stages, one baggage wagon, twenty-two horses and six drivers waited for us at the foot of Lake George, as the little steamer came to rest against the dock, and we passed out over the plank to the clay-bespattered platform, where stood the driver-in-chief, with always a pleasant word or a happy retort at his tongue’s end.”  Stoddard is referring to William Guy Baldwin, the famed stagecoach operated who transported travelers between the Lake George and Lake Champlain steamboat docks during the later decades of the 19th century.  Stoddard describes Baldwin as “a genial, obliging, gentlemanly man; the joy of seekers after knowledge; the terror of those who know too much.”

To be continued…

Blog post by Christopher D. Fox, Curator, Fort Ticonderoga.

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