Fort Ticonderoga’s Art Collection and Students

The other day I had the opportunity to work with a group of students from Richmond Elementary School in Richmond, Vermont. These third and fourth graders came to Fort Ticonderoga to take part in our “The Artist’s Eye: Geography, History, and Art” school program that uses works of art in “The Art of War” exhibit.

For an hour and a half, students talked about what art is and why people create art. They worked in smaller groups to discuss amongst themselves specific works of art in the exhibit and then reported the key points of their discussion to the rest of the group. They also got out onto the Ticonderoga landscape to make sketches before returning to the Mars Education Center to make a more formal drawing based on their sketches.

For the past several years teachers have had access to “Using Art to Learn about History” sheets highlighting specific artworks in the Fort Ticonderoga collection. Students can use the sheets to locate a work of art and then answer a series of open-ended questions that encourage directed looking and analysis of the painting.

However, with “The Art of War” exhibition in the Mars Education Center gallery, fifty works of art from the Fort’s collection are displayed in a central location for the first time. This exhibition makes it possible to offer an art-specific program for students that still connects to the importance of the Fort’s history and it relation to the surrounding landscape.

Richmond Elementary students view “Gelyna” by Thomas Cole in the Fort’s “The Art of War” exhibit.

Working with a group of students too young to remember film photography can be a challenge; for them advances in technology aren’t going at break-neck speed—for them it’s the new normal. During a discussion of how creating art today is different than 150 years ago, the impact of technology on their daily lives became clear. When asked how we record images today, I expected the answer “digital cameras” but I hadn’t even thought about “Playstation DSIs.” Even as I asked the question, one of the teachers was at the side of the room recording components of the program on her Apple iPad!

At the core of the program is the opportunity for students, in groups of 4-6, to examine and analyze a specific artwork in the exhibit. Students looking at Thomas Davies’ “A View of the Lines at Lake George, 1759” were asked to identify things in the painting that indicated the area was still wilderness in 1759, as well as signs of human impact on the landscape. These third and fourth graders noted the forested hillsides and lack of permanent structures, but also saw that trees had been cleared for General Amherst’s camp and that at least one road had been constructed.

One group, assigned the panoramic photograph “At Fort Ticonderoga, October 4, 1910” by Seneca Ray Stoddard, were struck by the formality of the clothes everyone in this group photograph are wearing, which led to a conversation of how we dress today for outings. They also pointed out some of the challenges of taking a large group picture, noting that several people are not looking at the camera.

A student makes a sketch of the landscape surrounding Fort Ticonderoga while participating in “The Artist’s Eye” School Program.

Before heading out onto the landscape, we reexamined “A View of the Lines at Lake George, 1759,” noting that it was painted fifteen years later, in 1774. How did Thomas Davies know what to paint in the scene? Students talked about making sketches and painting finished pieces back in the studio (and in this case, many years later). Then we went outside, where students selected a scene that interested them and made a sketch, using just a black or brown colored pencil. Many made notes on their sketches, such as “sky is light blue” or “soldier’s coat is light brown.” Students then returned to the Mars Education Center and, with a limited palette of five colors, created a more formal drawing of the scene they selected, using their sketches as a reference.

Fort Ticonderoga is fortunate to be uniquely placed to offer this exceptional program. We don’t know of another program where students can observe works of art and then literally step out the door to see the landscapes that inspired the art—and not just one painting, but a dozen or more landscapes in our collection depict the Ticonderoga peninsula.

We often don’t give students enough credit when it comes to viewing artworks or taking our own children to art museums and galleries. All too often we think “my kids would never be interested in looking at paintings.” My experience working with students and artworks over the years, however, teaches me that we just have to provide children with the appropriate tools. A few simple, open-ended questions can open up a whole new world for students and for us.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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The Unfolding Colors of Fall

The autumnal equinox arrived September 22nd, signaling a transition in day-length patterns and ushering in the fall season. On the equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night
is nearly equal. The word equinox means “equal night”. As the weeks march on, the earth tilts on its axis and the Northern Hemisphere is farther from the sun, decreasing the amount of time the sun is over the horizon, changing our weather patterns and creating distinct seasons.

Norway maple and dogwood on the Garrison Grounds

The fall season at the King’s Garden is marked by late blooming perennials, visits by monarch butterflies, and our Heritage Harvest
and Horse Festival. The festival takes place on September 29th and features a plant sale, equine demonstrations, a harvest market of locally grown and produced items, horticultural talks, a six-acre corn maze and children’s activities, including a tree scavenger hunt. The majestic trees around the garden grounds are the focus of the activity. This time of year, I am often asked, “What will the colors be like this fall?” referring to the changing leaves.
It is longer nights that are responsible for the chemical changes in deciduous leaves that create a tapestry of color in the autumn landscape. Northern New York and New England are famous for fall color that can be attributed to the density and diversity of tree species found here. There are over 60 varieties of color producing trees that exhibit the glowing reds, yellows, oranges and russets that create colorful vistas in the mountains and valleys.

The massive bur oak near the King's Garden

So where do these colors come from? The green pigment
chlorophyll is abundant in the leaves throughout the summer as it carries on the job of absorbing the energy from sunlight needed for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis uses carbon dioxide, water and sunlight to make sugars necessary for a plant’s survival. Chemical changes take place to prepare a tree for winter, triggered by change in day length and temperature.

A complicated process begins to take place inside the leaf. Chlorophyll production stops, veins that carry sugars out of the leaf gradually close, and a specialized layer forms that severs the leaf from the branch. As the chlorophyll fades, other pigments are revealed. Yellows are fairly constant
from year to year since the compound carotenoid is always present in the leaves of birch, locust, and poplar, to name a few. Red and purple hued leaves are more brilliant when warm sunny days produce sugars which are then trapped in
the leaf when the night cools, causing the formation of red pigments called anthocyanins. Varying amounts of chlorophyll residue and pigments produce the different shades.

The pigment anthocyanin is found in barberry fruits

Each tree species displays a dominant autumn color that is more or less intense based on environmental factors. Degree and duration of
fall color depends on temperature, light, and water supply over the entire growing season. The checklist below offers some clues to determine the
potential brilliance of fall foliage.

Positive Factors
Warm spring
Wet spring
Summer not too hot; limits stress
Summer not too dry; limits stress
Warm sunny fall days to produce sugars
Cool fall nights, not freezing
Negative Factors
Severe drought can delay arrival of color
Warm, wet fall lowers intensity of colors
Severe frost browns the leaves, early drop
Cloudy fall days
Early onset of cold weather – the leaves may not drop

Tannins give oak leaves a russet or brown color

Autumn is a time of transition from an actively growing tree
to the dormancy of winter. All parts of a broadleaf tree except the leaves can
endure winter temperatures. A leaf releases from the branch when a corky layer is formed at the base of the leaf stalk, thus sealing the twig from water loss. Sugars stored in the branches, trunk, and roots sustain the tree until it awakens in spring. Buds form in the fall and lie dormant until after the spring equinox when lengthening days and warmer temperatures bring the promise of renewed life to the winter landscape. It seems that because autumn colors are fleeting, it adds to their appeal. We have had conditions from both the “positive” and “negative” checklist, so maybe this year will be just right.

Heidi teRieleKarkoski
Curator of Landscape
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The Reward of Warring Valor

Ordre royal et militaire de Saint-Louis.

Among the many remarkable objects in Fort Ticonderoga’s collections is a rather small but very important French military medal, the Ordre royal et militaire de Saint-Louis.

The Ordre de Saint-Louis was created in 1693 as an award for military merit and valor.  It was awarded only to French Catholic officers who had served for at least ten years.  During the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars (1789-1815), the Ordre was suspended.  With the revival of the Ordre in 1816, the medal saw widespread distribution and most medals encountered in museum and private collections today date to the 19th century.  Unfortunately, none of the medals were numbered or inscribed with the names of recipients, making it nearly impossible to trace any specific medal’s ownership.  Furthermore, upon the death of the recipient, the family was obligated to return the medal to the government so that it could be reissued to another deserving officer.  In 1793, all members of the Ordre were instructed to return their medals (as symbols of the old regime) to their local city halls so that they could be destroyed.  As a result, Saint-Louis medals dating to the 17th or 18th century are quite rare.

There were three “ranks” or levels to the award: chevalier, commandeur, and grand-croix.  Fort Ticonderoga’s medal is of the type given to a chevalier of the Ordre and dates to the first half of the reign of Louis XV.  Stylistically, it is typical of those awarded ca. 1750-1760.  The Ordre de Saint-Louis medal is relatively small, measuring a little more than one inch in width at it widest point.  It is made of 22 karat gold in the form of a Maltese cross with white enamel highlights.  The branches of the cross are divided by gold fleur-de-lis

Detail of the front side of the medal.

A medallion is sent onto the center of the cross, having on the obverse side an image of Saint Louis in gold on a red enamel background.  This is surrounded by a blue enamel band with the Latin motto in gold letters, “LVD.M.INST.1693.”, or Ludivicus Magnus Instituit 1693 (Louis the Great Created 1693).  On the reverse side of the medallion is an upright golden sword and laurel wreath on a red enamel background.  This is also surrounded by a blue enamel band with the Latin motto in gold letters, “BELL.VIRTVTIS.PRÆM.”, or Bellicæ Virtutis Praemium (The Reward of Warring Valor).  The medal is suspended from a bright red silk ribbon described as couleur de feu (color of fire).

Many of the French officers that served in New France during the Seven Years’ War had received the order at the chevalier level.  The Marquis de Montcalm was awared his Ordre de Saint-Louis in 1744 for his service in the War of the Austrian Succession.  French army engineer Jean-Nicholas Desandrouins and Anne-Joseph-Hippolyte de Maurès de Malartic, Montcalm’s aide-de-camp and Captain in the Béarn Regiment, were awarded the Ordre de Saint-Louis for their gallantry in the Battle of Carillon, July 8, 1758.

Detail of the reverse side of the medal.

The medal pictured and described on this page was donated to the museum in 2004 by Mr. & Mrs. Charles Freihofer III.  Unfortunately, as is the case with most examples of these medals, the identity of the person who was awarded this particular medal in the 18th century is unknown.


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

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What’s New for the New School Year

As the calendar turns from August to September it’s back to school time across the region. My own kids started school this past Tuesday, eager for the promise of new beginnings, new friends, and new experiences. Every turn of the season unfolds with the same promise of new experiences at Fort Ticonderoga—for staff and visitors alike.

We are excited to announce our new outreach program for students. Schools throughout the Champlain Valley and beyond can bring part of the Fort Ticonderoga experience into the classroom with the “Bravery, Prudence, and Sagacity: The Life of a Soldier at Fort Ticonderoga” program. During the 45-minute classroom program, students interact with a Fort Interpreter depicting a soldier from Ticonderoga during the first few pivotal months of the American Revolution in 1775. They learn about the challenges of life as a soldier at a frontier post by examining the contents of the soldier’s knapsack. Each item tells a story that illustrates the daily routine of a soldier at Fort Ticonderoga. The elements of the mid-day meal open venues for learning about 18th-century foodways and help reinforce the Common Core Curriculum, which encourages the incorporation of ELA, math, and science skills into the teaching of history. The daily ration for a soldier lends itself to math word problems and discussion about local and regional economies.

We are also grateful for the support the Walter Cerf Community Fund has provided to help introduce this new program to students in Vermont’s Addison County. Thanks to the Fund, ten schools in the county will be able to have the “Bravery, Prudence, and Sagacity: The Life of a Soldier at Fort Ticonderoga” program in one of its classrooms during the 2012-13 at minimal cost. This offer is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested teachers should contact me at or at 518-585-6370 to learn more.

Fort Ticonderoga’s “Heroic Maze: a Corn Maze!” adventure is in its second year and is open to student groups on Thursdays and Fridays through October 14th by advance reservation. Students and chaperones find their way through the maze with the help of grade-appropriate clues. Wending through the maze is a great problem-solving cooperative activity. Students work together to solve clues that help them navigate the maze. It’s an ideal activity to kick off the new school year! New for 2012! Archaeology Quest in the Corn—Scavenger Hunt. Eight stations hidden in the maze each represent an artifact. Students are given a Quest Card to collect a stamp from each station. It takes perseverance and skill to find all eight.

On Wednesday, October 17th, Fort Ticonderoga hosts its first Homeschool Day, with programs throughout the day targeted for homeschool families. You can learn more about the day’s schedule by following this link.

A new school year also means a fresh chance to develop a project for National History Day. This year’s theme is “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.” Fort Ticonderoga coordinates New York’s North Country History Day each March for students in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and Warren counties. While the contest is six months away, the History Day process begins in October and November as students in grades 6-12 begin the research process that culminates in a project for the regional contest. I’m already booked to visit a couple schools in the region to meet with students and teachers and help get them started. You can learn more here.

And there’s still more to come. Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation, and I are working on a new program that brings students into our historic trades shop this winter for an in-depth, hands-on opportunity to learn about, and take part in, 18th-century artisan skills. The details are still unfolding, so stay tuned!

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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Becoming Soldiers in 1775

The citizen soldiers of Colonel Hinman’s regiment that garrisoned Fort Ticonderoga in the summer of 1775 arrived as well equipped and trained as one could expect for soldiers rapidly raised following the Lexington alarm. Arms, accouterments, and drill weren’t the only important aspects of being a soldier, as these and other colonial soldiers discovered during the summer of 1775.

In camp and on the march, keeping soldiers from shooting was a surprisingly big challenge.

These militia-men turned regulars may well have imagined their new lives in the army as an adventure, the same way we often imagine their service now. New to army life, many of these soldiers were itching for a fight, so much so that officer’s worked all summer long to keep them from shooting in camp, on the march, or wherever these soldiers got bored.  The men of Colonel David Waterbury’s Fifth Connecticut regiment, which encamped in New York City during the summer of 1775, were chastised, “All wrestling and gaming of every kind in camp is strictly forbidden-the firing of guns in camp is also strictly forbidden.  Only ten days later, these soldiers were reminded in general orders, “Each soldier is absolutely forbid firing on their march except ordered by their officers, and they are to take especial care to injure no man’s property”. The message still had not been taken to heart by July 5th when Waterbury’s men were reminded, “all firing of guns either in or without hearing of the Camp is strictly forbid without orders of the field officer’s of the day.” Clearly, at least one of these soldiers had argued that what was out of site and earshot didn’t violate orders, a testament to the ingenuity of these Connecticut Yankees. Indeed, some of these trigger happy new privates lost track of whether their weapons were loaded at all, prompting the Colonel to order,” The officer’s of each Company to exercise and see that the Soldiers guns are not loaded before exercise.”

Officer’s, new to their regular posts were not immune from such lapses in discipline or procedure either. Sergeant Aaron Barlow’s orderly book records an admonishment to the officer’s of Waterbury’s regiment that, “In the orders for exercising the troops it was expected that the officers would exercise themselves, as belonging to that body.” Back up at Ticonderoga, July was an equally trying month for Colonel Hinman, his officers and men. Fed up with trying to get his soldiers to actually show up for duty each morning on the parade of the old French Fort, he spelled out their duty to his officers. Sergeant Bayze Wells diary and orderly book records for the 11th of July:
The respective companies to be called out at half after four o’clock in the morning to roll calling. The officers to see that the rolls are actually called and take care of all non-appearants and all the companies in camp to be turned out at 8 o’clock in the forenoon and at 4 o’clock in the afternoon in order for military exercise to be instructed therein and continued for the space of two hours and a half at each time. Both forenoon and afternoon, to be conducted in such a manner by the major and adjutant shall direct with the assistance of the officers of the respective companies.
The same lapses in procedure that perplexed Colonel Hinman, were of great concern to General Schuyler when wrote of arriving at his new command of Ticonderoga on the 18th of July. While eager to shoot by day, these Connecticut men took a more relaxed approach to security by night. Schulyer wrote to Governor Trumbull, relating his experience.
About ten, last night, I arrived at the landing-place at the north end of Lake George; a post occupied by a Captain and one hundred men. A sentinel, on being informed I was in the boat, quitted his post to go and awaken the guard, consisting of three men, in which he had no success. I walked up and came to another, a sergeant’s guard. Here the sentinel challenged, but suffered me to come up to him, the whole guard, like the first, in the soundest sleep. With a penknife only I could have cut off both guards, and then have set fire to the block-house, destroyed the stores and starved the people here. At this post I have pointedly recommended vigilance and care, as all the stores from Fort George must necessarily be landed there. But I hope to get the better of this inattention. The officers and men are all good-looking people, and decent in their deportment, and I really believe will make good soldiers as soon as I can get the better of this nonchalance of theirs. Bravery, I believe, they are far from wanting.

As much as marching or drill, camp hygene was vital discipline in miltary life.


With the threat of British invasion from the north in the summer of 1775 being merely a pervasive rumor, these lapses in security were less of the threat to these green soldiers than their personal habits in camp. Back down in New York City, Colonel Waterbury’s men had to be continuously reminded not to terrorize the poor citizens of New York. As early as July 3rd, General orders included a pointed note to, “take particular care that the Soldiers pull down no fence nor ruin any railes, to be careful that no fires are made (except for) cooking only in the rear of the Regiment.” If orders are any guide, fence rails remained a favorite firewood for Waterbury’s men throughout the month in New York City. Camp mischief and kitchens aside, these new soldiers often lacked the cleanliness that was the mark of both discipline and a good bulwark against disease.  Colonel Waterbury himself had to order his men on July 3rd to clean up their company streets after breakfast. At Ticonderoga Colonel Hinman had to wrestle with the most basic of necessary activities.  In his July 14th orders he specifically ordered his men to use latrines, rather than immediate vicinity of the Fort itself.

A party of men to be drafted to make a suitable number of grog holes. For the men to do their occasion at said holes to be at the direction of the Quarter-Master. Everyone that doth occasion within 20 rods of the garrison at any other place then the place prepared for that purpose to be confined and punished according to the judgment of a regimental court martial.
This problem may not have been fully disposed of during 1775. Sergeant Wells orderly book continued on during the Canadian campaign, noting on April 30th, 1776 that “no Person Shall Set Down and Ease themselves of their Bodily Excrements Within Seventy yards or Paces of this Garison.” Not surprisingly the diaries of both Sergeant Aaron Barlow and Chaplain Benjamin Trumbull record Colonel Hinman’s regiment as very sickly when they arrived at Ticonderoga in the middle of August. Aaron Barlow specifically noted that he and his men were, “lodging among the fleas” during his brief stay at Ticonderoga.
As with any green soldiers, patriotic, drafted, or otherwise, these soldiers had mixed success in their first skirmishes around the British Fort at Saint John’s at the northernmost end of Lake Champlain. Aaron Barlow’s orderly books record many men tried for cowardice in the face of the enemy, or dropping their firelocks when the encountered enemy patrols. After a hasty and panicked retreat from St. Johns south to Isle au Noix, Reverend Benjamin Trumbull offered a spirited defense of his fellow American citizen-soldiers, stating that, “in Fact, they did not wan either Zeal or Courage.” In time, these green soldiers did become battle-hardened and disciplined enough to execute a series of successful sieges on the Army’s advance towards the heart of Quebec. However, with the Connecticut soldiers enlisted only for seven months, the results of this training and discipline were lost as enlistments expired through November of 1775. Those green soldiers who answered duty’s call in 1776 would create the same headaches all over again.
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Keeping Ticonderoga Secure and Healthy During the Winter of 1776-1777

“The Care of the Fortresses of Tyonderoga and Mount Independence being committed to you as commanding Officer…” begins a letter written by General Philip Schyler as he turns over command of Ticonderoga to Colonel Anthony Wayne in the fall of 1776 was recently acquired by Fort Ticonderoga through generous donor support.  Written November 23, 1776, this important letter relays orders to Wayne regarding the security and maintenance of Ticonderoga through the winter.  Colonel Wayne is given specific instructions to “continually keep scouting parties on the Lake as long as the Season will permit it to be navigated” and to “pay the strictest Attention to your Guards & Centinels and punish severely the least Remissness in Duty” in order to keep the fortresses secure through the winter.  In making sure that the forts can be properly defended in case of attack, Schuyler orders that “All Huts & Buildings that may in the least obstruct the Defense of your posts must be levelled.”

Keeping the winter garrison healthy is also a chief concern on which General Schuyler instructs Colonel Wayne.  He writes that a considerable quantity of provisions, livestock, and vegetables are being forwarded to supply the men for three months stating that “You will know of what Importance it is that the greatest attention should be paid to the Health of the Men” and that “having their Victuals properly dressed are capital points and greatly tend to the preservation of the Men.”  In addition to provisions being forwarded for the troops, Colonel Wayne is also notified that to help keep the men healthy through the winter “Bedding… will be sent as soon as possible together with a Number of Iron Stoves… to be put up in your Barracks for the greater Conveniencey of the Men” and instructs that barracks chimneys be swept every two weeks.

This letter provides unique documentation of the minute details Ticonderoga’s officer’s had to be concerned with in order to protect the post from attack and properly care for its troops.  Below is a complete transcript of the document.


Saratoga November 23d: 1776


The Care of the Fortresses of Tyonderoga and Mount Independence being committed to you as commanding officer, with a Garrison composed of your Regiment and those of Wood, Dayton, Irwin, Burrel and Whitcomb to compose the Garrison, together with the Artillery under Major Stevens, the light Infantry Companies under Capt: Whitcomb, Colonel Baldwin the chief Engineer, with sundry Artificers and Major Hay as a D Q M. General, exceeding in all  upwards of two thousand five hundred Rank and File.  I have the fullest Confidence in your vigilance, Attention and Foresight to guard against a Surprize, and do every Thing that may have a Tendency to secure your post & promote the Zeal of the service, and that you will not lose the least Time in putting yourself in the best posture of Defence possible, you will continually keep scouting parties on the Lake, as long as the Season will permit it to be navigated, and when that is no longer passable practicable parties must be kept out on both Sides of the Lake, to give the earliest Intelligence of the approach of an Enemy.  You will pay the strictest attention to your Guards & Centinels and punish severely the least Remissness in a Duty, on which the Safety of the Forts and Troops so eminently depend.

Provisions are forwarding to you in very considerable Quantities and I have ordered such a Stock to be laid in, before the Navigation stops, as will maintain your Garrison for three Months, and long before that is expended a fresh Supply will be sent on.  A very considerable Quantity of vegetables will be forwarded to you as soon as the Troops that are retiring into Winter Quarters are passed this place.  Bedding is also preparing and will be sent you as soon as possible, together with a Number of Iron Stoves, which I have sent for to be put up in your Barracks for the greater Conveniency of the Men.  You well know, of what Importance it is that the greatest attention should be paid to the Health of the men.  Cleanliness in their persons and Quarters, and having their Victuals properly dressed are capital points and greatly tend to the preservation of the Men.  All Huts and Buildings that may in the least obstruct the Defence of your Posts must be levelled, reserving all such Materials as may hereafter be serviceable to the Army.  As it is of Importance that I should be constantly and fully informed of what passes of the State of your Garrison and its Wants, you will do me the pleasure to write me frequently.  You will please, as soon after the Receipt of this as you conveniently can, to send me a Return of your Garrison, and order Major Stevens to make me a minute Return of all the Ordnance ammunition and Artillery Stores at the post you command, with an Estimate of whatever is wanted, not only for the Defence of the Works already erected: but such others as the chief Engineer shall think necessary to construct.  The chief Engineer is likewise to make a Return of every article in his Department, and his Wants for an Army of ten thousand men.  Major Hay will make a like Return, and the Commissary one, of what provisions he has in Store.  If soap and Candles are wanted he must immediately apply to Mr. Avery for them.

You will please to order all the Batteaus between you and Skenesborough and from every other part of the Lake to be collected and drawn out of the water.  The like to be done at the Landing as soon as all the provisions are gone over Lake George.  Major Hay will not forget to mention in his Return the Number of Batteaus, nor omit attention to the Barrack Chimneys, which should be swept once every Fortnight.

Whatever money you may have Occasion for to pay contingent Expenses, I shall order you to be furnished with, on application to me.  If Lieut: Colo: White of Dayton’s Regiment is still at your post, you will order him down to me without Delay, and if he refuses to obey the Order you will send him down a close prisoner under a proper Guard, with the strictest Charge to the Officer to guard against an Escape.

Inclose you sundry Resolutions of Congress which you will cause to be made public.

Keep a Party at the Landing at the North End of Lake George to protect the provision going to your post.

I am,

Sir Your most

Obedt Humbl Servant

Ph. Schuyler

Colo: Wayne Commanding at Tyonderoga


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

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Authors and Fort Ticonderoga

For the past several years, the “Fort Ticonderoga Authors Series” has featured authors of recent books either connected to Fort Ticonderoga’s story or to the history of our region. This year’s programs are concentrated in late August and September, when four of our five programs take place.

Sunday, August 19, 2012
2:00 p.m.
Michael Gabriel is the author of The Battle of Bennington: Soldiers and Civilians. Gabriel will talk about the Battle of Bennington, one of the first major setbacks for General John Burgoyne’s Northern Campaign of 1777.

Saturday, September 8, 2012
2:00 p.m.
Will Martin is the author of the historical fiction work Benedict Arnold: Legacy Lost. Martin will talk about how he uses historical research to write historical fiction.

Sunday, September 9, 2012
2:00 p.m.
Douglas Cubbison is the author of “Profession & honour is all that remains”: Papers of Lieutenant General John Burgoyne relation to the Saratoga Campaign 1777. Cubbison will talk about the unfolding of Burgoyne’s Northern Campaign of 1777 as it relates to the Fort Ticonderoga vicinity.

Sunday, September 30, 2012
2:00 p.m.
This year marks the bicentennial of the outbreak of the War of 1812. Keith Herkalo, author of The Battles of Plattsburgh: September 11, 1814, talks about the War of 1812 battle on Lake Champlain that led to the end of the war.

Each program takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is followed by a book signing in the Museum Store at 3:00 p.m. The programs are included in the cost of admission and are free for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga and Ticonderoga Ambassador Pass holders.

Author Doug Cubbison

One of the exciting aspects of working at Fort Ticonderoga is the opportunity to meet and work with so many scholars with a deep interest in the multiple stories Fort Ticonderoga has to tell. Many of the presenters at our various seminars and conferences are authors who have delved into these stories and are eager to share their discoveries. Two of our Author Series speakers this summer have spoken at the Fort in the past. Michael Gabriel, while still working on his book on the Battle of Bennington, spoke at the Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution in 2010 on an aspect of the battle. Douglas Cubbison spoke on “Before the Hangman: The Reconstruction of an American Army at Fort Ticonderoga, July-October 1776,” based on another of his books, The American Northern Theater Army in 1776.

Authors and scholars also enjoy the opportunities for feedback and interaction with the knowledgeable audiences at Fort programs. Program attendees have the opportunity to react to new research and engage with scholars, sometimes providing the scholars with new leads to follow. Len Travers, who spoke on “Kill’d or Taken: A Lost Patrol of 1756” at this past May’s War College, received a number of leads from members of the audience as he sought more evidence for the possible location of the ambush he described.

Authors and historians have long made Fort Ticonderoga a destination. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a short travel piece for American Monthly Magazine titled “Old Ticonderoga: A Picture of the Past” early in his writing career in 1835. He noted sitting in the roofless barracks “now overgrown with grass, nettles, and thistles.”

The great 19th-century historian Francis Parkman also made a pilgrimage to Fort Ticonderoga. Parkman’s interest in the French & Indian War evolved during his sophomore year at Harvard College. His great uncle William Parkman had served with General Abercromby in 1758 at the Battle of Carillon. In 1843, at the age of 18, Parkman visited the ruins of Fort Ticonderoga. He was dismayed at the condition of the Fort, noting “the senseless blockheads in the neighborhood have stolen tons and tons of the stone to build their walls and houses of—may they meet their reward.”

Author Kenneth Roberts (left) at Fort Ticonderoga with Stephen Pell, 1934.

Late 19th-century writer, cartographer, photographer, and publisher Seneca Ray Stoddard wrote histories of Fort Ticonderoga and the surrounding area for inclusion in the multitude of publications he churned out over a thirty-year span. And many of today’s historians were inspired by the historical fiction works of Kenneth Roberts, who used the Fort Ticonderoga library and archives to research Rabble in Arms in the 1930s.

Even the history makers themselves were sometimes authors. Samuel de Champlain documented his explorations of the regions for publication back in France. Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, Montcalm’s aide-de-camp at Fort Carillon, went on to become a noted mathematician and French explorer of the south Pacific. His Journal of his time at Carillon between 1756 and 1758 provides a wealth of information about life during the French era at Ticonderoga. Ethan Allen, most well-known for his historic capture of Fort Ticonderoga from the British in 1775, wrote A Narrative of Col. Ethan Allen’s Captivity and Reason: the Only Oracle of Man.

Authors and scholars have long trekked to Fort Ticonderoga in a quest for inspiration and research. They still come to Fort Ticonderoga today to access the gems housed in the Thompson-Pell Research Center.

You too can come to Fort Ticonderoga on your own personal journey of discovery!

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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What Connects Us to History?

Remembering the fallen Black Watch soldiers of July 8th, 1758

Two words, perhaps an idea, that comes up frequently with visitors is “my history” as in this Fort, or its history is, “my history.” While this idea of a  personal connection to Fort Ticonderoga’s history seems relatively simple to define, it is not a simple concept.

A personal connection to history could be defined by any number of links. Perhaps the simplest link is the history of a hometown. This local history that folks grow up with often has a powerful impact. For many in and around Ticonderoga, local lore like Roger’s Rock, the old sawmill, or the great citadel of Ticonderoga have an important personal legacy. As with so many small towns, those sons and daughters who grow up and move away carry this personal connection to their hometown history for the rest of their life. Ticonderoga remains“my history” for so many of its children no matter where they live.

With a series of stories as broad as those great campaigns through Ticonderoga, so

4th of July Festivities
Independence Day marks a national connection to its history.

to casts that broad net of “my history.” For many growing up in New
England, Ticonderoga casts a long shadow over the local history of our hometowns. Whether provincial soldiers like Robert Webster who mustered in Woodstock, Connecticut to march with General Amherst’s attack on Ticonderoga in 1759, or the Maine soldiers of Colonel Marshall’s Massachusetts regiment, which marched to defend Ticonderoga in 1777, hometown hero’s who served at Ticonderoga cover the New England landscape.  In reality of course, Fort Ticonderoga’s story fills a whole Atlantic world with hometown heroes, forever connected to this ground. Frenchmen and French Canadians of cities like Montreal, Quebec, Bordeaux, or Montpellier, who rightly still call this ground Carillon, enjoy this same hometown legacy. With the various chapters in history that unfolded here, places as disparate as Shropshire, England and Brauschweig, Germany can count Ticonderoga as part of their local history.

Native American Heritage at Ticonderoga

Even the very name of Ticonderoga itself is interetwined with Native American History and Culture.

That sense of “my history” that comes from growing up with local history often coincides with a family connection to the history of Fort Ticonderoga. For many, exploring down the branches of their family tree reveals roots at Ticonderoga, finding an ancestor, a soldier whose personal story is one of countless stories locked away in family history. Through blood relations many people say that Fort Ticonderoga is part of, “my history.” This ancestry connection to Ticonderoga includes generations of Native Americans. Native Americans hold a deep personal connection to this, “place between the great waters,” tied by extended genetic lines to the peninsula’s Paleolithic native residents, or by tribal relationships with the Mohawks, Mohicans, Abenaki, Huron, & countless other tribes which featured such a paramount role in this history.

Equal in geographic scope to local history, how does ancestry relate to local history as a visceral connection to this site’s history? That question is as individual question as personal identities. For a nation like the United States, built so heavily from generations of immigrants, how we define ourselves is so varied. Do we call ourselves Irish-Americans, African-Americans, New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, or simply Americans? Many use a variety of terms to describe themselves and in each of these descriptors often find a personal connection to Fort Ticonderoga making it part of their history.

With a museum built beginning in 1909, and a site visited since the end of the American Revolution, many call Ticonderoga, “my history” as part of a family tradition. Grandparents often bring their grandchildren here to experience the history of the Fort that they remember as kids. Family traditions, like breakfast at the Log House Restaurant, or an annual trip make the Fort just as personal to folks.  As Fort Ticonderoga grows and changes over time the support and concern of people is influenced by personal experiences and how they claim Fort Ticonderoga as “my history.”

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Preserving Amos Chaffee’s Memory

On July 7, 2012 Fort Ticonderoga received a remarkable donation.  For over two centuries the Chaffee family has preserved their ancestor, Amos Chaffee’s, engraved powder horn, musket and walking stick.  Now the family is entrusting the Fort Ticonderoga Association to preserve their family’s Revolutionary War objects for future generations.  Amos Chaffee served at Fort Ticonderoga between mid-January and mid-March 1777 with the Hampshire County Militia.  Raised in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, the militia served as part of the Fort’s garrison guarding the Fort, going on scouts to spy on the British, and working to maintain Ticonderoga’s fortifications and sustain it through a long, cold winter season.

Amos Chaffee's powder horn was made in Woodstock, CT April 8, 1762. It is engraved with a map of the western hemisphere.

Amos Chaffee’s powder horn was made at Woodstock, Connecticut in 1762 and is inscribed with his name and an image of a globe showing a detailed map of the western hemisphere.  His musket, which has seen heavy use, was restocked and used as a militia piece in the early 19th century.  It continued to serve the family well for many years later as it was converted to percussion ignition in the mid-19th century.  The musket’s barrel is 54.5 inches long and is 0.60 caliber.  His 41-inch long walking stick is made of ash using pieces of broken brass candlesticks as its head.

Chaffee's musket saw exensive use for several generations. It was restocked in the early 19th century and later convereted to percussion ignition.

Amos Chaffee was born in Woodstock, Connecticut, August 9, 1744.  He married Anna Brown while living in Stafford, Connecticut about 1769.  By 1770 Amos and his family moved to Wilbraham, Massachusetts.  In August 1775 Amos Chaffee was one of 125 men from Wilbraham who signed a non-importation agreement stating that they would not support Great Britain by buying British-made goods.  In 1778 Chaffee and his family moved back to Stafford, Connecticut where they resided until 1797 when they moved to Athens, Vermont.  In 1806 they moved to Rochester, Vermont where he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives.  Amos Chaffee died February 3, 1815 and is buried in North Hollow Cemetery.  Chaffee’s service in the American Revolution and his final resting place were officially honored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, October 3, 1975. (Source, The Chaffee Genealogy, (The Grafton Press, New York) 1909, pp. 121-122)

The walking stick is made of ash and uses parts of broken candlesticks for its head. The "T" shaped piece was inserted in to the top of the stick to form a solid end. It is the ejector piece from a mid-18th century patent candlestick.

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

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Working with Teachers at Fort Ticonderoga

Later this week Fort Ticonderoga will be co-hosting a teacher education course with the Living History Education Foundation (LHEF). This marks the eleventh year we’ve collaborated with LHEF, serving nearly 400 teachers over that time.

During the course, teachers from across New York State will be learning about ways to use “living history” to help make the nation’s history come to life for students. Led by retired teacher Joe Ryan, LHEF encourages teachers to get beyond “two by four” education—not limiting the educational experience of their students to within the two covers of a text book and the four walls of the classroom. Veterans of living history classes at Fort Ticonderoga are now implementing these techniques from Long Island to the Buffalo suburbs, and from the lower Hudson Valley to Plattsburgh.

Coming up August 16 & 17, Fort Ticonderoga will be hosting a two-day workshop for teachers in collaboration with the New York Geographic Alliance. Teachers from the Northeast will share techniques for teaching students about geography and have an opportunity to explore the historic landscape here at Fort Ticonderoga. Understanding the 18th-century role of waterways is crucial to comprehending the historic importance of the Ticonderoga peninsula during the wars for empire and the war for American independence.

Fort Ticonderoga’s Education Staff also makes presentations across the region. We regularly present sessions at the New York State Conference on the Social Studies, most recently at their annual conference held in Saratoga Springs in March. Over the past year we’ve also presented at the October Teacher’s Conference in Cooperstown, sponsored by the New York State Historical Association, and the Vermont Alliance for the Social Studies Conference held in Manchester, Vermont. In addition, I travel to regional schools for teacher in-service programs throughout the school year.

Participants in the NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for School Teachers in July 2011. Fort Ticonderoga hopes to offer a similar program in 2013.

Last summer, Fort Ticonderoga received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to host two week-long Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for School Teachers. We were one of only 21 institutions nationwide awarded these grants focused on providing teachers in grades K-12 with an opportunity to spend a week at a historic or cultural site with a group of content experts.

In “The American Revolution on the Northern Frontier: Fort Ticonderoga and the Road to Saratoga,” teachers received in-depth opportunities to work with Fort Ticonderoga’s talented staff and rich resources of documents and artifacts to create lesson plans for use in their classrooms back home. The grant enabled us to bring a panel of noted historians from across the country to work with the teachers and share their knowledge on topics as varied as Benedict Arnold, women’s roles in the Revolution, the Loyalists’ perspective on the war, and the role of Native Americans and African Americans during the conflict. For many teachers, being able to spend quality-time with historians like James Kirby Martin and Holly Mayer proved to be the highlight of the week. You can learn more about last year’s program here.

Last year’s grant enabled 80 teachers from across the country (including one teacher from Alaska) to participate in this fantastic program. We currently have a grant application pending with the NEH to host two similar workshops in the summer of 2013. We hope to have good news to share by the end of August.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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