The Many Faces of 1775

These soldiers were more ethnically diverse than generally pictured today.

The classic image of those citizen soldiers who stood up to the British redcoats on Lexington green or at the old French fort of is in a word, white. The reality of those colonial militia and regulars was far more diverse. As we explore the Connecticut colonial regulars who garrisoned Fort Ticonderoga in the summer of 1775 we find a diverse ethnic mix of soldiers surprisingly like our modern world.

Deserted from the 7th Regiment of the Connecticut Troops, commanded by Col. Charles Webb, and Capt. Hait’s Company, on Thursday Night last, a certain James Parsons, who said he was born at Amboy: He is about 25 Years old, 5 Feet 7 Inches high, and well made: Had on when he went away, a green short Coat with Brass Buttons, an old black Velvet Jacket and Breeches, pretty good Shoes, and white Stockings, with a white Linen Shirt: He is of a black Complexion, with black Beard, and Hair, is very talkative. Two Dollars Reward will be given, and all reasonable Charges paid on delivering the said Deserter to the commanding Officer at Horse-Neck, or by me, Joseph Hait, Captain.

This advertisement, placed in both New-York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, on the 25 of September 1775, hints at one of many African-Americans called up for service with the one man in four draft began at the end of April of that year. Likewise, another advertisement from previous month, potentially describes another African-American Connecticut regular deserting from the siege of Boston.

Deserted from the service of the Colony of Connecticut, on the morning of the 4th day of August instant, from Oxford, in the colony of Massachusetts-Bay, a Soldier named Thomas Cushing, belonging to the 10th company of the 8th Regiment, raised by the colony of Connecticut, for the defence of said colony and American Liberty, of more than middling stature; dark complexion, black Hair, considerably pittied with the Small Pox, wore a dark brown Coat, with black Cuffs and Cape, Deerskin breeches with a white Linnen Shirt and seemed Worsted Stockings. Whoever shall take up said Deserter and return him to the commanding Officer of the said Regiment, or to me the subscriber at the Camp near Boston, shall have Three Dollars Reward and necessary charges paid by John Ripley, Captain.

[Massachusetts Spy, 9 August 1775]

We are working towards recreating this diversity as well as talking about it with visitors.

However, not all the evidence is as explicit about the diverse nature of Connecticut soldiers. Muster rolls for companies of soldiers posted at Ticonderoga hint at the ethnic diversity of soldiers in 1775. In a sea of biblical names typical of white, congregational soldiers, the few classical Roman or Greek-styled names stand out. These classical names were fashionable for masters to name their slaves. Private, ‘Titus Allen’ of the ninth company of Colonel Hinman’s regiment may well have purchased his freedom. He might well have been born to a free back family; Titus may well have been a family name by 1775 retained from a background of slavery.

Perhaps Captain Edward Mott’s company shows the most interesting mix of ethnic backgrounds. Captain Mott, a prominent member of the Connecticut committee for the capture of Ticonderoga on May 10th, 1775, marched his company up to Ticonderoga away from the rest of Colonel Parson’s regiment. His company drew on heavily on Connecticut militia men between Norwich and New London in south-eastern Connecticut. In modern times large tracts of this area have been reclaimed as tribal lands by the Mohegan and Mashantucket-Pequot tribes. In 1775, these Native Americans were citizens of Connecticut, legally enrolled in their local town militia companies and drafted for seven months regular service like any other men. Both Jacob and Peter Quocheets served under Captain Mott, as did Benjamin Squabob, Joseph Sunsemon, Jacob and Isaac Tecomeas. These Native Americans in Mott’s company were joined by John Leathercoat and Noah Chinchi among other soldiers with likely Native Heritage. Sampson Obey, may well have been one of several free black soldiers serving side by side with white, and Native American soldiers in this company.

Captain Mott’s company was by no means an extreme example. The striking diversity in Connecticut, and New England soldiers at large, was notable even during the American Revolution itself Captain Persifor Frazier in 1776 would remark that the New England solders were, “the strangest mixture of Negroes, Indians, and Whites.” among his litany of complaints recorded during the Northern Army’s consolidation at Ticonderoga. Perhaps what is most notable about the diverse heritage of these Connecticut soldiers in 1775 is this lack of distinction noted among these soldiers. The diversity of these companies and regiments simply does not follow the later paradigms of segregated black regiments or ethnic units. These units integrated by virtue of existing before later military segregation do not easily fit into our picture of the past so often organized along racial lines. However, as we picture the sacrifice of these soldiers in our American revolution we should put a variety of faces on them.


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Stephen H.P. Pell and World War I

"Stephen H.P. Pell," by DeWitt M. Lockman, 1920

Fort Ticonderoga Museum founder, Stephen Hyatt Pelham Pell (1874-1950) served two nations in World War I.  In early 1917, prior to the United States’ involvement in the war, Stephen Pell enlisted in the Norton Harjes Ambulance Service attached to the Chasseurs Alpins achieving the rank of sergeant.  On October 2, at Baccaret, France, after lying about his age claiming to be only 39 years old, he transferred to the American army.  With the American forces Pell served at Chemin des Dames, 1917, Ourcq, 1918, and Oulchy Le Chateau where he was wounded by gunshots to the leg on August 1, 1918.  As a result of the wounds, Stephen Pell was honorably discharged on May 29, 1919.  In 1927 Pell was awarded the Legion of Honor by the government of France in recognition of his service to their country during the war.  In March 1932 the United States awarded Pell with the Purple Heart “on account of wounds received in action August 1, 1918.”

Fort Ticonderoga preserves many objects related to Stephen Pell’s World War I service including numerous medals, correspondence and photographs taken during his military service.  He wears his French uniform in his formal portrait painted in 1920.  His portrait is exhibit in Fort Ticonderoga’s exhibit “The Art of War: Ticonderoga as Experienced through the Eyes of America’s Great Artists” through 2012.

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

Stephen Pell’s French Identification bracelet

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Upcoming Conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain

We are excited about our upcoming Conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain August 11 & 12, 2012. This first conference on the “Lakes” explores the history, geography, culture, ecology, and current issues related to the Lake George and Lake Champlain region.

Fort Ticonderoga has been offering conferences and symposia dating back to 1996, when the first War College of the Seven Years’ War brought together a series of speakers and presentations on various aspects of the French & Indian War in North America. In 2012, the Conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain is one of six seminar/conference programs on the calendar.

John Quarstein, from the Virginia War Museum, will talk about the first Battle of the Ironclads. The iron ore for the Union’s “Monitor” came from the Champlain Valley.

With the “Lakes” conference, we expand beyond our 18th-century story to look at the lakes in a holistic, interdisciplinary way. Dating back to before Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of the region in 1609 and into the early 20th century, the lakes served as an essential transportation artery running north-south through the area. Even as transportation modes migrated from the lakes to rail and then highways, both lakes remain essential to the cultural and economic well-being of the region.

History presentations at the conference focus on 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century stories. Joseph Zarzynski explores “The Sunken Fleet of 1758” beneath the waters near Lake George’s southern end. John Quarstein, one of the country’s foremost experts on the ironclads of the American Civil War, tells the tale of the epic battle between the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia (better known by its former U.S. Navy name Merrimack). The iron ore for Monitor, the Union’s first ironclad, came from the Champlain Valley, including the Crown Point hamlet of Hammondville. Chip Stulen, curator of the Ticonderoga at Shelburne Museum chronicles the history and preservation of the last steamboat to ply the waters of Lake Champlain from 1906-1953.

David Franzi, from Plattsburgh State, takes us back to the last ice age to explain how the Champlain Valley we know today was formed by the retreating glaciers. Timothy Weidner, Director of the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls, shares the works of noted regional photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard from the end of the 19th century and into the first decade of the 20th century. Photographer Mark Bowie provides an overview of the 20th-century photography of his grandfather Richard Dean. Chances are that if you’ve purchased a post card in the Lake George-Lake Champlain region in the past 50 years, you’ve bought a photo taken by Richard Dean.

Emily DeBolt from the Lake George Association will talk about lake-friendly landscaping.

Emily DeBolt from the Lake George Association talks about lake-friendly landscaping techniques to preserve water quality, while Meg Modley, Aquatic Invasive Species Management Coordinator for the Lake Champlain Basin Program, discusses current and imminent threats to the lakes and what steps are being taken to address this issue.

Late Saturday afternoon of the conference, attendees can take part in one of three guided tours led by Fort staff: curatorial behind the scenes tour, King’s Garden tour, or a tour about interpretive initiatives. On Sunday afternoon, attendees have the opportunity to get out on northern Lake George aboard the Lake George Association’s Floating Classroom and learn about the way the lake’s water quality is monitored. You’ll even have a chance to test the water yourself!

Registration for this conference is open. You can download a conference brochure here. The early bird registration deadline is June 30th, so don’t delay. Sign up today!

Fort Ticonderoga is offering four teacher scholarships for the conference, enabling teachers to attend the conference at not cost. The registration deadline is fast-approaching—June 15th. If you know a teacher who might be interested, please encourage them to apply. Application forms are available on our website. Since 2001, Fort Ticonderoga has offered 91 scholarships enabling teachers to attend our seminars and conferences at no cost.

At our recent Seventeenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War, we had four participants who had attended all 17. Here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor and start a new summer tradition—attending the Conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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Camping This Summer? Buy Wood Locally to Protect the Environment


It seems with increasing frequency we are hearing reports about invasive species and the effect they have on natural ecosystems.  Where there is human activity, invasives are likely to be found.  Fort Ticonderoga is no exception and has its share of invasive exotics such as shrubby honeysuckle and garlic mustard.  Once sought-after garden plants, their seeds are spread by birds or mammals from wild populations that escaped cultivated gardens decades ago.  Each spring, stands of garlic mustard that encroach on public spaces on the Fort Ticonderoga peninsula are pulled to help control its spread and The Nature Conservancy works each summer to control water chestnut in the LaChute outlet near the Fort.

Runners follow an avenue of ash trees planted near the King’s Garden. The trees date to the 1920s.

A new pest is on the horizon that threatens the large population of ash trees (genus Fraxinus) that thrive in the Northeast and are plentiful in the Champlain Valley.  The emerald ash borer was recently reported in Duchess County in southern New York.  It was previously found in six counties in western New York and four in the Hudson Valley.  This tiny insect feeds in tunnels just below the bark, disrupting the transportation of water and nutrients throughout the tree, eventually leading to death.

According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, New York has more than 900 million ash trees that make up about 7% of the state’s total tree population.  Groups such as the DEC, the Adirondack Invasive Plant Program, the National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy, the USDA Forest Service and others continually monitor, test and raise awareness for invasive species.

Living history demonstrations and events held at the Fort normally feature open fires that
were a part of daily camp life for soldiers stationed here in the 18th century.  The wood used for these fires is harvested nearby as it was centuries ago when groups of enlisted men

Buying local is not just a good idea, it’s the law!

were assigned the task of gathering wood to fuel the campfires, bake ovens and fireplaces of the Fort.  Only locally harvested wood is used for our events.

Keep in mind when you are traveling to and from New York, a regulation is in effect that prohibits the import of firewood into the state unless it has been heat treated to kill pests. The regulation also limits the transportation of untreated firewood to less than 50 miles from its source. Quarantines exist which further restrict firewood transportation.  (For a Firewood Questions & Answers fact sheet click here: Don’t move firewood.)  Learning how you can help and sharing information about curbing the spread of invasive species will help protect and preserve the landscapes we live, work and play in.

Heidi Karkoski
Curator of Landscape

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Installing “Bullets & Blades”

The installation of a new exhibit is a large task.  A previous blog has highlighted the work the museum has done to clean and prepare the weapons for exhibit.  That is only one small part of the exhibition construction process.

Many weeks were spent constructing mounts for the objects.  Because each object is different, it was impossible to take a one mount fits all approach; each object required the construction of a custom mount for that particular piece.

Acrylic mounts to secure the base of muskets were custom made for each gun.

In the case of muskets, wide strips of acrylic were heated and formed to fit the contours of the butt plate providing a sturdy base for mounting guns in an upright position.  To hold the gun in place thin brass rod was formed to wrap around the rammers and fixed to the back of the case.  Swords and pistols generally rely upon hooks to hold them in place and at specific angles.  In all cases, care was taken to ensure that any materials coming into direct contact with an object would not react negatively with the object’s surface.

Once the mounts were constructed, the objects were transported to the museum and installed into the exhibit cases.  Sometimes the installation of objects went as planned, sometimes it was necessary to make adjustments to the mounts to improve the final fit and appearance of the objects.  Because of the nature of some objects and cases in which the pieces were intended to be exhibited, it was necessary to construct the mounts on-site.

Several small objects exhibited with an American cartridge pouch required on-site construction.


This exhibit includes over 150 objects and took about three weeks to install and a lot of imagination to construct mounts that were both strong and discreet.  The effect, however, is that most objects appear to be suspended in air with minimal intrusive supports and it is possible to view most of the object in the exhibit from multiple perspectives.

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

Displayed in this manner, it is possible to view almost all part of each musket.

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School Programs at Fort Ticonderoga

With the arrival of May, we look forward to another school field trip season at Fort Ticonderoga. While school field trips have traditionally come at the close of the school year, Fort Ticonderoga is expanding its year-round offerings. Though the majority of student visitors take part in self-guided field trip programs, a growing number of teachers and students are taking advantage of special programs designed specifically for student audiences.

On May 18th, student groups have a rare opportunity to participate in one of our living history events. As part of the weekend “No Quarter!” event, on Friday, May 18th, students will have the opportunity to visit the Green Mountain Boys on the town green in Shoreham, Vermont, along with their leader Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold. At Fort Ticonderoga that day, students will encounter the British garrison under the command of Captain William Delaplace and have the opportunity to meet and talk with him. Students will also encounter the Green Mountain Boys’ spy Noah Phelps as he scouts the Fort in anticipation of the coming surprise attack on the Fort. But don’t tell Captain Delaplace!

Students participate in "To Act as One United Body" during field testing last fall.

After some trial programs last fall, Fort Ticonderoga officially unveils its new program “To Act as One United Body” in May. In this program, students are immersed in the daily routine of the Continental soldiers garrisoning Fort Ticonderoga in the weeks after the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold in 1775. Students form a platoon of soldiers, learning teamwork and discipline as they undergo a typical day in the life of soldiers. They learn about the training used to prepare soldiers to meet a powerful enemy, what soldiers ate, where they slept, and experience the confusion of battle. During their participation in this program, students observe a musket demonstration and practice formation tactics. The soldiers’ experience comes to life as students learn about key aspects of the American Revolution. This program is part of Fort Ticonderoga’s partnership with the “Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens” program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a national initiative among member institutions to fight childhood obesity.

“The Artist’s Eye: Geography, Art, and History” uses “The Art of War” exhibition in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center to teach observation and critical analysis skills while learning about the regions history and geography. Students explore the surrounding landscape, analyze selected works of art in the exhibition, and become artists themselves during the program. This program is supported in part by grants from the Vermont Community Foundation’s South Lake Champlain Fund and the Lake Placid Education Foundation.

This fall, “Fort Ticonderoga’s Heroic Maze: A Corn Maze Adventure!” will again be available for visiting students on select days in September and October. Students explore Fort Ticonderoga’s six-acre corn maze designed in the shape of Fort Ticonderoga! Students and chaperones find their way through the maze with the help of grade-appropriate clues. Groups can use standard questions based on Fort Ticonderoga’s history or customized questions developed with the teacher to meet specific curriculum needs. Wending through the maze is a great problem-solving cooperative activity. Students work together to solve clues that help them navigate the maze. An ideal activity to kick off the new school year! This program is part of Fort Ticonderoga’s partnership with the “Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens” program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a national initiative among member institutions to fight childhood obesity.

Two months ago I wrote about the National History Day program that involves students in researching and analyzing a historical topic and creating a project to enter into competitions at the regional, state, and national level. You can read the complete blog entry here. History Day is another way Fort Ticonderoga works with teachers and students in the North Country Region to foster a new generation of citizens steeped with an interest in learning about and preserving our history.

New programs are in the works for the 2012-13 school year, including on-site programs available throughout the school year and a new outreach program, bringing the Fort Ticonderoga story into classrooms across the region. I’ll write more about these programs in a future blog entry.

In the meantime, you can keep up to date by signing up for our email updates. Go to any page of our website at and type in your email address where it says “E-mail Signup” and hit “Go.” You can also check out all our school programs here.

Even as we grow evermore connected through the internet, Facebook, and Twitter, word-of-mouth is still an important way for us to connect with new audiences. Please encourage your child’s teacher or teachers you know to investigate the opportunities a visit to Fort Ticonderoga can provide for students.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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Benedict Arnold, Independence, & Independent Companies

A French Engraving of Benedict Arnold from 1780

Both famous and infamous, Benedict Arnold first made his name leading the Green Mountain Boys through the gates of Ticonderogaalong side Ethan Allen. That is easy enough to picture, but it begs the question, “What was he wearing in the early hours of May 10 1775?”

Most New England militia units were un-uniformed in the spring of 1775, bringing their civilian clothes from home, or like soldiers, paid a bounty for their personal clothing. However, some militia companies prior to the war had uniforms. Among these were independent companies which were partly social organizations, composed of wealthier businessmen and gentlemen capable of purchasing uniforms. They were also educational organizations where the membership could train and learn about the military arts. Voluntary and social, these independent companies were an important source of military expertise in the early years of the American Revolution, as their membership provided a cadre of officers for a new army.

Typically, these independent companies held meetings to discuss and vote on their uniforms, just like any other aspect of religious and secular life in New England. In 1774, units like the New London Independent Company of Connecticut voted:

That each Member of the Company shall appear at all Times of public Training in the following livery Regt. A dark blue broadcloth coat with yellow metal Buttons, Buff Cuffs & Lapells, buff jacket & blue Breeches & white stockings, also each man shall appear with a black cockade in his Hat, nor shall any member at any time be suffer’d to appear under Arms unless he has on a handsome Wig or powder his Hair.

This original coat shows many neat details typical of independent company uniforms

However, very quickly they realized their uniform was a bit old fashioned and rectified their dress as recorded in the diary of Nathan Hale, the company’s most famous member. He noted, “The Independent Company then met & Voted that the Breeches be altered from Blue to white with black straps also white jackets & the coat to be cut short & turned up behind, wear half-Boots or black leggings-“ This gave them a new fashionable silhouette befitting modern gentlemen.

In 1774 Benedict Arnold, a ship captain in New Haven, Connecticut, was also a wealthy, military enthusiast. He personally financed the creation of his own independent company dubbed the ‘Second Company Connecticut Governor’s Foot Guards’. The First Company of Governor’s Foot Guards was already a long standing institution. In December 1774 Arnold’s company agreed to, “choose officers, and agree on some uniform of dress, such as red coats, white vests, white breeches and stockings, black half leggins or any other dress that may then thought to be proper.” Subsequently through the winter of 1775 the company further agreed to, “ A scarlet coat of common length, the lapels, cuffs and collars of buff and trimmed with plain silver wash buttons, white linen vest, breeches and stockings, black half leggins and small, fashionable and narrow ruffled shirt.”

From over 200 years of distance this scarlet coat sounds awfully similar to those hated redcoats with their officer’s in scarlet finery, but Arnold’s company wasn’t alone in this uniform color. Even in Boston, with its ardent patriots, featured an ‘Independent Company of Cadets’, clad in scarlet. The company held series of meetings in 1772 to discuss their uniform at the “Bunch of Grapes” a favorite tavern of the company’s memberships. They resolved initially that:

The closed work buttons holes and other construction details are copied in the reproduction of this coat for No Quarter

the Coat to be of Scarlet broad Cloth with a narrow Round Cuff and a narrow Lapell of white Cloth, the Lapell to be the length of the waist of the Coat and a fall down Cape the Colour of the Lapell, the Buttons to be plain white Mettle wash’d with silver, the Waistcoat and Breeches to be white with the same Buttons
They quickly decided that white would not do. They held an emergency meeting at their favorite tavern to change everything white to a more fashionable buff, the same off-white hue that Arnold’s company chose two years later.
Ticonderoga’s collections proudly feature an original coat from the Boston Independent Company of Cadets. The coat is an enlisted coat, but like many volunteer independent company uniforms it was made from officer’s grade materials, befitting the wealth of the company membership. This coat features very similar distinctions to Arnold’s uniform for his Second Company of Governor’s Foot Guards, right down to the silver washed buttons mentioned in both companies’ regulations. Accordingly, we are building a copy of the original Boston Cadet’s coat to clothe Benedict Arnold for the upcoming, “No Quarter” event.

As on the original, the whole back is built and lined, before the coat is assembled

Benedict Arnold and his company assembled to march to Boston on April, 22 1775 soon after the alarm from Lexington and Concord reached New Haven, Connecticut.By May Third Benedict Arnold was commissioned a Colonel in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay to raise a regiment for the capture of Ticonderoga. By the night of May 9 he was crossing Lake Champlain along with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. With the mere matter of days between the Lexington alarm and the capture of Ticonderoga, as well as the sheer distance Benedict Arnold travelled, it is unlikely that he purchased a new uniform. Besides, his independent company uniform with the military expertise, discipline and social status that it embodied, probably made an important statement for Arnold. Even with all these important reasons, something still feels ironic 237 years later about a hero of America’s first victory clad in British military scarlet. Maybe it makes our vision of American patriots in 1775 that much more complex than we imagined.

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In Search of Historic Plants

An excerpt from Marian Coffin's "Draft Plan #4" for the King's Garden

Creating a garden or recreating an historic garden is a constantly evolving process. Since restoration of the King’s Garden began in 1995, careful research has guided the garden’s curators to restore it as closely as possible to designer Marian Coffin’s Colonial revival-era scheme. Over 100 annuals and perennials are listed on Coffin’s plan which is housed in the Fort’s archives. You can view the 1921 planting plan list here.

Locating specific cultivated varieties that were popular in the earlly 1920s can be challenging.  The King’s Garden has successfully located numerous heirloom plants to add to the living collection over the years.  The garden’s first curator, Delight Gartlein, relied on networking with historic plant growers, collectors, and researchers to identify and locate sources for plants and seeds. Today the wealth of information available online has made it easier to seek out cultivars missing from the historic garden.

Iris 'Mrs. George Darwin' dates from 1895




Several elusive bearded iris cultivars were located and planted in August 2011. The bearded iris is featured in sixteen beds throughout the garden. Two of the eight types listed on the 1921 planting plan existed in the King’s Garden at the onset of restoration, ‘Iris King’ and the species iris Pallida dalmatica. Acquisitions of ‘Mrs. Horace Darwin’, ‘Mrs. George Darwin’, and ‘Juniata’ are celebrated additions.

It is interesting to note that Coffin’s planting plan names one of the irises “Mrs. Darwin”, yet does not list which Mrs. Darwin, as two distinct cultivars are known to exist from the period. They date to the 1895 and 1888 and would have been readily available for use in Sarah Pell’s garden. Growing both cultivars in the King’s Garden assures that the Darwin that Marian Coffin intended is represented.

Unraveling the historic planting plan is complicated by plant names that have changed since the plan was made. As botanists learned more about specific plants and how they are related to each other, changes in classification and nomenclature have taken place. Clarkia, an early blooming dainty annual was listed in the genus Godetia and known commonly as farewell-to-spring. It is now classified as Clarkia amoena. It is directly sown in several beds in the King’s Garden. Clarkia is considered an underused annual that is worth adding to your flower repertoire.

Siberian meadowsweet grows nearly three feet and acts like a shrub in perennial borders

Two plants formerly considered related to Spirea that Coffin used in the King’s Garden are now known as Aruncus dioicus (formerly Spiraea aruncus) – Goatsbeard, and Filipendula palmata (formerly Spiraea palmata) – Siberian meadowsweet. Look for the meadowsweet or “false spirea” to be reintroduced this season in its white form.

Where the map doesn’t specify a particular variety or type leaves the plan open to interpretation and allows some liberty when making plant selections. One case in particular is the simple designation of “ferns” used in the shadiest corner of the garden. Cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamonea) and Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) will join the Ostrich ferns and Japanese Painted ferns already established there. The complete 2012 Plant List for the King’s Garden can be accessed here.

The King’s Garden is open June 1 – Columbus Day from 9:30 to 5:00. Learn more about the historic gardens by following this link.

Heidi Karkoski
Curator of Landscape

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Scouting Programs at Fort Ticonderoga

Since 2001, Fort Ticonderoga has hosted four Boy Scout Camporees with the Twin Rivers Council of eastern/northern New York. The first, in the fall of 2001, brought more individuals in uniform to the site than at any other time since the end of the American Revolution.

Fort Ticonderoga has a long history of working with scouting groups. As a Boy Scout in June 1976, I remember taking part in a Camporee at Fort Ticonderoga as part of the United States Bicentennial. We were encamped on the lower field beneath the south walls of the Fort, where cows grazed to keep down the brush.

Cub Scouts at Fort Ticonderoga during a recent camporee.

This year, Fort Ticonderoga has unveiled new programs geared specifically for visiting scout groups. In “Planting the Tree of Liberty: The Beginnings of the Continental Army at Fort Ticonderoga,” scouts are immersed in the daily routine of the Continental soldiers garrisoning Fort Ticonderoga in the weeks after the capture of the Fort by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold in 1775. The scouts form a platoon of soldiers, learning teamwork and discipline as they undergo a typical day in the life of soldiers. They learn about the training used to prepare soldiers to meet a powerful enemy, what soldiers ate, where they slept, and experience the confusion of battle.

The program includes a musket demonstration, practicing formation tactics, working on fatigue duty alongside the Fort’s Interpretive staff, and working with tools under supervision to construct a brush shelter.

Fort Ticonderoga is also about to announce a new scout “fun patch” program. Scout groups can take a self-guided “Boy Scout Discovery Tour.” The tour makes connections between elements of the Scout Law and Fort Ticonderoga’s history, using various museum exhibits and clues on the historic landscape to help scouts answer a series of questions. Successfully completed forms can be submitted to Fort Ticonderoga for a specially-designed “fun patch” available only to Scouts participating in this program. A “fun patch” is not an official scout-issued patch; these patches are collected by scouts.

Scouting groups are an important component for our education programs, and we will continue to expand our offerings. In the coming months we will focus on creating a program geared for Girl Scouts.

If you have a child involved in scouting, or know of someone who is, please let them know about these new programs available at Fort Ticonderoga.  You can learn more by visiting the Scouting page on our website.

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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Portraying a Citizen Army: Clothing Rabble in Arms


The mix of civilian clothing, that was the ‘uniform’ for many soldiers in 1775.

The April 26, 1775 Connecticut Assembly Resolves that raised an army for war required that every man bring their own clothing and equipment from home stating:

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That a premium of Fifty-Two Shillings per man shall be advanced and paid to each non-commissioned Officer and inhabitant upon their enlistment, they supplying themselves with a blanket, knapsack, clothing, &c., to the acceptance of their respective Captains, and that one month’s pay shall be advanced and paid to each of said Officers and enlisted inhabitants. And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the establishment of pay and wages shall be as follows, viz: the pay for their whole services:

Thus the Connecticut soldiers of Colonel Hinman’s and other regiments that garrisoned Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 were not in any kind of military uniform, but their own civilian dress impressed for war. The idea of 18th century civilian clothing can conjure up a variety of images as diverse as macaronis in silk stockings and powdered wigs, to impoverished rabble in tattered rags, and even mountain men, steeped in frontier lore. However, that picture of farmers, mechanics, and shop-keepers taking up arms is perhaps the closest to the truth, but we can delve deeper. There were a variety of clothing options available in 1775 just like today. Tailors and merchants offered winter and summer weight clothing; dress clothing and work clothing; sleep wear and outerwear. Luckily newspapers from the period give us an excellent tool to navigate this world of civilian clothing. If a soldier deserted from a company, his commanding officer would generally put an advertisement in a local newspaper describing this soldier in both his physical appearance and his dress. A typical deserter advertisement from Connecticut in 1775 reads:

Deserted from Ensign John Sumner, of Ashford, belonging to Capt. Daniel Lyon’s Company, of Woodstock, in Colonel Huntington’s Regiment, in Norwich, in Connecticut, one who calls himself by the Name of William Daby, a transient Person, about 5 Feet 10 Inches high, 27 Years of Age, a slim Fellow, with brown Hair, and dark Eyes – Had on when he went away a blue Coat, Leather Breeches something old, a Pair coarse white Tow Stockings, or a Pair of mix’d coloured Worsted ditto which he stole, is a Fiddler by Trade, and looks something wild with his Eyes. Whoever shall apprehend said Deserter, and return him to me the Subscriber, shall have Three Dollars Reward paid by John Sumner, Ensign.
Norwich Packet, 28 August 1775


3 Complete Suits, Coat, Waistcoat, & Breeches: Typical of New England Clothing in 1775.

Beyond valuable information about the appearance and character of these deserted soldiers, we get invaluable information about the clothing actually brought from home by these Connecticut soldiers. In this case the soldier wore what was probably a full length coat, ending by his knee. He wore leather breeches which were a heavy duty work and outdoor garment. Based on the weight of his breeches his coat may well have been stout durable woolen broadcloth. His thin white tow stockings were coarse and unrefined, but light-weight for the hot, dry summer of 1775. It looks like he wanted another pair of stockings too before he left the company. In another deserter description from Colonel Hinman’s regiment at Ticonderoga we find:

Deserted from the 4th Regiment of Foot, raised for the defence of the colony of Connecticut, commanded by Col. Benjamin Hinman, and of my company, on the 24th of May, one Benjamin Buffington, about 5 feet 5 inches high, light complection, high forehead, thin foretop, brown hair, black eyes, a handsome sett of teeth, tall shoulders, and tolerably well proportioned; when he talks, stands stooping, and tells much of his honesty. Had on when he went away, a grey outside jacket, lappelled, green plush breeches and streaked trowsers, two hats, a new beaver or castor, and an old beaver, two or three pair of stockings, and two pair shoes. Whoever will take and secure said fellow, and return him to my company, or in any of the prisons in this colony, so as he may be in the service again, shall have five dollars reward, and all reasonable charges paid by Samuel Elmer, Major of the 4th Regiment.
Connecticut Courant, 19 June 1775


“a dark brown Coat, with black Cuffs and Cape, Deerskin breeches with a white Linnen Shirt and seemed Worsted Stockings”

Thanks to this slouching liar leaving the regiment, we know that he brought with him to service several changes of clothes in terms of both shoes and stockings. He had a heavy-duty pair of breeches, made of plush, a very thick woolen velvet, and a pair of durable striped canvas trousers for a cooler summer wear or to keep his breeches clean on a cool day of work. His grey outside jacket would have been a short wool jacket with lapels that could button over in cool weather or be buttoned back on a hot day. It also appears that this man liked hats; carrying two expensive beaver felt hats with him. All in all he mustered ready to serve, even if he didn’t stick around long enough to defend Ticonderoga.


A mariner’s cuff on a short coat or sailor’s jacket of drab or light colored broadcloth.

Deserter advertisements like these, plus many more, serve both as valuable evidence in understanding the civilian clothing that soldiers wore in 1775, but they also give us complete suits to copy. With a little interpretation of the types of clothing described in these advertisements, the Interpretation Department is building complete suits of clothing for those staff members who will be portraying these citizen soldiers of 1775. This season as you walk the hallowed grounds of Ticonderoga, you’ll be able to see soldiers that walked right out of the newspaper in 1775.

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