We’ve Got the Blues

Anchusa azurea by name tells of its blue color. The strain ‘Dropmore’ was selected in 1905 and it still available today.

Deep blue, azure blue, sky blue, and sapphire blue – annuals and perennials in shades of blue are artfully arranged to accent both soft and bold colored plant groupings.  All are on display in the King’s Garden, one of just a few examples of landscape architect Marian Coffin’s work that remains from her successful career that peaked between 1918 and 1930.

She was commissioned to redesign the walled garden behind the summer home of Stephen and Sarah Pell at Fort Ticonderoga in 1920, using her expertise gained from formal training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and trips to Europe to study classical and “natural” garden designs.  Coffin was introduced to Gertrude Jekyll, probably the most influential English landscape architect of the period, while touring gardens abroad.  Jekyll appreciated the beauty of both natural and formal styles, used a painterly approach to garden design, and carefully used color to evoke a desired feeling in the landscape -theories that influenced the style Marian Coffin adopted in her own designs.

Clear blue Salvia azurea (pitcher sage) compliments a soft yellow dahlia

Colour in the Flower Garden (1908) was Jekyll’s most famous book, widely read by professional and amateur gardeners.   The use of blue and yellow flowers to create a sense of light is a recurrent theme in her planting schemes and she describes, “The blues will be more telling – more purely blue – by the juxtaposition of rightly placed complimentary color”.

Coffin incorporated this idea into the long rectangular beds and borders that separate the cool-hued east end of the King’s Garden with the fiery palette of the west end.  Lemon-yellow giant marigolds are paired with blue ageratum, pale yellow hollyhocks with steely-blue globe thistle, pure blue bachelor buttons matched with creamy yellow, nodding columbine, and sky-blue pitcher sage alongside light yellow marigolds.  These beds also include the blue flowers of anchusa, blue hybrid columbine, monkshood, lupine, mealycup sage and delphinium.  Considering the soft red brick walls in the background of the plantings as a third color in the scheme, Coffin successfully used muted shades of the three primary colors in perfect combination.

Delphinium bellamosum, a Coffin selection for the King’s Garden

Blue in its deepest tones is a striking contrast with vivid reds and oranges.  Again following Jekyll’s theories, Coffin incorporated “larkspur blue” delphinium –  a rich, deep blue -amidst the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows of beebalm, tiger lilies, and bold zinnias.  Warm colors are a real attention getter and can be overwhelming if not used judiciously.  The addition of blue accents gives the eye a place to rest in what could otherwise be a busy scheme.  Warm colors are more effective when balanced with blues and greens nearby or behind them.  It’s OK to have the blues!

Bachelor buttons allow the eye to rest among vivid red poppies and yellow bearded iris

This is the perfect time of year to evaluate your garden beds and begin to make plans for the next growing season.  What color combinations work in your garden and which ones do not?  Experiment with the addition of blue accents in shades that harmonize with the existing scheme.  Take inspiration from Gertrude Jekyll by reading her book on use of color at Internet Archive –  http://archive.org/details/colourinflowerg00jekygoog.  Though written over 100 years ago, her words are timeless.  “The duty we owe to our gardens and to our own bettering in our gardens is so to use the plants that they shall form beautiful pictures…”

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Combat in the North Woods

The scrub brush along Lake Champlain presented both a challange and opportunity.

In discussing firelocks, cannons, or mortars with visitors, the question that logically comes up is the use of these weapons in a battle. Unfortunately, mentioning “A Battle” leads to images conjured out of the movies. Despite the rugged, wooded hills surrounding Fort Ticonderoga, as well as Lake Champlain, the hypothetical battle in which these weapons fire is a large open pastoral landscape on a bright sunny day, as in any blockbuster movie. Beyond the exciting May 10th 1775 capture ofFort Ticonderoga that helped make the reputation of both the Green Mountain Boys and this remote Fortress, the summer of 1775 was filled with fatigue and preparations, poor fodder to describe combat in the north woods. However, as the Continental Army’s Northern Department coalesced enough to begin the siege of Saint Johns, we have enough accounts to characterize combat for the soldiers that served here.

The siege of Saint Johns began with landings to the south of this Fort on September sixth and did not end until the British Regular and Canadian garrison surrendered on November first.  In this way the skirmishes and artillery duels that made up the siege represent the longest period of military engagement until the siege of Quebec at the very end of the year. One could potentially dismiss the siege of Saint Johns as merely a siege, and therefore unrepresentative of a typical battle. However, the waterways and land that make up theLake Chaplain corridor into Canada makes the events of this siege the norm for the North.

For the New England and New York soldiers advancing into Canada, marching really meant rowing. Travel by bateaux, just as in the French & Indian war, was the only efficient mode. With hundreds of soldiers moving in a flotilla of bateaux, protection of these soldiers and fire support took the form of small but substantial schooners and row galleys built to transport and use cannons and mortars. Much in the manner of the tall ships on the high seas, water transport allowed for substantial cannons to maneuver on the lake with relative ease. Obviously smaller than the massive guns of the great ships of the line, the six- and twelve-pounder cannons of many of these lake vessels still dictated the range of engagement. As in coastal fortifications, lakeside fortifications carried a similar armament to their water born adversaries. Accordingly, combat was amphibious, as well as centered around the relatively large cannons stationed on ship and shore.

Battle during the siege ofSaint Johns was both very brief and agonizingly long. Encounters between patrols were a mere matter of minutes, while the ever-present cannons and mortars of ships and batteries alike could drop shot or mortars on soldiers at a moments notice day or night. Sergeant Aaron Barlow, of the Fifth Connecticut, described the first scout around the Fort in his September eighth entry:

They went out on scout about 1000 men, and came to within a mile and a half of the Fort where they were fired upon by some Indians and Regulars. They returned the fire. There was a hot fire for about 15 minutes. They run off and we retreated back a few rods and put up a Breast work. We lost 8 men and 6 wounded…In the evening they flung bombs at us and drove us out of our Breast work. We retreated back about a mile and put up another Breast work and tarried here till day.

Two days later, and back in bateaux with his fellow Connecticut soldiers, Sergeant Barlow described another encounter with a British sortie:

As we came near the place where we had our first fight we discovered the enemy before they saw us, some on the shore and some on theLakein Batteaux. We fired at those on shore. They returned the fire—grape shot from their swivel boats and small arms from the shore. Our row gallies fire on their boats. The fire continued about 10 minutes very hot, then they ran off.


The battlefield in 1775 was very far from a well mowed field.

Indeed these encounters on land and lake were quite brief, but the big guns present in boats and batteries meant long hours under fire. Already seemingly a seasoned veteran ten days later, Sergeant Barlow wrote of his service, “-A number belonging to the water craft went to work with them on land-we cut a road and made bridges within half a mile of the Fort. They fired Bomb shells and cannon Balls more or less every day at us but they have done us no damage by it.”  Major Henry Livingston of the Third New York noted this threat during the landings around the Fort on the eleventh of October, “As we were landing & for some time after we were landed they fired briskly with grapeshot from the Fort but by the good providence of God we had not a single man hurt. We made no Regular Encampment, but lodged about in the woods as well as we could for this night.” Given artillery ranges over two miles, soldiers in camp weren’t immune from the shot and shell. Near the end of the siege on October twenty-fifth, Colonel Rudolphus Ritzema noted, “-one of Capt. Mott’s Men killed and another wounded in their Tent by a dead Shot.”

Neither wide open fields, nor bare tree trunks under the canopy of the deep woods, the corridor along the lake presented both a challenge and an opportunity. Before landing to the south of Saint Johns, Colonel Rudolphus Ritzema tersely described this battlefield, “very few Settlements along either Shore of the lake; the Country hereabouts is very low & marshy.” The effects of this terrain were compounded by the employment of night-time maneuvers to avoid the cannon fire of the British held fort. Reverend Benjamin Trumbull wrote a spirited defense of the conduct of the CT soldiers, describing this difficulty:

The Design was that 500 men should pass the Forts in the dead of Night, undiscovered, and the remaining 400 should return with the Boats to the Isle Aux Noix. As soon as the 500 Men, who were designed to pass the Forts, were landed and paraded, they had Orders to march through the Swamp on the west Side of the Forts and take post below them. Although the Night was serene, yet the woods were so exceeding thick it was very dark for them, and the Passage difficult. For this Reason orders were given, which many of the troops heard, not to march with any Flank Guard, but to keep good Guards in the Front and Rear.

Despite these unfortunate consequences on September tenth, Continental Army actions during this siege were often aided by the concealment offered by this dense underbrush. Sergeant Barlow’s Journal records such an incident on the twenty-second of September, even allowing his fellow Connecticut Yankees to ambush a British gunboat:

We went to building a fasheen Batteryabout 100 rods this side of the Fort. We carried them through the bushes very still undiscovered by the Regulars til just at night a boat came along the lake about 12 Rods from the shore. A party discovered them, crept down in the bushes by the side of theLaketill they came against us, when they fired on them. They all dropt in the boat. They soon fired on us from the Fort, grape shot, cannon balls, and Bomb-shells did rattle.

 Major Livingston found similar success with his Yorkers as they built another battery opposing Saint Johns, stating, “As soon as it was dark under the Direction of on Halsey we began a Battery for 2 twelve pounders in addition to the French on & finish’d it before daylight. The Enemy probably never knew any thing we were abt although they were not more than 450 yards off…” The brush screening this battery was dense enough to prevent it from firing, requiring a detail of 40 men to clear away brush and trees under the cover darkness on the night of October twelfth.

Mounting packs and rowing onward was a daily part of soldiers life in 1775.

In many ways, the “battle” that Continental soldiers faced during the siege of Saint Johns would contain elements contemporary to more modern periods. At the very least it bears no resemblance to the 18th-century battle of the silver screen. Naval support and transport meant that soldiers could be landed into or withdrawn from combat with relative speed. Albeit powered oars and sails, the effect of this transport mirrors mechanized transport today. The combat described in these accounts contains both moments of sheer terror, and long nervous hours under observation and artillery fire. Even on quick scouts these soldiers had to be equally adept with the firelock and the shovel. Every static position, even for only a few hours, required entrenching a breastwork. Under the artillery fire of guns and mortars from land and water, the protection of these breastworks and larger batteries was vital. Likewise, managing the concealment of maneuver and entrenchments using the cover of the landscape and darkness seem equally modern. With all these complicating factors, it’s difficult to create a simple image to describe “battle,” but what is perhaps more important is to explain the sacrifice of those who served in battle in 1775.





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A Different Season—Not an Off Season

“What do you do with all your free time when the Fort is closed?” I’ve been asked this question often over the past thirteen years. The quick answer is “What free time?” But the serious answer is that Fort Ticonderoga is a year-round operation and all of us on the staff have plenty to keep us busy throughout the year.

While the gates officially closed for the 2012 season at the end of the day October 18th, programming continues throughout the “closed” season. We just completed our “Flashlight Nights,” giving visitors an opportunity to explore both the Corn Maze and the Fort after dark. You can visit the Fort on December 1st as we recreate the preparations under the oversight of Henry Knox to take dozens of the Fort’s cannon from Ticonderoga to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where General Washington awaits their arrival. On February 23rd, the Fort opens for a day focused on the historic Battle on Snowshoes in the late winter of 1758.

Fort Ticonderoga also hosts the Third Annual “Material Matters: It’s in the Details” Seminar January 26th & 27th. This two-day seminar focuses on 18th-century material culture and is intended for collectors and people with an interest in learning more about objects of the 18th century and what they can tell us about history. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this great weekend!

Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series!” returns in January, with a program led by a Fort staff person once a month January through April. These programs take place on Sunday afternoons at 2:00. The cost is $10 (members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga are admitted at no cost). Programs are scheduled for January 13th, February 10th, March 17th, and April 21st.

On March 9th, Fort Ticonderoga again hosts North Country History Day for students in grades 6-12 from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and Warren counties. This culmination of months of research, writing, and creativity brings together students from across the North Country in a competition focused on this year’s theme of “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events.” The top two projects in each category advance to New York State History Day, held in Cooperstown at the end of April.

On April 13th, Fort Ticonderoga hosts the Second Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium: “Enhancing Life through Gardening.” This one-day program focuses on practical, easy-to-implement strategies for expanding and improving your garden or landscape. The programs are offered in an informal setting that encourages interaction between speakers and attendees.

We also provide opportunities for school groups throughout the year, both on-site and in the classroom. Thanks to support from the Walter Cerf Community Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation and the Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation, school outreach programs are available for schools in Vermont’s Addison County and throughout the Adirondack Park at a greatly reduced rate (just $25). These same programs are available throughout the region at regular prices. Our school program “The Artist’s Eye: Geography, History, and Art” is available through the winter months, utilizing works of art in “The Art of War” exhibition housed in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. And coming soon, information about our new, unique program “The Artificer’s Apprentice,” providing students with a rare chance to learn about and work with our historic trades staff, learning about the production of 18th-century clothing and footwear while trying their hand at some of the skills they’ve learned.

Besides programs, the winter season is time for evaluation and planning. While most of the 2013 calendar is set, there’s lots of planning and implementation to undertake in the coming months. As anyone who’s worked in event planning can tell you, events just don’t happen. They take months and months of careful work and coordination. The brochure for Material Matters is already at the printer and the 2013 War College brochure should be printer-ready in a few weeks.

Likewise, I am already working on some of our 2014 events. In the coming weeks I’ll be identifying and inviting potential speakers for our May 2014 War College of the Seven Years’ War and September 2014 Seminar on the American Revolution, as well as for our other seminar and conference programs.

So, while the transition from open season to closed season means a shift in pace and priorities, there’s really no such thing as an “Off Season” at Fort Ticonderoga. We look forward to your participation in some of our winter/spring events and seeing you at Fort Ticonderoga soon!

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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His story deserves to be told…

Battles are often remembered for the major military figures involved and how the actions that took place on the battlefield contributed to the greater outcome of a war.  Usually when discussed today, battles are described in terms of tactics, commanders, and remarkable feats of heroism.  Casualty numbers are generally known, and people understand very well that war can have a dramatic effect on the lives of soldiers and their families.  But very little information tends to survive from the 18th century, especially the French & Indian War, to really describe what the effects of war were on individual soldiers, let along who they were as individuals.  Here is an example of one such soldier’s story, a story that deserves to be told.

Abraham Tyler was born September 23, 1739 in Scarborough, Maine.  He was an illegitimate son of Abraham Tyler (1712-1807) and Mary Sawyer (1714 – ).  Abraham grew up in Scarborough and in the spring of 1758 at the age of 18 joined the ranks of Captain John Libbie’s Company of Colonel Jedidiah Preble’s Massachusetts provincial regiment bound for a planned invasion of Canada.  Tyler and his company reached the British camp at the south of Lake George in the early summer awaiting orders for the embarkation of the army.  On July 4, 1758 the army of 17,000 British regular and American provincial troops set sail down the lake towards Ticonderoga.  The army landed on July 6th.  Two days later on July 8th the largest military force assembled in American to that time attacked the French army at their breastworks a half-mile from Fort Ticonderoga.  On that day Abraham Tyler experienced first hand, and for probably the first and only time, the horrors of battle.  In the early afternoon several hours after failing British efforts, the order came for the Massachusetts troops to “run to the breastork and get in if [they] could.”  The provincials were met with a storm of French musket fire so intense that one soldier reported “a man could not stand erect without being hit any more than he could stand out in a shower without having drops of rain fall on him, for the balls come like hands full.”  In the rush towards the breastwork, Tyler was struck by a ball in his right arm above his shoulder giving him a debilitating injury; an injury that would apparently plague him for the remainder of his life.

By the end of the day, the British had suffered tremendous casualties; nearly 2,000 men killed and wounded.  The army retreated up the lake to their camps at the south end of Lake George.  Eventually, many soldiers including Abraham Tyler were released from their duty due to the severity of their wounds and they made their way back home.

In the following winter Abraham Tyler submitted a petition to the Massachusetts House of Representatives seeking compensation for the expenses associated with his journey home after Ticonderoga.  His petition provides rare insight into just what happened to Tyler, his struggle to get home, and the long-term effects of the wound he suffered during the ill-fated attack on Ticonderoga.


Province of the Massachusetts Bay

To His Excellency Thomas Pownal Esqr To the honorable his Majesty’s Council and the honorable the House of Representatives humbly sheweth Abraham Tyler that your Petitioner was a Soldier in Capt Libbeys Company & Colo Preeble’s Regiment in the Service this last Summer & was in the battle at Ticonderoga, where your Petitioner received a shot which broke his right Arm above the Elbow; that while your Petr. was sick of his Wounds at the Lake, there being no hospital Stores there, he was obliged to take up eighteen shillings of the Sutler & sixteen Shillings of the Quarter -master & expended the further Sum of thirty Shillings in cash & all for necesarys; that your Petitioner was at the further expense of twenty six shillings & eight pence for his horse to come home; that your Petitioner has suffered greatly by reason of the Wounds aforesaid & is in danger of loosing & has Lost the use of his Arm and a great part of the bone is intirely gone so that your Petitioner has no prospect of being able to do any thing for his support for a long time as his Wound is not yet healed up; Your Petitioner therefore humbly prays that Your Excellency & Honours would grant him the money which he expended & also such further relief as to you in your great Wisdom Shall Seem most sutable to the damage he has Suffered & will always continue by reason of the wound aforesaid and your Petitioner as in duty bound shall ever pray.

Abraham Tyler

[Transcript of the original petition in the collection of the Massachusetts State Archives, Vol. 78, pp. 159-160.]


On February 2, 1759 the House resolved to pay Tyler “the sum of Eight pounds ten shillings and eight pence in Consideration of his Expenses & Sufferings.”  His expenses were reimbursed and it appears the additional four pounds were awarded in consideration of his suffering.  This was however a one-time payment and not an annual pension.

By about 1768 Abraham married Martha Smith (1740-1807).  They had at least one child, a daughter, Sarah born in 1768.  To what degree Tyler’s arm eventually healed is unknown.  While his father and several relatives are documented as having served in the American Revolution, there is no indication that Abraham served.  It is likely that the after effects of his wound were debilitating to the point where it was impossible for him to use a musket and fight during the Revolution.

Abraham and his wife Martha continued to reside in Scarborough, Maine where Martha died on March 24, 1807.  Two years later Abraham married his second wife Sarah Trundy Jordan on January 21, 1809 and the two apparently lived happily until Abraham’s death June 26, 1816 at the age of 76.

Abraham Tyler’s story is just one of many that Fort Ticonderoga preserves.  These are the people who made history at Ticonderoga.  It is important that the memory of what they did never fade.  It is also important that we always remember that Ticonderoga had a profound effect on a great many lives and and those effects changed many families forever.


Blog Post by Christopher D. Fox, Curator Fort Ticonderoga

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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 rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org 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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