Keeping Ticonderoga Secure and Healthy During the Winter of 1776-1777

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

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

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


Saratoga November 23d: 1776


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

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

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

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

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

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

I am,

Sir Your most

Obedt Humbl Servant

Ph. Schuyler

Colo: Wayne Commanding at Tyonderoga


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

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Authors and Fort Ticonderoga

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Doug Cubbison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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What Connects Us to History?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Native American Heritage at Ticonderoga

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

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

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

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

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Preserving Amos Chaffee’s Memory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Working with Teachers at Fort Ticonderoga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rich Strum
Director of Education

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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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