Fort Ticonderoga Presents Seventh Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium

The King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga presents the Seventh Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium on Saturday, April 7, 2018 in the Mars Education Center. Geared for both beginning and experienced gardeners, this daylong symposium provides helpful insights from garden experts who live and garden in upstate New York and northern New England. This event is open by pre-registration only.

Focusing on easy-to-implement strategies for expanding and improving your garden or landscape, these programs are offered in an informal setting that encourages interaction between presenters and attendees.

This year’s featured speaker is Charlie Nardozzi, an award-winning, nationally recognized garden author, speaker, garden tour leader, and radio and TV personality based in Vermont. Charlie delights in making gardening information simple, easy, fun and accessible to everyone. In “Better Berries for Your Edible Landscape” Nardozzi will talk about growing berry shrubs, which has become more popular with the growing interest in edible landscaping. He will also be including a talk about new varieties of blueberries, brambles, honeyberries, currants, gooseberries, elderberries, and more that grow well in our climate.

Emily DeBolt, owner of Fiddlehead Creak Native Plant Nursery, will encourage attendees to “Go Native: An Introduction to Gardening with Native Plants.” Gardeners can learn about the benefits and beauty of gardening with native plants and learn which plants are great for monarchs and other pollinators and which plants can grow in tough sites such as clay soils or dry shade.

Ellen Ecker Ogden, author of The Complete Kitchen Garden, will discuss “The Art of Growing Food.” In this presentation, you will learn the six steps to successful kitchen garden design, based on classic techniques that anyone can follow.

Barry Genzlinger asks “What are the ten facts that everyone should know about bats and why should gardeners care?” His presentation focuses on the benefits bats provide for gardeners and the dangers bats currently face. Genzlinger is president of the Vermont Bat Center and rescues, rehabilitates, and releases hundreds of Vermont bats.

The cost, including the daylong symposium and a lunch prepared by Libby’s Bakery Café, is $85 ($75 for Members of Fort Ticonderoga). There is an Early Bird rate for registrations received by March 15, 2018: $75 ($65 for member of Fort Ticonderoga).

A brochure with the complete schedule and registration form is available on Fort Ticonderoga’s website at www.fortticonderoga.org by selecting “Education” and then “Workshops and Seminars” on the drop-down menu. A printed copy is also available upon request by calling 518-585-2821.

The Garden & Landscape Symposium is one of numerous opportunities for continuing education for the public at Fort Ticonderoga in 2018. You can learn more about these programs, including the annual War College of the Seven Years’ War and the Seminar on the American Revolution, by visiting the Fort Ticonderoga’s website at www.fortticonderoga.org and selecting “Education.”

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo: The Seventh Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium takes place on Saturday, April 7, 2018 in the Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga. This event is open by pre-registration only.

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Preparing for the Coming Campaign Living History Event on January 13, 2018

Experience Fort Ticonderoga in the beauty of winter during its next living history event Preparing for the Coming Campaign on Saturday, January 13, 2018.  The event will bring to life the story of American soldiers at Ticonderoga in the year 1777 as they prepare for a British attack. Aware that their resources are limited and manpower scarce, meet soldiers in the wintertime fort and immerse yourself into the struggle for liberty. Learn about the carpentry skills that were required to build and defend a Revolutionary era fort and see first-hand how the tools work as soldiers build a cannon carriage. Watch soldiers at work undertaking tasks such as tailoring and flag making. A full day of programs include guided tours, weapons demonstrations, and even a tasting of colonial chocolate along with a program on the importance that this food item played in the lives of American soldiers and camp followers at Ticonderoga. For a full event schedule and other event details visit www.fort-ticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821.

“Ticonderoga in the winter of 1776 into 1777 was an active post, filled with American soldiers achieving incredible feats of construction,” said Stuart Lilie, Vice President of Public History and Operations. “As snow piled up, carpenters built massive new barracks and artillerymen built carriages for the largest number of cannon ever at Ticonderoga. Even the frozen surface of Lake Champlain was a construction site, as soldiers built wood and stone piers for a bridge across the lake.”

Bring your family along to experience this exciting living history event during Fort Ticonderoga’s new schedule of programs during Winter Quarters season. From now through April, visitors will be immersed in a more intimate experience at Fort Ticonderoga. From living history events, insightful seminars, specialty programs, and hands-on workshops, guests will have the opportunity to explore Fort Ticonderoga during what was traditionally the “Winter Quarters” season for armies of the 18th century.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo: The Preparing for the Coming Campaign Living History Event will take place on January 13, 2018 at Fort Ticonderoga from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Visit www.fortticonderoga or call 518-585-2821 for more Winter Quarter events, programs, and seminars.

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Fort Fever Program to Focus on Lake Champlain Naval History

Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” begins on Sunday, January 7, at 2:00 p.m. with “Vigilance and Discipline to be Observed through all the Vessels” presented by Nicholas Spadone, Director of Interpretation. Tickets are $12 per person and can be purchased at the door; Fort Ticonderoga Members are admitted free of cost. The program will take place in the Mars Education Center.

Fort Ticonderoga’s military history in the American Revolution extends well beyond just the land. Strategy and tactics were developed to command Lake Champlain and Lake George. British Royal Navy vessels on Lake Champlain demonstrate the strength and extent needed to attack American-held Ticonderoga as well as supply and defend Ticonderoga during British occupation. Learn about the design, construction, and legacy of the British Royal Navy vessels on Lake Champlain between 1775 and 1781 during this Fort Fever program.

Additional “Fort Fever Series” programs are scheduled February 11, March 11 and April 15. The “Fort Fever Series” is just one of several programs taking place during Winter Quarters at Fort Ticonderoga November through April. Clothing and Accoutrement Workshops are offered January 27-28, March 10-11, and April 14-15. Fort Ticonderoga presents living history events on January 13 (Preparing for the Coming Campaign), February 17 (1775 British Garrison at Ticonderoga), and March 24 (Ordered to Join the Northern Army in Canada). The Seventh Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium will be held on April 7. You can learn more about all of these programs by visiting www.fortticonderoga.org. Some programs require advance registration.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo: A detail from A View of the Old French fort, redoubts and batteries at Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain and His Majesty’s ship inflexible also the Piers constructed with the Trunks of Large Tress by the American Army for the conveyance of their Troops to Mount Independence taken on the spot by H. Rudyard Lieut Corps of Royal Engineers in the year 1777. Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum.

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$2.45 Million Grant to Support Fort Ticonderoga’s Plans for Pavilion Restoration and Adaptive Re-use

Fort Ticonderoga has been awarded a $2.45 million grant from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and Empire State Development (ESD) as part of their Arts & Cultural Facilities Improvement grant program. The grant award was announced at the 2017 New York State Regional Economic Development Council Award Ceremony in Albany, NY.

The Fort Ticonderoga Pavilion Restoration and Adaptive Re-use project will save a national treasure while expanding as a national cultural destination. The adaptive re-use project will include needed visitor amenities, conference center capacity, and new educational and exhibition space.

“Today we have the opportunity to bring new life and purpose to an American treasure. The 1826 National Historic Landmark, the Pavilion, is a major component of our plans to transform Ticonderoga into a national cultural destination,” said Beth L. Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “The restored Pavilion will offer Fort Ticonderoga a wide array of opportunities for guests who might prefer to focus on non-military aspects of the Ticonderoga experience – horticulture, agriculture, culinary, decorative arts, and the scenic beauty of the site. This will enhance the guest experience, extend guest’s length of stay, and expand Fort Ticonderoga’s educational impact.”

Among the plans for the restored Pavilion:

  • Dedicated exhibit space to tell the story of 200 years of preservation and restoration efforts across the site, and the rich decorative and fine arts collection.
  • Re-establish the Pavilion as a place for visitor welcome, offering new amenities including indoor and outdoor dining facilities, museum retail and restrooms. New space for programs, special events, conferences and meetings will offer opportunities for rental and food and beverage revenue. The Pavilion operations will also support Fort Ticonderoga’s new maritime program, including tours aboard the Carillon, a 60 ft. tour boat.
  • Create a teaching kitchen and new culinary programs that will connect Fort Ticonderoga’s gardens and produce with centuries of international history and hospitality and respond to a growing demand for culinary experiences and training. Students will also have the opportunity to dig deep into the site’s rich agricultural story and carry their experience into the teaching kitchen to learn about healthy eating in the past and today.
  • Expand the space available for museum collections and research by bringing key administrative staff to the center of operations by relocating offices currently housed at Fort Ticonderoga’s Thompson Pell Research Center to the second floor of the Pavilion.

The goal for the project is to raise $5.4 million to complete the project in time for a 2020 grand opening to mark the 200th anniversary of William Ferris Pell’s first efforts to preserve Ticonderoga for future generations.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo:  The Pavilion, A Landmark American Country Home – William Ferris Pell built this summer home between 1826 and 1837.  It represents an important shift in the architecture and history of the American country estate, situated far from a major urban area. By 1840, the home had become a hotel welcoming guests from across the United States to the iconic ruins of Ticonderoga.  Plans are underway for the restoration and adaptive reuse of this National Historic Landmark.

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Unsung, Unarmed Heroes of Ticonderoga in 1775

Despite plans for regimental uniforms, the 4th NY  had blue facings on many colors of coat.

Henry Knox’s Noble Train of Artillery from Ticonderoga to Boston was made possible by the labor of many soldiers, as well as the famous drivers and teams of horses. Rather than bringing his own artillerymen to Ticonderoga, Knox relied on soldiers already serving in the Northern Army under General Philip Schuyler to help gather and move the guns to south of the Hudson River.  Knox’s personal journal and correspondence, as well as the papers of General Philip Schuyler, have revealed who was at Ticonderoga to heft the guns for the Noble Train. The commanding officer at Ticonderoga in December of 1775 was Colonel James Holmes, commander of the 4th New York Regiment. Unlike the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd New York Regiments who were fighting in Canada, Holmes’ regiment garrisoned rear supply posts like Ticonderoga.  And so the men of the 4th New York Regiment were at Ticonderoga to help Colonel Knox, as Holmes recorded on December 12, 1775:

The Garrison hath been imploy’d Allmost Ever Since You left this, in Conjunction with Capt. Johnson Party in Transporting Cannon Morters &c to the N: Landing Lake George Their Exertions on this Occation hath been Much to the Satisfaction of Colo Knox, the number of Cannon &c I am not at Present able to Give you tho Very Considerable.

Colonel Holmes’ 4th New York Regiment was not alone, one company of the 1st New York Regiment, commanded by Captain John Johnson. Indeed, Knox himself recorded this company’s work alongside the 4th New York in his journal on December 9th and again on the 16th:

Paid Lieut Brown for Capt Johnson which he paid the Carters for the use of their Cattle in dragging Cannon from Ticonderoga to the Norther Landing of Lake George.

Leather Breeches were very common and likely brought by many New Yorkers from home.

Yet, with the exception of this Captain Johnson’s company, Knox repeatedly noted, “Holmes men,” as paid for their labor loading the noble train.  In the midst of a major campaign in Canada, why was the 4th New York Regiment at Ticonderoga in December of 1775?  Colonel James Holmes effort to clothe and equip his men never came to full fruition; by virtue of this men of 4th New York were available to aid Henry Knox at Ticonderoga.

The New York Provincial Congress appointed captains to command the companies of the 4th New York Regiment. These captains spent a large majority of the summer of 1775 recruiting men from Dutchess, Westchester, Kings, Queens, and Richmond counties.  Once mustered, they were to march to Albany to receive their clothing and equipment.  The New York Provincial Congress ordered in June of 1775:

Peter T Curtenius as Commissary of this Congress be desired to purchase on the public Credit the following quantities of Coarse Broad Cloths vizt. Coarse blue broad cloth sufficient to make 712 Short Coats & Crimson cloth for cuffs & facings for the said Coats & that if blue cloth cannot be had, that in such Case he purchase blue Coating for that purpose—Light Brown coarse broad cloth sufficient to make 712 Short coats, with blue cloth sufficient for Cuffs & facings.—Grey coarse broad Cloth sufficient to make 712 Short Coats with green Cloth sufficient to Cuffs & facings.—Dark brown coarse broad Cloth sufficient to make 712 Short Coats with Scarlet cloth sufficient for Cuffs & facings for the same.

Cloth became harder to obtain and by July, the New York Provincial Congress slimmed down their grand plans of color combinations, ordering Commissary Peter Curtenius to procure, “Uniform coats made for all the Non-commissioned Officers & Men to be raised in this Colony; that the Coats of each regiment be made with different Cuffs & facings.” Regardless of the body of the coat, the only regimental distinction was to be the cuff and facing color and the 4th New York Regiment received blue facings for their clothing.  A mate of the vessel from Lake Champlain made comment on the status of the area around Ticonderoga in September of 1775.  He pointed out this distinction stating, “at Lake George a company, Capt Woodward, 25th of grey with blue…”

Nathan Woodward’s company of the 4th New York r

eceived at least part of their complement of regimental coats, enough for the writer to indicate the uniformity amongst them. This same color combination was described in a pension record of Nathan Lockwood. In November of 1819 he described his service:

A private in the Company commanded by Captain Jonathan Platt in the 4th New York Regiment commanded by Colonel James Holmes…Deponent was in service at Ticonderoga…the uniform worn by the Deponent & other privates in said Regiment was gray cloth turned up with blue.

Although the New York Provincial Congress described “light brown” coats turned up with blue, grey is actually true to form.  In practice, grey, drab, and light brown were used interchangeably for the body cloth of the coats of the 4th New York Regiment.

Unlike muskets themselves, New York successful procured cartridge boxes for men of the 4th New York Regiment in 1775.

On July 12, 1775 the New York Committee of Safety defined the preferred set of clothing to be worn in addition to the regimental coats, yet the numbers of waistcoats, breeches, hats, and shoes only account for two regiments of the four to be raised.  The 4th New York Regiment does not seem to have been one of those regiments, and short coats appear to be the only uniform item worn by the regiment. Philip Van Cortlandt wrote to the New York Provincial Congress from Albany on August 28, 1775 describing the 4th New York Regiment:

Agreeable to verbal orders received from Colonel Holmes, when last in New York, made all the dispatch in my power to this place, where I arrived with the 26th instant…The day I arrived came up the following Captains, with their Companies; Captain Herrick, Captain Palmer, Captain Benedict, and Captain Mills…many of the men wanting shirts, shoes, stockings, underclothes, and, in short, without anything fit for a soldier except a uniform coats.

Holmes’ 4th New York Regiment only received bits and pieces of other clothing through the summer of 1775.  Nathan Woodard requested at Albany on August 28, 1775 his company be supplied with “Ten Coats four shirts & 26 pair of shows & 20 weast-Coats & 20 Pair of Breeches 20 Hats.”  This certainly was not the full complement of his company.  Similarly, Colonel Holmes requested Peter Curtenius in an undated letter sets of clothing for Captain Mill’s Company which included:

Becker Holmes            one pair of Drilling Breeches
Henry Rich                  one pair of shoes
Thomas Golden          one pair woolen stockings
Shubal Cunningham   one pair of wolling stockings
Joshua Baker               one shirt
Lewis Miller                one Shirt Checkt
Samuel Baker              a Jacket & pr of Breeches Brown Cloth
One pair of Shoe
One pr of Cotton Stockings
One shirt white
One stock
A jacket and pr Breeches
Charles Parsons           one pr Drilling Breeches two Chekt Shirts one Jacket

Additionally, Colonel Holmes wrote to Commissary Curtenius again requesting on August 4, 1775, “Please to Deliver to the Bearer herof Mr. Robert Benson one hundred and forty four Coats including Six Sergeants Coats- also as many Shirts, Hatts, shoes, stockings, Wescoats & Breeches as is in proportion for 2 companys.” Likewise, Captain Joseph Benedict’s Company was provided with the following clothing on August 9, 1775:

 15 vests
15 pairs of breeches
25 shirts
30 pairs of stockings
18 pairs of shoes
12 black silk handkerchiefs
3 hats
30 knapsacks
52 coats
52 blankets

Just like private soldiers, fifers and drummers of the 4th New York Regiment received coats too.

While some men did receive waistcoats, breeches, shirts, shoes, and hats out of military stores, this was not the case for all the men within the companies. Those men with serviceable waistcoats, breeches, shoes, shirts, and hats brought from home were never issued anything out of military stores for lack of enough to outfit everyone.

Unlike clothing, Colonel Holmes had better success procuring accoutrements for his regiment from the colony of New York. Saddlers through New York were busy at work producing the bayonet belts, cartouche pouches, and musket slings.  This facet of military material seems to have come fairly easily.  An anonymous letter in the New York Provincial Congress proceedings from October 4, 1775 noted the state of accouterments:

All our troops are furnished with belts and pouches for nineteen cartridges, bayonet belts, musket slings, blankets, coats, canteens, haversacks, &c.

Arming the 4th New York Regiment proved to be Holmes’ hardest task.  The New York Provincial Congress contracted on June 23, 1775 Robert Boyd to “set on foot a manufactory of Guns Barrells, Bayonets and Steel Ramrods,” Henry Watkeys to “furnish locks for the muskets and to mount stock & finish them in compleat workmanlike manner as the sample shown to him,” and an unknown “Sadler” in “making scabbards for Bayonets and straps and buckles for the Musquets.”  By the end of August, little to none of these weapons are toted in the hands of the 4th New York Regiment. An officer at Albany mentioned on August 29, 1775 “Col Van Cortlandt is also arrived here with five Companies of Holmes’ Battalion, who have not arms sufficient to supply one Company.”  This fact is confirmed by Philip Van Cortlandt when he wrote to New York Congress from Albany on August 28, 1775:

Dear Sir: Agreeable to verbal orders received from Colonel Holmes, when last in New  York, made all the dispatch in my powere to this place, where I arrived the 26th             instant…not more than thirty guns, with four companies, fit for service.

New York Provincial Congress proceedings from October 4, 1775 mentions that most arms were issued to the 1st and 2nd New York Regiments, leaving the 4th deficient.

 The First and Second regiment and some part of the other Regiments are armed with the   best of musket and bayonets and other with firelocks of the widest bore, which could be   found, repaired where it was necessary, and fitted … The fourth or Colonel   Holmes’ Regiment is now at the outpost; part of the Regiment was obliged to be detained at Albany, until arms could be procured for them.

The New York Provincial Congress’ plan to assist the American war effort quickly hit the challenges clothing and arming thousands of soldiers.  The 4th New York Regiment exemplified the struggle to equip men for war. Ironically, it was the lack of clothing and arms for Holmes’ men which left them relegated to the rear, in the right place and time to play a crucial role in the service of Henry Knox. Without deliveries of small arms, men of the 4th New York Regiment at Ticonderoga helped deliver the big guns, which ultimately delivered Boston into freedom from British occupation.

On Saturday, December 9, Fort Ticonderoga presented Henry Knox’s Noble Train living history event. To learn more about this event and other events, programs and seminars taking place throughout Winter Quarters, visit www.fortticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821.

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Three Wars, Three Armies, One Legacy

This fragment of a French 12-pouce mortar has served three armies in the three conflicts that defined the course of North American history. Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, 1999.1221. Photo, Gavin Ashworth.

Perhaps the most impressive survivor of Henry Knox’s “Noble Train of Artillery” is this enormous iron mortar. Knox’s expedition was just one part of its fascinating history.

Originally designated as a 12-pouce mortar (pouce is the French equivalent of the inch), it was cast in France and shipped to Canada during the French and Indian War, that may have been part of a shipment that arrived in Québec in June of 1758. Two 12-pouce mortars were eventually hauled to Fort Carillon (later named Ticonderoga) by 1759. Outnumbered by General Jeffrey Amherst’s British and American army, the two French mortars rained down massive explosive shells on the attackers. Each shell loaded with gunpowder and fuse weighing nearly 200 pounds, with as many as 60 shells every hour were fired at the British!

It was not enough though and the mortars were captured by Amherst. One was moved to Crown Point by the early 1760s. When Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen stormed Fort Ticonderoga and captured Crown Point in 1775, the two mortars were still there, reported as 13-inch mortars (the French pouce was somewhat larger than the English inch so measured using an English ruler it would appear bigger than 12 inches). When Henry Knox prepared for his expedition, he did not anticipate such large mortars. “I did not know of any 13-inch mortars, a number of which I found at Ticonderoga,” Knox wrote to Colonel MacDougall from Fort George seeking ammunition for his new finds. Pleasantly surprised, he selected them to make the trip to Boston. The mortars made the voyage to Boston and were the subject of much attention wherever they passed. They were mounted to opened fire on British troops in the city, who evacuated Boston on March 17, 1776.

Following the evacuation, the mortars were ordered north again to bolster the American invasion of Canada. Hauled with other guns by men of Knox’s regiment of artillery, they may have gotten as far north as Sorel, Québec before being caught in the retreat back to Ticonderoga. There the mortars were destined for experimentation on the lake fleet being built by Benedict Arnold. Likely mounted on the gondola Philadelphia, now on display at the Smithsonian Institution, a test firing on August 1, 1776 caused the mortar to burst, sending half of it plummeting into the lake. Useless as a weapon, the heavy mass of iron still had value as ballast. Probably loaded into the hold of the row galley Trumbull the now fragmentary mortar survived the Battle of Valcour Island on October 11, 1776 and safely returned to Ticonderoga. The luck ran out in 1777, when Trumbull was captured with Fort Ticonderoga during General John Burgoyne’s advance up Lake Champlain in July. Trumbull remained in British hands and continued to be used on Lake Champlain for the rest of the Revolution.

With the conclusion of the war, Trumbull was likely broken up in Canada and the mortar set aside. When war once again broke out between Britain and the United States in 1812, a new naval arms race developed on Lake Champlain. Once again, the mortar fragment was shifted as ballast into the newly built HMS Linnet, which sailed south in late 1814 to do battle with the Americans. Linnet was battered by American cannon fire during the decisive Battle of Lake Champlain on September 11, 1814. The victorious Americans sailed her south to avoid capture that winter, but the news of peace in 1815 caused her to rot away in the Poultney River near Whitehall, New York. The remains of the Linnet’s hull were salvaged in 1949 and in 1950, the identifiable mortar fragment was finally returned to Ticonderoga where it had served the French, American, and British forces in the three great conflicts that shaped the continent from 1758 to 1814. This single object embodies the ongoing strategic value of the Champlain Valley for the many cultures and peoples that have fought over it and have shaped the political boundaries we still live with today.

The fragmentary mortar was conserved in 2015 in preparation for the Last Argument of King’s exhibit, which closed in October of 2017. The Mortar will be reinstalled in the spring of 2018 in the Atrium of the Mars Education Center. For more information on museum exhibits, visit www.fortticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821.

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The School of Hard Knox

As we prepare for our Noble Train Begins living history event, we reflect on a figure whose accomplishments and bulk loom over the legacy of Fort Ticonderoga. Henry Knox’s ascent to the inner circle of the early American military and state is an astounding story, even in an era of remarkable achievements. Alexander Hamilton similarly, and now famously, rose from little, but Knox had even less formal education; he did not even complete grammar school. Yet he climbed the ranks with astonishing speed to command the Continental Army’s artillery and ultimately as the Secretary of War in the first cabinet.

Much has been made of Knox’s pre-war career as a bookseller, which presumably provided him with time and material to read the military works he carried in his shop. However, the reality is quite different. Knox’s London Bookstore only operated for about four years from 1771 through 1775. A printed catalog of Knox’s shop survives from 1773, which provides a unique opportunity to see what he carried. Knox advertised 793 titles (not including a range of bibles) as well as a varied selection of stationary items.

Figure 1. Photo caption below.

Of this, just four volumes were works related to military science. Of them, Pringle’s Diseases of the Army is arguably only tangentially related to the art of war itself. The three remaining were “Military Instructions to Young Officers by the King of Prussia,” “Mullers system of the Mathematicks Fortification Artillery &c.” in seven volumes and the “Plan of the discipline of the Norfolk Militia.” Knox purchased a copy of Humphrey Bland’s Abstract of Military Discipline from Newport in 1772, although he does not appear to have carried the work.

Rather than having an impressive shelf of military books, Knox’s stock mirrored broader colonial patterns of reading on the subject. Through the Revolutionary period, manuals of arms dominate the history of American military reading and printing. The first American printing of an engineering volume did not appear until 1776 and artillery in 1779. Bland and the Norfolk Militia discipline remained the most important works in training Americans leading up to the War of Independence. These works were primarily geared towards the infantry, which was most commonly employed in North America, and where the management of a company, or at best a battalion, was the extent of the training required. John Adams neatly summed up American military education in 1775, writing that, “we are told here that there were none in our camp who understood the business of an engineer or anything more than the manual exercise of the gun…”

This is where the evidence of Knox’s own reading clearly shows a deeper interest in military topics beyond the stock of his own store. In response to a query from Adams regarding the works that American soldiers ought to be familiar with, Knox (after an apology for the delay in his correspondence due to the small matter of hauling 60 tons of iron and bronze from Ticonderoga to Boston) rattled off a list of titles and authors that he felt were important for aspiring officers. Knox’s list showed his erudition, easily eclipsing the typical American military education of the pre-Revolutionary era.

Figure 2. Photo credit: Gavin Ashworth. Photo caption below.

Knox’s foremost recommendation was Marshal Saxe’s Reveries, or Memoires Concerning the Art of War, the product of perhaps the most successful French officer of the century and among the most thoughtful, a man Knox claimed, “stalks a god in war.” He suggested practical works for entrenching such as Pleydell’s Field Fortification and the Chevalier de Clariac’s Field Engineer.  Fortifications go hand-in-hand with artillery and so John Muller’s Treatise on Artillery and Hollidays Principles of Gunnery rounded out a practical shelf. These were joined by more abstract works by the eminent minds of military science: Count Pagan, Belidor, Blondel, Coehorn, and of course the inimitable Vauban.

Knox’s suggestions, based certainly on his own reading, stand out against other American military readers of the time. He never went to college, and even if he was able to use the library at Harvard, which some sources suggest, it shows the lengths to which he went to develop his military mind. Knox fostered a cosmopolitan military understanding that was informed by books and reading not commonly consumed by Americans and not sold in his shop before the Revolution.

The sobriquet of Artilleryman hardly does him justice. The books he read allowed him to consider the close relationship between engineering, fortifications, and artillery. As well as other branches of service; the necessity to plan the movement of bulky commodities and massive quantities of materiel by harnessing human, animal, and chemical energy; and the requirement to consider interconnected weapon systems at long ranges. This prepared Knox to think broadly about military and political topics that no doubt underpinned his professional success during and after the Revolution.

Copies of almost all of the titles on Knox’s suggested reading list are held in the Fort Ticonderoga library. These works are available to researchers to better understand the military education of one of early America’s most important and well-read soldiers. To schedule a research session, contact Curator Matthew Keagle at 518-585-2821 or MKeagle@fortticonderoga.org.

Photos
Figure 1.) Humphrey Bland’s Treatise of Military Discipline, was one of the most important military books for Americans. George Washington ordered a copy from England in 1755, and General James Wolfe kept a heavily annotated edition. The first American edition of the book, in abstract form, was printed in Boston in 1743. This 1755 edition was printed for Daniel Henchman. In 1761, Henry Knox trained in the book selling trade in Henchman’s former store in Boston.

Figure 2.) The French led the field in books on military science in the 18th century. Many, like this work on field engineering, were translated into English making them accessible to British and American officers. Knox recommended this book to John Adams, but this particular Dublin edition bears the bookplate of Simon Fraser, the commander of the Advanced Corps of General John Burgoyne’s army that captured Ticonderoga in 1777. He was later killed at the Battle of Bemis Heights and this volume was reputedly taken from the army’s baggage in the British retreat.

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2018 Fort Fever Series Schedule at Fort Ticonderoga Announced

Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” will begin in January and run through April 2018. The lecture series will be held on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm in the Mars Education Center. Tickets are $12.00 per person and can be purchased at the door; Fort Ticonderoga Members and Ambassador Pass holders are admitted free of cost.

“The Fort Fever Series is a wonderful opportunity for Fort Ticonderoga Museum Staff to share their latest research,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. “New discoveries found in Fort Ticonderoga’s vast museum collections inform all of our programs. Fort Fever programs give guests the opportunity to have a preview of the content and learn more about Fort Ticonderoga’s history, collections, and exciting initiatives.”

Fort Fever Series Schedule:

January 7: “Vigilance and Discipline to be observed through all the Vessels” —Join Assistant Director of Interpretation, Nicholas Spadone, as he explores the composition of the dozens of British Royal Navy Vessels on Lake Champlain during the American Revolution. From captured American-built vessels to newly built British vessels, delve into the design, construction, and legacies of these wooden boats that commanded the Champlain Valley.

February 11: “Soldiers of Color at Ticonderoga” — Join Vice President of Public History and Operations, Stuart Lilie, to explore the diversity of soldiers who fought at Ticonderoga and to examine how the attitudes about soldiers of color varied dramatically within these various armies.

March 11: “A ‘Charmingly Aggressive Woman.’ Sarah Pell’s Struggle for History & Human Rights”— Described by a contemporary as a “charmingly aggressive woman,” Sarah Pell was a central figure behind Ticonderoga’s rebirth. Join Collections Manager, Miranda Peters, as she shares images, archival materials, and collections never-before-seen by the public, and recently cataloged by museum staff that reveal glimpses of Sarah’s impactful work.

April 15: “Somewhere in France: Stephen Pell’s Great War”— Curator Matthew Keagle will explore the service of Fort Ticonderoga’s co-founder Stephen H. P. Pell during the first World War. Learn about Stephen’s war through never-before-seen artifacts, photographs, and letters in Fort Ticonderoga’s collection.

The “Fort Fever Series” is just one of several programs taking place during Winter Quarters at Fort Ticonderoga November through April. Clothing and Accoutrement Workshops are offered January 27-28, March 10-11, and April 14-15. Fort Ticonderoga presents living history events on December 9 (The Noble Train Begins), January 13 (Preparing for the Coming Campaign), February 17 (1775 British Garrison at Ticonderoga), and March 24 (Ordered to Join the Northern Army in Canada). The Seventh Annual Garden & Landscape Symposium will be held on April 7. You can learn more about all of these programs by visiting www.fortticonderoga.org. Some programs require advance registration.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo:  The March 11, 2018 Fort Fever Series Program “A ‘Charmingly Aggressive Woman.’ Sarah Pell’s Struggle for History & Human Rights” Sarah Pell leading President Taft on a tour of the restoration of Fort Ticonderoga on July 6, 1909. From the Fort Ticonderoga Archival Collection.

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Nicaragua Cannon

In the winter of 1930, H. Jermain Slocum acting as an agent for Fort Ticonderoga visited the Caribbean to acquire historic cannon for the museum. Departing Miami, he flew to British Honduras, now known as Belize, and  then to Panama and Nicaragua, before taking a ship to Curaçao, Trinidad, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and finally Cuba before returning to the United States.

One of the Nicaraguan cannon loaded onto a heavy cart. Note the cannon gin at left, which Pell described using in his correspondence with Major Sultan of the US Engineers. Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, 1999.1110

In February of 1930, Slocum secured the donation of four 24-pounder cannon from President José María Moncada of Nicaragua. There was just one problem–they were located at Fort San Carlos in a remote part of the country on the southeastern side of Lake Nicaragua, with no easy way to transport them halfway across the Western hemisphere to Ticonderoga.

What followed was a journey as epic as any undertaken during the Revolutionary War. A Civil War in the 1920s and the continuing interest in a possible canal across Nicaragua meant large numbers of US military forces were present in the country in the early 1930s. By May 1930, Stephen Pell, the co-founder of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum and Slocum were corresponding with Major Dan Sultan of the US Engineers who offered to assist the project.

Unlike Henry Knox in 1775, there were neither draft animals, nor any ship’s tackle heavy enough to move the cannon at San Carlos. Major Sultan estimated each as weighing 3-4 tons, far larger than anyone had anticipated. The guns would have to be moved entirely by hand from the backside of a hill where the fort stood to the shore of Lake Nicaragua “along the narrow causeway leading to the dock.” From there, they could be loaded onto the lake steamer Victoria. Hoping to find a solution Stephen Pell wrote to Major Sultan in June, saying, “I hate to suggest to a military engineer how to handle cannon but we found in some of the old 18th century books on engineering just how they did it 150 years ago. They used a scissors or triangle of three logs with a pulley in the middle, put a chain around the center of the guns and were able to hoist them high enough to load on a gun carriage.

The cannon from Nicaragua are unloaded at the train station near Fort Ticonderoga in the winter of 1930-31, the last leg of their nearly 2,500 mile voyage. Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, 1999.1030.

The Master of the Victoria was concerned the heavy cannon would puncture the hull of his ship and sink it in the middle of the lake. He was finally convinced to ship one cannon at a time. Moving each cannon individually, it took nearly a month for all the guns to cross Lake Nicaragua and arrive at Grenada on the opposite shore. Once there, the guns were laboriously lifted, by hand again, onto dock cars and rolled to the railroad where they were lifted onto full-sized railway cars to ship them to the Pacific coast at Corinto. Sultan informed Pell that, “In looking over the file I find that it has taken some 30 letters, a dozen telegrams and numerous interviews to get the cannon to Corinto.”

By the early 20th century automobiles had replaced draft animals as the sources of horsepower. Other than that the methods might have been familiar to Henry Knox. Collection of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, 1999.1043.

By November, the cannon had traveled nearly 200 miles across Nicaragua. Major Sultan had to write to Pell to ensure he was willing to cover the cost to ship them all the way on to Ticonderoga, an expense of nearly $500, at a time when $50 was an average weekly income for an American worker. Pell wired money to Sultan and by late November of 1930, the cannon would embark on the Panama Mail Steamship Company’s ship Guatemala for New York where they were expected to arrive by December 15.

Arriving in New York, the cannon were shipped by freight train to Ticonderoga. In the middle of winter, the guns were loaded onto heavy carts at Ticonderoga using the 18th-century style gun gins that Pell had described to Sultan that summer. Unlike Knox, Pell used automobiles to haul the carts carrying the guns up the hill to the reconstructed fort, each cannon requiring two trucks. By January 14, 1931 Stephen Pell wrote to the Nicaraguan Legation in the US that the cannon had arrived in Ticonderoga and encouraged a visit to the museum to see the cannon that would be mounted by the summer.

The cannon are still here as reminders of an epic journey halfway across the hemisphere. You can learn more about these and the other cannon in Fort Ticonderoga’s museum collection any time of year through the Fort Ticonderoga mobile app: https://www.fortticonderoga.org/mobileapplication.

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North Country History Day Presented by Fort Ticonderoga on March 3, 2018 “Conflict and Compromise in History”

Fort Ticonderoga will host its National History Day on Saturday, March 3, 2018 in the Mars Education Center. The 2018 theme is “Conflict and Compromise in History.” Students can participate in five categories: historical paper, exhibit, website, documentary, or performance. Students compete in two divisions: Junior (grades 6-8) and Senior (grades 9-12). Six northern New York counties are eligible to participate: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, and Warren.

The first and second place winners in each category and in both divisions advance to the New York State History Day contest in Cooperstown, New York, on Monday, April 23, 2018. The top finishers at the state level advance to the National History Day contest in College Park, Maryland, June 10-14, 2018.

“More than half of a million students from all 50 states participate annually in a program that develops the critical thinking skills necessary for success in today’s business world,” said Rich Strum, Director of Academic Programs at Fort Ticonderoga. “A recent study found that this project-based program has proven benefits such as increased test scores, greater aptitude for reading comprehension, and analytical skills.”

North Country teachers interested in learning more about History Day can contact North Country History Day Coordinator Rich Strum, Director of Academic Programs at Fort Ticonderoga, at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org. 

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo: Students from Gouverneur Middle School participated in North Country History Day held at Fort Ticonderoga in March 2017. North Country students are working on their projects now in preparation for North Country History Day on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at Fort Ticonderoga.

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