Highlighted programming throughout the day will immerse visitors in the daily life of December 1775 at Ticonderoga. Watch as soldiers work as carpenters to maintain the fort structure. See horsepower, ox-power, and manpower in action to move, test, and load cannon and learn how this process was vital for weapons destined for the siege of Boston. Examine the science of gunnery, preserved in Fort Ticonderoga’s massive cannon and manuscript collection. Explore the lives and labor of women here at this frontier post on Lake Champlain. Stand inside Fort Ticonderoga on the very spot where Henry Knox began his Noble Train of Artillery.
In addition, a one-day exhibit will reconstruct the reading list Henry Knox prepared in 1776 drawn from Fort Ticonderoga’s rich collection of rare books. Before setting out for Ticonderoga, John Adams inquired of Henry Knox what books he recommended American officers should read to learn the art of war. Knox’s reply had to wait until he completed his expedition but revealed his breadth of knowledge and printed military culture of the Atlantic World.
Knox’s list includes French and British authors and covered topics such as artillery, fortifications, and engineering that he felt were “necessary for a people struggling for Liberty and Empire.” The exhibit will bring together nearly all the titles Knox recommended.
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The siege of Boston, April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776 was the opening phase of the American Revolutionary War in which New England militiamen, who later became part of the Continental Army, surrounded the town of Boston, Massachusetts, to prevent movement by the British Army garrisoned within. In November 1775, Washington sent a 25 year-old bookseller-turned-soldier, Henry Knox, to bring heavy artillery that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. Knox knew the challenge before him as he wrote to George Washington on December 5, 1775.
The garrison at Ticonderoga is so weak, the conveyance from the fort to the landing is so difficult, the passage across the lake so precarious, that I am afraid it will be ten days at least before I can get them on this side. When they are here, the conveyance from hence will depend entirely on the sledding; if that is wood, they shall immediately move forward; without sledding, the roads are so much gullied that it will be impossible to move a step.
In a technically complex and demanding operation, Knox began the “Noble Train” in December 1775 at Ticonderoga and carried sixty tons of artillery through the dead of winter to Boston in just forty days. In March 1776, these artillery pieces were used to fortify Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston and its harbor and threatening the British naval supply lifeline. The British commander William Howe, realizing he could no longer hold the town, chose to evacuate it. He withdrew the British forces, departing on March 17, for Halifax, Nova Scotia thus giving Washington his first great victory of the war.
Fort Ticonderoga is the location of the first Knox Trail marker in the Knox cannon trail that traces the route of the Noble Train. The Fort Ticonderoga Museum owns 2 original artillery pieces that made the epic journey in the winter of 1776.