The Champlain Valley

The Champlain Valley’s waterways have long shaped how people have interacted with the valley, creating opportunities for contact as well as conflict. In 1609, Europeans first entered the region by water, bringing firearms and accelerating cycles of violence and retribution between them and Native nations.
These conflicts culminated by 1755 in the French and Indian War, known globally as the Seven Years’ War. The waterways allowed substantial numbers of soldiers to be brought deep inland, but narrow valleys limited operations, making certain junctures like Ticonderoga incredibly significant. Even after the end of the war in North America in 1760, the military fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point were retained, since they were positioned on the important inland route between provincial capitals in New York and Québec.

The American capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775, dramatically shifted the course of the rebellion. The capture was largely intended to obtain valuable supplies like cannon, but also provided a launching point from which to invade lightly defended Canada. The American invasion of Canada ultimately collapsed, and the Continentals retreated to the heart of the Champlain Valley at Ticonderoga. Here they withstood a British invasion in 1776, preserving the revolutionary cause. In 1777, another British invasion led by General John Burgoyne succeeded in capturing the fortifications. Confident from victory, Burgoyne’s army continued their advance, alarming the broader region and fighting smaller engagements. The British were checked near Stillwater, New York, where two pitched battles, today known as the Battles of Saratoga, were fought in September and October. Extended supply lines, provision shortages, casualties, and a lack of reinforcements forced the British surrender on October 17, 1777.

Despite the surrender at Saratoga, the British retained control of Lake Champlain, even briefly reoccupying Ticonderoga in 1781. Following the war, the status of the region was hardly clear. On the eastern shore was the self-proclaimed Vermont Republic, which had declared a separate independence in 1777. Even after Vermont entered the Union in 1791, the British maintained troops on the lake. On the border between British Canada and the growing United States, the region was again a key theater during the War of 1812, the outcome of which largely settled the international border that still exists today.

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The Champlain Valley’s waterways have long shaped how people have interacted with the valley, creating opportunities for contact as well as conflict. In 1609, Europeans first entered the region by water, bringing firearms and accelerating cycles of violence and retribution between them and Native nations.
These conflicts culminated by 1755 in the French and Indian War, known globally as the Seven Years’ War. The waterways allowed substantial numbers of soldiers to be brought deep inland, but narrow valleys limited operations, making certain junctures like Ticonderoga incredibly significant. Even after the end of the war in North America in 1760, the military fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point were retained, since they were positioned on the important inland route between provincial capitals in New York and Québec.The American capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775, dramatically shifted the course of the rebellion. The capture was largely intended to obtain valuable supplies like cannon, but also provided a launching point from which to invade lightly defended Canada. The American invasion of Canada ultimately collapsed, and the Continentals retreated to the heart of the Champlain Valley at Ticonderoga. Here they withstood a British invasion in 1776, preserving the revolutionary cause. In 1777, another British invasion led by General John Burgoyne succeeded in capturing the fortifications. Confident from victory, Burgoyne’s army continued their advance, alarming the broader region and fighting smaller engagements. The British were checked near Stillwater, New York, where two pitched battles, today known as the Battles of Saratoga, were fought in September and October. Extended supply lines, provision shortages, casualties, and a lack of reinforcements forced the British surrender on October 17, 1777.Despite the surrender at Saratoga, the British retained control of Lake Champlain, even briefly reoccupying Ticonderoga in 1781. Following the war, the status of the region was hardly clear. On the eastern shore was the self-proclaimed Vermont Republic, which had declared a separate independence in 1777. Even after Vermont entered the Union in 1791, the British maintained troops on the lake. On the border between British Canada and the growing United States, the region was again a key theater during the War of 1812, the outcome of which largely settled the international border that still exists today.

Objects in the Champlain Valley case

26th Regiment Pouch Badge and Buttons

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, just three British regiments garrisoned all of the province of Québec, from Québec City’s walls to the Great Lakes. The 26th Regiment of Foot was headquartered in Montréal with detachments posted around the province. A small party from the regiment, barely 50 men with 26 women and children, was stationed at Ticonderoga. They were all captured early in the morning of May 10, 1775,  as just over 80 Americans rushed into the dilapidated fort at Ticonderoga. The attack came without any loss of life but dramatically opened a new front in the Revolutionary War.

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At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, just three British regiments garrisoned all of the province of Québec, from Québec City’s walls to the Great Lakes. The 26th Regiment of Foot was headquartered in Montréal with detachments posted around the province. A small party from the regiment, barely 50 men with 26 women and children, was stationed at Ticonderoga. They were all captured early in the morning of May 10, 1775,  as just over 80 Americans rushed into the dilapidated fort at Ticonderoga. The attack came without any loss of life but dramatically opened a new front in the Revolutionary War.

Restocked Long Land Service Musket

The 26th Regiment was entirely rearmed with new Long Land Service muskets before deploying to North America in 1767. The top of this barrel is engraved with “26th Regt”, clearly indicating it was one of the regiment’s arms. The entire 26th Regiment was captured during the course of 1775 and this particular musket could have been taken at Ticonderoga, Crown Point, St. Jean, or in the final seizure of British troops on the St. Lawrence River near Montréal.

The stock (the wood component) of this musket has been replaced. This suggests that it was captured and used by Americans who kept it in service to meet the desperate need for arms early in the war.

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The 26th Regiment was entirely rearmed with new Long Land Service muskets before deploying to North America in 1767. The top of this barrel is engraved with “26th Regt”, clearly indicating it was one of the regiment’s arms. The entire 26th Regiment was captured during the course of 1775 and this particular musket could have been taken at Ticonderoga, Crown Point, St. Jean, or in the final seizure of British troops on the St. Lawrence River near Montréal.

The stock (the wood component) of this musket has been replaced. This suggests that it was captured and used by Americans who kept it in service to meet the desperate need for arms early in the war.

Portrait Miniature of Gen. John Scott

John Scott (1725-1775) of Balcomie became the colonel of the 26th Regiment of Foot in 1763 after an extensive military career. He had served in the 1st Regiment of Foot and was captured by Jacobites in one of the first engagements of the 1745 Rebellion. He later served in the Foot Guards, achieved the rank of major general in the army, was elected to Parliament, and had a reputation as a keen gambler.

Scott is depicted wearing the yellow facings and silver lace of his 26th Regiment. Most colonels did not accompany their regiments on overseas service, but Colonel Scott traveled to America when the 26th were deployed there in 1767. He returned to England in 1768 while the 26th continued to serve in America. Scott remained the colonel until his death in December of 1775, by which point the entire 26th Regiment had been captured.

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John Scott (1725-1775) of Balcomie became the colonel of the 26th Regiment of Foot in 1763 after an extensive military career. He had served in the 1st Regiment of Foot and was captured by Jacobites in one of the first engagements of the 1745 Rebellion. He later served in the Foot Guards, achieved the rank of major general in the army, was elected to Parliament, and had a reputation as a keen gambler.

Scott is depicted wearing the yellow facings and silver lace of his 26th Regiment. Most colonels did not accompany their regiments on overseas service, but Colonel Scott traveled to America when the 26th were deployed there in 1767. He returned to England in 1768 while the 26th continued to serve in America. Scott remained the colonel until his death in December of 1775, by which point the entire 26th Regiment had been captured.

Letter from Charles Terrot to John Frott, November 13, 1776

After repulsing the American invasion of Canada, British forces counterattacked in the fall of 1776. On October 11, the British met an American fleet on Lake Champlain commanded by General Benedict Arnold. The ensuing cannonading during the Battle of Valcour Island lasted for hours. The Americans received the brunt of the losses and it was known to some as “Arnold’s defeat”.

Charles Terrot, an 18-year-old Royal Artillery lieutenant, witnessed the engagement. In this letter, he describes the battle to a friend in England and includes a map and sketches of the curious American ships he saw.

Although defeated in the first day’s fighting, Arnold slipped away in the night, forcing a running battle until he destroyed the majority of the American fleet and escaped back to Ticonderoga. The British promptly captured Crown Point. Despite the losses, Arnold’s engagement had bought time for the Continental Army to consolidate at Ticonderoga and force the British to retreat before winter, becoming the only American army to hold its ground in 1776, preserving the Revolutionary cause.

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After repulsing the American invasion of Canada, British forces counterattacked in the fall of 1776. On October 11, the British met an American fleet on Lake Champlain commanded by General Benedict Arnold. The ensuing cannonading during the Battle of Valcour Island lasted for hours. The Americans received the brunt of the losses and it was known to some as “Arnold’s defeat”.

Charles Terrot, an 18-year-old Royal Artillery lieutenant, witnessed the engagement. In this letter, he describes the battle to a friend in England and includes a map and sketches of the curious American ships he saw.

Although defeated in the first day’s fighting, Arnold slipped away in the night, forcing a running battle until he destroyed the majority of the American fleet and escaped back to Ticonderoga. The British promptly captured Crown Point. Despite the losses, Arnold’s engagement had bought time for the Continental Army to consolidate at Ticonderoga and force the British to retreat before winter, becoming the only American army to hold its ground in 1776, preserving the Revolutionary cause.

Muskets of the 53rd Regiment of Foot

The 53rd Regiment of Foot was one of the reinforcements ordered from Ireland to Canada in 1776. These muskets are a distinct pattern carried only by this regiment. They were made in Ireland through the Irish Board of Ordnance and issued to the regiment in 1775.

The 53rd Regiment participated in the 1777 invasion of New York under General John Burgoyne. After capturing Ticonderoga on July 6, they continued south until ordered back to the fortress in August. For the rest of the campaign, eight companies remained there to serve as the garrison of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence along with a regiment of German troops from the Duchy of Brunswick.

Three of these four muskets were captured early in the morning of September 18, 1777, when an American militia force appeared out of the morning mist and completely surprised the 53rd’s camp near the Lake George Landing at Ticonderoga. Half the regiment was taken prisoner, and their weapons were immediately taken to arm freed American prisoners.

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The 53rd Regiment of Foot was one of the reinforcements ordered from Ireland to Canada in 1776. These muskets are a distinct pattern carried only by this regiment. They were made in Ireland through the Irish Board of Ordnance and issued to the regiment in 1775.

The 53rd Regiment participated in the 1777 invasion of New York under General John Burgoyne. After capturing Ticonderoga on July 6, they continued south until ordered back to the fortress in August. For the rest of the campaign, eight companies remained there to serve as the garrison of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence along with a regiment of German troops from the Duchy of Brunswick.

Three of these four muskets were captured early in the morning of September 18, 1777, when an American militia force appeared out of the morning mist and completely surprised the 53rd’s camp near the Lake George Landing at Ticonderoga. Half the regiment was taken prisoner, and their weapons were immediately taken to arm freed American prisoners.

Sergeant of Grenadier’s Carbine, Light Infantry, 34th Regiment of Foot

General Horatio Gates’ Continental Army engaged a British army led by General John Burgoyne around John Freeman’s farm near Stillwater, New York on September 19, 1777. Following the battle, both sides began to dig in. On October 7, they fought another pitched battle around nearby Bemis Heights, which shattered British confidence and drove them from key positions. Facing shortages of provisions and with little hope of aid, Burgoyne began to retreat. The heavily-outnumbered British finally surrendered near Saratoga, New York. The surrender was a profound acknowledgement of the Continental Army’s abilities and ultimately provided encouragement for the French to openly declare their alliance with the new United States.

This is a carbine carried by the first sergeant of the Light Infantry Company of the 34th Regiment of Foot. This company was part of General Simon Fraser’s advanced corps and spearheaded the invasion of New York. It was used at Ticonderoga, Hubbardton, Freeman’s Farm, and Bemis Heights before it was stacked on the surrender field at Saratoga.

[2022.1.41]

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General Horatio Gates’ Continental Army engaged a British army led by General John Burgoyne around John Freeman’s farm near Stillwater, New York on September 19, 1777. Following the battle, both sides began to dig in. On October 7, they fought another pitched battle around nearby Bemis Heights, which shattered British confidence and drove them from key positions. Facing shortages of provisions and with little hope of aid, Burgoyne began to retreat. The heavily-outnumbered British finally surrendered near Saratoga, New York. The surrender was a profound acknowledgement of the Continental Army’s abilities and ultimately provided encouragement for the French to openly declare their alliance with the new United States.

This is a carbine carried by the first sergeant of the Light Infantry Company of the 34th Regiment of Foot. This company was part of General Simon Fraser’s advanced corps and spearheaded the invasion of New York. It was used at Ticonderoga, Hubbardton, Freeman’s Farm, and Bemis Heights before it was stacked on the surrender field at Saratoga.

Henry Harnage’s Pistol and Copy of Alexander Pope’s Translation of The Iliad of Homer

Henry Harnage (1739-1826) was the major of the 62nd Regiment of Foot, which was part of John Burgoyne’s British army in 1777. He remained with the regiment at Ticonderoga after its capture until August, when they were relieved by the 53rd Regiment and rejoined the main force. The 62nd Regiment bore the brunt of the September 19, 1777 Battle of Freeman’s Farm. Harnage was dangerously wounded, and his wife, Honour, who had accompanied him into the field, nursed him during the conclusion of the campaign while he was incapacitated.

Taken prisoner, Honour and Henry, still recovering from his wound, spent almost three years in captivity in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Honour, too, became quite ill after a premature delivery and the loss of their child. They persevered, going all the way to General Washington to secure an exchange, and finally returned to England in 1780.

This pistol was part of an elegant brace (a pair) that Harnage owned. His volumes of the Iliad, the epic Greek poem about the lengthy Trojan War, must have carried special significance for him after his ordeal fighting a foreign war and his winding, tortuous path home.

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Henry Harnage (1739-1826) was the major of the 62nd Regiment of Foot, which was part of John Burgoyne’s British army in 1777. He remained with the regiment at Ticonderoga after its capture until August, when they were relieved by the 53rd Regiment and rejoined the main force. The 62nd Regiment bore the brunt of the September 19, 1777 Battle of Freeman’s Farm. Harnage was dangerously wounded, and his wife, Honour, who had accompanied him into the field, nursed him during the conclusion of the campaign while he was incapacitated.

Taken prisoner, Honour and Henry, still recovering from his wound, spent almost three years in captivity in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Honour, too, became quite ill after a premature delivery and the loss of their child. They persevered, going all the way to General Washington to secure an exchange, and finally returned to England in 1780.

This pistol was part of an elegant brace (a pair) that Harnage owned. His volumes of the Iliad, the epic Greek poem about the lengthy Trojan War, must have carried special significance for him after his ordeal fighting a foreign war and his winding, tortuous path home.

Simon Fraser’s copy of the Chevalier de Clairac’s The Field Engineer and an engraving of Brigadier General Simon Fraser

Like many Scots, Simon Fraser’s (1729-1777) military career began in the Scotch Brigade of the Dutch Army during the War of the Austrian Succession (1742-48). He later served in the 78th (Fraser’s) Highlanders during the French and Indian War.

Dispatched to North America again in 1776, Fraser fought the Americans at the Battle of Trois-Rivières in 1776 and was tasked with leading the advanced guard of British General John Burgoyne’s invasion of New York in 1777. During the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7, 1777, he was shot while directing his forces. Fraser died the following day. His body was carried to a nearby hill, where it was interred that evening as American shot and shell flew around the funeral party.

This translation of a French field engineering manual was found in the baggage of the British Army as they retreated. It bears Simon Fraser’s bookplate with his rank of lieutenant colonel in the 24th Regiment of Foot, which he led to America in 1776.

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Like many Scots, Simon Fraser’s (1729-1777) military career began in the Scotch Brigade of the Dutch Army during the War of the Austrian Succession (1742-48). He later served in the 78th (Fraser’s) Highlanders during the French and Indian War.

Dispatched to North America again in 1776, Fraser fought the Americans at the Battle of Trois-Rivières in 1776 and was tasked with leading the advanced guard of British General John Burgoyne’s invasion of New York in 1777. During the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7, 1777, he was shot while directing his forces. Fraser died the following day. His body was carried to a nearby hill, where it was interred that evening as American shot and shell flew around the funeral party.

This translation of a French field engineering manual was found in the baggage of the British Army as they retreated. It bears Simon Fraser’s bookplate with his rank of lieutenant colonel in the 24th Regiment of Foot, which he led to America in 1776.

Private John Blundell’s Discharge

At the age of 19, John Blundell, a shoemaker from Dublin, Ireland, enlisted in the British Army’s 9th Regiment of Foot. He accompanied them to Canada in 1776 and on General John Burgoyne’s 1777 invasion of New York. During the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7, 1777, John’s skull was fractured. However, he survived the battle and remained with the regiment, eventually returning to England. Near the end of the war, in August of 1783, he was discharged from the army on account of his wound and recommended for the benefits of Chelsea Hospital. The Royal Military Hospital at Chelsea was one of the very few ways the state provided for veterans. Blundell appeared before the Hospital’s board in 1784 and received an out-pension, providing him with a small but regular amount of money to augment what he could earn. Despite his wound and his pension, Blundell reenlisted in the army in the 1790s, ultimately serving a little over four years before being discharged again in 1796.

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At the age of 19, John Blundell, a shoemaker from Dublin, Ireland, enlisted in the British Army’s 9th Regiment of Foot. He accompanied them to Canada in 1776 and on General John Burgoyne’s 1777 invasion of New York. During the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7, 1777, John’s skull was fractured. However, he survived the battle and remained with the regiment, eventually returning to England. Near the end of the war, in August of 1783, he was discharged from the army on account of his wound and recommended for the benefits of Chelsea Hospital. The Royal Military Hospital at Chelsea was one of the very few ways the state provided for veterans. Blundell appeared before the Hospital’s board in 1784 and received an out-pension, providing him with a small but regular amount of money to augment what he could earn. Despite his wound and his pension, Blundell reenlisted in the army in the 1790s, ultimately serving a little over four years before being discharged again in 1796.

Engraving titled Le General Gates

General Horatio Gates (1727-1806) was one of many former British officers who served in the Continental Army. Born in England, Gates served in America during the French and Indian War, but the end of the war ended his hopes of further promotion and he emigrated to America. Joining the revolutionary cause, he was the first adjutant general of the Continental Army. In 1776, he took command at Fort Ticonderoga and oversaw the training of the American forces that successfully prevented a British attack that October. He resumed command in northern New York in August of 1777, and with the energetic field command of Benedict Arnold, led the army to victory at Saratoga. The British surrender at Saratoga would remain his greatest accomplishment, especially after a failed plan to replace General Washington and a catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina in 1780 dimmed his legacy.

This print is not an accurate rendering of General Gates, but actually a copy of a 1776 portrait of General David Wooster! Designed for a Continental European market, it reveals how much Europeans craved images from the ongoing American Revolution, whether accurate or not. The text on the print refers to Gates’ greatest accomplishment, the British surrender at Saratoga.

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General Horatio Gates (1727-1806) was one of many former British officers who served in the Continental Army. Born in England, Gates served in America during the French and Indian War, but the end of the war ended his hopes of further promotion and he emigrated to America. Joining the revolutionary cause, he was the first adjutant general of the Continental Army. In 1776, he took command at Fort Ticonderoga and oversaw the training of the American forces that successfully prevented a British attack that October. He resumed command in northern New York in August of 1777, and with the energetic field command of Benedict Arnold, led the army to victory at Saratoga. The British surrender at Saratoga would remain his greatest accomplishment, especially after a failed plan to replace General Washington and a catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina in 1780 dimmed his legacy.

This print is not an accurate rendering of General Gates, but actually a copy of a 1776 portrait of General David Wooster! Designed for a Continental European market, it reveals how much Europeans craved images from the ongoing American Revolution, whether accurate or not. The text on the print refers to Gates’ greatest accomplishment, the British surrender at Saratoga.

To view more information about the objects in this exhibit, visit the Ticonderoga Online Collections Database!