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Of Love, Duty, and Affection

Our team spends a lot of time talking about the power of Fort Ticonderoga’s stories. Fort Ticonderoga’s history is epic and pivotal in the French & Indian War and American Revolution. It was the key to the continent. It is also the site of landmark preservation and heritage tourism in the 19th century and monumental restoration in the 20th century.

This letter written by Alexander Scammell to Naby Bishop in 1777 is owned by the Fort Ticonderoga Museum
This letter written by Alexander Scammell to Naby Bishop in 1777 is owned by the Fort Ticonderoga Museum

As you pull back the curtain on the broad historical (and powerful!) themes, you will find very personal and intimate stories. Stories that highlight emotions that transcend time and connect us as people to the past to those who loved, struggled, hoped, and sacrificed.

In the spirit of Valentines Day here is a love letter written by Alexander Scammell to his love Naby Bishop in 1777 from Ticonderoga. Scammell shares his deep affection with Naby, his longing desire to be with her, and his devotion to his country in the fight for liberty.

Scammel was born in Mendon, Massachusetts in 1747, was a Harvard educated attorney, and an officer in the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. He was wounded on September 30, 1781 near Yorktown and died on October 6 in Williamsburg, Virginia making him the highest ranking American officer killed at the siege of Yorktown.

June 8th 1777

My Dearest Naby,
After a very severe march one hundred miles of the way on foot, through the woods in an excessive miry Road, wet, rainy weather accompanied with Snow and Hail, I arrived the 20th of May at Ticonderoga. Am now stationed at what is called the French Lines, where the British army last war met with such a fatal defeat, and lost so many men and if they make an attempt upon us in the same place I nothing doubt we shall be able by the smiles of superintendant Providence to give them as fatal an overthrow—Our men are well supplied, and I am of opinion will behave well—The blood of our murdered countrymen cry for Vengeance on those British villains and I hope we shall be the just Instruments of revenge. Though I should much rather be able to retire to enjoy the sweets of Liberty and domestic happiness, but more especially the pleasing Charms of your dear Company. But as long as my Country demands my utmost Exertions, I must devote myself, entirely to its Service –though and worthy sett of Officers—But my men are undisciplined, they are exposed to severe Duty, many of them sick and put poorly covered. They look up to me as a common father, and you may well Judge of my disagreeable sensations, when I am unable to afford them, or procure wherewithal to make them comfortable. However, I shall endeavor to do all that I can for them, and if possible make them pay me ready and implicit Obedience, through Love and Affection, rather than through Fear and Dread. We at present have a very agreeable & healthy Situation—In good Spirits, and have good provisions—And hope early next Fall or Winter to do myself the pleasure of waiting upon you at Mystic unless you should forbid it. The tender moments which we have spent together still, and ever will remain fresh in my memory—You are ever present in my enraptured heart– & a mutual return of Affection from you I find more and more necessary to my Happiness—cherish the Love my dearest Naby, which you have so generously professed for me – Although I am far distant from you, still remember that I am your constant, and most affectionate admirer—I should have wrote you sooner, but being ordered upon the disagreeable Command of sitting as president of a General Court Martial to try men for their Lives, many of which have justly forfeited them and to try several Villains who have attempted to spread small Pox —I assure you that it is a most trying Birth, and has worried my mind more than any command I was ever upon—But hope I shall ever be able to discharge my Duty in such a manner as never to be subject to any and this is the first opportunity I had of writing to you—I hope therefore that you will not impute any neglect to me but ever consider me unalterably thine –My Lovely Girl, write every Opportunity to

Your Alexander Scammell

Write to me every Opportunity Miss Naby Bishop

P.S. I long for the time when through you I can send my dutiful regards to you honored parents by the tender Name of Father & Mother
June 23rd, 1777

I congratulate you upon the Cause of your Fear being removed as Burgoyne is going to attack Ticonderoga & not Boston –I hope we shall be able to keep him off.

Writen by Beth Hill, President and CEO, Fort Ticonderoga