Fort Ticonderoga is a major historical site that played an important role in the American Revolutionary War. Since then, the star-shaped fort has become an iconic symbol of victory in United States military history and lives on today as a can’t-miss destination for both learning and leisure!
Want to brush up on your Fort Ticonderoga knowledge before planning your own visit? We have you covered! Here are 7 revolutionary facts about this historic site:
1: The Fort Was Originally a French Stronghold
At the time of the fort’s construction, much of the northern and western part of North America was claimed as “New France.” The governor of the colony, the Marquis de Vaudreuil ordered a new fort to be built at the juncture of Lake Champlain and Lake Geroge. Begun in 1755, construction continued until the fort was captured by the British in 1759.
2: Its First Name was “Fort Carillon”
The fort’s original French name was “Fort Carillon.” The reasoning behind the fort’s name is lost to history. The exact origins of the name are unclear, but at the time the French began building the fortification the area was already known to them as Carillon.
Today, Fort Ticonderoga visitors can schedule a boat tour on our own Carillon – which is named in honor of the site’s original title. During your tour, you will learn more about the rich history of Lake Champlain and the important roles it played in the Revolutionary Era through today, narrated by an onboard guide. You can also charter the Carillon for private events such as school field trips, company events, and weddings.
3: It’s Star Shape was Designed for Defense
The fort was built as a rectangle with diamond shaped projections at each corner, called “bastions”. These features allowed virtually every part of the fort’s walls to be covered by cross fire from other parts of the fort’s walls ensuring maximum protection.
This form of fortifications, with thick walls and angled bastions was developed to resist artillery which was the most powerful weapon system of its time. The resulting star-shaped fortifications are emblematic of the expansion of European empires across the world in the 18th century.
4: Its Location Was Chosen Because of Water
Ticonderoga is a corruption of an Iroquoian word referring to a place where two bodies of water meet together, which is descriptive of its location. The fort’s name has undergone various spellings over its history. From initial construction to the present, the structure and its surrounding area have been referred to as the land between two waters.
Travel by water was the quickest and most efficient mode of transportation before the invention of the automobile. Because of the fort’s proximity to Lake Champlain and Lake George, it was an economically and strategically important location for a military presence.
5: It Served Multiple Armies in Multiple Conflicts
The fort has been used by more than one army in more than one military conflict. The first conflict on the site can be documented all the way back in 1609, but the site was not extensively occupied until the French and Indian War. Here roughly 8,000 French, Canadian, and Native Americans mustered in 1757, and in 1758 French defeated a nearly 16,000 man British army during the Battle of Carillon on July 8.
After the French and Indian War, the British who had captured the fort maintained a small garrison until the Revolutionary War, while the fort itself slowly deteriorated. Captured by Americans early in the Revolutionary War it was held by them for two years before being captured again by the British in 1777, who occupied the fort once more, this time employing German soldiers as well as British.
6: It was Renamed Fort Ticonderoga in 1759
The British finally captured Fort Carillon after the French retreated and destroyed a large part of the fort on July 26, 1759.
The British forces, and the American serving with them, then renamed the site Fort Ticonderoga and maintained it until the Revolutionary War.
7: The Fort Was Captured by American Patriots in 1775
In 1775, Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British. At the time, the fort was manned by a small detachment of British soldiers unaware of the war that had begun just a few weeks earlier.
After the initial capture American troops dramatically re-fortified the surrounding area in 1776, adding miles of fortifications. The British failed to capture the fort in 1776 but returned to lay siege in 1777 and Ticonderoga again fell to the control of the British under General John Burgoyne. Following Burgoyne’s surrender to American General Horatio Gates at Saratoga the British garrison of Fort Ticonderoga abandoned the area and returned to Canada, destroying what they could not take with them.
Fort Ticonderoga’s capture marks the first American victory in the war, valuable not only for its strategic significance, but the artillery it contained was vital to breaking the siege of Boston in 1776.
It Now Brings History to Life as a Major Attraction in Northeast New York
Fort Ticonderoga has been a major tourist attraction since the early 20th century and brings in over 75,000 visitors a year in present day. See living history at its finest and enjoy a fun day of reconnecting with our country’s earliest roots. Walk along where some of the most important events in the American Revolution took place while exploring beautiful gardens, enjoying fresh farm-to-fork dining, and learning through museum exhibits and interactive events.
Fort Ticonderoga is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday with plenty of adventures for all ages! Enjoy insightful and entertaining programs, thrilling weapons demos, premier exhibits, boat cruises, and more!