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Exploring Life on and Around Lake Champlain
Posted May 25, 2012 – 9:18am by Eric_LaMontagne
Off the Lake Champlain shore in Rouses Point, NY, where Fort Montgomery currently stands, is the site of a big mistake.
It was 1816 and Canada was still under British control. American troops were coming off of their victory at The Battle of Plattsburgh two years earlier and had started to think about how they could protect themselves from future aggression out of the North. Island Point has been identified as a key strategic area for the US military due to its proximity to the Richelieu River and the relative narrowness of the lake. It became a priority of President James Monroe that a fort be erected there to ward off further confrontation. Construction soon started on an enormous, octagon-shaped fort with 30-foot tall walls.
In the fall of 1818, after only two years of construction, President Monroe paid the site a visit and to check in with the Joseph Totten, the site supervisor. Despite the great progress with the construction, it was soon discovered that the fort had been placed a little too far north. New survey standards revealed the site was nearly a mile north of the boarder, putting it solidly on Canadian ground!
The site was immediately abandoned. Materials from the partially-built building were left to be scavenged by impoverished residents for their own needs. The lifespan of the fort was so short that it never even got to the stage of being named. Records only refer to it as The Fort, The Works, or The Battery at Rouse’s Point. As a salute to this monument to poor-planning, the site soon became widely known as “Fort Blunder.”
The site stayed empty for 27 years. In 1844, two years after British Canada ceded the land to the US as part of the Webster-Ashburn Treat of 1842, the US government began construction of a new fort on the strategic location. After roughly 30 years of construction, the still-standing Fort Montgomery was completed.
Note: This is what Fort Montgomery looks like today >>