Category Archives: History

Rare French and Indian War Era Musket Donated to Fort Ticonderoga

(Ticonderoga, NY)  Through the keen eye of a museum supporter and generosity of an important donor, a rare British musket that may have seen use at Fort Ticonderoga has recently joined the museum’s collection enabling Fort Ticonderoga to more completely interpret the site’s remarkable history.

Wilson-Musket donated to Fort Ticonderoga


Fort Ticonderoga’s Curator of Collections, Christopher Fox said “The donation of this Wilson musket fills an important and long-standing gap in the collection.  It is a type we know was used by troops who served at the Fort.  It is also an important reminder of the struggles armies sometimes faced in arming their troops in wartime and the great diversity of arms that found their way into military service as a result.”

The Wilson musket will be placed on exhibit this season in the museum’s highly acclaimed exhibit Bullets & Blades: The Weapons of America’s Colonial Wars and Revolution. The exhibit, featuring over 150 weapons, tells the story of the use of military and civilian weapons in America during the 17th and 18th centuries. Fort Ticonderoga’s collection of 18th-century military objects is celebrated as one of the best of its type in the world.

During the French & Indian War, the London gun maker Richard Wilson produced muskets to arm the militias of several American colonies including New York, New Jersey, probably Massachusetts.  Though they bear similarities to muskets produced for the British army, the weapons produced by Richard Wilson are not “army” muskets, they are “commercial” or “contract” muskets.”  Their brass parts, stocks, and barrels resemble British army guns, but are simpler and lighter overall.  Of the estimated 4,000 contract weapons that may have been produced by Wilson, only a handful has survived through today.

The potential connection with Fort Ticonderoga’s history stretches back to the British army’s planned invasion of Canada and the disastrous attack on the French lines on July 8, 1758.  As British General James Abercromby was preparing his 17,000-man army, he had considerable difficulty obtaining enough weapons to arm his troops.  Among the weapons he was eventually able to acquire were 1,000 muskets owned by the City of New York.  These weapons had originally been purchased by the city from Richard Wilson in 1755.  While it is not known with absolute certainty, it is thought that at least some of those weapons were issued to New York Provincial troops.  Many of those troops took part in the battle before the French lines on July 8.  It is known, however, that many of Wilson’s muskets were used at Ticonderoga as numerous brass pieces of these guns have been recovered on the site during various periods of reconstruction.

About FORT TICONDEROGA:  America’s Fort ™

Located on Lake Champlain in the beautiful 6 million acre Adirondack Park, Fort Ticonderoga is a not-for-profit historic site and museum that ensures that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history. Serving the public since 1909, Fort Ticonderoga engages more than 70,000 visitors annually and is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Fort Ticonderoga’s history.  Accredited by the American Association of Museums, Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, historic interpretation, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year and is open for daily visitation May 17 through October 20, 2013. The 2013 season features the Fort’s newest exhibit “It would make a heart of stone melt” Sickness, Injury, and Medicine at Fort Ticonderoga which explores early medical theory, practice, and experience as each relates to the armies that served at Fort Ticonderoga in the 18th century.  Visit for a full list of ongoing programs or call 518-585-2821. Fort Ticonderoga is located at 100 Fort Ti Road, Ticonderoga, New York.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Photo:  Wilson Musket, Fort Ticonderoga Museum Collection.

Evacuation Day 1776: Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Fever Series Program at Fort Ticonderoga: March 17th

Fort Ticonderoga’s Fort Fever Series continues on Sunday, March 17, at 2 pm with “Evacuation Day 1776” presented by Director of Education Rich Strum. The cost is $10 per person and will be collected at the door; free for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga.

Evacuation Day 1776: Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga boasts one of North America’s largest 18th century artillery collections including 2 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga that were hauled by Henry Knox to Boston in the winter of 1776

While March 17 is widely celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day, it is officially known as “Evacuation Day” in Boston. On March 17, 1776, the British evacuated Boston after a months-long siege by the Continental Army under the command of General George Washington. Evacuation Day commemorates that pivotal turning point in the early years of the Revolution.

“The presentation traces the growing confrontation between colonists and the British government through the 1760s and early 1770s, including the Stamp Act Crisis, the Boston “Massacre,” and the Boston Tea Party,” said Rich Strum, Director of Education. “Even before fighting erupted in Lexington and Concord in 1775, Boston was in essence an occupied city, with British troops patrolling the streets.”

Shortly after the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord, the rebels under General Artemas Ward and then General George Washington surrounded the city of Boston, bottling up the British on the Boston peninsula. The siege was not broken until Washington had artillery placed on Dorchester heights—artillery that had come from Ticonderoga through the herculean efforts of Henry Knox earlier in the winter. Finally, on March 17, 1776, the Royal Navy evacuated British troops and loyal subjects. Boston was in Patriot hands.

This program takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. The doors open at 1:30 pm, with the program commencing at 2 pm and lasting approximately an hour.

A final program in the Fort Fever Series, entitled “Very Well Prepared for the British Army,” is scheduled for April 21 and includes a site walk with Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Interpretation, Stuart Lilie. Visit and select the “Explore and Learn” tab to learn more.


Located on Lake Champlain in the beautiful 6 million acre Adirondack Park, Fort Ticonderoga is a not-for-profit historic site and museum that ensures that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history. Serving the public since 1909, Fort Ticonderoga engages more than 70,000 visitors annually and is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Fort Ticonderoga’s history. Accredited by the American Association of Museums, Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, historic interpretation, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year and is open for daily visitation May 17 through October 20, 2013. The 2013 season features the Fort’s newest exhibit “It would make a heart of stone melt” Sickness, Injury, and Medicine at Fort Ticonderoga which explores early medical theory, practice, and experience as each relates to the armies that served at Fort Ticonderoga in the 18th century. Visit for a full list of ongoing programs or call 518-585-2821. Fort Ticonderoga is located at 100 Fort Ti Road, Ticonderoga, New York.

America’s Fort is a registered trademark of the Fort Ticonderoga Association.

Amanda Medina
Communication Specialist
Work 518.472.0060 /

Raising Montcalm’s Cross at Fort Ticonderoga

Raising Montcalm’s Cross at Fort Ticonderoga

Originally posted on January 2, 2013 by Fort Ticonderoga

Young and old are fascinated by great battles in history.  In addition to these generic themes of the roar of cannons, musketry, and grim statistics, every battle has a unique story. It is these unique stories that have filled the imaginations of armchair generals and casual history buffs alike for centuries.  Fort Ticonderoga has been remembered, preserved, and restored because its grounds hosted five great battles in the course of two wars. In the process of planning a living history event to recreate these battles and wars, our goal is to bring the unique story of each encounter to life.

Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga

This summer’s upcoming ‘Montcalm’s Cross’ event is going to tell the story of the July, 8th 1758 Battle of Carillon. Unprecedented in military casualties in North America to that time, this battle made Ticonderoga a household name. The recreation of this battle is nothing new. Less than three months later it was re-enacted back in France in front of the Paris city hall. Two hundred and fifty-five years later, when bringing this story to life, there are a lot of factors to consider for the visitors of Fort Ticonderoga. The history of the battle and the unique narrative of its events and characters is a basic starting point. But to ensure that participants and visitors alike have an enjoyable and engaging experience, we have to broaden our planning. The battle will be recreated predominantly by re-enactors, dedicated historians who volunteer to recreate historic events. We have to take into account what is feasible to ask of these valuable volunteers. In addition, there are the various safety, comfort, and educational considerations for visitors coming to enjoy and engage in the living history event. The history of the battle and timeline of the event only tell a part of the story. In order to make the experience for visitors and participant as enjoyable and engaging as possible, we seek to recreate not only the basic facts, but the visceral details of the battle. To this end, one of the key considerations in re-enactment will be the setting of this important battle.

By July of 1758, Fort Carillon sat on a cleared tip of the Ticonderoga peninsula that was otherwise surrounded by virgin forest. These trees were tremendously old, so tall and large that they blocked most the light that could filter down to the forest floor. This prevented the usual growth of dense underbrush as with many secondary growth forests in the Northeast today. Most of the woods around this isolated Fort were surprisingly open inside, though the trees themselves were dense enough to obscure one’s view beyond thirty to fifty yards. In fact, French engineer Michele Chartier de Lotbineire described the density of these old growth trees as the cause of placing the Fort west of its initial design. The immediate area of the Fort had been cleared for almost three years by 1758, with the foundation of the fort itself blasted flat by French soldiers beginning in 1756. Therefore, the mown grass surrounding the present day Fort is not too far off the historical reality for 1758.

The Saturday of this two-day living history event will feature the skirmish that erupted as the British advanced from Lake George landing through the LeChute valley towards Ticonderoga. For our visitors attending the entire weekend of events, this will create two distinct days, both telling essential pieces of the story of the Battle of Carillon. Portraying the story of this skirmish is important to understanding the assault on the heights of Carillon. It was in this encounter that Brigadier General Lord Howe, darling of the British Army, was killed undermining British morale and command. This skirmish took place in the heavily forested landscape that dominated the LeChute Valley. To recreate this skirmish we are searching for a location on the site that has that same setting of dense forest. While trying to find a place on the landscape that has that same look, we have to take in to consideration that our visitors have the ability to get there and see what’s going on. They need to be comfortable and not in any actual danger while watching this recreation. Ideally, we are hoping to locate our visitors under the cover of the forest canopy. In this July event, the shade will be a welcome comfort and the perfect place to be immersed in this ancient forest landscape. Standing in amongst tree trunks, visitors can imagine taking shelter from buckshot and bullets, only to rush forward or retreat to the next.

For Sunday, our goal is to recreate the July 8th  direct assault on the heights of Carillon. The real battle of Carillon took place on the rise one mile to the west of the Fort. That hilltop, until a matter of hours before the battle, was still the old growth, virgin forest. The Marquis de Montcalm ordered his soldiers to entrench on that hillside, clearing off the forest for about a 100 yard radius around the top of the high ground. They used the trees they cut down to build the breastwork, their defensive position. Logs were stacked eight feet high, and one half mile long, zigzagging around the heights of Carillon to give intersecting fire against their British assailants. The tops of the trees were arrayed out thirty yards in front with the sharpened branches facing outwards, acting almost like barbed wire. Given the size and age of the trees used, this abatis hid the log breastwork from view.

Though we have the advantage of recreating the Battle of Carillon at the original location, using the actual battlefield itself is not an option. It is an archaeologically sensitive location and we hold our mission of preservation of these historic grounds equal to our mission of education about them. We have to find a place on the landscape where we can create the overall appearance of the Heights of Carillon on that day in July, 1758. Since the French lines were constructed rapidly right before the battle, the area around it was an open landscape of pine needles and leaves dotted by rocks and the remaining stumps from the cleared forest. The grounds for the re-created battle should capture the feel of the real setting. We cannot recreate the full half-mile of the French lines; it would take an army to do so. What we can do is recreate a representative section of the French lines, but have them be as visually faithful to our best understanding of the historic battlefield.

The Abatis of Fort Ticonderoga

The Abatis of Fort Ticonderoga by Rob Shenk

In so doing, we will reuse segments of the eight-foot high log breastwork that were recreated for the 250th anniversary of the battle. These were put together with the effort of many volunteers and have weathered the five years since then in surprisingly good shape. We will restore those segments to recreate a part of the French lines, but we want to move them up to the crest of the hill, which better matches the natural rise of the placement of the actual historic French lines.

Another key aspect of these recreated French lines is the abatis: the tree tops intertwined together, with sharpened branches pointed out in front of the breastwork. Historically, they served as a barbed-wire like barrier to that log breastwork, but they also visually screened the breastwork from the opposing forces. Overall, in recreating the French lines, visitors and participants alike should be able to see a log breastwork, screened by sharpened tree tops, overlooking about 100 yards of dead, barren, no-man’s land. In this way we can, in terms of setting, capture the real drama of that 1758 battle.

As with the skirmish that caused the death of Lord Howe, to portray the actual assault on the French lines, we have to consider where visitors will be. And this question certainly has the same considerations of comfort, safety, and accessibility. In addition, the location for viewing the battle is important in what part of the story we’re trying to tell. Placing visitors looking down from the French lines, just by the nature of where they are, tells the story from a very French perspective. Visitors would see wave after wave of British and provincial soldiers rushing up towards the French soldiers protected by the breastwork. They would feel the immediacy of the French firing as fast as they can to maintain their position and their lives. Conversely, placing visitors down far below the French lines outside this dead, no-man’s land space, lends itself to a more British or provincial perspective. Visitors would see in close detail the restless moments for British and provincial soldiers before they rush out into this open killing field. Visitors would look up at the worried faces of American provincials pinned down by fire from the French soldiers, huddling behind the stumps and rocks, anxiously awaiting nightfall. Still another option is to place viewing along a line perpendicular to the recreated French lines. In this way we would create a cross-sectional view to see the anatomy and the mechanics of the French victory and British defeat.

All these considerations go into telling the story of the 1758 Battle of Carillon at this summer’s, “Montcalm’s Cross,” event. As we figure out the best way to capture the visceral details of this great piece of history, we could not be more excited to have the opportunity to bring the stories of struggle and sacrifice of the individual soldiers to life.

The Raising Montcalm’s Cross at Fort Ticonderoga event will take place July 20-21, 2013

Fort Crown Point

1759, Essex County, Crown Point, New York

Barracks at Fort Crown Point

Barracks at Fort Crown Point


General Jeffrey Amherst began building the fortress in 1759. This impressive fort, when completed and garrisoned, was seven times the size of the old French fort on the site (Fort St. Frederic), and was the largest British fortress in colonial America. The main fort was pentagon shaped with bastions situated at each point. Located inside the fortress were a number of stone barracks and officer’s quarters.

Earthen ramparts faced with logs, ditches and cleared fields of fire covered about seven acres and mounted 105 cannons. The entire fortification complex, including redoubts, blockhouses and redans, covered over 3.5 square miles. Located to the East was Grenadiers Redoubt, to the South East was the Light Infantry of Regiment’s Redoubt, and to the South West was General Gages’ Redoubt.

A major fire destroyed much of the fort in April 1773. During the Revolutionary War, General Benedict Arnold made repairs and used some of the barracks. American troops occupied the Grenadier’s Redoubt and constructed another small fortification in that area.


Fort St. Frederic:

Strategic location of Fort Crown Point

Strategic location of Fort Crown Point


In 1734 France began construction of a fort at Crown Point; this was the first substantial fortification in the Champlain Valley.

From 1734-1755 France maintained complete control of the Champlain Valley. Fort St. Frederic controlled the narrows between Crown Point on what is now the New York side of Lake Champlain and Chimney Point in what is now Addison, Vermont.

Charles de Beauhamois, Governor of New France (Canada), actively encouraged settlement around Fort St. Frederic, and created a French community around the fort. This combined military and civilian presence blocked British expansion. In 1759 about 12,000 British regulars and provincial troops captured the fort. Following the French retreat from Crown Point in 1759, General Amherst embarked upon an ambitions plan to secure the area for Britain.


Fort Crown Point:

Fort Crown Point

Fort Crown Point


The British immediately began construction of “His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point,” as well as three redoubts and a series of blockhouses and redans, all interconnected by a network of roads. The fortification complex covered over three and one-half square miles, making it one of the most ambitious military engineering projects undertaken by the British in colonial North America.

An elaborate system of fortifications was begun on the point. At times, as many as 3000 soldiers and artisans were engaged in the construction of Fort Crown Point, three smaller forts, called redoubts, several block houses, store houses, gardens and military roads. A village grew up close to the Fort wall with a tavern, store, apothecary shop, and the home of soldiers families and retired officers.

When control of Canada passed to Britain, at the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, construction ceased leaving one barracks building unfinished. Lake Champlain became a vital highway linking two diverse regions of British North America. Crown Point, located midway between Albany and Montreal, became the center of communication between New York and Canada.

In April 1773, a chimney fire spread from the soldier’s barracks on the log walls of the fort and resulted in the explosion of the powder magazine and the virtual destruction of the main fort.

Troop strength at Crown Point was gradually reduced until only a small garrison remained to surrender the fort to American rebel troops commanded by Seth Warner in May of 1775.


Fort Crown Point during the American Revolution:


At the outbreak of the American Revolution, the rebellious colonists looked to Crown Point to aid their cause.

The surrender of Fort Crown Point to American rebel troops commanded by Seth Warner in May of 1775 yielded 114 pieces of cannon and heavy ordnance sorely needed by the Americans. Colonel Henry Knox carried twenty-nine of these to Boston during that winter to force the British out of the city.

On May 23, 1775, Fort Crown Point was the meeting place for Ethan Allen, the Green Mountain Boys, Benedict Arnold and his small American Navy. Ethan Allen was returning from an attempted penetration of Canada, but was driven out by British troops. A month later, the British would take Allen prisoner in another unsuccessful attempt. Benedict Arnold and his navy would assume control of Crown Point and Lake Champlain. A month later, he would relinquish it to General Philip Schuyler’s Northern Department of the Continental Army in a dispute over control.

In the fall of 1775, Schuyler and his army embarked from Crown Point with 1,700 troops for another attempt to conquer Canada. Beaten, they returned from Quebec in June 1776, to lie in makeshift hospitals at Crown Point.

In May 1775, Seth Warner’s American Forces captured the fort and Crown Point became a springboard for an invasion of Canada. General Richard Montgomery’s force sailed down the lake in August 1775. Despite initial success in Montreal, the combined forces of Montgomery and Benedict Arnold were defeated at Quebec in December 1775. They retreated in disarray, riddled with smallpox, to Crown Point. Men died by the hundreds in makeshift field hospitals and were buried in mass graves.

In the fall of 1776, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Hartley and the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment heard the sounds of the naval engagement at Valcour Island from their entrenchments at Crown Point. The American Navy, once again led by Benedict Arnold, ambushed the British Naval Force, but was eventually forced to retreat down Lake Champlain. The regiment at Crown Point also retreated southward to Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence.

While Arnold directed the construction of a Naval Squadron in the summer of 1776. Tripps fortified Crown Point in preparation of an expected British attack. Not until Arnold’s squadron was badly beaten at the battle of Valcour Island in October did the last American troops abandon Crown Point to occupy Mount Independence overlooking Fort Ticonderoga.

Crown Point was a staging area for the British in both 1776 and 1777. After the Americans abandoned Crown Point, the British assembled their troops here. Delayed by the American Navy, Sir Guy Carleton arrived here with his troops in October of 1776, but retreated north for the winter shortly thereafter. British General John Burgoyne’s army arrived here in June of 1777. Crown Point remained under British control until the end of the war.

The last major action to involve Crown Point was Burgoyne’s expedition in 1777. As support for his advancing army, a hospital was erected, a garrison of 200 men, was left at Crown Point that summer. Despite Burgoyne’s defeat at Saratoga, the British retained absolute control of Lake Champlain with the garrison at Crown Point for the remainder of the war. Their ships cruised regularly between Crown Point and the naval shipyard at St. Jean. Crown Point did not return to American control until after the Peace Treaty in 1783.


Fort Ticonderoga Launches Teacher Institute

Fort Ticonderoga Launches Teacher Institute

Fort Ticonderoga Launches Teacher Institute

The Fort Ticonderoga Teacher Institute is a significant and new educational initiative underway in 2013 as Fort Ticonderoga extends its reach and educational impact through a variety of new programs this year.
The focus of the 2013 Institute is “Benedict Arnold” and will accommodate 24 teachers for a week-long exploration of Arnold’s career during the early years of the American Revolution and how it connects to Fort Ticonderoga and the Revolution on the Northern Frontier.
Applications are now being accepted from educators to participate in the week-long program and are due on March 1. The Teacher Institute will be held July 7-12 at Fort Ticonderoga.

A Very Old, New Look at New France from Fort Ticonderoga

A Very Old, New Look at New France

Originally posted on January 30, 2013 by Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga

The memoirs of Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac provide a window into the Champlain Valley in 1755.

For the 2013 visitor season we are really excited to portray Fort Ticonderoga in its naissance back in 1755. Looking at the transformation of a French army camp at Carillon into a fortified outpost is a great opportunity to talk about the origins and early days of the French & Indian war. Focusing on 1755 also presents a great chance to look around and explore New France and the Champlain valley with all its natural beauty and peoples at that time. This season Fort Ticonderoga’s costumed staff of interpreters will be portraying soldiers from the Languedoc infantry regiment of the French army. We chose this particular unit partly because it was one of the first military units to garrison Carillon, and partly because of a wonderful diary from the regiment.

Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac was a very young second Lieutenant when he arrived in Quebec. His wide eyed enthusiasm and sense of adventure is apparent even in his terse diary entry:

June 27th 1755, 2:30 in the afternoon, we disembarked at Quebec very eager to put our feet on solid ground and look at the settlers of the new world.

By the time he actually set foot in the New World he had already had a chance to see some of the exotic sites and wild life of the North Atlantic. On the 28th of May he saw his first icebergs, which he described as, “mountains covered in snow: they appeared twice as large as a Ship of the Line.” He noted with glee as the naval gunners on board his ship, the Lys, fired cannon shots at these icebergs to no effect.  While sailing across the Atlantic Ocean he also first experienced some of the wildlife in the New World. D’Aleyrac grew up in the town of Saint-Pierreville, in the foothills of the Alps, eating salted codfish on Catholic fast days. He proudly ate his first fresh codfish pulled from the waters Grand Banks on June 7th, 1755. Waterfowl, which he called, “hapefoys,” received a similar treatment as the icebergs dodging barrages of buckshot as they flew over from the ship’s deck.

Once in Canada, Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac carefully noted the geography and landscape around him. He summed up Canada as, “a vast forest interspersed by an infinite number of strong wide rivers, filed with rapids. “ Traversing this vast country by river appears to have been a large part of his experience defending New France as he described in some detail the difficulties in moving by bateau:

Fort Ticonderoga

These flat bottomed wooden boats were the primary means of transportation on both sides during the French & Indian War.

These rapids are very dangerous to descend, whether by the presence of vortexes, or rocks that strike the bottom or overturn the bateaux. In addition, ordinarily the shock means one loads the boats lighter and use three to four additional men to steer. The rest followed along the river while the rapids’ height exceeded what you could pass. Ascending these rivers is no less difficult: not only do you unload the bateaux, but sometimes you must pull it with ropes, what is called pulling, “a la cordelle.” To pull a bateaux, you ordinarily have twenty to thirty people; to climb little rapids one simply needs to stand and pole the river bottom with a large pole. We were still obliged to carry the boats when climbing or descending rapids, because the least rock was enough to pierce the boat.

Hundreds of soldiers in the Languedoc regiment faced these exact difficulties as they ascended the rapids on the Richeleau River on their trip to Carillon in 1755.

The experiences and impressions of soldiers like Lieutenant d’Aleyrac in this wild landscape are critical as we imagine the rocky peninsula of Carillon when it too was a wild place. Coming from France, d’Aleyrac had the same outside perspective that we too would have if we travelled back in time to 1755. It’s easy to imagine the wild beauty of Carillon in 1755, reading about, “pine trees and others one hundred feet tall,” with an understory filled with, “strawberries, raspberries, and wild blackberries,” Likewise d’Aleyrac encountered, beavers, black bears, brown bears, polar bears, elk caribous, muskrats, and ground hogs, among a whole menagerie of wildlife. He was particularly perturbed by the, “very long and very big” rattlesnakes he encountered. British and American accounts of Carillon and rattlesnake hill across the lake corroborate his concern over these serpents.

Beyond the wild landscape, Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac’s impressions of the people he encountered are perhaps the best part of his memoirs. With Canadian milice and native warriors encamped at Carillon in 1755 along with the French regulars, his perceptions are fascinating as we imagine encountering these people over 250 years ago. He described Canadians as, “well-made, big, robust, adroit in the use of the gun and ax,” and, “used to hunting and making war.” While d’Aleyrac appreciated the Canadians’ strength and skills for living in the Canadian wilderness he was concerned about their personal habits. He stated, “the Canadians have an extreme passion for brandy and smoking tobacco,” noting that these habits extended to children and even smoking in bed. Differences in clothing also perturbed this French Lieutenant:

The average Canadian hardly wears French clothing, but one species of, “capots” crossed in front with lapels. The buttons and collars are of another color. A sash around the capot closes it: simple and impractical clothing.

Fort Ticonderoga

With a hood and buttons of a contrasting color, this represents one interpretation of the ‘capot.’

D’Aleyrac encountered several unique garments worn by Canadians including breechcloths, leggings, and soulier de beouf, a Canadian version of the moccasin worn in the summer. Ironically despite his critique, this French Lieutenant probably had to wear this clothing in his service. Another French officer, newly arrived in Canada like d’Aleyrac, received their own officers’ versions of Canadian clothing by the 22nd of July 1755.

Like Canadians, Jean-Baptiste d’Aleyrac encountered Native Americans for the first time in his service in New France. While his vivid account of their customs and dress is interesting, he begins his account with the admission that Native Americans were different than he had been told:

The Indians of Canada are very different than that idea one commonly has in France. Far from being all hairy as we believe, they are much less hairy than us, they have no beard, they pluck the eyebrows with a type of brass gun-worm. Even more, they cut and pluck the hairs from the top of their heads to the fronts, along the temples and above the neck, leaving only that on the back of the head only 2-3 inches long. They attach from here grand white, red or blue feathers with little silver or porcelain ornaments. They rub the top of their heads, the temples and the neck with vermillion, they finally paint their faces with vermillion, of blue, black and white, and they pierce the nose through the septum with a silver ring, they cut the earlobe and attach 3 to 4 bullets to stretch it in order to enlarge the opening. When they are about half a foot lower, they wiggle on a brass wire in the shape of a gun-worm and attach silver pendants. The kind of this country are tall, brown colored, almost olive, erect, well made, black hair and teeth as white as ivory. In any nation no one stands as straight as these Indians who always march with their heads very high. They are of a robust complexion, enduring the cold, heat, hunger and thirst.  They are very agile in a race or swimming because they are always in exercise hunting, fishing, dancing, playing lacrosse, or especially the game of, “paume ou de mail.” They play whichever of these games, nation versus nation, and the prizes are sometimes worth 12 to 15 pounds. They are excellent shots with the firelock and the bow and arrow, they do many exercises to use these advantageously and with sure shots.

As a traveler from France he too had his idea of Native Americans challenged by actually meeting them, much as happens to us as we delve back into the history of this Fort in 1755.

Battle on Snowshoes Re-enactment at Fort Ticonderoga

This article by Lohr McKinstry originally appeared on the Press-Republican.

Battle on Snowshoes Re-enactment at Fort Ticonderoga


TICONDEROGA – For the first time in 13 years, the legendary Battle on Snowshoes between Rogers’ Rangers and French forces will be re-created near Fort Ticonderoga.

The actual French and Indian War battle was near the present site of Ticonderoga Country Club, but the fort intends to put on its event in the forest surrounding the stone fortress.

The battle is part of a living history day at the fort from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23.



In 1758, Major Robert Rogers and his British rangers were on patrol near Fort Ticonderoga when they encountered superior French forces.

“The Battle on Snowshoes event re-creates the savage fight between Robert Rogers’ Rangers and a mixed French force of regular soldiers, militia and allied native warriors on March 13, 1758,” said Fort Ticonderoga Director of Interpretation Stuart Lilie in a news release.

“This event is designed to be a rich experience for both participants and visitors alike. It will investigate the myths and facts of Robert Rogers and explore why his exploits in the North Woods still fill the popular imagination today.”

The fort was under French control at the time, and the Rangers were out of Fort Edward.

Visitors will see the tree-to-tree fighting in a re-created Battle on Snowshoes.

“(They) can tour the French garrison inside Fort Ticonderoga in the middle of winter and walk through opposing pickets of British rangers and French soldiers, both well trained and adapted to frontier, winter warfare,” Lilie said. “The Rangers make a brave stand against superior odds, only to retreat through the deep woods.”



Visitors will be invited to tour Fort Ticonderoga as it appeared in the winter of 1758 and meet Native American warriors, French soldiers and Canadians who delivered the Rangers’ worst defeat, Lilie said.

“See how Natives Americans and French soldiers alike survived the deep winter at this remote military post. More adventurous visitors can take a hike led by a historic interpreter through the uneasy quiet of opposed pickets of soldiers in the deep woods. In these tours, visitors can see how the Rangers kept a vigilant watch for subtle signs that might reveal their ferocious enemy.”



Battle on Snowshoes Re-enactment at Fort Ticonderoga


The event schedule is:

10 a.m.: Site opens to visitors.

10:15 a.m.: Guided tour of Fort Carillon.

11 a.m.: Guided tour of Petite Guerre in the North Woods.

Noon: “New France’s Invaluable Indian Allies,” in the Mars Education Center, with guest presenter Ward Oles; explore politics, trade and the finer details of native crafts and decorative arts.

1:15 p.m.: Guided tour of Fort Carillon.

2 p.m.: Battle on


2:30 p.m.: “The Real French and Indians,” with Chris Fox, curator of collections, to examine artifacts recovered from the ruins of Fort Ticonderoga.

3:15 p.m.: Guided tour of Fort Carillon.

4 p.m.: Site closes to visitors.



Event tickets are $10 a person. Friends of Fort Ticonderoga members and children ages 4 and younger are free.

In 2000, a re-creation of the Battle on Snowshoes by Schroon Lake author and historian Robert Bearor drew thousands of spectators to Ticonderoga.

Bearor had secured permission for his event to be held on the golf course at Ticonderoga Country Club, believed to be the site of the original battle.

Although not involved in the current re-creation, he has lectured on the controversy of Rogers’ Slide, when Major Rogers allegedly eluded pursuing Indians after the Battle on Snowshoes by appearing to slide down a high rock face from Bald Mountain to Lake George.


The Shelburne Museum



Shelburne Museum

S.S. Ticonderoga steamship

The Shelburne Museum

Located in Vermont’s scenic Lake Champlain Valley, The Shelburne Museum offers one of the finest, most diverse, and unconventional museums of art and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 39 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the Museum grounds.

Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, decorative arts, furniture, American paintings, and a dazzling array of 17th-to 20th-century artifacts are on view. The Shelburne Museum is home to the finest museum collections of 19th-century American folk art, quilts, 19th- and 20th-century decoys, and carriages.

Electra Havemeyer Webb


The Shelburne Museum

Electra Havemeyer Webb

Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960), whio founded Shelburne Museum in 1947, was a pioneering collector of American folk art. Her parents, H.O. and Louisine Havemeyer, were important collectors of European and Asian art, and she, in turn, exercised an independent eye and passion for art, artifacts, and architecture – particularly that which was distinctly American.

Mrs. Webb exercised creativity when she began collecting 18th and 19th-century buildings from around New England and New York, which were used to display the Museum’s holdings. This required moving 20 historic structures to Shelburne, Vermont. These include houses, barns, a meeting house, a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge, and later the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga.

She sought to create “an educational project, varied and alive.” A visitors experience at the Shelburne Museum is unique: remarkable collections exhibited in a village-like setting of historic New England architecture, accented by a landscape that includes a circular formal garden, herb and heirloom vegetable gardens, and perennial gardens.


“A Collection of Collections”


Shelburne Museum

Colchester Reef Lighthouse

The closing of one of the Webb’s homes unintentionally gave birth to the museum. The question of what would become of her collections of cigar store Indians, hunting decoys, and weather vanes had to be settled. Webb’s museum quickly became a haven for the handmade objects of another era. A two hundred year old tavern houses one of the finest collections of weathervanes, trade signs, and primitive portraits on the continent. A rambling old farmhouse is filled with mochaware, pewter, and staffordshire. The finest collection of carriages and sleighs in North America rests in a unique horseshoe barn. Period homes, filled with outstanding collections of early American furniture and accessories, dot the grounds.

Rather than confine her eclectic collections to a single modern gallery, Webb chose to create an institution that would showcase her “collection of collections” in fine examples of early American homes and public buildings. The entire museum reflects Electra Webb’s passion for American art and design, she treasured a stunning variety of objects.


The Shelburne Museum’s collections, educational programs, special events, workshops, activities, demonstrations and special exhibitions offer new perspectives on four centuries of art and culture, providing a museum experience unlike any other.

6000 Shelburne Road, PO Box 10
Shelburne, VT 05482

Related Articles About The Shelburne Museum:

Steamboats on Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain Steamboats

Steamboats on Lake Champlain

Steamships on Lake Champlain

Steamboats on Lake Champlain In 1809, about two hundred years after Samuel de Champlain first saw the lake that would later bear his name, the steamboat Vermont was launched. The Vermont was a new kind of vessel – not powered by paddles, oars, wind, or horses. It was the power of steam that moved this large ship around the lake. The Vermont was the first steamboat to begin commercial service on any lake in the world, and with its launching it changed the course of lake travel and began what would be almost 150 years of steamboats on Lake Champlain.

Although waterways were also used by sailing sloops, barges, and ferries, steamships proved to be the quickest mode of water transportation. With the linking of Lake Champlain to the Hudson River via the Champlain Canal in 1823 water traffic coming and going from Vermont and the Adirondack Coast increased dramatically. Steamships became bigger and more luxurious, though not always more comfortable. In addition in the early days of railroads in the North Country, steamboats were an essential link in connecting rail lines on both sides of Lake Champlain.

In 1825 the one-way fare between Burlington and Port Kent on the steamer General Greene was $2.00 for a “four wheel pleasure carriage on springs, drawn by two horses, including the driver.” An ox, horse, or person traveling alone paid only 50 cents. A ferry ride between the same two cities today costs $17.50 for a person with a car and $4.95 if a person is traveling alone (Lake Champlain Transportation Company).


The Rise and Fall of Steam Transportation

During the early and mid-19th century, Lake Champlain became increasingly important, linking major urban centers to the north and south by using the lake as a thoroughfare. Steam powered boats provided faster and cheaper transport on the lake. In the 1790s, Samuel Morey, a Vermont inventor created a prototype steam engine for boats. There were also many other people, including Robert Fulton,  working on this technology at the time. After interuption by the Civil War steamboating thrived again, but by the 1870s railroads had become more efficient modes of transport and gradually caused the retirement of almost all the steamboats on Lake Champlain.

Steamboats on Lake Champlain

Champlain II – aground near Westport, NY

Steamboat travel was not without its share of accidents. On September 5, 1918, in the middle of the night, a fire broke out in the pantry of the Phoenix. All but six people aboard escaped. The burning ship sank off the Colchester Reef. The Phoenix was not the only boat to run into problems. In July of 1875 passengers on the steamer Champlain were suddenly awakened. Pilot Eldredge was at the ship’s wheel when the steamer traveling fast, ran right into high rocky land near Westport, New York. When second pilot Rockwell rushed on deck to see what had happened. Eldredge calmly asked him, “Can you account for my being on the mountain?” Rockwell answered, “Yes, Mr. Eldredge, you were asleep.” Some say that Eldredge had been taking morphine to relieve the pain caused by gout, and that this contributed to the accident.

Despite occasional mishaps resulting from unattended candles left burning in the ships’ pantries or sleeping pilots, people continued to use the steamboats on Lake Champlain in great numbers until they were replaced by railroads and automobiles.


How do steamboats work?

Steam is water that has been vaporized. Water is heated until the liquid becomes an invisible, odorless gas. It looks whitish and cloudy because there are tiny droplets of liquid water mixed in with the vaporized water, or steam. When water becomes steam it increases in volume 1,600 times. The pressure generated by this enormous increase in volume can be harnessed to operate mechanical devices.

Steamboats on Lake Champlain

Image courtesy of


Power Plant

The heart of the steamboat is the steam engine. Many different designs and variations of steam engines were developed and tried during the era of steam ships, but the basic steam engine invented by James Watt was the most important design.

First, water is fed to a coal or wood-fired boiler, which heats it up until it produces steam. The steam is then fed into a piston cylinder; the pressure generated pushes the piston up to the top of its stroke. At the top, a valve is opened in the side of the cylinder  venting out the steam. The valve drops down, and the whole cycle starts again.

Paddle Wheel

Steamboats on Lake Champlain could be driven by screws like most modern ships, and some were. The typical image of a steamship, however, is of the  paddle-wheeler. These ships came in two varieties: the stern-wheeler – with a single wheel at the stern of the boat, and the side-wheeler, with a wheel at either side. These wheels were large and fitted with paddle blades along the outside. Motive power to the boat was produced by pushing these blades through the water. Side-wheelers could also use their paddles to turn by powering one wheel and stopping or reversing the other.




The Ticonderoga

In 1906, the side-wheeler Ticonderoga was completed in the shipyards at Shelburne Harbor on Lake Champlain by the Champlain Transportation Company, the oldest steam company in the world. The “Ti”, as it was called, was the last steamship built for Lake Champlain travel. At 200-feet long the Ticonderoga was grand. It had a large dining room, carpeted halls filled with plush chairs, a barber shop, purser’s office, and a promenade deck. The Ti held 1,200 people and cruised at 17 miles per hour. For 47 years, this steel hulled side-wheeler cruised the length and breadth of Lake Champlain carrying passengers, freight and even the automobiles. First in service on the lake as a commercial ferry, she was later used as a tourist vessel until 1955, when the Shelburne Museum began the huge job of moving the steamer to its new home. The Ti was the last of the steamboats on Lake Champlain.

By 1950, the aging steamboat was no longer a paying proposition and seemed destined to be broken up for its value as scrap metal. If it had not been for the vigorous action of a citizens’ committee, led by Ralph Nading Hill of Burlington, the Ti would, today, be just a memory. Under the auspices of the Burlington Junior Chamber of Commerce and later, the Shelburne Museum, the Ti remained afloat four more years as a tourist vessel. But the problems of maintaining the old boat through autumn hurricanes and winter snow and ice, of cleaning, repairing and licensing the ancient boilers, and of finding trained crewmen, proved a losing battle. The decision to move the Ti to the Shelburne Museum’s grounds seemed the best way to avert disaster and to preserve the boat for future generations.

Steamboats on Lake Champlain

It took 65 days to move the Ti the two miles from Shelburne Bay to the museum. A large work crew hauled the boat from the bay onto a carriage fitted with railway wheels. Then the Ti traveled overland on railroad tracks. You can visit the newly restored Ticonderoga today to get an idea of what lake travel was like in the early 1900s. Call the Shelburne Museum for information regarding hours and admission fees: (802) 985-3346.


Battle of Plattsburgh relic still stored in Whitehall shed

This article by Chris Carola on the first U.S. Navy ship named the Ticonderoga first appeared on the Press-Republican

Battle of Plattsburgh relic still stored in Whitehall shed

ALBANY — The upstate New York village that bills itself as the birthplace of the U.S. Navy hasn’t done much to preserve one of the service’s oldest warship relics: the hull of a schooner that was the first in a long line of American vessels to carry the name Ticonderoga.

The wooden remains of the War of 1812 ship are displayed in a long, open-sided shed on the grounds of the Skenesborough Museum in Whitehall. They’ve been stored there since being raised from the southern end of Lake Champlain by a local historical group more than 50 years ago. Now, with the approach of 200th anniversary of the battle at which the first Ticonderoga gained its fame, a maritime historian is hoping something can be done to stem the deterioration of a rare naval artifact.

“It was recovered for all the right reasons but before we knew all the implications of a shipwreck and bringing it up into an air environment,” said Arthur Cohn, senior adviser and special projects developer at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vt.

Cohn has suggested to museum officials that the hull needs be stored in an enclosed, climate-controlled building with interpretive displays telling the vessel’s story. But the museum’s director said such a project would be cost-prohibitive for her organization and for Whitehall.

“That would take more money than anyone in the Village of Whitehall could put together,” Carol Greenough said.

In 1776, during the American Revolution, Benedict Arnold oversaw the building of a small fleet of vessels in what is now Whitehall. That October, he led this ragtag flotilla north to Valcour Island off Plattsburgh, where the outgunned Americans were defeated but forced the British to put off their invasion of New York until the following year. Roadside signs in Whitehall tout the village’s claim as the birthplace of the U.S. Navy, a distinction that’s been claimed by several New England communities.


The Ticonderoga started out as a merchant steamer before the U.S. Navy bought it while it was still under construction. The Navy completed it as a schooner, armed it with more than a dozen heavy cannon and launched the vessel as the Ticonderoga in May 1814.

Four months later, on Sept. 11, the Ticonderoga was part of the American fleet that defeated the British at the Battle of Plattsburgh on the lake’s northern end. The U.S. victory stopped the Redcoats from advancing farther into New York and ended their efforts to invade from the north.

Afterward, the ship and several others were sent south to Whitehall, where they were anchored in a southern extremity of Lake Champlain known as East Bay. The Navy removed the Ticonderoga’s rigging and fittings, and a decade later it was deemed unworthy of repair and sold. The ship eventually sank into the bay, its upper structure disappearing after years of exposure to wind, waves and ice.

Four other Navy warships have carried the name Ticonderoga, including a World War II aircraft carrier that saw action in the Pacific.

New York has no plans to preserve the Ticonderoga, but local entities could apply for matching funding for such a project, according to Mark Peckham of the State Parks Department.

The locations of several British and American shipwrecks from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 have been found in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain, but the Ticonderoga remains one of a handful of warships from those conflicts that’s easily accessible to the public, Peckham said.

“This has survived better than most,” he said.