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Lake Champlain history

The Battle of Carillon, or the 1758 Battle of Ticonderoga

The Battle of Carillon, or the 1758 Battle of Ticonderoga

July 8, 1758

 

Fort Ticonderoga or Carillon

Fort Ticonderoga or Carillon

The Battle of Carillon, also known as the 1758 Battle of Ticonderoga, was fought July 8, 1758, during the French and Indian War (which was part of the global Seven Years’ War). It was fought near Fort Carillon (now known as Fort Ticonderoga) on the shore of Lake Champlain in the frontier area between the British colony of New York and the French colony of New France.

The British and their colonists in New England had long been troubled by French and their native allies attacking the ever-expanding frontier settlements. Many of these attacks generated from the French stronghold of Fort St. Frederic (now Crown Point) on the western shore of Lake Champlain. That fort secured French control of the lake.

In 1755 the French began construction of Fort Carillon to protect the portage along the LaChute River between Lakes George and Champlain. It was from Fort Carillon that the French , under General Montcalm, staged their successful attack and siege of Fort William Henry in 1757. The fall of William Henry, and the later massacre of its surrendered defenders and civilians, left both lakes in the hands of the French.

 

A Massive British Army Attacks

British troops preparing to sail north before the Battle of Carillon

British troops preparing to sail north before the Battle of Carillon

On July 5, 1758 a massive British army sailed north down Lake George to attack Carillon and Fort St. Frederic.The force consisted of 6,000 British regulars and 12,000 provincial troops, including militia, rangers and native allies. It is said that the fleet transporting the army was three columns wide and three miles long as they rowed up Lake George.

The army made landfall at the north end of Lake George on July 6 with minimal casualties, except for the loss of General Howe, who was beloved by his troops and probably the best field commander in the British army.

 

The Battle of Carillon

Troops of The Black Watch storming the breastworks at the Battle of Carillon

Troops of The Black Watch storming the breastworks at the Battle of Carillon

The battle mostly took place on a rise about 3/4 mile from the fort. The French army of about 3,600 men under General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the Chevalier de Levis decisively defeated the overwhelmingly numerically superior force of 18,000 British troops under General James Abercrombie.

The British frontal assault of an entrenched French position without using field artillery left the British and their allies vulnerable and allowed the French to win a decisive victory. It was the bloodiest battle in the American theater of this war, with about 400 French and more than 2,500 British casualties.

Many military historians have cited the Battle of Carillon as a classic example of tactical military incompetence. Abercrombie, confident of a quick victory, ignored several military options, such as: flanking the French breastworks, waiting for his artillery, or laying siege to the fort. Instead, he decided instead on a direct frontal assault of the entrenched French position without the benefit of artillery.

 

 

The Importance of the Battle of Carillon

French troops cheering General Montcalm after the Battle of Carillon

French troops cheering General Montcalm after the Battle of Carillon

British forces, expecting an easy victory, thought the capture of Carillon would lead in turn to the capture of the more strategic and important Fort St. Frederic (Fort Crown Point), and ultimately mastery of Lake Champlain. The staggering defeat forced them to retreat back up Lake George to the ruins of Fort William Henry and ultimately to Fort Edward.

The battle ended the military career of General Abercromby, and bolstered the status of General Montcalm, who was to die next year on the Plains of Abraham, defending Quebec from British assault.

The fort was abandoned by the French the following year, and it has since been known as Fort Ticonderoga (after its location). This battle gave the fort a reputation for impregnability that had an effect on future military operations in the area. Despite several large-scale military movements through the area, in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, this was the only major battle fought near the fort’s location.

 


Fort Ticonderoga Captured by Ethan Allen & Benedict Arnold

Fort Ticonderoga Captured by Ethan Allen & Benedict Arnold: May 10, 1775

 

Fort Ticonderoga Captured by Ethan Allen & Benedict Arnold

Because of its location on Lake Champlain, Fort Ticonderoga was the key to access of both Canada and the Hudson River Valley. During the French and Indian War, thousands of soldiers had died fighting to gain or maintain control of the water highway between Canada and New York. Fort Ticonderoga, the Gibraltar of North America, was the key to Lake Champlain and, in turn, Lake George and the Hudson River.

It was May of 1775; just three weeks after Lexington and Concord. The American Revolution was just beginning. Both Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold realized that not only would Fort Ticonderoga be a relatively easy target for the patriots, but that it would prevent British control of the waterways and the access they provided.

Lake Champlain

This 128-page softcover book features stunning historical images from the archives of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and other regional collections, and includes chapters on Patriotic Sites and Celebrations; Commerce in the Canal Era; The Age of Steam; Crossing Lake Champlain; Recreational Boating; Summer and Summer Folk; Hunting and Fishing; and Winter. ‘Lake Champlain’ tells the story of this historic, busy commercial corridor and recreational destination.

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Independently, both Allen and Arnold set out to capture Ticonderoga. Arnold, of Connecticut, led small force of Massachusetts militiamen, while Allen, also originally from Connecticut, led the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont. After some heated negotiations (both leaders had big egos), the two agreed to a joint command.

On May 10, 1775  Arnold  and Allen led 168 Green Mountain Boys and New England militia in a dawn attack on the fort, surprising and capturing the sleeping British garrison. The rebels sneaked into the fort and demanded its surrender. Captain William DeLaPlace, the garrison commander, surrendered his sword and the fort; no-one was killed in the daring dawn raid.

 

Fort Ticonderoga Captured by Ethan Allen & Benedict Arnold

Fort Ticonderoga 

Although this was a small-scale conflict, the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga was the first American victory of the Revolution, and later supplied the Continental Army with needed artillery to force the British from Boston and to use in future battles.

Following the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, Colonel Henry Knox transported more than 60 tons of military supplies including 59 artillery pieces from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. Ticonderoga’s cannon were placed on Dorchester Heights which had a commanding view of Boston. The threat of the cannon forced the British to evacuate Boston on March 17, 1776 and the Continental Army entered Boston the next day.

The Importance of the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga

The significance of the battle was the captured cannons, munitions and other armaments from Fort Ticonderoga which were transported to Boston and used to fortify Dorchester Heights and break the standoff at the Siege of Boston. The location of the fort itself was also very important as it protected New York and New England from British invasion from Canada.


Guns Over The Champlain Valley:
A Guide To Historic Military Sites And Battlefields
(Paperback)
Author: Coffin, Howard

The Champlain Valley is one of the most historically rich regions of the country. Fort Ticonderoga, Saratoga, Fort William Henry, Crown Point, Plattsburgh, Bennington and Valcour Island all lie along the ancient warpath that is the Champlain Corridor.
In this lively and informative new travel guide to historic places and events, the author leads you to each venue, describing the events and their long-lasting impact.  Adventure awaits you with Guns over the Champlain Valley.
Order Today

 

More About Lake Champlain History:

The Rush-Bagot Treaty

April 28, 1818: The Rush-Bagot Treaty

The Rush-Bagot Treaty demilitarized Lake Champlain

The Rush-Bagot Treaty demilitarized Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes

On April 28, 1817, Acting United States Secretary of State Richard Rush and the British Minister to Washington Sir Charles Bagot signed and exchanged letters that became the Rush-Bagot Agreement or Treaty, which demilitarized Lake Champlain and the Great Lakes.

 

Rush-Bagot Treaty plaque

Rush-Bagot Treaty plaque

 

The agreement  provided for demilitarization of the lakes along the international boundary, where many British naval arrangements and forts remained. The treaty stipulated that the United States and British North America could each keep one military vessel (of no more than 100 tons) as well as one cannon (no more than eighteen pounds) on Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain. It later extended this to the other Great Lakes and to the entire Canadian border.

The USA and Canada have worked well together at cleaning up the lakes and keeping them demilitarized. The US Coast Guard now has bigger guns, but Canada looks the other way. According to Wikipedia, “The Canadian government decided that the armament did not violate the treaty, as the guns were to be used for law enforcement rather than military activities. Canada reserved the right to arm its law enforcement vessels with similar weapons.”

Click here to learn more about The Rush-Bagot Treaty


Guns Over The Champlain Valley:
A Guide To Historic Military Sites And Battlefields
(Paperback)
Author: Coffin, Howard

The Champlain Valley is one of the most historically rich regions of the country. Fort Ticonderoga, Saratoga, Fort William Henry, Crown Point, Plattsburgh, Bennington and Valcour Island all lie along the ancient warpath that is the Champlain Corridor.
In this lively and informative new travel guide to historic places and events, the author leads you to each venue, describing the events and their long-lasting impact.  Adventure awaits you with Guns over the Champlain Valley.
Order Today

 

More About Lake Champlain History:

Lake Champlain Historic Events

Lake Champlain Historic Events

 

 

 

Recent Articles on Lake Champlain Historic Events

Lake Champlain Designated the 6th Great Lake

Lake Champlain Designated the 6th Great Lake (for a while)

Lake Champlain Designated the 6th Great Lake (for a while)Everyone can agree that Lake Champlain is great, but it is not officially a Great Lake. Much of the confusion over this is due to Lake Champlain briefly being designated the 6th Great Lake.

Without fanfare on March 7, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed a bill giving Lake Champlain official designation as one of the Great Lakes, at least as far as Federal research money goes. On March 25, 1998 Congress voted to rescind the ‘Great Lake’ designation for Lake Champlain.

The designation allowed Lake Champlain to receive Sea Grant funding.  Although the designation was quickly revoked, the funding still exists. This is funding is important, because Lake Champlain is connected to the Great Lakes and faces many similar issues including invasive aquatic species, as well as, phosphorus over-loading.

 

Lake Champlain Designated the 6th Great Lake for Sea Grant

Lake Champlain Sea Grant is dedicated to improving the understanding and management of Lake Champlain, Lake George and their watersheds for long-term environmental health and sustainable economic development.

A cooperative program of the University of Vermont and SUNY Plattsburgh, Lake Champlain Sea Grant is a part of a national network of 35 projects and programs at coastal and Great Lakes colleges, coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Congressional Pushback

The move had angered some lawmakers from the Great Lakes states. ”If Lake Champlain ends up as a Great Lake, I propose we rename it ‘Lake Plain Sham,’ ” said Representative Steven C. LaTourette, an Ohio Republican who co-chaired the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force.

Lake Champlain is not even the sixth largest lake in the United States – in area or in volume.  It is only sixth in the United States in terms of its length. Although not a ‘Great Lake’ anymore, Lake Champlain is still a great lake!

Lake Champlain

This 128-page softcover book features stunning historical images from the archives of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and other regional collections, and includes chapters on Patriotic Sites and Celebrations; Commerce in the Canal Era; The Age of Steam; Crossing Lake Champlain; Recreational Boating; Summer and Summer Folk; Hunting and Fishing; and Winter. ‘Lake Champlain’ tells the story of this historic, busy commercial corridor and recreational destination.

Buy Here

More About Lake Champlain History: