Fort Ticonderoga Captured by Ethan Allen & Benedict Arnold: May 10, 1775
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.
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.
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.
More About Lake Champlain History:
- Fort Ticonderoga Captured by Ethan Allen & Benedict Arnold
- The Rush-Bagot Treaty
- Lake Champlain Designated the 6th Great Lake
- Battle of Valcour Island: October 11, 1776
- The History And Mystery Of Split Rock Mountain