Fort Ticonderoga: The Gibraltar of Colonial North America, Savior of Canada & USA
Publisher: Simply Magazine
Date: September 2011
Duration: 0 hours 40 minutes
Fort Ticonderoga was the key to the North American continent in the mid to late 18th Century. Fort Ti, as it was known, sat on the only inland North South route between Quebec & what is now known as Canada and Eastern Continental North America, now known as the United States. Land routes were highly unstable, subject to ambush, and loss of life and materials, so this waterway was vital to any travel between what is now known as Quebec and Canada and now the Eastern United States to the South
The Fort is situated on South Lake Champlain just before the 3.5 mile portage over to Lake George and on down to the Hudson River and New York City. The French built Fort Ticonderoga, or Fort Carillon as it was named by its French builders, between 1754 and 1757.
The first major battle occurred just one year after the Fort was completed. Due to the skillful Vauban design, and Marquis de Lotbiniere's construction, 4,000 French defenders led by General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm held off an attack by 16,000 British troops. This was a major victory and would turn out to be Montcalm's greatest performance.
Montcalm became most famous for being the commander of the French and Canadian forces in the Seven Year's War between the British and French in Europe and North America (1754-1763). As the famous Colonial historian Bernard Bailyn said, "The French and Indian War as the Seven Years War was called in the United States was the turning point that led the British to dominate North America and the French to gradually disappear from importance on the continent, culminating in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803."
The British recaptured the Fort a year after the first major battle due to the French removing too many troops to adequately defend it. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys, with the help of General Benedict Arnold, before he became a traitor, took the Fort back from the British in 1775.
General John Burgoyne took the Fort in 1777. Burgoyne used Mount Defiance above the Fort to threaten the Americans in the Fort. This led the Continental troops to withdraw which left the waterway from Quebec to Albany and down to New York City open for British troops and supplies.
John Brown attempted to retake the Fort with 500 men in 1777 but was held off by the small British garrison of 100 men.
During the Revolutionary War, George Washington believed the Americans could not take and hold the Fort due to the dominance of the British in the area. Having limited troops and supplies, Washington elected not to make the attempt at all.In 1781 the British abandoned the Fort after losing the Battle of Saratoga in 1781 and the Fort ceased to be of military value thereafter.
In the meantime, Fort Ticonderoga had helped prevent the Americans from annexing part or all of Canada, contributed to the French losing Quebec, and protected the Americans from the British invading America on several occasions when the Americans controlled the Fort.