On Lake Champlain 1777

Revolutionary War 1777 Lake Champlain

A Difficult Loss During the Revolutionary War

The American Revolution was not going well.

A year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, General Burgoyne prepared to attack American-held Fort Ticonderoga, a garrison of 3,500 men. Burgoyne and his 8,000 British regulars traveled south across Lake Champlain and laid siege to the fort. After inconclusive fighting, Burgoyne ordered his artillery moved atop Mount Defiance which overlooked the fort.

The American commander, Major General Arthur St. Clair hadn’t fortified the hill because he thought it too steep for transporting artillery. When St. Clair saw the British could bombard the fort without fear of retaliation, he ordered the garrison to leave under cover of nightfall, and retreat south.

Part of St. Clair’s command left by water, but the main force traveled by land, led by St. Clair. The rear guard stopped to camp, against St. Clair’s orders, and were overtaken by British troops. The Americans lost 400 soldiers. By July 7, the British victory was assured, and Fort Ticonderoga came under Burgoyne’s control. A month later, he followed his victory with a successful attack on Fort Edward.

Today the fort remains much as it did two hundred years ago. Its museum contains such historic artifacts as Ethan Allen’s rifle, which Allen lent to Benedict Arnold. During the course of the American Revolution, the fort’s visitors included George Washington, Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen, Horatio Gates, Anthony Wayne, Henry Knox, Major John Andre and the Marquis de Montcalm.

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