Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga are likely to overlook this site about three-quarters of a mile west of the citadel, but for seven hours on July 8, 1758, it was the scene of the bloodiest battle in the French and Indian War. The battle also inspired a Scottish legend.
Fort Carillon (the original French name for Fort Ticonderoga) was key to French defenses on the shore of Lake Champlain. The French and Indian War, part of the larger Seven Years’ War between France and Great Britain, had been raging for four years. In 1758, the British launched an invasion of what was then the French colony of Canada.
General James Abercrombie took a force of 6,000 British regulars and 12,000 colonial volunteers, rangers, and American Indians to lay siege to Fort Carillon. The French, under General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the Chevalier de Levis, numbering about 3,600, dug entrenchments and erected breastworks on a rise west of the fort.
Abercrombie, far to the rear, ordered poorly coordinated frontal attacks on the French lines, without the aid of artillery. The slaughter was fearful, and the British lost 800-1,000 killed and 1,500 wounded in action to the French’s 104 killed and 273 wounded. While the British beat a hasty retreat, General de Montcalm refreshed his men with beer and wine.
Today, in this quiet corner of Fort Ticonderoga, you can see what remains of the French entrenchments. There is also a monument to de Montcalm, as well as the British 42nd Regiment, “Black Watch“, a Scottish infantry regiment that sustained nearly 50 percent casualties. According to legend, their struggle was seen in the clouds over Inveraray (Inverawe) Castle in Scotland that same afternoon.
The Fort Carillon Battlefield is located less than a mile west of Fort Ticonderoga (102 Fort Ti Road, Ticonderoga, New York). Fort Ticonderoga is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., from the first weekend in May through the last weekend in October. The Carillon Battlefield Trail is a 1.7 mile loop beginning and ending outside the Log House Welcome Center picnic area.