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Mysterious America

The Highlander's Legend and Weeping Woman of Ticonderoga

Two colonial-era ghost stories, one of which sparked an international legend, make Fort Ticonderoga one of Lake Champlain’s most haunted places.

Originally called Fort Carillon by the French, Fort Ticonderoga is a stone star fort near the southern end of Lake Champlain at the New York/Vermont border. French engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière constructed the fort between 1755 and 1757 during the French and Indian War. The French and Indian War was part of the larger Seven Years’ War between France and Great Britain.

In 1758, the British launched an invasion of what was then the French colony of Canada. Fort Carillon was key to French defenses on the shore of Lake Champlain. Today, visitors to Fort Ticonderoga are likely to overlook the secluded battlefield 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.

British 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 hill west of the fort. Abercrombie ordered poorly coordinated frontal attacks on the French lines. The slaughter resulted in 800-1,000 British killed and 1,500 wounded to the French’s 104 killed and 273 wounded.

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Mysterious America

Fort William Henry Offers Haunted History After Dark

A steady-stream of curiosity seekers visit this reconstructed French and Indian War-era fort after dark, hoping to catch a glimpse of the unknown.

Not to be confused with the other haunted Fort William Henry in Maine, Fort William Henry Museum and Restoration in Lake George, New York is a must-see for any history buff or paranormal enthusiast. Since being featured on an episode of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters in 2009, thousands have explored this reconstructed French and Indian War-era fort on nighttime ghost tours, hoping to snap an anomalous photo or experience something extraordinary.

British official Sir William Johnson ordered the fort’s construction in 1755 in preparation for a British attack on Crown Point on Lake Champlain. The French and their Indian allies, however, destroyed it less than two years later. French forces besieged the fort in 1757, and the siege only lasted a few days, with French artillery inflicting most of the damage.

To end the siege, French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm arranged for the British forces to leave, but American Indians under his command were angry at being denied war spoils and massacred several hundred retreating British. Montcalm’s army tried to stop deprivations inflicted by their allies on paroled British captives, but events spiraled out of their control. These events formed the backdrop for James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826).

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Mysterious America

A Ghostly Prisoner Strolls the Parapets at Fort Henry National Historic Site

Built for a war with the U.S. that never came, this nineteenth century Canadian fortress held prisoners hanged for rebellion. Do their restless ghosts still walk these grounds?

Built between 1832 and 1836, Fort Henry’s stone walls were completed just in time for the Rebellions of 1837–1838, which sought to overthrow the Canadian colonial government in favor of a republic. Nils von Schoultz, who led rebel forces at the Battle of the Windmill, was executed there. Today, his ghost is among many that visitors claim to encounter in the twilight hours. Paranormal-themed tours and an annual haunted house have capitalized on these strange tales and helped make this Canada’s most famous haunt.

The War of 1812 left relations between the United States and Great Britain at an all-time low. Raids along the Saint Lawrence River were common during the war, and Kingston, Ontario in what was then Upper Canada was seen as potentially vulnerable. The British eyed Point Henry as an ideal place for what became known as the “Citadel of Upper Canada”.

Early in the war, British Canadians erected a blockhouse and artillery battery on Point Henry to help defend Kingston and its naval dockyards. They continued fortifying it throughout the war, calling it Fort Henry after Henry Hamilton, one-time Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec and Governor of Bermuda.

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Mysterious America

Phantasmal Melody at Fort Stanwix

Since the rebuilt colonial-era fort opened for tourists, some say sunrise brings a haunting melody of musical instruments from the past.

Fort Stanwix National Monument is a reconstruction of a historic fort occupying approximately 16 acres in downtown Rome, New York. Originally built by the British, it was captured and used by American colonists during the Revolutionary War. Since reconstruction finished in 1978, visitors have reported strange encounters with otherworldly sights and sounds, as though ghosts from the past have returned to reclaim their home.

British General John Stanwix originally ordered construction of the fort in the summer of 1758 to guard a portage connecting the Mohawk River and Wood Creek during the French and Indian War. It finished in 1762. The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix between the British and the Iroquois attempted to solidify the frontier boundary and reduce hostility there. The fort was then abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin.

Colonial troops under the command of Colonel Elias Dayton occupied and repaired the fort in July 1776 and renamed it Fort Schuyler. British forces besieged the fort in August 1777, but were demoralized by a colonial raid on their camp and withdrew. It burned down in 1781. A treaty between the United States and the Iroquois League was signed at the site in 1784.

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Historic America

Fort Anne and Battle Hill

Efforts by the American Battlefield Trust have recently preserved the scene of this obscure Revolutionary War battle in New York’s Hudson Valley.

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The Battle of Fort Anne was fought on July 8, 1777 between American forces commanded by Col. Pierse Long and Henry van Rensselaer and British forces commanded by Lt. Col. John Hill near present-day Fort Ann, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a tactical draw: both sides withdrew after running low on ammunition, although American forces abandoned Fort Anne shortly after.

In early summer 1777, British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne began his campaign to control Lake Champlain and the Hudson Valley in order to sever New England from the rest of the colonies. He seized Fort Ticonderoga on July 5, and American forces retreated south. On July 7, British forces defeated an American rear guard at the Battle of Hubbardton. Lt. Col. John Hill’s 9th Regiment of Foot, numbering about 200 British regulars, pursued a small American force south of Lake Champlain toward Fort Anne.

When the Americans arrived at Fort Anne, they fortuitously met Col. Henry Van Rensselaer and an additional 400 militiamen. On the morning of July 8, they turned on their pursuers, aided by information gathered from a spy who posed as a deserter. The British retreated to a wooded hill north of the fort. For several hours, American militia took cover behind trees and angled to surround the beleaguered British.

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Historic America

Fort Magruder and the Battle of Williamsburg

A small monument and a few wayside markers are all that remind passersby that two Civil War armies once fought here.

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The Battle of Williamsburg was fought on May 5, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet outside Williamsburg, Virginia during the American Civil War. The battle was tactically a draw, with the Confederate army withdrawing toward Richmond during the night.

In the spring of 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan took his massive 120,000-man Army of the Potomac by boat and landed at Fort Monroe near Hampton Roads. He planned to march up the Virginia Peninsula and capture the Confederate capitol of Richmond, bringing a swift end to the war. Standing in his way was Confederate Brig. Gen. John B. Magruder, a series of small forts and defensive works, and 11,000 men. Magruder’s elaborate showmanship and deceptive tactics delayed the Union army for nearly 30 days.

The delay bought time for Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston to arrive with reinforcements. Their combined force of 57,000 was still no match for McClellan, so Johnston decided to withdraw to the defenses around Richmond. A force of 32,000 commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet was left to defend Fort Magruder, southeast of Williamsburg, and cover the withdrawal.

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Historic America

Capture of Fort Niagara during the War of 1812

A daring British night attack during the War of 1812 quickly secured this old French fort at the mouth of the Niagara River.

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The Second Battle of Fort Niagara was fought on December 19, 1813 between British forces commanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond and American forces commanded by Captain Nathaniel Leonard at the mouth of the Niagara River near Youngstown, New York during the War of 1812. The British night attack was successful, and the fort remained in British hands for the remainder of the war.

On December 10, 1813, U.S. Brigadier General George McClure decided to abandon Fort George on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, which the United States had captured in May. His troops burned the nearby village of Newark to the ground before retreating across the river. Filled with thoughts of revenge, British forces seized the initiative.

On the night of December 19, approximately 562 British regulars commanded by Colonel John Murray crossed the Niagara River under cover of darkness, about three miles south of Fort Niagara. They captured some American sentries who had been warming themselves by a fire, and obtained the watch’s challenge and password. From there, a British soldier feigning a Southern accent gained entry to the fort, and British troops rushed in.