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. It was also the setting for two treaties with American Indians. Reconstruction finished in 1978.
British General John Stanwix 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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Once a picturesque ruin, preservationists and private investors slowly restored Fort Ticonderoga to its former glory. Alternatively held by the French, British, and Americans, today it is a premier museum of eighteenth and early nineteenth century military history. Tickets include admission to Mount Defiance, a strategic hill between the LaChute River and Lake Champlain.
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.
Despite a reputation for being formidable, Fort Ticonderoga was captured three times without much loss in blood or treasure. In 1759, 11,000 British troops scared off a garrison of 400 Frenchmen with a few artillery shots. The retreating French tried to blow up the fort with explosives. In 1775, American militiamen called Green Mountain Boys surprised and captured the small British garrison. Two years later, the British recaptured the fort after hauling artillery up to the summit of Mount Defiance. The Americans fled without a fight.
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For history buffs, no trip to Upstate New York is complete without visiting Fort William Henry Museum and Restoration at the southern tip of Lake George. It’s a faithful recreation of the original fort, burnt by the French in 1757. The museum offers a variety of activities, guides in period uniform, artillery demonstrations, and an extensive gift shop.
French forces besieged the fort in 1757 during the French and Indian War. 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. These events formed the backdrop for James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826).
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. The siege only lasted a few days, with the French artillery inflicting most of the damage. Montcalm’s army tried to stop deprivations inflicted by their allies on paroled British captives, but events spiraled out of their control.
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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.
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In May 1668, Captain Robert Searle and 70 English buccaneers arrived at St. Augustine to sack the city. In the process, they freed Henry Woodward, first settler of South Carolina, from Spanish prison. In response to the daring raid, Governor Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega ordered construction of a stone fort on the western shore of Matanzas Bay.
That fort was the Castillo de San Marcos, today the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It was built between 1672 and 1695, and changed hands five times between 1763 and 1862.
The Castillo de San Marcos was designated a national monument in 1924 and is currently managed by the National Park Service. In addition to preserving a rich historical legacy, the fort offers beautiful views of Matanzas Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
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Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in New York, from Mount Defiance. I had to pull out the 70-300mm zoom lens for this one.
Fort William Henry Museum, 48 Canada St. Lake George, New York 12845. (518) 668-5471.