Lake George Battlefield Park

Visitors to beautiful Lake George, New York can camp and hike on a 264-year-old battlefield and see the ruins of old British and American forts.

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The Battle of Lake George was fought on September 8, 1755 between French forces under the command of Jean Erdman, Baron Dieskau and British forces under the command of Sir William Johnson and their American Indian allies commanded by Chief Hendrick Theyanoguin at the southern tip of Lake George, New York during the French and Indian War. The battle ended in British and Iroquois victory over the French, and the building of Fort William Henry.

In early September 1755, Sir William Johnson marched north from Fort Edward intending to capture the French Fort St. Frédéric at Crown Point on the western shore of Lake Champlain. Around the same time, Baron Dieskau took 222 French regulars, 600 French-Canadian militia, and 700 Mohawk allies and moved south with the aim of destroying Johnson’s base of supplies at Fort Edward. While camped on Lake George’s southern shore, Johnson learned of the French movement and sent 1,000 Colonial militia and 200 Mohawk allies to reinforce the fort.

In what became known as the “Bloody Morning Scout,” Baron Dieskau ambushed the British relief column and inflicted heavy casualties, however, the British and Mohawk warriors were able to inflict equally heavy losses on the French during their fighting retreat back to camp. Both sides lost experienced officers in the engagement. When French forces reached Johnson’s camp, the militia and their Indian allies refused to attack because the British had erected makeshift fortifications.

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Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Defiance

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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Fort William Henry in Lake George, New York

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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Fort Carillon Battlefield

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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Montcalm’s Cross Reenactment Weekend

On July 22 and 23, Fort Ticonderoga commemorated the 259th anniversary of the 1758 Battle of Carillon with a series of events called “Montcalm’s Cross,” named after French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm.

The Battle of Carillon was fought on July 8, 1758, during the French and Indian War. It was the bloodiest battle of the Seven Years War fought in North America, with over 3,000 casualties. French losses were about 400, while more than 2,000 were British.

French engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière constructed Fort Carillon on the shore of Lake Champlain between 1755 and 1757, but the battle was fought behind breastworks about a kilometer west of the fort.

Though British troops under General James Abercrombie outnumbered the French defenders five-to- one, lack of artillery and poor coordination resulted in a military disaster for the attacking army.

Montcalm’s Cross Reenactment Weekend was a two-day event. On Saturday, reenactors re-created the British advance from Lake George Landing, during which an encounter with a lost French patrol resulted in the death of British commander Lord Howe.

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Battle of Carillon Reenactment at Fort Ticonderoga, New York

Last weekend, Fort Ticonderoga commemorated the 259th anniversary of the Battle of Carillon with a series of events called “Montcalm’s Cross,” after French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm. The battle was fought on July 8, 1758, during the French and Indian War. It was the bloodiest battle of the Seven Years War fought in North America, with over 3,000 casualties. French losses were about 400, while more than 2,000 were British. Music is the “March Du Regiment Saintonge” by Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums. Watch in HD for full effect.

Artillery Demonstration at Fort Ticonderoga, New York

Alternatively held by the French, British, and Americans, today Fort Ticonderoga is a premier museum of eighteenth and early nineteenth century military history. French engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière constructed the fort between 1755 and 1757 during the French and Indian War.

Daily artillery demonstrations educate visitors on eighteenth century artillery drills. Artillerists were trained to keep firing for up to 24 hours! I took this video on my recent trip to see the annual Battle of Carillon reenactment.