I don't want to give away my age, but my first introduction to Fort Ticonderoga was in the mid 50's as I sat in a small town movie theater watching my first 3-D movie by the same name. From that point on, the name has stayed with me as a place of wonderment. Now, I was right there where it all happened. The Lake George area of New York. After my initial disappointment at finding out that Fort Ticonderoga was not in Vermont but actually in New York, by more than several hundred yards, I renewed my spirit and set out to find the real history behind this childhood experience. In setting the stage, please consider the year the Fort was built was 1755. The British ruled the colonies and the French maintained large land holdings north of New York, centering around Montreal. The French desire to control the Lakes brought them to a small area of land between Lake Champlain and Lake George in New York. Native Americans farmed these sandy meadows and fished and hunted in the rich marshlands surrounding this peninsula. Iroquoia speakers called this Ticonderoga "the place between the waters". In 1755 The Marquis de Vaudreuil, Governor of New France, ordered the Canadian engineer Lotbiniere, to build a fort at Carillon, as they called it, to assure continued French control of the vital thoroughfare. The French designed the Fort for a garrison of some 400 men sufficient for peace-time and for protection against winter raids in war time. Thousands of soldiers came south from Canada in the late spring and lived in tents outside the Fort. When fall brought an end to large scale warfare, they went back north into winter quarters and the little garrison held the Fort and the road to Canada until the next spring. In 1758 A mighty British army of 15,000 men attacked Carillon but were utterly defeated by Montcalm's 3500 French and Canadian troops. Again in 1759 Gen. Amherst lead another British army against Carillon. This time the France abandoned it. Amherst restored to the Fort its Indian name, Ticonderoga. For the next 16 years, a small British garrison policed the increasingly violent frontier between New York and New England and allowed the Fort to fall into ruin. With the beginning of the Revolutionary War, early on a May morning in 1775, Ethan Allen, the Green Mountain Boys and Benedict Arnold seized the Fort from its surprised defenders in the first American victory of the Revolution. The Fort fell without a shot fired, when a French picket's musket failed to fire and he was overcome before he could sound the alarm. That winter, most of the Fort's cannons were taken to Boston by Col. Henry Knox and helped Washington's army drive the British from that city. The American army strengthened fortifications but it was never brought up to its original strength.
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