The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga, situated on the west bank of Lake Champlain in northern New York had since the Seven Years War been regarded as a major strategic position. Situated on the main route between Canada and the Upper Hudson Valley, Americans coveted it as an asset to protect them against a British Invasion from the North. The British saw it as prized position from which they could launch attacks in New York and New England. In addition, the fort contained a large garrison and much valuable artillery and other munitions, both of which were sorely needed by the Americans.

Once fighting broke out at Lexington and Concord, Americans quickly saw the need to capture the fort. The Massachusetts Committee of Safety appointed Captain Benedict Arnold as colonel and charged him with the task of raising 400 men to take it. Meanwhile Colonel Ethan Allan, leader of the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont, had also laid plans for an expedition. In May 1775 he gathered his men and marched to Hand's Cove, two miles below Fort Ticonderoga. Arnold also made his way to Hand's Cove where he volunteered to join Allen's force.

On the morning of May 10, Allen, Arnold and around 80 men readied for a dawn attack. They charged the fort, catching the British guards by surprise. Allen sought ought the fort's commandant, Captain William Delaplace and ordered him to surrender his garrison of 42 men and 90 guns in, as Allen recalled in 1779, the "name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress."

By taking Fort Ticonderoga, Allen and Arnold secured the gateway to Canada and used it as a base from which to take the nearby British fort of Crown Point, capturing more British soldiers, some with families, and artillery. Together the forts yielded to the Americans 78 cannon, six mortars, three howitzers and a massive amount of ammunition. In an extraordinary move, American Colonel Henry Knox transported many of these captured guns to Boston, where they played a crucial role in the siege of the town. They were placed on Dorchester Heights and forced the evacuation of the British from Boston in March 1776.

The fort remained American hands for just over a year. In July 1777, British General John Burgoyne forced the Continentals to evacuate.

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