The Capture Of Fort Ticonderoga
: INDEPENDENCE DAY
: Good Stories For Great Holidays
BY WASHINGTON IRVING (ADAPTED)
Some bold spirits in Connecticut conceived the project of surprising the
old forts of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, already famous in the French
War. Their situation on Lake Champlain gave them the command of the main
route into Canada so that the possession of them would be all-important
in case of hostilities. They were feebly garrisoned and negligently
guarded, and abundan
ly furnished with artillery and military stores so
needed by the patriot army.
At this juncture Ethan Allen stepped forward, a patriot, and volunteered
with his "Green Mountain Boys." He was well fitted for the enterprise.
During the border warfare over the New Hampshire Grants, he and his
lieutenants had been outlawed by the Legislature of New York and
rewards offered for their apprehension. He and his associates had armed
themselves, set New York at defiance, and had sworn they would be the
death of any one who should try to arrest them.
Thus Ethan Allen had become a kind of Robin Hood among the mountains.
His experience as a frontier champion, his robustness of mind and
body, and his fearless spirit made him a most desirable leader in the
expedition against Fort Ticonderoga. Therefore he was appointed at the
head of the attacking force.
Accompanied by Benjamin Arnold and two other officers, Allen and his
party of soldiers who had been enlisted from several States, set out
and arrived at Shoreham, opposite Fort Ticonderoga on the shore of Lake
Champlain. They reached the place at night-time. There were only a few
boats on hand, but the transfer of men began immediately. It was slow
work. The night wore away; day was about to break, and but eighty-three
men, with Allen and Arnold, had crossed. Should they wait for the rest
to cross over, day would dawn, the garrison wake, and their enterprise
Allen drew up his men, addressed them in his own emphatic style, and
announced his intention of making a dash at the fort without waiting for
"It is a desperate attempt," said he, "and I ask no man to go against
his will. I will take the lead, and be the first to advance. You that
are willing to follow, poise your firelocks!"
Not a firelock but was poised!
They mounted the hill briskly but in silence, guided by a boy from the
The day dawned as Allen arrived at a sally-port. A sentry pulled trigger
on him, but his piece missed fire. He retreated through a covered way.
Allen and his men followed. Another sentry thrust at an officer with his
bayonet, but was struck down by Allen, and begged for quarter. It was
granted on condition of his leading the way instantly to the quarters of
the commandant, Captain Delaplace, who was yet in bed.
Being arrived there, Allen thundered at the door, and demanded a
surrender of the fort. By this time his followers had formed into two
lines on the parade-ground, and given three hearty cheers.
The commandant appeared at the door half-dressed, the frightened face
of his pretty wife peering over his shoulder. He gazed at Allen in
"By whose authority do you act?" exclaimed he.
"In the name of the Continental Congress!" replied Allen, with a
flourish of his sword, and an oath which we do not care to subjoin.
There was no disputing the point. The garrison, like the commandant,
had been startled from sleep, and made prisoners as they rushed forth
in their confusion. A surrender accordingly took place. The captain
and forty-eight men who composed his garrison were sent prisoners to
Hartford, in Connecticut.
And thus without the loss of a single man, one of the important forts,
commanding the main route into Canada, fell into the hands of the