The Capture Of Fort Ticonderoga

: Good Stories For Great Holidays


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

might fail.

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

more force.

"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

bewildered astonishment.

"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