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Forts and Battlefields Tour: from Chambly, Quebec to Saratoga, New York.

The Forts and Battlefields Bus Tour was an expansion of our previous trips to include more sites relating to the American Revolution. Our other tours had concentrated on the Mohawk Valley (The Loyalist Gazette, Spring 1999, pp. 31-36) and the Lower Hudson Valley (The Loyalist Gazette, Fall 2001, pp. 14-21) and we learned more about where our Palatine and Loyalists ancestors lived. We tended on these trips to visit other sites besides battles, such as churches and homes.

The Forts and Battlefields Tour took place in a four-day period, 26 to 29 September 2003 and covered historic sites from the Seven Years War (French and Indian War), The American Revolution and the War of 1812-14. Earlier history relating to these sites was also available.

The trip included participants from four UEL Branches: Sir Guy Carleton, St. Lawrence, Hamilton and Colonel John Butler. The tour was fully subscribed and included people from across Canada and one couple from the United States who were of Loyalist descent.

One of the highlights of the trip was the banquet held at the Ramada Inn at Glens Falls on Saturday evening. The speaker was Paul Loding, a local historian in the Glens Falls-Hudson Falls area. He arrived wearing the costume of a Brigadier-General in the British Army. Paul talked to us about the 1780 Onion River Raid of Major Christopher Carleton. The purpose of this raid was to divert attention from the raids of Sir John Johnson into the Mohawk Valley and Captain John Munro towards Ballstown, New York. About 150 Loyalists participated in this raid including Loyalists from Jessup's Corp. and the King's Rangers. Some of the Loyalists involved were William Johnson, son of Sir John Johnson, Major Edward Jessup, Lieutenant David Jones, Major James Rogers, Roger Stevens, George Campbell, John McMullen and William Moffat. This raid inflicted a major economic blow on the rebels.

The other evenings' dinners gave the participants lots of opportunity to interact and talk about their Loyalist and American connections. As part of the trip, a small book was circulated in which each participant could write a brief paragraph about their ancestor or connections to the revolution or other wars. This material was summarized after the trip and a copy given to all participants.

All four days were packed with things to do with stops being made at Crown Point (Fort St. Frederic), Ticonderoga, Hubbardton Battlefield, Bennington Battlefield, Bennington Monument, Roger's Island, Saratoga Battle Monument, Saratoga Battlefield, Fort William Henry, Fort Chambly and the Battle of Chateauguay. Many other places and sites were passed through and talked about on the trip including: Fort Covington, Battle of Valcour Island, Mount Defiance and Independence, Skenesborough (Whitehall), Fort Ann, Fort Edward, Schuylerville, Battle of Lake George, and Fort Lennox.

The waterways, which our tour followed, were the routes that allowed French and British and then American armies and navies to access this part of the North American continent for many reasons, including war. The Richelieu River flows into the St. Lawrence at Sorel, then upstream over the rapids at Chambly, then by St. Jean, and Isle-aux-Noix into Lake Champlain. At Crown Point and Ticonderoga the Lake narrows, and forts were built here to protect passage along this route. At the end of Lake Champlain there is access to Wood Creek at Skenesborough and then via a portage to the Hudson River. At Ticonderoga, there is a portage to Lake George. Once on the Hudson one can go all the way to New York City or take a portage over the Cohoes Fails and into the Mohawk River.

Battle of Chateauguay

This National Historic Site is located near Ormstown, Quebec along the Chateauguay River about 50 km southwest of Montreal. Adjacent to the site is an obelisk built to commemorate the Battle fought October 26, 1813.

Fort Chambly

This Fort was originally constructed about 1655 by Soldiers of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment under Jacques Chambly and is situated at Chambly, Quebec on the Richelieu River. After many years of not being maintained, the Fort was restored by Parks Canada in 1983 and is now a National Historic Park. The Fort is a rare example of a restored 18th century fort. The exhibits presented gives one a window into the history of New France. The fort itself was used principally as a storage building during the revolution and was abandoned to the Americans in 1775.

Fort St. Jean and Ile-aux-Noix

Fortifications were built early at both of these places (1666 and 1658). These forts were refortified during the Seven Years War. In 1775, Carleton made his stand at Fort St. Jean and delayed the American advance under Montgomery thus forcing him into a winter campaign.

Crown Point

Crown Point is located at the southern end of Lake Champlain on the isthmus jutting north into the lake and opposite Chimney Point. Fortifications were first constructed here by the French in 1738 and named Fort Frederic. During the Seven Years War at Lake George, Sir William Johnson defeated a French force from Crown Point. In 1758 the French realized they could not hold the fortifications and destroyed the fort. With the British in position in 1759, they decided to build a new fortress at Crown Point. With the fall of Quebec City to the British construction ceased and land was granted to soldiers to encourage settlement. In 1775 Seth Warner and the Green Mountain Boys captured the fort and cannon, which were moved, with those from Ticonderoga, to Boston by General Henry Knox. When the American army retreated from Canada in 1776 they again occupied Crown Point for a short time and then retreated to Ticonderoga. Crown Point was held by the British until the end of the Revolution.

Fort Ticonderoga

Fort Ticonderoga is located on a high bluff overlooking Lake Champlain where the LaChute River empties into Lake Champlain from Lake George. This fort was built at a strategic point which controlled the only practical route between the British Colonies and the French Colonies in North America. In 1755 the French built the first fort and called it Carillon. They withstood a siege by the British in 1758 but the fort fell to the British in 1759. The French blew up the fort but it was rebuilt by the British as Fort Ticonderoga. With the fall of Quebec City, the French threat was gone and the fort was allowed to fall into ruin. By 1775 the tort was barely defended and was easily captured by Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen. The cannons were removed and taken to Boston by General Henry Knox. The path he took is marked at about six mile intervals by large brass markers. Following the disastrous attack on Canada in 1775-76 the Americans fell back to Ticonderoga. In 1777, as Burgoyne's army approached, the Americans abandoned the fort. It remained in British hands until the surrender at Saratoga in October 1777.

Mount Defiance and Mount Independence

Mount Defiance (State of New York) overlooks Fort Ticonderoga. Mount Independence (State of Vermont) is a rugged hill at the same height as the fort but on the east side of Lake Champlain. After Ticonderoga was captured by the Americans in 1775, work was begun on fortifications on Mount Independence since it commanded the narrow passage through Lake Champlain strategically better than the fort. Throughout 1776, the 13,000 American soldiers stationed at Ticonderoga and Mount Independence held the British Army in check. When General Burgoyne headed south on Lake Champlain in 1777, he realized that Mount Defiance could command the fort and had a road hacked to the top. By July 5, 1777 it was noticed the British were active at the top of Mount Defiance and the Americans made the decision to abandon the fort. While we did not visit either of these sites during the tour, Elizabeth and I visited Mount Defiance in October. The access road is found in the village of Ticonderoga and only just manageable with a car. Once at the top however, the view is fantastic both up and down the river and into the State of Vermont. It is rather obvious that whoever commanded this height also commanded the fort. Located at the base of Mont Defiance in the village of Ticonderoga is a plaque marking the grave of Lord Howe who was a commander in the British Army under Abercrombie and was killed on 6 July 1758 during the Seven Years War.

Skenesborough (Whitehall)

Skenesborough is located at the south end of Lake Champlain on Wood Creek. It was established in 1759 by British Army Captain Philip Skene. In May 1755 Skenesborough was captured by Arnold. It was here in 1776 that a fleet of boats was built which saw action at the Battle of Valcour Island in October 1776. Skenesborough is known as the birthplace of the US Navy. The hull of the USS Ticonderoga, sunk during the War of 1812, resides here. The rebuilt Skenesborough Mansion sits on watch high above the village.

Battle of Lake George

Lake George was the scene of a number of military events that had an effect on the early history of the United States and Canada. In 1755, Major General William Johnson led his force of colonial troops and Indians against the French. The Battles of Bloody Morning Scout, Lake George and Bloody Pond ensued and the French were forced to retreat northward. The Lake was originally named Lac du Saint Sacrement and Johnson renamed it Lake George. There is a monument there to William Johnson and King Hendrick of the Mohawk Indian Nation commemorating these battles. William Johnson was created a baronet and given a cash award for his good work here.

Fort William Henry

Fort William Henry was constructed near the Lake George battleground by Sir William Johnson. In 1757 the fort surrendered to a French army under General Montcalm. He paroled the British troops with their families and sent them south with a small French guard. The Indian allies with the French attacked and a bloody massacre followed. Montcalm destroyed the fort which remained buried until about 1953 when it was rebuilt.

Fort Ann, Fort Edward and Fort Miller

The British built Fort Ann during the Seven Years War. In July 1777 as Burgoyne's army moved south, a battle took place here that caused the Americans to abandon and burn the fort. It is said that the nation's new "Stars and Stripes" flag was flown for the first time at this battle on July 7, 1777.

At Fort Edward there were several forts built over the years starting in 1709. In 1755, during the Seven Years War, Fort Lyman was built here as part of a chain of forts to protect the American frontier. It was renamed Fort Edward after King George III's brother by William Johnson. On July 27, 1777, as Burgoyne approached Fort Edward, the murder of Jane McCrea took place, possibly during a gun battle between the Indians escorting her and American militia (she was visiting friends at Fort Edward and had arranged to meet her fiance David Jones, a Loyalist in Burgoyne's army). This murder resulted in a great deal of anti-British sentiment and many new recruits joined Schuyler to resist the British invasion. Fort Miller is at the south end of the town of Fort Edward. It was here that Burgoyne set up his headquarters in the house of William Duer who was a delegate to the Continental Congress. He needed supplies and chose to stay here while he built up his supplies. Hearing that there was a store of supplies at Bennington he sent Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum to raid that supply depot.

Old Fort House Museum

Located at Fort Edward is the Old Fort House Museum which was the home of Loyalist Dr. Patrick Smythe, known as "Hudibras." Smythe was a secret agent for Justus Sherwood. Smythe was placed under house arrest by Arnold when the American army was stationed there.

Hubbardton Battlefield

This battlefield is located near Hubbardton along the Castleton Road in Vermont. On July 7, 1777, as Burgoyne continued to follow the retreat of the Americans, he caught up to the rear guard at Huddardton. The battle resulted in heavy loses on both sides. Technically the British won, but the main American column continued to withdraw under this effective rear guard action. The battlefield is commemorated by a large stone monument.

Bennington Battlefield and Battle Monument

This battlefield is a few miles west of Bennington in Walloomsac, near North Hoosick, New York. Two battles took place here oil August 14 and 16, 1777. Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum and his German troops, having been sent to raid a supply depot at Bennington, were routed by the Americans under Stark but they were saved by the arrival of Colonel Heinrich Breyman. The Americans continued to withdraw to Bennington having prevented Burgoyne from attacking the supply depot.

The Bennington Battle Monument is located in Bennington, Vermont. It marks the location of the supply depot which General Burgoyne had sent Baum to capture. The monument is 306 feet tall and offers a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.

Saratoga Battlefield and Battle Monument

The Battle Monument is located in Victory, NY, next to Schuylerville. It was dedicated on October 17, 1912 to mark the 125th year of the surrender. The monument is not as tall as Bennington but still offers a good view of the countryside, provided one is not nervous of the open stairway that leads to the top.

Having been routed at Bennington, Burgoyne crossed the Hudson River at Fort Edward, and moved southward towards Albany. The Americans under Schuyler and then Gates had prepared a battlefield at Bemis Heights near a small town called Stillwater, just south of present day Schuylerville. The fortifications had been prepared by a Polish Military officer Colonel Thaddeus Kosciusko. The first battle took place on September 15, 1777 around Freeman's farm. The British won the field but had not taken Bemis Heights. Burgoyne then proceeded to wait for a relief column from New York City. On October 7, 1777 the second battle of Saratoga began. By this time the American army outnumbered the British. As the British ranks began to crumble, Benedict Arnold led a charge against the British centre causing Burgoyne to withdraw. In the days action General Simon Fraser was mortally wounded and died the next day. The British army continued to withdraw, but were quickly surrounded by a now enormous American army numbering 20,000. Terms of surrender were agreed to by October 15th. The actual surrender ceremony including the grounding of arms took place two days later on October 17, 1777. We were given a superb rendition of the battles by our historic interpreter, Eric Schnitzer.

Schuylerville

In Schuylerville, New York on October 17, 1777 at the ruins of Fort Hardy, General Burgoyne's army grounded their arms. The surrender Tree Historic Plaque commemorates this event. Following this, the British withdrew from the Champlain Valley blowing up Fort Ticonderoga as they left. A little south of Schuylerville along Route 4 is another plaque which commemorates the event where General Burgoyne surrendered his sword to General Gates.

Roger's Island

Roger's Island is located in the Hudson River directly across from Fort Edward. It is mainly connected with the events of the Seven Years War. One of the members of the New Hampshire Regiment, Robert Rogers formed a ranger company. They saw action in 1756 at Crown Point. They were stationed on this island in the Hudson River. In 1757 Rogers and his men were outnumbered during a scouting patrol. Many were killed but some escaped to Fort William Henry where they suffered during the massacre.

Thank You

We would like to thank all those who participated in this tour thus making it a success and enabling the raising of funds for the Loyalist 2014 Centennial Project and the Bernice Flett Scholarship Fund.

We are now taking registrations for next years trip which will cover Dutch, Huguenot, Palatine and Revolutionary War sites in the Hudson Valley (October 1-4, 2004).

About the Authors and Tour Guides

This article is a summary of the tour booklet, given to each participant.

Elizabeth Kipp is of British ancestry and is currently taking courses at the National Institute of Genealogical Studies.

Edward Kipp, UE, CMH has the following UE ancestors: Ontario--Philip Empey Sr. and John Link (both KRRNY); New Brunswick--Peter Parlee (New Jersey Volunteers), Anna Lydecker and Joseph Folkins.

Janet Anderson has British ancestry and may have a UE ancestor.

George Anderson, UE, CMH has the following Loyalist ancestors: Philip Empey Sr. Henry, Suffrenius and Warner Casselman, John Marcellus, John Mclntyre, Michael Vankoughnet, Peter and John Weaver; from Vermont--Samuel Anderson, Albert and Jeremiah French.
COPYRIGHT 2004 United Empire Loyalists' Association
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Author:Kipp, Elizabeth; Kipp, Edward; Anderson, Janet; Anderson, George
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Words:2788
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