After the British capture of Fort Ticonderoga on July 5, 1777, Major General Benjamin Lincoln was ordered to Vermont to organize militia being raised in New England, with part of his mission to harass General John Burgoyne‘s long supply and communication lines to Canada. That September, following the Battle of Bennington, Lincoln sent three 500-man detachments to take on this task.
The plan included an attack on Fort Ticonderoga from the west under Colonel John Brown, while Colonel Samuel Johnson created a diversion with an attack on Mount Independence, across Lake Champlain. At the same time, Colonel Ruggles Woodbridge was sent to occupy Skenesboro (now Whitehall), which had been abandoned by the British, and then move south through Fort Anne to Fort Edward toward Burgoyne’s army massing near Saratoga.
Ticonderoga was commanded by British Brigadier General Henry Powell with about 900 soldiers carelessly posted, allowing Brown two spend two days in the area preparing before launching an attack at dawn on September 18th. Brown’s men attacked the landing at Lake George (at the outlet into the La Chute River flowing past the Fort into Lake Champlain) which overtook the guard on Mount Defiance. The Americans quickly gained control of nearly all of the west shore, freeing over a hundred American prisoners and capturing 300 British.
Johnson however, reached Mount Independence too late, only after word had spread to the Prince Frederick Regiment stationed there, and as a result Powell refused to surrender Fort Ticonderoga, defended by the Fifty-third Regiment. Instead, Brown ordered the fort’s positions bombarded with cannon for four days before withdrawing.
Using boats captured from the British brown’s men proceed south on Lake George with about 420 men to surprise the British holding Diamond Island, near what is now Lake George village. Winds kept them from the attack, until about 9 am on September 24th, by which time the British garrisoned there had been warned by a paroled Loyalist. Outgunned, Brown withdrew his forces after a short cannonade, landing on the east shore of Lake George. There they burned their boats and moved to join Lincoln.
Fort Ticonderoga will present a two-day battle reenactment highlighting Brown’s Raid. Guests will be able to witness the action unfold, as patriot Colonel John Brown leads a surprise attack against British troops garrisoning Fort Ticonderoga all weekend, September 17- 18. Each day is different, as visitors experience the whole story of Brown’s Raid, with battle reenactments at 1:15 pm.
On Saturday, visitors will experience the first moments of Colonel Brown’s attack, as they send the surprised British into chaos, reeling back towards their fortifications. Sunday, visitors will experience a crescendo of firepower, as the British and Colonel Brown’s raiders trade musket and cannon shots.
There will be a battle briefing at 12:30 pm each day, explaining the story behind all the recreated action.
Visitors can also explore the Royal Navy’s role in defending Ticonderoga from Lake Champlain aboard the tour boat, Carillon, and at Mount Defiance, meet the guard of Vermont rangers who had attacked British-held Fort Ticonderoga with their own cannon.
Admission to Brown’s Raid is included in a Fort Ticonderoga general admission ticket. For the full event schedule and to learn more about the event, visit www.fortticonderoga.org.
Welcoming visitors since 1909, Fort Ticonderoga preserves North America’s largest 18th-century artillery collection, 2,000 acres of historic landscape on Lake Champlain, the Carillon Battlefield, and the largest series of untouched Revolutionary War era earthworks surviving in America. Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, historic interpretation, boat cruises, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year, and is open for daily visitation May through October.
Tickets are buy-one-day get the next day FREE.
Bown’s raid reenactment photo by Mark Morello (courtesy Fort Ticonderoga).