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ties of America deposed under God, on the firm union of
its inhabitants, in a vigorous prosecution of the measures
necessary for its safety and convinced of the necessity
of preventing the anarchy and confusion which attend a
dissolution of the Powers of Government, we the free-
holders and inhabitants of the town of Bennington, on
the New Hampshire Grants in the County of Albany and
province of N. York being Greatly alarmed at the
avowed design of the Ministry to raise a revenue in
America, and shocked by the bloody scene now acting in
the Massachusetts bay do in the most solemn manner
resolve never to bee Slaves; and do associate under all
the ties of religion, honour and love to our Country do
adopt, and endeavor to carry into execution whatever
Measures may be recommended by the Continental Con-
gress or resolved upon by our Provincial Convention for
of preserving our Constitution and opposing the execu-
tion of Several Arbitrary and oppressive acts of the
British Parliament, until a reconciliation between Great
Britain and America on Constitutional principles, which
we most ardently desire can be obtained; and that we
will in all things follow the advice of our general Com-
mittee Respecting the Purposes aforesaid, the preserva-



418 HISTORY OF VERMONT

tion of Peace and Good order, and the Safety of individ-
uals and Private Property."

There are records showing that the document was
signed in several towns in what is now the State of
Vermont, and presumably it was signed in other towns
concerning which no record now exists.

The Force Archives contain a list of twenty-one sign-
ers in Weathersfield, and in that town three persons
refused to sign. There were fifty-one signers in Spring-
field and the same number in Townshend, this number
being all the men in town on July 12, 1775. The orig-
inal copy of this "association" signed by thirty-eight
men of Bennington, is one of the prized possessions of
the Vermont Historical Society.



Chapter XIII
THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA



HOSTILITY to British authority in New England
during the spring of 1775 was not confined to
the passage of resolutions, but rather showed
itself in a series of aggressive acts. The Massachusetts
Congress adopted a resolution on February 15, 1775,
directing a Committee to open correspondence with the
Canadians and northern Indians in the hope of keeping
them neutral in the impending contest. John Brown,
of Pittsfield, Mass., was chosen an agent to proceed to
Canada on this business, and he was provided with the
necessary letters and documents, signed by Samuel
Adams and Joseph Warren. He was ordered to "estab-
lish a reliable means of communication through the
Grants." Late in February he set out on his errand,
going first to Albany, N. Y., and thence to Lake Cham-
plain.

Brown secured as guides Peleg Sunderland, one of the
active leaders of the Green Mountain Boys, a veteran
hunter, acquainted with the St. Francis Indians and
their language; also Winthrop Hoyt, for many years a
captive in the Caughnawaga country. The journey
was exceedingly difficult. The ice in Lake Champlain
had broken up early that year. The lake and its
tributary streams were swollen, and much of the sur-
rounding country was flooded. Attempting to make the
trip in a boat, the craft was driven against an island,
where the party was frozen in for two days. The
Indians and Canadians were reached, at last, and were
found to be well disposed toward their New England
neighbors.



422 HISTORY OF VERMONT

While in Montreal, Brown wrote to Samuel Adams
and Joseph Warren, of the Boston committee of corre-
spondence, under date of March 24, in part as follows :
"One thing I must mention to be kept a profound secret.
The fort at Ticonderoga must be seized as soon as possi-
ble, should hostilities be committed by the King's troops.
The people on New Hampshire Grants have engaged to
do this business, and, in my opinion, they are the most
proper persons for the job. This will effectually curb
this Province and all the troops that may be sent here."
On March 29 he wrote to Adams and Warren from the
same place: "I have established a channel of corre-
spondence through the New Hampshire Grants, which
may be depended on."

If the Green Mountain Boys had "engaged to do this
business," the matter must have been discussed more
than two months before the fortress was taken, probably
at the time Sunderland was engaged as a guide. It was
a natural thing that the first thoughts of the people of
New England, with the possibility of an armed conflict
in mind, should turn to Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and
Lake George, where not a few of them had received
warlike training in a very practical military school.

It is not possible to say with absolute precision of
any man, or body of men, that he, or they, first sug-
gested the capture of these fortresses. It was the
obvious thing to do as a matter of safety, and must have
occurred to many people in this anxious period preced-
ing the actual outbreak of hostilities as a wise and
prudent policy; but John Brown and his friends on the
New^ Hampshire Grants appear to have as good a title



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 423

as any to the distinction of being among the earliest to
consider in serious fashion the capture of these British
posts.

Immediately after the battle of Lexington the prin-
cipal officers of the Green Mountain Boys and the lead-
ing citizens of the New Hampshire Grants met at Ben-
nington to discuss the situation. The peril of the set-
tlers in the valleys of the Otter Creek and Winooski
was discussed, and it was agreed that unless Ticon-
deroga and Crown Point were taken from the British,
these posts would be reinforced and strengthened, mak-
ing necessary the abandonment of the isolated farms in
the Champlain valley.

"While these matters were deliberating," says Ethan
Allen, in his Narrative, "a committee from the Council of
Connecticut arrived at Bennington, with advice and
directions to carry into execution the surprise of those
garrisons (Crown Point and Ticonderoga), and, if pos-
sible, to gain the command of the lake."

Capt. Benedict Arnold, of New Haven, Conn., on
April 26, met Col. Samuel H. Parsons, a member of the
Connecticut Assembly, on the way from Massachusetts
to Hartford, and mentioned the conditions existing at
Ticonderoga. The next day Colonel Parsons, Col.
Samuel Wyllys, and Silas Deane, a member of the Con-
tinental Congress, taking as associates Thomas Mum-
ford, Christopher Leffingwell, and Adam Babcock, met
in Hartford to consider the possibility of the capture
of the Lake Champlain fortresses. Having decided that
the project was feasible, they obtained three hundred
pounds from the colonial treasury upon promising to



424 HISTORY OF VERMONT

account for this sum to the satisfaction of the colony.
It should be remembered in this connection that Con-
necticut for all practical purposes was a self-governing-
province.

The idea that the people on the New Hampshire
Grants were the "most proper persons for this job"
seems to have been the opinion of these Connecticut
patriots, as well as that of John Brown, of Pittsfield.
The sinews of war having been secured, Noah Phelps
and Bernard Romans, an engineer, were directed to
proceed to the Grants and left on Friday, April 28.
Capt. Edward Mott, Epaphras Bull, and four others fol-
lowed the next day, and overtook Phelps and Romans
at Salisbury, Conn., where the party was increased to
sixteen and a quantity of powder and ball was pur-
chased. At Sheffield, Mass., two men were sent to
Albany, "to ascertain the temper of the people."
Travelling all day Sunday, a practice not customary in
those days, the Connecticut men arrived at Pittsfield on
Monday, May 1. Here they were joined by Col. James
Easton, an inn keeper, Captain Dickinson, and John
Brown, whose recent Canadian trip made him a valuable
associate.

It had been thought best, in order that suspicion
should not be aroused, to raise no considerable body of
men until the Grants were reached, but owing to the
scarcity of provisions in that region, and the poverty of
the Green Mountain settlers, upon the advice of Brown
and Easton a few men — about forty — were raised in the
hill country of the Berkshires. While these men were
being enlisted, Heman Allen was sent forward to



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 425

acquaint his brother Ethan with the project on foot. In
passing it should be said that the claim sometimes made
to the effect that John Hancock and Samuel Adams were
associated with the Connecticut leaders in organizing
this expedition does not appear to be well founded,
although it is probable that Adams was familiar with
the general plan.

After raising a small party of recruits, Easton and
Mott left Pittsfield for Bennington. On the way they
met a courier riding in haste — an express, to use the
phraseology current at that time — sent out to inform
them that a man had arrived from Ticonderoga who
said that the garrison at the fort had been reinforced,
and the soldiers were on their guard, and advising
against proceeding further with the expedition. Mott
and Easton refused to abandon the expedition, the for-
mer declaring that with the two hundred men they pro-
posed to raise he would not be afraid "to go round the
fort in open light," adding that the rumors of evil the
messenger brought "would not do to go back with and
tell in Hartford." At Bennington they found those of
their party who had preceded them unw^illing to place
any credence in the alarming rumor concerning Ticon-
deroga, Mr, Halsey and Mr. Bull stoutly asserting that
"they would go back for no story until they had seen
the fort themselves."

A council of war was summoned at the Catamount
Tavern in Bennington, famous as the favorite rendez-
vous of Ethan Allen and his associates. The leader of
the Green Mountain Boys needed no urging to under-
take this task. It was an enterprise that appealed



426 HISTORY OF VERMONT

powerfully to his adventurous and patriotic nature; and
no Scottish chieftain ever set out with greater ardor to
assemble his clansmen, than did Ethan Allen, as he
started northward to summon the sturdy pioneers, who
acknowledged his leadership. The Connecticut and
Massachusetts men, securing a small quantity of pro-
visions, followed Allen to Castleton.

Meanwhile Noah Phelps and Ezra Hickok had been
sent to reconnoitre at Ticonderoga. Williams' "His-
tory of Vermont" says that Phelps disguised himself as
one of the poor settlers living in the vicinity and went
to the fort under pretence that he wanted to be shaved,
inquiring for the barber. His awkward appearance and
simple questions made it possible for him to observe con-
ditions and depart unmolested, according to this early
historian. This story is also told in Thompson's "Ver-
mont."

Hinman's "Connecticut in the Revolution," however,
tells a different tale. According to this account Phelps
proceeded from the southern part of Lake Champlain
in a boat, stopping for the night at a tavern near Fort
Ticonderoga. He was assigned to a room adjoining one
in which the officers of the garrison were giving a supper
party, the festivities lasting until a late hour. The Con-
necticut spy, listening intently, heard the officers discuss
the unrest prevailing in the colonies, and the condition
of the fortress. Very early the next morning Phelps
gained admission to the fort for the purpose of being
shaved. While returning through the fort the com-
manding officer walked with this traveller, and discussed
with him the movements and purposes of the rebellious



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 427

subjects of the King. Observing that a part of the wall
was in a dilapidated condition Phelps remarked that it
"would afford a feeble defense against the rebels in case
of an attack." Captain Delaplace volunteered the in-
formation that a breach in the walls was not the greatest
misfortune, as all the powder was damaged, and that
before it could be used it was necessary to sift and dry it.

Phelps, being ready to depart, employed a boatman
to row him down the lake in a small boat, entering the
craft under the guns of the fort. Before he had gone
far he urged greater speed, and was asked to take an
oar, but declined, saying he was not a boatman. How-
ever, after rounding a point of land, which screened
them from sight of the fort, Phelps took an oar without
any invitation and rowed with such vigor that the boat-
man exclaimed, with an oath, "You have seen a boat
before now, sir." The suspicions of the man from the
fort were aroused, but Phelps being the larger and more
powerful of the two, prudence was considered "the better
part of valor," and no attempt was made to take the
mysterious stranger back to Ticonderoga, all of which
was related by the boatman to Phelps after the surrender
of the fort.

This latter account makes no mention of any disguise,
or any attempt to play the fool. The commanding
officer evidently supposed that he was conversing with
an intelligent and loyal British subject. It is by far
the more plausible story of the two. Phelps arrived
at Castleton the evening of May 9.

Almost immediately after the arrival of the Connecti-
cut and Massachusetts party at Bennington, the roads to



4-28 HISTORY OF VERMONT

Fort Edward, Lake George, Skenesborough, Ticon-
deroga, and Crown Point were guarded, and steps were
taken to summon the Green Mountain Boys for the cap-
ture of the two forts. Among the messengers sent out
by Allen to warn the men living on isolated farms that
their presence at Castleton was urgently needed, was
Samuel Beach, a blacksmith, and a prominent and active
member of this band which ruled the Grants. In his
"History of Shoreham" Goodhue says that "Beach went
on foot to Rutland, Pitts ford, Brandon, Middlebury,
Whiting, and Shoreham, making a circuit of sixty miles
in twenty-four hours." This is one of the remarkable
episodes of the American Revolution, and one that never
has received the publicity or the praise that it deserves.
The ride of Paul Revere was a holiday excursion com-
pared with the journey of Samuel Beach. Consider for
a moment the nature of the task. Every step must be
taken on foot, through a country practically without
roads, an expanse of forest broken only at long intervals
by a little clearing. The messenger must climb steep
hills, thread his way through the valleys, avoid swamps,
and cross unbridged streams. He must know where the
scattered homesteads lay, make many a detour to reach
them with no unnecessary loss of time, pausing to ex-
plain his errand. As night fell, still he must hold to a
course not easily followed by daylight, and pause to
arouse each family from sleep.

A journey of sixty miles on foot in a single day, over
good roads, with a summons to battle to deliver, would
be considered a feat of which a modern athlete might
boast ; but it is an insignificant performance when com-



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 429

pared with the exploit of this early Revolutionary
courier.

Mrs. Julia C. R. Dorr, the Vermont poet, has written
of the journey of Beach in a poem entitled "The
Armorer's Errand." She says of the hero:

"Blacksmith and armorer stout was he,
"First in the fight and first in the breach,
"And first in the work where a man should be."

Of the errand itself the poet writes:

"He threaded the valleys, he climbed the hills,
"He forded the rivers, he leaped the rills.
"While still to his call, like minute men
"Booted and spurred, from mount and glen,
"The settlers rallied. But on he went
"Like an arrow shot from a bow, unspent,
"Down the long vale of the Otter to where
"The might of the waterfall thundered in air ;
"Then across to the lake, six leagues and more,
"Where Hand's Cove lay in the bending shore,
"The goal was reached. He dropped to the ground
"In a deep ravine, without word or sound.
"And sleep, the restorer, bade him rest
"Like a weary child, on the earth's brown breast."

Headquarters were established at the tavern of Zadock
Remington, in Castleton, on Sunday evening. May 7.
On Monday one hundred and seventy men had gathered
there. That day the Committee of War met at the
farmhouse of Richard Bentley, Edward Mott acting as
chairman, and formulated a plan of campaign. After



430 HISTORY OF VERMONT

debating various possible methods of procedure, and
considering the manner of retreat in the event of a re-
pulse, it was voted that on the following afternoon, May
9, Capt. Samuel Herrick, with thirty men, should be
sent to Skenesborough to capture Major Skene, his
party, and last, but by no means least, his boats, which
should be brought during the night to Shoreham, for
use in transporting troops to Ticonderoga. The re-
mainder of the men at Castleton, then about one hun-
dred and forty, were to proceed to Shoreham to a point
opposite the fort. Captain Douglass was sent to Crown
Point to see if he could arrange, with the aid of his
brother-in-law, who lived there, some strategem for
renting the boats at the fort, belonging to the British
army. It was also voted that Col. Ethan Allen should
command the expedition against Ticonderoga, as the
promise had been made by Mott that the men should
serve under their own officers. Allen having received
his orders from the committee, left for Shoreham to
meet at Mr. Wessell's house, by agreement, some men
who were to come there.

The same evening there appeared at Castleton Col.
Benedict Arnold, who had received from the Massa-
chusetts Committee of Safety, at Cambridge, May 3,
authority to command a body of men to be raised in the
western part of the colony, not exceeding four hundred,
for the purpose of capturing Ticonderoga. He was to
have a sufficient armament and garrison to defend the
post, and take back to Massachusetts such stores and
artillery as might be useful to the army. Arnold, how-
ever, did not stop to raise the four hundred men author-



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 431

ized. There is a strong probability that he had heard
of the expedition under Connecticut auspices, and, fear-
ing that the fortresses would be taken without his aid,
made haste to the rendezvous at Castleton.

When Arnold arrived he was accompanied only by a
body servant. Without a soldier raised under his
Massachusetts commission, he demanded that the com-
mand of the expedition be turned over to him, assert-
ing that the force assembled had no proper orders. The
pioneers who had assembled in haste for the serious busi-
ness of capturing the King's forts were in no mood to
yield to such a demand. Mott, chairman of the Com-
mittee of War, at the time was a mile and a half away
with the Skenesborough party, but was sent for, and
on his arrival told the lone colonel that the soldiers
assembled were raised on condition that they should be
commanded by their own officers, and the whole plan
was explained to Arnold. Nevertheless, as Mott says,
he "strenuously contended and insisted upon his right
to command them and all their officers."

This demand created the greatest indignation among
the volunteers, and they threatened to abandon the expe-
dition then and there and leave for their homes. This
hasty action was prevented by the exertions of the offi-
cers, and, an incipient mutiny was quelled for a time.
Still determined to have the honor of the chief com-
mand, Arnold set out the next morning to find Allen.
The whole party followed fearing that their leader would
yield to the demand that he relinquish the command, but
Allen declined to accede to the request. Allen and
Easton assured the men that Arnold should not com-



432 HISTORY OF VERMONT

mand them, but that in any event their pay should be the
same. The response to this statement, according to
Mott, was that "they would damn their pay, and say
that they would not be commanded by any others but
those they engaged with."

Resuming the business of the expedition, the party
left Castleton, going by way of Sudbury to the old
Crown Point Military Road. This route they followed
through Whiting, and reached the lake shore at Hand's
Cove, in Shoreham, about two miles north of Ticon-
deroga, after dark on the evening of May 9. This route,
about twenty-five miles long, was taken rather than the
one through Benson, seven or eight miles shorter, be-
cause there was less probability of discovery. More-
over, the place where they reached the shore was a
wooded ravine, where they were concealed from view.

According to Allen's account he now had "230 valiant
Green Mountain Boys," and it is known that thirty-nine
or forty men had been raised in western Massachusetts.
Colonel Easton says there were about two hundred and
forty men. There is a little uncertainty, however, re-
garding the exact size of the force assembled.

The great need now was boats. The eflfort to secure
means of transportation by water had not been success-
ful, and when Hand's Cove was reached no boats were
in waiting. Captain Douglass had gone for a scow in
Bridport owned by a Mr. Smith. On his way he stopped
at the home of a Mr. Stone, in Bridport, to secure the
aid of a man named Chapman. The family had retired
for the night, but was aroused. Two young men, James
Wilcox and Joseph Tyler, sleeping in a chamber, over-



THE CAPTURE OE TICONDEROGA 433

heard the conversation and immediately decided to
secure, if possible, Major Skene's large rowboat off
Willow Point, on the Smith farm, in the northwest part
of Bridport, known to be in charge of a colored servant
who had a fondness for "strong waters." Dressing
hastily they took their guns and a jug of New England
rum as bait for the Negro, and enlisting the aid of four
companions they started on their errand. Arriving at
the shore, they hailed the boat, telling the story of being
on the way to join a hunting party at Shoreham. The
jug of rum was exhibited and they offered to help in
rowing the boat. The temptation proved sufficiently
alluring, the boat was brought over, and Jack and his
two companions proceeded on their way with the pas-
sengers, only to find that the hunting party at Shoreham
was the kind that made prisoners of war. About the
same time Captain Douglass arrived with a scow, and
a few small boats also had been collected.

The number of boats assembled was very inadequate
and morning was fast approaching. It was decided,
therefore, to wait no longer, but to proceed with the
means of transportation at hand. The impression gen-
erally given is that one trip was made to carry those
who captured the fort. Ira Allen declares, however, in
his history that "by passing and repassing they got over
about 80 men by the dawn of day." The exact number
participating in the attack, according to Ethan Allen,
was eighty- three. A landing was made about a half
mile from the fort.

Once more Arnold claimed the right to command.
"What shall I do with the damned rascal, put him under



434 HISTORY OF VERMONT

guard?" exclaimed Allen, in exasperation. Amos Cal-
lender advised that the two men enter the fort side by
side, and this course was agreed upon, Arnold marching
at Allen's left hand, according to Ira Allen's account
of the capture. William Gilliland, founder of West-
port, N. Y,, has also asserted that he was the means of
settling the dispute between Allen and Arnold.

Ethan Allen, however, was the commander, and the
authority was not divided with Arnold, or any other
man. James Easton was second in command, and Seth
Warner, who had been left behind at Hand's Cove, was
the third officer in rank.

The hour was now about four o'clock, and the day
was breaking. The men were drawn up in three lines
and, according to his own statement, Allen addressed his
little band as follows: ''Friends and fellow soldiers:
You have for a number of years past been a scourge and
terror to arbitrary powers. Your valor has been famed
abroad, and acknowledged, as appears by the advice and
orders to me from the General Assembly of Connecticut
to surprise and take the garrison now before us. I now
propose to advance before you, and, in person, conduct
you through the wicket gate; for we must this morn-
ing either quit our pretensions to valor, or possess our-
selves of this fortress in a few minutes; and, inasmuch
as it is a desperate attempt, which none but the bravest
of men dare undertake, I do not urge it on any contrary
to his will. You that will undertake voluntarily, poise
your firelocks."

Every gun was raised, Nathan Beeman, a lad living
opposite the fort, and familiar with all the surroundings,



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