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THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 435

acted as guide. Facing to the right, with Allen at the
head of the center file, and Arnold by his side, the little
force advanced to a wicket gate, which had been left
open wide enough for two men to enter abreast. The
men swarmed through rapidly, while some in their eager-
ness scaled the wall on either side of the gate. A sen-
tinel posted at the wicket snapped his fusee at Allen, but
the gun missed fire. Allen ran toward him and the sol-
dier retreated hastily through the covered way into the
parade, gave a shout, and ran under a bomb proof.
Edward Mott, in a letter to the Massachusetts pro-
vincial Congress, describing this scene, said: "Our
men * * * jj^ ^j^e most courageous and intrepid
manner darted like lightning upon the guards, so that
but two had time to snap their firelocks at us." The
New England soldiers rushed in quickly, formed in a
hollow square on the parade ground, and gave three
hearty cheers, which some persons have described as
Indian war whoops, thus arousing the sleeping garrison.
A sentry made a pass at one of the officers with a
bayonet, and inflicted a slight wound. Allen drew his
sword to kill the soldier, but changed his mind, dealing
a blow which cut the man on the side of the head, but
did not wound him severely, whereupon the sentry
dropped his gun and asked for mercy, which was
granted. Allen demanded of the frightened captive
where the quarters of the commanding officer, Capt.
William Delaplace, of His Majesty's Twenty-sixth regi-
ment, were to be found. A stairway in front of the
barracks on the west side of the garrison, leading to the
second story, was pointed out. Allen ascended this



436 HISTORY OF VERMONT

stairway, and in a stentorian voice threatened to sacri-
tice the wliole garrison unless the Captain came forth in-
stantly. Thereupon the surprised commandant appeared
at the head of the stairs clad in his shirt, with his
breeches in one hand. Allen demanded that the fort be
delivered instantly. The British Captain asked by what
authority the surrender of the fort was demanded, and
the Green Mountain leader replied: "In the name of
the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress."
"Damn it! What, what does this mean," stammered
Delaplace, but Allen interrupted him, and with a drawn
sword held over the head of the British officer called
for an immediate surrender of the garrison. With the
Americans already in possession there appeared to be no
opportunity of successful resistance, and the fort was
surrendered.

While the parley between Allen and Delaplace was
going on, acting under the orders of other officers, sev-
eral of the barrack doors had been beaten down and
about a third of the garrison was imprisoned. Accord-
ing to Colonel Easton's report there was "an inconsider-
able skirmish with cutlasses or bayonets, in which a
small number of the enemy received some wounds." All
this was accomplished in ten minutes, without loss of
life or the infliction of any serious wound.

Thus, on the very morning that the Continental Con-
gress was to assemble in Philadelphia, its authority was
invoked by the leader of a band of men, most of whom
acknowledged the jurisdiction of none of the thirteen
American colonies, to take possession of a fortress that
bulked large in the minds of the people of two continents.



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 437

Allen says of this occasion: "The sun seemed to
rise that morning with a superior lustre; and Ticon-
deroga and all its dependencies smiled on its conquerors,
who tossed about the flowing bowl, and wished success
to Congress, and the liberty and freedom of America."

Seth Warner and the remainder of the party left at
Hand's Cove soon arrived, and joined in the general
rejoicing.

The captured troops included Captain Delaplace,
Lieutenant Feltham, a conductor of artillery, a gunner,
two Sergeants, and forty-four rank and file, besides
women and children. The officers captured at Ticon-
deroga were sent to Connecticut in the charge of Messrs.
iiickok, Halsey, and Nichols, reaching Hartford, May
16. The other prisoners reached the same place two
days later in the charge of Epaphras Bull.

The ammunition and stores captured at Ticonderoga
included about one hundred and twenty iron cannon,
from six to twenty- four-pounders, fifty swivels of dif-
ferent sizes, two ten-inch mortars, one howit, one cohorn,
two brass cannon, ten tons of musket balls, three cart
loads of flints, thirty new carriages, a considerable
quantity of shells, one hundred stands of small arms, ten
casks of poor powder, a warehouse full of materials for
boat building, thirty barrels of flour, eighteen barrels
of pork, and a quantity of beans and peas. One of the
Ticonderoga cannon was known as "the Old Sow from
Cape Breton" and probably was one of the prizes taken
by the British at Louisbourg during the French and
Indian War.



438 HISTORY OF VERMONT

The first surrender of a British fortress, and of
British troops as prisoners of war, in the long struggle
lor American independence, including the first lowering
of His Majesty's colors, was made to Ethan AUen and
his Green Mountain Boys, and in the history of the mili-
tary affairs of the United States the capture of Ticon-
deroga heads the list as the first important aggressive
movement to be crowned with victory. It is true that
Ticonderoga at this time was a fortress "of broken walls
and gates," but it was by no means wholly indefensible.
Had life insurance policies been in vogue in this region
in the year 1775, the eighty-three men who proposed,
under prevailing conditions, to capture Ticonderoga
would not have been considered good risks. This fort
was one of the great prizes for which France and Great
Britain had contended, only a few years before, in a
series of campaigns. In the public mind it represented
the might and the power of Britain as surely as Gibral-
tar and Halifax have represented the strength of the
empire in a later day. The news of its capture by a
little band of untrained farmers was evidence to the
Mother Country that the rebellion was, indeed, a serious
matter. The tidings of Ethan Allen's victory cheered
every patriot heart throughout the length and breadth
of the American colonies, and its importance as an en-
couragement to those who sought to throw off the yoke
of British oppression cannot be over estimated. To the
general public it seemed that if Ticonderoga could be
taken, all things were possible.

The assertion is frequently made that Allen did not
demand the surrender of Ticonderoga in the historic



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 439

phrase, "in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Con-
tinental Congress," but rather in profane and vulgar
language. All the trustworthy evidence, however, goes
to show that the expression quoted actually was used.
Allen gives the phrase in his "Narrative," published at a
time when the great majority of the men who partici-
pated in the capture were living. It is given by his
brother, Ira Allen, who was one of the Ticonderoga
party, in a history written several years after Ethan's
death. It is quoted by Williams in his "History of
Vermont," published while survivors of the Ticonderoga
expedition were still living. It is also given by Good-
hue in his "History of Shoreham," and an aged survivor
of the immortal eighty-three told that author that Allen
used the words "in the name of the Great Jehovah and
the Continental Congress." Certainly this is better
evidence than can be adduced for any other version, and
ought to satisfy all fair minded critics until an equal
balance of testimony can be brought against it.

Immediately after the capture of Ticonderoga, John
Brown was sent as a messenger to acquaint the Conti-
nental Congress that in the name of that body this
British post had been captured. Just a week after the
surrender by Delaplace, Brown arrived at Philadelphia
with the rather startling information of the success
which had attended Allen's expedition. Apparently
Congress was not overjoyed at the news of this bloodless
victory. Such an important step as the capture of the
King's fortress of Ticonderoga almost took away the
breath of the members, and they adopted resolutions,
seeking to justify the act, by declaring that they had



440 HISTORY OF VERMONT

"indubitable evidence" of a design formed by the British
Government to invade this region, in which event the
stores and cannon would have been used against the
people of the colonies. It was directed that an inven-
tory be taken of the articles captured in order that, as
the resolution reads, "they may be safely returned when
the restoration of the former harmony between Great
Britain and the colonies so ardently wished for by the
latter, shall render it prudent and consistent with the
overruling law of self preservation." All of which indi-
cates how little the majority of the members of Con-
gress realized the nature and extent of the conflict upon
which the colonies had entered.

The first news of the capture of Ticonderoga to reach
the British authorities at Boston was communicated to
General Gage, commanding His Majesty's forces, by
means of a letter written by Dr. Joseph Warren to John
Scollay, dated at Watertown, Mass., May 17, a copy of
which was procured by Gage and forwarded to Lord
Dartmouth, at London.

The capture of Ticonderoga was not the full measure
of the American victory. As soon as Warner and his
belated troops arrived at the fortress they expressed a
desire for a share in the conquest. To Warner, there-
fore, was assigned the task of taking Crown Point,
which was garrisoned by a sergeant and twelve men.
In a report to the Massachusetts Committee of Safety,
written May H, Colonel Arnold tells of the return of a
party which had started to take Crown Point, having
met with head winds, and says the expedition was
"entirely laid aside." This statement clearly is untrue,




No. I represents the memorial liglit tower erected at Crown Point,
N. Y., by the States of Vermont and New York, in Commemoration of
the three hnndredth anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain by
Samuel Champlain. Nos. 2 and 3 are pictures of the ruins of the Crown
Point fortress erected by General Amherst. Nos. 4 and 5 show glimpses
of the fortress at Ticonderoga, N. Y., as restored by a modern architect



THE CAPTURE OK TICONDEROGA 441

for the best evidence goes to show that on the morning
of the very day on which this was written, May 11,
Crown Point was taken.

Allen had sent w^ord to Capt. Remember Baker, who
was at the Winooski River settlement, to bring his com-
pany, and Warner and Baker arrived before Crown
Point about the same time. Baker had met and cap-
tured two small boats on the way to St. Johns to give
notice of the capture of Ticonderoga.

The date of the taking of Crown Point seems to be
fixed beyond question, as May 11, by a report to Gov-
ernor Trumbull, the Council, and General Assembly of
Connecticut, dated at Crown Point May 12, and signed
by Seth Warner and Peleg Sunderland, in which they
say : "Yesterday we took possession of this garrison in
the name of the country — we found great quantities of
ordnance, stores, etc, — very little provision." The spoils
at this fort included nearly two hundred pieces of can-
non, three mortars, sundry howitzers, fifty swivels, etc.

Capt. Samuel Herrick, who had set out for Skenes-
borough with about thirty men, before the capture of
Ticonderoga was undertaken, reached that settlement in
safety and captured Maj. Andrew Philip Skene, son of
the would-be Governor Skene, about fifty tenants, and
twelve Negroes, also a schooner which was rechristened
the Liberty, and several boats. The care of the Skene
estate was entrusted to Capt. Noah Lee. Captains
Oswald and Brown, with fifty men enlisted under
Colonel Arnold's authority, arrivt^d at Skenesborough
about this time, and joined Herrick's party, reaching
Ticonderoga May 14.



442 HISTORY OF VERMONT

Amos Callender, of Shoreham, with a small party,
captured Fort George, at the southern end of Lake
George, without opposition, the fort being held by Cap-
tain Nordberg of the Sixtieth regiment and a very
slender garrison.

The day following the capture of Ticonderoga, Ethan
Allen notified the Albany Committee of Safety, not
hitherto counted among his friends and admirers, that
he had taken the fortress. He warned them of the prob-
ability that Governor Carleton of Canada would exert
himself to retake the post and added: "I expect imme-
diate assistance from you, both in men and provisions.
* * * I am apprehensive of a sudden and quick
attack. Pray be quick to our relief and send five hun-
dred men immediately; fail not." Writing to the Massa-
chusetts authorities the same day, he said: "I expect
the colonies will maintain this fort."

On May 12 Allen wrote to Governor Trumbull, of
Connecticut, opening his letter with this statement : 'T
make you a present of a Major, a Captain, and two
Lieutenants in the regular Establishment of George the
Third." Then he proceeded to tell of the plan to seize
the King's armed sloop, which was cruising on the lake,
and added, "I expect lives must be lost in the attack, as
the commander of George's sloop is a man of courage."

A council of war was held, says Ethan Allen in his
"Narrative," and it was decided that Arnold should
command the schooner captured at Skenesborough,
while Allen should command the bateaux, in an effort to
take the British sloop. The schooner sailed from Ticon-
deroga on Sunday, May 13, but owing to contrary winds,



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 443

Crown Point was not reached until Monday night, May
14. Arnold, chafing under the delay, with thirty men
embarked in a smaller boat and started for St. Johns,
leaving the command of the schooner to Captain Sloan.
While beating against the wind a mail boat from Mon-
treal w^as seized, and an exact list of all the King's troops
in the Northern department, amounting to seven hun-
dred, was captured. On Wednesday, with a good
breeze, the schooner made better time, and overtook
Arnold, who was taken on board.

When within thirty miles of St. Johns the wind fell
and the vessel was becalmed. It was now eight o'clock
in the evening, and unwilling to wait for a sailing breeze
Arnold ordered two small bateaux, manned by thirty-
five armed men, to be fitted out. By hard rowing all
night St. Johns was reached at six o'clock Thursday
morning.

The party stopped about half a mile south of the
town, concealing themselves in a small creek, and sent
forward one of their number to reconnoitre. While
waiting for an opportunity to fight British troops they
fought great swarms of gnats and mosquitoes, and
waited with impatience for their scout to return. When
he arrived he brought the information that there w^as no
suspicion of the approach of Arnold's party but that
news had reached St. Johns of the capture of Ticon-
deroga and Crown Point.

The party started at once for the fort and landed
about sixty rods from the barracks, marching briskly
upon the place. The small garrison retreated into the
barracks, but surrendered without opposition. A Ser-



444 HISTORY OF VERMONT

geant and twelve men were taken — one authority says
fourteen prisoners were captured — together with their
arms and some small stores, the King's sloop with a
crew of seven men, two brass six-pounders, and four
bateaux. Five bateaux were destroyed so that not a
single boat was left at St. Johns for the use of the
King's troops.

At this time a fine breeze from the north sprang up
and two hours after their arrival Arnold and his de-
tachment were able to weigh anchor and start on the
homeward trip aboard the sloop which was re-christened
the Bnterprise. The captain of the King's sloop had
gone to Montreal, and was expected every hour with a
detachment for an expedition to Ticonderoga and with
guns and carriages for the ship. At Fort Chambly,
thirteen miles to the north, a Captain and forty-nine men
were stationed, and it was thought likely that they might
reach St. Johns at any moment. Arnold, therefore, was
moved to write to the Massachusetts Committee of
Safety regarding his exploit, that "it seemed to be a
mere interposition of Providence that we arrived at so
fortunate an hour."

A few miles south of St. Johns, Arnold met Allen
and his party, going north. There is much discrepancy
regarding the size of Allen's force in accounts given
by different authorities. In one report Arnold says that
Allen had one hundred and fifty men, while in a later
one he reduces the number to eighty or one hundred.
Ira Allen says the party consisted of sixty men, while
an officer, whose name is not given, but who kept a diary
of the expedition, says Allen had ninety men. The two



THE CAPTURE OF TICONDEROGA 445

parties saluted as they met, three volleys being fired.
Allen and his companions went on board the sloop,
where they drank "several loyal Congress healths."

Allen was determined to proceed to St. Johns and
hold the ground gained. Arnold considered this "a
wild impracticable scheme," but as Allen persisted in
advancing, he was supplied with provisions. Continu-
ing northward, Allen encamped opposite St. Johns.
The next morning he was attacked by two hundred
regular troops under Captain Anstruser, a discharge of
grape shot being fired from six field pieces. Allen re-
turned the fire, but finding that the British force was too
large to resist with any hope of success he reembarked
in haste, leaving three men behind. It was planned to
lay an ambush for the enemy, but having been practically
without rest for three days and nights, the men were so
overcome by fatigue and sleep that it was necessary to
abandon the idea.

Arnold's party reached Crown Point May 18 and
Ticonderoga, May 19. Allen and his men arrived at
Ticonderoga on the evening of May 21.

The captured British sloop was fitted with six can-
non and ten swivels, and Major Skene's schooner with
four guns and six swivels.

The capture and destruction of the boats at St. Johns
was an important military movement, for it delayed any
attempt to recapture the Lake Champlain fortresses,
which were in no condition to withstand a serious attack
for many months following their capture.



Chapter XIV
THE ALLEN-ARNOLD CONTROVERSY



No account of the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in
1775, and the events immediately foUowing the
surrender of that fortress, can be complete
that ignores the controversy that arose between Ethan
Allen and Benedict Arnold over the command of the
troops and the post. Undoubtedly, for many years fol-
lowing the War for Independence, Arnold was not given
the credit that was his due for the capacity and the
courage that he displayed; nor is it strange that his
traitorous conduct long blinded men to his deeds that
deserve admiration. On the other hand, there has been
a disposition on the part of some historians to belittle the
part taken by Allen, and to exalt Arnold at the expense
of the Green Mountain leader. This is particularly true
regarding the capture of Ticonderoga, where an attempt
is made to show that Arnold shared the command with
Allen, and there is a broad hint that Arnold was more
zealous than any other leader in the capture of the fort-
ress.

If any event of the American Revolution is well-
authenticated, it is that Ethan Allen was the commander
of the expedition that captured Ticonderoga, on May
10, 1775. It is proved by the official reports; by the
testimony of those participating in the battle; by the
newspaper accounts of the period; and last, but by no
means least, by the statement of Captain Delaplace, the
commandant of the captured fort, who was in a position
to know with certainty the identity of the officer to whom
he surrendered.

Arnold's efforts to secure the command, begun at
Castleton, and renewed before the attack upon the fort-



450 HISTORY OF VERMONT

ress, again were manifested soon after Ticonderoga was
taken. He challenged Allen's authority to command,
and insisted that the chief position was his by right.
This demand angered the soldiers to such a degree that
they paraded, ''and declared that they would go right
home, for they would not be commanded by Arnold,"
according to the testimony of an eye witness. The men
were pacified by a promise that there should be no change
in commanders, Arnold being informed that as he had
raised no men he could not expect to command those
raised by other officers. This was before the arrival of
the Massachusetts men who came with Captain Herrick
by way of Skenesborough. As Arnold insisted that he
was the only officer having "legal orders to show,"
Edward Mott, chairman of the Committee of War for
this expedition, wrote an order directing Ethan Allen to
keep (not take) the command of the garrison of Ticon-
deroga and its dependencies until he received further
orders from the colony of Connecticut or the Continental
Congress.

Arnold's regimental memorandum book shows that he
felt much chagrin at his failure to secure the command.

On May 11 Allen reported the capture of the fort to
the Massachusetts Congress, signing his name as "Com-
mander of Ticonderoga." Writing to Governor Trum-
bull, of Connecticut, on May 12, he signed the com-
munication as "at present commander of Ticonderoga."
Did he, at this time, consider his tenure of office in-
secure ?

Capt. Elisha Phelps, commissary of the Ticonderoga
expedition, a brother of Capt. Noah Phelps, writing to



ALLEN-ARNOLD CONTROVERSY 451

the Connecticut Legislature, May 16, reported "a. great
quarrel with Col. Arnold who shall command the Fort,
even that some of the soldiers threaten the life of Col.
Arnold."

Barnabas Deane, in a letter written to his brother
Silas, June 1, tells of a recent visit to Crown Point, where
he found "a very critical situation," owing to the differ-
ences between Allen and Arnold, ''which had risen to
a great height." He said that "Col. Allen is cooled
down some since his unsuccessful attempt at St. Johns."
Mr. Deane declared that he and Colonel Webb, who
accompanied him, "had an arduous task to reconcile
matters between the two commanders at Crown Point,
which I hope is settled for the present. Col. Allen made
a public declaration that he would take no command on
himself but give it up entirely to Col. Arnold until mat-
ters were regulated and an officer appointed to take
command."

Deane reported that Arnold had been fired upon twice,
and that a musket had been presented at his breast by
one of the opposition party, with a threat to "fire him
through" if he refused to comply with orders given. It
was represented that some of the Connecticut people
were hostile to Arnold, whom Deane praised highly, say-
ing that had it not been for him "no man's person would
be safe that was not of the Green Mountain party." He
fails to add that there would have been no "Green Moun-
tain party" had it not been for Arnold's consuming
ambition to command an expedition which other men
had raised and financed. Deane appears to have been
strongly prejudiced against Allen and his associates, and



452 HISTORY OF VERMONT

he intimated in his letter that "their design appears to
me to hold those places (the forts) as a security to their
lands against any that may oppose them." Subsequent
events proved this ridiculous charge to be baseless.

On May 14 Arnold wrote to the Massachusetts Com-
mittee of Safety: "Mr. Allen's party is decreasing, and
the dispute between us is subsiding." It is probable that
many of the Green Mountain Boys left the fort soon
after its capture. On May 23 Arnold wrote: ''Col.
Allen's men are in general gone home." They had re-
sponded to an emergency call, leaving their families un-
protected. It was the season for plowing and planting,
and the extreme poverty of the people, to which allusion
already has been made, was an urgent reason why the
volunteers should leave the camp for the farm at the
earliest possible moment in order that the raising of
crops might not be delayed.

In writing to the Albany Committee of Safety from
Ticonderoga, on May 22, Arnold signed himself as com-
mander, and in a letter written the following day he
used the title of commander-in-chief. It is significant
that in a letter written at Crown Point, May 26, to the
Connecticut General Assembly, dealing with a missive
sent to the Indians by a council of officers, Allen signed
himself simply, "Colonel of the Green Mountain Boys."
Arnold was also at Crown Point that day, and was



Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 1) → online text (page 28 of 34)