B. Connecticut In The Ticonderoga Enterprise


The possession and control of Lakes George and Champlain had, from an early date, been regarded by the people of New York and New England as necessary to their protection against the encroachments of the French in Canada. In was around Ticonderoga and Crown Point that the greater part of the fighting in the French and Indian War occurred. When the Revolutionary struggle opened, the important of those posts was at once recognized in the northern colonies, and far-sighted individuals in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, alike proposed their immediate seizure. In addition Fort Ticonderoga contained cannon and stores just then much needed by the Provincials. The step seemed urgent inasmuch as England's hold on the Canadas was firmer than elsewhere in America, and the people of those provinces were not prepared to disturb it. In the approaching contest, accordingly, the line of the St. Lawrence and the lake region would again become the field of military operations.

In Connecticut and Massachusetts movements were set on foot to secure the old fortress at Ticonderoga immediately after the Lexington alarm. It was then garrisoned by Captain Delaplace of the Twenty-sixth Regiment, British army, and a small company of regulars. In Connecticut the enterprise originated, as reported by Capt. Edward Mott, one of the leaders engaged, in the following manner: "A number of the principal gentleman of the Assembly at Hartford, on Friday, the twenty-eighth day of April, Conversing on the distressed Condition of the people of Boston, and the means necessary to relieve them, fell on the Scheme to take that Fortress (Ticonderoga), that we might have the advantage of the Cannon that were there, to relieve the people of Boston. I told the Gentleman that in my opinion it might be taken by surprise with a few men, if property Conducted. On which they desired me, if I was willing to serve my country in that way, to join Captain Noah Phelps, of Simsbury, and Mr. Bernard Romans, on that design, and furnished us with three hundred Pounds in Cash from the Treasury, and desired us to go forward to the Upper Towns, and search into the situation of said Garrison, and, if I thought proper to proceed to take possession of the same." The gentleman referred to by Mott., who on their individual notes procured the money from the Treasury, were Samuel Wyllys, Jesse Root, and Ezekiel Williams of Hartford, Samuel Bishop, Jr., and Adam Babcock, of New Haven, Samuel Holden Parsons, of New London, Silas Deane, of Wethersfield, William Williams, of Lebanon, Charles Webb, of Stamford, Joshua Porter, of Salisbury, and Thomas Mumford, of Groton. With this informal authority Captains Mott and Phelps, with six or eight volunteers from Hartford, proceeded to Salisbury where the entire party was increased to sixteen. From that point they continued to Pittsfield, Mass., where Col. James Easton, John Brown, Israel Dickinson, and about fifty men were enlisted in the enterprise. In the Hampshire Grants Col. Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, both natives of Connecticut, and one hundred Green Mountain Boys were added to the party, and early on May 10th the fortress was surprised and taken without loss. Capt. Phelps states in a memorial that when the expedition reached Bennington, a council of war was held which directed him and Mr. Hecock, from Sheffield, to proceed in disguise to the fort beforehand and report on its condition, which service he "cheerfully undertook."

Of the Connecticut party, Capt. Mott, as chairman, Epaphras Bull, Noah Phelps, and Col. Easton, of Pittsfield, constituted a "Committee of War for the expedition against Ticonderoga and Crown Point," and by its authority the command of the expedition at the time of the surprise was given to Col. Ethan Allen. That officer, in reporting his success to the Massachusetts authorities, stated that the attempt was made "by the order of the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut."

In Massachusetts an independent movement was undertaken. The Provincial Committee of Safety which had previously inquired into the condition of affairs in canada, appreciated the importance of Ticonderoga, and it appears were urged to secure it by Benedict Arnold, who had them lately arrived with his New Haven Company in the Lexington Alarm. The Committee entrusted the body of men not exceeding four hundred which he was to enlist in Western Massachusetts and vicinity, and with them effect the capture of the fortress. Arnold started off alone and overtook the Connecticut expedition under Ethan Allen. By virtue of his Massachusetts commission he demanded the sole command of the party, but upon its refusal to accept his leadership, he marched with it to the fort and entered the gate "side by side" with Col. Allen. Col. Arnold then enlisted a portion of the regiment authorized by the committee and occupied points on the lakes, at times being in command at Crown Point, which had also been seized, and again at Ticonderoga. On May 18th with fifty men under Captains Brown and Oswald he surprised St. John -- Oswald being one of the members of Arnold's New Haven Company.

Following up this successful stroke, Governor Trumbull ordered one of the newly raised regiments for the year '75, under Col. Hinman, to march immediately to Ticonderoga and Crown Point and occupy them. A request to this effect was also made by the Continental Congress. The Massachusetts Provincial Congress had informed Col. Arnold that as "the affairs of that expedition began in the colony of Connecticut," they had written to its Assembly to assume full charge of it. Upon the arrival of Col. Hinman, however, Arnold declined to serve under him and dishanding his small regiment, resigned his Massachusetts' Coloneley June 24th, to appear next, in September, in command of the expedition through the Maine woods to Quebec.

Upon the assumption in July of the command of Northern New York, of the Northern Department as it was commonly known, by Major-Gen. Philip Schuyler, Fort Ticonderoga passed under the direction of the Continental authorities. It was held by the Americans throughout the war, except during the interval of the Burgoyne alarm and campaign from July to November, 1777.

The following lists are arranged from the original MSS. in the State Library, Rev. War. Vol. III. The first list represents, as far as the records indicate, the party of sixteen which Capt. Mott states to have started from Connecticut in the first instance to become the nucleus of the expedition.

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