Summary of the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga
The Siege of Fort Ticonderoga took place from July 2 to July 6, 1777. It was part of the Saratoga Campaign of 1777. After the American Invasion of Canada failed, the Continental Army was forced to retreat to New York and took shelter at Fort Ticonderoga. In October 1776, the Battle of Valcour Island took place, where a small fleet of American ships, under the command of Benedict Arnold, slowed the British advance and forced them to put off the invasion of the Hudson River Valley until the spring of 1777. The British plan, which is known as Burgoyne’s Campaign of 1777, was led by Lieutenant General John Burgoyne. The plan was to capture Albany, New York, which would allow the British to cut New England off from the Southern Colonies. By July 1777, Burgoyne had advanced with his army to Fort Ticonderoga, which was under the command of Major General Arthur St. Clair. Burgoyne had around 8,000 men with him, and St. Clair had only 3,000. After Burgoyne placed some of his forces and artillery on a hilltop overlooking the fort, St. Clair decided to withdraw. There was very little fighting, although some British units did briefly follow after the Americans as they retreated. By July 6, the British occupied Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, while the Americans made their way to Hubbardton and Skenesborough.
Fort Ticonderoga as it looks today on the shores of Lake Champlain. Image Source: Fort Ticonderoga, New York State Council On the Arts.
Quick Facts About the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga
- Date Started: The siege started on July 2, 1777.
- Date Ended: The siege ended on July 6, 1777.
- Location: The siege took place at Fort Ticonderoga in New York.
- Military Campaign: The siege was part of the Saratoga Campaign of 1777.
- Who Won: The British won the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga.
Key Events in the Siege
- British forces under the command of General John Burgoyne planned a siege of Fort Ticonderoga.
- Arthur St. Clair was in command of the American troops at Fort Ticonderoga.
- The Americans knew they were outnumbered, but General Philip Schuyler ordered St. Clair to hold the fort as long as he could.
- On July 1, British forces arrived north of the fort. Some crossed Lake Champlain on boats, others marched down the side of the lake.
- British infantry led by General Simon Fraser took control of the heights on Mount Defiance and started to move artillery into position. The Americans were unaware the British had control of the heights.
- On July 4, the Americans celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence but did so quietly.
- On the night of the 4th, the Americans were alerted to the presence of British forces on Mount Defiance.
- The next day, St. Clair called his officers together for a Council of War and they decided to evacuate the fort.
- Late in the night of July 5th, into the early morning of July 6th, the Americans evacuated Fort Ticonderoga.
- By mid-morning, the British had regained control of Fort Ticonderoga.
The view of Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance. The British gained an advantage by placing artillery on the heights overlooking the fort. Image Source: Wikipedia.
Interesting Facts about Fort Ticonderoga
- Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French when they controlled Canada. The French called it Fort Carillon.
- The British captured the fort from the French during the French and Indian war, at the Battle of Ticonderoga in 1759.
- It is known as the “Gibraltar of the North” because of its strong defensive position on Lake Champlain.
- At the time, Mount Defiance was called Sugar Loaf. It overlooks Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence.
Important Details About Fort Ticonderoga in the American Revolutionary War
- On May 10, 1775, American militia forces led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold captured the fort at the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga.
- Some of the artillery from the fort was taken to Boston by Henry Knox and used to end the Siege of Boston and force the British to leave the city.
- The location of Fort Ticonderoga controlled access to Canada and the Hudson River Valley.
Important Leaders and Casualties
Prominent American Military Leaders
- Arthur St. Clair
Prominent British Military Leaders
- John Burgoyne
This painting by Joshua Reynolds depicts John Burgoyne. Image Source: Wikipedia.
- The total estimated casualties at the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga were minimal, with around 25 killed, wounded, or missing.
- The Americans suffered around 18 casualties.
- The British suffered around 5 casualties.
Results of the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga
- The outcome of the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga was a British victory.
- British forces pursued some of the Americans to Hubbardton, where the Battle of Hubbardton took place on July 7.
- The British also followed a smaller American force to Skenesborough, where the Battle of Fort Anne took place.
- As the Americans retreated, Schuyler had them cut down trees to block the roads and destroy bridges. This slowed the British advance and bought the Americans time to regroup and prepare.
- Many Americans, especially Congress and George Washington, were upset that Schuyler and St. Clair allowed the fort to be taken without a fight.
- Schuyler was eventually removed as commander of the Northern Department and replaced by General Horatio Gates.
- After the siege, St. Clair was never given another field command, however, he was still held in high regard and was elected as the 9th President of the Continental Congress.
- Both Schuyler and St. Clair were cleared of any charges of misconduct by court-martial.
Significance of the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga
The Siege of Fort Ticonderoga is important because the British were able to take control of Fort Ticonderoga and continue to carry about Burgoyne’s Campaign of 1777. The purpose of the campaign was to take control of the New York Colony, which would allow the British to cut New England off from the Southern Colonies. However, the campaign ended in disaster for the British, when the Americans stopped them at Saratoga. The victory convinced the French to recognize the American Colonies as an independent nation and to provide military support against the British.
Timeline of the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga
This timeline shows how the Siege of Fort Ticonderoga fits into the events of the Saratoga Campaign.
- July 2–July 6, 1777 — Siege of Fort Ticonderoga
- July 6, 1777 — Battle of Skeneseborough
- July 7, 1777 — Battle of Hubbardton
- July 8, 1777 — Battle of Fort Anne
- August 2, 1777 — Siege of Fort Stanwix
- August 6, 1777 — Battle of Oriskany
- August 16, 1777 — Battle of Bennington
- September 19, 1777 — First Battle of Saratoga, Freeman’s Farm
- October 7, 1777 — Second Battle Saratoga, Bemis Heights
- October 17, 1777 — Surrender of Burgoyne’s Army
Siege of Fort Ticonderoga Video
This video from the American Battlefield Trust discusses the role Fort Ticonderoga played in the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War.