Fort Ticonderoga's roots began as a French military fort known as Fort Carillon between 1755 and 1759 during the Seven Years War. It's main purpose was to help control Lake Champlain in upstate New York and essentially the north-south water highway. Only one in a series that the French built. Designed by Michel Chartier de Lotbinière and named after former French officer Philippe de Carrion du Fresnoy who established a trading post at the site in the late 17th Century.
On July 8, 1758 the Fort was successfully defended by a French army of 3500 soldiers under the command of Louis-Joseph le Marquis de Montcalm. This victory was one of France's greatest due to being severely outnumber by an attacking British army of 16,000 troops under the command of General James Abercromby. However, the victory would be short lived. A year later, General Jeffery Amerst and the British army of 11,000 troops defeated a garrison of 400 Frenchmen in the Battle of Ticonderoga. They evacuated after blowing up the powder magazine and warehouse. The British allowed the fort to fall in to disarray. Along with a small garrison of soldiers, made it an easy mark for any enemy.
In 1775, the country provided the setting of yet another war, the American Revolution. Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and the Green Mountain Boys slowly crossed Lake Champlain from Vermont during the dawn hours of May 10th. As the small British garrison slept, they crept on to the fort and captured their first victory. This would be the first of several battles for control over the fort. For two years, Fort Ticonderoga was the centerpiece for the American Army against invading Canadian and British forces. New fortifications were built across Lake Champlain on Mount Independence. During the summer of 1776 a fleet of small warships or gondolas where rigged and fitted out to later be used in the Battle of Valcour Island. In July 1777 the British General Burgoyne managed to place cannon on Mount Defiance and forced the Fort's garrison under General Arthur St. Clair to evacuate on July 6th. Months later, American forces to conduct a final raid. The small group of soldiers would fail. It took the British surrendering at Yorktown in 1781 for the fort to finally be abandoned.
The fort became the property of the state of New York in 1785. William Ferris Pell purchased the ruins of the Fort and the surrounding "garrison grounds" to preserve it in 1820. He built The Pavilion to serve as a summer home. The completion of canals and railroads brought a surge of tourists. Pell turned The Pavilion in to a Fort Ticonderoga Hotel to accommodate the new attraction in 1840. Another generation of Pell family, Stephen and Sarah Gibbs Thompson Pell, began restoration of the fort in 1909. Even opened it up to the public with President Taft in attendance. Today, much of Fort Ticonderoga has been restored and recreated and remains opened for tours and special events.
Red glowing orbs have been seen floating throughout several of the rooms. Many believe Nancy Coates, mistress to General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, haunts the fort. She thought Wayne had left her for another woman and drowned herself in Lake Champlain. Visitors have seen her running about the footpaths in search of Wayne, waiting by the gate at the entrance. She has also been heard sobbing and her alleged lifeless body spotted floating in the lake. Numerous artifacts located at Fort Ticonderoga have been found moved in locked cases. A British soldier has been seen in the upper window of the south barracks. The Pavilion is believed to be haunted by Sarah Pell. She has been seen staring out of the window overlooking the King's Garden.
Fort Ticonderoga possesses a history of bloody battles and an entire 460 acre garrison grounds full of unmarked graves. It will always be haunted by the echoes of its past.
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