Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point are located on the shores of Lake Champlain in northern New York. Both forts were strategically important in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War because they offered a staging point for operations between Canada and the Hudson River Valley. During the conflicts of the Revolutionary War, the two forts were captured by the Americans in 1775. The British reoccupied an abandoned Crown Point in 1776 and recaptured Fort Ticonderoga in 1777.

Capture of Fort Ticonderoga, 1775

Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold developed separate plans to capture Fort Ticonderoga shortly after the hostilities at Lexington and Concord marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Arnold was given authority by Connecticut and Massachusetts to recruit 400 men to take the strategic fort. Allen, meanwhile, had been leading a famed militia unit known as the Green Mountain Boys, since 1770. Arnold and Allen agreed to co-command the attack on the fort, which commenced at dawn on May 10, 1775. Fort Ticonderoga's small garrison of about 50 men, who had not even been informed that hostilities had broken out between the colonists and the British, were easily taken by surprise and overtaken.

Capture of Crown Point, 1775

One day after taking Fort Ticonderoga, Ethan Allen sent a detachment of the Green Mountain Boys under the command of Capt. Seth Warner to capture Crown Point, 15 miles to the north. Most of the main fort at Crown Point had been destroyed in a fire two years earlier and the fort was maintained by a handful of British troops, who surrendered without a fight.

Spoils of Battle

The Battle of Ticonderoga and Crown Point was the first clear American victory of the Revolutionary War. Both captured forts held significant numbers of cannons and stores of ordnance. Some of the cannons captured were turned over to Colonel Henry Knox, who used them in an assault that drove the British out of Boston. The forts were also used as staging points for unsuccessful American campaigns in Canada by Heath Schuyler, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold.

Siege of Fort Ticonderoga, 1777

American forces abandoned Crown Point in October 1776 after losing a nearby naval engagement. The area was used as a staging area by British forces in 1776 and again in 1777, when British, Canadian and Native American forces under British Major General John Burgoyne prepared to assault Fort Ticonderoga as part of a campaign to cut New England off from the other colonies. British forces placed artillery on a dominant position on nearby Mount Defiance, which overlooked the fort's defenses.

Aftermath of the Siege

The American commander Gen. Arthur St. Clair realized his position was untenable and abandoned the fort to the British. He ordered part of his command to fight rearguard action against Burgoyne's advancing Redcoats. Burgoyne never reached Albany, surrendering to American forces under Gen. Horatio Gates at Saratoga on October 17, 1777 in what most historians regard as the turning point of the Revolutionary War.