Miraculous Capture of Fort Ticonderoga

The founding fathers and mothers were convinced that victory over the British Empire was the result of Divine Providence. (See Blog Post: “The Divine Birth of the American Nation.”) One of the miracles they cite is the capture of Fort Ticonderoga.

The fort's configuration is described in detail below.

The famous fort at Ticonderoga was strategically placed along Lake Champlain.  There, it controlled the passage between New England and the lower colonies. As long as the British controlled the fort, the thirteen colonies were split. Moreover, Washington’s army desperately needed canons, and there were 60 one-ton canons at the Fort Ticonderoga.  

At the beginning of the war, Boston was under siege by the British army and navy.  American Colonel Benedict Arnold, one of the original Sons of Liberty, convinced the colonial government to authorize him to attack Fort Ticonderoga and capture the canons. General Henry Knox (of Fort Knox fame) volunteered to drag the canons 300 miles to Boston if Fort Ticonderoga fell to the Americans.

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 Benedict Arnold, with his written commission authorizing him to attack the fort, traveled to Lake Champlain. He met with Ethan Allen and his rough-and-rowdy Green Mountain Boys in Vermont. Colonel Arnold insisted on leading the Green Mountain Boys in the attack. They refused. They had already planned on attacking the fort, and they would only fight under Ethan Allen. Colonel Arnold could tag along if he wanted to.  

 Late on the rainy night of May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen and his two hundred men, with Benedict Arnold tagging along, rowed across the Lake Champlain in stolen boats. They gathered together at the base of the fort’s stone wall. 

The burly Ethan Allen kicked in the locked door to the fort, raced up the stairs, and came face to face with an armed sentry. The sentry pointed his rifle at Allen and pulled the trigger.  Nothing happened. Apparently, the sentry did not keep his powder dry.  Allen quickly punched him in the head, knocking him unconscious.

Fort Ticonderoga 1775.jpg

Allen and his men raced to the commander’s living quarters.  Allen banged on the door, yelling, “Come out of there, you goddam old rat!”

Wearing only boots and underwear, and with his hair disheveled, the sleepy commander opened the door, and found himself facing the Green Mountain Boys.  Confused, he demanded to know why Allen was creating such a ruckus. 

Incomprehensively, no one had notified Fort Ticonderoga that the British and Americans were at war. The Battles of Concord and Lexington had taken place almost a month earlier.   

The sheepish commander had no choice. He surrendered the fort without a single shot being fired, and only after one well-placed punch to the sentry’s head. The founding fathers and mothers called this victory “the Miracle at Ticonderoga.”

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The fort’s 60 one-ton canons were seized.  General Knox, true to his word, schlepped them on sleds over 300 miles to Boston.  General Washington gave Knox the honor of placing the canons on Dorchester Heights overlooking the city. When British General Howe saw that his troops and ships were within canon range, he evacuated his army and navy. This ended the siege of Boston.

This is just one of the many miracles surrounding the American’s victory during the War of Independence.

(Sources: Personal tour of Fort Ticonderoga; “The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga,” history.com; “Miracle of Ticonderoga,” BYUtv;  American Ride series, BYUtv; “Fortification of Dorchester Heights,” Wikipedia; “Ethan Allen,” Wikiquote and Wikipedia.)

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