Monday, June 02, 2008

Small World

I was downloading pictures of our weekend in Lake George. My daughter who recently graduated from college was looking at them when she yelled, "That's John!" John was in one of her classes at Binghamton University.

This is John. He is in the uniform of a British Grenadier.

John was part of the history tour at Fort William Henry. He did an excellent job and he is a literal fount of information about the Fort and the events of the era..

There were some other fascinating tidbits about the Fort. The French captured over forty cannons when Monroe surrendered. Some of them ended up in the bottom of Lake George for one reason or another. This is one of them:

When this 32 pounder was dredged up some fifty years ago it was thought to be a French cannon as it had French markings on the breech. But as the corrosion was cleaned off the original British castings were discovered. The gun carraige is that of a field piece and is obviously not the original. But there was something interesting. Someone spiked the gun so it could not be used. So who spiked it? The English when they lost the fort or the French when they were driven out of Northern New York?

Lastly, there is this interesting memento from the French and Indian War. Aside from the seige of Fort William Henry, there were many skirmishes between British and French scouting parties around the Lake. One of those skirmishes involved two British soldiers who were on a small lake craft when attacked. They threw or dropped their muskets overboard. It would seem that they were captured as British soldiers were required to pay for any weapons that they lost.

These muskets were also recovered - still loaded with powder and shot as the following shows.

The musket stocks were already well vitrified after 200 years in the lake. To vitrify means to turn into glass. I am not sure if this is what the authors of the following article in the display case meant to say.

We're going to go back either in the fall or next summer, 'cept next year we'll go during the Americade. The bikes that we did see were incredible. Plus we want to go to Fort Ticonderoga.

There is an interesting story about Fort Ticonderoga. The famed Black Watch suffered one of their greatest military defeats here in July of 1758.

Before the Civil War and Antietam, the bloodiest battle fought on American soil was here, on a narrow but strategically vital strip of land between Lake Champlain and Lake George.

A 15,000-strong British army sailed up Lake George 250 years ago this summer, intent on taking Fort Ticonderoga, France's southernmost outpost in the region. The French, outnumbered nearly five to one but well fortified, hastily built 8-foot-high log barriers as the enemy approached.

The name Ticonderoga still resonates among veterans of Scotland's most revered military regiment, the Black Watch, but not because the fight went well for their predecessors.

[...]"They go in 1,000 strong and lose 500," British author Stephen Brumwell said of the Black Watch casualties as he stood on the fort's wind-swept ramparts, not far from where hundreds of his countrymen are buried.

There is a ceremony at the Fort this July commemorating the 250th anniversary of the battle.

Almost 2,000 British troops in all were killed, wounded or captured at Ticonderoga, along with some 440 Frenchmen.

Veterans of the Black Watch, which has been merged with other British military units after nearly three centuries as an independent regiment, will join British, Canadian and American active military personnel here in July for a memorial service marking the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Carillon, also known as the Battle of Ticonderoga.

The name Ticonderoga lives on at a desert base camp in Iraq named by a British unit.

"They still haven't forgotten," Brumwell, author of several books on the 18th-century British military in North America, said during a recent history conference. "For them it's a very poignant moment, this massive shedding of blood. The British are great fans of these glorious defeats."

[...] The Ticonderoga battle, fought on July 8, 1758, saw about 3,200 French troops under the command of the Marquis de Montcalm turn back several frontal assaults on their defenses. The Black Watch was held in reserve, but the kilt-clad Highlanders couldn't stay out of the fray and rushed the French lines without orders.

The British took the fort a year later after a siege and renamed it.

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