BETWEEN Lake George and Lake Champlain, there once stood a famous old fort, known as Fort Ticonderoga. At the beginning of the Revolution, it was feebly garrisoned by English troops, but was well supplied with arms and ammunition. The Patriots needed these arms and ammunition, so as to carry on the war which had just begun at Lexington. We shall see how the fort was captured.
As soon as the mountaineers of Vermont heard of the battle of Lexington, they dropped their axes and plows, and, seizing their rifles, banded together for a march on Ticonderoga. Ethan Allen, a rugged and brave mountaineer, was their leader. In order to meet the expenses of the expedition, funds, amounting to fifteen hundred dollars, were collected from the people of Connecticut.
As the expedition advanced, one of the Connecticut agents, named Noah Phelps, went on ahead to find out the condition of the fort. Disguising himself as a countryman, he entered the stronghold on the pretense that he wished to be shaved. Hunting for the barber, he kept his eyes and ears open, asking questions like an innocent farmer, until he found out all about the garrison and its equipment.
When Allen and the Green Mountain Boys neared their goal, they were joined by another force under the command of Benedict Arnold, who was then a brave officer in the American army, though he afterwards proved himself a traitor. The two parties approached the fort, one moving at daybreak, a farmer's boy, who lived near, acting as their guide.
The stockade around the fort was reached. The gate was open, since the English Commander suspected no danger. The sentry tried to fire his gun, but it failed to go off; whereupon he ran inside and gave the alarm. The attacking party was close upon his heels. Before any of the garrison could be awakened from their sleep, Allen and his men had taken possession, and resistance was useless. The capture was made by surprise and without bloodshed.
Allen compelled one of the sentries to show him the way to the quarters of the Commander, Captain Delaplace. Reaching his room, Allen called upon him in loud tones to surrender. The Commander sprang from bed, surprised and alarmed at the unusual demand.
"By whose authority?" he asked, in his half-awake condition.
"In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress," replied Allen, in a loud voice.
Delaplace made no reply, but hastily dressed to see what the madman from the mountains meant. He soon discovered. Outside he heard the shouts of the Patriots, and saw the movement of men taking possession of the stores. When he came from his quarters he realized that the fort had been occupied by a force superior to his, and that it was surrendered without a shot being fired or a blow exchanged.
The captured stores consisted of a large number of cannon and ammunition, besides small arms much needed by the Patriots in the great war which was to last for some years.