logo Click BACK to return to basecamp
Lost Teachers
Search Info
White beveled edge

Meet Teddy

Teddy Archive

Cool Links
The History of Fort Ticonderoga

Who was Ethan Allen?



Green Mountain Boys, the Infamous Traitor, and Kicking the Brits Out of Boston

Becky practices a rapid retreat down Dorchester Heights
It is a brisk spring morning in New Hampshire 1775. A fat, white-haired man is hurriedly walking through a group of ragtag soldiers.

"Who's in command of this army?!?" Benedict Arnold bellows out, "I demand to speak with the leader of these men!"

"If you're looking for the commander, you don't need to look any further. I am in charge around here," says a tall, strongly built man with a rough beard.

"And who are you?" Arnold asks incredulously.

"Name's Ethan Allen, we are the Green Mountain Boys." the man says.

"Oh! The Green Mountain boys indeed," Arnold said, "you ruffians are the Bennington mob."

"Call us what you want, we are here to take Fort Ticonderoga from those Brits."

This is not what Benedict Arnold wants to hear. It was HE who came up with the plan to seize Fort Ticonderoga from the British along with the 90 canons inside. His plan was to bring the canons back to Boston and use them to force the British to leave. His plan was to use his four hundred soldiers that HE had gathered from Connecticut to take the fort by force. But things were not going according to plan.

The Green Mountain Boys had always been a thorn in somebody's side. They had formed back in 1770 to protect New Hampshire tenants from being evicted by New York land officials. The New York Superior Court, backed by a decision from London, decided that most of the state of New Hampshire belonged to New York. This meant that the people living there would have to pay money for land that was already theirs. Instead of paying money for a decision they did not recognize, the local farmers decided to form a militia.

Look how beautifully our flag flies today over Fort T.
This was a few years before the minutemen fought with the British at Lexington and Concord, and was perhaps the first illegal army to be raised outside British law.

When Benedict Arnold first ran into the Green Mountain Boys, he had not yet betrayed his country so infamously. He was on a mission for his country to capture the fort, and HE was going to lead the mission.

"I insist that I be placed in charge of this company." Arnold proclaimed.

"Can't do it," said Ethan Allen. "You see, I raised this army, and they won't follow any other man. Course, you are welcome to tag along if you like."

Arnold agreed to accompany Allen to the fort.

A Lafayette cannon that greeted the Loyalists when they crossed Moore's Creek Bridge

When the group of 300 farmer soldiers arrived at Fort Ticonderoga in the early morning of May 10, 1775, not a soul was awake in the entire fortress. After tip-toeing in through the open gates, they spotted a guard dozing in his chair. He awoke with a start, tried to fire his gun, which promptly jammed, and fled into a bomb shelter. A second guard was woken up by all the fuss. When the guard saw Allen and Arnold entering the camp he charged with his bayonet.

Allen made little work of him.

KONK! He smacked the side of his sword down upon the head of the charging sentry.

The guard collapsed into whimpers of pitifulness. "Spare me!" He pleaded. "Give me quarter! Spare my life!"

"Don't worry lad, I'll let you live," Allen said, "just show us where the commander's residence is."

The quivering British guard pointed out the commander's quarters and the Green Mountain Boys quickly surrounded it and yelled for the commander to wake up and come out to surrender control of the fort.

"I demand to know by what authority you rascals have entered the fort!" The commander yelled out, apparently unaware that he was outnumbered five to one.

"In the name of the Great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!" Allen replied.

Just like that, the American rebels had won their first major offensive. There were not many soldiers to fight at the Fort Ticonderoga, the "key to the continent", but there was tons of ammo. The Green Mountain Boys looted the camp, taking guns, provisions, and most importantly, canons. They even found barrels of alcohol, which they drank freely that May morning. Some of the drunk militiamen took pot shots at Benedict Arnold with their new pistols. They were angry at him for trying to assume leadership of their army.

The next day there was no doubting who was in charge. Arnold had the men drag all the canons aboard a ship, and instantly became skipper of the most heavily armed ship in the upper Hudson. He piloted this ship down to the Crown Point, another military installation that was easily captured. Over 110 canons additional were captured at Crown Point, and all two hundred cannons were transported back to general George Washington's army camps surrounding Boston.

Insert canons here, Brits exit stage right
At this time, that is the winter of 1775, the British were desperate to get out of Boston. After the battle of Breed's Hill, the British forces found themselves under constant attack. Boston at the time was shaped like a human head, with the "neck" being the only connection to main access roads. Once the neck was severed, the head would soon perish. The neck was getting harder and harder to defend as the winter grew colder and provisions had to be rationed.

The problem was that the British, although bloodied by the Breed's Hill battle, still considered themselves a much mightier military force. They had to be convinced that the American rebels posed a real threat to Boston, and that is where the two hundred canons seized by Benedict Arnold and the Green Mountain Boys came in handy.

General George Washington, who was also the wealthiest man in the colonies, took the advice of his military officers and decided to build a fort at Dorchester Heights. Dorchester Heights was a small mountain looming over Boston, which was not occupied by anyone. It was the middle of winter, and the ground was frozen solid. There was no way to dig fortifications on the hill. Instead they had to be built outside the city limits and transported pre-made.

A close up look at a face of a cannon

By the beginning of March, the American colonial forces had surprised the British again. In a matter of days they had constructed a threatening fort on top of a hill. The initial reaction of the British was to attack this new fortification. On the night of the planned attack, an intense storm blew in and dashed all hopes of a successful crossing of the Charles River. After the storm, the British decided to leave Boston for good, without a fight.

George Washington promised not to fire any canons as long as the British did not burn down Boston on the way out. They left in relative peace, destroying only a castle in Boston harbor. On March 17, the British left Boston for New York and the American troops came marching in to gain control over Boston forever.


Please email me at: teddy@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

MAD - 30,000 shot dead each year - what YOU can do!
Nick - Shave, grease up, and put on a skirt, there's a war on!
Daphne - Letters from the trenches of the revolution
Kevin - Slaves fighting for American freedom? What's up with that?
Teddy - Blowing the British confidence to smithereens
Nick - The real revolutionaries at the battle of Yorktown
Stephanie - War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Huh!
Stephanie - Fearless Females
Rebecca - One man rises above to prove all men ARE created equal