From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.
May 17. –This evening arrived at Philadelphia, John Brown, Esq., from Ticonderoga, express to the General Congress, from whom we learn that on the beginning of this instant, a company of about fifty men from Connecticut, and the western part of Massachusetts, joined by upwards of one hundred from Bennington, in New York government, and the adjacent towns, proceeded to the eastern side of Lake Champlain, and on the night before the tenth current, crossed the lake with eighty-five men, not being able to obtain craft to transport the rest, and about day-break invested the fort, whose gate, contrary to expectation, they found shut, but the wicker open, through which, with the Indian war-whoop, all that could, entered one by one, others scaling the wall on both sides of the gate, and instantly secured and disarmed the sentries, and pressed into the parade, where they formed the hollow square; but immediately quitting that order, they rushed into the several barracks on three sides of the fort, and seized on the garrison, consisting of two officers, and upwards of forty privates, 1 whom they brought out, disarmed, put under guard, and have since sent prisoners to Hartford in Connecticut. All this was performed in about ten minutes, without the loss of life, or a drop of blood on our side, and but very little on that of the king’s troops.
In the fort were found about thirty barrels of flour, a few barrels of pork, seventy odd chests of leaden ball, computed at three hundred tons, about ten barrels of powder in bad condition, near two hundred pieces of ordnances of all sizes, from eighteen-pounders downwards, at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, which last place, being held only by a corporal and eight men, falls of course into our hands.
By this sudden expedition, planned by some principal persons in the four neighboring colonies, that important pass is now in the hands of the Americans, where, we trust, the wisdom of the grand Continental Congress will take effectual measures to secure it, as it may be depended on, that administration means to form an army in Canada, composed of British regulars, French, and Indians, to attack the colonies on that side.
Mr. Brown brought intercepted letters from Lieutenant Malcom Fraser, to his friends in New England, from which it appears that General Carleton has almost unlimited powers, civil and military, and has issued orders for raising a Canadian regiment, in which, Mr. Fraser observes, the officers find difficulty, as the common people are by no means fond of the service. He likewise remarks, that all the king’s European subjects are disaffected at the partial preference given to the late converts to loyalty, as he phrases it, to their utter exclusion from all confidence, or even common civility. Matters are indeed in such a situation, that many, if not most of the merchants, talk of leaving the province.
Mr. Brown also relates that two regular officers of the 26th regiment, now in Canada, applied to two Indians, one a head warrior of the Caughanawaga tribe, to go out with them on a hunt to the south and east of the rivers St. Lawrence and Sorel, and pressing the Indians farther and farther on said course, they at length arrived at Cohass,2 where, the Indians say, they were stopped and interrogated by the inhabitants, to whom they pretended they were only on a hunt, which the inhabitants (as the Indians told Mr. Brown) replied must be false, as no hunters used silver (bright) barrelled guns. However, the Cohass people dismissed them all, and when they returned into the woods, the Indian warrior insisted on knowing what their real intention was, and they told him that it was to reconnoitre the woods, to find a passage for an army to march to the assistance of the king’s friends at Boston. The Indian asked, where they would get the army? They answered, in Canada, and that the Indians in the upper castles would join them. The chief on this expressed resentment that he, being one of the head men of the Caughanawaga tribe, should never have been consulted in the affair. But Mr. Brown presumes the aversion of this honest fellow and his friends to their schemes, was the reason of their being kept from their knowledge.
The conductors of this grand expedition are to be Monsieur St. Luke le Corne, the villain who let loose the Indians on the prisoners at Fort William Henry, and one of his associates.
Oh George, what tools art thou obliged to make use of!3
1 A party of the 26th, commanded by Capt. De la Place, who was surprised in his bed.
2 Northern New Hampshire.
3 Pennsylvania Journal, May 24; see also the following authentic account of the taking of the fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, by a party of the Connecticut forces: —
“Captain Edward Mott, and Captain Noah Phelps, set out from Hartford, on Saturday, the 29th of April, in order to take possession of the fortress of Ticonderoga and the dependencies thereunto belonging; they took with them from Connecticut, 16 men unarmed, and marched privately through the country till they came to Pittsfield, without discovering their design to any person till they fell in company with Col. Ethan Allen, Col. Easton, and John Brown, Esq., who engaged to join themselves to said Mott and Phelps, and to raise men sufficient to take the place by surprise, if possible. Accordingly, the men were raised, and proceeded as directed by said Mott and Phelps. Col. Ethan Allen commanding the soldiery, on Tuesday they surprised and took the fortress, making prisoners the commandant and his party. On Wednesday morning they possessed themselves of Crown Point, taking possession of the ordnance stores, consisting of upwards of 200 pieces of cannon, 8 mortars, sundry howitzers, and 50 swivels, &c.”—Rivington’s Gazetteer, May 18.