Fort Ticonderoga and the Saratoga Battlefield were the first two venues explored by members of History of American Mountaineering and Outdoor Adventure, a course taught by Professor of History Maurice Isserman as part of the Hamilton Academic Program in the Adirondacks. During the visit to Fort Ticonderoga on Sept. 1, students heard about the fort’s role in both the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars.
The fort gained a reputation as a strong, defensive site during the French and Indian War in 1758 when an outnumbered French army held off a large British attack, and it maintained this reputation for most of its time in military use. During the tour of the fort’s barracks, students witnessed a musket firing demonstration and learned about recreating accurate century French, British, and Continental Army uniforms. In addition, they witnessed the fort from spectacular angles atop Mount Defiance and during a boat tour of Lake Champlain. Observing Fort Ticonderoga and its strategic location between Lake Champlain and Lake George clarified for the students why it was a coveted site by the French, British, and Continental Armies.
The group next visited the Saratoga Battlefield where clashes that took place between the Continental and British armies in September and October 1777. They learned about how women supported the soldiers as nurses, cooks, and foragers and the Continental Army’s diversity. Men of African descent, young teenagers, and Oneida and Tuscarora tribe members were among the combatants. A park ranger addressed Benedict Arnold’s life and involvement in the Revolutionary War. Arnold was a leader on the Saratoga Battlefield, but he betrayed the colonies by giving classified documents to the British.