Saratoga Campaign > Siege of Fort Ticonderoga

Siege of Fort Ticonderoga


The Siege of Fort Ticonderoga, which occurred from July 2 to July 6, 1777, was a significant event during the American Revolutionary War. This engagement saw British forces under General John Burgoyne capture Fort Ticonderoga from the Continental Army, commanded by General Arthur St. Clair. The fort's capture was part of Burgoyne's larger campaign to split the American colonies along the Hudson River.


  1. Strategic Importance:

    • Fort Ticonderoga, located on the western shore of Lake Champlain in New York, was a key strategic point controlling access to the Hudson River Valley. It had changed hands several times, with its capture by the Americans in 1775 being an early victory in the Revolutionary War.
    • By mid-1777, the British planned a major offensive to regain control of the fort and advance southward, aiming to cut off New England from the other colonies.
  2. British Campaign:

    • General John Burgoyne led a well-prepared British force southward from Canada, aiming to capture Fort Ticonderoga as a stepping stone for further advances into New York.
    • Burgoyne's force included about 8,000 troops, consisting of British regulars, German mercenaries (Hessians), Loyalists, and Native American allies.
  3. American Defense:

    • The American garrison at Fort Ticonderoga was commanded by General Arthur St. Clair, who had around 3,000 soldiers, including Continental Army regulars and militia.
    • St. Clair faced significant challenges, including a lack of reinforcements, supplies, and the fort’s vulnerable position, particularly its exposure to high ground such as Mount Defiance.

The Siege:

  1. British Approach:

    • Burgoyne’s forces began their approach in late June 1777, advancing from Canada and moving south along Lake Champlain. They reached the vicinity of Fort Ticonderoga by early July.
    • Recognizing the strategic advantage of the high ground, Burgoyne ordered the occupation of Mount Defiance, which overlooked the fort and provided a commanding position for artillery.
  2. Occupation of Mount Defiance:

    • On July 2, British troops began positioning artillery on Mount Defiance, which allowed them to threaten the fort’s defenses directly. This maneuver exploited a critical weakness in the American defenses.
    • The American commanders, including General St. Clair, recognized that the fort could not be defended against artillery fire from Mount Defiance.
  3. Decision to Evacuate:

    • Faced with the imminent threat from British artillery and recognizing the untenable position, St. Clair and his officers decided to evacuate Fort Ticonderoga to avoid being surrounded and captured.
    • The evacuation was planned for the night of July 5-6, with the goal of retreating southward to regroup with other American forces.
  4. British Capture of the Fort:

    • On the night of July 5, the American garrison quietly abandoned the fort, leaving behind artillery, supplies, and provisions in their haste to escape.
    • On the morning of July 6, British forces entered Fort Ticonderoga unopposed, capturing it and securing a significant victory for Burgoyne’s campaign.

Aftermath and Impact:

  1. American Retreat:

    • The American forces, under St. Clair, retreated southward towards Hubbardton, Vermont. A rear-guard action at the Battle of Hubbardton on July 7 saw further fighting as British and German troops pursued the retreating Americans.
    • Despite the retreat, the bulk of St. Clair’s forces managed to escape and later regrouped with other Continental Army units.
  2. British Strategic Gain:

    • The capture of Fort Ticonderoga provided a major morale boost for the British and allowed Burgoyne to advance further into New York.
    • The British occupation of the fort disrupted American control in the region and appeared to validate Burgoyne’s strategy of advancing through the Hudson River Valley.
  3. American Response:

    • The fall of Fort Ticonderoga shocked and demoralized the American public and military leaders. It led to criticism of General St. Clair and the Continental Army’s leadership.
    • However, the loss also galvanized American efforts to resist Burgoyne’s advance. Reinforcements were sent to strengthen American positions further south, leading to increased resistance against the British campaign.
  4. Prelude to Saratoga:

    • Burgoyne’s advance, despite the initial success at Fort Ticonderoga, faced increasing logistical challenges and stiffening American resistance.
    • The eventual American victory at the Battles of Saratoga in October 1777 marked a turning point in the Revolutionary War, securing French support for the American cause and significantly altering the course of the conflict.


The Siege of Fort Ticonderoga remains a key event in the American Revolutionary War, highlighting the complexities of military strategy, the importance of key strategic locations, and the resilience of American forces in the face of adversity.

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