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Particulars of the Evacuation-Indian Scouts in the
Vicinity of the Fort-Outposts Abandoned by St. Clair-Burgoyne Secures Mount Hope—Invests the Fortress Seizes and Occupies Sugar Hill—The Forts Overlooked and in Imminent Peril—Determination to Evacuate-Plan of Retreat- Part of the Garrison Depart for Skenesborough in the Flotilla-St. Clair Crosses with the Rest to Fort Independence-A Conflagration Reveals his Retreat -The British Camp Aroused—Fraser Pursues St. Clair - Burgoyne with his Squadron Makes after the Flotilla-Part of the Fugitives OvertakenFlight of the Remainder to Fort Anne—Skirmish of Colonel Long-Retreat to Fort Edward-St. Clair at Castleton — Attack of his Rear-Guard-Fall of Colonel Francis-Desertion of Colonel Hale-St. Clair Reaches Fort Edward_Consternation of the Country-Exultation of the British.
N the accounts given in the preceding
chapter of the approach of Burgoyne to Ticonderoga, it was stated that he had
encamped four miles north of the fortress, and intrenched himself. On the 2d of July, Indian scouts made their appearance in the vicinity of a blockhouse and some outworks about the strait or channel leading to Lake George. As General St. Clair did not think the garrison sufficient to defend all the outposts, these works with some adjacent sawmills were set on fire and abandoned. The extreme left of Ticonderoga was weak, and might easily be turned ; a post had therefore been established in the preceding year, nearly half a mile in advance of the old French lines, on an eminence to the north of them. General St. Clair, through singular remissness, had neglected to secure it. Burgoyne soon discovered this neglect, and hastened to detach Generals Phillips and Fraser with a body of infantry and light artillery, to take possession of this post. They did so without opposition. Heavy guns were mounted upon it ; Fraser's whole corps was stationed there; the post commanded the communication by land and water with Lake George, so as to cut off all supplies from that quarter. In fact, such were the advantages expected from this post, thus neglected by St. Clair, that the British gave it the significant name of Mount Hope.
The enemy now proceeded gradually to invest Ticonderoga. A line of troops was drawn from the western part of Mount Hope round
to Three Mile Point, where General Fraser was posted with the advance guard, while General Riedesel encamped with the German reserve in a parallel line, on the opposite side of Lake Champlain, at the foot of Mount Independence. For two days the enemy occupied themselves in making their advances and securing these positions, regardless of a cannonade kept up by the American batteries.
St. Clair began to apprehend that a regular siege was intended, which would be more difficult to withstand than a direct assault ; he kept up a resolute aspect, however, and went about among his troops, encouraging them with the hope of a successful resistance, but enjoining incessant vigilance, and punctual attendance at the alarm posts at morning and evening roll-call.
With all the pains and expense lavished by the Americans to render these works impregnable, they had strangely neglected the master key by which they were all commanded. This was Sugar Hill, a rugged height, the termination of a mountain ridge which separates Lake Champlain from Lake George. It stood to the south of Ticonderoga, beyond the narrow channel which connected the two lakes, and rose precipitously from the waters of Champlain to the height of six hundred feet. It
had been pronounced by the Americans too distant to be dangerous. Colonel Trumbull, some time an aide-de-camp to Washington, and subsequently an adjutant, had proved the contrary in the preceding year, by throwing a shot from a six-pounder in the fort nearly to the summit. It was then pronounced inaccessible to an enemy. This Trumbull had likewise proved to be an error, by clambering with Arnold and Wayne to the top, whence they perceived that a practicable road for artillery might easily and readily be made. Trumbull had insisted that this was the true point for the fort, commanding the neighboring heights, the narrow parts of both lakes, and the communication between. A small, but strong fort here, with twenty-five heavy guns and five hundred men, would be as efficient as one hundred guns
and ten thousand men on the extensive works of Ticonderoga.* His suggestions were disregarded ; their wisdom was now to be proved.
The British General Phillips, on taking his position, had regarded the hill with a practised eye. He caused it to be reconnoitered by a skilful engineer. The report was, that it overlooked, and had the entire command of Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Independence, being
* Trumbull's Autobiography, p. 32.
about fourteen hundred yards from the former, and fifteen hundred from the latter ; that the
: ground could be levelled for cannon, and a road cut up the defiles of the mountain in four-andtwenty hours.
Measures were instantly taken to plant a battery on that height. While the American garrisons were entirely engaged in a different direction, cannonading Mount Hope and the British lines without material effect, and without provoking a reply, the British troops were busy throughout the day and night cutting a road through rocks and trees and up rugged defiles. Guns, ammunition, and stores, all were carried up the hill in the night; the cannon were hauled up from tree to tree, and before morning the ground was levelled for the battery on which they were to be mounted. To this work, thus achieved by a coup de main, they gave the name of Fort Defiance.
On the 5th of July, to their astonishment and consternation, the garrison beheld a legion of red-coats on the summit of this hill, constructing works which must soon lay the fortress at their mercy.
In this sudden and appalling emergency, General St. Clair called a council of war. What was to be done? The batteries from this new fort would probably be open the next