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Enlisting of Troops in the East—Camp at Boston— General Artemas Ward—Scheme to Surprise Ticonderoga—New Hampshire Grants—Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys—Benedict Arnold—Affair of Ticonderoga and Crown Point—A Dash at St. John's.
AT the eastward, the march of the Revolution went on with accelerated speed. The provincial Congress of Massachusetts resolved to raise thirteen thousand six hundred, as its quota. Circular letters, also, were issued by the committee of safety, urging the towns to enlist troops with all speed, and calling for military aid from the other New England provinces.
Their appeals were promptly answered. Bodies of militia, and parties of volunteers from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, hastened to join the minute men of Massachusetts in forming a camp in the neighGbe Camp at JBoston 133
borhood of Boston. With the troops of Connecticut, came Israel Putnam, having recently raised a regiment in that province, and received from its Assembly the commission of brigadiergeneral. Some of his old comrades in French and Indian warfare, had hastened to join his standard. Such were two of his captains, Durkee and Knowlton. The latter, who was his especial favorite, had fought by his side when a mere boy.
The command of the camp was given to General Artemas Ward, already mentioned. He was a native of Shrewsbury in Massachusetts, and a veteran of the Seven Years' War—having served as lieutenant-colonel under Abercrombie. He had, likewise, been a member of the legislative bodies, and had recently been made, by the provincial Congress of Massachusetts, commander-in-chief of its forces.
As affairs were now drawing to a crisis, and war was considered inevitable, some bold spirits in Connecticut conceived a project for the outset. This was the surprisal of the old forts of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, already famous in the French war. Their situation on Lake Champlain gave them the command of the main route to Canada; so that the possession of them would be all-important in case of hostilities. They were feebly garrisoned and negligently guarded, and abundantly furnished with artillery and military stores, so much needed by the patriot army.
This scheme was set on foot in the purlieus, as it were, of the provincial Legislature of Connecticut, then in session. It was not openly sanctioned by that body, but secretly favored, and money lent from the treasury to those engaged in it. A committee was appointed, also, to accompany them to the frontier, aid them in raising troops, and exercise over them a degree of superintendence and control.
Sixteen men were thus enlisted in Connecticut, a greater number in Massachusetts, but the greatest accession of force was from what was called the "New Hampshire Grants." This was a region having the Connecticut River on one side, and Lake Champlain and the Hudson River on the other—being, in fact, the country forming the present State of Vermont. It had long been a disputed territory, claimed by New York and New Hampshire. George II. had decided in favor of New York; but the Governor of New Hampshire had made grants of between one and two hundred townships in it, whence it had acquired the name of the New Hampshire Grants. The settlers on those grants resisted the attempts of New York to eject them, and formed themselves Zbe ©reen fountain asogs 135
into an association called '' The Green Mountain Boys." Resolute, strong-handed fellows they were, with Ethan Allen at their head, a native of Connecticut, but brought up among the Green Mountains. He and his lieutenants, Seth Warner and Remember Baker, were outlawed by the Legislature of New York, and rewards offered for their apprehension. They and their associates armed themselves, set New York at defiance, and swore they would be the death of any one who should attempt their arrest.
Thus Ethan Allen was becoming a kind of Robin Hood among the mountains, when the present crisis changed the relative position of things as if by magic. Boundary feuds were forgotten amid the great questions of colonial rights. Ethan Allen at once stepped forward, a patriot, and volunteered with his Green Mountain Boys to serve in the popular cause. He was well fitted for the enterprise in question, by his experience as a frontier champion, his robustness of mind and body, and his fearless spirit. He had a kind of rough eloquence, also, that was very effective with his followers. "His style," says one, who knew him personally, "was a singular compound of local barbarisms, Scriptural phrases, and oriental wildness; and though unclassic, and sometimes ungrammatical, was highly animated and forcible." Washington, in one of his letters, says there was " an original something in him which commanded admiration."
Thus reinforced, the party, now two hundred and seventy strong, pushed forward to Castleton, a place within a few miles of the head of Lake Champlain. Here a council of war was held on the 2d of May. Ethan Allen was placed at the head of the expedition, with James Easton and Seth Warner as second and third in command. Detachments were sent off to Skenesborough (now Whitehall), and another place on the lake, with orders to seize all the boats they could find and bring them to Shoreham, opposite Ticonderoga, whither Allen prepared to proceed with the main body.
At this juncture, another adventurous spirit arrived at Castleton. This was Benedict Arnold, since so sadly renowned. He, too, had conceived the project of surprising Ticonderoga and Crown Point; or, perhaps, had caught the idea from its first agitators in Connecticut —in the militia of which province he held a captain's commission. He had proposed the scheme to the Massachusetts committee of safety. It had met their approbation. They had given him a colonel's commission, authorized him to raisa a force in Western Massachu