In 1758/1759, General James Abercrombie led a British expedition into North America to fight the French.
The Battle of Ticonderoga was fought on July 5th, 1758, and resulted in a British defeat by the French. The battle is notable for being one of the more significant battles during King George’s War. It helped British general James Abercrombie gain experience in handling large formations and field fortifications.
The site of today’s Fort Ticonderoga was an important spot during the conflict as it guarded the strategic waterways that Canada could not be invaded without via Lake Champlain or Lake George, both bordering New York State.
General James Abercrombie gained his previous experience fighting the French in the Battle of Carillon in 1758. He was known for being extremely meticulous when it came to military tactics and strategy. His style of fighting relied on building elaborate field fortifications, usually fortified by cannon.
Before 1758, General Abercrombie had spent time on Lake Champlain leading small-scale operations against the French. However, as a result of the loss at Fort Carillon, King George II ordered him to lead an ambitious campaign against France or its allies in North America.
Abercrombie’s army set out from Albany in the spring of 1758. After traveling north for several weeks, his force discovered a French ship loaded with supplies, and it was quickly destroyed. The expedition then proceeded towards the southern shore of Lake George to perform surveillance.
Upon arrival, Abercrombie found out that the French had moved their stores and provisions to an island just south of where he had arrived at Lake George. He decided to pursue them and captured the island after crossing a tough stretch of water near Ticonderoga.
After Abercrombie and his forces captured Skenesborough (today known as Whitehall), they began constructing fortifications to guard their position. Abercrombie was faced with a difficult choice: he could either build a fortress and wait for the French to come to him or lay siege to the French so he could take possession of Lake George and cut off New France from Quebec.
Abercrombie chose the latter option and began laying siege to Fort Carillon while his army constructed Fort Montgomery on the other side of Lake George. The siege lasted for several weeks, and after many failed attempts, General Abercrombie finally defeated Fort Carillon and forced them to surrender. The French were disarmed at this point, but they were allowed to keep their supplies.
The British also took the opportunity to destroy the fort while they were at it. A small force then occupied the regiment under Colonel Bradstreet and a more significant point under Major-General Webb. They were ordered to construct a fortification that would protect Fort Carillon from future attacks.
In 1759, General James Abercrombie returned to New York from France with 2,200 troops. He stopped in Albany before heading for Fort Ticonderoga on Lake George, which he had been appointed to take over following the capture of Fort Carillon.
After James Abercrombie arrived in Ticonderoga, he learned that the French had assembled a large army on Isle-aux-Noix near the northern shore of Lake Champlain. The British general proceeded to mobilize his ranks and prepare for battle on July 5th. Soon after, Lieutenant-Colonel John Bradstreet and Major-General James Wolfe departed for an expedition against Quebec.
On July 5th, 1758, James Abercrombie ordered his redcoats to attack the French with an artillery barrage from the south side of Lake George and at Fort Ticonderoga. Lieutenant Colonel Francis de Rottenburg also attacked from two nearby hills.
The French defenders were shocked by the British’s audacity and quickly rushed to the defense. The French promptly worked their way up Hill Fortification and displayed incredible discipline and skill familiar to James Abercrombie and his army.
The Battle of Ticonderoga lasted for several hours and ended in a total French victory. One of the most significant English attacks led against Canada during King George’s War, which the British had done many times prior. The battle resulted in nearly 400 casualties, 1,000 left wounded, and 100 captured, while Abercrombie suffered only 35 deaths out of 2,200 men.