American History Stories—Volume II - Mara L. Pratt

Capture of Ticonderoga

After this battle of Lexington, a Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to talk over this battle and to decide what was to be done. War must follow—of this they all felt sure. And so troops must be raised, a leader appointed, and some plan of action be agreed upon. It was at this time that George Washington was appointed "Commander-in-chief of all the forces raised or to be raised in defence of American liberties."

The news of the battle had been carried throughout the colonies, and in every town the women were knitting and spinning clothes for their husbands and brothers and sons, and making all preparation for war; the men were drilling and forming themselves into companies, ready to march to Boston at the first word of command.

In Vermont, called in your geographies, you remember, the "Green Mountain State," the men had formed themselves into a company under their colonel, Ethan Allen, and called themselves the "Green Mountain Boys." On the morning of the very day of the meeting of this Congress which had made Washington Commander-in-chief, Ethan Allen, with a detachment of these volunteers, set out to surprise Fort Ticonderoga. Arriving there in the early gray of the morning, he found all but the sentries sound asleep. Suddenly, that no time might be given for an alarm, Allen's band rushed into the fort, and, making their way directly to the sleeping apartments of the commander, Allen, in a voice like thunder,—so his followers say,—demanded the instant surrender of the fort.

The commander, frightened, and only half dressed, threw open his door, saying, "By whose authority do you—" But Allen broke in upon him with, "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress do I command you to surrender." No resistance was attempted; and so a large quantity of cannon and ammunition which the English had stored there, and which just then was so much needed by the troops at Boston, fell into the hands of the Americans, without the loss of a single man.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - II by Mara L. Pratt