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Case 7: Crown Point~Amherst~August 4

John Hinton, A Map of the British and French Settlements in North America. Hand-colored copperplate engraving. London, 1755. Map Division, Small Maps 1755.

For New Englanders, Crown Point on Lake Champlain had been a symbol of French encroachment from Canada since the first fort was established there in 1731.  Fort St. Frédéric, a more substantial stone structure, was erected in 1734-1737.  It served as a base for raids against the New England frontier during King George’s War (1744-1748).  The post guarded the southern approach to Canada by commanding the point at which the narrow, southern part of Lake Champlain broadens dramatically as it flows north.

John Hinton’s 1755 map of the British and French settlements in North America included an inset rendering of Fort St. Frédéric at Crown Point.  The small, stone structure was distinguished by a four-story masonry tower that provided a commanding view over the lake.

Proud (fl. 1759-1760), engraver, A North View of Fort Frederic or Crown Point. Engraved for the Royal Magazine. London, [1759]. Tipped into Lorenzo Sabine (1803-1877), An Address Before the New England Historic-Genealogical Society . . . Sept. 13th, 1859. Book Division, F2 1859 Sa.

This contemporary, though largely imaginary British view of Fort St. Frédéric includes its distinctive tower but otherwise more closely resembles the perspective of Fort Niagara seen in case number 4.  The local geography is relatively accurate, however, with the broad part of the lake at top and Crown Point squeezed between Bulwagga Bay (left) and the narrow southern arm of Lake Champlain (right).

“Plan of Isle aux Noix.” Pen and ink with watercolor on paper, [1761]. Map Division, Murray Atlas of Canada, f. 31.

With the loss of Ticonderoga, the French had no hope of holding the small and antiquated Fort St. Frédéric.  On July 31, five days after the destruction of Ticonderoga, Bourlamaque blew up the fort and tower at Crown Point and retreated farther north to Isle aux Noix in the Richelieu River.  There, a more favorable defensive position offered some hope of slowing the British advance on Montréal.

James Watson (ca. 1740-1790), engraver, after a painting by Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Sir Jeffery Amherst. Mezzotint. London, [1766]. Graphics Division, Prints E-21.

Amherst’s army occupied the ruins on August 4, and “Crown Point” could be added to the laurels of 1759.  The British general almost immediately began construction of a large new fort to consolidate his gains and ensure that the French would not return.

[Samuel Morris Diary], August 4, 1759. Manuscripts Division, Miscellaneous Bound.

On the day Crown Point was taken, the Amherst’s army exercised its harsh code of military discipline.  Rangers captured a British regular who had deserted to the enemy.  Wearing his “French Coat,” the unfortunate soldier was “hanged immediately and his French Coat Buried on him and a Libel [label] on his Breast this is a Deserter.”  Samuel Morris recorded the incident in his diary (upper right).