Mount Independence State Historic Site
" . . . some of the officers have good framed houses." -
Dr. Lewis Beebe, September 30, 1776
This fifteen-foot square, well-defined stone foundation may be the remains of quarters for one or more American officers in the Second Brigade, a unit of regiments from Massachusetts and New Hampshire encamped here the last half of 1776. Many soldiers arriving at Mount Independence after the retreat from Canada had lost their tents. Their first order of business was to clear trees and brush from the encampment site. Regulations stipulated a well laid-out regimental camp, with housing for enlisted men along company streets and quarters for officers in the rear. Lieutenants and captains were closest to the men and the colonels were furthest away.
Rank had its privilege in determining how many officers lived in each hut and in the amount of rations they received. Colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors usually lived by themselves and were issued more food and supplies. Surgeons, adjutants, captains, and lieutenants may have shared their housing in pairs. Officer servants prepared the meals in separate structures.
Most of the wood came from the site and was hand-hewn or perhaps sawn in the mill at Fort Ticonderoga. The army supplied nails and window glass that were purchased in Albany, New York, shipped up the Hudson River to Skenesborough, and then transported on Lake Champlain or Lake George to Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga.
The construction of housing for officers and the enlisted men was similar. Zephaniah Shepardson from Col. Timothy Bedell's New Hampshire Regiment, part of this Brigade, built his hut on July 30, 1776. "Our house I built. [For] my part [I] cut and laid up the logs and split basswoodlogs for the door and floor, civerd the roof with bas bark and made a fireplace of stone. Here I blistered my hands in this building."
This hut and others in the area likely had a fireplace and chimney and sufficient headroom to stand upright. Archaeological investigations in 1989 and 1990 of several probable officer structures found artifacts indicating differences between the enlisted men and their officers, who generally were from wealthier civilian backgrounds and better-paying occupations. Shards of window glass reveal that officer huts had windows, while enlisted men's quarters usually did not. Officers had better quality possessions, such as more expensive stoneware and creamware ceramic tableware, and wine glasses that reveal the drinking of costlier benerages.
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