Mount Independence State Historic Site
"I have also provided timber for two Blockhouses."
- Col. Anthony Wayne, February 4, 1777
In the summer and fall of 1776 American forces concentrated on fortifying the northern point of the rocky Mount Independence peninsula, in anticipation of a British advance from Canada. Along the southeast and southern land-locked perimeters soldiers only had the time to construct log and stone breastworks as a first line of defense against the enemy, should the British attempt to encircle the Mount and assault it from the rear (south).
Col. Anthony Wayne, in command of the under-strength garrison at Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga in the grim winter of 1776-1777, was determined to "Render this post tenable and leave it in a much securer and better state." On February 4, 1777, he informed Northern Department commander Gen. Philip Schuyler, "I have also provided timber for two Blockhouses - which will be erected in a few day[s]."
That month, as a second line of defense, the Americans built Wayne's two substantial blockhouses about 600 feet apart on high ground overlooking the southern breastworks. They were 30 by 30 feet square, and two stories tall atop stone foundations. American maps from 1777 show each structure held a force of 100 men and two cannon. Soldiers on the second floor would have had an unlimited view of any enemy advancing by land to attack Mount Independence.
There are no period drawings of these blockhouses. Based on plans of other blockhouses from the time, it is likely that the second story was cantilevered over the first floor. Defending soldiers could fire through holes in the floor of the overhang on any approaching enemy. Each wall would have loopholes for muskets and portholes for cannon.
After the British gained control of Mount Independence on July 6, 1777, they used these blockhouses as part of the defense against their American enemy to the south. When the British evacuated on November 8, 1777, they burned everything, including this blockhouse, only leaving behind stones from the foundation, lumps of charcoal, some nails, and the ruined fireplace.
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