Mount Independence State Historic Site
"Blockhouses, none of them finished." -
Lt. John Starke, Royal Navy, September 1777
After the British captured Mount Independence on July 6, 1777, their military engineers decided to build six new blockhouses to augment American-built defenses on the southeast and southern land exposures in anticipation of potential American attacks. Three were nearly completed. The new British blockhouses supported the log and stone breastworks from 1776, the two blockhouses built in February 1777, and the three stone artillery batteries built in late June.
This is the 20 by 24 foot stone foundation of one of the three British blockhouses. They were smaller in size than the American blockhouses, but also were two stories tall and constructed of squared timbers on a dry-laid stone foundation. The central fireplace probably had a double hearth with a large brick chimney. According to a 1777 map, the British blockhouses had two cannon with a guard of 56 British and German soldiers. One German stated the "3 newly constructed blockhouses were all provided with cannon
On September 18, 1777, when two American militia parties of 500 men each attacked Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga, the British garrison made use of their unfinished blockhouses and successfully repelled the American overland advance from the south. After this incursion members of the German Prinz Friedrich Regiment encamped in the vicinity to be closer to the lines if the Americans attacked again. The regiment supplied the necessary troops to man the blockhouse and the breastworks just below this location.
Though the Americans had insufficient numbers to regain their old defenses, the raid had its effect. British reinforcements from Canada destined for Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne to the south halted at Mount Independence to become part of the garrison there. When British Gen. Guy Carleton asked for artillerymen to be returned to Canada, Brig. Gen. Henry Watson Powell, commander at the Mount, responded on October 5, 1777 "It would be impossible to send any of the Artillery stationed here to Canada, there are so many Batteries and Block Houses, that they are not by any means capable to the duty expected of them
By late October construction of the new blockhouses was incomplete, although the buildings apparently were habitable. As the British evacuated on November 8, 1777, soldiers torched the structures. This stone foundation is a silent witness of their presence.
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