1759 map depicting Lake George and the capture of Fort Ticonderoga

Skinner, Perspective View of Lake George [on sheet with] Plan of Ticonderoga. [London: John Hinton, 1759.
Engraved view and map, 10”h x 6 ¼”w plus margins, uncolored. Excellent condition.

An attractive and informative plan and view of Fort Ticonderoga, issued after its capture by the British in 1759, during the French and Indian War.

Fort Ticonderoga (aka “Fort Carillon”) was built by the French in 1755 to dominate the waterway connecting Lake Champlain and Lake George. During the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars the location was strategically vital, as it was a choke point for movement along “The Great Warpath” connecting Great Britain’s New England and Middle Atlantic Colonies with French Canada.

The British set their sights on Ticonderoga early in the French and Indian War, but were unable to mount an attack until 1758, led by General Abercrombie. This idiotic frontal assault against a strong position was a complete debacle, and cost the lives of hundreds of British regulars. A year later the British tried again, under the far more capable leadership of Jeffrey Amherst. This time around the French abandoned the fort without much of a fight. Schwartz summarizes the events as follows:

… on June 21, [Lord Jeffrey] Amherst left [Fort Edward] with six thousand men and established an encampment on the shores of Lake George. A month later the army embarked and proceeded to a place called the Saw Mills, where the troops camped. The commandant of the fort… had been sent to Fort Carillon from Montreal with three thousand men under orders to avoid a major battle and, if attacked to retreat to the Isle-aux-Noix [on the Richelieu River]. The French withdrew within the fort and emptied their cannons on the advancing British troops, but no damage was inflicted. After they destroyed the fortifications, the French troops abandoned Fort Ticonderoga on June 26th. Only fifteen British troops were lost in this engagement. (Schwartz, The French and Indian War, p.108)

Amherst’s 1759 campaign was described in the November and December 1759 issues of The Universal Magazine, in an article by artillery officer H. Skinner titled “Proceedings of the Army under the Command of General Amherst, for the Year 1759”. The article was illustrated by this engraving, perhaps based on drawings by Skinner himself. At top is a view of Lake George, probably viewed looking south to north, while the plan below depicts the British assault in some detail, with a legend identifying 20 locations and events.

The view is attractive, while the plan is clear and informative, supporting the contention of the Magazine’s publisher that its illustrations were “quite superior, in Elegancy of Engraving, and other Accuracies and Embellishments, to any boasted Performances of the kind, in any other periodical work extant.” (March 1763, p.113, quoted in Jolly) At least in the present case I would have to agree.

Jolly, Maps of America in Periodicals before 1800, #155. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 293. Schwartz, The French and Indian War, fig. 72.