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Ethan Allen


Ethan Allen describes in detail how he captured Fort Ticonderoga

SUMMARY: We are offering one of the most historic letters from the American Revolution to come on the market in recent years in which Ethan Allen describes the capture of Fort Ticonderoga from the British May 11th, 1775. Price:$175,000.

Ethan Allen's letter describing capture of Fort Ticonderoga

Ethan Allen (1738– 1789). Allen was an early American revolutionary and guerrilla Image of Ethan Allenleader who fought against the Province of New York's settlement of Vermont, and later for America's independence during the Revolutionary War. Ethan Allen served in the colonial military during the French and Indian War. In the early 1770s, he emerged as the military leader of Anti-New York dissidents, known as the Green Mountain Boys, who were fighting New York over the New Hampshire grants. He and The Green Mountain Boys successfully carved out the Republic of Vermont (1777-1791) and later the State of Vermont. At one point, a warrant was issued for his arrest by the government of New York, for a substantial reward of 100 pounds.

In the spring of 1775, following the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, Allen and Benedict Arnold led a raid to capture Fort Ticonderoga. The rebels moved north, managed to get a few dozen men across Lake Champlain (they had considerable trouble finding a boat and the one they found was quite small). In a dawn attack the British soldiers were quickly subdued. Ethan Allen went directly to Captain Delaplace's quarters and ordered for the captain to "Deliver this fort instantly!" After Delaplace asked "By what authority?", Ethan Allen raised his sword and replied "In the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" Delaplace ordered for his men to lay down their weapons and the fort was taken without the loss of a single life. The huge stores of cannon and powder seized at Ticonderoga allowed the American rebels to break the stalemate at the siege of Boston, which caused the British to evacuate the city in March 1776.It was one of Alien's main ideas to capture the cannon at Ticonderoga because the Colonial Army was very short of cannon. How those cannons were dragged all the way to Boston is one of the great feats of military history and a saga unto itself.

Ethan Allen Capturing Fort Ticonderoga at dawn


This letter is entirely new to the market having been part of a early American family for decades. It is a stupendous historical find.The letter reads in part as follows:

" Gentleman. I have the inexpressible satisfaction of to acquaint you that at daybreak of the eleventh (May 11, 1775)--- Pursuant to my directions from leading men in Colony of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut---I took the Fortress of Ticonderoga with about one hundred and thirty Green Mountain Boys--- Col Arnol (d) entered the Fort with me, side by side--the guard (s) were so surprised that contrary to our expectation did not fire on us but fled with Percipitancy--We immediately entered the fortress and took the Garrison prisoner without opposition or bloodshed--they consisted of one Captain, one Lieutenant and forty two men--Little more need to be said.--You know Governor Carleton will exert himself to retake it.---since your inhabitants (inhabitants of Albany County) have thoroughly manifested their zeal in the cause of their country (this is an interesting sentence in view of the fact there was no country in 1775) I expect immediate assistance from you in terms of men and Provisions--you cannot exert yourselves too much in so glorious a cause--- I am apprehensive of quick attack--Pray be quick to our relief and send five hundred men immediately--Fail Not. From your friend and humble servant--Ethan Allen Commander of Ticonderoga, May 12, 1775"

The letter measures approximately in 9 in x 6.5 in and is two parts.There is separation of the top from the bottom in the mid portion of the letter but the parts fit together perfectly as shown with no loss of writing so it could be repaired with ease. The paper was written with iron based ink on English watermarked paper. There is some very minor chipping at the edges and some minor paper loss not affecting the writing. The letter is therefore in remarkable condition for its age.

Excerpt from Allen 1775 letter

Excerpt for Allen 1775 letter

Excerpt from  Allen 1775 letter

Excerpt from  Allen 1775 letter

Several historical points with regard to this letter.Previously it was not clear to what extent the campaign was formulated by the strongly anti-British faction in Connecticut and to what extent it was the idea of the Green Mountain Boys headquartered at the Catamount Tavern in Bennington. But Allen cites that he was under the direction of "Sundry Leading Gentleman of the colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut " so this letter indicates his directions came from those two colonies. There always has been some debate of the relative roles of Allen and Benedict Arnold in this enterprise. The letter we think make clear that this undertaking was truly commanded by and led by Allen. He mentions Arnold only in the act of entering the fortress with him---"side by side." It was Allen who wrote for help after the capture and not Arnold and it was Allen who signed the letter Commander of Ticonderoga. The attack on the fortress was carried out only three weeks after the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord so it it thought that the British garrison may not have known they were at war which would explain why they were so easily subdued.Second, several references state that the Fort Ticonderoga had a garrison of 22 men. In fact, the British had 44 soldiers guarding the fortress according to Allen's count including 2 officers. There is more misinformation in the historic literature as to just how many men Allen and Arnold had for the attack but Allen statess he had about 130 soldiers.Also, the letter dates the attack to May 11, 1775 not May 10th as recorded in many histories. The letter was written the day after the fortress was captured which is one of the features that makes it so historic. Also in the letter Allen expresses fear of being attacked right away by Carleton so he was requesting immediate assistance but that counterattack did not occur for a year for a variety of reasons.This letter is one of the finest letters extant from the Revolutionary War era and is therefore priceless.

View of lLake Champlain from Ft Ticonderoga

Price: $175,000


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