Arts, Dining & Entertainment

‘Soldiers Atop the Mount’ brings Revolutionary War history alive

 

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2-3 at 10 a.m.—ORWELL—Reenactors honor the 1776-1777 history of Mount Independence during this living history weekend.  

Saturday’s popular handicapped-accessible Baldwin Trail walk, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., features experts at trail stations bringing the site’s history to life. Military tactical, annual reading of Declaration of Independence, and camp life and skill demonstrations.

The Mount Independence State Historic Site is one of the nation’s most significant Revolutionary War sites, offering six miles of trails along the remains of the fortification. Mount Independence documents the critical efforts to defend northern New York, New England, and the cause of American liberty.

From July 1776 to July 1777, the fate of the newly independent United States of America rested on this rocky peninsula on the east side of Lake Champlain, located in Orwell. This strong defensive position was first called East Point or Rattlesnake Hill but was renamed Mount Independence after the Declaration of Independence was read to the soldiers assembled here. Lieut. Col. Jeduthan Baldwin of Massachusetts, chief engineer of the American Northern Army, with assistance from Polish freedom fighter Thaddaeus Kosciusko, designed the sophisticated defensive system at Mount Independence. By late October 1776, three brigades had completed encampments, the large shore battery and horseshoe-shaped battery, and a picket fort in the center of the Mount. The sight of the fortified Mount Independence, Fort Ticonderoga, and 12,000 assembled troops prompted British General Guy Carleton and his fleet to an attempted invasion, retreating to Canada for the winter. The American soldiers strategically retreated in July 1777 as the German and British troops occupied the area.The American retreat before the invading army resulted in an unplanned but pivotal rear-guard action at Hubbardton, which paved the way for American victories at Bennington and Satatoga.

Transformed through farming and overgrowth for over a century, the former defense was preserved in 1911 when Stephen Pell of Fort Ticonderoga purchased the northern 113 acres of Mount Independence. In 1961, the state of Vermont began buying parcels of the southern section. Today, history and nature unite at Mount Independence in telling the gripping story of this significant Revolutionary War: although no structures remain, the plan and features of the fort have been identified and studied by archaeologists. The visitor center contains many authentic artifacts. “Soldiers Atop the Mount” includes a reading of the Declaration of Independence as read to the troops 247 years ago. Admission is $9. 

For more information, visit: historicsites.vermont.gov/mount-independence.

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