Lake George Battlefield Park

Location: Lake George, New York

Webpage: City Park

General Description: In August of 1755, the second year of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), 1500 colonial troops under the command of William Johnson arrived at the southern end of Lake George with the intent to advance on the French Fort Saint Frederic on Lake Champlain.  Knowing this, Baron de Dieskau had already left Fort Saint Frederic on Crown Point to meet Johnson south of the fort with a force that also numbered 1500 and encamped at the future location of Fort Carillon between the two lakes.  On September 4, Diesakau decided to raid Johnson’s base at Fort Edward on the Hudson River to the south of Johnson’s position on Lake George, 14 miles to the north.  After raiding a supply train and learning that Johnson was camped to the north, he decided not to attack Fort Edward directly.  On September 8, Colonel Ephraim Williams at Fort Edward sent reinforcements to Johnson of an additional 1200 men, but upon learning of this action, Dieskau set up an ambush along the road.  Williams’ column marched straight into the ambush and after heavy losses, including Williams, the British fled towards Johnson’s camp.  The British rearguard during the fighting retreat inflicted heavy losses on the overconfident French troops, including Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, the highly respected commander of the Canadian and Indian forces.  By the time the reached the entrenched camp of Johnson, the Canadians and Indians refused to attack the camp.  Hoping to shame the Indians, Dieskau formed up his 222 French grenadiers and led them into the clearing where Johnson was entrenched.  Once in the clearing the British cannon cut the French to pieces including wounding Dieskau and the French retreated back to Fort Saint Frederic.  Meanwhile, Colonel Joseph Blanchard, now commander at Fort Edward, saw the smoke of the battle and quickly brought 120 fresh colonial troops to the camp.  They captured the baggage train and supplies to the rear of the French forces and proceeded to pick off the French troops as they attempted to leave the battlefield.  Today the site of the clearing used by Johnson is Lake George Battlefield Park.  In addition, the park is also the location of Fort George.  Fort George is located about 1/4 of a mile from the location of Fort William Henry which was built by the British following the Battle of Lake George in 1755.  Fort William Henry was the staging area for multiple attempts by the British over the next couple of years to attack the French at Fort Saint Frederick and Fort Carillon on Lake Champlain.  However, in 1757 the French laid siege to the fort surrendering on August 8.  According to the terms of surrender the British garrison was to be permitted to withdraw to Fort Edward, however, the Indians plundered and burnt the fort, as well as, attacking and scalping some of the garrison in their internment camp, while the French attempted to control the situation.  After the battle, the French systematically dismantled the fort before returning to Fort Carillon.  In 1759, General Jeffrey Amherst ordered the construction of a new fort on the high ground above the former fort, to be named Fort George.  However, when Fort Carillon and Fort Saint Frederick were captured in 1760 all construction on this fort ceased.  At that time only the southwest bastion of the stone fort was complete.

InterpretiveSign

Impressions:

1) When we arrived at the site of Fort George we expected to see the remains of a substantial star-shaped fort, only to find a couple of 10 foot high walls.  These were the reconstructions of the southwest bastion of the fort, which was the only part of the fort ever completed.  It was strange to see the remains of only a small part of a fort.

FortGeorge

2) The park also consists of a nice walk through the battlefield with a few interpretive signs about the action in 1755.  It was somewhat a disappointment not to have more information available about the battle, as I had to learn about it later on the internet.

3) There is a nice statue at a small pool commemorating the native Americans that lived in the area for thousands of years prior to European colonization.  There are also statues to Father Isaac Jogues, the first white man to have seen Lake George and the figures of Gen. William Johnson and King Hendrick of the Mohawks who led the British in the Battle of Lake George.

NativeAmericanStatue JacquesStatue GeneralAndIndianStatue

4) It is a pleasant park and a nice location for a picnic.  It took only about an hour to visit.

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