Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fort St Frederic at Crown Point

If you walk amidst the ruins of Fort St Frederic today, you must carry your imagination every step of the way.  It is a wonderful way to remember the activities and the goings on in the vicinity.  Stay walking within the boundary of the French fort.  Don't go ramble over the the larger structure built by Jeffery Amherst a few yards to the northwest.  That structure is called Crown Point and it didn't exist in 1740 or in 1750.  There was just Fort St Frederic and a lively place it was.

Guy Omeron Coolidge in French Occupation of the Champlain Valley from 1609 to 1759 stated the French occupied this spot, called Pointe a la Chevelure from 1700 and used it for commerce for English goods.  Theodore G. Corbett writing in A Clash of Cultures on the Warpath of Nations: the Colonial Wars in the Hudson Champlain Valleys (Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press, 2002.) describes the fort and ancillary structures, built in 1731, that made Fort St Frederic on the Pointe a la Chevelure a grand site in the wilderness and a permanent one at that. There was a chapel, barracks, a bakehouse, a storehouse and a windmill to grind grain raised by soldiers in nearby fields and the very French style blockhouse.  Soldiers were able to marry there and raise children who were baptized in the church registers.  Most of all Fort St Frederic was a culturally diversified community as natives, Dutch, English and French, freeman, captives, slaves all passed through, traded, or were traded! Goods were exchanged as soldiers, soldier-farmers, praying Indians (Mohican), Abenaki allies, Iroquois enemies, English captives, colonial militias, Hudson Valley Dutch middleman, African American slaves all moved in and out of Fort St Frederic on their way to other destinations like Albany, Montréal, Fort Number Four, Québec City or Boston.  It was the departure point for French raids into colonial New England as well as the target of New York and Massachusetts colonial government plans to destroy it.  In contemporary jargon, it was a "hopping place". 

When you walk around these ruins, imagine!
Imagine this! A busy trading center with visitors coming and going
The plan of the fort with the blockhouse in the northeast corner

Looking northwest to present day Port Henry from Point la Chevelure

In 1759, as the French were losing their power in the Champlain Valley, the French troops did abandon Fort St Frederic but they did not leave it intact for the English to benefit.  Instead the French troops blow it up...

Abandonment of Fort St Frederic by Dahl Taylor
as displayed in the Visitor's Center at Crown Point

Here is a list of stories on this blog about the forts in the Champlain-Richelieu Valleys:

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