This little-known anecdotal tale contributed greatly to the defeat of the British by the thirteen colonies in the Revolutionary War. In 1775, each colony had its own small militia. But the colonies had no army to face the British. Even so, less than a month after the clash at Lexington, a daring band of colonists made a surprise attack on Fort Ticonderoga.
The fort stood at the southern end of Lake Champlain(NY) and protected the water route to Canada. Leading the attack was Ethan Allen, a blacksmith famous for his strength and fierce temper. Allen knew that the fort had many cannons the Americans needed. Allen’s followers came from the nearby Green Mountains of Vermont. Early on May 10, Allen and his Green Mountain Boys slipped through the morning mists at Fort Ticonderoga. Quickly, they overpowered the one guard on duty at the gate and entered the fort. Allen went straight to the rooms where the officers slept. In a loud voice, he called out to the British commander ” Come out, you old rat!” The commander pulled on his uniform and demanded to know on whose authority Allen acted. ” In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!” replied Allen. The commander had no choice but to surrender the fort with its supply of gunpowder and about 100 cannons.
With the help of Colonel Henry Knox of Massachusetts, the Green Mountain Boys, along with Knox’s men, began the Herculean task of disassembling the cannons for the 150 mile trek from upstate NY up and down mountains and across icy rivers to Dorchester Heights near Boston. Once there the cannons had to be quickly re-assembled as the British were about to invade and conquer Boston, the major stronghold of colonial resistance. If Boston surrendered the war would have been over before it started Imagine the utter surprise of the British as they were bombarded by their own cannon fire!
The colonial resistance in re to the cannon fire and the ferocity of the subsequent hand-to-hand fighting left British General William Howe no choice but to end the fighting at the Battle of Concord.
Soon thereafter Howe and his army of 11,000 soldiers boarded British ships and escaped to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The British strategy for victory known as the Anaconda Plan had been scuttled. The Anaconda Plan said that if the head of the colonies (Boston) could be cut off the rest of the colonies would surrender Not!!.