First Bateau For Fort Ticonderoga

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Last fall, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s master shipbuilder, Dale Henry, above, steers the oak-and-pine bateau he built for Fort Ticonderoga into the La Chute River. In the large roadless upstate New York of the 18th century, the scene of much fierce fighting during the French and Indian War and Revolution, the clumsy, flat-bottomed bateau became the vehicle of choice to transport troops. Henry based his replica on the remains of a bateau recovered from Lake Champlain, one of 1,000 bateaux that carried Gen. James Abercromby’s more than 15,000 soldiers on their disastrous offensive against French-held Carillon, later renamed Fort Ticonderoga, in 1758. (See “Battle for the Continent,” by John F. Ross, AH Spring/Summer 2008.) Easy to build and maneuver, even for green soldiers, the bateau slid easily over shallows and shoals, although its weight—at about 1,000 pounds—and two-dozen-foot length made portaging difficult. The bateau is on display at Fort Ticonderoga National Historic Monument, www.fort-ticonderoga.org .