During that historic summer, 12,000 soldiers built a massive fort to defend against an anticipated British attack from the north. The very sight of the combined fortresses at Mount Independence and Ticonderoga caused the British to retreat back to Canada later that fall, giving the Americans a crucial year to prepare for invasion. Many American troops and staff went home that winter, reducing the force just 2,500. Those remaining were sickly and a number froze to death. By spring of 1777 new troops arrived but not enough to properly garrison the forts. On July 5th they evacuated the site when British General John Burgoyne’s forces overwhelmed the area. British and German forces remained at Mount Independence until November when they burned and destroyed the site after learning of Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga.
Today, several trails at Mount Independence connect well-preserved remains of the Revolutionary War fortification. The trails pass through nearly three hundred acres of pasture and woodlands with spectacular vistas overlooking Lake Champlain and the surrounding countryside. Some of the trails are wheelchair accessible. Exhibits in the Visitors Center Museum tell the story of military life on Mount Independence and feature many of the artifacts recovered during recent archaeological investigations.