The Guns Of Ticonderoga

Age rating: Everyone
Before Washington crossed the Delaware and became a legend. A bookstore owner dragged fifty-nine cannon across three hundred miles of wilderness -- in the middle of the winter. What he did with them is the greatest American story you've never heard -- and it's all true.

Synopsis: This is the true story of how fifty-nine guns from Fort Ticonderoga were dragged three hundred miles and secretly placed on Dorchester Heights -- ending the siege of Boston.

In April of 1775 the Massachusetts Militia backed the English into the city of Boston. The English were outnumbered, and couldn't fight their way out. But they were well fortified and the Americans had almost no gun powder, bullets, or actual leadership. Therefore, they couldn't force the English from the city.

So begins the siege of Boston.

As the siege begins, HENRY KNOX, 25, is trapped in the city with his wife LUCY KNOX, who is the daughter of Province Secretary THOMAS FLUCKER. Henry is a bookstore owner in Boston. He is a staunch believer that all men should be free.

Because Henry had been associated with the rebellion his father-in-law conspires to have him arrested, so he and Lucy secretly flee Boston with the help of his brother WILLIAM KNOX, and some other friends of the rebellion.

Even though Henry has no formal education, or military training, he has a vast knowledge of military tactics and engineering -- all self taught.

Henry volunteers for the Continental Army and is given command of the defenses at Roxbury. He does such an impressive job, GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON takes note and informally promotes Henry.

At a war council meeting in which the American leaders are bemoaning their lack of artillery, Henry volunteers to go to Fort Ticonderoga, and drag the guns the three hundred miles back to Boston through the thick woods and steep Berkshire mountains of New England -- in the middle of winter.

Everyone, including Knox's friend GENERAL NATHANEAL GREENE, believe it to be impossible. Knox insists that he can do it and Washington finally agrees based solely on Knox's determination that he will succeed.

Knox and his brother William go to Ticonderoga, pick out fifty-nine guns and start the trek home. First they fight against the winds on Lake George and row the length of the lake in boats they built themselves. Twice they strike rocks and several of the guns are sunk and must be rescued.

Once they arrive at Fort George, they are forced to wait until it snows. Once snow arrives they are hampered by thin ice on the Hudson River, which they must cross three times. Several times guns fall through the ice into the river, and have to be dragged out.

Once they are south of Albany they have to deal with the weather and the steep slopes of the Berkshires. They find out that coming down is harder than going up.

At one point a group of the teamsters, that are guiding the Oxen, decide to give up and leave. If they leave, Knox will be forced to leave many of the guns behind. Only after an impassioned plea by Knox do they agree to continue.

Ultimately, Knox makes it back to Boston with all fifty-nine guns. Washington informs Knox that Congress has granted him a commission as a full Colonel. Washington put him in charge of America's first artillery unit. The question then became, what to do with the guns?

Knox wants to put them up on Dorchester Heights. But the approaches to the Heights are so close to the English lines that doing so in secrecy seems impossible. At one point, Washington, GENERAL LEE, and Knox scout out the Heights. Only to be chased off by the English.

They all agree that even at night it would be impossible to get the guns up on the hill without the English seeing them. Since the ground is still frozen it would take a week or more to dig in properly, and build fortifications. They would never be able to fortify themselves before the English overran them.

All seems lost. Many of the enlistments ran out on January 1, 1776, so many of the men left. The Americans do not have enough gun powder, bullets, or men to break through the English's expertly designed defenses. The English have just received reinforcements and will launch an attack as soon as spring arrives.

Washington knows that if he waits until the English attack in the Spring, he will not be able to defeat them and the revolution will end. So Washington gathers his war council and tells them he has decided to attack. Knowing that they will probably be defeated anyway.

But Knox, along with the nephew of GENERAL ISREAL PUTNAM, have come up with a daring plan. They tell the war council that if they pre-build the fortifications and create a blind, they will be able to occupy the Heights in one nights time.

But their plan depends on absolute secrecy and with English Spies everywhere...

Since the Americans are committing all of their resources and men into this plan, if the English get wind of the plan and attack before the fortifications are complete -- the Revolution will be over.

Washington reluctantly agrees to the plan. They plan to fortify the Heights on March the fifth. Which is the anniversary of the Boston Massacre.

On that night historical records describe a fog that settled over the city and the heights. The top of the heights were clear and moonlight, while under the fog layer visibility was poor and noise was muffled.

When the sun rose the next morning the English were amazed to see two new fortifications and numerous cannon pointing down on them. The Americans had once again pulled off the impossible.

GENERAL HOWE was heard to have said, "My God, these fellows have done more in one night that I could make my army do in three months." He is enraged and orders the Heights to be retaken at all costs. But a midday nor'easter stops the English in their tracks and by the time the storm passes, the Americans are too well entrenched.

With their ships no longer safe in the harbor, General Howe is forced to abandon the city. He informs the Americans that if they allow them to retreat, he will not burn the city to the ground.

The Americans march back into Boston victorious. This ragtag group of farmers and shop keepers defeated the greatest army in the world through shear will and determination. With the help of one of Americas first self made men and fifty-nine guns from a fort in upstate New York.

It was a prelude of things to come.

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