The Route of the Historic Military Road
A vital military supply link between Fort No. 4 at Charlestown, New Hampshire and the Fort at Crown Point on Lake Champlain, the trace of The Crown Point Road is shown at left as an overlay on a modern map of Vermont showing present highways and villages.
is the route of an ancient military road which has been lost in forest
and field for over 250 years traced? Click here.
Because the established supply route from the Atlantic ports by way of Albany and Lake George was long and difficult, Amherst needed a more direct route.
For centuries past, Native Americans had followed the waterways leading from Canada to the coast. One of the most-traveled routes connected Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River following Otter Creek and the Black River. By a stroke of fortune this footpath led from Amherst’s strategic position at Crown Point, New York directly to an important military post, Fort No. 4 on the Connecticut River.
The General ordered his engineers to devise a plan to improve the route, and Captain John Stark, commanding Rogers Rangers, then cut and marked the road. The road construction was primitive but served its purpose for the remainder of the French and Indian War.
During the American Revolution, Colonial Militias, schooled by the British during the previous war, turned the tables on them and utilized the road to their own advantage, contributing to the ultimate British defeat.
With the arrival of peace, perhaps the greatest contribution of the Crown Point Road to Vermont history was as a conduit for the great influx of settlers coming to the (then) New Hampshire Grants to establish towns and homesteads.
is possible to walk or drive a car on many remaining sections of this
ancient road, unique in American history.
When General Jeffrey Amherst decided to build his magnificent stone fort at Crown Point on the site of the ruins of the French Fort St. Frederic, he needed supplies, munitions and manpower in a hurry. This was especially in preparation for the invasion of Canada but also for the construction of the fort which he saw as essential to the defense of the British colonies and as an encouragement to the development of the wilderness.
the supply route then currently in use - by way of the Hudson River and
Lake George with numerous portages - was slow and cumbersome Amherst
decided to utilize a well-traveled Indian trail leading from Lake
Champlain across Vermont (the New Hampshire Grants then) to the
Connecticut River where there was a settlement at Charlestown NH and
direct connections to the Atlantic seacoast.
Stark and his men returned to Crown Point on September 8 or 9 after roughing out a road. On October 27, 1759, the road building resumed under Major John Hawks and a crew of 250. After suffering severe hardships such as hunger, sickness and desertion these men arrived at No. 4 on November 16.
Lieutenant John Small of the British
42nd Regiment of Foot, the Black Watch, sought to modify and improve the
route of the military road. Early in the winter of 1759 he traveled the
road and explored alternate routes with a group of provincials. He
reported to General Amherst in December of that year that "a way
suitable for carriages" had been found. His recommendations for
improvement of the easterly route of the road were accepted by Amherst
who responded by ordering the road "to be cutt over anew, according
to a sketch which Lt. Small is bearer of ...".
In 1760, a New Hampshire regiment of some 800 men under Col. John Goffe was ordered to Crown Point to take part in the invasion of Canada. While on their way they had orders to improve the road. The men worked on the road until arriving at the Black River Ponds at which time they were ordered to abandon the work and hurry to Crown Point.
Over time the road was
improved in some sections, re-routed in others and sometimes abandoned
by disuse but the route constructed by these stalwarts during the French
and Indian War also served the country and Vermont well during the
American Revolution and afterwards during times of settlement.
By Martin J. Howe
I n the latter part of the last century [1800's] several markers were placed by individuals to mark the route of the road. These supplemented the original milestones set by the builders of the road. Only two of these crude markers [No.s 18 and 22], both in Weathersfield, now remain.
The Daughters of the American Revolution performed a valuable service in the period 1909-1914 when they were instrumental in placing a number of granite markers in many towns along the route of the Crown Point Road. At about the same time, additional markers of the same size and material were erected by several of the towns along the road. These markers were placed on traveled highways at points where the highways intersected the Crown Point Road or at points as near as possible to the Crown Point Road. On many of these markers an arrow engraved on top indicates the general direction of the Crown Point Road. These arrows are not reliable in all cases as several of the markers have been moved from their original positions because of road construction. In later years the Crown Point Road Association has erected numerous markers along the old route. The markers are maintained by CPRA members with assistance from adjoining landowners and veterans organizations.
During the years of its existence the Crown Point Road Association has amassed a considerable archive of historical information, early and pertinent maps and many other articles of interest relating to the Crown Point Road. Since the Association has no central permanent location arrangements have been made with the Middlebury College Library to be the repository for our archives as a part of their Vermont Collection. Librarian Hans Raum is in charge of our material and he has made recent progress for indexing the Association archives. Check back for a catalog of indexed materials with links here soon. We hope to have this link to the archives up and running this year and it will be a great resource for further research.
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