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Encyclopedia of Historic Forts

Source: Robert B. Roberts, Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988).

[page 549]

FORT EDWARD (Fort Nicholson; Fort Lydius; Fort Lyman).  During the eighteenth century wars, Fort Edward was one of the most important military posts between Albany and Canada.  The general area of the fort was called the First, Long, or Great Carrying Place.  It was the first and nearest point on the Hudson River where troops and military stores were landed for portage to and from the southern end of Lake Champlain (today’s Whitehall).

British fortifications were constructed on the site in 1709, 1731, 1755, and 1757.  The first, a stockaded affair erected by General Francis NICHOLSON during his aborted expedition against Canada, was named for its builder.  The second fort was built to protect the trading post settlement established by John Henry LYDIUS, an Albany Dutchman, the first white man to settle in what is now the town of Fort Edward; this defense, called Fort Lydius, was destroyed by the French and Indians in 1745.  The third fort, a preliminary to William JOHNSON’s expedition against Crown Point, was initiated by General Phineas LYMAN with 600 men and completed by engineer Captain William EYRE, and named Fort Lyman; after the Battle of Lake George, JOHNSON renamed it Fort Edward “in Honour to Our Young Prince,” the Duke of York and Albany, eldest son of George II and brother of the future George III.  The fourth and last, in 1757, came as a result of an accidental fire that destroyed the barracks in 1756.

During the French and Indian War, fort Edward was a base for Robert ROGER’s Rangers and

[page 550]

[map]

Fort Edward.  Plan from a 1756 survey.  (Courtesy of the Public Archives of Canada.)

British troops marching to Canada.  The fort was also intended to guard nearly adjacent Rogers Island in the river that contained barracks, at least one redoubt, and other military structures.  Constructed of timber and earth, the fort’s walls were 16 feet high and 22 inches thick, with a 1,569-foot perimeter.  It was defended by 8 brass and iron cannon emplaced on its ramparts, in addition to about 20 mortars.  Its barracks, both on the mainland and the island, could garrison 500 troops.

Fort Edward was evacuated in 1766 and ordered razed on July 15, 1775, by the Albany Committee of Safety to prevent its use by the British.  It was the site of Major General Philip SCHUYLER’s headquarters in 1777 during the attempt to block General John BURGOYNE’s advance southward from Ticonderoga.  Today, due to changes in the Hudson’s course, most of the camp and fort sites are located on Rogers Island, linked to the mainland by S.R. 197.  The actual site of 40-acre Fort Edward, privately owned, is located approximately in the center of the island.

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