June 27, 2008

Washington ‘Returns’ for Anniversary Events: 250th War Anniversary Brings Back Famous Folks

By Lohr McKinstry, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Jun. 27--TICONDEROGA -- Gen. George Washington spoke on Ticonderoga's Town Green Friday.

Washington was portrayed by historical interpreter Dean Malissa of Philadelphia in an appearance that was jointly sponsored by the Town of Ticonderoga and Fort Ticonderoga.

Arriving via horse-drawn carriage with another famous military figure, Gen. Henry Knox, portrayed by Robert Huffman, Washington spoke to a crowd of about 35 people gathered on the green.

He said he'd visited Fort Ti following the Revolutionary War, in July 1783.

"It was just for a look-see with Gov. (George) Clinton. I found the area beautiful."

Washington had been a young British officer during the French and Indian War 20 years earlier.

"I was hailed a hero in the North American colonies and cursed in France."

When Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys took Fort Ti from the British in May 1775, one of the main benefits was the acquisition of 59 artillery field pieces.

Washington said Knox, then a colonel, hauled the one-ton cannons to Boston the next year, where the fledgling American army was under siege by the British.

"It was an incredible trek," Knox said. "I could not have conceived doing it."

When the cannons were lined up against them on March 17, 1776, the British fled Boston.

"Perseverance makes the impossible possible," Washington said of Knox's two-month trip.

The Revolutionary War was really about excessive taxes levied because King George II was broke, Washington said.

"The Stamp Act had 119 paragraphs of taxes. This went on for 11 years. We raised up a nation. You know how the story ends."

Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Robert C. Dedrick introduced Washington and Knox to the crowd waiting on the green.

"These gentlemen are outstanding," he said of the actors. "I saw something similar at Colonial Williamsburg, and I thought this would be appropriate for Ticonderoga."

Dedrick said that when he first heard Malissa speak as Gen. Washington, "I was spellbound."

The presentation was repeated at Fort Ticonderoga later in the day as part of a series of French and Indian War anniversary events.

More than 2,000 re-enactors are camped at the fort this weekend, and a re-creation of the shooting of British Lord Howe in 1758 is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today in the town's Bicentennial Park.

The Battle of Carillon will be refought at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the fort, and the huge military camps are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

After his presentation as Washington, Malissa said he's having a pleasant time in Ticonderoga.

"It's a good place, a great town, good people."

He answered 30 minutes of questions in character as Washington after his speech.

"I usually get the questions about wooden teeth and the cherry tree. They were excellent questions, intelligent and thoughtful. This was a very well-informed audience."

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