Smedley House: A pit stop on the way to capture Fort Ticonderoga

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Related | Smedley House rises anew after painstaking effort

WILLIAMSTOWN — The night in 1775 when Col. Benedict Arnold stopped into Smedley's Tavern, he had been riding hard from Boston, making the trip in only three days.

When he arrived, Arnold struck a deal with tavern owner Nehemiah Smedley to produce or procure enough biscuits, salted pork and rum to supply a contingent of men for a few weeks. According to the contract, which still exists, Arnold paid Smedley five pounds for the goods.

Indeed, Smedley's oven also baked the bread that supplied the troops at the Battle of Bennington in 1777.

The morning after Arnold's arrival at Smedley's place, Arnold headed off toward Lake George, where he joined forces with Ethan Allen and his men, who had been sent by the Connecticut colony on the same mission: Capture Fort Ticonderoga at the nexus between Lake George and Lake Champlain.

The two men joined forces and took the lightly manned fort without firing a shot.

With Fort Ticonderoga in the hands of the Continental Army, Col. Henry Knox delivered its armaments to Boston, where the artillery was used to cut off British access to the sea. On March 17, 1776, the British evacuated to Nova Scotia. Evacuation Day is still a holiday in Suffolk County.

Four years after taking Fort Ticonderoga, Arnold made history again when he notoriously betrayed the revolution. In 1780, shortly after being cleared of disloyalty in a court martial, he was granted command of the fort at West Point, and schemed to turn it over to the British Army.

When his plans were exposed, Arnold made his escape down the Hudson River, narrowly missing a party led by Gen. George Washington that was sent to take him into custody. Arnold was taken in by the British and promoted to brigadier general.

He eventually settled in London, where he died of natural causes in 1801 at the age of 61.

Contact Scott Stafford at 413-496-6301.


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