West Point to Ticonderoga!
Updated: Dec 26, 2020
The rain had stopped but the sky was still overcast and very dark as I left West Point this morning at about 0800.
There was a lot to see in West Point, and due to being sort of bike-bound on days when the weather didn't cooperate, I didn't get to see everything I wanted to see, but, that's biking life.
Nonetheless, it was a neat little town and I got to see a lot of neat stuff, so here goes...
The West Point military museum has displays from many periods of time with regard to warfare. Here's a suit of armor from the late 1,500's. Each display has an explanation of why the different equipment and tactics were used at the time. The fundamental understanding of weapons and their capabilities drives (or should drive) tactics.
Unfortunately, history is replete withe examples of how this has very sadly not always been the case.
Think, for example, about Picket's charge at Gettysburg from just a day or so ago. Lee ordered a Nepoleonic charge against weapons that had made such an attack impossible to execute successfully.
Here is a West
Point diarama of the aftermath of Picket's charge at which point Lee is distraught over the results of his decision to attack uphill over open ground against an entrenched enemy. As Picket commented afterwards, "That old man destroyed my division."
We've seen the same in almost every war in history.
The West Point museum has tons of neat stuff.
They've got Hermann Goering's Reichmarschall's baton.
They've got a world War One French Renault tank.
They have the most super cool collection of GI Joe's ever representing soldiers from armies throughout history.
They have cool stuff from the Indian wars.
Here is a painting from an Indian artist named White Feather depicting how Custer's Last Stand looked from the Indian point of view.
Here is a operations map that was about 8 feet wide by 8 feet tall depicting the exact location of every unit in the line, both friendly and enemy at the time of the armistice for World War One. The detail, from an old operations guy, is amazing.
This is a Medal of Honor, America's highest award for heroism. Several graduates of the USMA have received it.
I've always liked this quote from one of West Point's most famous graduates.
Here is a not so great view of West Point from above as I was leaving. The Hudson River valley is spectacular. Just beautiful.
It was a very cool ride north to Ticonderoga. I was thinking that I might never ride out from under the weather, but as midday approached, the weather cleared.
Ticonderoga has a long and valuable history, so much so that it calls itself "America's Fort."
Built by the French in 1755 as Fort Carrilon in the Lake Chaplain valley, the waterway to Canada, the fort later fell to the British during the French and Indian War. It was then renamed Fort Ticonderoga, from an Iraquois word meaning between two waters.
The Americans took the fort from the British in 1775 by secretly scaling nearby Mount Defiance which overlooks the fort from about a mile away and placing cannon there which could massacre the British garrison.
The redcoats, seeing their situation as untenable, had no choice but to surrender the fort. The Americans then dragged all the cannon from the fort down to Boston for use against the British there.
It's a cool place. They give very informative and entertaining demonstrations there. I watched on on how the cannons were fired.
One gets a good idea of what living at the fort was like back then.
Many famous figures from early American history have walked through these gates.
It's was still about a two hour ride to Montpelier, Vermont's capital, so I got on the road. When I got there I decided that since I hadn't eaten anything all day, I could splurge a little bit and just have dinner in the hotel restaurant. They make you wear a mask inside and I was wearing a Georgia Bulldog mask (why not make a statement?). I went to the hostess stand and the young lady there looked up at me, smiled and said "Go Dawgs! I go to school there!"
Ada and I became instant friends. Today this old Dawg goes to Maine!