The stunning entrance to Ticonderoga Town today, a magnificent column to depict the wars of the region back in the 1700s. Firstly the French Indian War as it’s called over here in the States, and the Seven Years War back home in the UK. The French against the British for territory. Followed by the War of Independence, American Patriots against the British with the French and other Nationalities spoiling as proxies. But mixed into both wars were the American Indians, and up around the Hudson Valley and Ticonderoga were the Mohawk Nation. The four figures at the base of the column are French, Scots, Patriots and Mohawk…I’ve never seen anything like it.

Back home in the UK we are all aware of the famous poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson called Ticonderoga. It’s about a Scots military officer who has a dream about meeting his death at a place called Ticonderoga while he was still living in Scotland. His name is Duncan Campbell, but sadly after the poet Stevenson was told the story, he mixed up the names and in the poem Campbell becomes Cameron. A big mistake in Scotland especially at that time of writing it. The Clans were still powerful.


First verse: “This is the tale of the man, who heard a word in the night. In the land of the heathery hills, in the days of the feud and the fight. By the sides of the rainy sea, where never a stranger came. On the awful lips of the dead, he heard the outlandish name. It sang in his sleeping ears, It hummed in his waking head, the name…TICONDEROGA. The utterance of the dead.”

Major Duncan Campbell would indeed die at Ticonderoga…severely wounded fighting the French, he would eventually succumb to his wounds and die days later. He is buried in a small plot in the town of Ford Edward, NY. He is buried along with two other Scots…females who are also in the history books. But in my view not enough, and certainly not around the classrooms of the USA or UK…amazing history to be lost in the not too distant future.

The well kept graves of Jane McRea, her good and older friend Sarah Gordon Fraser McNeil and Major Duncan Campbell. I was in tears just standing over their graves.

Jane, only 17 years old was walking to the south of Fort Edward where she had the family home when she was attacked, scalped and killed by Indians. Sarah survived to tell the story and died I believe of natural causes as an older woman. Amazing that Sarah, born in Scotland would live through the two wars, and all the skirmishes in between.

A modern copy of Duncan Campbell’s original headstone and inscription. Like Jane’s body, Duncan’s would also be moved to this site from it’s original location/s.

The area of Up State New York is beautiful, the land and the upper to middle reaches of the Hudson River is full of history. The film The Last of the Mohicans is taken from what happened in the Region during the French Indian war period.

But for me, the history is very special. From both sides of my family I have history here. My mother’s side had kin fighting in both wars, but in particular a young lad fighting for the Black Watch named Hugh Christie from Crieff, Perthshire. He remained after the French Indian war and married into a French family who he’d been fighting…yes war is crazy! He took his parcel of land outside of Ticonderoga and today the Christies are still living in Up State New York.

On my father’s side, his mother (my grandmother) is related to John Brown the abolitionist. The very man who was hung for trying to forcefully free Black slaves back in the 1850s at Harpers Ferry, WV. Although born in Connecticut, he would grow up on a farm in Ohio, move around during his abolitionist days and eventually buy a farm in Up State New York along the Keene Valley in a place called North Elba, just outside of today’s Lake Placid. He would be my three times great uncle, as his younger brother is my three times great grandfather. Before I found all of this out in my fifties, as a kid at primary school in Scotland we would all sing “John Brown’s Body Lies A Molding In The Grave….” It became a famous American Civil War song too. What a shock when I now realize that we were singing about my great uncle.

Taking a moment at John Brown’s grave on his farm property at North Elba.
Great (3x) uncle John and myself.

Another icon of the Region is someone who I’ve already blogged about way back in 2014: However he deserves a mention here too. Robert Rogers, the first of the special forces soldiers in my view. Fighting for the British and not in a red tunic, he and his men fought in green, moved forward of the British troops in small numbers and recce’d ahead. Rogers had formed a formidable unit which is now referred to as Rogers’ Rangers. It’s the 1750s after all yet he had freed Black slaves, Indians and Scottish soldiers in his ranks, as well as settlers. And willing to promote all equally. When I joined the British special forces in the mid 1970s we were all handed a typed document entitled Rogers Rangers Rules…written by him way back in the 1750s on Rogers Island, a small piece of land in the middle reaches of the River Hudson adjacent to Fort Edward. I’m over the moon that in my later years I’ve been able to visit the statue of Major Robert Rogers of the Rangers on that small Island…for me a homage to the great man on the part of the British Special Forces.

The statue of Robert Rogers of the Rangers on Rogers Island, NY.
The middle reaches of the Hudson River, the same river that flows south to New York City.

Up State New York, the scenery is spectacular and the locals are really friendly.

So here is a wee bit of Ticonderoga, some history and some characters of the Up State Region that make the place so special. So it’s not just a poem, albeit a great poem…it’s way way more than that. The region of the Adirondacks has mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers. The wildlife is in abundance from moose, bears, wolves, deer to wild turkey and many many species of birds large and small…it’s all stunningly beautiful.

My one gripe, which is what led me to writing this blog post, is that none of this is tied together by New York State itself, or rather it’s movers and shakers. Many people who live in New York State are short on their own history and geography…let alone the rest of the USA, and indeed those in the UK who would love I’m sure to know more of British involvement in this wonderful area of the USA.

I would love to see this all tied together, both history of what should be well known characters and the geography of where it all took place.

If that was done, I could just imagine the bus loads of tourists coming to Up State New York from all over the world to witness for themselves just where all of this took place. Many towns and communities in today’s New York State could well do with such a visit on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, those of you who have enjoyed this small piece on Ticonderoga and it’s surrounding areas, and the characters mentioned, can find way more information by Googling their names…but there is nothing like being there!

Published by: bobshepherdauthor

Bestselling author Bob Shepherd has spent nearly forty years operating in conflict areas around the world. A twenty year veteran of Britain’s elite 22 SAS Regiment with nearly two decades of private security work to his credit, Bob has successfully negotiated some of the most dangerous places on earth as a special forces soldier and a private citizen. Bob comments regularly on security issues and has appeared on CNN International, BBC, SKY News, and BBC Radio. He has also authored numerous articles and books including the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Circuit. In addition to writing and lecturing, Bob continues to advise individuals operating in hostile environments. For more of his insights on security and geopolitics visit

Categories Uncategorized2 Comments


  1. Great article Bob maybe if you have the time you should push for the recognition the history deserves can’t think of a more able man than yourself 👍

  2. Just a simple thank you. I agree with Kenneth, you could write a wonderful novel based in the afore mentioned history.

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