Baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell
September 10, 2017
Baseball Hall of Fame Writer Claire Smith
September 19, 2017

Revolutionary War Patriot Ethan Allen

By Bobby Shipman

Have you ever heard of Ethan Allen? You probably know the furniture store. That is not the Ethan Allen we are talking about here. We are talking about colonial patriot Ethan Allen. Some called him an obnoxious blowhard. Others called him a hero. Read this and decide for yourself.

Ethan Allen was born January 21, 1738, in Litchfield, Connecticut. (That’s why he’s in this book!) As a young man, Allen started one failed business after another. He had a short temper. He got into many fist fights.

In 1770 he moved north to the frontier. He settled west of the Green Mountains. The land was claimed by both New Hampshire and New York. Allen started a local militia. They called themselves the Green Mountain Boys. They fought to keep New Yorkers from claiming the land. The area later became Vermont.

The Green Mountain Boys decide their next move. Library of Congress

The American Revolution started in April 1775. Allen knew that nearby Fort Ticonderoga was important to win. Fort Ticonderoga was on Lake Champlain. The large lake was a key route north. The fort had cannons and munitions that the Americans needed. It was poorly managed by the British.

Detail of a map showing Fort Ticonderoga. Library of Congress

On the night of May 10, the patriots decided to take the fort. Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys joined Colonel Benedict Arnold and his troops. They marched to the fort. When British General William Delaplace answered the door, Allen demanded his surrender. Allen was over six feet tall. He weighed more than 200 pounds. He was an intimidating figure! General Delaplace surrendered. Without a drop of blood, Fort Ticonderoga belonged to the Americans.

Ethan Allen demanding British General Delaplace surrender Fort Ticonderoga. Library of Congress

On the heels of his victory, Allen tried to capture Montreal. He had just 100 men, their guns, and nothing else but his arrogance. British General Guy Carleton had an army of 200. He had a fort stocked with cannons. Allen and his men attacked on September 24, 1775. They failed. Allen was captured by the British the next day.

The British released Allen on May 6, 1778. He retired to a small farm in the new Republic of Vermont. He campaigned for statehood for Vermont. Surprisingly, he participated in talks about Vermont becoming a British province!

Statue of Ethan Allen. Library of Congress

Allen also did a bit of writing. He published an autobiography titled A Narrative of the Captivity of Colonel Ethan Allen, Written by Himself. He also published a book of religious philosophy. He died on February 12, 1789 at age 51. He died from a stroke or from falling drunk out of a sleigh. How he died is still unknown to this day.

Two years after he died, Vermont became the 14th state of the United States of America.

Read more about Benedict Arnold and the Revolutionary War HERE.

Bobby Shipman is a fifth grader at Tariffville School in Simsbury. He loves Connecticut history and the history of the Revolutionary War.


The Ethan Allen Homestead Museum,

Vermont Historical Society,



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