Baum Site 5: A Canal Community

Listen to the Road to the Battle of Bennington Site 5 Audio Narration:


The Fort Miller Reformed Church, depicted here, was constructed in 1816 and still bears the original slate roof. Archive available by appointment. Photo by: Andrew Alberti
The Fort Miller Reformed Church. Archive available by appointment. Photo by: Andrew Alberti

It is no coincidence that you will find that near most locks are also the site of a former fort. As this campaign would prove, there were quite a number of obstacles that armies and later engineers needed to overcome to navigate through this landscape. Today, the hamlet of Fort Miller is little more than a few riverfront residences, but during the canal-era, it was an active community at Washington County’s southernmost gateway to the Champlain Canal.

On the morning of August 11, Baum departed camp on an expedition to Bennington. The German surgeon Julius Wasmus describes the scene:

“This morning, beef and bread were given out. Brigadier Gen. Fraser came a few times this forenoon and talked with our Lieut. Colonel Baum. We set out at noon and our corps, which Lieut. Colonel Baum commanded, consisted of our Dragoon Regiment, not quite 200 men strong; 100 Tories, 100 Savage Mohawks, 100 Canadians and 50 Englishmen from Powell’s brigade, that formed the tete of our regiment and were commanded by Capt. Fraser. The savages were commanded by Capt. Lanaudiere, Adjutant of Gov. Gen. Carleton, the Tories by Colonel Forster, and the Canadians by Canadian officers. The two 3-pound cannon were being drawn along in front of our regiment. This was the corps designated for the expedition.”

Julius Wasmus, August 11, 1777

As you continue along the route, you will cross over Champlain Barge Canal Lock 6, which was constructed in 1915. The larger barge Canal had significantly fewer lock chambers than the original 1823 canal because of the proliferation of self-propelled boats. There are a total of 11 locks between Waterford and Whitehall along the Champlain Barge Canal.

Continuing on to Route 4 south, you will see the remnants of the old Canal along the east side of the roadway. Nearby is the remnants of the old Champlain Canal Lock  12. There were dozens of these narrow locks along the old Canal, which required a flat surface, little current and a mule to haul the boat.