Wrapped in Flames: The Great American War and Beyond

Chapter 59: To the Point
Chapter 59: To the Point

“Burgoyne, the king's commander,
From Canada set sail,
With full eight thousand reg'lars,
He thought he could not fail;
With Indians and Canadians,
And his curs'd Tory crew,
On board his fleet of shipping,
He up the Champlain flew.” – A Song for the Redcoats, 1777 (traditional)

“While 2nd Corps was driving Smith’s men southwards at Mooer’s 1st Corps and Russell’s division was marching south from their entrenchments at Lacolle, shadowed by the ironclads and gunboats of Collinson’s squadron. Supervised directly by Dundas, this effort would involve the bulk of the British forces. Three divisions and 28,000 men were making directly for Rouse’s Point, supported by four ironclads, four mortar boats and eight wooden gunboats. The objecting was to seize control of the fortress and drive the Americans from their position.

Having moved almost as quickly as Grant, Paulet’s Corps was across the border by 7am, and soon found itself shaking out and skirmishing with the forward pickets of XVI Corps…” Empire and Blood: British Military Operations in the 19th Century Volume IV.


Frederick Paulet, Commanding 1st Corps

“The army was in splendid condition for the march. Having received fresh troops and replacements from home the regiments were all up to strength. Even the Canadians had proved their dedication to Queen and Country by filling out their regiments from the ballot. Though a most un-English institution, queer Canadian law held (and still does) that each man in a certain age bracket be available for such a duty, and I am told it dates back to the French regime.

Dundas crossed the border early on the 11th, and it was over ground that, from the skirmish and battle of the year past, out men were well familiar with. Ably assisted by the chief of staff MacDougal we were able to organize our lines of march to the south.

The decisive action of Low’s cavalry had cut the American railroad, allowing us to move largely unmolested into the enemies front without fear of his sudden reinforcement. I am led to understand that the enemy had yet to concentrate his main force at either Rouses Point or Mooers by this time, and was in effect, spread out along the whole of the frontier between these two points. This did much to encourage the men who, although still shaken by their defeat eight months previous, were determined to avenge this stain and earn battle honors for themselves in the coming confrontation.

Paulet’s 1st Corps shook itself out well, with Ponsonby and Taylor’s divisions forming the advance. Ponsonby, formerly heading the Guards Brigade was well suited to this combat with the Yankees, while Taylor’s men, loaned to us from the Army of the Maritimes, were veterans of the brutal fighting at Portland. Thus when they made contact with the enemy early on the 11th, they knew what to expect on the outskirts of that little American hamlet…” – The Story of a Soldiers Life, Volume II, Field-Marshal Viscount Garnet Wolseley, Westminster 1903

“Unlike Hancock’s division, which had been partially caught unawares, Foster’s men had been alerted to the British presence by sympathizers along the border and so were up and ready. They were steady in the knowledge that Howard’s division was marching north that very morning to meet them. All they had to do was hold…

Unlike the battle in September, neither the navy nor the army was completely ready. Though Foster’s men were expecting battle, their main reinforcements from Plattsburgh were still at Chazy, following a day’s previous march. Even with couriers riding to inform Howard’s men, they were still the better part of half a days march away. However, with the guns they had they readied for the fight of their lives.

Largely fighting over the same ground that so many men had bled and died over in September of ’62, the fighting was pressed heavily. Ponsonby’s division moved to sever the connection between Fort Montgomery and the main force in the town, while Taylor’s men would bleed to take the position at Waldon Farm…

Ponsonby’s men advanced under the cover of Collinson’s flotilla, the guns of the ironclads and mortar boats pounding the much abused fortifications of Fort Montgomery. With a murderous fire from both shore and lakeside, the garrison was, after nearly two hours of bombardment, compelled to surrender the fortress or face annihilation. The Guards would have the honor of accepting the American surrender. This unhinged the entire American line and left Foster’s men open to being outflanked…

In a hard fought delaying action, the men retreated from the village towards Chazy where they would combine with Howard’s fresh troops to make a stand…” Empire and Blood: British Military Operations in the 19th Century Volume IV.

“The rapid capture of Rouses Point would shock both Burnside at Plattsburgh, and General Halleck in Albany. The news would travel swiftly to Washington. Acting swiftly, Halleck ordered that the full might of XVII Corps be prepared at Chazy to buy time for the army to assemble to slow the British advance. Hancock and Blenker were both notified that they should assemble at Plattsburgh as soon as practicable. Burn’s men were held in reserve in case of the unthinkable, but Halleck was determined he would stop the British advance well before Albany.

Once the men from Rouses Point were across, the bridges over the Little Chazy River were destroyed to prevent an easy British crossing, and men and batteries were posted at Chazy landing to be supported by Winslow’s squadron to prevent an easy ascent of the Champlain.

Burnside was determined to fall back upon Plattsburgh with his army to ‘stop up’ the British advance as it moved along the river. The men at Chazy would buy time for the fortification of Plattsburgh itself which, beyond batteries thrown up at Cumberland Head, was little prepared to see off a true assault.

Casey’s first task in arriving at Chazy on the 13th, was to see that all of his soldiers were across the bridges, and then see to their destruction. With the bridges destroyed, this would at least delay any British assault.

Placing his troops on the south side of the Little Chazy River, he ordered all buildings on the north side fired or pulled down to prevent their use by the enemy. Setting the men to building breastworks, he managed, in a little over 24 hours he managed to form his corps into a well placed defense. It was well timed, as Paulet’s divisions were, by nightfall on the 15th, arriving at his front. His own forces were laid out as such on the morning of the 16th:

Casey’s old division under BG Palmer, was holding the left of the position, anchored on the Little Chazy River, with all three brigades (Sandford’s, Howell’s and Davis’s) strung out through the town. Howard’s division with two brigades (Barlow’s and Meagher’s) standing in the line, while the 3rd Brigade under French was spaced between them and supporting two half batteries each at Adams Tavern and Chazy Landing meant to deter the British from crossing in conjunction with Winslow’s squadron. Foster’s troops were held in reserve to support them.

Paulet’s 1st Corps, was laid out with Ponsonby’s Division (the brigades of Dawkins, Russell and Ingall) directly facing Chazy, while Taylor’s Division (Brown, Ewart and Bingham’s brigades) occupied the line until it found the Lake shore. Russell’s troops were again held as the reserve.

Collinson’s squadron had steamed south in support of them, anchoring in Kingsbay, but on the morning of the 16th were steaming south to support the attack.

Predictably, the attack opened with artillery and sniping from the British lines early in the morning, with many unlucky sentries being killed as 4am broke. As the sun rose rifles barked as the British unleashed a fusillade of shot and shell against Casey’s works. The American artillery, having learned lessons from earlier in the war, held fire to keep their impact for the inevitable British attack.

At six am, skirmishers appeared along the north shore in front of Chazy, and the engagement became general. The American artillery responded to the advance of the British battalions, incurring the wrath of the swifter firing British guns. The main thrust of the attack though, came from Taylor’s troops in front of Howard’s division. Leading the charge was the 3rd Brigade under Brevet Col. Henry Bingham of the Rifles. The 1st Battalion of the Rifles was mixed in with the red coated infantry and advanced as skirmishers across the Little Chazy, wading up to their chests in the swift running current. Waiting for them along the shore were the men of Barlow’s brigade.

Keen eyed sharp shooters from the north bank picked off standard bearers and other officers, and the British emerged amid a scene of great confusion. Instead of forming up, Bingham’s orders were that the men should storm the breastworks by company under support from the Rifles, which they did with reckless abandon, scattering Barlow’s men, only to come under fire from Meagher’s troops. Meagher’s men had requested, and received, permission to take cover in Adams Woods, a series of woodlots along the shore which sheltered them from the worst of the fire of British rifles and cannon. They drove into Bingham’s men from the flank, while covering the more treacherous northern approaches with their own sharpshooters using the few rifles the brigade possessed.

This fouled the British attack early in the morning, but both sides knew it would ultimately come down to the events on Lake Champlain…” The Union’s Shield: The Army of the Hudson, Donald Cameron, University of New York 1930


The British cross the river

“Winslow’s Squadron, sheltering by Island La Motte, had set off at 5am in the morning, under the sound of guns, to avoid being in an enclosed space against Collinson’s vessels.

Winslow’s vessels had been reinforced with two additional ironclads over the winter the new Plattsburgh(8) to replace the one lost in September and the Rouses Point(8) adding a fifth ironclad to his squadron along with his gunboats United States(4), Boston(2), Burlington(2), Shelburne(2), General Montgomery(3) and General Webster(3).

Collinson’s squadron too had been reinforced when the St. Lawrence opened, with the new ironclad Trois Rivieres(7) joining her sisters Richelieu, Yamaska, and Laurence. The gunboats had also been reinforced by two new Britomart class vessels Crown(2) and Beaver(2) alongside their sisters Sepoy(4), Bullfrog(4), Carnation(4), Spanker(4), Sandfly(4),Herring(4), Cherub(2), and Netley(2).

Winslow unfortunately, sailed his vessels directly into a trap. Collinson had positioned his ships early in the morning, waiting for the gunfire to be carried across the water, and the now stretched in a line between Point au Fer and Island La Motte, with his four ironclads in the center, and the gunboats anchoring the front and rear of this column. Expecting the Americans to use the more accessible au Fer channel, Collinson correctly deduced that he would have a chance to broadside his opponent. Betrayed by the rising sun, Winslow could barely decipher the silhouettes of his enemies when the thunder of the Royal Navy’s guns fell upon them.

The leading vessel, the Boston was blasted into scrap by the opening salvo, and the following salvos of heavy guns tore into the following ironclads. St. Albans suffered devastating damage and veered off, colliding with the gunboat Burlington and sending both ships drifting into Island La Motte. Winslow, in Albany, directed his gunboats to make for the head of the British line while he would direct his remaining four ironclads directly at the British center to break them.

With his T crossed, this was a bold maneuver, and as he charged, Collinson’s ships tore into his own. Winslow would be wounded on Albany’s command deck, but he would lead his ships through the British, who scrambled to avoid collision. This was not entirely successful, as the Troy would collide with Trois Rivieres heavily damaging both ships, as they fired at point blank range at one another. Despite her armor, Troy would be the greatest loser of this engagement as the British Armstrong guns gutted her, leaving her a burning wreck. Winslow’s surviving vessels stormed through the British center, but remained receiving broadsides as they tried to maneuver. However, the British line was well and truly broken.

Captain Dewey, leading the gunboat squadron, veered northwards in the wake of Island La Motte to attempt to drive around the British gunboats, which were even then turning to engage him. In a savage melee they would collide as Winslow attempted to bring his vessels to bear while under fire from the ironclads as they turned…

In truth, from here the battle might have gone either way, but the weight of British shell fire was too great. The gunboats one by one would fall silent, with Dewey about the United States striking last as he was encircled by the British. Only Albany and St. Albans would be able to maneuver southwards and fight through the British vessels, who had penned their sisters against the shoreline, driving both Rouses Point and Plattsburgh to ground.

By 7am the battle was over, the remains of Winslow’s squadron were steaming south with all haste to Plattsburgh, while Collinson moved his ships to bombard the American positions on the shore.” The Naval War of 1862, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., New York University Press, 1890


Though he faced defeat in 1863, the Battle of Lake Champlain would not be Dewey's last taste of combat

“Feeding Foster’s Division into the line at 8:30 only delayed the inevitable. The British vessels had come alongside and were dueling with the under strength batteries, sailing past and then back again, lessening the damage that the field guns might achieve.

Russell’s division was committed to the American left flank, and soon they were across the river in force, threatening to unhinge the whole line and Casey had to order the retreat…

…The Battle of Chazy had been a disaster for Union arms. Though Casey would extract his forces with a hasty withdrawal, American naval power on Lake Champlain had been shattered completely. Only two ironclads now stood between Collinson’s fleet and control of the river, and Plattsburgh itself was threatened. Upon hearing the news President Lincoln was said to have exclaimed “My God, my God! What will the nation say?”The Union’s Shield: The Army of the Hudson, Donald Cameron, University of New York 1930
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Disaster after disaster for the Union. At least McClellan hopefully gets sacked soon

Well, he may do better than people expect. His biggest problem, being penned up in Washington, is that he's responsible for over 90,000 troops who must go weeks/months without a means of resupply after they've just done some of the hardest fighting of the war all the way through Maryland. Even so, Lee's invasion has nearly been fouled up three times from delays and mishaps. It's across such a wide front.

The thing is with the British being on the offensive the Union only has to get things right once, potentially, to lay ruin the invasion.

The reason the British offensives are going better now are that with 1) a commander with a much more aggressive spirit is in charge 2) They've done a good reorganization of the army in the time they've had and 3) with time to properly plan and prepare the army is actually moving as it should. Whether it keeps doing so as they begin marching through the fastness of the Adirondack Mountains is another matter...
The Americans should still consider that it's better to try for a separate peace with the British before the alliance between the Empire and the Confederacy becomes official enough that separate peace is no longer an option? The initial war fervor should be going out of the populace and I cannot see the British making demands which are too outrageous in terms of major long-term consequences like large territorial possessions.

Careful with such predictions! It's only those wars which take place much later than end before Christmas! Though there's 50/50 odds the war in the East could end quite suddenly...

Surely all wars have ended before Christmas? Not necessarily the next one, I'll grant you, but most years have one.
The Americans should still consider that it's better to try for a separate peace with the British before the alliance between the Empire and the Confederacy becomes official enough that separate peace is no longer an option? The initial war fervor should be going out of the populace and I cannot see the British making demands which are too outrageous in terms of major long-term consequences like large territorial possessions.

On the northern front (Canada/Maine) the chance for anything resembling a decisive victory versus inflicting a stalemate for the Union in 1863/64 is steadily slipping away. Continuing to fight in Canada and Maine doesn't really hold any advantage for Lincoln, and the only thing really holding them back is the chance they might have to take humiliating terms. However, with the government having fled Washington and relocated to Philadelphia, that might seem like less of an impediment to opening peace talks with the British at least...

Who knows what's going to happen? (Whistles absently)

Surely all wars have ended before Christmas? Not necessarily the next one, I'll grant you, but most years have one.

If you want to split hairs like that I guess it is fair to say :p
Chapter 60 should be up by Sunday/Monday, in the meantime this map here should familiarize people with the upcoming action, all of which will be by the waterside or thereabouts. Well worth a look!

As an aside, Library of Congress has amazing maps and resources for anyone looking for historical maps and documents. I would definitely suggest just searching it for fun even!
Did Teddy do Naval History OTL? I'd imagine so given his tenure as SecNav

He did indeed! At the age of 23 OTL he wrote a two volume piece on the Naval War of 1812! I figure having him jump into the war that was raging as he was a child would also be rather realistic TTL, but he might wait longer on researching/publishing that one. Mind you, for him the title of this volume is more of an homage to his first novel. The 'War of 1862' is a Canadian term for the conflict, the Americans tend to alternatively call in the 'Great American War' and the 'Civil War', though it has some regional names too.
Chapter 60: The Guns of Ticonderoga
Chapter 60: The Guns of Ticonderoga

“Our garrison they viewed them,
And straight their troops did land,
And when St. Clair, our chieftain,
The fact did understand,
That they the Mount Defiance
Were bent to fortify,
He found we must surrender,
Or else prepare to die.

The fifth day of July, then,
He ordered a retreat,
And when next morn we started,
Burgoyne thought we were beat.
And closely he pursued us,
Till when near Hubbardton,
Our rear guards were defeated,
He thought the country won.

And when 'twas told in Congress,
That we our forts had left,
To Albany retreated,
Of all the North bereft” – A Song for the Redcoats, 1777 (traditional)

“The defeat at Chazy unhinged Burnside’s entire strategy for northern New York. Shorn of his naval support, he was forced to abandon the incomplete fortifications of Plattsburgh and withdraw southwards with his troops into more defensible positions. This pell mell retreat earned him derision amongst an unfriendly press, but military realists stood by him. By the end of May he was retreating south…

Dundas could not move as swiftly as he would have liked. Putting the Union army to flight had cost men and material, and after seizing Plattsburgh, he was still required to connect his army to Grant’s 2nd Corps. The troops of 2nd Corps however, on unfamiliar roads, took over two weeks to march to Plattsburgh, harassed by Hancock’s retreating troops all the way. Finally able to meet with Dundas on the 19th, the once again combined Army of Canada turned its attentions southwards towards Ticonderoga and Albany…” – To Arms!: The Great American War, Sheldon Foote, University of Boston 1999.

“Even with the losses suffered in the battles at Rouse’s Point and Mooers, Dundas’s army was still in good condition for a march. The Canadian Brigade had been left to garrison the rear, along with Russell’s detached brigade under Scovell, who in conjunction with the squadron on Lake Champlain would protect our supply lines and communications back to Montreal and thence Quebec and the sea. From there we would obtain most of our succor, for we were marching through a barren and hilly country. With my better knowledge than that which I possessed in my youth, I can see now how Burgoyne went to ruin in 1777, leading to the great and inglorious defeat which brought the French in on the side of the Yankee.

It was hoped by many in the army that we would be winning a great victory which would, in our eyes follow the undoubted success of the joint operation against Washington then being conducted in accordance with our fleet. The navy had carried all before her, Portland, Portsmouth and Olympia, that how could we expect nothing less than glorious victory and the Yankees asking for terms?

I shall not forget that morning in Plattsburgh. I had been among the enemies abandoned fortifications during the night, then spent my evening in the barracks so recently vacated by the enemy General Burnside. We had found a town trembling in fear at what they imagined would for sure be the depredations of the redcoats. Over a thousand had fled southwards with the army, much reducing the place in size. Imagine their shock when we passed through, paying good British sterling and keeping good order in the ranks! Though when the morning of the 2nd of June dawned, I doubt many were sad to see the Army of Canada, then 40,000 strong, departing southwards.

Mounted with Dundas’s staff, I could see the first regiments of Paulet’s corps streaming forth from their camps. First came the cavalry, scouting to the south, and behind them the Guards Brigade, earning the right to have the other regiments ‘eat their dust’ for their splendid performance at Rouse’s Point. Then the men of the 2nd Brigade under Lord Alexander Russell, who all were veterans of the fighting which had been so vicious since this time a year ago in the spring of 1862.

As the great stream of red coated infantry marched south in good order, it was hard not to reflect that twice in the past century British armies had marched these same pathways to ignoble defeat. It must have weighed heavily on the minds of our officers, but none showed it. Indeed, all were cheery and acted as though we were to make sport of invading Yankeedom. In the headquarters, the general would lay friendly wagers with the division commanders regarding who would march their regiments into Albany first. I recall that among the brigade and regimental commanders, similar wagers were prepared and offered. The only ones who abstained from such discourse were the cavalry, feeling that such wagers with mere infantry were beneath them.

It was only after two days march, at the town of Peru when we received our first contact with the enemy, who was very unwilling to render us possession of the place. The skirmish was with the cavalry, who had stumbled upon one of the enemy’s patrols. Though it was a short sharp action, it set the standard for the next few days. Often you could not go a few hours without hearing the lively crackle of musketry along the flanks or to the front of the march.

The first major contact with the enemy came at the banks of the Ausable River. Having dug fairly respectable entrenchments, he was unwilling to give way except to overwhelming firepower. It was here that a curious innovation was tried by our gunners. They found themselves able to fire over the heads of our infantry, with proper elevation, and into the entrenchments of our enemies. Though highly successful, it spooked many of the older officers and infantrymen. I could not say I blame them, and it seems to have taken place on sporadically since then.

Breaking the enemies lines on the Ausable, was toughish, as the men had to scramble uphill against entrenchments. Even with this innovative artillery, and even against an enemy armed primarily with muskets, we found the going difficult. I was aiding in the direction of battery fire with the 3rd Division as Russell sent his 2nd Brigade in. It was astounding to watch, and with some pride, as this unit, comprising the First Battalion 10th Regiment of Foot, Second Battalion 25th Regiment of Foot and the 12th Battalion of Canadian Volunteers went in. Though there were some greenhorns in these new companies, they behaved like veterans. The Canadians no less so, and I think Russell deserves much credit for integrating these men so well into the division.

Even in these scrambles the enemy never gave up easily, as he was fighting for his home ground. It was only on the 22nd of May that the army was finally able to scramble through these positions. It was then we entered a most dreadful country. A great fastness of hills rising up about us, the roads leading haphazardly through the mountains, and on many occasions we were obliged to remain out of contact with the squadron. The reader is invited to think of the fastness of the Scottish Highlands or maybe some foothills of the Alps. To say that this was a vast and most formidable country would be an understatement! Our actions then became those of companies and sections, not divisions, or even brigades and regiments! Passing through the locally called ‘Poke a Moonshine Mountains” and in the shadow of Bosworth Mountain near the otherwise unremarkable but grandly named Port Douglas, the enemy made his most concerted stand yet.

Along this line the enemy was under the command of general Richardson of the American Second Corps, and under him were two divisions to guard the approaches to the interior. Throwing up his forces near the high ground, and his flank held absolutely securely by Auger Pond and the mountain slopes, we came upon a great nightmare. Entrenched into this rocky ground the enemy was determined to wait us out. We had at that time not the shipping to move considerable force around him, and no certain dispositions on whether he had prepared for such an eventuality. After a costly probing attack on the 26th, Dundas determined we must seek out another route. However, this would prove, after three days of probing and searching, impractical for want of shipping.

Our attempts at creeping around the position via the small farm roads then existent were frustrated constantly by the enemies sharpshooters who took a dreadful toll, even when mortar boats were hurled forward to drive them back. Many times this wasteful tactic only succeeded in blocking the very roads we were trying to use! Dundas decided then that it would come down to siege tactics, and our heavy guns were called upon.

This was the same dreadful work which had been undertaken outside Sevastopol against the Russian works. No Englishman will forget the images of the slaughter at the Great Redan or the bloody fights at the Quarries. Though Dundas himself had not served upon that field, his subordinates had, and were invaluable in helping him plan and coordinate our advance. It is to be admitted that the officers assigned in this case by London were, astonishingly well selected. It did indeed suggest that something had been learned by the hard lessons of Crimea and the Mutiny. The heavy guns opened up a coordinated bombardment on the 28th, blasting all through the day, like a great summer thunderstorm. I have spoken previously about the bombardments of June 1855, and I may assure the reader that this bombardment of just over 100 guns was almost minuscule in comparison to the 600 present before Sevastopol, but I’m sure to the Yankees it seemed just as powerful! Little too did the Yankees know that we did not intend to stop for some time, or until all our shells had been expended! This great bombardment continued for three days, only concluding on June 1st.

During this period, our storming parties had not been idle. Well selected groups of men would creep forward and take the enemies outer works, and in one much celebrated instance men of the 96th managed to carry off a number of the enemy as prisoners, bringing with them the colours of that regiment! There was much rejoicing in our camps that night. But for some time, it was the work of a regular siege. Our sappers driving trenches forward, the guns ‘softening’ the American positions, and the constant skirmish one associates with siege.

Finally, on the morning of June 2nd, the army advanced in strength. Under the cover of guns Warren’s 4th Division went in. Even watching from the rear with the staff I could see that it was a dreadful fight. The distant thunder of guns and the occasional whizz of shrapnel and spent shells by our position told us that it was indeed a fearsome engagement. Much of my time was spent with Marshal Dundas as he spied the increasingly obscured battle with his field glasses. Couriers would ride up, I would issue the orders he dictated, and they would ride off again. I confess, that being so far from the action I was indeed feeling bored by the second hour of fighting. It was only when news that The 3rd Division was not following its own orders to demonstrate against the American position that I was able to excitedly ride out and into the fray.

The eternal crackle of musketry like distant lighting and the continual pop-pop of rifles and thunder of cannons was beautiful to behold. I was quite enamoured with it and found myself hoping to be assigned to guide some wayward brigade into the action. Sadly, it merely transpired that some enterprising captain of the artillery was refusing to move his battery without orders, and thus holding up the assault of 3rd Division with his obstinance. Speaking with the authority of Dundas (which was broadly true) I ordered his infernal battery aside so that the division could advance and scale the heights to attack the American rifle pits there.

I’m sad to say this was the great part I personally played in the Battle of Bosworth Mountain. However, it was with great pluck and heroism that our forces drove over the Yankee positions, and poor General Richardson, though his men fought gallantly, had no choice but to retire before our force of arms. Alas, it cost us a great many men killed or wounded. But the Yankees too lost heavily. The reports afterwards say we lost some 5,000 men over the course of the whole battle, and I confess that I do not know the number of Yankee soldiers lost, but I can scarce believe it was as many as our own.

I found myself greatly impressed with the bluecoats fortitude. An interesting anecdote from the battle should tell of this. When the men of General Lindsay’s brigade overran a portion of the works on Bosworth Mountain, they capture a whole Yankee regiment belonging to the German Division (or Dutch as the Yankees called them) of Richardson’s force. These men, many who spoke only rudimentary English fought hard, and nearly to the last, so that it was when they were compelled to lay down their arms, only one quarter of that regiment was found unscathed by the ferocity of the battle.

The reader may also wish to note an interesting fact we learned from prisoners at that fight. While our army in the Crimea was drained constantly of men from the hardships of the campaign and the ferocity of the fighting, our regimental system meant that we could bring drafts of men from the depots at home and bring these regiments up to strength as we had done with the army in Canada over the winter of 1862-63. However, these Yankee regiments would recruit up to a strength of 1000 men, and with the normal wastage from disease and desertion have perhaps 800 men ready for duty, perhaps less when one considers the need for camp duties and outposts. However, when interrogating a captured Yankee officer we asked him what he believed the strength of his regiment was. He answered perhaps 400, or maybe 300. This seemed to be the universal response of the men we captured, and in one case as little as 200 men! It is astounding to think that any army would allow its units to waste away in such a state so that the cohesion and experience of a regiment is lost! Despite this, they fought bravely and as veterans. They were stalwart, implacable foes who it is hard not to admire. But they were, by and large of the same Anglo-Saxon blood as our race, and could they not help but fight bravely. One can only wonder how powerful they should have been with the proper introduction of a regimental system of depots like our own.

Following this victory of course, we pursued the Yankee’s further south…” – The Story of a Soldiers Life, Volume II, Field-Marshal Viscount Garnet Wolseley, Westminster 1903

“Though the British advance had thus far driven the Army of the Hudson south, each delay and retreat had bought time for Burnside to dig his forces in. Though Richardson’s men had been badly mauled at Bosworth Mountain, their stand had bought time to fully entrench at Ticonderoga.

That old French fortress, one which had seen much bloodshed in the Revolution, remained. Now however, it had been strengthened by earthworks, gun batteries, and over 32,000 men to man them. In a line of well fortified earthworks that stretched from Lake Champlain, in front of the Town of Ticonderoga, and anchored on Trout Brook in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains. This formidable line was further reinforced by booms and a great chain spread across the river, which was in turn protected by the two remaining ironclads of the Lake Champlain Squadron. It was a formidable defence, one which would take time to overcome, and this was exactly what Burnside depended on…

Dundas arrived to find, to his astonishment, a line stronger than either of those faced at the Ausable River, or Bosworth Mountain. Frustrated, and with limited avenues of advance to his objective, he settled in to once more face the Army of the Hudson across its trenches.”– The Union’s Shield: The Army of the Hudson, Donald Cameron, University of New York
Thinking about it Burnside was often more in his element as an engineer than the commander of manoeuvre army. Alas the British may be playing to his strengths. (Americans are of course allowed to yay at this).
That's tough country in northern New York, I'm not surprised the fighting is so awful. But I genuinely think a victory at Ticonderoga would be more symbolic than strategic... because you've still got more of the same on the way to Albany.
Thinking about it Burnside was often more in his element as an engineer than the commander of manoeuvre army. Alas the British may be playing to his strengths. (Americans are of course allowed to yay at this).

My own reading of Burnside is that while he was not very well adapted to army command, he cracked a bit under pressure, he was actually a very canny and very clever division/corps leader. He even did rather well with independent command, and his defence against Longstreet in the Knoxville Campaign in 1863 showed he was well suited to commanding an army on the defensive. Here, the work would be playing to his strength's and he has some rather gorgeous terrain to do it in. I'd imagine a strategy of falling back on new works, very similar to what Johnston did in the Atlanta Campaign.

The difference here of course is that Dundas has only about 40,000 men to advance on a slightly smaller number of Union troops.
That's tough country in northern New York, I'm not surprised the fighting is so awful. But I genuinely think a victory at Ticonderoga would be more symbolic than strategic... because you've still got more of the same on the way to Albany.

The only advantage to cracking Ticonderoga is that it's the last nice piece of ground before you can control the whole waterway of Lake Champlain, and it gives you access to Lake George and the upper Hudson River. That would make the logistics slightly less problematic, as well as compelling the Army of the Hudson to withdraw further south. Would still be a bloody business, but you'd be able to keep on threatening Albany.