Colonial Powder Horn, Used at Lake George, Donated to Fort Ti
In the summer of 1756, a private in a Connecticut regiment was stationed at an encampment at the head of Lake George, where troops were positioned to defend New York from another attack by the French and assigned the task of constructing a permanent fort.
Like every other soldier, the private, named Robert Fairchild, carried a powder horn, which he engraved with his name, the date and his location: Lake George.
Unlike other powder horns, though, this one survived, and it has been donated to Fort Ticonderoga.
According to the Fort, Fairchild’s horn belonged to a woman who happened to have caught Fort Ticonderoga curator Chris Fox discussing powder horns on PBS’s History Detectives. She then contacted the fort, stating that she owned a powder horn that had belonged to her father and wished to donate it to a museum.
“I felt that it was time for it to go to a museum where it could be preserved and enjoyed by everyone for generations to come, not just sitting on a shelf in our home,” the woman is quoted in a press release as stating.
According to Chris Fox, soldiers of the period commonly carved maps and other images onto powder horns during idle hours in camp.
“Powder horns can be very important documents of what people were actually seeing,” Fox said. “I included two powder horns in this exhibit to make the point that art isn’t just paintings and prints that you hang on the wall.”
The back of Fairchild’s horn, Fox said, “features a detailed image of one of the British sloops that sailed on Lake George during the war. A simple depiction of a four-bastion fort carved near the horn’s base may represent Fort William Henry under construction. Around the narrow end of the horn are carved rectangular panels, two of which depict cannon mounted on large-wheeled field carriages being fired with smoke billowing out their muzzles and cannonballs flying through the air.”
Fairchild apparently continued to serve in militia and provincial regiments in the Lake George region until 1759.
Fort Ticonderoga’s collection of 18th century powder horns is regarded as one of the best in the world. Dozens of them are exhibited in the museum every season and many are featured in the exhibit “Bullets & Blades: The Weapons of America’s Colonial Wars and Revolution.”