Col. Gideon Warren by Craig Rich NSSAR #195503

Gideon Warren was born on 12 Dec 1730, at Brimfield, Massachusetts, the son of Jabez Warren and his wife Mary.  It was at the beginning of The Great Awakening, an evangelical and revitalization movement that swept Protestant Europe and British America, and especially the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s, leaving a permanent impact on American Protestantism.

Gideon married Ann (Bishop?)in about 1751 in Massachusetts. They had eight children before his wife died. He then married Eunice Chipman, sometime after 1769 in Salisbury, Connecticut and had five more children.

Gideon Warren was one of the earliest settlers of Hampton, on the border of New York and Vermont. He located his home in the south part of the town on five hundred acres. He built a comfortable home and resided there until his death in 1803.

In the wake of the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, American leaders began to put into motion plans for aggressive action. Samuel Adams and others had been convinced that when war came, the British would attempt to isolate New England from the other colonies. The most obvious method of doing so was to send an army southward from Canada down the Richelieu River to Lake Champlain, then to Lake George, the Hudson River and on to New York City, while capturing strategic points along the way. The British already had forts at both Ticonderoga and Crown Point.

American rebel leaders focused their attention on Fort Ticonderoga, which had been a major point of contention during the French and Indian War. It was now an inviting target since it occupied a strategic point between Lake Champlain and Lake George, held a supply of cannon and other artillery (items badly needed by the rebel forces), and was lightly defended, mostly by older or disabled British soldiers. Connecticut’s governor enlisted the services of Ethan Allen, a frontier land speculator and agitator. Allen gathered his Green Mountain Boys at Castleton, Vermont, and prepared for a strike against Ticonderoga. One of these men was 45-year-old Gideon Warren.

In Massachusetts, Benedict Arnold was recruited to conduct the same task. Arnold, an extremely able military leader, was a natural to lead a stealth attack on the British stronghold. Colonel Arnold raised an army of 400 Massachusetts men, and on May 3, 1775, was authorized to command a “secret mission” to capture the fort. He was issued £100, gunpowder, ammunition, and horses, and was ordered to march on the fort and ship back to Massachusetts anything he thought useful.

Arnold departed immediately after receiving his instructions and reached the border on May 6. There, he learned that Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys were already on their way north. Riding furiously northward, he reached Allen’s headquarters in Bennington the next day. Upon arrival, Arnold was told that Allen was already in Castleton, 50 more miles to the north, awaiting supplies and more men. He was also warned that, although Allen’s effort had no official sanction, his men were unlikely to serve under anyone else. They were loyal to Ethan Allen.

Leaving early the next day, Arnold arrived in Castleton in time to join a war council, where he made a case to lead the expedition based on his formal authorization to act from the Massachusetts Committee. The force that Ethan Allen had assembled in Castleton included about 100 Green Mountain Boys and another 60 men. Allen had been elected their Colonel and many of the Green Mountain Boys objected to Benedict Arnold’s wish to command, insisting that they would go home rather than serve under anyone other than Ethan Allen.

Arnold and Allen worked out an agreement, but no documented evidence exists concerning the deal. The two leaders, neither lacking in self-esteem, resented the other’s presence and the issue of overall command was never settled. Despite their frequent bickering, a surprise attack was made on Ticonderoga.

By 11:30 pm on May 9, 1775, the men were ready to cross the lake to Ticonderoga. However, boats did not arrive until 1:30 am, and they were inadequate to carry the whole force. So, 83 of the Green Mountain Boys made the first crossing with Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold at the lead. As dawn approached, Allen and Arnold became fearful of losing the element of surprise, so they decided not to wait for more to arrive, and attacked with the men at hand.

The only sentry on duty at the south gate fled his post after his musket misfired, and the Americans rushed into the fort. The Patriots then roused the small number of sleeping troops at gunpoint, and began confiscating their weapons. Allen, Arnold, and a few other men charged up the stairs toward the officers’ quarters where British Captain William Delaplace was sleeping. Delaplace finally emerged from his chamber and surrendered his sword.

Nobody was killed in the assault. The only injury was to 45-year-old Gideon Warren, my Patriot ancestor, who was slashed on the arm by a sentry with a bayonet or saber.

The American haul in this nearly bloodless victory was impressive: six mortars, three howitzers, 78 cannon and supplies of cannon balls, powder and flints. Some of these items would later be transported during the depths of winter to aid in the siege of Boston by Henry Knox in one of the most impressive acts of sheer determination in the annals of American warfare.

Two days after Ticonderoga, the rebel forces took nearby Crown Point; and on May 16, St. John’s, Canada fell.

The victory at Ticonderoga was significant for several reasons. Most important was the fact that the Americans had gained control, albeit temporarily, over the invasion route from Canada. Ethan Allen emerged as a hero and, conversely, Benedict Arnold simmered, having missed out on the opportunity to gain the spotlight. This was the first in a series of events that eroded Arnold’s devotion to the Patriot cause.

American soldiers would remain in control of Fort Ticonderoga until it was abandoned during the Saratoga campaign two years later. Fort Warren, named in Gideon Warren’s honor, was built in 1779, and the Vermont militia stationed there to guard the northern frontier.

Gideon Warren’s injuries were well documented in an official “pension payment” at Arlington, Vermont on January 27, 1779, as follows: “Please pay unto Colonel Gideon Warren forty pounds lawful money, it being in part pay for what the General Assembly of this state ordered to be paid Colonel Warren for his being wounded at the taking of Ticonderoga in May, 1775.” Signed by Thomas. Chittenden. Later, another one hundred and ten pounds was acknowledged as being paid on same claim. Gideon Warren would have a ‘stiffened” right arm for the rest of his life.

In 1781, Colonel Warren was a member of the convention that met at Cambridge, New York, for the purpose of uniting the territory east of the Hudson above Troy with Vermont, and was also a delegate from that body to the Vermont assembly, which met the same year. The assembly appointed him one of the commissioners on the part of Vermont to adjust the boundaries between Vermont, New York and New Hampshire.

Before the Organization of Hampton as a town in Washington County, New York, in 1786, Gideon Warren had become a settler and owner of land there. Being a man of prominence in the state, he exerted a great influence in the settlement of the location for the new town of Hampton.

Gideon Warren died April 4, 1803 in Hampton, Washington, New York, and was buried in Hampton Hill Cemetery. His wife Eunice died in 1831.

On another note, the first Warren in America was Richard Warren, who sailed from Plymouth, England, on the Mayflower. He was not of the Leiden company, but joined the Pilgrims from London as an “adventurer.” He was one of the signers of the “Mayflower Compact” while in Cape Cod Harbor. He was twelfth on the list of signers, and one of nineteen of those who signed that survived the first winter. He died in 1628. My ancestor Gideon Warren was a descendant of those Massachusetts Warrens. But that’s a story for another day…

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