Montcalm and Wolfe

A History of the Seven Years War in North America

by Francis Parkman


The most momentous and far-reaching question
ever brought to issue on this continent was:
Shall France remain here, or shall she not?

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FRANCIS PARKMAN

MONTCALM AND WOLFE

With a New Introduction by

SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON


COLLIER BOOKS
NEW YORK, N.Y.
This Collier Book is set from the 1884 edition
Collier Books is a division of
The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company
First Collier Books Edition 1962


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62:16974

Copyright © 1962 by The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company
All Rights Reserved Hecho en los E.E.U.U.
Printed in the United States of America


    To

Harvard College,
the alma mater under whose influence the
purpose of writing it was conceived,
This Book
is affectionately inscribed.

Table of Contents



Preface



      The names on the titlepage stand as representative of the two nations whose final contest for the control of North America is the subject of the book.

      A very large amount of unpublished material has been used in its preparation, consisting for the most part of documents copied from the archives and libraries of France and England, especially from the Archives de La Marine et des Colonies, the Archives de La Guerre, and the Archives Nationales at Paris, and the Public Record Office and the British Museum at London, the papers copied for the present work in France alone exceed six thousand folio pages of manuscript, additional and supplementary to the “Paris Documents” procured for the State of New York under the agency of Mr. Brodhead, the copies made in England form ten volumes, besides many English documents consulted in the original manuscript.  Great numbers of autograph letters, diaries, and other writings of persons engaged in the war have also been examined on this side of the Atlantic.

      I owe to the kindness of the present Marquis de Montcalm the permission to copy all the letters written by his ancestor, General Montcalm, when in America, to members of his family in France.  General Montcalm, from his first arrival in Canada to a few days before his death, also carried on an active correspondence with one of his chief officers, Bourlamaque, with whom he was on terms of intimacy.  These autograph letters are now preserved in a private collection.  I have examined them, and obtained copies of the whole.  They form an interesting complement to the official correspondence of the writer, and throw the most curious side-lights on the persons and events of the time.

      Besides manuscripts, the printed matter in the form of books, pamphlets, contemporary newspapers, and other publications relating to the American part of the Seven Years' War, is varied and abundant; and I believe I may safely say that nothing in it of much consequence has escaped me.  The liberality of some of the older States of the Union, especially New York and Pennsylvania, in printing the voluminous records of their colonial history, has saved me a deal of tedious labor.

      The whole of this published and unpublished mass of evidence has been read and collated with extreme care, and more than common pains have been taken to secure accuracy of statement.  The study of books and papers, however, could not alone answer the purpose.  The plan of the work was formed in early youth; and though various causes have long delayed its execution, it has always been kept in view.  Meanwhile, I have visited and examined every spot where events of any importance in connection with the contest took place, and have observed with attention such scenes and persons as might help to illustrate those I meant to describe.  In short, the subject has been studied as much from life and in the open air as at the library table.

      These two volumes are a departure from chronological sequence.  The period between 1700 and 1748 has been passed over for a time.  When this gap is filled, the series of “France and England in North America” will form a continuous history of the French occupation of the continent.

      BOSTON, Sept. 16, 1884.

Table of Contents



Contents




AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION





CHAPTER 1
1745-1755

The Combatants
England in the Eighteenth Century.  Her Political and Social Aspects.  Her Military Condition.  France.  Her Power and Importance.  Signs of Decay.  The Court, the Nobles, the Clergy, the People.  The King and Pompadour.  The Philosophers.  Germany.  Prussia.  Frederic II.  Russia.  State of Europe.  War of the Austrian Succession.  American Colonies of France and England.  Contrasted Systems and their Results.  Canada.  Its Strong Military Position.  French Claims to the Continent.  British Colonies.  New England.  Virginia.  Pennsylvania.  New York.  Jealousies, Divisions, Internal Disputes, Military Weakness.


CHAPTER 2
1749-1752

Céloron de Bienville
La Galissonière.  English Encroachment.  Mission of Céloron.  The Great West.  Its European Claimants.  Its Indian Population.  English Fur-Traders.  Céloron on the Alleghany.  His Reception.  His Difficulties.  Descent of the Ohio.  Covert Hostility.  Ascent of the Miami.  La Demoiselle.  Dark Prospects for France.  Christopher Gist.  George Croghan.  Their Western Mission.  Pickawillany.  English Ascendency.  English Dissension and Rivalry.  The Key of the Great West.


CHAPTER 3
1749-1753

Conflict for the West
The Five Nations.  Caughnawaga.  Abbé Piquet.  His Schemes.  His Journey.  Fort Frontenac.  Toronto.  Niagara.  Oswego.  Success of Piquet.  Detroit.  La Jonquiére.  His Intrigues.  His Trials.  His Death.  English Intrigues.  Critical State of the West.  Pickawillany Destroyed.  Duquesne.  His Grand Enterprise.


CHAPTER 4
1710-1754

Conflict for Acadia
Acadia ceded to England.  Acadians swear Fidelity.  Halifax founded.  French Intrigue.  Acadian Priests.  Mildness of English Rule.  Covert Hostility of Acadians.  The New Oath.  Treachery of Versailles.  Indians incited to War.  Clerical Agents of Revolt.  Abbé Le Loutre.  Acadians impelled to emigrate.  Misery of the Emigrants.  Humanity of Cornwallis and Hopson.  Fanaticism and Violence of Le Loutre.  Capture of the “St. Francois.”  The English at Beaubassin.  Le Loutre drives out the Inhabitants.  Murder of Howe.  Beauséjour.  Insolence of Le Loutre.  His Harshness to the Acadians.  The Boundary Commission.  Its Failure.  Approaching War.


CHAPTER 5
1753, 1754

Washington
The French occupy the Sources of the Ohio.  Their Sufferings.  Fort Le Boeuf.  Legardeur de Saint-Pierre.  Mission of Washington.  Robert Dinwiddie.  He opposes the French.  His Dispute with the Burgesses.  His Energy.  His Appeals for Help.  Fort Duquesne.  Death of Jumonville.  Washington at the Great Meadows.  Coulon de Villiers.  Fort Necessity. 


CHAPTER 6
1754, 1755

The Signal of Battle
Troubles of Dinwiddie.  Gathering of the Burgesses.  Virginian Society.  Refractory Legislators.  The Quaker Assembly It refuses to resist the French.  Apathy of New York.  Shirley and the General Court of Massachusetts.  Short-sighted Policy.  Attitude of Royal Governors.  Indian Allies waver.  Convention at Albany.  Scheme of Union.  It fails.  Dinwiddie and Glen.  Dinwiddie calls on England for Help.  The Duke of Newcastle.  Weakness of the British Cabinet.  Attitude of France.  Mutual Dissimulation.  Both Powers send Troops to America.  Collision.  Capture of the “Alcide” and the “Lis.”


CHAPTER 7
1755

Braddock
Arrival of Braddock.  His Character.  Council at Alexandria.  Plan of the Campaign.  Apathy of the Colonists.  Rage of Braddock.  Franklin.  Fort Cumberland.  Composition of the Army.  Offended Friends.  The March.  The French Fort.  Savage Allies.  The Captive.  Beaujeu.  He goes to meet the English.  Passage of the Monongahela.  The Surprise.  The Battle.  Rout of Braddock.  His Death.  Indian Ferocity.  Reception of the Ill News.  Weakness of Dunbar.  The Frontier abandoned. 


CHAPTER 8
1755-1763

Removal of the Acadians
State of Acadia.  Threatened Invasion.  Peril of the English.  Their Plans.  French Forts to be attacked.  Beauséjour and its Occupants.  French Treatment of the Acadians.  John Winslow.  Siege and Capture of Beauséjour.  Attitude of Acadians.  Influence of their Priests.  They refuse the Oath of Allegiance.  Their Condition and Character.  Pretended Neutrals.  Moderation of English Authorities.  The Acadians persist in their Refusal.  Enemies or Subjects?  Choice of the Acadians.  The Consequence.  Their Removal determined.  Winslow at Grand Pré.  Conference with Murray.  Summons to the Inhabitants.  Their Seizure.  Their Embarkation.  Their Fate.  Their Treatment in Canada.  Misapprehension concerning them.


CHAPTER 9
1755

Dieskau
Expedition against Crown Point.  William Johnson.  Vaudreuil.  Dieskau.  Johnson and the Indians.  The Provincial Army.  Doubts and Delays.  March to Lake George.  Sunday in Camp.  Advance of Dieskau.  He changes Plan.  Marches against Johnson.  Ambush.  Rout of Provincials.  Battle of Lake George.  Rout of the French.  Rage of the Mohawks.  Peril of Dieskau.  Inaction of Johnson.  The Homeward March.  Laurels of Victory.


CHAPTER 10
1755, 1756

Shirley.   Border War
The Niagara Campaign.  Albany.  March to Oswego.  Difficulties.  The Expedition abandoned.  Shirley and Johnson.  Results of the Campaign.  The Scourge of the Border.  Trials of Washington.  Misery of the Settlers.  Horror of their Situation.  Philadelphia and the Quakers.  Disputes with the Penns.  Democracy and Feudalism.  Pennsylvanian Population.  Appeals from the Frontier.  Quarrel of Governor and Assembly.  Help refused.  Desperation of the Borderers.  Fire and Slaughter.  The Assembly alarmed.  They pass a mock Militia Law.  They are forced to yield.


CHAPTER 11
1712-1756

Montcalm
War declared.  State of Europe.  Pompadour and Maria Theresa.  Infatuation of the French Court.  The European War.  Montcalm to command in America.  His early Life.  An intractable Pupil.  His Marriage.  His Family.  His Campaigns.  Preparation for America.  His Associates.  Lévis, Bourlamaque, Bougainville.  Embarkation.  The Voyage.  Arrival.  Vaudreuil.  Forces of Canada.  Troops of the Line, Colony Troops, Militia, Indians.  The Military Situation.  Capture of Fort Bull.  Montcalm at Ticonderoga. 


CHAPTER 12
1756

Oswego
The new Campaign.  Untimely Change of Commanders.  Eclipse of Shirley.  Earl of Loudon.  Muster of Provincials.  New England Levies.  Winslow at Lake George.  Johnson and the Five Nations.  Bradstreet and his Boatmen.  Fight on the Onondaga.  Pestilence at Oswego.  Loudon and the Provincials.  New England Camps.  Army Chaplains.  A sudden Blow.  Montcalm attacks Oswego.  Its Fall. 


CHAPTER 13
1756, 1757

Partisan War
Failure of Shirley's Plan.  Causes.  Loudon and Shirley.  Close of the Campaign.  The Western Border.  Armstrong destroys Kittanning.  The Scouts of Lake George.  War Parties from Ticonderoga.  Robert Rogers.  The Rangers.  Their Hardihood and Daring.  Disputes as to Quarters of Troops.  Expedition of Rogers.  A Desperate Bush-fight.  Enterprise of Vaudreuil.  Rigaud attacks Fort William Henry. 


CHAPTER 14
1757

Montcalm and Vaudreuil
The Seat of War.  Social Life at Montreal.  Familiar Correspondence of Montcalm.  His Employments.  His Impressions of Canada.  His Hospitalities.  Misunderstandings with the Governor.  Character of Vaudreuil.  His Accusations.  Frenchmen and Canadians.  Foibles of Montcalm.  The opening Campaign.  Doubts and Suspense.  London's Plan.  His Character.  Fatal Delays.  Abortive Attempt against Louisbourg.  Disaster to the British Fleet.


CHAPTER 15
1757

Fort William Henry
Another Blow.  The War-song.  The Army at Ticonderoga.  Indian Allies.  The War-feast.  Treatment of Prisoners.  Cannibalism.  Surprise and Slaughter.  The War Council.  March of Lévis.  The Army embarks.  Fort William Henry.  Nocturnal Scene.  Indian Funeral.  Advance upon the Fort.  General Webb.  His Difficulties.  His Weakness.  The Siege begun.  Conduct of the Indians.  The Intercepted Letter.  Desperate Position of the Besieged.  Capitulation.  Ferocity of the Indians.  Mission of Bougainville.  Murder of Wounded Men.  A Scene of Terror.  The Massacre.  Efforts of Montcalm.  The Fort burned. 


CHAPTER 16
1757, 1758

A Winter of Discontent
Boasts of Loudon.  A Mutinous Militia.  Panic.  Accusations of Vaudreuil.  His Weakness.  Indian Barbarities.  Destruction of German Flats.  Discontent of Montcalm.  Festivities at Montreal.  Montcalm's Relations with the Governor.  Famine.  Riots.  Mutiny.  Winter at Ticonderoga.  A desperate Bush-fight.  Defeat of the Rangers.  Adventures of Roche and Pringle.


CHAPTER 17
1753-1760

Bigot
His Life and Character.  Canadian Society.  Official Festivities.  A Party of Pleasure.  Hospitalities of Bigot.  Desperate Gambling.  Château Bigot.  Canadian Ladies.  Cadet.  La Friponne.  Official Rascality.  Methods of Peculation.  Cruel Frauds on the Acadians.  Military Corruption.  Péan.  Love and Knavery.  Varin and his Partners.  Vaudreuil and the Peculators.  He defends Bigot; praises Cadet and Péan.  Canadian Finances.  Peril of Bigot.  Threats of the Minister.  Evidence of Montcalm.  Impending Ruin of the Confederates.


CHAPTER 18
1757, 1758

Pitt
Frederic of Prussia.  The Coalition against him.  His desperate Position.  Rossbach.  Leuthen.  Reverses of England.  Weakness of the Ministry.  A Change.  Pitt and Newcastle.  Character of Pitt.  Sources of his Power.  His Aims.  Louis XV.  Pompadour.  She controls the Court, and directs the War.  Gloomy Prospects of England.  Disasters.  The New Ministry.  Inspiring Influence of Pitt.  The Tide turns.  British Victories.  Pitt's Plans for America.  Louisbourg, Ticonderoga, Duquesne.  New Commanders.  Naval Battles. 


CHAPTER 19
1758

Louisbourg
Condition of the Fortress.  Arrival of the English.  Gallantry of Wolfe.  The English Camp.  The Siege begun.  Progress of the Besiegers.  Sallies of the French.  Madame Drucour.  Courtesies of War.  French Ships destroyed.  Conflagration.  Fury of the Bombardment.  Exploit of English Sailors.  The End near.  The White Flag.  Surrender.  Reception of the News in England and America.  Wolfe not satisfied.  His Letters to Amherst.  He destroys Gaspé.  Returns to England.


CHAPTER 20
1758

Ticonderoga
Activity of the Provinces.  Sacrifices of Massachusetts.  The Army at Lake George.  Proposed Incursion of Lévis.  Perplexities of Montcalm.  His Plan of Defence.  Camp of Abercromby.  His Character.  Lord Howe, His Popularity.  Embarkation of Abercromby.  Advance down Lake George.  Landing.  Forest Skirmish.  Death of Howe.  Its Effects.  Position of the French.  The Lines of Ticonderoga.  Blunders of Abercromby.  The Assault.  A Frightful Scene.  Incidents of the Battle.  British Repulse.  Panic.  Retreat Triumph of Montcalm.


CHAPTER 21
1758

Fort Frontenac
The Routed Army.  Indignation at Abercromby.  John Cleaveland and his Brother Chaplains.  Regulars and Provincials.  Provincial Surgeons.  French Raids.  Rogers defeats Marin.  Adventures of Putnam.  Expedition of Bradstreet.  Capture of Fort Frontenac.


CHAPTER 22
1758

Fort Duquesne
Dinwiddie and Washington.  Brigadier Forbes.  His Army.  Conflicting Views.  Difficulties.  Illness of Forbes.  His Sufferings.  His Fortitude.  His Difference with Washington.  Sir John Sinclair.  Troublesome Allies.  Scouting Parties.  Boasts of Vaudreuil.  Forbes and the Indians.  Mission of Christian Frederic Post.  Council of Peace.  Second Mission of Post.  Defeat of Grant.  Distress of Forbes.  Dark Prospects.  Advance of the Army.  Capture of the French Fort.  The Slain of Braddock's Field.  Death of Forbes.


CHAPTER 23
1758, 1759

The Brink of Ruin
Jealousy of Vaudreuil.  He asks for Montcalm's Recall.  His Discomfiture.  Scene at the Governor's House.  Disgust of Montcalm.  The Canadians Despondent.  Devices to encourage them.  Gasconade of the Governor.  Deplorable State of the Colony.  Mission of Bougainville.  Duplicity of Vaudreuil.  Bougainville at Versailles.  Substantial Aid refused to Canada.  A Matrimonial Treaty.  Return of Bougainville.  Montcalm abandoned by the Court.  His Plans of Defence.  Sad News from Candiac.  Promises of Vaudreuil.


CHAPTER 24
1758, 1759

Wolfe
The Exiles of Fort Cumberland.  Relief.  The Voyage to Louisbourg.  The British Fleet.  Expedition against Quebec.  Early Life of Wolfe.  His Character.  His Letters to his Parents.  His Domestic Qualities.  Appointed to command the Expedition.  Sails for America.


CHAPTER 25
1759

Wolfe at Quebec
French Preparation.  Muster of Forces.  Gasconade of Vaudreuil.  Plan of Defence.  Strength of Montcalm.  Advance of Wolfe.  British Sailors.  Landing of the English.  Difficulties before them.  Storm.  Fireships.  Confidence of French Commanders.  Wolfe occupies Point Levi.  A Futile Night Attack.  Quebec bombarded.  Wolfe at the Montmorenci.  Skirmishes.  Danger of the English Position.  Effects of the Bombardment.  Desertion of Canadians.  The English above Quebec.  Severities of Wolfe.  Another Attempt to burn the Fleet.  Desperate Enterprise of Wolfe.  The Heights of Montmorenci.  Repulse of the English.


CHAPTER 26
1759

Amherst.   Niagara
Amherst on Lake George.  Capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point.  Delays of Amherst.  Niagara Expedition.  La Corne attacks Oswego.  His Repulse.  Niagara besieged.  Aubry comes to its Relief.  Battle.  Rout of the French.  The Fort taken.  Isle-aux-Noix.  Amherst advances to attack it.  Storm.  The Enterprise abandoned, Rogers attacks St. Francis.  Destroys the Town.  Sufferings of the Rangers.


CHAPTER 27
1759

The Heights of Abraham
Elation of the French.  Despondency of Wolfe.  The Parishes laid waste.  Operations above Quebec.  Illness of Wolfe.  A New Plan of Attack.  Faint Hope of Success.  Wolfe's Last Despatch.  Confidence of Vaudreuil.  Last Letters of Montcalm.  French Vigilance.  British Squadron at Cap-Rouge.  Last Orders of Wolfe.  Embarkation.  Descent of the St. Lawrence.  The Heights scaled.  The British Line.  Last Night of Montcalm.  The Alarm.  March of French Troops.  The Battle.  The Rout.  The Pursuit.  Fall of Wolfe and of Montcalm.


CHAPTER 28
1759

Fall of Quebec
After the Battle.  Canadians resist the Pursuit.  Arrival of Vaudreuil.  Scene in the Redoubt.  Panic.  Movements of the Victors.  Vaudreuil's Council of War.  Precipitate Retreat of the French Army.  Last Hours of Montcalm.  His Death and Burial.  Quebec abandoned to its Fate.  Despair of the Garrison.  Lévis joins the Army.  Attempts to relieve the Town.  Surrender.  The British occupy Quebec.  Slanders of Vaudreuil.  Reception in England of the News of Wolfe's Victory and Death.  Prediction of Jonathan Mayhew.


CHAPTER 29
1759, 1760

Sainte-Foy
Quebec after the Siege.  Captain Knox and the Nuns.  Escape of French Ships.  Winter at Quebec.  Threats of Lévis.  Attacks.  Skirmishes.  Feat of the Rangers.  State of the Garrison.  The French prepare to retake Quebec.  Advance of Levis.  The Alarm.  Sortie of the English.  Rash Determination of Murray.  Battle of Ste.-Foy.  Retreat of the English.  Lévis besieges Quebec.  Spirit of the Garrison.  Peril of their Situation.  Relief.  Quebec saved.  Retreat of Lévis.  The News in England. 


CHAPTER 30
1760

Fall of Canada
Desperate Situation.  Efforts of Vaudreuil and Lévis.  Plans of Amherst.  A Triple Attack.  Advance of Murray.  Advance of Haviland.  Advance of Amherst.  Capitulation of Montreal.  Protest of Lévis.  Injustice of Louis XV.  Joy in the British Colonies.  Character of the War.


CHAPTER 31
1758-1763

The Peace of Paris
Exodus of Canadian Leaders.  Wreck of the “Auguste.”  Trial of Bigot and his Confederates.  Frederic of Prussia.  His Triumphs.  His Reverses.  His Peril.  His Fortitude.  Death of George II.  Change of Policy.  Choiseul.  His Overtures of Peace.  The Family Compact.  Fall of Pitt.  Death of the Czarina.  Frederic saved.  War with Spain.  Capture of Havana.  Negotiations.  Terms of Peace.  Shall Canada be restored?  Speech of Pitt.  The Treaty signed.  End of the Seven Years War.


CHAPTER 32
1763-1884

Conclusion
Results of the War.   Germany.  France.  England.  Canada.  The British Provinces.






Appendix A
Chapter 3. Conflict for the West


Appendix B
Chapter 4. Acadia


Appendix C
Chapter 5. Washington


Appendix D
Chapter 7. Braddock


Appendix E
Chapter 14. Montcalm


Appendix F
Chapter 15. Fort William Henry


Appendix G
Chapter 20. Ticonderoga


Appendix H
Chapter 25. Wolfe at Quebec


Appendix I
Chapter 27. The Heights of Abraham


Appendix J
Chapter 28. Fall of Quebec


Appendix K
Chapter 29. Sainte-Foy


Index  A-K         Index  L-Z



Author's Introduction



        It is the nature of great events to obscure the great events that came before them.  The Seven Years War in Europe is seen but dimly through revolutionary convulsions and Napoleonic tempests; and the same contest in America is half lost to sight behind the storm-cloud of the War of Independence.  Few at this day see the momentous issues involved in it, or the greatness of the danger that it averted.  The strife that armed all the civilized world began here.  “Such was the complication of political interests,” says Voltaire, “that a cannon-shot fired in America could give the signal that set Europe in a blaze.”  Not quite.  It was not a cannon-shot, but a volley from the hunting-pieces of a few backwoodsmen, commanded by a Virginian youth, George Washington.

        To us of this day, the result of the American part of the war seems a foregone conclusion.  It was far from being so; and very far from being so regarded by our forefathers.  The numerical superiority of the British colonies was offset by organic weaknesses fatal to vigorous and united action.  Nor at the outset did they, or the mother-country, aim at conquering Canada, but only at pushing back her boundaries.  Canada—using the name in its restricted sense—was a position of great strength; and even when her dependencies were overcome, she could hold her own against forces far superior.  Armies could reach her only by three routes,—the Lower St. Lawrence on the east, the Upper St. Lawrence on the west, and Lake Champlain on the south.  The first access was guarded by a fortress almost impregnable by nature, and the second by a long chain of dangerous rapids; while the third offered a series of points easy to defend.  During this same war, Frederic of Prussia held his ground triumphantly against greater odds, though his kingdom was open on all sides to attack.

        It was the fatuity of Louis XV and his Pompadour that made the conquest of Canada possible.  Had they not broken the traditionary policy of France, allied themselves to Austria, her ancient enemy, and plunged needlessly into the European war, the whole force of the kingdom would have been turned, from the first, to the humbling of England and the defence of the French colonies.  The French soldiers left dead on inglorious Continental battle-fields could have saved Canada, and perhaps made good her claim to the vast territories of the West.

        But there were other contingencies.  The possession of Canada was a question of diplomacy as well as of war.  If England conquered her, she might restore her, as she had lately restored Cape Breton.  She had an interest in keeping France alive on the American continent.  More than one clear eye saw, at the middle of the last century, that the subjection of Canada would lead to a revolt of the British colonies.  So long as an active and enterprising enemy threatened their borders, they could not break with the mother-country, because they needed her help.  And if the arms of France had prospered in the other hemisphere; if she had gained in Europe or Asia territories with which to buy back what she had lost in America, then, in all likelihood, Canada would have passed again into her hands.

        The most momentous and far-reaching question ever brought to issue on this continent was: Shall France remain here, or shall she not?  If, by diplomacy or war, she had preserved but the half, or less than the half, of her American possessions, then a barrier would have been set to the spread of the English-speaking races; there would have been no Revolutionary War; and for a long time, at least, no independence.  It was not a question of scanty populations strung along the banks of the St. Lawrence; it was—or under a government of any worth it would have been—a question of the armies and generals of France.  America owes much to the imbecility of Louis XV and the ambitious vanity and personal dislikes of his mistress.

        The Seven Years War made England what she is.  It crippled the commerce of her rival, ruined France in two continents, and blighted her as a colonial power.  It gave England the control of the seas and the mastery of North America and India, made her the first of commercial nations, and prepared that vast colonial system that has planted New Englands in every quarter of the globe.  And while it made England what she is, it supplied to the United States the indispensable condition of their greatness, if not of their national existence.

        Before entering on the story of the great contest, we will look at the parties to it on both sides of the Atlantic.

        Montcalm and Wolfe

Table of Contents



Chapter 1

1745-1755


The Combatants


        The latter half of the reign of George II was one of the most prosaic periods in English history.  The civil wars and the Restoration had had their enthusiasms, religion and liberty on one side, and loyalty on the other; but the old fires declined when William III came to the throne, and died to ashes under the House of Hanover.  Loyalty lost half its inspiration when it lost the tenet of the divine right of kings; and nobody could now hold that tenet with any consistency except the defeated and despairing Jacobites.  Nor had anybody as yet proclaimed the rival dogma of the divine right of the people.  The reigning monarch held his crown neither of God nor of the nation, but of a parliament controlled by a ruling class.  The Whig aristocracy had done a priceless service to English liberty.  It was full of political capacity, and by no means void of patriotism; but it was only a part of the national life.  Nor was it at present moved by political emotions in any high sense.  It had done its great work when it expelled the Stuarts and placed William of Orange on the throne; its ascendency was now complete.  The Stuarts had received their death-blow at Culloden; and nothing was left to the dominant party but to dispute on subordinate questions, and contend for office among themselves.  The Tory squires sulked in their country-houses, hunted foxes, and grumbled against the reigning dynasty; yet hardly wished to see the nation convulsed by a counter-revolution and another return of the Stuarts.

        If politics had run to commonplace, so had morals; and so too had religion.  Despondent writers of the day even complained that British courage had died out.  There was little sign to the common eye that under a dull and languid surface, forces were at work preparing a new life, material, moral, and intellectual.  As yet, Whitefield and Wesley had not wakened the drowsy conscience of the nation, nor the voice of William Pitt roused it like a trumpet-peal.

        It was the unwashed and unsavory England of Hogarth, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne; of Tom Jones, Squire Western, Lady Bellaston, and Parson Adams; of the “Rake's Progress” and “Marriage à la Mode;” of the lords and ladies who yet live in the undying gossip of Horace Walpole, be-powdered, be-patched, and be-rouged, flirting at masked balls, playing cards till daylight, retailing scandal, and exchanging double meanings.  Beau Nash reigned king over the gaming-tables of Bath; the ostrich-plumes of great ladies mingled with the peacock-feathers of courtesans in the rotunda at Ranelagh Gardens; and young lords in velvet suits and embroidered ruffles played away their patrimony at White's Chocolate-House or Arthur's Club.  Vice was bolder than to-day, and manners more courtly, perhaps, but far more coarse.

        The humbler clergy were thought—sometimes with reason—to be no fit company for gentlemen, and country parsons drank their ale in the squire's kitchen.  The passenger-wagon spent the better part of a fortnight in creeping from London to York.  Travellers carried pistols against footpads and mounted highwaymen.  Dick Turpin and Jack Sheppard were popular heroes.  Tyburn counted its victims by scores; and as yet no Howard had appeared to reform the inhuman abominations of the prisons.

        The middle class, though fast rising in importance, was feebly and imperfectly represented in parliament.  The boroughs were controlled by the nobility and gentry, or by corporations open to influence or bribery.  Parliamentary corruption had been reduced to a system; and offices, sinecures, pensions, and gifts of money were freely used to keep ministers in power.  The great offices of state were held by men sometimes of high ability, but of whom not a few divided their lives among politics, cards, wine, horse-racing, and women, till time and the gout sent them to the waters of Bath.  The dull, pompous, and irascible old King had two ruling passions,—money, and his Continental dominions of Hanover.  His elder son, the Prince of Wales, was a centre of opposition to him.  His younger son, the Duke of Cumberland, a character far more pronounced and vigorous, had won the day at Culloden, and lost it at Fontenoy; but whether victor or vanquished, had shown the same vehement bull-headed courage, of late a little subdued by fast growing corpulency.  The Duke of Newcastle, the head of the government, had gained power and kept it by his rank and connections, his wealth, his county influence, his control of boroughs, and the extraordinary assiduity and devotion with which he practised the arts of corruption.  Henry Fox, grasping, unscrupulous, with powerful talents, a warm friend after his fashion, and a most indulgent father; Carteret, with his strong, versatile intellect and jovial intrepidity; the two Townshends, Mansfield, Halifax, and Chesterfield,—were conspicuous figures in the politics of the time.  One man towered above them all.  Pitt had many enemies and many critics.  They called him ambitious, audacious, arrogant, theatrical, pompous, domineering; but what he has left for posterity is a loftiness of soul, undaunted courage, fiery and passionate eloquence, proud incorruptibility, domestic virtues rare in his day, unbounded faith in the cause for which he stood, and abilities which without wealth or strong connections were destined to place him on the height of power.  The middle class, as yet almost voiceless, looked to him as its champion; but he was not the champion of a class.  His patriotism was as comprehensive as it was haughty and unbending.  He lived for England, loved her with intense devotion, knew her, believed in her, and made her greatness his own; or rather, he was himself England incarnate.

        The nation was not then in fighting equipment.  After the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, the army within the three kingdoms had been reduced to about eighteen thousand men.  Added to these were the garrisons of Minorca and Gibraltar, and six or seven independent companies in the American colonies.  Of sailors, less than seventeen thousand were left in the Royal Navy.  Such was the condition of England on the eve of one of the most formidable wars in which she was ever engaged.

        Her rival across the Channel was drifting slowly and unconsciously towards the cataclysm of the Revolution; yet the old monarchy, full of the germs of decay, was still imposing and formidable.  The House of Bourbon held the three thrones of France, Spain, and Naples; and their threatened union in a family compact was the terror of European diplomacy.  At home France was the foremost of the Continental nations; and she boasted herself second only to Spain as a colonial power.  She disputed with England the mastery of India, owned the islands of Bourbon and Mauritius, held important possessions in the West Indies, and claimed all North America except Mexico and a strip of sea-coast.  Her navy was powerful, her army numerous, and well appointed; but she lacked the great commanders of the last reign.  Soubise, Maillebois, Contades, Broglie, and Clermont were but weak successors of Condé, Turenne, Vendôme, and Villars.  Marshal Richelieu was supreme in the arts of gallantry, and more famous for conquests of love than of war.  The best generals of Louis XV were foreigners.  Lowendal sprang from the royal house of Denmark; and Saxe, the best of all, was one of the three hundred and fifty-four bastards of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.  He was now, 1750, dying at Chambord, his iron constitution ruined by debaucheries.

        The triumph of the Bourbon monarchy was complete.  The government had become one great machine of centralized administration, with a king for its head; though a king who neither could nor would direct it.  All strife was over between the Crown and the nobles; feudalism was robbed of its vitality, and left the mere image of its former self, with nothing alive but its abuses, its caste privileges, its exactions, its pride and vanity, its power to vex and oppress.  In England, the nobility were a living part of the nation, and if they had privileges, they paid for them by constant service to the state; in France, they had no political life, and were separated from the people by sharp lines of demarcation.  From warrior chiefs, they had changed to courtiers.  Those of them who could afford it, and many who could not, left their estates to the mercy of stewards, and gathered at Versailles to revolve about the throne as glittering satellites, paid in pomp, empty distinctions, or rich sinecures, for the power they had lost.  They ruined their vassals to support the extravagance by which they ruined themselves.  Such as stayed at home were objects of pity and scorn.  “Out of your Majesty's presence,” said one of them, “we are not only wretched, but ridiculous.”

        Versailles was like a vast and gorgeous theatre, where all were actors and spectators at once; and all played their parts to perfection.  Here swarmed by thousands this silken nobility, whose ancestors rode cased in iron.  Pageant followed pageant.  A picture of the time preserves for us an evening in the great hall of the Château, where the King, with piles of louis d'or before him, sits at a large oval green table, throwing the dice, among princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, ambassadors, marshals of France, and a vast throng of courtiers, like an animated bed of tulips; for men and women alike wear bright and varied colors.  Above are the frescos of Le Brun; around are walls of sculptured and inlaid marbles, with mirrors that reflect the restless splendors of the scene and the blaze of chandeliers, sparkling with crystal pendants.  Pomp, magnificence, profusion, were a business and a duty at the Court.  Versailles was a gulf into which the labor of France poured its earnings; and it was never full.

        Here the graces and charms were a political power.  Women had prodigious influence, and the two sexes were never more alike.  Men not only dressed in colors, but they wore patches and carried muffs.  The robust qualities of the old nobility still lingered among the exiles of the provinces, while at Court they had melted into refinements tainted with corruption.  Yet if the butterflies of Versailles had lost virility, they had not lost courage.  They fought as gayly as they danced.  In the halls which they haunted of yore, turned now into a historical picture-gallery, one sees them still, on the canvas of Lenfant, Lepaon, or Vernet, facing death with careless gallantry, in their small three-cornered hats, powdered perukes, embroidered coats, and lace ruffles.  Their valets served them with ices in the trenches, under the cannon of besieged towns.  A troop of actors formed part of the army-train of Marshal Saxe.  At night there was a comedy, a ballet, or a ball, and in the morning a battle.  Saxe, however, himself a sturdy German, while he recognized their fighting value, and knew well how to make the best of it, sometimes complained that they were volatile, excitable, and difficult to manage.

        The weight of the Court, with its pomps, luxuries, and wars, bore on the classes least able to support it.  The poorest were taxed most; the richest not at all.  The nobles, in the main, were free from imposts.  The clergy, who had vast possessions, were wholly free, though they consented to make voluntary gifts to the Crown; and when, in a time of emergency, the minister Machault required them, in common with all others hitherto exempt, to contribute a twentieth of their revenues to the charges of government, they passionately refused, declaring that they would obey God rather than the King.  The cultivators of the soil were ground to the earth by a threefold extortion,—the seigniorial dues, the tithes of the Church, and the multiplied exactions of the Crown, enforced with merciless rigor by the farmers of the revenue, who enriched themselves by wringing the peasant on the one hand, and cheating the King on the other.  A few great cities shone with all that is most brilliant in society, intellect, and concentrated wealth; while the country that paid the costs lay in ignorance and penury, crushed and despairing.  Of the inhabitants of towns, too, the demands of the tax-gatherer were extreme; but here the immense vitality of the French people bore up the burden.  While agriculture languished, and intolerable oppression turned peasants into beggars or desperadoes; while the clergy were sapped by corruption, and the nobles enervated by luxury and ruined by extravagance, the middle class was growing in thrift and strength.  Arts and commerce prospered, and the seaports were alive with foreign trade.  Wealth tended from all sides towards the centre.  The King did not love his capital; but he and his favorites amused themselves with adorning it.  Some of the chief embellishments that make Paris what it is to-day—the Place de la Concorde, the Champs Elysées, and many of the palaces of the Faubourg St. Germain—date from this reign.

        One of the vicious conditions of the time was the separation in sympathies and interests of the four great classes of the nation,—clergy, nobles, burghers, and peasants; and each of these, again, divided itself into incoherent fragments.  France was an aggregate of disjointed parts, held together by a meshwork of arbitrary power, itself touched with decay.  A disastrous blow was struck at the national welfare when the Government of Louis XV revived the odious persecution of the Huguenots.  The attempt to scour heresy out of France cost her the most industrious and virtuous part of her population, and robbed her of those most fit to resist the mocking scepticism and turbid passions that burst out like a deluge with the Revolution.

        Her manifold ills were summed up in the King.  Since the Valois, she had had no monarch so worthless.  He did not want understanding, still less the graces of person.  In his youth the people called him the “Well-beloved;” but by the middle of the century they so detested him that he dared not pass through Paris, lest the mob should execrate him.  He had not the vigor of the true tyrant; but his langour, his hatred of all effort, his profound selfishness, his listless disregard of public duty, and his effeminate libertinism, mixed with superstitious devotion, made him no less a national curse.  Louis XIII was equally unfit to govern; but he gave the reins to the Great Cardinal.  Louis XV abandoned them to a frivolous mistress, content that she should rule on condition of amusing him.  It was a hard task; yet Madame de Pompadour accomplished it by methods infamous to him and to her.  She gained and long kept the power that she coveted: filled the Bastille with her enemies; made and unmade ministers; appointed and removed generals.  Great questions of policy were at the mercy of her caprices.  Through her frivolous vanity, her personal likes and dislikes, all the great departments of government—army, navy, war, foreign affairs, justice, finance—changed from hand to hand incessantly, and this at a time of crisis when the kingdom needed the steadiest and surest guidance.  Few of the officers of state, except, perhaps, D'Argenson, could venture to disregard her.  She turned out Orry, the comptroller-general, put her favorite, Machault, into his place, then made him keeper of the seals, and at last minister of marine.  The Marquis de Puysieux, in the ministry of foreign affairs, and the Comte de St.-Florentin, charged with the affairs of the clergy, took their cue from her.  The King stinted her in nothing.  First and last, she is reckoned to have cost him thirty-six million francs,—answering now to more than as many dollars.

        The prestige of the monarchy was declining with the ideas that had given it life and strength.  A growing disrespect for king, ministry, and clergy was beginning to prepare the catastrophe that was still some forty years in the future.  While the valleys and low places of the kingdom were dark with misery and squalor, its heights were bright with a gay society,—elegant, fastidious, witty,—craving the pleasures of the mind as well as of the senses, criticising everything, analyzing everything, believing nothing.  Voltaire was in the midst of it, hating, with all his vehement soul, the abuses that swarmed about him, and assailing them with the inexhaustible shafts of his restless and piercing intellect.  Montesquieu was showing to a despot-ridden age the principles of political freedom.  Diderot and D'Alembert were beginning their revolutionary Encyclopaedia.  Rousseau was sounding the first notes of his mad eloquence,—the wild revolt of a passionate and diseased genius against a world of falsities and wrongs.  The salons of Paris, cloyed with other pleasures, alive to all that was racy and new, welcomed the pungent doctrines, and played with them as children play with fire, thinking no danger; as time went on, even embraced them in a genuine spirit of hope and goodwill for humanity.  The Revolution began at the top,—in the world of fashion, birth, and intellect,—and propagated itself downwards.  “We walked on a carpet of flowers,” Count Ségur afterwards said, “unconscious that it covered an abyss;” till the gulf yawned at last, and swallowed them.

        Eastward, beyond the Rhine, lay the heterogeneous patchwork of the Holy Roman, or Germanic, Empire.  The sacred bonds that throughout the Middle Ages had held together its innumerable fragments, had lost their strength.  The Empire decayed as a whole; but not so the parts that composed it.  In the south the House of Austria reigned over a formidable assemblage of states; and in the north the House of Brandenburg, promoted to royalty half a century before, had raised Prussia into an importance far beyond her extent and population.  In her dissevered rags of territory lay the destinies of Germany.  It was the late King, that honest, thrifty, dogged, headstrong despot, Frederic William, who had made his kingdom what it was, trained it to the perfection of drill, and left it to his son, Frederic II the best engine of war in Europe.  Frederic himself had passed between the upper and nether millstones of paternal discipline.  Never did prince undergo such an apprenticeship.  His father set him to the work of an overseer, or steward, flung plates at his head in the family circle, thrashed him with his rattan in public, bullied him for submitting to such treatment, and imprisoned him for trying to run away from it.  He came at last out of purgatory; and Europe felt him to her farthest bounds.  This bookish, philosophizing, verse-making cynic and profligate was soon to approve himself the first warrior of his time, and one of the first of all time.

        Another power had lately risen on the European world.  Peter the Great, half hero, half savage, had roused the inert barbarism of Russia into a titanic life.  His daughter Elizabeth had succeeded to his throne,—heiress of his sensuality, if not of his talents.

        Over all the Continent the aspect of the times was the same.  Power had everywhere left the plains and the lower slopes, and gathered at the summits.  Popular life was at a stand.  No great idea stirred the nations to their depths.  The religious convulsions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were over, and the earthquake of the French Revolution had not begun.  At the middle of the eighteenth century the history of Europe turned on the balance of power; the observance of treaties; inheritance and succession; rivalries of sovereign houses struggling to win power or keep it, encroach on neighbors, or prevent neighbors from encroaching; bargains, intrigue, force, diplomacy, and the musket, in the interest not of peoples but of rulers.  Princes, great and small, brooded over some real or fancied wrong, nursed some dubious claim born of a marriage, a will, or an ancient covenant fished out of the abyss of time, and watched their moment to make it good.  The general opportunity came when, in 1740, the Emperor Charles VI died and bequeathed his personal dominions of the House of Austria to his daughter, Maria Theresa.  The chief Powers of Europe had been pledged in advance to sustain the will; and pending the event, the veteran Prince Eugene had said that two hundred thousand soldiers would be worth all their guaranties together.  The two hundred thousand were not there, and not a sovereign kept his word.  They flocked to share the spoil, and parcel out the motley heritage of the young Queen.  Frederic of Prussia led the way, invaded her province of Silesia, seized it, and kept it.  The Elector of Bavaria and the King of Spain claimed their share, and the Elector of Saxony and the King of Sardinia prepared to follow the example.  France took part with Bavaria, and intrigued to set the imperial crown on the head of the Elector, thinking to ruin her old enemy, the House of Austria, and rule Germany through an emperor too weak to dispense with her support.  England, jealous of her designs, trembling for the balance of power, and anxious for the Hanoverian possessions of her king, threw herself into the strife on the side of Austria.  It was now that, in the Diet at Presburg, the beautiful and distressed Queen, her infant in her arms, made her memorable appeal to the wild chivalry of her Hungarian nobles; and, clashing their swords, they shouted with one voice: “Let us die for our king, Maria Theresa;” Moriamur pro rege nostro, Mariâ,—one of the most dramatic scenes in history; not quite true, perhaps, but near the truth.  Then came that confusion worse confounded called the war of the Austrian Succession, with its Mollwitz, its Dettingen, its Fontenoy, and its Scotch episode of Culloden.  The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle closed the strife in 1748.  Europe had time to breathe; but the germs of discord remained alive.

The American Combatants

        The French claimed all America, from the Alleghanies to the Rocky Mountains, and from Mexico and Florida to the North Pole, except only the ill-defined possessions of the English on the borders of Hudson Bay; and to these vast regions, with adjacent islands, they gave the general name of New France.  They controlled the highways of the continent, for they held its two great rivers.  First, they had seized the St. Lawrence, and then planted themselves at the mouth of the Mississippi.  Canada at the north, and Louisiana at the south, were the keys of a boundless interior, rich with incalculable possibilities.  The English colonies, ranged along the Atlantic coast, had no royal road to the great inland, and were, in a manner, shut between the mountains and the sea.  At the middle of the century they numbered in all, from Georgia to Maine, about eleven hundred and sixty thousand white inhabitants.  By the census of 1754 Canada had but fifty-five thousand.[1]  Add those of Louisiana and Acadia, and the whole white population under the French flag might be something more than eighty thousand.  Here is an enormous disparity; and hence it has been argued that the success of the English colonies and the failure of the French was not due to difference of religious and political systems, but simply to numerical preponderance.  But this preponderance itself grew out of a difference of systems.  We have said before, and it cannot be said too often, that in making Canada a citadel of the state religion—a holy of holies of exclusive Roman Catholic orthodoxy,—the clerical monitors of the Crown robbed their country of a trans-Atlantic empire.  New France could not grow with a priest on guard at the gate to let in none but such as pleased him.  One of the ablest of Canadian governors, La Galissonière, seeing the feebleness of the colony compared with the vastness of its claims, advised the King to send ten thousand peasants to occupy the valley of the Ohio, and hold back the British swarm that was just then pushing its advance-guard over the Alleghanies.  It needed no effort of the King to people his waste domain, not with ten thousand peasants, but with twenty times ten thousand Frenchmen of every station,—the most industrious, most instructed, most disciplined by adversity and capable of self-rule, that the country could boast.  While La Galissonière was asking for colonists, the agents of the Crown, set on by priestly fanaticism, or designing selfishness masked with fanaticism, were pouring volleys of musketry into Huguenot congregations, imprisoning for life those innocent of all but their faith,—the men in the galleys, the women in the pestiferous dungeons of Aigues Mortes,—hanging their ministers, kidnapping their children, and reviving, in short, the dragonnades.  Now, as in the past century, many of the victims escaped to the British colonies, and became a part of them.  The Huguenots would have hailed as a boon the permission to emigrate under the fleur-de-lis, and build up a Protestant France in the valleys of the West.  It would have been a bane of absolutism, but a national glory; would have set bounds to English colonization, and changed the face of the continent.  The opportunity was spurned.  The dominant Church clung to its policy of rule and ruin.  France built its best colony on a principle of exclusion, and failed; England reversed the system, and succeeded.

[Footnote 1: Censuses of Canada, iv. 61. Rameau (La France aux Colonies, ii. 81) estimates the Canadian population, in 1755, at sixty-six thousand, besides voyageurs, Indian traders, etc. Vaudreuil, in 1760, places it at seventy thousand.]


        I have shown elsewhere the aspects of Canada, where a rigid scion of the old European tree was set to grow in the wilderness.  The military Governor, holding his miniature Court on the rock of Quebec; the feudal proprietors, whose domains lined the shores of the St. Lawrence; the peasant; the roving bushranger; the half-tamed savage, with crucifix and scalping-knife; priests; friars; nuns; and soldiers,—mingled to form a society the most picturesque on the continent.  What distinguished it from the France that produced it was a total absence of revolt against the laws of its being,—an absolute conservatism, an unquestioning acceptance of Church and King.  The Canadian, ignorant of everything but what the priest saw fit to teach him, had never heard of Voltaire; and if he had known him, would have thought him a devil.  He had, it is true, a spirit of insubordination born of the freedom of the forest; but if his instincts rebelled, his mind and soul were passively submissive.  The unchecked control of a hierarchy robbed him of the independence of intellect and character, without which, under the conditions of modern life, a people must resign itself to a position of inferiority.  Yet Canada had a vigor of her own.  It was not in spiritual deference only that she differed from the country of her birth.  Whatever she had caught of its corruptions, she had caught nothing of its effeminacy.  The mass of her people lived in a rude poverty,—not abject, like the peasant of old France, nor ground down by the tax-gatherer; while those of the higher ranks—all more or less engaged in pursuits of war or adventure, and inured to rough journeyings and forest exposures—were rugged as their climate.  Even the French regular troops, sent out to defend the colony, caught its hardy spirit, and set an example of stubborn fighting which their comrades at home did not always emulate.

        Canada lay ensconced behind rocks and forests.  All along her southern boundaries, between her and her English foes, lay a broad tract of wilderness, shaggy with primeval woods.  Innumerable streams gurgled beneath their shadows; innumerable lakes gleamed in the fiery sunsets; innumerable mountains bared their rocky foreheads to the wind.  These wastes were ranged by her savage allies, Micmacs, Etechémins, Abenakis, Caughnawagas; and no enemy could steal upon her unawares.  Through the midst of them stretched Lake Champlain, pointing straight to the heart of the British settlement,—a watery thoroughfare of mutual attack, and the only approach by which, without a long détour by wilderness or sea, a hostile army could come within striking distance of the colony.  The French advanced post of Fort Frederic, called Crown Point by the English, barred the narrows of the lake, which thence spread northward to the portals of Canada guarded by Fort St. Jean.  Southwestward, some fourteen hundred miles as a bird flies, and twice as far by the practicable routes of travel, was Louisiana, the second of the two heads of New France; while between lay the realms of solitude where the Mississippi rolled its sullen tide, and the Ohio wound its belt of silver through the verdant woodlands.

        To whom belonged this world of prairies and forests?  France claimed it by right of discovery and occupation.  It was her explorers who, after De Soto, first set foot on it.  The question of right, it is true, mattered little; for, right or wrong, neither claimant would yield her pretensions so long as she had strength to uphold them; yet one point is worth a moment's notice.  The French had established an excellent system in the distribution of their American lands.  Whoever received a grant from the Crown was required to improve it, and this within reasonable time.  If he did not, the land ceased to be his, and was given to another more able or industrious.  An international extension of her own principle would have destroyed the pretensions of France to all the countries of the West.  She had called them hers for three fourths of a century, and they were still a howling waste, yielding nothing to civilization but beaver-skins, with here and there a fort, trading-post, or mission, and three or four puny hamlets by the Mississippi and the Detroit.  We have seen how she might have made for herself an indisputable title, and peopled the solitudes with a host to maintain it.  She would not; others were at hand who both would and could; and the late claimant, disinherited and forlorn, would soon be left to count the cost of her bigotry.

        The thirteen British colonies were alike, insomuch as they all had representative governments, and a basis of English law.  But the differences among them were great.  Some were purely English; others were made up of various races, though the Anglo-Saxon was always predominant.  Some had one prevailing religious creed; others had many creeds.  Some had charters, and some had not.  In most cases the governor was appointed by the Crown; in Pennsylvania and Maryland he was appointed by a feudal proprietor, and in Connecticut and Rhode Island he was chosen by the people.  The differences of disposition and character were still greater than those of form.

        The four northern colonies, known collectively as New England, were an exception to the general rule of diversity.  The smallest, Rhode Island, had features all its own; but the rest were substantially one in nature and origin.  The principal among them, Massachusetts, may serve as the type of all.  It was a mosaic of little village republics, firmly cemented together, and formed into a single body politic through representatives sent to the “General Court” at Boston.  Its government, originally theocratic, now tended to democracy, ballasted as yet by strong traditions of respect for established worth and ability, as well as by the influence of certain families prominent in affairs for generations.  Yet there were no distinct class-lines, and popular power, like popular education, was widely diffused.  Practically Massachusetts was almost independent of the mother-country.  Its people were purely English, of sound yeoman stock, with an abundant leaven drawn from the best of the Puritan gentry; but their original character had been somewhat modified by changed conditions of life.  A harsh and exacting creed, with its stiff formalism and its prohibition of wholesome recreation; excess in the pursuit of gain—the only resource left to energies robbed of their natural play; the struggle for existence on a hard and barren soil; and the isolation of a narrow village life,—joined to produce, in the meaner sort, qualities which were unpleasant, and sometimes repulsive.  Puritanism was not an unmixed blessing.  Its view of human nature was dark, and its attitude towards it one of repression.  It strove to crush out not only what is evil, but much that is innocent and salutary.  Human nature so treated will take its revenge, and for every vice that it loses find another instead.  Nevertheless, while New England Puritanism bore its peculiar crop of faults, it produced also many good and sound fruits.  An uncommon vigor, joined to the hardy virtues of a masculine race, marked the New England type.  The sinews, it is true, were hardened at the expense of blood and flesh,—and this literally as well as figuratively; but the staple of character was a sturdy conscientiousness, an undespairing courage, patriotism, public spirit, sagacity, and a strong good sense.  A great change, both for better and for worse, has since come over it, due largely to reaction against the unnatural rigors of the past.  That mixture, which is now too common, of cool emotions with excitable brains, was then rarely seen.  The New England colonies abounded in high examples of public and private virtue, though not always under the most prepossessing forms.  They were conspicuous, moreover, for intellectual activity, and were by no means without intellectual eminence.  Massachusetts had produced at least two men whose fame had crossed the sea,—Edwards, who out of the grim theology of Calvin mounted to sublime heights of mystical speculation; and Franklin, famous already by his discoveries in electricity.  On the other hand, there were few genuine New Englanders who, however personally modest, could divest themselves of the notion that they belonged to a people in an especial manner the object of divine approval; and this self-righteousness, along with certain other traits, failed to commend the Puritan colonies to the favor of their fellows.  Then, as now, New England was best known to her neighbors by her worst side.

        In one point, however, she found general applause.  She was regarded as the most military among the British colonies.  This reputation was well founded, and is easily explained.  More than all the rest, she lay open to attack.  The long waving line of the New England border, with its lonely hamlets and scattered farms, extended from the Kennebec to beyond the Connecticut, and was everywhere vulnerable to the guns and tomahawks of the neighboring French and their savage allies.  The colonies towards the south had thus far been safe from danger.  New York alone was within striking distance of the Canadian war-parties.  That province then consisted of a line of settlements up the Hudson and the Mohawk, and was little exposed to attack except at its northern end, which was guarded by the fortified town of Albany, with its outlying posts, and by the friendly and warlike Mohawks, whose “castles” were close at hand.  Thus New England had borne the heaviest brunt of the preceding wars, not only by the forest, but also by the sea; for the French of Acadia and Cape Breton confronted her coast, and she was often at blows with them.  Fighting had been a necessity with her, and she had met the emergency after a method extremely defective, but the best that circumstances would permit.  Having no trained officers and no disciplined soldiers, and being too poor to maintain either, she borrowed her warriors from the workshop and the plough, and officered them with lawyers, merchants, mechanics, or farmers.  To compare them with good regular troops would be folly; but they did, on the whole, better than could have been expected, and in the last war achieved the brilliant success of the capture of Louisburg.  This exploit, due partly to native hardihood and partly to good luck, greatly enhanced the military repute of New England, or rather was one of the chief sources of it.

        The great colony of Virginia stood in strong contrast to New England.  In both the population was English; but the one was Puritan with Roundhead traditions, and the other, so far as concerned its governing class, Anglican with Cavalier traditions.  In the one, every man, woman, and child could read and write; in the other, Sir William Berkeley once thanked God that there were no free schools, and no prospect of any for a century.  The hope had found fruition.  The lower classes of Virginia were as untaught as the warmest friend of popular ignorance could wish.  New England had a native literature more than respectable under the circumstances, while Virginia had none; numerous industries, while Virginia was all agriculture, with but a single crop; a homogeneous society and a democratic spirit, while her rival was an aristocracy.  Virginian society was distinctively stratified.  On the lowest level were the negro slaves, nearly as numerous as all the rest together; next, the indented servants and the poor whites, of low origin, good-humored, but boisterous, and some times vicious; next, the small and despised class of tradesmen and mechanics; next, the farmers and lesser planters, who were mainly of good English stock, and who merged insensibly into the ruling class of the great landowners.  It was these last who represented the colony and made the laws.  They may be described as English country squires transplanted to a warm climate and turned slave-masters.  They sustained their position by entails, and constantly undermined it by the reckless profusion which ruined them at last.  Many of them were well born, with an immense pride of descent, increased by the habit of domination.  Indolent and energetic by turns; rich in natural gifts and often poor in book-learning, though some, in the lack of good teaching at home, had been bred in the English universities; high-spirited, generous to a fault; keeping open house in their capacious mansions, among vast tobacco-fields and toiling negroes, and living in a rude pomp where the fashions of St. James were somewhat oddly grafted on the roughness of the plantation,—what they wanted in schooling was supplied by an education which books alone would have been impotent to give, the education which came with the possession and exercise of political power, and the sense of a position to maintain, joined to a bold spirit of independence and a patriotic attachment to the Old Dominion.  They were few in number; they raced, gambled, drank, and swore; they did everything that in Puritan eyes was most reprehensible; and in the day of need they gave the United Colonies a body of statesmen and orators which had no equal on the continent.  A vigorous aristocracy favors the growth of personal eminence, even in those who are not of it, but only near it.

        The essential antagonism of Virginia and New England was afterwards to become, and to remain for a century, an element of the first influence in American history.  Each might have learned much from the other; but neither did so till, at last, the strife of their contending principles shook the continent.  Pennsylvania differed widely from both.  She was a conglomerate of creeds and races,—English, Irish, Germans, Dutch, and Swedes; Quakers, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Romanists, Moravians, and a variety of nondescript sects.  The Quakers prevailed in the eastern districts; quiet, industrious, virtuous, and serenely obstinate.  The Germans were strongest towards the centre of the colony, and were chiefly peasants; successful farmers, but dull, ignorant, and superstitious.  Towards the west were the Irish, of whom some were Celts, always quarrelling with their German neighbors, who detested them; but the greater part were Protestants of Scotch descent, from Ulster; a vigorous border population.  Virginia and New England had each a strong distinctive character.  Pennsylvania, with her heterogeneous population, had none but that which she owed to the sober neutral tints of Quaker existence.  A more thriving colony there was not on the continent.  Life, if monotonous, was smooth and contented.  Trade and the arts grew.  Philadelphia, next to Boston, was the largest town in British America; and was, moreover, the intellectual centre of the middle and southern colonies.  Unfortunately, for her credit in the approaching war, the Quaker influence made Pennsylvania non-combatant.  Politically, too, she was an anomaly; for, though utterly unfeudal in disposition and character, she was under feudal superiors in the persons of the representatives of William Penn, the original grantee.

        New York had not as yet reached the relative prominence which her geographical position and inherent strength afterwards gave her.  The English, joined to the Dutch, the original settlers, were the dominant population; but a half-score of other languages were spoken in the province, the chief among them being that of the Huguenot French in the southern parts, and that of the Germans on the Mohawk.  In religion, the province was divided between the Anglican Church, with government support and popular dislike, and numerous dissenting sects, chiefly Lutherans, Independents, Presbyterians, and members of the Dutch Reformed Church.  The little city of New York, like its great successor, was the most cosmopolitan place on the continent, and probably the gayest.  It had, in abundance, balls, concerts, theatricals, and evening clubs, with plentiful dances and other amusements, for the poorer classes.  Thither in the winter months came the great hereditary proprietors on the Hudson; for the old Dutch feudality still held its own, and the manors of Van Renselaer, Cortland, and Livingston, with their seigniorial privileges, and the great estates and numerous tenantry of the Schuylers and other leading families, formed the basis of an aristocracy, some of whose members had done good service to the province, and were destined to do more.  Pennsylvania was feudal in form, and not in spirit; Virginia in spirit, and not in form; New England in neither; and New York largely in both.  This social crystallization had, it is true, many opponents.  In politics, as in religion, there were sharp antagonisms and frequent quarrels.  They centred in the city; for in the well-stocked dwellings of the Dutch farmers along the Hudson there reigned a tranquil and prosperous routine; and the Dutch border town of Albany had not its like in America for unruffled conservatism and quaint picturesqueness.

        Of the other colonies, the briefest mention will suffice: New Jersey, with its wholesome population of farmers; tobacco-growing Maryland, which, but for its proprietary government and numerous Roman Catholics, might pass for another Virginia, inferior in growth, and less decisive in features; Delaware, a modest appendage of Pennsylvania; wild and rude North Carolina; and, farther on, South Carolina and Georgia, too remote from the seat of war to take a noteworthy part in it.  The attitude of these various colonies towards each other is hardly conceivable to an American of the present time.  They had no political tie except a common allegiance to the British Crown.  Communication between them was difficult and slow, by rough roads traced often through primeval forests.  Between some of them there was less of sympathy than of jealousy kindled by conflicting interests or perpetual disputes concerning boundaries.  The patriotism of the colonist was bounded by the lines of his government, except in the compact and kindred colonies of New England, which were socially united, through politically distinct.  The country of the New Yorker was New York, and the country of the Virginian was Virginia.  The New England colonies had once confederated; but, kindred as they were, they had long ago dropped apart.  William Penn proposed a plan of colonial union wholly fruitless.  James II tried to unite all the northern colonies under one government; but the attempt came to naught.  Each stood aloof, jealously independent.  At rare intervals, under the pressure of an emergency, some of them would try to act in concert; and, except in New England, the results had been most discouraging.  Nor was it this segregation only that unfitted them for war.  They were all subject to popular legislatures, through whom alone money and men could be raised; and these elective bodies were sometimes factious and selfish, and not always either far-sighted or reasonable.  Moreover, they were in a state of ceaseless friction with their governors, who represented the king, or, what was worse, the feudal proprietary.  These disputes, though varying in intensity, were found everywhere except in the two small colonies which chose their own governors; and they were premonitions of the movement towards independence which ended in the war of Revolution.  The occasion of difference mattered little.  Active or latent, the quarrel was always present.  In New York it turned on a question of the governor's salary; in Pennsylvania on the taxation of the proprietary estates; in Virginia on a fee exacted for the issue of land patents.  It was sure to arise whenever some public crisis gave the representatives of the people an opportunity of extorting concessions from the representative of the Crown, or gave the representative of the Crown an opportunity to gain a point for prerogative.  That is to say, the time when action was most needed was the time chosen for obstructing it.

        In Canada there was no popular legislature to embarrass the central power.  The people, like an army, obeyed the word of command,—a military advantage beyond all price.

        Divided in government; divided in origin, feelings, and principles; jealous of each other, jealous of the Crown; the people at war with the executive, and, by the fermentation of internal politics, blinded to an outward danger that seemed remote and vague,—such were the conditions under which the British colonies drifted into a war that was to decide the fate of the continent.

        This war was the strife of a united and concentred few against a divided and discordant many.  It was the strife, too, of the past against the future; of the old against the new; of moral and intellectual torpor against moral and intellectual life; of barren absolutism against a liberty, crude, incoherent, and chaotic, yet full of prolific vitality.

Table of Contents



Chapter 2

1749-1752


Céleron de Bienville


        When the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed, the Marquis de la Galissonière ruled over Canada.  Like all the later Canadian governors, he was a naval officer; and, a few years after, he made himself famous by a victory, near Minorca, over the English admiral Byng,—an achievement now remembered chiefly by the fate of the defeated commander, judicially murdered as the scapegoat of an imbecile ministry.  Galissonière was a humpback; but his deformed person was animated by a bold spirit and a strong and penetrating intellect.  He was the chief representative of the American policy of France.  He felt that, cost what it might, she must hold fast to Canada, and link her to Louisiana by chains of forts strong enough to hold back the British colonies, and cramp their growth by confinement within narrow limits; while French settlers, sent from the mother-country, should spread and multiply in the broad valleys of the interior.  It is true, he said, that Canada and her dependencies have always been a burden; but they are necessary as a barrier against English ambition; and to abandon them is to abandon ourselves; for if we suffer our enemies to become masters in America, their trade and naval power will grow to vast proportions, and they will draw from their colonies a wealth that will make them preponderant in Europe.[2]

[Footnote 2: La Galissonière, Mémoire sur les Colonies de la France dans l'Amêrique septentrionale.]


        The treaty had done nothing to settle the vexed question of boundaries between France and her rival.  It had but staved off the inevitable conflict.  Meanwhile, the English traders were crossing the mountains from Pennsylvania and Virginia, poaching on the domain which France claimed as hers, ruining the French fur-trade, seducing the Indian allies of Canada, and stirring them up against her.  Worse still, English land speculators were beginning to follow.  Something must be done, and that promptly, to drive back the intruders, and vindicate French rights in the valley of the Ohio.  To this end the Governor sent Céloron de Bienville thither in the summer of 1749.

        He was a chevalier de St. Louis and a captain in the colony troops.  Under him went fourteen officers and cadets, twenty soldiers, a hundred and eighty Canadians, and a band of Indians, all in twenty-three birch-bark canoes.  They left La Chine on the fifteenth of June, and pushed up the rapids of the St. Lawrence, losing a man and damaging several canoes on the way.  Ten days brought them to the mouth of the Oswegatchie, where Ogdensburg now stands.  Here they found a Sulpitian priest, Abbé Piquet, busy at building a fort, and lodging for the present under a shed of bark like an Indian.  This enterprising father, ostensibly a missionary, was in reality a zealous political agent, bent on winning over the red allies of the English, retrieving French prestige, and restoring French trade.  Thus far he had attracted but two Iroquois to his new establishment; and these he lent to Céloron.

        Reaching Lake Ontario, the party stopped for a time at the French fort of Frontenac, but avoided the rival English post of Oswego, on the southern shore, where a trade in beaver skins, disastrous to French interests, was carried on, and whither many tribes, once faithful to Canada, now made resort.  On the sixth of July Céloron reached Niagara.  This, the most important pass of all the western wilderness, was guarded by a small fort of palisades on the point where the river joins the lake.  Thence, the party carried their canoes over the portage road by the cataract, and launched them upon Lake Erie.  On the fifteenth they landed on the lonely shore where the town of Portland now stands; and for the next seven days were busied in shouldering canoes and baggage up and down the steep hills, through the dense forest of beech, oak, ash, and elm, to the waters of Chautauqua Lake, eight or nine miles distant.  Here they embarked again, steering southward over the sunny waters, in the stillness and solitude of the leafy hills, till they came to the outlet, and glided down the peaceful current in the shade of the tall forests that overarched it.  This prosperity was short.  The stream was low, in spite of heavy rains that had drenched them on the carrying place.  Father Bonnecamp, chaplain of the expedition, wrote, in his Journal: “In some places—and they were but too frequent—the water was only two or three inches deep; and we were reduced to the sad necessity of dragging our canoes over the sharp pebbles, which, with all our care and precaution, stripped off large slivers of the bark.  At last, tired and worn, and almost in despair of ever seeing La Belle Rivière, we entered it at noon of the 29th.”  The part of the Ohio, or “La Belle Rivière,” which they had thus happily reached, is now called the Alleghany.  The Great West lay outspread before them, a realm of wild and waste fertility.

        French America had two heads,—one among the snows of Canada, and one among the canebrakes of Louisiana; one communicating with the world through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the other through the Gulf of Mexico.  These vital points were feebly connected by a chain of military posts,—slender, and often interrupted,—circling through the wilderness nearly three thousand miles.  Midway between Canada and Louisiana lay the valley of the Ohio.  If the English should seize it, they would sever the chain of posts, and cut French America asunder.  If the French held it, and entrenched themselves well along its eastern limits, they would shut their rivals between the Alleghanies and the sea, control all the tribes of the West, and turn them, in case of war, against the English borders,—a frightful and insupportable scourge.

        The Indian population of the Ohio and its northern tributaries was relatively considerable.  The upper or eastern half of the valley was occupied by mingled hordes of Delawares, Shawanoes, Wyandots, and Iroquois, or Indians of the Five Nations, who had migrated thither from their ancestral abodes within the present limits of the State of New York, and who were called Mingoes by the English traders.  Along with them were a few wandering Abenakis, Nipissings, and Ottawas.  Farther west, on the waters of the Miami, the Wabash, and other neighboring streams, was the seat of a confederacy formed of the various bands of the Miamis and their kindred or affiliated tribes.  Still farther west, towards the Mississippi, were the remnants of the Illinois.

        France had done but little to make good her claims to this grand domain.  East of the Miami she had no military post whatever.  Westward, on the Maumee, there was a small wooden fort, another on the St. Joseph, and two on the Wabash.  On the meadows of the Mississippi, in the Illinois country, stood Fort Chartres,—a much stronger work, and one of the chief links of the chain that connected Quebec with New Orleans.  Its four stone bastions were impregnable to musketry; and, here in the depths of the wilderness, there was no fear that cannon would be brought against it.  It was the centre and citadel of a curious little forest settlement, the only vestige of civilization through all this region.  At Kaskaskia, extended along the borders of the stream, were seventy or eighty French houses; thirty or forty at Cahokia, opposite the site of St. Louis; and a few more at the intervening hamlets of St. Philippe and Prairie à la Roche,—a picturesque but thriftless population, mixed with Indians, totally ignorant, busied partly with the fur-trade, and partly with the raising of corn for the market of New Orleans.  They communicated with it by means of a sort of row galley, of eighteen or twenty oars, which made the voyage twice a year, and usually spent ten weeks on the return up the river.[3]

[Footnote 3: Gordon, Journal, 1766, appended to Pownall, Topographical Description.  In the Dépôt des Cartes de la Marine at Paris, C. 4,040, are two curious maps of the Illinois colony, made a little after the middle of the century.  In 1753 the Marquis Duquesne denounced the colonists as debauched and lazy.]


        The Pope and the Bourbons had claimed this wilderness for seventy years, and had done scarcely more for it than the Indians, its natural owners.  Of the western tribes, even of those living at the French posts, the Hurons or Wyandots alone were Christian.[4]  The devoted zeal of the early missionaries and the politic efforts of their successors had failed alike.  The savages of the Ohio and the Mississippi, instead of being tied to France by the mild bonds of the faith, were now in a state which the French called defection or revolt; that is, they received and welcomed the English traders.

[Footnote 4: “De toutes les nations domiciliées dans les postes des pays d'en haut, il n'y a que les hurons du détroit qui aient embrassé la Réligion chretienne.”  Mémoirs du Roy pour servir d'instruction au S'r. Marqius de Lajonquière.]


        These traders came in part from Virginia, but chiefly from Pennsylvania.  Dinwiddie, governor of Virginia, says of them: “They appear to me to be in general a set of abandoned wretches;” and Hamilton, governor of Pennsylvania, replies: “I concur with you in opinion that they are a very licentious people.”[5]  Indian traders, of whatever nation, are rarely models of virtue; and these, without doubt, were rough and lawless men, with abundant blackguardism and few scruples.  Not all of them, however, are to be thus qualified.  Some were of a better stamp; among whom were Christopher Gist, William Trent, and George Croghan.  These and other chief traders hired men on the frontiers, crossed the Alleghanies with goods packed on the backs of horses, descended into the valley of the Ohio, and journeyed from stream to stream and village to village along the Indian trails, with which all this wilderness was seamed, and which the traders widened to make them practicable.  More rarely, they carried their goods on horses to the upper waters of the Ohio, and embarked them in large wooden canoes, in which they descended the main river, and ascended such of its numerous tributaries as were navigable.  They were bold and enterprising; and French writers, with alarm and indignation, declare that some of them had crossed the Mississippi and traded with the distant Osages.  It is said that about three hundred of them came over the mountains every year.

[Footnote 5: Dinwiddie to Hamilton, 21 May, 1753. Hamilton to Dinwiddie,—May, 1753.]


        On reaching the Alleghany, Céleron de Bienville entered upon the work assigned him, and began by taking possession of the country.  The men were drawn up in order; Louis XV was proclaimed lord of all that region, the arms of France, stamped on a sheet of tin, were nailed to a tree, a plate of lead was buried at its foot, and the notary of the expedition drew up a formal act of the whole proceeding.  The leaden plate was inscribed as follows: “Year 1749, in the reign of Louis Fifteenth, King of France.  We, Céleron, commanding the detachment sent by the Marquis de la Galissonière, commander-general of New France, to restore tranquillity in certain villages of these cantons, have buried this plate at the confluence of the Ohio and the Kanaouagon [Conewango], this 29th July, as a token of renewal of possession heretofore taken of the aforesaid River Ohio, of all streams that fall into it, and all lands on both sides to the source of the aforesaid streams, as the preceding Kings of France have enjoyed or ought to have enjoyed it, and which they have upheld by force of arms and by treaties, notably by those of Ryswick, Utrecht, and Aix-la-Chapelle.”
        This done, the party proceeded on its way, moving downward with the current, and passing from time to time rough openings in the forest, with clusters of Indian wigwams, the inmates of which showed a strong inclination to run off at their approach.  To prevent this, Chabert de Joncaire was sent in advance, as a messenger of peace.  He was himself half Indian, being the son of a French officer and a Seneca squaw, speaking fluently his maternal tongue, and, like his father, holding an important place in all dealings between the French and the tribes who spoke dialects of the Iroquois.  On this occasion his success was not complete.  It needed all his art to prevent the alarmed savages from taking to the woods.  Sometimes, however, Céloron succeeded in gaining an audience; and at a village of Senecas called La Paille Coupée he read them a message from La Galissonière couched in terms sufficiently imperative: “My children, since I was at war with the English, I have learned that they have seduced you; and not content with corrupting your hearts, have taken advantage of my absence to invade lands which are not theirs, but mine; and therefore I have resolved to send you Monsieur de Céloron to tell you my intentions, which are that I will not endure the English on my land.  Listen to me, children; mark well the word that I send you; follow my advice, and the sky will always be calm and clear over your villages.  I expect from you an answer worthy of true children.”  And he urged them to stop all trade with the intruders, and send them back to whence they came.  They promised compliance; “and,” says the chaplain, Bonnecamp, “we should all have been satisfied if we had thought them sincere; but nobody doubted that fear had extorted their answer.”

        Four leagues below French Creek, by a rock scratched with Indian hieroglyphics, they buried another leaden plate.  Three days after, they reached the Delaware village of Attiqué, at the site of Kittanning, whose twenty-two wigwams were all empty, the owners having fled.  A little farther on, at an old abandoned village of Shawanoes, they found six English traders, whom they warned to begone, and return no more at their peril.  Being helpless to resist, the traders pretended obedience; and Céloron charged them with a letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania, in which he declared that he was “greatly surprised” to find Englishmen trespassing on the domain of France.  “I know,” concluded the letter, “that our Commandant-General would be very sorry to be forced to use violence; but his orders are precise, to leave no foreign traders within the limits of his government.”[6]

[Footnote 6: Céloron, Journal. Compare the letter as translated in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 532; also Colonial Records of Pa., V. 325.]


        On the next day they reached a village of Iroquois under a female chief, called Queen Alequippa by the English, to whom she was devoted.  Both Queen and subjects had fled; but among the deserted wigwams were six more Englishmen, whom Céloron warned off like the others, and who, like them, pretended to obey.  At a neighboring town they found only two withered ancients, male and female, whose united ages, in the judgment of the chaplain, were full two centuries.  They passed the site of the future Pittsburg; and some seventeen miles below approached Chininguée, called Logstown by the English, one of the chief places on the river.[7]  Both English and French flags were flying over the town, and the inhabitants, lining the shore, greeted their visitors with a salute of musketry,—not wholly welcome, as the guns were charged will ball.  Céloron threatened to fire on them if they did not cease.  The French climbed the steep bank, and encamped on the plateau above, betwixt the forest and the village, which consisted of some fifty cabins and wigwams, grouped in picturesque squalor, and tenanted by a mixed population, chiefly of Delawares, Shawanoes, and Mingoes.  Here, too, were gathered many fugitives from the deserted towns above.  Céloron feared a night attack.  The camp was encircled by a ring of sentries; the officers walked the rounds till morning; a part of the men were kept under arms, and the rest ordered to sleep in their clothes.  Joncaire discovered through some women of his acquaintance that an attack was intended.  Whatever the danger may have been, the precautions of the French averted it; and instead of a battle, there was a council.  Céloron delivered to the assembled chiefs a message from the Governor more conciliatory than the former, “Through the love I bear you, my children, I send you Monsieur de Céloron to open your eyes to the designs of the English against your lands.  The establishments they mean to make, and of which you are certainly ignorant, tend to your complete ruin.  They hide from you their plans, which are to settle here and drive you away, if I let them.  As a good father who tenderly loves his children, and though far away from them bears them always in his heart, I must warn you of the danger that threatens you.  The English intend to rob you of your country; and that they may succeed, they begin by corrupting your minds.  As they mean to seize the Ohio, which belongs to me, I send to warn them to retire.”

[Footnote 7: There was another Chiningué, the Shenango of the English, on the Alleghany.]


        The reply of the chiefs, though sufficiently humble, was not all that could be wished.  They begged that the intruders might stay a little longer, since the goods they brought were necessary to them.  It was in fact, these goods, cheap, excellent, and abundant as they were, which formed the only true bond between the English and the Western tribes.  Logstown was one of the chief resorts of the English traders; and at this moment there were ten of them in the place.  Céloron warned them off.  “They agreed,” says the chaplain, “to all that was demanded, well resolved, no doubt, to do the contrary as soon as our backs were turned.”

        Having distributed gifts among the Indians, the French proceeded on their way, and at or near the mouth of Wheeling Creek buried another plate of lead.  They repeated the same ceremony at the mouth of the Muskingum.  Here, half a century later, when this region belonged to the United States, a party of boys, bathing in the river, saw the plate protruding from the bank where the freshets had laid it bare, knocked it down with a long stick, melted half of it into bullets, and gave what remained to a neighbor from Marietta, who, hearing of this mysterious relic, inscribed in an unknown tongue, came to rescue it from their hands.[8]  It is now in the cabinet of the American Antiquarian Society.[9]  On the eighteenth of August, Céloron buried yet another plate, at the mouth of the Great Kenawha.  This, too, in the course of a century, was unearthed by the floods, and was found in 1846 by a boy at play, by the edge of the water.[10]  The inscriptions on all these plates were much alike, with variations of date and place.

[Footnote 8: O.H. Marshall, in Magazine of American History, March, 1878.]

[Footnote 9: For papers relating to it, see Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., II.]

[Footnote 10: For a facsimile of the inscription on this plate, see Olden Time, I. 288. Céloron calls the Kenawha, Chinodahichetha. The inscriptions as given in his Journal correspond with those on the plates discovered.]


        The weather was by turns rainy and hot; and the men, tired and famished, were fast falling ill.  On the twenty-second they approached Scioto, called by the French St. Yotoc, or Sinioto, a large Shawanoe town at the mouth of the river which bears the same name.  Greatly doubting what welcome awaited them, they filled their powderhorns and prepared for the worst.  Joncaire was sent forward to propitiate the inhabitants; but they shot bullets through the flag that he carried, and surrounded him, yelling and brandishing their knives.  Some were for killing him at once; others for burning him alive.  The interposition of a friendly Iroquois saved him; and at length they let him go.  Céloron was very uneasy at the reception of his messenger.  “I knew,” he writes, “the weakness of my party, two thirds of which were young men who had never left home before, and would all have run at the sight of ten Indians.  Still, there was nothing for me but to keep on; for I was short of provisions, my canoes were badly damaged, and I had no pitch or bark to mend them.  So I embarked again, ready for whatever might happen.  I had good officers, and about fifty men who could be trusted.”

        As they neared the town, the Indians swarmed to the shore, and began the usual salute of musketry.  “They fired,” says Céloron, “full a thousand shots; for the English give them powder for nothing.”  He prudently pitched his camp on the farther side of the river, posted guards, and kept close watch.  Each party distrusted and feared the other.  At length, after much ado, many debates, and some threatening movements on the part of the alarmed and excited Indians, a council took place at the tent of the French commander; the chiefs apologized for the rough treatment of Joncaire, and Céloron replied with a rebuke, which would doubtless have been less mild, had he felt himself stronger.  He gave them also a message from the Governor, modified, apparently, to suit the circumstances; for while warning them of the wiles of the English, it gave no hint that the King of France claimed mastery of their lands.  Their answer was vague and unsatisfactory.  It was plain that they were bound to the enemy by interest, if not by sympathy.  A party of English traders were living in the place; and Céloron summoned them to withdraw, on pain of what might ensue.  “My instructions,” he says, “enjoined me to do this, and even to pillage the English; but I was not strong enough; and as these traders were established in the village and well supported by the Indians, the attempt would have failed, and put the French to shame.”  The assembled chiefs having been regaled with a cup of brandy each,—the only part of the proceeding which seemed to please them,—Céloron reimbarked, and continued his voyage.

        On the thirtieth they reached the Great Miami, called by the French, Rivière à la Roche; and here Céloron buried the last of his leaden plates.  They now bade farewell to the Ohio, or, in the words of the chaplain, to “La Belle Rivière,—that river so little known to the French, and unfortunately too well known to the English.”  He speaks of the multitude of Indian villages on its shores, and still more on its northern branches.  “Each, great or small, has one or more English traders, and each of these has hired men to carry his furs.  Behold, then, the English well advanced upon our lands, and, what is worse, under the protection of a crowd of savages whom they have drawn over to them, and whose number increases daily.”

        The course of the party lay up the Miami; and they toiled thirteen days against the shallow current before they reached a village of the Miami Indians, lately built at the mouth of the rivulet now called Loramie Creek.  Over it ruled a chief to whom the French had given the singular name of La Demoiselle, but whom the English, whose fast friend he was, called Old Britain.  The English traders who lived here had prudently withdrawn, leaving only two hired men in the place.  The object of Cèloron was to induce the Demoiselle and his band to leave this new abode and return to their old villages near the French fort on the Maumee, where they would be safe from English seduction.  To this end, he called them to a council, gave them ample gifts, and made them an harangue in the name of the Governor.  The Demoiselle took the gifts, thanked his French father for his good advice, and promised to follow it at a more convenient time.[11]  In vain Céloron insisted that he and his tribesmen should remove at once.  Neither blandishments nor threats would prevail, and the French commander felt that his negotiation had failed.

[Footnote 11: Céloron, Journal. Compare A Message from the Twightwees (Miamis) in Colonial Records of Pa., V. 437, where they say that they refused the gifts.]


        He was not deceived.  Far from leaving his village, the Demoiselle, who was Great Chief of the Miami Confederacy, gathered his followers to the spot, till, less than two years after the visit of Céloron, its population had increased eightfold.  Pique Town, or Pickawillany, as the English called it, became one of the greatest Indian towns of the West, the centre of English trade and influence, and a capital object of French jealousy.

        Céloron burned his shattered canoes, and led his party across the long and difficult portage to the French post on the Maumee, where he found Raymond, the commander, and all his men, shivering with fever and ague.  They supplied him with wooden canoes for his voyage down the river; and, early in October, he reached Lake Erie, where he was detained for a time by a drunken debauch of his Indians, who are called by the chaplain “a species of men made to exercise the patience of those who have the misfortune to travel with them.”  In a month more he was at Fort Frontenac; and as he descended thence to Montreal, he stopped at the Oswegatchie, in obedience to the Governor, who had directed him to report the progress made by the Sulpitian, Abbé Piquet, at his new mission.  Piquet's new fort had been burned by Indians, prompted, as he thought, by the English of Oswego; but the priest, buoyant and undaunted, was still resolute for the glory of God and the confusion of the heretics.

        At length Céloron reached Montreal; and, closing his Journal, wrote thus: “Father Bonnecamp, who is a Jesuit and a great mathematician, reckons that we have travelled twelve hundred leagues; I and my officers think we have travelled more.  All I can say is, that the nations of these countries are very ill-disposed towards the French, and devoted entirely to the English.”[12]  If his expedition had done no more, it had at least revealed clearly the deplorable condition of French interests in the West.

[Footnote 12: Journal de la Campagne que moy Céloron, Chevalier de l'Ordre Royal et Militaire de St. Louis, Capitaine Commandant un détachement envoyé dans la Belle Rivière par les ordres de M. le Marquis de La Galissonière, etc.

Relation d'un voyage dans la Belle Rivière sous les ordres de M. de Céloron, par le Père Bonnecamp, en 1749.]


        While Céloron was warning English traders from the Ohio, a plan was on foot in Virginia for a new invasion of the French domain.  An association was formed to settle the Ohio country; and a grant of five hundred thousand acres was procured from the King, on condition that a hundred families should be established upon it within seven years, a fort built, and a garrison maintained.  The Ohio Company numbered among its members some of the chief men of Virginia, including two brothers of Washington; and it had also a London partner, one Hanbury, a person of influence, who acted as its agent in England.  In the year after the expedition of Céloron, its governing committee sent the trader Christopher Gist to explore the country and select land.  It must be “good level land,” wrote the Committee; “we had rather go quite down to the Mississippi than take mean, broken land.”[13]  In November Gist reached Logstown, the Chiningué of Céleron, where he found what he calls a “parcel of reprobate Indian traders.”  Those whom he so stigmatizes were Pennsylvanians, chiefly Scotch-Irish, between whom and the traders from Virginia there was great jealousy.  Gist was told that he “should never go home safe.”  He declared himself the bearer of a message from the King.  This imposed respect, and he was allowed to proceed.  At the Wyandot village of Muskingum he found the trader George Croghan, sent to the Indians by the Governor of Pennsylvania, to renew the chain of friendship.[14]  “Croghan,” he says, “is a mere idol among his countrymen, the Irish traders;” yet they met amicably, and the Pennsylvanian had with him a companion, Andrew Montour, the interpreter, who proved of great service to Gist.  As Montour was a conspicuous person in his time, and a type of his class, he merits a passing notice.  He was the reputed grandson of a French governor and an Indian squaw.  His half-breed mother, Catharine Montour, was a native of Canada, whence she was carried off by the Iroquois, and adopted by them.  She lived in a village at the head of Seneca Lake, and still held the belief, inculcated by the guides of her youth, that Christ was a Frenchman crucified by the English.[15]  Her son Andrew is thus described by the Moravian Zinzendorf, who knew him: “His face is like that of a European, but marked with a broad Indian ring of bear's-grease and paint drawn completely round it.  He wears a coat of fine cloth of cinnamon color, a black necktie with silver spangles, a red satin waistcoat, trousers over which hangs his shirt, shoes and stockings, a hat, and brass ornaments, something like the handle of a basket, suspended from his ears.”[16]  He was an excellent interpreter, and held in high account by his Indian kinsmen.

[Footnote 13: Instructions to Gist, in appendix to Pownall, Topographical Description of North America.]

[Footnote 14: Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 267; Croghan to Hamilton, 16 Dec. 1750.]

[Footnote 15: This is stated by Count Zinzendorf, who visited her among the Senecas.  In a plan of the “Route of the Western Army,” made in 1779, and of which a tracing is before me, the village where she lived is still called “French Catharine's Town.”]

[Footnote 16: Journal of Zinzendorf, quoted in Schweinitz, Life of David Zeisberger, 112, note.]


        After leaving Muskingum, Gist, Croghan, and Montour went together to a village on White Woman's Creek,—so called from one Mary Harris, who lived here.  She was born in New England, was made prisoner when a child forty years before, and had since dwelt among her captors, finding such comfort as she might in an Indian husband and a family of young half-breeds.  “She still remembers,” says Gist, “that they used to be very religious in New England, and wonders how white men can be so wicked as she has seen them in these woods.”  He and his companions now journeyed southwestward to the Shawanoe town at the mouth of the Scioto, where they found a reception very different from that which had awaited Céloron.  Thence they rode northwestward along the forest path that led to Pickawillany, the Indian town on the upper waters of the Great Miami.  Gist was delighted with the country; and reported to his employers that “it is fine, rich, level land, well timbered with large walnut, ash, sugar trees and cherry trees; well watered with a great number of little streams and rivulets; full of beautiful natural meadows, with wild rye, blue-grass, and clover, and abounding with turkeys, deer, elks, and most sorts of game, particularly buffaloes, thirty or forty of which are frequently seen in one meadow.”  A little farther west, on the plains of the Wabash and the Illinois, he would have found them by thousands.

        They crossed the Miami on a raft, their horses swimming after them; and were met on landing by a crowd of warriors, who, after smoking with them, escorted them to the neighboring town, where they were greeted by a fusillade of welcome.  “We entered with English colors before us, and were kindly received by their king, who invited us into his own house and set our colors upon the top of it; then all the white men and traders that were there came and welcomed us.”  This “king” was Old Britain, or La Demoiselle.  Great were the changes here since Céleron, a year and a half before, had vainly enticed him to change his abode, and dwell in the shadow of the fleur-de-lis.  The town had grown to four hundred families, or about two thousand souls; and the English traders had built for themselves and their hosts a fort of pickets, strengthened with logs.

        There was a series of councils in the long house, or town-hall.  Croghan made the Indians a present from the Governor of Pennsylvania; and he and Gist delivered speeches of friendship and good advice, which the auditors received with the usual monosyllabic plaudits, ejected from the depths of their throats.  A treaty of peace was solemnly made between the English and the confederate tribes, and all was serenity and joy; till four Ottawas, probably from Detroit, arrived with a French flag, a gift of brandy and tobacco, and a message from the French commandant inviting the Miamis to visit him.  Whereupon the great war-chief rose, and, with “a fierce tone and very warlike air,” said to the envoys: “Brothers the Ottawas, we let you know, by these four strings of wampum, that we will not hear anything the French say, nor do anything they bid us.”  Then addressing the French as if actually present: “Fathers, we have made a road to the sun-rising, and have been taken by the hand by our brothers the English, the Six Nations, the Delawares, Shawanoes, and Wyandots.[17]  We assure you, in that road we will go; and as you threaten us with war in the spring, we tell you that we are ready to receive you.”  Then, turning again to the four envoys: “Brothers the Ottawas, you hear what I say.  Tell that to your fathers the French, for we speak it from our hearts.”  The chiefs then took down the French flag which the Ottawas had planted in the town, and dismissed the envoys with their answer of defiance.

[Footnote 17: Compare Message of Miamis and Hurons to the Governor of Pennsylvania in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 594; and Report of Croghan in Colonial Records of Pa., V. 522, 523.]


        On the next day the town-crier came with a message from the Demoiselle, inviting his English guests to a “feather dance,” which Gist thus describes: “It was performed by three dancing-masters, who were painted all over of various colors, with long sticks in their hands, upon the ends of which were fastened long feathers of swans and other birds, neatly woven in the shape of a fowl's wing; in this disguise they performed many antic tricks, waving their sticks and feathers about with great skill, to imitate the flying and fluttering of birds, keeping exact time with their music.”  This music was the measured thumping of an Indian drum.  From time to time, a warrior would leap up, and the drum and the dancers would cease as he struck a post with his tomahawk, and in a loud voice recounted his exploits.  Then the music and the dance began anew, till another warrior caught the martial fire, and bounded into the circle to brandish his tomahawk and vaunt his prowess.

        On the first of March Gist took leave of Pickawillany, and returned towards the Ohio.  He would have gone to the Falls, where Louisville now stands, but for a band of French Indians reported to be there, who would probably have killed him.  After visiting a deposit of mammoth bones on the south shore, long the wonder of the traders, he turned eastward, crossed with toil and difficulty the mountains about the sources of the Kenawha, and after an absence of seven months reached his frontier home on the Yadkin, whence he proceeded to Roanoke with the report of his journey.[18]

[Footnote 18: Journal of Christopher Gist, in appendix to Pownall, Topographical Description. Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians in N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 267.]


        All looked well for the English in the West; but under this fair outside lurked hidden danger.  The Miamis were hearty in the English cause, and so perhaps were the Shawanoes; but the Delawares had not forgotten the wrongs that drove them from their old abodes east of the Alleghanies, while the Mingoes, or emigrant Iroquois, like their brethren of New York, felt the influence of Joncaire and other French agents, who spared no efforts to seduce them.[19]  Still more baneful to British interests were the apathy and dissensions of the British colonies themselves.  The Ohio Company had built a trading-house at Will's Creek, a branch of the Potomac, to which the Indians resorted in great numbers; whereupon the jealous traders of Pennsylvania told them that the Virginians meant to steal away their lands.  This confirmed what they had been taught by the French emissaries, whose intrigues it powerfully aided.  The governors of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia saw the importance of Indian alliances, and felt their own responsibility in regard to them; but they could do nothing without their assemblies.  Those of New York and Pennsylvania were largely composed of tradesmen and farmers, absorbed in local interests, and possessed by two motives,—the saving of the people's money, and opposition to the governor, who stood for the royal prerogative.  It was Hamilton, of Pennsylvania, who had sent Croghan to the Miamis to “renew the chain of friendship;” and when the envoy returned, the Assembly rejected his report.  “I was condemned,” he says, “for bringing expense on the Government, and the Indians were neglected.”[20]

[Footnote 19: Joncaire made anti-English speeches to the Ohio Indians under the eyes of the English themselves, who did not molest him. Journal of George Croghan, 1751, in Olden Time, I. 136.]

[Footnote 20: Mr. Croghan's Transactions with the Indians, N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 267.]


        In the same year Hamilton again sent him over the mountains, with a present for the Mingoes and Delawares.  Croghan succeeded in persuading them that it would be for their good if the English should build a fortified trading-house at the fork of the Ohio, where Pittsburg now stands; and they made a formal request to the Governor that it should be built accordingly.  But, in the words of Croghan, the Assembly “rejected the proposal, and condemned me for making such a report.”  Yet this post on the Ohio was vital to English interests.  Even the Penns, proprietaries of the province, never lavish of their money, offered four hundred pounds towards the cost of it, besides a hundred a year towards its maintenance; but the Assembly would not listen.[21]  The Indians were so well convinced that a strong English trading-station in their country would add to their safety and comfort, that when Pennsylvania refused it, they repeated the proposal to Virginia; but here, too, it found for the present little favor.

[Footnote 21: Colonial Records of Pa., V. 515, 529, 547. At a council at Logstown (1751), the Indians said to Croghan: “The French want to cheat us out of our country; but we will stop them, and, Brothers the English, you must help us. We expect that you will build a strong house on the River Ohio, that in case of war we may have a place to secure our wives and children, likewise our brothers that come to trade with us.”  Report of Treaty at Logstown, Ibid., V. 538.]


        The question of disputed boundaries had much to do with this most impolitic inaction.  A large part of the valley of the Ohio, including the site of the proposed establishment, was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia; and each feared that whatever money it might spend there would turn to the profit of the other.  This was not the only evil that sprang from uncertain ownership.  “Till the line is run between the two provinces,” says Dinwiddie, governor of Virginia, “I cannot appoint magistrates to keep the traders in good order.”[22]  Hence they did what they pleased, and often gave umbrage to the Indians.  Clinton, of New York, appealed to his Assembly for means to assist Pennsylvania in “securing the fidelity of the Indians on the Ohio,” and the Assembly refused.[23]  “We will take care of our Indians, and they may take care of theirs:” such was the spirit of their answer.  He wrote to the various provinces, inviting them to send commissioners to meet the tribes at Albany, “in order to defeat the designs and intrigues of the French.”  All turned a deaf ear except Massachusetts, Connecticut, and South Carolina, who sent the commissioners, but supplied them very meagrely with the indispensable presents.[24]  Clinton says further: “The Assembly of this province have not given one farthing for Indian affairs, nor for a year past have they provided for the subsistence of the garrison at Oswego, which is the key for the commerce between the colonies and the inland nations of Indians.”[25]

[Footnote 22: Dinwiddie to the Lords of Trade, 6 Oct. 1752.]

[Footnote 23: Journals of New York Assembly, II. 283, 284. Colonial Records of Pa., V. 466.]

[Footnote 24: Clinton to Hamilton, 18 Dec. 1750. Clinton to Lords of Trade, 13 June, 1751; Ibid., 17 July, 1751.]

[Footnote 25: Clinton to Bedford, 30 July, 1750.]


        In the heterogeneous structure of the British colonies, their clashing interests, their internal disputes, and the misplaced economy of penny-wise and short-sighted assembly-men, lay the hope of France.  The rulers of Canada knew the vast numerical preponderance of their rivals; but with their centralized organization they felt themselves more than a match for any one English colony alone.  They hoped to wage war under the guise of peace, and to deal with the enemy in detail; and they at length perceived that the fork of the Ohio, so strangely neglected by the English, formed, together with Niagara, the key of the Great West.  Could France hold firmly these two controlling passes, she might almost boast herself mistress of the continent.

      NOTE: The Journal of Céloron (Archives de la Marine) is very long and circumstantial, including the procès verbaux, and reports of councils with Indians.  The Journal of the chaplain, Bonnecamp (Dépôt de la Marine), is shorter, but is the work of an intelligent and observing man.  The author, a Jesuit, was skilled in mathematics, made daily observations, and constructed a map of the route, still preserved at the Dépôt de la Marine.  Concurrently with these French narratives, one may consult the English letters and documents bearing on the same subjects, in the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania, the Archives of Pennsylvania, and the Colonial Documents of New York.


        Three of Céleron's leaden plates have been found,—the two mentioned in the text, and another which was never buried, and which the Indians, who regarded these mysterious tablets as “bad medicine,” procured by a trick from Joncaire, or, according to Governor Clinton, stole from him.  A Cayuga chief brought it to Colonel Johnson, on the Mohawk, who interpreted the “Devilish writing” in such a manner as best to inspire horror of French designs.

Table of Contents



Chapter 3

1749-1753


Conflict for the West


        The Iroquois, or Five Nations, sometimes called Six Nations after the Tuscaroras joined them, had been a power of high importance in American international politics.  In a certain sense they may be said to have held the balance between their French and English neighbors; but their relative influence had of late declined.  So many of them had emigrated and joined the tribes of the Ohio, that the centre of Indian population had passed to that region.  Nevertheless, the Five Nations were still strong enough in their ancient abodes to make their alliance an object of the utmost consequence to both the European rivals.  At the western end of their “Long House,” or belt of confederated villages, Joncaire intrigued to gain them for France; while in the east he was counteracted by the young colonel of militia, William Johnson, who lived on the Mohawk, and was already well skilled in managing Indians.  Johnson sometimes lost his temper; and once wrote to Governor Clinton to complain of the “confounded wicked things the French had infused into the Indians' heads; among the rest that the English were determined, the first opportunity, to destroy them all.  I assure your Excellency I had hard work to beat these and several other cursed villanous things, told them by the French, out of their heads.”[26]

[Footnote 26: Johnson to Clinton, 28 April, 1749.]


        In former times the French had hoped to win over the Five Nations in a body, by wholesale conversion to the Faith; but the attempt had failed.  They had, however, made within their own limits an asylum for such converts as they could gain, whom they collected together at Caughnawaga, near Montreal, to the number of about three hundred warriors.[27]  These could not be trusted to fight their kinsmen, but willingly made forays against the English borders.  Caughnawaga, like various other Canadian missions, was divided between the Church, the army, and the fur-trade.  It had a chapel, fortifications, and storehouses; two Jesuits, an officer, and three chief traders.  Of these last, two were maiden ladies, the Demoiselles Desauniers; and one of the Jesuits, their friend Father Tournois, was their partner in business.  They carried on by means of the Mission Indians, and in collusion with influential persons in the colony, a trade with the Dutch at Albany, illegal, but very profitable.[28]

[Footnote 27: The estimate of a French official report, 1736, and of Sir William Johnson, 1763.]

[Foot Jonqui: La Jonquière au Ministre, 27 Fév. 1750. Ibid., 29 Oct. 1751. Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1751. Notice biographique de la Jonquière. La Jonquifère, governor of Canada, at last broke up their contraband trade, and ordered Tournois to Quebec.]


        Besides this Iroquois mission, which was chiefly composed of Mohawks and Oneidas, another was now begun farther westward, to win over the Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas.  This was the establishment of Father Piquet, which Céloron had visited in its infancy when on his way to the Ohio, and again on his return.  Piquet was a man in the prime of life, of an alert, vivacious countenance, by no means unprepossessing;[29] an enthusiastic schemer, with great executive talents; ardent, energetic, vain, self-confident, and boastful.  The enterprise seems to have been of his own devising; but it found warm approval from the Government.[30]  La Présentation, as he called the new mission, stood on the bank of the River Oswegatchie where it enters the St. Lawrence.  Here the rapids ceased, and navigation was free to Lake Ontario.  The place commanded the main river, and could bar the way to hostile war-parties or contraband traders.  Rich meadows, forests, and abundance of fish and game, made it attractive to Indians, and the Oswegatchie gave access to the Iroquois towns.  Piquet had chosen his site with great skill.  His activity was admirable.  His first stockade was burned by Indian incendiaries; but it rose quickly from its ashes, and within a year or two the mission of La Présentation had a fort of palisades flanked with blockhouses, a chapel, a storehouse, a barn, a stable, ovens, a saw-mill, broad fields of corn and beans, and three villages of Iroquois, containing, in all, forty-nine bark lodges, each holding three or four families, more or less converted to the Faith; and, as time went on, this number increased.  The Governor had sent a squad of soldiers to man the fort, and five small cannon to mount upon it.  The place was as safe for the new proselytes as it was convenient and agreeable.  The Pennsylvanian interpreter, Conrad Weiser, was told at Onondaga, the Iroquois capital, that Piquet had made a hundred converts from that place alone; and that, “having clothed them all in very fine clothes, laced with silver and gold, he took them down and presented them to the French Governor at Montreal, who received them very kindly, and made them large presents.”[31]

[Footnote 29: I once saw a contemporary portrait of him at the mission of Two Mountains, where he had been stationed.]

[Footnote 30: Rouillé à la Jonquière, 1749. The Intendant Bigot gave him money and provisions. N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 204.]

[Footnote 31: Journal of Conrad Weiser, 1750.]


        Such were some of the temporal attractions of La Présentation.  The nature of the spiritual instruction bestowed by Piquet and his fellow-priests may be partly inferred from the words of a proselyte warrior, who declared with enthusiasm that he had learned from the Sulpitian missionary that the King of France was the eldest son of the wife of Jesus Christ.[32]  This he of course took in a literal sense, the mystic idea of the Church as the spouse of Christ being beyond his savage comprehension.  The effect was to stimulate his devotion to the Great Onontio beyond the sea, and to the lesser Onontio who represented him as Governor of Canada.

[Footnote 32: Lalande, Notice de L'Abbé Piquet, in Lettres Édifiantes. See also Tassé in Revue Canadienne, 1870, p. 9.]


        Piquet was elated by his success; and early in 1752 he wrote to the Governor and Intendant: “It is a great miracle that, in spite of envy, contradiction, and opposition from nearly all the Indian villages, I have formed in less than three years one of the most flourishing missions in Canada.  I find myself in a position to extend the empire of my good masters, Jesus Christ and the King, even to the extremities of this new world; and, with some little help from you, to do more than France and England have been able to do with millions of money and all their troops.”[33]

[Footnote 33: Piquet à la Jonquière et Bigot, 8 Fév. 1752. See Appendix A. In spite of Piquet's self-laudation, and in spite also of the detraction of the author of the Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760, there can be no doubt of his practical capacity and his fertility of resource. Duquesne, when governor of the colony, highly praises “ses talents et son activité pour le service de Sa Majesté.”]


        The letter from which this is taken was written to urge upon the Government a scheme in which the zealous priest could see nothing impracticable.  He proposed to raise a war-party of thirty-eight hundred Indians, eighteen hundred of whom were to be drawn from the Canadian missions, the Five Nations, and the tribes of the Ohio, while the remaining two thousand were to be furnished by the Flatheads, or Choctaws, who were at the same time to be supplied with missionaries.  The united force was first to drive the English from the Ohio, and next attack the Dog Tribe, or Cherokees, who lived near the borders of Virginia, with the people of which they were on friendly terms.  “If,” says Piquet, “the English of Virginia give any help to this last-named tribe,—which will not fail to happen,—they [the war-party] will do their utmost against them, through a grudge they bear them by reason of some old quarrels.”  In other words, the missionary hopes to set a host of savages to butchering English settlers in time of peace![34]  His wild project never took effect, though the Governor, he says, at first approved it.

[Footnote 34: Appendix A.]


        In the preceding year the “Apostle of the Iroquois,” as he was called, made a journey to muster recruits for his mission, and kept a copious diary on the way.  By accompanying him, one gets a clear view of an important part of the region in dispute between the rival nations.  Six Canadians paddled him up the St. Lawrence, and five Indian converts followed in another canoe.  Emerging from among the Thousand Islands, they stopped at Fort Frontenac, where Kingston now stands.  Once the place was a great resort of Indians; now none were here, for the English post of Oswego, on the other side of the lake, had greater attractions.  Piquet and his company found the pork and bacon very bad, and he complains that “there was not brandy enough in the fort to wash a wound.”  They crossed to a neighboring island, where they were soon visited by the chaplain of the fort, the storekeeper, his wife, and three young ladies, glad of an excursion to relieve the monotony of the garrison.  “My hunters,” says Piquet, “had supplied me with means of giving them a pretty good entertainment.  We drank, with all our hearts, the health of the authorities, temporal and ecclesiastical, to the sound of our musketry, which was very well fired, and delighted the islanders.”  These islanders were a band of Indians who lived here.  Piquet gave them a feast, then discoursed of religion, and at last persuaded them to remove to the new mission.

        During eight days he and his party coasted the northern shore of Lake Ontario, with various incidents, such as an encounter between his dog Cerberus and a wolf, to the disadvantage of the latter, and the meeting with “a very fine negro of twenty-two years, a fugitive from Virginia.”  On the twenty-sixth of June they reached the new fort of Toronto, which offered a striking contrast to their last stopping-place.  “The wine here is of the best; there is nothing wanting in this fort; everything is abundant, fine, and good.”  There was reason for this.  The Northern Indians were flocking with their beaver-skins to the English of Oswego; and in April, 1749, an officer named Portneuf had been sent with soldiers and workmen to build a stockaded trading-house at Toronto, in order to intercept them,—not by force, which would have been ruinous to French interests, but by a tempting supply of goods and brandy.[35]  Thus the fort was kept well stocked, and with excellent effect.  Piquet found here a band of Mississagas, who would otherwise, no doubt, have carried their furs to the English.  He was strongly impelled to persuade them to migrate to La Présentation; but the Governor had told him to confine his efforts to other tribes; and lest, he says, the ardor of his zeal should betray him to disobedience, he reimbarked, and encamped six leagues from temptation.

[Footnote 35: On Toronto, La Jonquière et Bigot au Ministre, 1749. La Jonquière au Ministre, 30 Août, 1750. N.Y. Col. Docs. X. 201, 246.]


        Two days more brought him to Niagara, where he was warmly received by the commandant, the chaplain, and the storekeeper,—the triumvirate who ruled these forest outposts, and stood respectively for then: three vital principles, war, religion, and trade.  Here Piquet said mass; and after resting a day, set out for the trading-house at the portage of the cataract, recently built, like Toronto, to stop the Indians on their way to Oswego.[36]  Here he found Joncaire, and here also was encamped a large band of Senecas; though, being all drunk, men, women, and children, they were in no condition to receive the Faith, or appreciate the temporal advantages that attended it.  On the next morning, finding them partially sober, he invited them to remove to La Présentation; “but as they had still something left in their bottles, I could get no answer till the following day.”  “I pass in silence,” pursues the missionary, “an infinity of talks on this occasion.  Monsieur de Joncaire forgot nothing that could help me, and behaved like a great servant of God and the King.  My recruits increased every moment.  I went to say my breviary while my Indians and the Senecas, without loss of time, assembled to hold a council with Monsieur de Joncaire.”  The result of the council was an entreaty to the missionary not to stop at Oswego, lest evil should befall him at the hands of the English.  He promised to do as they wished, and presently set out on his return to Fort Niagara, attended by Joncaire and a troop of his new followers.  The journey was a triumphal progress.  “Whenever was passed a camp or a wigwam, the Indians saluted me by firing their guns, which happened so often that I thought all the trees along the way were charged with gunpowder; and when we reached the fort, Monsieur de Becancour received us with great ceremony and the firing of cannon, by which my savages were infinitely flattered.”

[Footnote 36: La Jonquière au Ministre, 23 Fév. 1750. Ibid., 6 Oct. 1751. Compare Colonial Records of Pa., V. 508.]


        His neophytes were gathered into the chapel for the first time in their lives, and there rewarded with a few presents.  He now prepared to turn homeward, his flock at the mission being left in his absence without a shepherd; and on the sixth of July he embarked, followed by a swarm of canoes.  On the twelfth they stopped at the Genesee, and went to visit the Falls, where the city of Rochester now stands.  On the way, the Indians found a populous resort of rattlesnakes, and attacked the gregarious reptiles with great animation, to the alarm of the missionary, who trembled for his bare-legged retainers.  His fears proved needless.  Forty-two dead snakes, as he avers, requited the efforts of the sportsmen, and not one of them was bitten.  When he returned to camp in the afternoon he found there a canoe loaded with kegs of brandy.  “The English,” he says, “had sent it to meet us, well knowing that this was the best way to cause disorder among my new recruits and make them desert me.  The Indian in charge of the canoe, who had the look of a great rascal, offered some to me first, and then to my Canadians and Indians.  I gave out that it was very probably poisoned, and immediately embarked again.”

        He encamped on the fourteenth at Sodus Bay, and strongly advises the planting of a French fort there.  “Nevertheless,” he adds, “it would be still better to destroy Oswego, and on no account let the English build it again.”  On the sixteenth he came in sight of this dreaded post.  Several times on the way he had met fleets of canoes going thither or returning, in spite of the rival attractions of Toronto and Niagara.  No English establishment on the continent was of such ill omen to the French.  It not only robbed them of the fur-trade, by which they lived, but threatened them with military and political, no less than commercial, ruin.  They were in constant dread lest ships of war should be built here, strong enough to command Lake Ontario, thus separating Canada from Louisiana, and cutting New France asunder.  To meet this danger, they soon after built at Fort Frontenac a large three-masted vessel, mounted with heavy cannon; thus, as usual, forestalling their rivals by promptness of action.[37]  The ground on which Oswego stood was claimed by the Province of New York, which alone had control of it; but through the purblind apathy of the Assembly, and their incessant quarrels with the Governor, it was commonly left to take care of itself.  For some time they would vote no money to pay the feeble little garrison; and Clinton, who saw the necessity of maintaining it, was forced to do so on his own personal credit.[38]  “Why can't your Governor and your great men [the Assembly] agree?” asked a Mohawk chief of the interpreter, Conrad Weiser.[39]

[Footnote 37: Lieutenant Lindesay to Johnson, July, 1751.]

[Footnote 38: Clinton to Lords of Trade, 30 July, 1750.]

[Footnote 39: Journal of Conrad Weiser, 1750.]


        Piquet kept his promise not to land at the English fort; but he approached in his canoe, and closely observed it.  The shores, now covered by the city of Oswego, were then a desolation of bare hills and fields, studded with the stumps of felled trees, and hedged about with a grim border of forests.  Near the strand, by the mouth of the Onondaga, were the houses of some of the traders; and on the higher ground behind them stood a huge blockhouse with a projecting upper story.  This building was surrounded by a rough wall of stone, with flankers at the angles, forming what was called the fort.[40]  Piquet reconnoitred it from his canoe with the eye of a soldier.  “It is commanded,” he says, “on almost every side; two batteries, of three twelve-pounders each, would be more than enough to reduce it to ashes.”  And he enlarges on the evils that arise from it.  “It not only spoils our trade, but puts the English into communication with a vast number of our Indians, far and near.  It is true that they like our brandy better than English rum; but they prefer English goods to ours, and can buy for two beaver-skins at Oswego a better silver bracelet than we sell at Niagara for ten.”

[Footnote 40: Compare Doc. Hist. N.Y., I. 463.]


        The burden of these reflections was lightened when he approached Fort Frontenac.  “Never was reception more solemn.  The Nipissings and Algonkins, who were going on a war-party with Monsieur Belêtre, formed a line of their own accord, and saluted us with three volleys of musketry, and cries of joy without end.  All our little bark vessels replied in the same way.  Monsieur de Verchères and Monsieur de Valtry ordered the cannon of the fort to be fired; and my Indians, transported with joy at the honor done them, shot off their guns incessantly, with cries and acclamations that delighted everybody.”  A goodly band of recruits joined him, and he pursued his voyage to La Présentation, while the canoes of his proselytes followed in a swarm to their new home; “that establishment”–thus in a burst of enthusiasm he closes his Journal–“that establishment which I began two years ago, in the midst of opposition; that establishment which may be regarded as a key of the colony; that establishment which officers, interpreters, and traders thought a chamaera,—that establishment, I say, forms already a mission of Iroquois savages whom I assembled at first to the number of only six, increased last year to eighty-seven, and this year to three hundred and ninety-six, without counting more than a hundred and fifty whom Monsieur Chabert de Joncaire is to bring me this autumn.  And I certify that thus far I have received from His Majesty—for all favor, grace, and assistance—no more than a half pound of bacon and two pounds of bread for daily rations; and that he has not yet given a pin to the chapel, which I have maintained out of my own pocket, for the greater glory of my masters, God and the King.”[41]

[Footnote 41: Journal qui peut servir de Mémoire et de Relation du Voyage que j'ay fait sur le Lac Ontario pour attirer au nouvel Établissement de La Présentation les Sauvages Iroquois des Cinq Nations, 1751.  The last passage given above is condensed in the rendering, as the original is extremely involved and ungrammatical.]


        In his late journey he had made the entire circuit of Lake Ontario.  Beyond lay four other inland oceans, to which Fort Niagara was the key.  As that all-essential post controlled the passage from Ontario to Erie, so did Fort Detroit control that from Erie to Huron, and Fort Michillimackinac that from Huron to Michigan; while Fort Ste. Marie, at the outlet of Lake Superior, had lately received a garrison, and changed from a mission and trading-station to a post of war.[42]  This immense extent of inland navigation was safe in the hands of France so long as she held Niagara.  Niagara lost, not only the lakes, but also the Valley of the Ohio was lost with it.  Next in importance was Detroit.  This was not a military post alone, but also a settlement; and, except the hamlets about Fort Chartres, the only settlement that France owned in all the West.  There were, it is true, but a few families; yet the hope of growth seemed good; for to such as liked a wilderness home, no spot in America had more attraction.  Father Bonnecamp stopped here for a day on his way back from the expedition of Céloron.  “The situation,” he says, “is charming.  A fine river flows at the foot of the fortifications; vast meadows, asking only to be tilled, extend beyond the sight.  Nothing can be more agreeable than the climate.  Winter lasts hardly two months.  European grains and fruits grow here far better than in many parts of France.  It is the Touraine and Beauce of Canada.”[43]  The white flag of the Bourbons floated over the compact little palisaded town, with its population of soldiers and fur-traders; and from the blockhouses which served as bastions, one saw on either hand the small solid dwellings of the habitants, ranged at intervals along the margin of the water; while at a little distance three Indian villages—Ottawa, Pottawattamie, and Wyandot—curled their wigwam smoke into the pure summer air.[44]

[Footnote 42: La Jonquière au Ministre, 24 Août, 1750.]

[Footnote 43: Relation du Voiage de la Belle Rivière, 1749.]

[Footnote 44: A plan of Detroit is before me, made about this time by the engineer Lery.]


        When Céloron de Bienville returned from the Ohio, he went, with a royal commission, sent him a year before, to command at Detroit.[45]  His late chaplain, the very intelligent Father Bonnecamp, speaks of him as fearless, energetic, and full of resource; but the Governor calls him haughty and insubordinate.  Great efforts were made, at the same time, to build up Detroit as a centre of French power in the West.  The methods employed were of the debilitating, paternal character long familiar to Canada.  All emigrants with families were to be carried thither at the King's expense; and every settler was to receive in free gift a gun, a hoe, an axe, a ploughshare, a scythe, a sickle, two augers, large and small, a sow, six hens, a cock, six pounds of powder, and twelve pounds of lead; while to these favors were added many others.  The result was that twelve families were persuaded to go, or about a twentieth part of the number wanted.[46]  Detroit was expected to furnish supplies to the other posts for five hundred miles around, control the neighboring Indians, thwart English machinations, and drive off English interlopers.

[Footnote 45: Le Ministre à la Jonquière et Bigot, 14 Mai, 1749. Le Ministre à Céloron, 23 Mai, 1749.]

[Footnote 46: Ordonnance du 2 Jan. 1750. La Jonquière et Bigot au Ministre, 1750. Forty-six persons of all ages and both sexes had been induced by La Galissonière to go the year before. Lettres communes de la Jonquière et Bigot, 1749. The total fixed population of Detroit and its neighborhood in 1750 is stated at four hundred and eighty-three souls. In the following two years, a considerable number of young men came of their own accord, and Céloron wrote to Montreal to ask for girls to marry them.]


        La Galissonière no longer governed Canada.  He had been honorably recalled, and the Marquis de la Jonquière sent in his stead.[47]  La Jonquière, like his predecessor, was a naval officer of high repute; he was tall and imposing in person, and of undoubted capacity and courage; but old and, according to his enemies, very avaricious.[48]  The Colonial Minister gave him special instructions regarding that thorn in the side of Canada, Oswego.  To attack it openly would be indiscreet, as the two nations were at peace; but there was a way of dealing with it less hazardous, if not more lawful.  This was to attack it vicariously by means of the Iroquois.  “If Abbé Piquet succeeds in his mission,” wrote the Minister to the new Governor, “we can easily persuade these savages to destroy Oswego.  This is of the utmost importance; but act with great caution.”[49]  In the next year the Minister wrote again: “The only means that can be used for such an operation in time of peace are those of the Iroquois.  If by making these savages regard such an establishment [Oswego] as opposed to their liberty, and, so to speak, a usurpation by which the English mean to get possession of their lands, they could be induced to undertake its destruction, an operation of the sort is not to be neglected; but M. le Marquis de la Jonquière should feel with what circumspection such an affair should be conducted, and he should labor to accomplish it in a manner not to commit himself.”[50]  To this La Jonquière replies that it will need time; but that he will gradually bring the Iroquois to attack and destroy the English post.  He received stringent orders to use every means to prevent the English from encroaching, but to act towards them at the same time “with the greatest politeness.”[51]  This last injunction was scarcely fulfilled in a correspondence which he had with Clinton, governor of New York, who had written to complain of the new post at the Niagara portage as an invasion of English territory, and also of the arrest of four English traders in the country of the Miamis.  Niagara, like Oswego, was in the country of the Five Nations, whom the treaty of Utrecht declared “subject to the dominion of Great Britain.”[52]  This declaration, preposterous in itself, was binding on France, whose plenipotentiaries had signed the treaty.  The treaty also provided that the subjects of the two Crowns “shall enjoy full liberty of going and coming on account of trade,” and Clinton therefore demanded that La Jonquière should disavow the arrest of the four traders and punish its authors.  The French Governor replied with great asperity, spurned the claim that the Five Nations were British subjects, and justified the arrest.[53]  He presently went further.  Rewards were offered by his officers for the scalps of Croghan and of another trader named Lowry.[54]  When this reached the ears of William Johnson, on the Mohawk, he wrote to Clinton in evident anxiety for his own scalp: “If the French go on so, there is no man can be safe in his own house; for I can at any time get an Indian to kill any man for a small matter.  Their going on in that manner is worse than open war.”

[Footnote 47: Le Ministre à la Galissonière, 14 Mai, 1749.]

[Footnote 48: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. The charges made here and elsewhere are denied, somewhat faintly, by a descendant of La Jonquière in his elaborate Notice biographique of his ancestor.]

[Footnote 49: Le Ministre à La Jonquière, Mai, 1749. The instructions given to La Jonquière before leaving France also urge the necessity of destroying Oswego.]

[Footnote 50: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres; à MM. de la Jonquière et Bigot, 15 Avril, 1750. See Appendix A for original.]

[Footnote 51: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1750.]

[Footnote 52: Chalmers, Collection of Treaties, I. 382.]

[Footnote 53: La Jonquière à Clinton, 10 Août, 1751.]

[Footnote 54: Deposition of Morris Turner and Ralph Kilgore, in Colonial Records of Pa., V. 482. The deponents had been prisoners at Detroit.]


        The French on their side made counter-accusations.  The captive traders were examined on oath before La Jonquière, and one of them, John Patton, is reported to have said that Croghan had instigated Indians to kill Frenchmen.[55]  French officials declared that other English traders were guilty of the same practices; and there is very little doubt that the charge was true.

[Footnote 55: Précis des Faits, avec leurs Pièces justificatives, 100.]


        The dispute with the English was not the only source of trouble to the Governor.  His superiors at Versailles would not adopt his views, and looked on him with distrust.  He advised the building of forts near Lake Erie, and his advice was rejected.  “Niagara and Detroit,” he was told, “will secure forever our communications with Louisiana.”[56]  “His Majesty,” again wrote the Colonial Minister, “thought that expenses would diminish after the peace; but, on the contrary, they have increased.  There must be great abuses.  You and the Intendant must look to it.”[57]  Great abuses there were; and of the money sent to Canada for the service of the King the larger part found its way into the pockets of peculators.  The colony was eaten to the heart with official corruption; and the centre of it was François Bigot, the intendant.  The Minister directed La Jonquière's attention to certain malpractices which had been reported to him; and the old man, deeply touched, replied: “I have reached the age of sixty-six years, and there is not a drop of blood in my veins that does not thrill for the service of my King.  I will not conceal from you that the slightest suspicion on your part against me would cut the thread of my days.”[58]

[Footnote 56: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1750.]

[Footnote 57: Ibid., 6 Juin, 1751.]

[Footnote 58: La Jonquière au Ministre, 19 Oct. 1751.]


        Perplexities increased; affairs in the West grew worse and worse.  La Jonquière ordered Céloron to attack the English at Pickawillany; and Céloron could not or would not obey.  “I cannot express,” writes the Governor, “how much this business troubles me; it robs me of sleep; it makes me ill.”  Another letter of rebuke presently came from Versailles.  “Last year you wrote that you would soon drive the English from the Ohio; but private letters say that you have done nothing.  This is deplorable.  If not expelled, they will seem to acquire a right against us.  Send force enough at once to drive them off, and cure them of all wish to return.”[59]  La Jonquière answered with bitter complaints against Céloron, and then begged to be recalled.  His health, already shattered, was ruined by fatigue and vexation; and he took to his bed.  Before spring he was near his end.[60]  It is said that, though very rich, his habits of thrift so possessed his last hours that, seeing wax-candles burning in his chamber, he ordered others of tallow to be brought instead, as being good enough to die by.  Thus frugally lighted on its way, his spirit fled; and the Baron de Longueuil took his place till a new governor should arrive.

[Footnote 59: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1751.]

[Footnote 60: He died on the sixth of March, 1752 (Bigot au Ministre, 6 Mai); not on the seventeeth of May, as stated in the Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]


        Sinister tidings came thick from the West.  Raymond, commandant at the French fort on the Maumee, close to the centre of intrigue, wrote: “My people are leaving me for Detroit.  Nobody wants to stay here and have his throat cut.  All the tribes who go to the English at Pickawillany come back loaded with gifts.  I am too weak to meet the danger.  Instead of twenty men, I need five hundred... We have made peace with the English, yet they try continually to make war on us by means of the Indians; they intend to be masters of all this upper country.  The tribes here are leaguing together to kill all the French, that they may have nobody on their lands but their English brothers.  This I am told by Coldfoot, a great Miami chief, whom I think an honest man, if there is any such thing among Indians... If the English stay in this country we are lost.  We must attack, and drive them out.”  And he tells of war-belts sent from tribe to tribe, and rumors of plots and conspiracies far and near.

        Without doubt, the English traders spared no pains to gain over the Indians by fair means or foul; sold them goods at low rates, made ample gifts, and gave gunpowder for the asking.  Saint-Ange, who commanded at Vincennes, wrote that a storm would soon burst on the heads of the French.  Joncaire reported that all the Ohio Indians sided with the English.  Longueuil informed the Minister that the Miamis had scalped two soldiers; that the Piankishaws had killed seven Frenchmen; and that a squaw who had lived with one of the slain declared that the tribes of the Wabash and Illinois were leaguing with the Osages for a combined insurrection.  Every letter brought news of murder.  Small-pox had broken out at Detroit.  “It is to be wished,” says Longueuil, “that it would spread among our rebels; it would be fully as good as an army... We are menaced with a general outbreak, and even Toronto is in danger... Before long the English on the Miami will gain over all the surrounding tribes, get possession of Fort Chartres, and cut our communications with Louisiana.”[61]

[Footnote 61: Dépêches de Longueuil; Lettres de Raymond; Benoit de Saint-Clere à la Jonquière, Oct. 1751.]


        The moving spirit of disaffection was the chief called Old Britain, or the Demoiselle, and its focus was his town of Pickawillany, on the Miami.  At this place it is said that English traders sometimes mustered to the number of fifty or more.  “It is they,” wrote Longueuil, “who are the instigators of revolt and the source of all our woes.”[62]  Whereupon the Colonial Minister reiterated his instructions to drive them off and plunder them, which he thought would “effectually disgust them,” and bring all trouble to an end.[63]

[Footnote 62: Longueuil au Ministre, 21 Avril, 1752.]

[Footnote 63: Le Ministre à la Jonquière, 1752. Le Ministre à Duquesne, 9 Juillet, 1752.]


        La Jonquière's remedy had been more heroic, for he had ordered Céleron to attack the English and their red allies alike; and he charged that officer with arrogance and disobedience because he had not done so.  It is not certain that obedience was easy; for though, besides the garrison of regulars, a strong body of militia was sent up to Detroit to aid the stroke,[64] the Indians of that post, whose co-operation was thought necessary, proved half-hearted, intractable, and even touched with disaffection.  Thus the enterprise languished till, in June, aid came from another quarter.  Charles Langlade, a young French trader married to a squaw at Green Bay, and strong in influence with the tribes of that region, came down the lakes from Michillimackinac with a fleet of canoes manned by two hundred and fifty Ottawa and Ojibwa warriors; stopped a while at Detroit; then embarked again, paddled up the Maumee to Raymond's fort at the portage, and led his greased and painted rabble through the forest to attack the Demoiselle and his English friends.  They approached Pickawillany at about nine o'clock on the morning of the twenty-first.  The scared squaws fled from the cornfields into the town, where the wigwams of the Indians clustered about the fortified warehouse of the traders.  Of these there were at the time only eight in the place.  Most of the Indians also were gone on their summer hunt, though the Demoiselle remained with a band of his tribesmen.  Great was the screeching of war-whoops and clatter of guns.  Three of the traders were caught outside the fort.  The remaining five closed the gate, and stood on their defence.  The fight was soon over.  Fourteen Miamis were shot down, the Demoiselle among the rest.  The five white men held out till the afternoon, when three of them surrendered, and two, Thomas Burney and Andrew McBryer, made their escape.  One of the English prisoners being wounded, the victors stabbed him to death.  Seventy years of missionaries had not weaned them from cannibalism, and they boiled and eat the Demoiselle.[65]

[Footnote 64: La Jonquière à Céleron, 1 Oct. 1751.]

[Footnote 65: On the attack of Pickawillany, Longueuil au Ministre, 18 Août, 1752; Duquesne au Ministre, 25 Oct. 1752; Colonial Records of Pa., V. 599; Journal of William Trent, 1752. Trent was on the spot a few days after the affair.]


        The captive traders, plundered to the skin, were carried by Langlade to Duquesne, the new governor, who highly praised the bold leader of the enterprise, and recommended him to the Minister for such reward as befitted one of his station.  “As he is not in the King's service, and has married a squaw, I will ask for him only a pension of two hundred francs, which will flatter him infinitely.”

        The Marquis Duquesne, sprung from the race of the great naval commander of that name, had arrived towards midsummer; and he began his rule by a general review of troops and militia.  His lofty bearing offended the Canadians; but he compelled their respect, and, according to a writer of the time, showed from the first that he was born to command.  He presently took in hand an enterprise which his predecessor would probably have accomplished, had the Home Government encouraged him.  Duquesne, profiting by the infatuated neglect of the British provincial assemblies, prepared to occupy the upper waters of the Ohio, and secure the passes with forts and garrisons.  Thus the Virginian and Pennsylvanian traders would be debarred all access to the West, and the tribes of that region, bereft henceforth of English guns, knives, hatchets, and blankets, English gifts and English cajoleries, would be thrown back to complete dependence on the French.  The moral influence, too, of such a movement would be incalculable; for the Indian respects nothing so much as a display of vigor and daring, backed by force.  In short, the intended enterprise was a master-stroke, and laid the axe to the very root of disaffection.  It is true that, under the treaty, commissioners had been long in session at Paris to settle the question of American boundaries; but there was no likelihood that they would come to agreement; and if France would make good her Western claims, it behooved her, while there was yet time, to prevent her rival from fastening a firm grasp on the countries in dispute.

        Yet the Colonial Minister regarded the plan with distrust.  “Be on your guard,” he wrote to Duquesne, “against new undertakings; private interests are generally at the bottom of them.  It is through these that new posts are established.  Keep only such as are indispensable, and suppress the others.  The expenses of the colony are enormous; and they have doubled since the peace.”  Again, a little later: “Build on the Ohio such forts as are absolutely necessary, but no more.  Remember that His Majesty suspects your advisers of interested views.”[66]

[Footnote 66: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1753.]


        No doubt there was justice in the suspicion.  Every military movement, and above all the establishment of every new post, was an opportunity to the official thieves with whom the colony swarmed.  Some band of favored knaves grew rich; while a much greater number, excluded from sharing the illicit profits, clamored against the undertaking, and wrote charges of corruption to Versailles.  Thus the Minister was kept tolerably well informed; but was scarcely the less helpless, for with the Atlantic between, the disorders of Canada defied his control.  Duquesne was exasperated by the opposition that met him on all hands, and wrote to the Minister: “There are so many rascals in this country that one is forever the butt of their attacks.”[67]

[Footnote 67: Duquesne au Ministre, 29 Sept. 1754.]


        It seems that unlawful gain was not the only secret spring of the movement.  An officer of repute says that the Intendant, Bigot, enterprising in his pleasures as in his greed, was engaged in an intrigue with the wife of Chevalier Péan; and wishing at once to console the husband and to get rid of him, sought for him a high command at a distance from the colony.  Therefore while Marin, an able officer, was made first in rank, Péan was made second.  The same writer hints that Duquesne himself was influenced by similar motives in his appointment of leaders.[68]

[Footnote 68: Pouchot, Mémoire sur la dernière Guerre de l'Amérique septentrionale (ed. 1781), I. 8.]


        He mustered the colony troops, and ordered out the Canadians.  With the former he was but half satisfied; with the latter he was delighted; and he praises highly their obedience and alacrity.  “I had not the least trouble in getting them to march.  They came on the minute, bringing their own guns, though many people tried to excite them to revolt; for the whole colony opposes my operations.”  The expedition set out early in the spring of 1753.  The whole force was not much above a thousand men, increased by subsequent detachments to fifteen hundred; but to the Indians it seemed a mighty host; and one of their orators declared that the lakes and rivers were covered with boats and soldiers from Montreal to Presquisle.[69]  Some Mohawk hunters by the St. Lawrence saw them as they passed, and hastened home to tell the news to Johnson, whom they wakened at midnight, “whooping and hollowing in a frightful manner.”[70]  Lieutenant Holland at Oswego saw a fleet of canoes upon the lake, and was told by a roving Frenchman that they belonged to an army of six thousand men going to the Ohio, “to cause all the English to quit those parts.”[71]

[Footnote 69: Duquesne au Ministre, 27 Oct. 1753.]

[Footnote 70: Johnson to Clinton, 20 April, 1753, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 778.]

[Footnote 71: Holland to Clinton, 15 May, 1753, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 780.]


        The main body of the expedition landed at Presquisle, on the southeastern shore of Lake Erie, where the town of Erie now stands; and here for a while we leave them.

Table of Contents



Chapter 4

1710-1754


Conflict for Acadia


        While in the West all the signs of the sky foreboded storm, another tempest was gathering the East, less in extent, but not less in peril.  The conflict in Acadia has a melancholy interest, since it ended in a castastrophe which prose and verse have joined to commemorate, but of which the causes have not been understood.

        Acadia—that it to say, the peninsula of Nova Scotia, with the addition, as the English claimed, of the present New Brunswick and some adjacent country—was conquered by General Nicholson in 1710, and formally transferred by France to the British Crown, three years later, by the treaty of Utrecht.  By that treaty it was “expressly provided” that such of the French inhabitants as “are willing to remain there and to be subject to the Kingdom of Great Britain, are to enjoy the free exercise of their religion according to the usage of the Church of Rome, as far as the laws of Great Britain do allow the same”; but that any who choose may remove, with their effects, if they do so within a year.  Very few availed themselves of this right; and after the end of the year those who remained were required to take an oath of allegiance to King George.  There is no doubt that in a little time they would have complied, had they been let alone; but the French authorities of Canada and Cape Breton did their utmost to prevent them, and employed agents to keep them hostile to England.  Of these the most efficient were the French priests, who, in spite of the treaty, persuaded their flocks that they were still subjects of King Louis.  Hence rose endless perplexity to the English commanders at Annapolis, who more than suspected that the Indian attacks with which they were harassed were due mainly to French instigation.[72]  It was not till seventeen years after the treaty that the Acadians could be brought to take the oath without qualifications which made it almost useless.  The English authorities seem to have shown throughout an unusual patience and forbearance.  At length, about 1730, nearly all the inhabitants signed by crosses, since few of them could write, an oath recognizing George II as sovereign of Acadia, and promising fidelity and obedience to him.[73]  This restored comparative quiet till the war of 1745, when some of the Acadians remained neutral, while some took arms against the English, and many others aided the enemy with information and supplies.

[Footnote 72: See the numerous papers in Selections from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia (Halifax, 1869), pp. 1-165; a Government publication of great value.]

[Footnote 73: The oath was literatim as follows: “Je Promets et Jure Sincerement en Foi de Chrétien que Je serai entierement Fidele, et Obeierai Vraiment Sa Majesté Le Roy George Second, qui (sic) Je reconnoi pour Le Souvrain Seigneur de l'Accadie ou Nouvelle Ecosse. Ainsi Dieu me Soit en Aide.”]


        English power in Acadia, hitherto limited to a feeble garrison at Annapolis and a feebler one at Canseau, received at this time a great accession.  The fortress of Louisbourg, taken by the English during the war, had been restored by the treaty; and the French at once prepared to make it a military and naval station more formidable than ever.  Upon this the British Ministry resolved to establish another station as a counterpoise; and the harbor of Chebucto, on the south coast of Acadia, was chosen as the site of it.  Thither in June, 1749, came a fleet of transports loaded with emigrants, tempted by offers of land and a home in the New World.  Some were mechanics, tradesmen, farmers, and laborers; others were sailors, soldiers, and subaltern officers thrown out of employment by the peace.  Including women and children, they counted in all about twenty-five hundred.  Alone of all the British colonies on the continent, this new settlement was the offspring, not of private enterprise, but of royal authority.  Yet it was free like the rest, with the same popular representation and local self-government.  Edward Cornwallis, uncle of Lord Cornwallis of the Revolutionary War, was made governor and commander-in-chief.  Wolfe calls him “a man of approved courage and fidelity”; and even the caustic Horace Walpole speaks of him as “a brave, sensible young man, of great temper and good nature.”

        Before summer was over, the streets were laid out, and the building-lot of each settler was assigned to him; before winter closed, the whole were under shelter, the village was fenced with palisades and defended by redoubts of timber, and the battalions lately in garrison at Louisbourg manned the wooden ramparts.  Succeeding years brought more emigrants, and in 1752 the population was above four thousand.  Thus was born into the world the city of Halifax.  Along with the crumbling old fort and miserably disciplined garrison at Annapolis, besides six or seven small detached posts to watch the Indians and Acadians, it comprised the whole British force on the peninsula; for Canseau had been destroyed by the French.

        The French had never reconciled themselves to the loss of Acadia, and were resolved, by diplomacy or force, to win it back again; but the building of Halifax showed that this was to be no easy task, and filled them at the same time with alarm for the safety of Louisbourg.  On one point, at least, they saw their policy clear.  The Acadians, though those of them who were not above thirty-five had been born under the British flag, must be kept French at heart, and taught that they were still French subjects.  In 1748 they numbered eighty-eight hundred and fifty communicants, or from twelve to thirteen thousand souls; but an emigration, of which the causes will soon appear, had reduced them in 1752 to but little more than nine thousand.[74]  These were divided into six principal parishes, one of the largest being that of Annapolis.  Other centres of population were Grand Pré, on the basin of Mines; Beaubassin, at the head of Chignecto Bay; Pisiquid, now Windsor; and Cobequid, now Truro.  Their priests, who were missionaries controlled by the diocese of Quebec, acted also as their magistrates, ruling them for this world and the next.  Bring subject to a French superior, and being, moreover, wholly French at heart, they formed in this British province a wheel within a wheel, the inner movement always opposing the outer.

[Footnote 74: Description de l'Acadie, avec le Nom des Paroisses et le Nombre des Habitants, 1748. Mémoire à présenter à la Cour sur la necessité de fixer les Limites de l'Acadie, par l'Abbé de l'Isle-Dieu, 1753 (1754?). Compare the estimates in Censuses of Canada (Ottawa, 1876.)]


        Although, by the twelfth article of the treaty of Utrecht, France had solemnly declared the Acadians to be British subjects, the Government of Louis XV intrigued continually to turn them from subjects into enemies.  Before me is a mass of English documents on Acadian affairs from the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle to the catastrophe of 1755, and above a thousand pages of French official papers from the archives of Paris, memorials, reports, and secret correspondence, relating to the same matters.  With the help of these and some collateral lights, it is not difficult to make a correct diagnosis of the political disease that ravaged this miserable country.  Of a multitude of proofs, only a few can be given here; but these will suffice.

        It was not that the Acadians had been ill-used by the English; the reverse was the case.  They had been left in free exercise of their worship, as stipulated by treaty.  It is true that, from time to time, there were loud complaints from French officials that religion was in danger, because certain priests had been rebuked, arrested, brought before the Council at Halifax, suspended from their functions, or required, on pain of banishment, to swear that they would do nothing against the interests of King George.  Yet such action on the part of the provincial authorities seems, without a single exception, to have been the consequence of misconduct on the part of the priest, in opposing the Government and stirring his flock to disaffection.  La Jonquière, the determined adversary of the English, reported to the bishop that they did not oppose the ecclesiastics in the exercise of their functions, and an order of Louis XV admits that the Acadians have enjoyed liberty of religion.[75]  In a long document addressed in 1750 to the Colonial Minister at Versailles, Roma, an officer at Louisbourg, testifies thus to the mildness of British rule, though he ascribes it to interested motives.  “The fear that the Acadians have of the Indians is the controlling motive which makes them side with the French.  The English, having in view the conquest of Canada, wished to give the French of that colony, in their conduct towards the Acadians, a striking example of the mildness of their government.  Without raising the fortune of any of the inhabitants, they have supplied them for more than thirty-five years with the necessaries of life, often on credit and with an excess of confidence, without troubling their debtors, without pressing them, without wishing to force them to pay.  They have left them an appearance of liberty so excessive that they have not intervened in their disputes or even punished their crimes.  They have allowed them to refuse with insolence certain moderate rents payable in grain and lawfully due.  They have passed over in silence the contemptuous refusal of the Acadians to take titles from them for the new lands which they chose to occupy.”[76]

[Footnote 75: La Jonquière à Évêque de Québec, 14 Juin, 1750. Mémoire du Roy pour servir d'Instruction au Comte de Raymond, commandant pour Sa Majesté à l'Isle Royale [Cape Breton], 24 Avril, 1751.]

[Footnote 76: See Appendix B.]


        “We know very well,” pursues Roma, “the fruits of this conduct in the last war; and the English know it also.  Judge then what will be the wrath and vengeance of this cruel nation.”  The fruits to which Roma alludes were the hostilities, open or secret, committed by the Acadians against the English.  He now ventures the prediction that the enraged conquerors will take their revenge by drafting all the young Acadians on board their ships of war, and there destroying them by slow starvation.  He proved, however, a false prophet.  The English Governor merely required the inhabitants to renew their oath of allegiance, without qualification or evasion.

        It was twenty years since the Acadians had taken such an oath; and meanwhile a new generation had grown up.  The old oath pledged them to fidelity and obedience; but they averred that Phillips, then governor of the province, had given them, at the same time, assurance that they should not be required to bear arms against either French or Indians.  In fact, such service had not been demanded of them, and they would have lived in virtual neutrality, had not many of them broken their oaths and joined the French war-parties.  For this reason Cornwallis thought it necessary that, in renewing the pledge, they should bind themselves to an allegiance as complete as that required of other British subjects.  This spread general consternation.  Deputies from the Acadian settlements appeared at Halifax, bringing a paper signed with the marks of a thousand persons.  The following passage contains the pith of it.  “The inhabitants in general, sir, over the whole extent of this country are resolved not to take the oath which your Excellency requires of us; but if your Excellency will grant us our old oath, with an exemption for ourselves and our heirs from taking up arms, we will accept it.”[77]  The answer of Cornwallis was by no means so stern as it has been represented.[78]  After the formal reception he talked in private with the deputies; and “they went home in good humor, promising great things.”[79]

[Footnote 77: Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 173.]

[Footnote 78: See Ibid., 174, where the answer is printed.]

[Footnote 79: Cornwallis to the Board of Trade, 11 Sept. 1749.]


        The refusal of the Acadians to take the required oath was not wholly spontaneous, but was mainly due to influence from without.  The French officials of Cape Breton and Isle St. Jean, now Prince Edward Island, exerted themselves to the utmost, chiefly through the agency of the priests, to excite the people to refuse any oath that should commit them fully to British allegiance.  At the same time means were used to induce them to migrate to the neighboring islands under French rule, and efforts were also made to set on the Indians to attack the English.  But the plans of the French will best appear in a despatch sent by La Jonquière to the Colonial Minister in the autumn of 1749.

        “Monsieur Cornwallis issued an order on the tenth of the said month [August], to the effect that if the inhabitants will remain faithful subjects of the King of Great Britain, he will allow them priests and public exercise of their religion, with the understanding that no priest shall officiate without his permission or before taking an oath of fidelity to the King of Great Britain.  Secondly, that the inhabitants shall not be exempted from defending their houses, their lands, and the Government.  Thirdly, that they shall take an oath of fidelity to the King of Great Britain, on the twenty-sixth of this month, before officers sent them for that purpose.”

        La Jonquière proceeds to say that on hearing these conditions the Acadians were filled with perplexity and alarm, and that he, the governor, had directed Boishébert, his chief officer on the Acadian frontier, to encourage them to leave their homes and seek asylum on French soil.  He thus recounts the steps he has taken to harass the English of Halifax by means of their Indian neighbors.  As peace had been declared, the operation was delicate; and when three of these Indians came to him from their missionary, Le Loutre, with letters on the subject, La Jonquière was discreetly reticent.  “I did not care to give them any advice upon the matter, and confined myself to a promise that I would on no account abandon them; and I have provided for supplying them with everything, whether arms, ammunition, food, or other necessaries.  It is to be desired that these savages should succeed in thwarting the designs of the English, and even their settlement at Halifax.  They are bent on doing so; and if they can carry out their plans, it is certain that they will give the English great trouble, and so harass them that they will be a great obstacle in their path.  These savages are to act alone; neither soldier nor French inhabitant is to join them; everything will be done of their own motion, and without showing that I had any knowledge of the matter.  This is very essential; therefore I have written to the Sieur de Boishébert to observe great prudence in his measures, and to act very secretly, in order that the English may not perceive that we are providing for the needs of the said savages.”

        “It will be the missionaries who will manage all the negotiation, and direct the movements of the savages, who are in excellent hands, as the Reverend Father Germain and Monsieur l'Abbé Le Loutre are very capable of making the most of them, and using them to the greatest advantage for our interests.  They will manage their intrigue in such a way as not to appear in it.”

        La Jonquière then recounts the good results which he expects from these measures: first, the English will be prevented from making any new settlements; secondly, we shall gradually get the Acadians out of their hands; and lastly, they will be so discouraged by constant Indian attacks that they will renounce their pretensions to the parts of the country belonging to the King of France.  “I feel, Monseigneur,”—thus the Governor concludes his despatch,—“all the delicacy of this negotiation; be assured that I will conduct it with such precaution that the English will not be able to say that my orders had any part in it.”[80]

[Footnote 80: La Jonquière au Ministre, 9 Oct. 1749. See Appendix B.]


        He kept his word, and so did the missionaries.  The Indians gave great trouble on the outskirts of Halifax, and murdered many harmless settlers; yet the English authorities did not at first suspect that they were hounded on by their priests, under the direction of the Governor of Canada, and with the privity of the Minister at Versailles.  More than this; for, looking across the sea, we find royalty itself lending its august countenance to the machination.  Among the letters read before the King in his cabinet in May, 1750, was one from Desherbiers, then commanding at Louisbourg, saying that he was advising the Acadians not to take the oath of allegiance to the King of England; another from Le Loutre, declaring that he and Father Germain were consulting together how to disgust the English with their enterprise of Halifax; and a third from the Intendant, Bigot, announcing that Le Loutre was using the Indians to harass the new settlement, and that he himself was sending them powder, lead, and merchandise, “to confirm them in their good designs.”[81]

[Footnote 81: Resumé des Lettres lues au Travail du Roy, Mai, 1750.]


        To this the Minister replies in a letter to Desherbiers: “His Majesty is well satisfied with all you have done to thwart the English in their new establishment.  If the dispositions of the savages are such as they seem, there is reason to hope that in the course of the winter they will succeed in so harassing the settlers that some of them will become disheartened.”  Desherbiers is then told that His Majesty desires him to aid English deserters in escaping from Halifax.[82]  Supplies for the Indians are also promised; and he is informed that twelve medals are sent him by the frigate “La Mutine,” to be given to the chiefs who shall most distinguish themselves.  In another letter Desherbiers is enjoined to treat the English authorities with great politeness.[83]

[Footnote 82: in 1750 nine captured deserters from Phillips's regiment declared on their trial that the French had aided them and supplied them all with money. Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 193.]

[Footnote 83: Le Ministre à Desherbiers, 23 Mai, 1750; Ibid., 31 Mai, 1750.]


        When Count Raymond took command at Louisbourg, he was instructed, under the royal hand, to give particular attention to the affairs of Acadia, especially in two points,—the management of the Indians, and the encouraging of Acadian emigration to countries under French rule.  “His Majesty,” says the document, “has already remarked that the savages have been most favorably disposed.  It is of the utmost importance that no means be neglected to keep them so.  The missionaries among them are in a better position than anybody to contribute to this end, and His Majesty has reason to be satisfied with the pains they take therein.  The Sieur de Raymond will excite these missionaries not to slacken their efforts; but he will warn them at the same time so to contain their zeal as not to compromise themselves with the English, and give just occasion of complaint.”[84]  That is, the King orders his representative to encourage the missionaries in instigating their flocks to butcher English settlers, but to see that they take care not to be found out.  The injunction was hardly needed.  “Monsieur Desherbiers,” says a letter of earlier date, “has engaged Abbé Le Loutre to distribute the usual presents among the savages, and Monsieur Bigot has placed in his hands an additional gift of cloth, blankets, powder, and ball, to be given them in case they harass the English at Halifax.  This missionary is to induce them to do so.”[85]  In spite of these efforts, the Indians began to relent in their hostilities; and when Longueuil became provisional governor of Canada, he complained to the Minister that it was very difficult to prevent them from making peace with the English, though Father Germain was doing his best to keep them on the war-path.[86]  La Jonquière, too, had done his best, even to the point of departing from his original policy of allowing no soldier or Acadian to take part with them.  He had sent a body of troops under La Corne, an able partisan officer, to watch the English frontier; and in the same vessel was sent a supply of “merchandise, guns, and munitions for the savages and the Acadians who may take up arms with them; and the whole is sent under pretext of trading in furs with the savages.”[87]  On another occasion La Jonquière wrote: “In order that the savages may do their part courageously, a few Acadians, dressed and painted in their way, could join them to strike the English.  I cannot help consenting to what these savages do, because we have our hands tied [by the peace], and so can do nothing ourselves.  Besides, I do not think that any inconvenience will come of letting the Acadians mingle among them, because if they [the Acadians] are captured, we shall say that they acted of their own accord.”[88]  In other words, he will encourage them to break the peace; and then, by means of a falsehood, have them punished as felons.  Many disguised Acadians did in fact join the Indian war-parties; and their doing so was no secret to the English.  “What we call here an Indian war,” wrote Hopson, successor of Cornwallis, “is no other than a pretence for the French to commit hostilities on His Majesty's subjects.”

[Footnote 84: Mémoire du Roy pour servir d'Instruction au Comte de Raymond, 24 Avril, 1751.]

[Footnote 85: Lettre commune de Desherbiers et Bigot au Ministre, 15 Août, 1749.]

[Footnote 86: Longueuil au Ministre, 26 Avril, 1752.]

[Footnote 87: Bigot au Ministre, 1749.]

[Footnote 88: Dépêches de la Jonquière, 1 Mai, 1751. See Appendix B.]


        At length the Indians made peace, or pretended to do so.  The chief of Le Loutre's mission, who called himself Major Jean-Baptiste Cope, came to Halifax with a deputation of his tribe, and they all affixed their totems to a solemn treaty.  In the next summer they returned with ninety or a hundred warriors, were well entertained, presented with gifts, and sent homeward in a schooner.  On the way they seized the vessel and murdered the crew.  This is told by Prévost, intendant at Louisbourg, who does not say that French instigation had any part in the treachery.[89]  It is nevertheless certain that the Indians were paid for this or some contemporary murder; for Prévost, writing just four weeks later, says: “Last month the savages took eighteen English scalps, and Monsieur Le Loutre was obliged to pay them eighteen hundred livres, Acadian money, which I have reimbursed him.”[90]

[Footnote 89: Prévost au Ministre, 12 Mars, 1753; Ibid., 17 July, 1753. Prévost was ordonnateur, or intendant, at Louisbourg. The treaty will be found in full in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 683.]

[Footnote 90: Prévost au Ministre, 16 Août, 1753.]


        From the first, the services of this zealous missionary had been beyond price.  Prévost testifies that, though Cornwallis does his best to induce the Acadians to swear fidelity to King George, Le Loutre keeps them in allegiance to King Louis, and threatens to set his Indians upon them unless they declare against the English.  “I have already,” adds Prévost, “paid him 11,183 livres for his daily expenses; and I never cease advising him to be as economical as possible, and always to take care not to compromise himself with the English Government.”[91]  In consequence of “good service to religion and the state,” Le Loutre received a pension of eight hundred livres, as did also Maillard, his brother missionary on Cape Breton.  “The fear is,” writes the Colonial Minister to the Governor of Louisbourg, “that their zeal may carry them too far.  Excite them to keep the Indians in our interests, but do not let them compromise us.  Act always so as to make the English appear as aggressors.”[92]

[Footnote 91: Ibid., 22 Juillet, 1750.]

[Footnote 92: Le Ministre au Comte de Raymond, 21 Juillet, 1752. It is curious to compare these secret instructions, given by the Minister to the colonial officials, with a letter which the same Minister, Rouillé, wrote ostensibly to La Jonquière, but which was really meant for the eye of the British Minister at Versailles, Lord Albemarle, to whom it was shown in proof of French good faith. It was afterwards printed, along with other papers, in a small volume called Précis des Faits, avec Pièces justificatives which was sent by the French Government to all the courts of Europe to show that the English alone were answerable for the war. The letter, it is needless to say, breathes the highest sentiments of international honor.]


        All the Acadian clergy, in one degree or another, seem to have used their influence to prevent the inhabitants from taking the oath, and to persuade them that they were still French subjects.  Some were noisy, turbulent, and defiant; others were too tranquil to please the officers of the Crown.  A missionary at Annapolis is mentioned as old, and therefore inefficient; while the curé at Grand Pré, also an elderly man, was too much inclined to confine himself to his spiritual functions.  It is everywhere apparent that those who chose these priests, and sent them as missionaries into a British province, expected them to act as enemies of the British Crown.  The maxim is often repeated that duty to religion is inseparable from the duty to the King of France.  The Bishop of Quebec desired the Abbé de l'Isle-Dieu to represent to the court the need of more missionaries to keep the Acadians Catholic and French; but, he adds, there is danger that they (the missionaries) will be required to take an oath to do nothing contrary to the interests of the King of Great Britain.[93]  It is a wonder that such a pledge was not always demanded.  It was exacted in a few cases, notably in that of Girard, priest at Cobequid, who, on charges of instigating his flock to disaffection, had been sent prisoner to Halifax, but released on taking an oath in the above terms.  Thereupon he wrote to Longueuil at Quebec that his parishioners wanted to submit to the English, and that he, having sworn to be true to the British King, could not prevent them.  “Though I don't pretend to be a casuist,” writes Longueuil, “I could not help answering him that he is not obliged to keep such an oath, and that he ought to labor in all zeal to preserve and increase the number of the faithful.”  Girard, to his credit, preferred to leave the colony, and retired to Isle St. Jean.[94]

[Footnote 93: L'Isle-Dieu, Mémoire sur l'État actuel des Missions, 1753 (1754?).]

[Footnote 94: Longueuil au Ministre, 27 Avril, 1752.]


        Cornwallis soon discovered to what extent the clergy stirred their flocks to revolt; and he wrote angrily to the Bishop of Quebec: “Was it you who sent Le Loutre as a missionary to the Micmacs?  and is it for their good that he excites these wretches to practise their cruelties against those who have shown them every kindness?  The conduct of the priests of Acadia has been such that by command of his Majesty I have published an Order declaring that if any one of them presumes to exercise his functions without my express permission he shall be dealt with according to the laws of England.”[95]

[Footnote 95: Cornwallis to the Bishop of Quebec, 1 Dec. 1749.]


        The English, bound by treaty to allow the Acadians the exercise of their religion, at length conceived the idea of replacing the French priests by others to be named by the Pope at the request of the British Government.  This, becoming known to the French, greatly alarmed them, and the Intendant at Louisbourg wrote to the Minister that the matter required serious attention.[96]  It threatened, in fact, to rob them of their chief agents of intrigue; but their alarm proved needless, as the plan was not carried into execution.

[Footnote 96: Daudin, prêtre, à Prévost, 23 Oct. 1753. Prévost au Ministre, 24 Nov. 1753.]


        The French officials would have been better pleased had the conduct of Cornwallis been such as to aid their efforts to alienate the Acadians; and one writer, while confessing the “favorable treatment” of the English towards the inhabitants, denounces it as a snare.[97]  If so, it was a snare intended simply to reconcile them to English rule.  Nor was it without effect.  “We must give up altogether the idea of an insurrection in Acadia,” writes an officer of Cape Breton.  “The Acadians cannot be trusted; they are controlled by fear of the Indians, which leads them to breathe French sentiments, even when their inclinations are English.  They will yield to their interests; and the English will make it impossible that they should either hurt them or serve us, unless we take measures different from those we have hitherto pursued.”[98]

[Footnote 97: Mémoire à présenter à la Cour, 1753.]

[Footnote 98: Roma au Ministre, 11 Mars, 1750.]


        During all this time, constant efforts were made to stimulate Acadian emigration to French territory, and thus to strengthen the French frontier.  In this work the chief agent was Le Loutre.  “This priest,” says a French writer of the time, “urged the people of Les Mines, Port Royal [Annapolis], and other places, to come and join the French, and promised to all, in the name of the Governor, to settle and support them for three years, and even indemnify them for any losses they might incur; threatening if they did not do as he advised, to abandon them, deprive them of their priests, have their wives and children carried off, and their property laid waste by the Indians.”[99]  Some passed over the isthmus to the shores of the gulf, and others made their way to the Strait of Canseau.  Vessels were provided to convey them, in the one case to Isle St. Jean, now Prince Edward Island, and in the other to Isle Royale, called by the English, Cape Breton.  Some were eager to go; some went with reluctance; some would scarcely be persuaded to go at all.  “They leave their homes with great regret,” reports the Governor of Isle St. Jean, speaking of the people of Cobequid, “and they began to move their luggage only when the savages compelled them.”[100]  These savages were the flock of Abbé Le Loutre, who was on the spot to direct the emigration.  Two thousand Acadians are reported to have left the peninsula before the end of 1751, and many more followed within the next two years.  Nothing could exceed the misery of a great part of these emigrants, who had left perforce most of their effects behind.  They became disheartened and apathetic.  The Intendant at Louisbourg says that they will not take the trouble to clear the land, and that some of them live, like Indians, under huts of spruce-branches.[101]  The Governor of Isle St. Jean declares that they are dying of hunger.[102]  Girard, the priest who had withdrawn to this island rather than break his oath to the English, writes: “Many of them cannot protect themselves day or night from the severity of the cold.  Most of the children are entirely naked; and when I go into a house they are all crouched in the ashes, close to the fire.  They run off and hide themselves, without shoes, stockings, or shirts.  They are not all reduced to this extremity but nearly all are in want.”[103]  Mortality among them was great, and would have been greater but for rations supplied by the French Government.

[Footnote 99: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]

[Footnote 100: Bonaventure à Desherbiers, 26 Juin, 1751.]

[Footnote 101: Prévost au Ministre, 25 Nov. 1750.]

[Footnote 102: Bonaventure, ut supra.]

[Footnote 103: Girard à (Bonaventure?), 27 Oct. 1753.]


        During these proceedings, the English Governor, Cornwallis, seems to have justified the character of good temper given him by Horace Walpole.  His attitude towards the Acadians remained on the whole patient and conciliatory.  “My friends,” he replied to a deputation of them asking a general permission to leave the province, “I am not ignorant of the fact that every means has been used to alienate the hearts of the French subjects of His Britannic Majesty.  Great advantages have been promised you elsewhere, and you have been made to imagine that your religion was in danger.  Threats even have been resorted to in order to induce you to remove to French territory.  The savages are made use of to molest you; they are to cut the throats of all who remain in their native country, attached to their own interests and faithful to the Government.  You know that certain officers and missionaries, who came from Canada last autumn, have been the cause of all our trouble during the winter.  Their conduct has been horrible, without honor, probity, or conscience.  Their aim is to embroil you with the Government.  I will not believe that they are authorized to do so by the Court of France, that being contrary to good faith and the friendship established between the two Crowns.”

        What foundation there was for this amiable confidence in the Court of Versailles has been seen already.  “When you declared your desire to submit yourselves to another Government,” pursues Cornwallis, “our determination was to hinder nobody from following what he imagined to be his interest.  We know that a forced service is worth nothing, and that a subject compelled to be so against his will is not far from being an enemy.  We confess, however, that your determination to go gives us pain.  We are aware of your industry and temperance, and that you are not addicted to any vice or debauchery.  This province is your country.  You and your fathers have cultivated it; naturally you ought yourselves to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Such was the design of the King, our master.  You know that we have followed his orders.  You know that we have done everything to secure to you not only the occupation of your lands, but the ownership of them forever.  We have given you also every possible assurance of the free and public exercise of the Roman Catholic religion.  But I declare to you frankly that, according to our laws, nobody can possess lands or houses in the province who shall refuse to take the oath of allegiance to his King when required to do so.  You know very well that there are ill-disposed and mischievous persons among you who corrupt the others.  Your inexperience, your ignorance of the affairs of government, and your habit of following the counsels of those who have not your real interests at heart, make it an easy matter to seduce you.  In your petitions you ask for a general leave to quit the province.  The only manner in which you can do so is to follow the regulations already established, and provide yourselves with our passport.  And we declare that nothing shall prevent us from giving such passports to all who ask for them, the moment peace and tranquillity are re-established.”[104]  He declares as his reason for not giving them at once, that on crossing the frontier “you will have to pass the French detachments and savages assembled there, and that they compel all the inhabitants who go there to take up arms” against the English.  How well this reason was founded will soon appear.

[Footnote 104: The above passages are from two address of Cornwallis, read to the Acadian deputies in April and May, 1750. The combined extracts here given convey the spirit of the whole. See Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 185-190.]


        Hopson, the next governor, described by the French themselves as a “mild and peaceable officer,” was no less considerate in his treatment of the Acadians; and at the end of 1752 he issued the following order to his military subordinates: “You are to look on the French inhabitants in the same light as the rest of His Majesty's subjects, as to the protection of the laws and government; for which reason nothing is to be taken from them by force, or any price set upon their goods but what they themselves agree to.  And if at any time the inhabitants should obstinately refuse to comply with what His Majesty's service may require of them, you are not to redress yourself by military force or in any unlawful manner, but to lay the case before the Governor and wait his orders thereon.”[105]  Unfortunately, the mild rule of Cornwallis and Hopson was not always maintained under their successor, Lawrence.

[Footnote 105: Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 197.]


        Louis Joseph Le Loutre, vicar-general of Acadia and missionary to the Micmacs, was the most conspicuous person in the province, and more than any other man was answerable for the miseries that overwhelmed it.  The sheep of which he was the shepherd dwelt, at a day's journey from Halifax, by the banks of the River Shubenacadie, in small cabins of logs, mixed with wigwams of birch-bark.  They were not a docile flock; and to manage them needed address, energy, and money,—with all of which the missionary was provided.  He fed their traditional dislike of the English, and fanned their fanaticism, born of the villanous counterfeit of Christianity which he and his predecessors had imposed on them.  Thus he contrived to use them on the one hand to murder the English, and on the other to terrify the Acadians; yet not without cost to the French Government; for they had learned the value of money, and, except when their blood was up, were slow to take scalps without pay.  Le Loutre was a man of boundless egotism, a violent spirit of domination, an intense hatred of the English, and a fanaticism that stopped at nothing.  Towards the Acadians he was a despot; and this simple and superstitious people, extremely susceptible to the influence of their priests, trembled before him.  He was scarcely less masterful in his dealings with the Acadian clergy; and, aided by his quality of the Bishop's vicar-general, he dragooned even the unwilling into aiding his schemes.  Three successive governors of New France thought him invaluable, yet feared the impetuosity of his zeal, and vainly tried to restrain it within safe bounds.  The bishop, while approving his objects, thought his medicines too violent, and asked in a tone of reproof: “Is it right for you to refuse the Acadians the sacraments, to threaten that they shall be deprived of the services of a priest, and that the savages shall treat them as enemies?”[106]  “Nobody,” says a French Catholic contemporary, “was more fit than he to carry discord and desolation into a country.”[107]  Cornwallis called him “a good-for-nothing scoundrel,” and offered a hundred pounds for his head.[108]

[Footnote 106: L'Évêque de Québec à Le Loutre; translation in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 240.]

[Footnote 107: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]

[Footnote 108: On Le Loutre, compare Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 178-180, note, with authorities there cited; N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 11; Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760 (Quebec, 1838).]


        The authorities at Halifax, while exasperated by the perfidy practised on them, were themselves not always models of international virtue.  They seized a French vessel in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on the charge—probably true—that she was carrying arms and ammunition to the Acadians and Indians.  A less defensible act was the capture of the armed brig “St. François,” laden with supplies for a fort lately re-established by the French, at the mouth of the River St. John, on ground claimed by both nations.  Captain Rous, a New England officer commanding a frigate in the Royal Navy, opened fire on the “St. François,” took her after a short cannonade, and carried her into Halifax, where she was condemned by the court.  Several captures of small craft, accused of illegal acts, were also made by the English.  These proceedings, being all of an overt nature, gave the officers of Louis XV precisely what they wanted,—an occasion for uttering loud complaints, and denouncing the English as breakers of the peace.

        But the movement most alarming to the French was the English occupation of Beaubassin,—an act perfectly lawful in itself, since, without reasonable doubt, the place was within the limits of Acadia, and therefore on English ground.[109]  Beaubassin was a considerable settlement on the isthmus that joins the Acadian peninsula to the mainland.  Northwest of the settlement lay a wide marsh, through which ran a stream called the Missaguash, some two miles beyond which rose a hill called Beauséjour.  On and near this hill were stationed the troops and Canadians sent under Boishébert and La Corne to watch the English frontier.  This French force excited disaffection among the Acadians through all the neighboring districts, and constantly helped them to emigrate.  Cornwallis therefore resolved to send an English force to the spot; and accordingly, towards the end of April, 1750, Major Lawrence landed at Beaubassin with four hundred men.  News of their approach had come before them, and Le Loutre was here with his Micmacs, mixed with some Acadians whom he had persuaded or bullied to join him.  Resolved that the people of Beaubassin should not live under English influence, he now with his own hand set fire to the parish church, while his white and red adherents burned the houses of the inhabitants, and thus compelled them to cross to the French side of the river.[110]  This was the first forcible removal of the Acadians.  It was as premature as it was violent; since Lawrence, being threatened by La Corne, whose force was several times greater than his own, presently reimbarked.  In the following September he returned with seventeen small vessels and about seven hundred men, and again attempted to land on the strand of Beaubassin.  La Jonquière says that he could only be resisted indirectly, because he was on the English side of the river.  This indirect resistance was undertaken by Le Loutre, who had thrown up a breastwork along the shore and manned it with his Indians and his painted and be-feathered Acadians.  Nevertheless the English landed, and, with some loss, drove out the defenders.  Le Loutre himself seems not to have been among them; but they kept up for a time a helter-skelter fight, encouraged by two other missionaries, Germain and Lalerne, who were near being caught by the English.[111]  Lawrence quickly routed them, took possession of the cemetery, and prepared to fortify himself.  The village of Beaubassin, consisting, it is said, of a hundred and forty houses, had been burned in the spring; but there were still in the neighborhood, on the English side, many hamlets and farms, with barns full of grain and hay.  Le Loutre's Indians now threatened to plunder and kill the inhabitants if they did not take arms against the English.  Few complied, and the greater part fled to the woods.[112]  On this the Indians and their Acadian allies set the houses and barns on fire, and laid waste the whole district, leaving the inhabitants no choice but to seek food and shelter with the French.[113]

[Footnote 109: La Jonquière himself admits that he thought so. “Cette partie là étant, à ce que je crois, dépendante de l'Acadie.”  La Jonquière au Ministre, 3 Oct. 1750.]

[Footnote 110: It has been erroneously stated that Beaubassin was burned by its own inhabitants. “Laloutre, ayant vu que les Acadiens ne paroissoient pas fort pressés d'abandonner leurs biens, avoit lui-même mis le feu á l'Église, et l'avoit fait mettre aux maisons des habitants par quelques-uns de ceux qu'il avoit gagnés,” etc. Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. “Les sauvages y mirent le feu.”  Précis des Faits, 85. “Les sauvages mirent le feu aux maisons.”  Prévost au Ministre, 22 Juillet, 1750.]

[Footnote 111: La Vallière, Journal de ce qui s'est passé à Chenitou [Chignecto]  et autres parties des Frontières de l'Acadie, 1750-1751. La Vallière was an officer on the spot.]

[Footnote 112: Prévost au Ministre, 27 Sept. 1750.]

[Footnote 113: “Les sauvages et Accadiens mirent le feu dans toutes les maisons et granges, pleines de bled et de fourrages, ce qui a causé une grande disette.”  La Vallière, ut supra.]


        The English fortified themselves on a low hill by the edge of the marsh, planted palisades, built barracks, and named the new work Fort Lawrence.  Slight skirmishes between them and the French were frequent.  Neither party respected the dividing line of the Missaguash, and a petty warfare of aggression and reprisal began, and became chronic.  Before the end of the autumn there was an atrocious act of treachery.  Among the English officers was Captain Edward Howe, an intelligent and agreeable person, who spoke French fluently, and had been long stationed in the province.  Le Loutre detested him; dreading his influence over the Acadians, by many of whom he was known and liked.  One morning, at about eight o'clock, the inmates of Fort Lawrence saw what seemed an officer from Beauséjour, carrying a flag, and followed by several men in uniform, wading through the sea of grass that stretched beyond the Missaguash.  When the tide was out, this river was but an ugly trench of reddish mud gashed across the face of the marsh, with a thread of half-fluid slime lazily crawling along the bottom; but at high tide it was filled to the brim with an opaque torrent that would have overflowed, but for the dikes thrown up to confine it.  Behind the dike on the farther bank stood the seeming officer, waving his flag in sign that he desired a parley.  He was in reality no officer, but one of Le Loutre's Indians in disguise, Etienne Le Bâtard, or, as others say, the great chief, Jean-Baptiste Cope.  Howe, carrying a white flag, and accompanied by a few officers and men, went towards the river to hear what he had to say.  As they drew near, his looks and language excited their suspicion.  But it was too late; for a number of Indians, who had hidden behind the dike during the night, fired upon Howe across the stream, and mortally wounded him.  They continued their fire on his companions, but could not prevent them from carrying the dying man to the fort.  The French officers, indignant at this villany, did not hesitate to charge it upon Le Loutre; “for,” says one of them, “what is not a wicked priest capable of doing?”  But Le Loutre's brother missionary, Maillard, declares that it was purely an effect of religious zeal on the part of the Micmacs, who, according to him, bore a deadly grudge against Howe because, fourteen years before, he had spoken words disrespectful to the Holy Virgin.[114]  Maillard adds that the Indians were much pleased with what they had done.  Finding, however, that they could effect little against the English troops, they changed their field of action, repaired to the outskirts of Halifax, murdered about thirty settlers, and carried off eight or ten prisoners.

[Footnote 114: Maillard, Les Missions Micmaques. On the murder of Howe, Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 194, 195, 210; Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760, where it is said that Le Loutre was present at the deed; La Vallière, Journal, who says that some Acadians took part in it; Dépêches de la Jonquière, who says “les sauvages de l'Abbé le Loutre l'ont tué par trahison;” and Prévost au Ministre, 27 Oct. 1750.]


        Strong reinforcements came from Canada.  The French began a fort on the hill of Beauséjour, and the Acadians were required to work at it with no compensation but rations.  They were thinly clad, some had neither shoes nor stockings, and winter was begun.  They became so dejected that it was found absolutely necessary to give them wages enough to supply their most pressing needs.  In the following season Fort Beauséjour was in a state to receive a garrison.  It stood on the crown of the hill, and a vast panorama stretched below and around it.  In front lay the Bay of Chignecto, winding along the fertile shores of Chipody and Memeramcook.  Far on the right spread the great Tantemar marsh; on the left lay the marsh of the Missaguash; and on a knoll beyond it, not three miles distant, the red flag of England waved over the palisades of Fort Lawrence, while hills wrapped in dark forests bounded the horizon.

        How the homeless Acadians from Beaubassin lived through the winter is not very clear.  They probably found shelter at Chipody and its neighborhood, where there were thriving settlements of their countrymen.  Le Loutre, fearing that they would return to their lands and submit to the English, sent some of them to Isle St. Jean.  “They refused to go,” says a French writer; “but he compelled them at last, by threatening to make the Indians pillage them, carry off their wives and children, and even kill them before their eyes.  Nevertheless he kept about him such as were most submissive to his will.”[115]  In the spring after the English occupied Beaubassin, La Jonquière issued a strange proclamation.  It commanded all Acadians to take forthwith an oath of fidelity to the King of France, and to enroll themselves in the French militia, on pain of being treated as rebels.[116]  Three years after, Lawrence, who then governed the province, proclaimed in his turn that all Acadians who had at any time sworn fidelity to the King of England, and who should be found in arms against him, would be treated as criminals.[117]  Thus were these unfortunates ground between the upper and nether millstones.  Le Loutre replied to this proclamation of Lawrence by a letter in which he outdid himself.  He declared that any of the inhabitants who had crossed to the French side of the line, and who should presume to return to the English, would be treated as enemies by his Micmacs; and in the name of these, his Indian adherents, he demanded that the entire eastern half of the Acadian peninsula, including the ground on which Fort Lawrence stood, should be at once made over to their sole use and sovereign ownership,[118]—“which being read and considered,” says the record of the Halifax Council, “the contents appeared too insolent and absurd to be answered.”

[Footnote 115: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]

[Footnote 116: Ordonnance du 12 Avril, 1751.]

[Footnote 117: Écrit donné aux Habitants réfugiés à Beauséjour, 10 Août, 1754.]

[Footnote 118: Copie de la Lettre de M. l'Abbé Le Loutre, Prêtre Missionnaire des Sauvages de l'Accadie, à M. Lawrence à Halifax, 26 Août, 1754. There is a translation in Public Documents of Nova Scotia.]


        The number of Acadians who had crossed the line and were collected about Beauséjour was now large.  Their countrymen of Chipody began to find them a burden, and they lived chiefly on Government rations.  Le Loutre had obtained fifty thousand livres from the Court in order to dike in, for their use, the fertile marshes of Memeramcook; but the relief was distant, and the misery pressing.  They complained that they had been lured over the line by false assurances, and they applied secretly to the English authorities to learn if they would be allowed to return to their homes.  The answer was that they might do so with full enjoyment of religion and property, if they would take a simple oath of fidelity and loyalty to the King of Great Britain, qualified by an oral intimation that they would not be required for the present to bear arms.[119]  When Le Loutre heard this, he mounted the pulpit, broke into fierce invectives, threatened the terrified people with excommunication, and preached himself into a state of exhaustion.[120]  The military commandant at Beauséjour used gentler means of prevention; and the Acadians, unused for generations to think or act for themselves, remained restless, but indecisive, waiting till fate should settle for them the question, under which king?

[Footnote 119: Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 205, 209.]

[Footnote 120: Compare Mémoires, 1749-1760, and Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 229, 230.]


        Meanwhile, for the past three years, the commissioners appointed under the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle to settle the question of boundaries between France and England in America had been in session at Paris, waging interminable war on paper; La Galissonière and Silhouette for France, Shirley and Mildmay for England.  By the treaty of Utrecht, Acadia belonged to England; but what was Acadia?  According to the English commissioners, it comprised not only the peninsula now called Nova Scotia, but all the immense tract of land between the River St. Lawrence on the north, the Gulf of the same name on the east, the Atlantic on the south, and New England on the west.[121]  The French commissioners, on their part, maintained that the name Acadia belonged of right only to about a twentieth part of this territory, and that it did not even cover the whole of the Acadian peninsula, but only its southern coast, with an adjoining belt of barren wilderness.  When the French owned Acadia, they gave it boundaries as comprehensive as those claimed for it by the English commissioners; now that it belonged to a rival, they cut it down to a paring of its former self.  The denial that Acadia included the whole peninsula was dictated by the need of a winter communication between Quebec and Cape Breton, which was possible only with the eastern portions in French hands.  So new was this denial that even La Galissonière himself, the foremost in making it, had declared without reservation two years before that Acadia was the entire peninsula.[122]  “If,” says a writer on the question, “we had to do with a nation more tractable, less grasping, and more conciliatory, it would be well to insist also that Halifax should be given up to us.”  He thinks that, on the whole, it would be well to make the demand in any case, in order to gain some other point by yielding this one.[123]  It is curious that while denying that the country was Acadia, the French invariably called the inhabitants Acadians.  Innumerable public documents, commissions, grants, treaties, edicts, signed by French kings and ministers, had recognized Acadia as extending over New Brunswick and a part of Maine.  Four censuses of Acadia while it belonged to the French had recognized the mainland as included in it; and so do also the early French maps.  Its prodigious shrinkage was simply the consequence of its possession by an alien.

[Footnote 121: The commission of De Monts, in 1603, defines Acadia as extending from the fortieth to the forty-sixth degrees of latitude,—that is, from central New Brunswick to southern Pennsylvania. Neither party cared to produce the document.]

[Footnote 122: “L'Acadie suivant ses anciennes limites est la presquisle bornée par son isthme.”  La Galissonière au Ministre, 25 Juillet, 1749. The English commissioners were, of course, ignorant of this admission.]

[Footnote 123: Mémoire de l'Abbée de l'Isle-Dieu, 1753 (1754?).]


        Other questions of limits, more important and equally perilous, called loudly for solution.  What line should separate Canada and her western dependencies from the British colonies?  Various principles of demarcation were suggested, of which the most prominent on the French side was a geographical one.  All countries watered by streams falling into the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi were to belong to her.  This would have planted her in the heart of New York and along the crests of the Alleghanies, giving her all the interior of the continent, and leaving nothing to England but a strip of sea-coast.  Yet in view of what France had achieved; of the patient gallantry of her explorers, the zeal of her missionaries, the adventurous hardihood of her bushrangers, revealing to civilized mankind the existence of this wilderness world, while her rivals plodded at their workshops, their farms, or their fisheries,—in view of all this, her pretensions were moderate and reasonable compared with those of England.  The treaty of Utrecht had declared the Iroquois, or Five Nations, to be British subjects; therefore it was insisted that all countries conquered by them belonged to the British Crown.  But what was an Iroquois conquest?  The Iroquois rarely occupied the countries they overran.  Their military expeditions were mere raids, great or small.  Sometimes, as in the case of the Hurons, they made a solitude and called it peace; again, as in the case of the Illinois, they drove off the occupants of the soil, who returned after the invaders were gone.  But the range of their war-parties was prodigious; and the English laid claim to every mountain, forest, or prairie where an Iroquois had taken a scalp.  This would give them not only the country between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi, but also that between Lake Huron and the Ottawa, thus reducing Canada to the patch on the American map now represented by the province of Quebec,—or rather, by a part of it, since the extension of Acadia to the St. Lawrence would cut off the present counties of Gaspé, Rimouski, and Bonaventure.  Indeed among the advocates of British claims there were those who denied that France had any rights whatever on the south side of the St. Lawrence.[124]  Such being the attitude of the two contestants, it was plain that there was no resort but the last argument of kings.  Peace must be won with the sword.

[Footnote 124: The extent of British claims is best shown on two maps of the time, Mitchell's Map of the British and French Dominions in North America and Huske's New and Accurate Map of North America; both are in the British Museum. Dr. John Mitchell, in his Contest in America (London, 1757) pushes the English claim to its utmost extreme, and denies that the French were rightful owners of anything in North America except the town of Quebec and the trading-post of Tadoussac. Besides the claim founded on the subjection of the Iroquois to the British Crown, the English somewhat inconsistently advanced others founded on titles obtained by treaty from these same tribes, and others still, founded on the original grants of some of the colonies, which ran indefinitely westward across the continent.]


        The commissioners at Paris broke up their sessions, leaving as the monument of their toils four quarto volumes of allegations, arguments, and documentary proofs.[125]  Out of the discussion rose also a swarm of fugitive publications in French, English, and Spanish; for the question of American boundaries had become European.  There was one among them worth notice from its amusing absurdity.  It is an elaborate disquisition, under the title of Roman politique, by an author faithful to the traditions of European diplomacy, and inspired at the same time by the new philosophy of the school of Rousseau.  He insists that the balance of power must be preserved in America as well as in Europe, because “Nature,” “the aggrandizement of the human soul,” and the “felicity of man” are unanimous in demanding it.  The English colonies are more populous and wealthy than the French; therefore the French should have more land, to keep the balance.  Nature, the human soul, and the felicity of man require that France should own all the country beyond the Alleghanies and all Acadia but a strip of the south coast, according to the “sublime negotiations” of the French commissioners, of which the writer declares himself a “religious admirer.”[126]

[Footnote 125: Mémoires des Commissaires de Sa Majesté Très Chrétienne et de ceux de Sa Majesté Brittanique. Paris, 1755. Several editions appeared.]

[Footnote 126: Roman politique sur l'État présent des Affaires de l'Amérique (Amsterdam, 1756). For extracts from French Documents, see Appendix B.]


        We know already that France had used means sharper than negotiation to vindicate her claim to the interior of the continent; had marched to the sources of the Ohio to entrench herself there, and hold the passes of the West against all comers.  It remains to see how she fared in her bold enterprise.

Table of Contents



Chapter 5

1753, 1754


Washington


        Towards the end of spring the vanguard of the expedition sent by Duquesne to occupy the Ohio landed at Presquisle, where Erie now stands.  This route to the Ohio, far better than that which Céleron had followed, was a new discovery to the French; and Duquesne calls the harbor “the finest in nature.”  Here they built a fort of squared chestnut logs, and when it was finished they cut a road of several leagues through the woods to Rivière aux Boeufs, now French Creek.  At the farther end of this road they began another wooden fort and called it Fort Le Boeuf.  Thence, when the water was high, they could descend French Creek to the Allegheny, and follow that stream to the main current of the Ohio.

        It was heavy work to carry the cumbrous load of baggage across the portages.  Much of it is said to have been superfluous, consisting of velvets, silks, and other useless and costly articles, sold to the King at enormous prices as necessaries of the expedition.[127]  The weight of the task fell on the Canadians, who worked with cheerful hardihood, and did their part to admiration.  Marin, commander of the expedition, a gruff, choleric old man of sixty-three, but full of force and capacity, spared himself so little that he was struck down with dysentery, and, refusing to be sent home to Montreal, was before long in a dying state.  His place was taken by Péan, of whose private character there is little good to be said, but whose conduct as an officer was such that Duquesne calls him a prodigy of talents, resources, and zeal.[128]  The subalterns deserve no such praise.  They disliked the service, and made no secret of their discontent.  Rumors of it filled Montreal; and Duquesne wrote to Marin: “I am surprised that you have not told me of this change.  Take note of the sullen and discouraged faces about you.  This sort are worse than useless.  Rid yourself of them at once; send them to Montreal, that I may make an example of them.”[129]  Péan wrote at the end of September that Marin was in extremity; and the Governor, disturbed and alarmed, for he knew the value of the sturdy old officer, looked anxiously for a successor.  He chose another veteran, Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, who had just returned from a journey of exploration towards the Rocky Mountains,[130] and whom Duquesne now ordered to the Ohio.

[Footnote 127: Pouchot, Mémoires sur la dernière Guerre de l'Amérique Septentrionale, I. 8.]

[Footnote 128: Duquesne au Ministre, 2 Nov. 1753; compare Mémoire pour Michel-Jean Hugues Péan.]

[Footnote 129: Duquesne à Marin, 27 Août, 1753.]

[Footnote 130: Mémoire ou Journal sommaire du Voyage de Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre.]


        Meanwhile the effects of the expedition had already justified it.  At first the Indians of the Ohio had shown a bold front.  One of them, a chief whom the English called the Half-King, came to Fort Le Boeuf and ordered the French to leave the country; but was received by Marin with such contemptuous haughtiness that he went home shedding tears of rage and mortification.  The Western tribes were daunted.  The Miamis, but yesterday fast friends of the English, made humble submission to the French, and offered them two English scalps to signalize their repentance; while the Sacs, Pottawattamies, and Ojibwas were loud in professions of devotion.[131]  Even the Iroquois, Delawares, and Shawanoes on the Alleghany had come to the French camp and offered their help in carrying the baggage.  It needed but perseverance and success in the enterprise to win over every tribe from the mountains to the Mississippi.  To accomplish this and to curb the English, Duquesne had planned a third fort, at the junction of French Creek with the Alleghany, or at some point lower down; then, leaving the three posts well garrisoned, Péan was to descend the Ohio with the whole remaining force, impose terror on the wavering tribes, and complete their conversion.  Both plans were thwarted; the fort was not built, nor did Péan descend the Ohio.  Fevers, lung diseases, and scurvy made such deadly havoc among troops and Canadians, that the dying Marin saw with bitterness that his work must be left half done.  Three hundred of the best men were kept to garrison Forts Presquisle and Le Boeuf; and then, as winter approached, the rest were sent back to Montreal.  When they arrived, the Governor was shocked at their altered looks.  “I reviewed them, and could not help being touched by the pitiable state to which fatigues and exposures had reduced them.  Past all doubt, if these emaciated figures had gone down the Ohio as intended, the river would have been strewn with corpses, and the evil-disposed savages would not have failed to attack the survivors, seeing that they were but spectres.”[132]

[Footnote 131: Rapports de Conseils avec les Sauvages à Montreal, Juillet, 1753. Duquesne au Ministre, 31 Oct. 1753. Letter of Dr. Shuckburgh in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 806.]

[Footnote 132: Duquesne au Ministre, 29 Nov. 1753. On this expedition, compare the letter of Duquesne in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 255, and the deposition of Stephen Coffen, Ibid., VI. 835.]


        Legardeur de Saint-Pierre arrived at the end of autumn, and made his quarters at Fort Le Boeuf.  The surrounding forests had dropped their leaves, and in gray and patient desolation bided the coming winter.  Chill rains drizzled over the gloomy “clearing,” and drenched the palisades and log-built barracks, raw from the axe.  Buried in the wilderness, the military exiles resigned themselves as they might to months of monotonous solitude; when, just after sunset on the eleventh of December, a tall youth came out of the forest on horseback, attended by a companion much older and rougher than himself, and followed by several Indians and four or five white men with packhorses.  Officers from the fort went out to meet the strangers; and, wading through mud and sodden snow, they entered at the gate.  On the next day the young leader of the party, with the help of an interpreter, for he spoke no French, had an interview with the commandant, and gave him a letter from Governor Dinwiddie.  Saint-Pierre and the officer next in rank, who knew a little English, took it to another room to study it at their ease; and in it, all unconsciously, they read a name destined to stand one of the noblest in the annals of mankind; for it introduced Major George Washington, Adjutant-General of the Virginia militia.[133]

[Footnote 133: Journal of Major Washington. Journal of Mr. Christopher Gist.]


        Dinwiddie, jealously watchful of French aggression, had learned through traders and Indians that a strong detachment from Canada had entered the territories of the King of England, and built forts on Lake Erie and on a branch of the Ohio.  He wrote to challenge the invasion and summon the invaders to withdraw; and he could find none so fit to bear his message as a young man of twenty-one.  It was this rough Scotchman who launched Washington on his illustrious career.

        Washington set out for the trading station of the Ohio Company on Will's Creek; and thence, at the middle of November, struck into the wilderness with Christopher Gist as a guide, Vanbraam, a Dutchman, as French interpreter, Davison, a trader, as Indian interpreter, and four woodsmen as servants.  They went to the forks of the Ohio, and then down the river to Logstown, the Chiningué of Céloron de Bienville.  There Washington had various parleys with the Indians; and thence, after vexatious delays, he continued his journey towards Fort Le Boeuf, accompanied by the friendly chief called the Half-King and by three of his tribesmen.  For several days they followed the traders' path, pelted with unceasing rain and snow, and came at last to the old Indian town of Venango, where French Creek enters the Alleghany.  Here there was an English trading-house; but the French had seized it, raised their flag over it, and turned it into a military outpost.[134]  Joncaire was in command, with two subalterns; and nothing could exceed their civility.  They invited the strangers to supper; and, says Washington, “the wine, as they dosed themselves pretty plentifully with it, soon banished the restraint which at first appeared in their conversation, and gave a license to their tongues to reveal their sentiments more freely.  They told me that it was their absolute design to take possession of the Ohio, and, by G––, they would do it; for that although they were sensible the English could raise two men for their one, yet they knew their motions were too slow and dilatory to prevent any undertaking of theirs.”[135]

[Footnote 134: Marin had sent sixty men in August to seize the house, which belonged to the trader Fraser. Dépêches de Duquesne. They carried off two men whom they found here. Letter of Fraser in Colonial Records of Pa., V. 659.]

[Footnote 135: Journal of Washington, as printed at Williamsburg, just after his return.]


        With all their civility, the French officers did their best to entice away Washington's Indians; and it was with extreme difficulty that he could persuade them to go with him.  Through marshes and swamps, forests choked with snow, and drenched with incessant rain, they toiled on for four days more, till the wooden walls of Fort Le Boeuf appeared at last, surrounded by fields studded thick with stumps, and half-encircled by the chill current of French Creek, along the banks of which lay more than two hundred canoes, ready to carry troops in the spring.  Washington describes Legardeur de Saint-Pierre as “an elderly gentleman with much the air of a soldier.”  The letter sent him by Dinwiddie expressed astonishment that his troops should build forts upon lands “so notoriously known to be the property of the Crown of Great Britain.”  “I must desire you,” continued the letter, “to acquaint me by whose authority and instructions you have lately marched from Canada with an armed force, and invaded the King of Great Britain's territories.  It becomes my duty to require your peaceable departure; and that you would forbear prosecuting a purpose so interruptive of the harmony and good understanding which His Majesty is desirous to continue and cultivate with the Most Christian King.  I persuade myself you will receive and entertain Major Washington with the candor and politeness natural to your nation; and it will give me the greatest satisfaction if you return him with an answer suitable to my wishes for a very long and lasting peace between us.”

        Saint-Pierre took three days to frame the answer.  In it he said that he should send Dinwiddie's letter to the Marquis Duquesne and wait his orders; and that meanwhile he should remain at his post, according to the commands of his general.  “I made it my particular care,” so the letter closed, “to receive Mr. Washington with a distinction suitable to your dignity as well as his own quality and great merit.”[136]  No form of courtesy had, in fact, been wanting.  “He appeared to be extremely complaisant,” says Washington, “though he was exerting every artifice to set our Indians at variance with us.  I saw that every stratagem was practised to win the Half-King to their interest.”  Neither gifts nor brandy were spared; and it was only by the utmost pains that Washington could prevent his red allies from staying at the fort, conquered by French blandishments.

[Footnote 136: “La Distinction qui convient à votre Dignitté à sa Qualité et à son grand Mérite.”  Copy of original letter sent by Dinwiddie to Governor Hamilton.]


        After leaving Venango on his return, he found the horses so weak that, to arrive the sooner, he left them and their drivers in charge of Vanbraam and pushed forward on foot, accompanied by Gist alone.  Each was wrapped to the throat in an Indian “matchcoat,” with a gun in his hand and a pack at his back.  Passing an old Indian hamlet called Murdering Town, they had an adventure which threatened to make good the name.  A French Indian, whom they met in the forest, fired at them, pretending that his gun had gone off by chance.  They caught him, and Gist would have killed him; but Washington interposed, and they let him go.[137] Then, to escape pursuit from his tribesmen, they walked all night and all the next day.  This brought them to the banks of the Alleghany.  They hoped to have found it dead frozen; but it was all alive and turbulent, filled with ice sweeping down the current.  They made a raft, shoved out into the stream, and were soon caught helplessly in the drifting ice.  Washington, pushing hard with his setting-pole, was jerked into the freezing river; but caught a log of the raft, and dragged himself out.  By no efforts could they reach the farther bank, or regain that which they had left; but they were driven against an island, where they landed, and left the raft to its fate.  The night was excessively cold, and Gist's feet and hands were badly frost-bitten.  In the morning, the ice had set, and the river was a solid floor.  They crossed it, and succeeded in reaching the house of the trader Fraser, on the Monongahela.  It was the middle of January when Washington arrived at Williamsburg and made his report to Dinwiddie.

[Footnote 137: Journal of Mr. Christopher Gist, in Mass. Hist. Coll., 3rd Series, V.]


        Robert Dinwiddie was lieutenant-governor of Virginia, in place of the titular governor, Lord Albermarle, whose post was a sinecure.  He had been clerk in a government office in the West Indies; then surveyor of customs in the “Old Dominion,”—a position in which he made himself cordially disliked; and when he rose to the governorship he carried his unpopularity with him.  Yet Virginia and all the British colonies owed him much; for, though past sixty, he was the most watchful sentinel against French aggression and its most strenuous opponent.  Scarcely had Marin's vanguard appeared at Presquisle, when Dinwiddie warned the Home Government of the danger, and urged, what he had before urged in vain on the Virginian Assembly, the immediate building of forts on the Ohio.  There came in reply a letter, signed by the King, authorizing him to build the forts at the cost of the Colony, and to repel force by force in case he was molested or obstructed.  Moreover, the King wrote, “If you shall find that any number of persons shall presume to erect any fort or forts within the limits of our province of Virginia, you are first to require of them peaceably to depart; and if, notwithstanding your admonitions, they do still endeavor to carry out any such unlawful and unjustifiable designs, we do hereby strictly charge and command you to drive them off by force of arms.”[138]

[Footnote 138: Instructions to Our Trusty and Well-beloved Robert Dinwiddie, Esq., 28 Aug. 1753.]


        The order was easily given; but to obey it needed men and money, and for these Dinwiddie was dependent on his Assembly, or House of Burgesses.  He convoked them for the first of November, sending Washington at the same time with the summons to Saint-Pierre.  The burgesses met.  Dinwiddie exposed the danger, and asked for means to meet it.[139]  They seemed more than willing to comply; but debates presently arose concerning the fee of a pistole, which the Governor had demanded on each patent of land issued by him.  The amount was trifling, but the principle was doubtful.  The aristocratic republic of Virginia was intensely jealous of the slightest encroachment on its rights by the Crown or its representative.  The Governor defended the fee.  The burgesses replied that “subjects cannot be deprived of the least part of their property without their consent,” declared the fee unlawful, and called on Dinwiddie to confess it to be so.  He still defended it.  They saw in his demand for supplies a means of bringing him to terms, and refused to grant money unless he would recede from his position.  Dinwiddie rebuked them for “disregarding the designs of the French, and disputing the rights of the Crown”; and he “prorogued them in some anger.“[140]

[Footnote 139: Address of Lieutenant-Governor Dinwiddie to the Council and Burgesses, 1 Nov. 1753.]

[Footnote 140: Dinwiddie Papers.]


        Thus he was unable to obey the instructions of the King.  As a temporary resource, he ventured to order a draft of two hundred men from the militia.  Washington was to have command, with the trader, William Trent, as his lieutenant.  His orders were to push with all speed to the forks of the Ohio, and there build a fort; “but in case any attempts are made to obstruct the works by any persons whatsoever, to restrain all such offenders, and, in case of resistance, to make prisoners of, or kill and destroy them.”[141]  The Governor next sent messengers to the Catawbas, Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Iroquois of the Ohio, inviting them to take up the hatchet against the French, “who, under pretence of embracing you, mean to squeeze you to death.”  Then he wrote urgent letters to the governors of Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, Maryland, and New Jersey, begging for contingents of men, to be at Wills Creek in March at the latest.  But nothing could be done without money; and trusting for a change of heart on the part of the burgesses, he summoned them to meet again on the fourteenth of February.  “If they come in good temper,” he wrote to Lord Fairfax, a nobleman settled in the colony, “I hope they will lay a fund to qualify me to send four or five hundred men more to the Ohio, which, with the assistance of our neighboring colonies, may make some figure.”

[Footnote 141: Ibid. Instructions to Major George Washington, January, 1754.]


        The session began.  Again, somewhat oddly, yet forcibly, the Governor set before the Assembly the peril of the situation, and begged them to postpone less pressing questions to the exigency of the hour.[142]  This time they listened; and voted ten thousand pounds in Virginia currency to defend the frontier.  The grant was frugal, and they jealously placed its expenditure in the hands of a committee of their own.[143]  Dinwiddie, writing to the Lords of Trade, pleads necessity as his excuse for submitting to their terms.  “I am sorry,” he says, “to find them too much in a republican way of thinking.”  What vexed him still more was their sending an agent to England to complain against him on the irrepressible question of the pistole fee; and he writes to his London friend, the merchant Hanbury: “I have had a great deal of trouble from the factious disputes and violent heats of a most impudent, troublesome party here in regard to that silly fee of a pistole.  Surely every thinking man will make a distinction between a fee and a tax.  Poor people!  I pity their ignorance and narrow, ill-natured spirits.  But, my friend, consider that I could by no means give up this fee without affronting the Board of Trade and the Council here who established it.”  His thoughts were not all of this harassing nature, and he ends his letter with the following petition: “Now, sir, as His Majesty is pleased to make me a military officer, please send for Scott, my tailor, to make me a proper suit of regimentals, to be here by His Majesty's birthday.  I do not much like gayety in dress, but I conceive this necessary.  I do not much care for lace on the coat, but a neat embroidered button-hole; though you do not deal that way, I know you have a good taste, that I may show my friend's fancy in that suit of clothes; a good laced hat and two pair stockings, one silk, the other fine thread.”[144]

[Footnote 142: Speech of Lieutenant-Governor Dinwiddie to the Council and Burgesses 14 Feb., 1754.]

[Footnote 143: See the bill in Hening, Statutes of Virginia, VI. 417.]

[Footnote 144: Dinwiddie to Hanbury, 12 March, 1754; Ibid., 10 May, 1754.]


        If the Governor and his English sometimes provoke a smile, he deserves admiration for the energy with which he opposed the public enemy, under circumstances the most discouraging.  He invited the Indians to meet him in council at Winchester, and, as bait to attract them, coupled the message with a promise of gifts.  He sent circulars from the King to the neighboring governors, calling for supplies, and wrote letter upon letter to rouse them to effort.  He wrote also to the more distant governors, Delancey of New York, and Shirley of Massachusetts, begging them to make what he called a “faint” against Canada, to prevent the French from sending so large a force to the Ohio.  It was to the nearer colonies, from New Jersey to South Carolina, that he looked for direct aid; and their several governors were all more or less active to procure it; but as most of them had some standing dispute with their assemblies, they could get nothing except on terms with which they would not, and sometimes could not, comply.  As the lands invaded by the French belonged to one of the two rival claimants, Virginia and Pennsylvania, the other colonies had no mind to vote money to defend them.  Pennsylvania herself refused to move.  Hamilton, her governor, could do nothing against the placid obstinacy of the Quaker non-combatants and the stolid obstinacy of the German farmers who chiefly made up his Assembly.  North Carolina alone answered the appeal, and gave money enough to raise three or four hundred men.  Two independent companies maintained by the King in New York, and one in South Carolina, had received orders from England to march to the scene of action; and in these, with the scanty levies of his own and the adjacent province, lay Dinwiddie's only hope.  With men abundant and willing, there were no means to put them into the field, and no commander whom they would all obey.

        From the brick house at Williamsburg pompously called the Governor's Palace, Dinwiddie despatched letters, orders, couriers, to hasten the tardy reinforcements of North Carolina and New York, and push on the raw soldiers of the Old Dominion, who now numbered three hundred men.  They were called the Virginia regiment; and Joshua Fry, an English gentleman, bred at Oxford, was made their colonel, with Washington as next in command.  Fry was at Alexandria with half the so-called regiment, trying to get it into marching order; Washington, with the other half, had pushed forward to the Ohio Company's storehouse at Wills Creek, which was to form a base of operations.  His men were poor whites, brave, but hard to discipline; without tents, ill armed, and ragged as Falstaff's recruits.  Besides these, a band of backwoodsmen under Captain Trent had crossed the mountains in February to build a fort at the forks of the Ohio, where Pittsburg now stands,—a spot which Washington had examined when on his way to Fort Le Boeuf, and which he had reported as the best for the purpose.  The hope was that Trent would fortify himself before the arrival of the French, and that Washington and Fry would join him in time to secure the position.  Trent had begun the fort; but for some unexplained reason had gone back to Wills Creek leaving Ensign Ward with forty men at work upon it.  Their labors were suddenly interrupted.  On the seventeenth of April a swarm of bateaux and canoes came down the Alleghany, bringing, according to Ward, more than a thousand Frenchmen, though in reality not much above five hundred, who landed, planted cannon against the incipient stockade, and summoned the ensign to surrender, on pain of what might ensue.[145]  He complied, and was allowed to depart with his men.  Retracing his steps over the mountains, he reported his mishap to Washington; while the French demolished his unfinished fort, began a much larger and better one, and named it Fort Duquesne.

[Footnote 145: See the summons in Précis des Faits, 101.]


        They had acted with their usual promptness.  Their Governor, a practised soldier, knew the value of celerity, and had set his troops in motion with the first opening of spring.  He had no refractory assembly to hamper him; no lack of money, for the King supplied it; and all Canada must march at his bidding.  Thus, while Dinwiddie was still toiling to muster his raw recruits, Duquesne's lieutenant, Contrecoeur, successor of Saint-Pierre, had landed at Presquisle with a much greater force, in part regulars, and in part Canadians.

        Dinwiddie was deeply vexed when a message from Washington told him how his plans were blighted; and he spoke his mind to his friend Hanbury: “If our Assembly had voted the money in November which they did in February, it's more than probable the fort would have been built and garrisoned before the French had approached; but these things cannot be done without money.  As there was none in our treasury, I have advanced my own to forward the expedition; and if the independent companies from New York come soon, I am in hopes the eyes of the other colonies will be opened; and if they grant a proper supply of men, I hope we shall be able to dislodge the French or build a fort on that river.  I congratulate you on the increase of your family.  My wife and two girls join in our most sincere respects to good Mrs. Hanbury.”[146]

[Footnote 146: Dinwiddie to Hanbury, 10 May, 1754.]


        The seizure of a king's fort by planting cannon against it and threatening it with destruction was in his eyes a beginning of hostilities on the part of the French; and henceforth both he and Washington acted much as if war had been declared.  From their station at Wills Creek, the distance by the traders' path to Fort Duquesne was about a hundred and forty miles.  Midway was a branch of the Monongahela called Redstone Creek, at the mouth of which the Ohio Company had built another storehouse.  Dinwiddie ordered all the forces to cross the mountains and assemble at this point, until they should be strong enough to advance against the French.  The movement was critical in presence of an enemy as superior in discipline as he was in numbers, while the natural obstacles were great.  A road for cannon and wagons must be cut through a dense forest and over two ranges of high mountains, besides countless hills and streams.  Washington set all his force to the work, and they spent a fortnight in making twenty miles.  Towards the end of May, however, Dinwiddie learned that he had crossed the main ridge of the Alleghanies, and was encamped with a hundred and fifty men near the parallel ridge of Laurel Hill, at a place called the Great Meadows.  Trent's backwoodsmen had gone off in disgust; Fry, with the rest of the regiment, was still far behind; and Washington was daily expecting an attack.  Close upon this, a piece of good news, or what seemed such, came over the mountains and gladdened the heart of the Governor.  He heard that a French detachment had tried to surprise Washington, and that he had killed or captured the whole.  The facts were as follows.

        Washington was on the Youghiogany, a branch of the Monongahela, exploring it in hopes that it might prove navigable, when a messenger came to him from his old comrade, the Half-King, who was on the way to join him.  The message was to the effect that the French had marched from their fort, and meant to attack the first English they should meet.  A report came soon after that they were already at the ford of the Youghiogany, eighteen miles distant.  Washington at once repaired to the Great Meadows, a level tract of grass and bushes, bordered by wooded hills, and traversed in one part by a gully, which with a little labor the men turned into an entrenchment, at the same time cutting away the bushes and clearing what the young commander called “a charming field for an encounter.”  Parties were sent out to scour the woods, but they found no enemy.  Two days passed; when, on the morning of the twenty-seventh, Christopher Gist, who had lately made a settlement on the farther side of Laurel Hill, twelve or thirteen miles distant, came to the camp with news that fifty Frenchmen had been at his house towards noon of the day before, and would have destroyed everything but for the intervention of two Indians whom he had left in charge during his absence.  Washington sent seventy-five men to look for the party; but the search was vain, the French having hidden themselves so well as to escape any eye but that of an Indian.  In the evening a runner came from the Half-King, who was encamped with a few warriors some miles distant.  He had sent to tell Washington that he had found the tracks of two men, and traced them towards a dark glen in the forest, where in his belief all the French were lurking.

        Washington seems not to have hesitated a moment.  Fearing a stratagem to surprise his camp, he left his main force to guard it, and at ten o'clock set out for the Half-King's wigwams at the head of forty men.  The night was rainy, and the forest, to use his own words, “as black as pitch.”  “The path,” he continues, “was hardly wide enough for one man; we often lost it, and could not find it again for fifteen or twenty minutes, and we often tumbled over each other in the dark[147].”  Seven of his men were lost in the woods and left behind.  The rest groped their way all night, and reached the Indian camp at sunrise.  A council was held with the Half-King, and he and his warriors agreed to join in striking the French.  Two of them led the way.  The tracks of the two French scouts seen the day before were again found, and, marching in single file, the party pushed through the forest into the rocky hollow where the French were supposed to be concealed.  They were there in fact; and they snatched their guns the moment they saw the English.  Washington gave the word to fire.  A short fight ensued.  Coulon de Jumonville, an ensign in command, was killed, with nine others; twenty-two were captured, and none escaped but a Canadian who had fled at the beginning of the fray.  After it was over, the prisoners told Washington that the party had been sent to bring him a summons from Contrecoeur, the commandant at Fort Duquesne.

[Footnote 147: Journal of Washington in Précis des Faits, 109. This Journal, which is entirely distinct from that before cited, was found by the French among the baggage left on the field after the defeat of Braddock in 1755, and a translation of it was printed by them as above. The original has disappeared.]


        Five days before, Contrecoeur had sent Jumonville to scour the country as far as the dividing ridge of the Alleghanies.  Under him were another officer, three cadets, a volunteer, an interpreter, and twenty-eight men.  He was provided with a written summons, to be delivered to any English he might find.  It required them to withdraw from the domain of the King of France, and threatened compulsion by force of arms in case of refusal.  But before delivering the summons Jumonville was ordered to send two couriers back with all speed to Fort Duquesne to inform the commandant that he had found the English, and to acquaint him when he intended to communicate with them.[148]  It is difficult to imagine any object for such an order except that of enabling Contrecoeur to send to the spot whatever force might be needed to attack the English on their refusal to withdraw.  Jumonville had sent the two couriers, and had hidden himself, apparently to wait the result.  He lurked nearly two days within five miles of Washington's camp, sent out scouts to reconnoitre it, but gave no notice of his presence; played to perfection the part of a skulking enemy, and brought destruction on himself by conduct which can only be ascribed to a sinister motive on the one hand, or to extreme folly on the other.  French deserters told Washington that the party came as spies, and were to show the summons only if threatened by a superior force.  This last assertion is confirmed by the French officer Pouchot, who says that Jumonville, seeing himself the weaker party, tried to show the letter he had brought.[149]

[Footnote 148: The summons and the instructions to Jumonville are in Précis des Faits.]

[Footnote 149: Pouchot, Mémoire sur la dernière Guerre.]


        French writers say that, on first seeing the English, Jumonville's interpreter called out that he had something to say to them; but Washington, who was at the head of his men, affirms this to be absolutely false.  The French say further that Jumonville was killed in the act of reading the summons.  This is also denied by Washington, and rests only on the assertion of the Canadian who ran off at the outset, and on the alleged assertion of Indians who, if present at all, which is unlikely, escaped like the Canadian before the fray began.  Druillon, an officer with Jumonville, wrote two letters to Dinwiddie after his capture, to claim the privileges of the bearer of a summons; but while bringing forward every other circumstance in favor of the claim, he does not pretend that the summons was read or shown either before or during the action.  The French account of the conduct of Washington's Indians is no less erroneous.  “This murder,” says a chronicler of the time, “produced on the minds of the savages an effect very different from that which the cruel Washington had promised himself.  They have a horror of crime; and they were so indignant at that which had just been perpetrated before their eyes, that they abandoned him, and offered themselves to us in order to take vengeance.”[150]  Instead of doing this, they boasted of their part in the fight, scalped all the dead Frenchmen, sent one scalp to the Delawares as an invitation to take up the hatchet for the English, and distributed the rest among the various Ohio tribes to the same end.

[Footnote 150: Poulin de Lumina, Histoire de la Guerre contre les Anglois, 15.]


        Coolness of judgment, a profound sense of public duty, and a strong self-control, were even then the characteristics of Washington; but he was scarcely twenty-two, was full of military ardor, and was vehement and fiery by nature.  Yet it is far from certain that, even when age and experience had ripened him, he would have forborne to act as he did, for there was every reason for believing that the designs of the French were hostile; and though by passively waiting the event he would have thrown upon them the responsibility of striking the first blow, he would have exposed his small party to capture or destruction by giving them time to gain reinforcements from Fort Duquesne.  It was inevitable that the killing of Jumonville should be greeted in France by an outcry of real or assumed horror; but the Chevalier de Lévis, second in command to Montcalm, probably expresses the true opinion of Frenchmen best fitted to judge when he calls it “a pretended assassination.”[151]  Judge it as we may, this obscure skirmish began the war that set the world on fire.[152]

[Footnote 151: Lévis, Mémoire sur la Guerre du Canada.]

[Footnote 152: On this affair, Sparks, Writings of Washington, II. 25-48, 447. Dinwiddie Papers. Letter of Contrecoeur in Précis des Faits. Journal of Washington, Ibid. Washington to Dinwiddie, 3 June, 1754. Dussieux, Le Canada sous la Domination Française, 118. Gaspé, Anciens Canadiens, appendix, 396. The assertion of Abbé de l'Isle-Dieu, that Jumonville showed a flag of truce, is unsupported. Adam Stephen, who was in the fight, says that the guns of the English were so wet that they had to trust mainly to the bayonet. The Half-King boasted that he killed Jumonville with his tomahawk. Dinwiddie highly approved Washington's conduct.

In 1755 the widow of Jumonville received a pension of one hundred and fifty francs.  In 1775 his daughter, Charlotte Aimable, wishing to become a nun, was given by the King six hundred francs for her “trousseau” on entering the convent. Dossier de Jumonville et de sa Veuve, 22 Mars, 1755. Mémoire pour Mlle. de Jumonville, 10 Juillet, 1775. Résponse du Garde des Sceaux, 25 Juillet, 1775.]


        Washington returned to the camp at the Great Meadows; and, expecting soon to be attacked, sent for reinforcements to Colonel Fry, who was lying dangerously ill at Wills Creek.  Then he set his men to work at an entrenchment, which he named Fort Necessity, and which must have been of the slightest, as they finished it within three days.[153]  The Half-King now joined him, along with the female potentate known as Queen Alequippa, and some thirty Indian families.  A few days after, Gist came from Wills Creek with news that Fry was dead.  Washington succeeded to the command of the regiment, the remaining three companies of which presently appeared and joined their comrades, raising the whole number to three hundred.  Next arrived the independent company from South Carolina; and the Great Meadows became an animated scene, with the wigwams of the Indians, the camp-sheds of the rough Virginians, the cattle grazing on the tall grass or drinking at the lazy brook that traversed it; the surrounding heights and forests; and over all, four miles away the lofty green ridge of Laurel Hill.

[Footnote 153: Journal of Washington in Précis des Faits.]


        The presence of the company of regulars was a doubtful advantage.  Captain Mackay, its commander, holding his commission from the King, thought himself above any officer commissioned by the Governor.  There was great courtesy between him and Washington; but Mackay would take no orders, nor even the countersign, from the colonel of volunteers.  Nor would his men work, except for an additional shilling a day.  To give this was impossible, both from want of money, and from the discontent it would have bred in the Virginians, who worked for nothing besides their daily pay of eightpence.  Washington, already a leader of men, possessed himself in a patience extremely difficult to his passionate temper; but the position was untenable, and the presence of the military drones demoralized his soldiers.  Therefore, leaving Mackay at the Meadows, he advanced towards Gist's settlement, cutting a wagon road as he went.

        On reaching the settlement the camp was formed and an entrenchment thrown up.  Deserters had brought news that strong reinforcements were expected at Fort Duquesne, and friendly Indians repeatedly warned Washington that he would soon be attacked by overwhelming numbers.  Forty Indians from the Ohio came to the camp, and several days were spent in councils with them; but they proved for the most part to be spies of the French.  The Half-King stood fast by the English, and sent out three of his young warriors as scouts.  Reports of attack thickened.  Mackay and his men were sent for, and they arrived on the twenty-eighth of June.  A council of war was held at Gist's house; and as the camp was commanded by neighboring heights, it was resolved to fall back.  The horses were so few that the Virginians had to carry much of the baggage on their backs, and drag nine swivels over the broken and rocky road.  The regulars, though they also were raised in the provinces, refused to give the slightest help.  Toiling on for two days, they reached the Great Meadows on the first of July.  The position, though perhaps the best in the neighborhood, was very unfavorable, and Washington would have retreated farther, but for the condition of his men.  They were spent with fatigue, and there was no choice but to stay and fight.

        Strong reinforcements had been sent to Fort Duquesne in the spring, and the garrison now consisted of about fourteen hundred men.  When news of the death of Jumonville reached Montreal, Coulon de Villiers, brother of the slain officer, was sent to the spot with a body of Indians from all the tribes in the colony.  He made such speed that at eight o'clock on the morning of the twenty-sixth of June he reached the fort with his motley following.  Here he found that five hundred Frenchmen and a few Ohio Indians were on the point of marching against the English, under Chevalier Le Mercier; but in view of his seniority in rank and his relationship to Jumonville, the command was now transferred to Villiers.  Hereupon, the march was postponed; the newly-arrived warriors were called to council, and Contrecoeur thus harangued them: “The English have murdered my children, my heart is sick; to-morrow I shall send my French soldiers to take revenge.  And now, men of the Saut St. Louis, men of the Lake of Two Mountains, Hurons, Abenakis, Iroquois of La Présentation, Nipissings, Algonquins, and Ottawas,—I invite you all by this belt of wampum to join your French father and help him to crush the assassins.  Take this hatchet, and with it two barrels of wine for a feast.”  Both hatchet and wine were cheerfully accepted.  Then Contrecoeur turned to the Delawares, who were also present: “By these four strings of wampum I invite you, if you are true children of Onontio, to follow the example of your brethren;” and with some hesitation they also took up the hatchet.

        The next day was spent by the Indians in making moccasons for the march, and by the French in preparing for an expedition on a larger scale than had been at first intended.  Contrecoeur, Villiers, Le Mercier, and Longueuil, after deliberating together, drew up a paper to the effect that “it was fitting (convenable) to march against the English with the greatest possible number of French and savages, in order to avenge ourselves and chastise them for having violated the most sacred laws of civilized nations;” that, thought their conduct justified the French in disregarding the existing treaty of peace, yet, after thoroughly punishing them, and compelling them to withdraw from the domain of the King, they should be told that, in pursuance of his royal orders, the French looked on them as friends.  But it was further agreed that should the English have withdrawn to their own side of the mountains, “they should be followed to their settlements to destroy them and treat them as enemies, till that nation should give ample satisfaction and completely change its conduct.”[154]

[Footnote 154: Journal de Campagne de M. de Villiers depuis son Arrivée au Fort Duquesne jusqu'à son Retour au dit Fort. These and other passages are omitted in the Journal as printed in Précis des Faits. Before me is a copy from the original in the Archives de la Marine.]


        The party set out on the next morning, paddled their canoes up the Monongahela, encamped, heard Mass; and on the thirtieth reached the deserted storehouse of the Ohio Company at the mouth of Redstone Creek.  It was a building of solid logs, well loopholed for musketry.  To please the Indians by asking their advice, Villiers called all the chiefs to council; which, being concluded to their satisfaction, he left a sergeant's guard at the storehouse to watch the canoes, and began his march through the forest.  The path was so rough that at the first halt the chaplain declared he could go no farther, and turned back for the storehouse, though not till he had absolved the whole company in a body.  Thus lightened of their sins, they journeyed on, constantly sending out scouts.  On the second of July they reached the abandoned camp of Washington at Gist's settlement; and here they bivouacked, tired, and drenched all night by rain.  At daybreak they marched again, and passed through the gorge of Laurel Hill.  It rained without ceasing; but Villiers pushed his way through the dripping forest to see the place, half a mile from the road, where his brother had been killed, and where several bodies still lay unburied.  They had learned from a deserter the position of the enemy, and Villiers filled the woods in front with a swarm of Indian scouts.  The crisis was near.  He formed his men in column, and ordered every officer to his place.

        Washington's men had had a full day at Fort Necessity; but they spent it less in resting from their fatigue than in strengthening their rampart with logs.  The fort was a simple square enclosure, with a trench said by a French writer to be only knee deep.  On the south, and partly on the west, there was an exterior embankment, which seems to have been made, like a rifle-pit, with the ditch inside.  The Virginians had but little ammunition, and no bread whatever, living chiefly on fresh beef.  They knew the approach of the French, who were reported to Washington as nine hundred strong, besides Indians.  Towards eleven o'clock a wounded sentinel came in with news that they were close at hand; and they presently appeared at the edge of the woods, yelling, and firing from such a distance that their shot fell harmless.  Washington drew up his men on the meadow before the fort, thinking, he says, that the enemy, being greatly superior in force, would attack at once; and choosing for some reason to meet them on the open plain.  But Villiers had other views.  “We approached the English,” he writes, “as near as possible, without uselessly exposing the lives of the King's subjects;” and he and his followers made their way through the forest till they came opposite the fort, where they stationed themselves on two densely wooded hills, adjacent, though separated by a small brook.  One of these was about a hundred paces from the English, and the other about sixty.  Their position was such that the French and Indians, well sheltered by trees and bushes, and with the advantage of higher ground, could cross their fire upon the fort and enfilade a part of it.  Washington had meanwhile drawn his followers within the entrenchment; and the firing now began on both sides.  Rain fell all day.  The raw earth of the embankment was turned to soft mud, and the men in the ditch of the outwork stood to the knee in water.  The swivels brought back from the camp at Gist's farm were mounted on the rampart; but the gunners were so ill protected that the pieces were almost silenced by the French musketry.  The fight lasted nine hours.  At times the fire on both sides was nearly quenched by the showers, and the bedrenched combatants could do little but gaze at each other through a gray veil of mist and rain.  Towards night, however, the fusillade revived, and became sharp again until dark.  At eight o'clock the French called out to propose a parley.

        Villiers thus gives his reason for these overtures.  “As we had been wet all day by the rain, as the soldiers were very tired, as the savages said that they would leave us the next morning, and as there was a report that drums and the firing of cannon had been heard in the distance, I proposed to M. Le Mercier to offer the English a conference.”  He says further that ammunition was falling short, and that he thought the enemy might sally in a body and attack him.[155]  The English, on their side, were in a worse plight.  They were half starved, their powder was nearly spent, their guns were foul, and among them all they had but two screw-rods to clean them.  In spite of his desperate position, Washington declined the parley, thinking it a pretext to introduce a spy; but when the French repeated their proposal and requested that he would send an officer to them, he could hesitate no longer.  There were but two men with him who knew French, Ensign Peyroney, who was disabled by a wound, and the Dutchman, Captain Vanbraam.  To him the unpalatable errand was assigned.  After a long absence he returned with articles of capitulation offered by Villiers; and while the officers gathered about him in the rain, he read and interpreted the paper by the glimmer of a sputtering candle kept alight with difficulty.  Objection was made to some of the terms, and they were changed.  Vanbraam, however, apparently anxious to get the capitulation signed and the affair ended, mistranslated several passages, and rendered the words  l'assassinat du Sieur de Jumonville  as  the death of the Sieur de Jumonville.[156]  As thus understood, the articles were signed about midnight.  They provided that the English should march out with drums beating and the honors of war, carrying with them one of their swivels and all their other property; that they should be protected against insult from French or Indians; that the prisoners taken in the affair of Jumonville should be set free; and that two officers should remain as hostages for their safe return to Fort Duquesne.  The hostages chosen were Vanbraam and a brave but eccentric Scotchman, Robert Stobo, an acquaintance of the novelist Smollett, said to be the original of his Lismahago.

[Footnote 155: Journal de Villiers, original. Omitted in the Journal as printed by the French Government. A short and very incorrect abstract of this Journal will be found in N.Y. Col. Docs., X.]

[Footnote 156: See Appendix C. On the fight at Great Meadows, compare Sparks, Writings of Washington, II. 456-468; also a letter of Colonel Innes to Governor Hamilton, written a week after the event, in Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 50, and a letter of Adam Stephen in Pennsylvania Gazette, 1754.]


        Washington reports that twelve of the Virginians were killed on the spot, and forty-three wounded, while on the casualties in Mackay's company no returns appear.  Villiers reports his own loss at only twenty in all.[157]  The numbers engaged are uncertain.  The six companies of the Virginia regiment counted three hundred and five men and officers, and Mackay's company one hundred; but many were on the sick list, and some had deserted.  About three hundred and fifty may have taken part in the fight.  On the side of the French, Villiers says that the detachment as originally formed consisted of five hundred white men.  These were increased after his arrival at Fort Duquesne, and one of the party reports that seven hundred marched on the expedition.[158]  The number of Indians joining them is not given; but as nine tribes and communities contributed to it, and as two barrels of wine were required to give the warriors a parting feast, it must have been considerable.  White men and red, it seems clear that the French force was more than twice that of the English, while they were better posted and better sheltered, keeping all day under cover, and never showing themselves on the open meadow.  There were no Indians with Washington.  Even the Half-King held aloof; though, being of a caustic turn, he did not spare his comments on the fight, telling Conrad Weiser, the provincial interpreter, that the French behaved like cowards, and the English like fools.[159]

[Footnote 157: Dinwiddie writes to the Lords of Trade that thirty in all were killed, and seventy wounded, on the English side; and the commissary Varin writes to Bigot that the French lost seventy-two killed and wounded.]

[Footnote 158: A Journal had from Thomas Forbes, lately a Private Soldier in the King of France's Service. (Public Record Office.) Forbes was one of Villiers' soldiers. The commissary Varin puts the number of French at six hundred, besides Indians.]

[Footnote 159: Journal of Conrad Weiser, in Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 150. The Half-King also remarked that Washington “was a good-natured man, but had no experience, and would by no means take advice from the Indians, but was always driving them on to fight by his directions; that he lay at one place from one full moon to the other, and made no fortifications at all, except that little thing upon the meadow, where he thought the French would come up to him in open field.”]


        In the early morning the fort was abandoned and the retreat began.  The Indians had killed all the horses and cattle, and Washington's men were so burdened with the sick and wounded, whom they were obliged to carry on their backs, that most of the baggage was perforce left behind.  Even then they could march but a few miles, and then encamped to wait for wagons.  The Indians increased the confusion by plundering, and threatening an attack.  They knocked to pieces the medicine-chest, thus causing great distress to the wounded, two of whom they murdered and scalped.  For a time there was danger of panic; but order was restored, and the wretched march began along the forest road that led over the Alleghanies, fifty-two miles to the station at Wills Creek.  Whatever may have been the feelings of Washington, he has left no record of them.  His immense fortitude was doomed to severer trials in the future; yet perhaps this miserable morning was the darkest of his life.  He was deeply moved by sights of suffering; and all around him were wounded men borne along in torture, and weary men staggering under the living load.  His pride was humbled, and his young ambition seemed blasted in the bud.  It was the fourth of July.  He could not foresee that he was to make that day forever glorious to a new-born nation hailing him as its father.

        The defeat at Fort Necessity was doubly disastrous to the English, since it was a new step and a long one towards the ruin of their interest with the Indians; and when, in the next year, the smouldering war broke into flame, nearly all the western tribes drew their scalping-knives for France.

        Villiers went back exultant to Fort Duquesne, burning on his way the buildings of Gist's settlement and the storehouse at Redstone Creek.  Not an English flag now waved beyond the Alleghanies.[160]

[Footnote 160: See Appendix C.]


Table of Contents



Chapter 6

1754, 1755


The Signal of Battle


        The defeat of Washington was a heavy blow to the Governor, and he angrily ascribed it to the delay of the expected reinforcements.  The King's companies from New York had reached Alexandria, and crawled towards the scene of action with thin ranks, bad discipline, thirty women and children, no tents, no blankets, no knapsacks, and for munitions one barrel of spoiled gunpowder.[161]  The case was still worse with the regiment from North Carolina.  It was commanded by Colonel Innes, a countryman and friend of Dinwiddie, who wrote to him: “Dear James, I now wish that we had none from your colony but yourself, for I foresee nothing but confusion among them.”  The men were, in fact, utterly unmanageable.  They had been promised three shillings a day, while the Virginians had only eightpence; and when they heard on the march that their pay was to be reduced, they mutinied, disbanded, and went home.

[Footnote 161: Dinwiddie to the Lords of Trade, 24 July, 1754. Ibid. to Delancey, 20 June, 1754.]


        “You may easily guess,” says Dinwiddie to a London correspondent, “the great fatigue and trouble I have had, which is more than I ever went through in my life.”  He rested his hopes on the session of his Assembly, which was to take place in August; for he thought that the late disaster would move them to give him money for defending the colony.  These meetings of the burgesses were the great social as well as political event of the Old Dominion, and gave a gathering signal to the Virginian gentry scattered far and wide on their lonely plantations.  The capital of the province was Williamsburg, a village of about a thousand inhabitants, traversed by a straight and very wide street, and adorned with various public buildings, conspicuous among which was William and Mary College, a respectable structure, unjustly likened by Jefferson to a brick kiln with a roof.  The capitol, at the other end of the town, had been burned some years before, and had just risen from its ashes.  Not far distant was the so-called Governor's Palace, where Dinwiddie with his wife and two daughters exercised such official hospitality as his moderate salary and Scottish thrift would permit.[162]

[Footnote 162: For a contemporary account of Williamsburg, Burnaby, Travels in North America, 6. Smyth, Tour in America, I. 17, describes it some years later.]


        In these seasons of festivity the dull and quiet village was transfigured.  The broad, sandy street, scorching under a southern sun, was thronged with coaches and chariots brought over from London at heavy cost in tobacco, though soon to be bedimmed by Virginia roads and negro care; racing and hard-drinking planters; clergymen of the Establishment, not much more ascetic than their boon companions of the laity; ladies, with manners a little rusted by long seclusion; black coachmen and footmen, proud of their masters and their liveries; young cavaliers, booted and spurred, sitting their thoroughbreds with the careless grace of men whose home was the saddle.  It was a proud little provincial society, which might seem absurd in its lofty self-appreciation, had it not soon approved itself so prolific in ability and worth.[163]

[Footnote 163: The English traveller Smyth, in his Tour, gives a curious and vivid picture of Virginian life. For the social condition of this and other colonies before the Revolution, one cannot do better than to consult Lodge's Short History of the English Colonies.]


        The burgesses met, and Dinwiddie made them an opening speech, inveighing against the aggressions of the French, their “contempt of treaties,” and “ambitious views for universal monarchy;” and he concluded: “I could expatiate very largely on these affairs, but my heart burns with resentment at their insolence.  I think there is no room for many arguments to induce you to raise a considerable supply to enable me to defeat the designs of these troublesome people and enemies of mankind.”  The burgesses in their turn expressed the “highest and most becoming resentment,” and promptly voted twenty thousand pounds; but on the third reading of the bill they added to it a rider which touched the old question of the pistole fee, and which, in the view of the Governor, was both unconstitutional and offensive.  He remonstrated in vain; the stubborn republicans would not yield, nor would he; and again he prorogued them.  This unexpected defeat depressed him greatly.  “A governor,” he wrote, “is really to be pitied in the discharge of his duty to his king and country, in having to do with such obstinate, self-conceited people... I cannot satisfy the burgesses unless I prostitute the rules of government.  I have gone through monstrous fatigues.  Such wrong-headed people, I thank God, I never had to do with before.”[164]  A few weeks later he was comforted; for, having again called the burgesses, they gave him the money, without trying this time to humiliate him.[165]

[Footnote 164: Dinwiddie to Hamilton, 6 Sept., 1754. Ibid. to J. Abercrombie, 1 Sept., 1754.]

[Footnote 165: Hening, VI. 435.]


        In straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel, aristocratic Virginia was far outdone by democratic Pennsylvania.  Hamilton, her governor, had laid before the Assembly a circular letter from the Earl of Holdernesse directing him, in common with other governors, to call on his province for means to repel any invasion which might be made “within the undoubted limits of His Majesty's dominion.”[166]  The Assembly of Pennsylvania was curiously unlike that of Virginia, as half and often more than half of its members were Quaker tradesmen in sober raiment and broad-brimmed hats; while of the rest, the greater part were Germans who cared little whether they lived under English rule or French, provided that they were left in peace upon their farms.  The House replied to the Governor's call: “It would be highly presumptuous in us to pretend to judge of the undoubted limits of His Majesty's dominions;” and they added: “the Assemblies of this province are generally composed of a majority who are constitutionally principled against war, and represent a well-meaning, peaceable people.”[167]  They then adjourned, telling the Governor that, “As those our limits have not been clearly ascertained to our satisfaction, we fear the precipitate call upon us as the province invaded cannot answer any good purpose at this time.”

[Footnote 166: The Earl of Holdernesse to the Governors in America, 28 Aug. 1753.]

[Footnote 167: Colonial Records of Pa., V. 748.]


        In the next month they met again, and again Hamilton asked for means to defend the country.  The question was put, Should the Assembly give money for the King's use?  and the vote was feebly affirmative.  Should the sum be twenty thousand pounds?  The vote was overwhelming in the negative.  Fifteen thousand, ten thousand, and five thousand, were successively proposed, and the answer was always, No.  The House would give nothing but five hundred pounds for a present to the Indians; after which they adjourned “to the sixth of the month called May.”[168]  At their next meeting they voted to give the Governor ten thousand pounds; but under conditions which made them for some time independent of his veto, and which, in other respects, were contrary to his instructions from the King, as well as from the proprietaries of the province, to whom he had given bonds to secure his obedience.  He therefore rejected the bill, and they adjourned.  In August they passed a similar vote, with the same result.  At their October meeting they evaded his call for supplies.  In December they voted twenty thousand pounds, hampered with conditions which were sure to be refused, since Morris, the new governor, who had lately succeeded Hamilton, was under the same restrictions as his predecessor.  They told him, however, that in the present case they felt themselves bound by no Act of Parliament, and added: “We hope the Governor, notwithstanding any penal bond he may have entered into, will on reflection think himself at liberty and find it consistent with his safety and honor to give his assent to this bill.”  Morris, who had taken the highest legal advice on the subject in England, declined to compromise himself, saying: “Consider, gentlemen, in what light you will appear to His Majesty while, instead of contributing towards your own defence, you are entering into an ill-timed controversy concerning the validity of royal instructions which may be delayed to a more convenient time without the least injury to the rights of the people.”[169]  They would not yield, and told him “that they had rather the French should conquer them than give up their privileges.”[170]  “Truly,” remarks Dinwiddie, “I think they have given their senses a long holiday.”

[Footnote 168: Pennsylvania Archives, II. 235. Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 22-26. Works of Franklin, III. 265.]

[Footnote 169: Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 215.]

[Footnote 170: Morris to Penn, 1 Jan. 1755.]


        New York was not much behind her sisters in contentious stubbornness.  In answer to the Governor's appeal, the Assembly replied: “It appears that the French have built a fort at a place called French Creek, at a considerable distance from the River Ohio, which may, but does not by any evidence or information appear to us to be an invasion of any of His Majesty's colonies.”[171]  So blind were they as yet to “manifest destiny!”  Afterwards, however, on learning the defeat of Washington, they gave five thousand pounds to aid Virginia.[172]  Maryland, after long delay, gave six thousand.  New Jersey felt herself safe behind the other colonies, and would give nothing.  New England, on the other hand, and especially Massachusetts, had suffered so much from French war-parties that they were always ready to fight.  Shirley, the governor of Massachusetts, had returned from his bootless errand to settle the boundary question at Paris.  His leanings were strongly monarchical; yet he believed in the New Englanders, and was more or less in sympathy with them.  Both he and they were strenuous against the French, and they had mutually helped each other to reap laurels in the last war.  Shirley was cautious of giving umbrage to his Assembly, and rarely quarrelled with it, except when the amount of his salary was in question.  He was not averse to a war with France; for though bred a lawyer, and now past middle life, he flattered himself with hopes of a high military command.  On the present occasion, making use of a rumor that the French were seizing the carrying-place between the Chaudière and the Kennebec, he drew from the Assembly a large grant of money, and induced them to call upon him to march in person to the scene of danger.  He accordingly repaired to Falmouth (now Portland); and, though the rumor proved false, sent eight hundred men under Captain John Winslow to build two forts on the Kennebec as a measure of precaution.[173]

[Footnote 171: Address of the Assembly to Lieutenant-Governor Delancey, 23 April, 1754. Lords of Trade to Delancey, 5 July, 1754.]

[Footnote 172: Delancey to Lords of Trade, 8 Oct. 1754.]

[Footnote 173: Massachusetts Archives, 1754. Hutchinson, III. 26. Conduct of Major-General Shirley briefly stated. Journals of the Board of Trade, 1754.]


        While to these northern provinces Canada was an old and pestilent enemy, those towards the south scarcely knew her by name; and the idea of French aggression on their borders was so novel and strange that they admitted it with difficulty.  Mind and heart were engrossed in strife with their governors: the universal struggle for virtual self-rule.  But the war was often waged with a passionate stupidity.  The colonist was not then an American; he was simply a provincial, and a narrow one.  The time was yet distant when these dissevered and jealous communities should weld themselves into one broad nationality, capable, at need, of the mightiest efforts to purge itself of disaffection and vindicate its commanding unity.

        In the interest of that practical independence which they had so much at heart, two conditions were essential to the colonists.  The one was a field for expansion, and the other was mutual help.  Their first necessity was to rid themselves of the French, who, by shutting them between the Alleghanies and the sea, would cramp them into perpetual littleness.  With France on their backs, growing while they had no room to grow, they must remain in helpless wardship, dependent on England, whose aid they would always need; but with the West open before them, their future was their own.  King and Parliament would respect perforce the will of a people spread from the ocean to the Mississippi, and united in action as in aims.  But in the middle of the last century the vision of the ordinary colonist rarely reached so far.  The immediate victory over a governor, however slight the point at issue, was more precious in his eyes than the remote though decisive advantage which he saw but dimly.

        The governors, representing the central power, saw the situation from the national point of view.  Several of them, notably Dinwiddie and Shirley, were filled with wrath at the proceedings of the French; and the former was exasperated beyond measure at the supineness of the provinces.  He had spared no effort to rouse them, and had failed.  His instincts were on the side of authority; but, under the circumstances, it is hardly to be imputed to him as a very deep offence against human liberty that he advised the compelling of the colonies to raise men and money for their own defence, and proposed, in view of their “intolerable obstinacy and disobedience to his Majesty's commands,” that Parliament should tax them half-a-crown a head.  The approaching war offered to the party of authority temptations from which the colonies might have saved it by opening their purse-strings without waiting to be told.

        The Home Government, on its part, was but half-hearted in the wish that they should unite in opposition to the common enemy.  It was very willing that the several provinces should give money and men, but not that they should acquire military habits and a dangerous capacity of acting together.  There was one kind of union, however, so obviously necessary, and at the same time so little to be dreaded, that the British Cabinet, instructed by the governors, not only assented to it, but urged it.  This was joint action in making treaties with the Indians.  The practice of separate treaties, made by each province in its own interest, had bred endless disorders.  The adhesion of all the tribes had been so shaken, and the efforts of the French to alienate them were so vigorous and effective, that not a moment was to be lost.  Joncaire had gained over most of the Senecas, Piquet was drawing the Onondagas more and more to his mission, and the Dutch of Albany were alienating their best friends, the Mohawks, by encroaching on their lands.  Their chief, Hendrick, came to New York with a deputation of the tribe to complain of their wrongs; and finding no redress, went off in anger, declaring that the covenant chain was broken.[174]  The authorities in alarm called William Johnson to their aid.  He succeeded in soothing the exasperated chief, and then proceeded to the confederate council at Onondaga, where he found the assembled sachems full of anxieties and doubts.  “We don't know what you Christians, English and French, intend,” said one of their orators.  “We are so hemmed in by you both that we have hardly a hunting-place left.  In a little while, if we find a bear in a tree, there will immediately appear an owner of the land to claim the property and hinder us from killing it, by which we live.  We are so perplexed between you that we hardly know what to say or think.”[175]  No man had such power over the Five Nations as Johnson.  His dealings with them were at once honest, downright, and sympathetic.  They loved and trusted him as much as they detested the Indian commissioners at Albany, whom the province of New York had charged with their affairs, and who, being traders, grossly abused their office.

[Footnote 174: N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 788. Colonial Records of Pa. V. 625.]

[Footnote 175: N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 813.]


        It was to remedy this perilous state of things that the Lords of Trade and Plantations directed the several governors to urge on their assemblies the sending of commissioners to make a joint treaty with the wavering tribes.[176]  Seven of the provinces, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the four New England colonies, acceded to the plan, and sent to Albany, the appointed place of meeting, a body of men who for character and ability had never had an equal on the continent, but whose powers from their respective assemblies were so cautiously limited as to preclude decisive action.  They met in the court-house of the little frontier city.  A large “chain-belt” of wampum was provided, on which the King was symbolically represented, holding in his embrace the colonies, the Five Nations, and all their allied tribes.  This was presented to the assembled warriors, with a speech in which the misdeeds of the French were not forgotten.  The chief, Hendrick, made a much better speech in reply.  “We do now solemnly renew and brighten the covenant chain.  We shall take the chain-belt to Onondaga, where our council-fire always burns, and keep it so safe that neither thunder nor lightning shall break it.”  The commissioners had blamed them for allowing so many of their people to be drawn away to Piquet's mission.  “It is true,” said the orator, “that we live disunited.  We have tried to bring back our brethren, but in vain; for the Governor of Canada is like a wicked, deluding spirit.  You ask why we are so dispersed.  The reason is that you have neglected us for these three years past.”  Here he took a stick and threw it behind him.  “You have thus thrown us behind your back; whereas the French are a subtle and vigilant people, always using their utmost endeavors to seduce and bring us over to them.”  He then told them that it was not the French alone who invaded the country of the Indians.  “The Governor of Virginia and the Governor of Canada are quarrelling about lands which belong to us, and their quarrel may end in our destruction.”  And he closed with a burst of sarcasm.  “We would have taken Crown Point [in the last war], but you prevented us.  Instead, you burned your own fort at Saratoga and ran away from it,—which was a shame and a scandal to you.  Look about your country and see: you have no fortifications; no, not even in this city.  It is but a step from Canada hither, and the French may come and turn you out of doors.  You desire us to speak from the bottom of our hearts, and we shall do it.  Look at the French: they are men; they are fortifying everywhere.  But you are all like women, bare and open, without fortifications.”[177]

[Footnote 176: Circular Letter of Lords of Trade to Governors in America, 18 Sept. 1753. Lords of Trade to Sir Danvers Osborne, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 800.]

[Footnote 177: Proceedings of the Congress at Albany, N.Y. Col. Docs., VI. 853. A few verbal changes, for the sake of brevity, are made in the above extracts.]


        Hendrick's brother Abraham now took up the word, and begged that Johnson might be restored to the management of Indian affairs, which he had formerly held; “for,” said the chief, “we love him and he us and he has always been our good and trusty friend.”  The commissioners had not power to grant the request, but the Indians were assured that it should not be forgotten; and they returned to their villages soothed, but far from satisfied.  Nor were the commissioners empowered to take any effective steps for fortifying the frontier.

        The congress now occupied itself with another matter.  Its members were agreed that great danger was impending; that without wise and just treatment of the tribes, the French would gain them all, build forts along the back of the British colonies, and, by means of ships and troops from France, master them one by one, unless they would combine for mutual defence.  The necessity of some form of union had at length begun to force itself upon the colonial mind.  A rough woodcut had lately appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette, figuring the provinces under the not very flattering image of a snake cut to pieces, with the motto, “Join, or die.”  A writer of the day held up the Five Nations for emulation, observing that if ignorant savages could confederate, British colonists might do as much.[178]  Franklin, the leading spirit of the congress, now laid before it his famous project of union, which has been too often described to need much notice here.  Its fate is well known.  The Crown rejected it because it gave too much power to the colonies; the colonies, because it gave too much power to the Crown, and because it required each of them to transfer some of its functions of self-government to a central council.  Another plan was afterwards devised by the friends of prerogative, perfectly agreeable to the King, since it placed all power in the hands of a council of governors, and since it involved compulsory taxation of the colonists, who, for the same reasons, would have doggedly resisted it, had an attempt been made to carry it into effect.[179]

[Footnote 178: Kennedy, Importance of gaining and preserving the Friendship of the Indians.]

[Footnote 179: On the Albany plan of union, Franklin's Works, I. 177. Shirley thought it “a great strain upon the prerogative of the Crown,” and was for requiring the colonies to raise money and men “without farther consulting them upon any points whatever.”  Shirley to Robinson, 24 Dec. 1754.]


        Even if some plan of union had been agreed upon, long delay must have followed before its machinery could be set in motion; and meantime there was need of immediate action.  War-parties of Indians from Canada, set on, it was thought, by the Governor, were already burning and murdering among the border settlements of New York and New Hampshire.  In the south Dinwiddie grew more and more alarmed, “for the French are like so many locusts; they are collected in bodies in a most surprising manner; their number now on the Ohio is from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred.”  He writes to Lord Granville that, in his opinion, they aim to conquer the continent, and that “the obstinacy of this stubborn generation” exposes the country “to the merciless rage of a rapacious enemy.”  What vexed him even more than the apathy of the assemblies was the conduct of his brother-governor, Glen of South Carolina, who, apparently piqued at the conspicuous part Dinwiddie was acting, wrote to him in a “very dictatorial style,” found fault with his measures, jested at his activity in writing letters, and even questioned the right of England to lands on the Ohio; till he was moved at last to retort: “I cannot help observing that your letters and arguments would have been more proper from a French officer than from one of His Majesty's governors.  My conduct has met with His Majesty's gracious approbation; and I am sorry it has not received yours.”  Thus discouraged, even in quarters where he had least reason to expect it, he turned all his hopes to the Home Government; again recommended a tax by Act of Parliament, and begged, in repeated letters, for arms, munitions, and two regiments of infantry.[180]  His petition was not made in vain.

[Footnote 180: Dinwiddie Papers; letters to Granville, Albemarle, Halifax, Fox, Holdernesse, Horace Walpole, and Lords of Trade.]


        England at this time presented the phenomenon of a prime minister who could not command the respect of his own servants.  A more preposterous figure than the Duke of Newcastle never stood at the head of a great nation.  He had a feverish craving for place and power, joined to a total unfitness for both.  He was an adept in personal politics, and was so busied with the arts of winning and keeping office that he had no leisure, even if he had had ability, for the higher work of government.  He was restless, quick in movement, rapid and confused in speech, lavish of worthless promises, always in a hurry, and at once headlong, timid, and rash.  “A borrowed importance and real insignificance,” says Walpole, who knew him well, “gave him the perpetual air of a solicitor... He had no pride, though infinite self-love.  He loved business immoderately; yet was only always doing it, never did it.  When left to himself, he always plunged into difficulties, and then shuddered for the consequences.”  Walpole gives an anecdote showing the state of his ideas on colonial matters.  General Ligonier suggested to him that Annapolis ought to be defended.  “To which he replied with his lisping, evasive hurry: 'Annapolis, Annapolis!  Oh, yes, Annapolis must be defended,—where is Annapolis?' ”[181]  Another contemporary, Smollett, ridicules him in his novel of Humphrey Clinker, and tells a similar story, which, founded in fact or not, shows in what estimation the minister was held: “Captain C. treated the Duke's character without any ceremony.  'This wiseacre,' said he, 'is still abed; and I think the best thing he can do is to sleep on till Christmas; for when he gets up he does nothing but expose his own folly.  In the beginning of the war he told me in a great fright that thirty thousand French had marched from Acadia to Cape Breton.  Where did they find transports?  said I.—Transports!  cried he, I tell you they marched by land.—By land to the island of Cape Breton!—What, is Cape Breton an island?—Certainly.—Ha!  are you sure of that?—When I pointed it out on the map, he examined it earnestly with his spectacles; then, taking me in his arms,—My dear C., cried he, you always bring us good news.  Egad!  I'll go directly and tell the King that Cape Breton is an island.' ”

[Footnote 181: Walpole, George II., I. 344.]


        His wealth, county influence, flagitious use of patronage, and long-practised skill in keeping majorities in the House of Commons by means that would not bear the light, made his support necessary to Pitt himself, and placed a fantastic political jobber at the helm of England in a time when she needed a patriot and a statesman.  Newcastle was the growth of the decrepitude and decay of a great party, which had fulfilled its mission and done its work.  But if the Whig soil had become poor for a wholesome crop, it was never so rich for toadstools.

        Sir Thomas Robinson held the Southern Department, charged with the colonies; and Lord Mahon remarks of him that the Duke had achieved the feat of finding a secretary of state more incapable than himself.  He had the lead of the House of Commons.  “Sir Thomas Robinson lead us!”; said Pitt to Henry Fox; “the Duke might as well send his jackboot to lead us.”  The active and aspiring Halifax was at the head of the Board of Trade and Plantations.  The Duke of Cumberland commanded the army,—an indifferent soldier, though a brave one; harsh, violent, and headlong.  Anson, the celebrated navigator, was First Lord of the Admiralty,—a position in which he disappointed everybody.

        In France the true ruler was Madame de Pompadour, once the King's mistress, now his procuress, and a sort of feminine prime minister.  Machault d'Arnouville was at the head of the Marine and Colonial Department.  The diplomatic representatives of the two Crowns were more conspicuous for social than for political talents.  Of Mirepoix, French ambassador at London, Marshal Saxe had once observed: “It is a good appointment; he can teach the English to dance.”  Walpole says concerning him: “He could not even learn to pronounce the names of our games of cards,—which, however, engaged most of the hours of his negotiation.  We were to be bullied out of our colonies by an apprentice at whist!”  Lord Albemarle, English ambassador at Versailles, is held up by Chesterfield as an example to encourage his son in the pursuit of the graces: “What do you think made our friend Lord Albemarle colonel of a regiment of Guards, Governor of Virginia, Groom of the Stole, and ambassador to Paris,—amounting in all to sixteen or seventeen thousand pounds a year?  Was it his birth?  No; a Dutch gentleman only.  Was it his estate?  No; he had none.  Was it his learning, his parts, his political abilities and application?  You can answer these questions as easily and as soon as I can ask them.  What was it then?  Many people wondered; but I do not, for I know, and will tell you,—it was his air, his address, his manners, and his graces.”

        The rival nations differed widely in military and naval strength.  England had afloat more than two hundred ships of war, some of them of great force; while the navy of France counted little more than half the number.  On the other hand, England had reduced her army to eighteen thousand men, and France had nearly ten times as many under arms.  Both alike were weak in leadership.  That rare son of the tempest, a great commander, was to be found in neither of them since the death of Saxe.

        In respect to the approaching crisis, the interests of the two Powers pointed to opposite courses of action.  What France needed was time.  It was her policy to put off a rupture, wreathe her face in diplomatic smiles, and pose in an attitude of peace and good faith, while increasing her navy, reinforcing her garrisons in America, and strengthening her positions there.  It was the policy of England to attack at once, and tear up the young encroachments while they were yet in the sap, before they could strike root and harden into stiff resistance.

        When, on the fourteenth of November, the King made his opening speech to the Houses of Parliament, he congratulated them on the prevailing peace, and assured them that he should improve it to promote the trade of his subjects, “and protect those possessions which constitute one great source of their wealth.”  America was not mentioned; but his hearers understood him, and made a liberal grant for the service of the year.[182]  Two regiments, each of five hundred men, had already been ordered to sail for Virginia, where their numbers were to be raised by enlistment to seven hundred.[183]  Major-General Braddock, a man after the Duke of Cumberland's own heart, was appointed to the chief command.  The two regiments—the forty-fourth and the forty-eighth—embarked at Cork in the middle of January.  The soldiers detested the service, and many had deserted.  More would have done so had they foreseen what awaited them.

[Footnote 182: Entick, Late War, I. 118.]

[Footnote 183: Robinson to Lords of the Admiralty, 30 Sept. 1754. Ibid., to Board of Ordnance, 10 Oct. 1754. Ibid., Circular Letter to American Governors, 26 Oct. 1754. Instructions to our Trusty and Well-beloved Edward Braddock, 25 Nov. 1754.]


        This movement was no sooner known at Versailles than a counter expedition was prepared on a larger scale.  Eighteen ships of war were fitted for sea at Brest and Rochefort, and the six battalions of La Reine, Bourgogne, Languedoc, Guienne, Artois, and Béarn, three thousand men in all, were ordered on board for Canada.  Baron Dieskau, a German veteran who had served under Saxe, was made their general; and with him went the new governor of French America, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, destined to succeed Duquesne, whose health was failing under the fatigues of his office.  Admiral Dubois de la Motte commanded the fleet; and lest the English should try to intercept it, another squadron of nine ships, under Admiral Macnamara, was ordered to accompany it to a certain distance from the coast.  There was long and tedious delay.  Doreil, commissary of war, who had embarked with Vaudreuil and Dieskau in the same ship, wrote from the harbor of Brest on the twenty-ninth of April: “At last I think we are off.  We should have been outside by four o'clock this morning, if M. de Macnamara had not been obliged to ask Count Dubois de la Motte to wait till noon to mend some important part of the rigging (I don't know the name of it) which was broken.  It is precious time lost, and gives the English the advantage over us of two tides.  I talk of these things as a blind man does of colors.  What is certain is that Count Dubois de la Motte is very impatient to get away, and that the King's fleet destined for Canada is in very able and zealous hands.  It is now half-past two.  In half an hour all may be ready, and we may get out of the harbor before night.”  He was again disappointed; it was the third of May before the fleet put to sea.[184]

[Footnote 184: Lettres de Cremille, de Rostaing, et de Doreil au Ministre, Avril 18, 24, 28, 29, 1755. Liste des Vaisseaux de Guerre qui composent l'Escadre armée à Brest, 1755. Journal of M. de Vaudreuil's Voyage to Canada, in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 297. Pouchot, I. 25.]


        During these preparations there was active diplomatic correspondence between the two Courts.  Mirepoix demanded why British troops were sent to America.  Sir Thomas Robinson answered that there was no intention to disturb the peace or offend any Power whatever; yet the secret orders to Braddock were the reverse of pacific.  Robinson asked on his part the purpose of the French armament at Brest and Rochefort; and the answer, like his own, was a protestation that no hostility was meant.  At the same time Mirepoix in the name of the King proposed that orders should be given to the American governors on both sides to refrain from all acts of aggression.  But while making this proposal the French Court secretly sent orders to Duquesne to attack and destroy Fort Halifax, one of the two forts lately built by Shirley on the Kennebec,—a river which, by the admission of the French themselves, belonged to the English.  But, in making this attack, the French Governor was expressly enjoined to pretend that he acted without orders.[185]  He was also told that, if necessary, he might make use of the Indians to harass the English.[186]  Thus there was good faith on neither part; but it is clear through all the correspondence that the English expected to gain by precipitating an open rupture, and the French by postponing it.  Projects of convention were proposed on both sides, but there was no agreement.  The English insisted as a preliminary condition that the French should evacuate all the western country as far as the Wabash.  Then ensued a long discussion of their respective claims, as futile as the former discussion at Paris on Acadian boundaries.[187]

[Footnote 185: Machault à Duquesne, 17 Fév. 1755. The letter of Mirepoix proposing mutual abstinence from aggression, is dated on the 6th of the same month. The French dreaded Fort Halifax, because they thought it prepared the way for an advance on Quebec by way of the Chaudière.]

[Footnote 186: Ibid.]

[Footnote 187: This correspondence is printed among the Pièces justificatives of the Précis des Faits.]


        The British Court knew perfectly the naval and military preparations of the French.  Lord Albemarle had died at Paris in December; but the secretary of the embassy, De Cosne, sent to London full information concerning the fleet at Brest and Rochefort.[188]  On this, Admiral Boscawen, with eleven ships of the line and one frigate, was ordered to intercept it; and as his force was plainly too small, Admiral Melbourne, with seven more ships, was sent, nearly three weeks after, to join him if he could.  Their orders were similar,—to capture or destroy any French vessels bound to North America.[189]  Boscawen, who got to sea before La Motte, stationed himself near the southern coast of Newfoundland to cut him off; but most of the French squadron eluded him, and safely made their way, some to Louisbourg, and the others to Quebec.  Thus the English expedition was, in the main, a failure.  Three of the French ships, however, lost in fog and rain, had become separated from the rest, and lay rolling and tossing on an angry sea not far from Cape Race.  One of them was the “Alcide,” commanded by Captain Hocquart; the others were the “Lis” and the “Dauphin.”  The wind fell; but the fogs continued at intervals; till, on the afternoon of the seventh of June, the weather having cleared, the watchman on the maintop saw the distant ocean studded with ships.  It was the fleet of Boscawen.  Hocquart, who gives the account, says that in the morning they were within three leagues of him, crowding all sail in pursuit.  Towards eleven o'clock one of them, the “Dunkirk,” was abreast of him to windward, within short speaking distance; and the ship of the Admiral, displaying a red flag as a signal to engage, was not far off.  Hocquart called out: “Are we at peace, or war?” He declares that Howe, captain of the “Dunkirk,” replied in French: “La paix, la paix.”  Hocquart then asked the name of the British admiral; and on hearing it said: “I know him; he is a friend of mine.”  Being asked his own name in return, he had scarcely uttered it when the batteries of the “Dunkirk” belched flame and smoke, and volleyed a tempest of iron upon the crowded decks of the “Alcide.”  She returned the fire, but was forced at length to strike her colors.  Rostaing, second in command of the troops, was killed; and six other officers, with about eighty men, were killed or wounded.[190]  At the same time the “Lis” was attacked and overpowered.  She had on board eight companies of the battalions of La Reine and Languedoc.  The third French ship, the “Dauphin,” escaped under cover of a rising fog.[191]

[Footnote 188: Particulars in Entick, I. 121.]

[Footnote 189: Secret Instructions for our Trusty and Well-beloved Edward Boscawen, Esq., Vice-Admiral of the Blue, 16 April, 1755. Most secret Instructions for Francis Holbourne, Esq., Rear-Admiral of the Blue, 9 May, 1755. Robinson to Lords of the Admiralty, 8 May, 1755.]

[Footnote 190: Liste des Officiers tués et blessés dans le Combat de l'Alcide et du Lis.]

[Footnote 191: Hocquart's account is given in full by Pichon, Lettres et Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire du Cap-Breton. The short account in Précis des Faits, 272, seems, too, to be drawn from Hocquart. Also Boscawen to Robinson, 22 June, 1755. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 24 Juillet, 1755, Entick, I. 137.

Some English accounts say that Captain Howe, in answer to the question, “Are we at peace, or war?” returned, “I don't know; but you had better prepare for war.”  Boscawen places the action on the 10th, instead of the 8th, and puts the English loss at seven killed and twenty-seven wounded.]


        Here at last was an end to negotiation.  The sword was drawn and brandished in the eyes of Europe.

Table of Contents



Chapter 7

1755


Braddock


        “I have the pleasure to acquaint you that General Braddock came to my house last Sunday night,” writes Dinwiddie, at the end of February, to Governor Dobbs of North Carolina.  Braddock had landed at Hampton from the ship “Centurion,” along with young Commodore Keppel, who commanded the American squadron.  “I am mighty glad,” again writes Dinwiddie, “that the General is arrived, which I hope will give me some ease; for these twelve months past I have been a perfect slave.”  He conceived golden opinions of his guest.  “He is, I think, a very fine officer, and a sensible, considerate gentleman.  He and I live in great harmony.”

        Had he known him better, he might have praised him less.  William Shirley, son of the Governor of Massachusetts, was Braddock's secretary; and after an acquaintance of some months wrote to his friend Governor Morris: “We have a general most judiciously chosen for being disqualified for the service he is employed in in almost every respect.  He may be brave for aught I know, and he is honest in pecuniary matters.”[192]  The astute Franklin, who also had good opportunity of knowing him, says: “This general was, I think, a brave man, and might probably have made a good figure in some European war.  But he had too much self-confidence; too high an opinion of the validity of regular troops; too mean a one of both Americans and Indians.”[193]  Horace Walpole, in his function of gathering and immortalizing the gossip of his time, has left a sharply drawn sketch of Braddock in two letters to Sir Horace Mann, written in the summer of this year: “I love to give you an idea of our characters as they rise upon the stage of history.  Braddock is a very Iroquois in disposition.  He had a sister who, having gamed away all her little fortune at Bath, hanged herself with a truly English deliberation, leaving only a note upon the table with those lines: 'To die is landing on some silent shore,' etc.  When Braddock was told of it, he only said: 'Poor Fanny!  I always thought she would play till she would be forced to tuck herself up.' ”  Under the name of Miss Sylvia S––, Goldsmith, in his life of Nash, tells the story of this unhappy woman.  She was a rash but warm-hearted creature, reduced to penury and dependence, not so much by a passion for cards as by her lavish generosity to a lover ruined by his own follies, and with whom her relations are said to have been entirely innocent.  Walpole continues: “But a more ridiculous story of Braddock, and which is recorded in heroics by Fielding in his Covent Garden Tragedy, was an amorous discussion he had formerly with a Mrs. Upton, who kept him.  He had gone the greatest lengths with her pin-money, and was still craving.  One day, that he was very pressing, she pulled out her purse and showed him that she had but twelve or fourteen shillings left.  He twitched it from her: 'Let me see that.'  Tied up at the other end he found five guineas.  He took them, tossed the empty purse in her face, saying: 'Did you mean to cheat me?' and never went near her more.  Now you are acquainted with General Braddock.”

[Footnote 192: Shirley the younger to Morris, 23 May, 1755.]

[Footnote 193: Franklin, Autobiography.]


        “He once had a duel with Colonel Gumley, Lady Bath's brother, who had been his great friend. As they were going to engage, Gumley, who had good-humor and wit (Braddock had the latter), said: 'Braddock, you are a poor dog!  Here, take my purse; if you kill me, you will be forced to run away, and then you will not have a shilling to support you.'  Braddock refused the purse, insisted on the duel, was disarmed, and would not even ask his life. However, with all his brutality, he has lately been governor of Gibraltar, where he made himself adored, and where scarce any governor was endured before.”[194]

[Footnote 194: Letters of Horace Walpole (1866), II. 459, 461. It is doubtful if Braddock was ever governor of Gibraltar; though, as Mr. Sargent shows, he once commanded a regiment there.]


        Another story is told of him by an accomplished actress of the time, George Anne Bellamy, whom Braddock had known from girlhood, and with whom his present relations seem to have been those of an elderly adviser and friend.  “As we were walking in the Park one day, we heard a poor fellow was to be chastised; when I requested the General to beg off the offender.  Upon his application to the general officer, whose name was Dury, he asked Braddock how long since he had divested himself of the brutality and insolence of his manners?  To which the other replied: 'You never knew me insolent to my inferiors.  It is only to such rude men as yourself that I behave with the spirit which I think they deserve.' ”

        Braddock made a visit to the actress on the evening before he left London for America.  “Before we parted,” she says, “the General told me that he should never see me more; for he was going with a handful of men to conquer whole nations; and to do this they must cut their way through unknown woods.  He produced a map of the country, saying at the same time: 'Dear Pop, we are sent like sacrifices to the altar,' ”[195]—a strange presentiment for a man of his sturdy temper.

[Footnote 195: Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy, written by herself, II. 204 (London, 1786).]


        Whatever were his failings, he feared nothing, and his fidelity and honor in the discharge of public trusts were never questioned.  “Desperate in his fortune, brutal in his behavior, obstinate in his sentiments,” again writes Walpole, “he was still intrepid and capable.”[196]  He was a veteran in years and in service, having entered the Coldstream Guards as ensign in 1710.

[Footnote 196: Walpole, George II., I. 390.]


        The transports bringing the two regiments from Ireland all arrived safely at Hampton, and were ordered to proceed up the Potomac to Alexandria, where a camp was to be formed.  Thither, towards the end of March, went Braddock himself, along with Keppel and Dinwiddie, in the Governor's coach; while his aide-de-camp, Orme, his secretary, Shirley, and the servants of the party followed on horseback.  Braddock had sent for the elder Shirley and other provincial governors to meet him in council; and on the fourteenth of April they assembled in a tent of the newly formed encampment.  Here was Dinwiddie, who thought his troubles at an end, and saw in the red-coated soldiery the near fruition of his hopes.  Here, too, was his friend and ally, Dobbs of North Carolina; with Morris of Pennsylvania, fresh from Assembly quarrels; Sharpe of Maryland, who, having once been a soldier, had been made a sort of provisional commander-in-chief before the arrival of Braddock; and the ambitious Delancey of New York, who had lately led the opposition against the Governor of that province, and now filled the office himself,—a position that needed all his manifold adroitness.  But, next to Braddock, the most noteworthy man present was Shirley, governor of Massachusetts.  There was a fountain of youth in this old lawyer.  A few years before, when he was boundary commissioner in Paris, he had had the indiscretion to marry a young Catholic French girl, the daughter of his landlord; and now, when more than sixty years old, he thirsted for military honors, and delighted in contriving operations of war.  He was one of a very few in the colonies who at this time entertained the idea of expelling the French from the continent.  He held that Carthage must be destroyed; and, in spite of his Parisian marriage, was the foremost advocate of the root-and-branch policy.  He and Lawrence, governor of Nova Scotia, had concerted an attack on the French fort of Beauséjour; and, jointly with others in New England, he had planned the capture of Crown Point, the key of Lake Champlain.  By these two strokes and by fortifying the portage between the Kennebec and the Chaudière, he thought that the northern colonies would be saved from invasion, and placed in a position to become themselves invaders.  Then, by driving the enemy from Niagara, securing that important pass, and thus cutting off the communication between Canada and her interior dependencies, all the French posts in the West would die of inanition.[197]  In order to commend these schemes to the Home Government, he had painted in gloomy colors the dangers that beset the British colonies.  Our Indians, he said, will all desert us if we submit to French encroachment.  Some of the provinces are full of negro slaves, ready to rise against their masters, and of Roman Catholics, Jacobites, indented servants, and other dangerous persons, who would aid the French in raising a servile insurrection.  Pennsylvania is in the hands of Quakers, who will not fight, and of Germans, who are likely enough to join the enemy.  The Dutch of Albany would do anything to save their trade.  A strong force of French regulars might occupy that place without resistance, then descend the Hudson, and, with the help of a naval force, capture New York and cut the British colonies asunder.[198]

[Footnote 197: Correspondence of Shirley, 1754, 1755.]

[Footnote 198: Shirley to Robinson, 24 Jan. 1755.]


        The plans against Crown Point and Beauséjour had already found the approval of the Home Government and the energetic support of all the New England colonies.  Preparation for them was in full activity; and it was with great difficulty that Shirley had disengaged himself from these cares to attend the council at Alexandria.  He and Dinwiddie stood in the front of opposition to French designs.  As they both defended the royal prerogative and were strong advocates of taxation by Parliament, they have found scant justice from American writers.  Yet the British colonies owed them a debt of gratitude, and the American States owe it still.

        Braddock, laid his instructions before the Council, and Shirley found them entirely to his mind; while the General, on his part, fully approved the schemes of the Governor.  The plan of the campaign was settled.  The French were to be attacked at four points at once.  The two British regiments lately arrived were to advance on Fort Duquesne; two new regiments, known as Shirley's and Pepperell's, just raised in the provinces, and taken into the King's pay, were to reduce Niagara; a body of provincials from New England, New York, and New Jersey was to seize Crown Point; and another body of New England men to capture Beauséjour and bring Acadia to complete subjection.  Braddock himself was to lead the expedition against Fort Duquesne.  He asked Shirley, who, though a soldier only in theory, had held the rank of colonel since the last war, to charge himself with that against Niagara; and Shirley eagerly assented.  The movement on Crown Point was intrusted to Colonel William Johnson, by reason of his influence over the Indians and his reputation for energy, capacity, and faithfulness.  Lastly, the Acadian enterprise was assigned to Lieutenant-Colonel Monckton, a regular officer of merit.

        To strike this fourfold blow in time of peace was a scheme worthy of Newcastle and of Cumberland.  The pretext was that the positions to be attacked were all on British soil; that in occupying them the French had been guilty of invasion; and that to expel the invaders would be an act of self-defence.  Yet in regard to two of these positions, the French, if they had no other right, might at least claim one of prescription.  Crown Point had been twenty-four years in their undisturbed possession, while it was three quarters of a century since they first occupied Niagara; and, though New York claimed the ground, no serious attempt had been made to dislodge them.

        Other matters now engaged the Council.  Braddock, in accordance with his instructions, asked the governors to urge upon their several assemblies the establishment of a general fund for the service of the campaign; but the governors were all of opinion that the assemblies would refuse,—each being resolved to keep the control of its money in its own hands; and all present, with one voice, advised that the colonies should be compelled by Act of Parliament to contribute in due proportion to the support of the war.  Braddock next asked if, in the judgment of the Council, it would not be well to send Colonel Johnson with full powers to treat with the Five Nations, who had been driven to the verge of an outbreak by the misconduct of the Dutch Indian commissioners at Albany.  The measure was cordially approved, as was also another suggestion of the General, that vessels should be built at Oswego to command Lake Ontario.  The Council then dissolved.

        Shirley hastened back to New England, burdened with the preparation for three expeditions and the command of one of them.  Johnson, who had been in the camp, though not in the Council, went back to Albany, provided with a commission as sole superintendent of Indian affairs, and charged, besides, with the enterprise against Crown Point; while an express was despatched to Monckton at Halifax, with orders to set at once to his work of capturing Beauséjour.[199]

[Footnote 199: Minutes of a Council held at the Camp at Alexandria, in Virginia, April 14, 1755. Instructions to Major-General Braddock, 25 Nov. 1754. Secret Instructions to Major-General Braddock, same date. Napier to Braddock, written by Order of the Duke of Cumberland, 25 Nov. 1754, in Précis des Faits, Pièces justificatives, 168. Orme, Journal of Braddock's Expedition. Instructions to Governor Shirley. Correspondence of Shirley. Correspondence of Braddock (Public Record Office). Johnson Papers. Dinwiddie Papers. Pennsylvania Archives, II.]


        In regard to Braddock's part of the campaign, there had been a serious error.  If, instead of landing in Virginia and moving on Fort Duquesne by the long and circuitous route of Wills Creek, the two regiments had disembarked at Philadelphia and marched westward, the way would have been shortened, and would have lain through one of the richest and most populous districts on the continent, filled with supplies of every kind.  In Virginia, on the other hand, and in the adjoining province of Maryland, wagons, horses, and forage were scarce.  The enemies of the Administration ascribed this blunder to the influence of the Quaker merchant, John Hanbury, whom the Duke of Newcastle had consulted as a person familiar with American affairs.  Hanbury, who was a prominent stockholder in the Ohio Company, and who traded largely in Virginia, saw it for his interest that the troops should pass that way; and is said to have brought the Duke to this opinion.[200]  A writer of the time thinks that if they had landed in Pennsylvania, forty thousand pounds would have been saved in money, and six weeks in time.[201]

[Footnote 200: Shebbeare's Tracts, Letter I. Dr. Shebbeare was a political pamphleteer, pilloried by one ministry, and rewarded by the next. He certainly speaks of Hanbury, though he does not give his name. Compare Sargent, 107, 162.]

[Footnote 201: Gentleman's Magazine, Aug. 1755.]


        Not only were supplies scarce, but the people showed such unwillingness to furnish them, and such apathy in aiding the expedition, that even Washington was provoked to declare that “they ought to be chastised.”[202]  Many of them thought that the alarm about French encroachment was a device of designing politicians; and they did not awake to a full consciousness of the peril till it was forced upon them by a deluge of calamities, produced by the purblind folly of their own representatives, who, instead of frankly promoting the expedition, displayed a perverse and exasperating narrowness which chafed Braddock to fury.  He praises the New England colonies, and echoes Dinwiddie's declaration that they have shown a “fine martial spirit,” and he commends Virginia as having done far better than her neighbors; but for Pennsylvania he finds no words to express his wrath.[203]  He knew nothing of the intestine war between proprietaries and people, and hence could see no palliation for a conduct which threatened to ruin both the expedition and the colony.  Everything depended on speed, and speed was impossible; for stores and provisions were not ready, though notice to furnish them had been given months before.  The quartermaster-general, Sir John Sinclair, “stormed like a lion rampant,” but with small effect.[204]  Contracts broken or disavowed, want of horses, want of wagons, want of forage, want of wholesome food, or sufficient food of any kind, caused such delay that the report of it reached England, and drew from Walpole the comment that Braddock was in no hurry to be scalped.  In reality he was maddened with impatience and vexation.

[Footnote 202: Writings of Washington, II. 78. He speaks of the people of Pennsylvania.]

[Footnote 203: Braddock to Robinson, 18 March, 19 April, 5 June, 1755, etc. On the attitude of Pennsylvania, Colonial Records of Pa., VI., passim.]

[Footnote 204: Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 368.]


        A powerful ally presently came to his aid in the shape of Benjamin Franklin, then postmaster-general of Pennsylvania.  That sagacious personage,—the sublime of common-sense, about equal in his instincts and motives of character to the respectable average of the New England that produced him, but gifted with a versatile power of brain rarely matched on earth,—was then divided between his strong desire to repel a danger of which he saw the imminence, and his equally strong antagonism to the selfish claims of the Penns, proprietaries of Pennsylvania.  This last motive had determined his attitude towards their representative, the Governor, and led him into an opposition as injurious to the military good name of the province as it was favorable to its political longings.  In the present case there was no such conflict of inclinations; he could help Braddock without hurting Pennsylvania.  He and his son had visited the camp, and found the General waiting restlessly for the report of the agents whom he had sent to collect wagons.  “I stayed with him,” says Franklin, “several days, and dined with him daily.  When I was about to depart, the returns of wagons to be obtained were brought in, by which it appeared that they amounted only to twenty-five, and not all of these were in serviceable condition.”  On this the General and his officers declared that the expedition was at an end, and denounced the Ministry for sending them into a country void of the means of transportation.  Franklin remarked that it was a pity they had not landed in Pennsylvania, where almost every farmer had his wagon.  Braddock caught eagerly at his words, and begged that he would use his influence to enable the troops to move.  Franklin went back to Pennsylvania, issued an address to the farmers appealing to their interest and their fears, and in a fortnight procured a hundred and fifty wagons, with a large number of horses.[205]  Braddock, grateful to his benefactor, and enraged at everybody else, pronounced him “Almost the only instance of ability and honesty I have known in these provinces.”[206]  More wagons and more horses gradually arrived, and at the eleventh hour the march began.

[Footnote 205: Franklin, Autobiography. Advertisement of B. Franklin for Wagons; Address to the Inhabitants of the Counties of York, Lancaster, and Cumberland, Pennsylvania Archives,II.294]

[Footnote 206: Braddock to Robinson,5 June,1755. The letters of Braddock here cited are the originals in the Public Record Office]


        On the tenth of May Braddock reached Wills Creek, where the whole force was now gathered, having marched thither by detachments along the banks of the Potomac.  This old trading-station of the Ohio Company had been transformed into a military post and named Fort Cumberland.  During the past winter the independent companies which had failed Washington in his need had been at work here to prepare a base of operations for Braddock.  Their axes had been of more avail than their muskets.  A broad wound had been cut in the bosom of the forest, and the murdered oaks and chestnuts turned into ramparts, barracks, and magazines.  Fort Cumberland was an enclosure of logs set upright in the ground, pierced with loopholes, and armed with ten small cannon.  It stood on a rising ground near the point where Wills Creek joined the Potomac, and the forest girded it like a mighty hedge, or rather like a paling of gaunt brown stems upholding a canopy of green.  All around spread illimitable woods, wrapping hill, valley, and mountain.  The spot was an oasis in a desert of leaves,—if the name oasis can be given to anything so rude and harsh.  In this rugged area, or “clearing,” all Braddock's force was now assembled, amounting, regulars, provincials, and sailors, to about twenty-two hundred men.  The two regiments, Halket's and Dunbar's, had been completed by enlistment in Virginia to seven hundred men each.  Of Virginians there were nine companies of fifty men, who found no favor in the eyes of Braddock or his officers.  To Ensign Allen of Halket's regiment was assigned the duty of “making them as much like soldiers as possible.”[207]—that is, of drilling them like regulars.  The General had little hope of them, and informed Sir Thomas Robinson that “their slothful and languid disposition renders them very unfit for military service,”—a point on which he lived to change his mind.  Thirty sailors, whom Commodore Keppel had lent him, were more to his liking, and were in fact of value in many ways.  He had now about six hundred baggage-horses, besides those of the artillery, all weakening daily on their diet of leaves; for no grass was to be found.  There was great show of discipline, and little real order.  Braddock's executive capacity seems to have been moderate, and his dogged, imperious temper, rasped by disappointments, was in constant irritation.  “He looks upon the country, I believe,” writes Washington, “as void of honor or honesty.  We have frequent disputes on this head, which are maintained with warmth on both sides, especially on his, as he is incapable of arguing without it, or giving up any point he asserts, be it ever so incompatible with reason or common sense.”[208]  Braddock's secretary, the younger Shirley, writing to his friend Governor Morris, spoke thus irreverently of his chief: “As the King said of a neighboring governor of yours [Sharpe], when proposed for the command of the American forces about a twelvemonth ago, and recommended as a very honest man, though not remarkably able, 'a little more ability and a little less honesty upon the present occasion might serve our turn better.'  It is a joke to suppose that secondary officers can make amends for the defects of the first; the mainspring must be the mover.  As to the others, I don't think we have much to boast; some are insolent and ignorant, others capable, but rather aiming at showing their own abilities than making a proper use of them.  I have a very great love for my friend Orme, and think it uncommonly fortunate for our leader that he is under the influence of so honest and capable a man; but I wish for the sake of the public he had some more experience of business, particularly in America.  I am greatly disgusted at seeing an expedition (as it is called), so ill-concerted originally in England, so improperly conducted since in America.”[209]

[Footnote 207: Orme, Journal.]

[Footnote 208: Writings of Washington, II. 77.]

[Footnote 209: Shirley the younger to Morris, 23 May, 1755, in Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 404.]


        Captain Robert Orme, of whom Shirley speaks, was aide-de-camp to Braddock, and author of a copious and excellent Journal of the expedition, now in the British Museum.[210]  His portrait, painted at full length by Sir Joshua Reynolds, hangs in the National Gallery at London.  He stands by his horse, a gallant young figure, with a face pale, yet rather handsome, booted to the knee, his scarlet coat, ample waistcoat, and small three-cornered hat all heavy with gold lace.  The General had two other aides-de-camp, Captain Roger Morris and Colonel George Washington, whom he had invited, in terms that do him honor, to become one of his military family.

[Footnote 210: Printed by Sargent, in his excellent monograph of Braddock's Expedition.]


        It has been said that Braddock despised not only provincials, but Indians.  Nevertheless he took some pains to secure their aid, and complained that Indian affairs had been so ill conducted by the provinces that it was hard to gain their confidence.  This was true; the tribes had been alienated by gross neglect.  Had they been protected from injustice and soothed by attentions and presents, the Five Nations, Delawares, and Shawanoes would have been retained as friends.  But their complaints had been slighted, and every gift begrudged.  The trader Croghan brought, however, about fifty warriors, with as many women and children, to the camp at Fort Cumberland.  They were objects of great curiosity to the soldiers, who gazed with astonishment on their faces, painted red, yellow, and black, their ears slit and hung with pendants, and their heads close shaved, except the feathered scalp-lock at the crown.  “In the day,” says an officer, “they are in our camp, and in the night they go into their own, where they dance and make a most horrible noise.”  Braddock received them several times in his tent, ordered the guard to salute them, made them speeches, caused cannon to be fired and drums and fifes to play in their honor, regaled them with rum, and gave them a bullock for a feast; whereupon, being much pleased, they danced a war-dance, described by one spectator as “droll and odd, showing how they scalp and fight;” after which, says another, “they set up the most horrid song or cry that ever I heard.”[211]  These warriors, with a few others, promised the General to join him on the march; but he apparently grew tired of them, for a famous chief, called Scarroyaddy, afterwards complained: “He looked upon us as dogs, and would never hear anything that we said to him.”  Only eight of them remained with him to the end.[212]

[Footnote 211: Journal of a Naval Officer, in Sargent. The Expedition of Major-General Braddock, being Extracts of Letters from an Officer (London, 1755).]

[Footnote 212: Statement of George Croghan, in Sargent, appendix iii.]


        Another ally appeared at the camp.  This was a personage long known in Western fireside story as Captain Jack, the Black Hunter, or the Black Rifle.  It was said of him that, having been a settler on the farthest frontier, in the Valley of the Juniata, he returned one evening to his cabin and found it burned to the ground by Indians, and the bodies of his wife and children lying among the ruins.  He vowed undying vengeance, raised a band of kindred spirits, dressed and painted like Indians, and became the scourge of the red man and the champion of the white.  But he and his wild crew, useful as they might have been, shocked Braddock's sense of military fitness; and he received them so coldly that they left him.[213]

[Footnote 213: See several traditional accounts and contemporary letters in Hazard's Pennsylvania Register, IV. 389, 390, 416; V. 191.]


        It was the tenth of June before the army was well on its march.  Three hundred axemen led the way, to cut and clear the road; and the long train of packhorses, wagons, and cannon toiled on behind, over the stumps, roots, and stones of the narrow track, the regulars and provincials marching in the forest close on either side.  Squads of men were thrown out on the flanks, and scouts ranged the woods to guard against surprise; for, with all his scorn of Indians and Canadians, Braddock did not neglect reasonable precautions.  Thus, foot by foot, they advanced into the waste of lonely mountains that divided the streams flowing to the Atlantic from those flowing to the Gulf of Mexico,—a realm of forests ancient as the world.  The road was but twelve feet wide, and the line of march often extended four miles.  It was like a thin, long party-colored snake, red, blue, and brown, trailing slowly through the depth of leaves, creeping round inaccessible heights, crawling over ridges, moving always in dampness and shadow, by rivulets and waterfalls, crags and chasms, gorges and shaggy steps.  In glimpses only, through jagged boughs and flickering leaves, did this wild primeval world reveal itself, with its dark green mountains, flecked with the morning mist, and its distant summits pencilled in dreamy blue.  The army passed the main Alleghany, Meadow Mountain, and Great Savage Mountain, and traversed the funereal pine-forest afterwards called the Shades of Death.  No attempt was made to interrupt their march, though the commandant of Fort Duquesne had sent out parties for that purpose.  A few French and Indians hovered about them, now and then scalping a straggler or inscribing filthy insults on trees; while others fell upon the border settlements which the advance of the troops had left defenceless.  Here they were more successful, butchering about thirty persons, chiefly women and children.

        It was the eighteenth of June before the army reached a place called the Little Meadows, less than thirty miles from Fort Cumberland.  Fever and dysentery among the men, and the weakness and worthlessness of many of the horses, joined to the extreme difficulty of the road, so retarded them that they could move scarcely more than three miles a day.  Braddock consulted with Washington, who advised him to leave the heavy baggage to follow as it could, and push forward with a body of chosen troops.  This counsel was given in view of a report that five hundred regulars were on the way to reinforce Fort Duquesne.  It was adopted.  Colonel Dunbar was left to command the rear division, whose powers of movement were now reduced to the lowest point.  The advance corps, consisting of about twelve hundred soldiers, besides officers and drivers, began its march on the nineteenth with such artillery as was thought indispensable, thirty wagons, and a large number of packhorses.  “The prospect,” writes Washington to his brother, “conveyed infinite delight to my mind, though I was excessively ill at the time.  But this prospect was soon clouded, and my hopes brought very low indeed when I found that, instead of pushing on with vigor without regarding a little rough road, they were halting to level every mole-hill, and to erect bridges over every brook, by which means we were four days in getting twelve miles.”  It was not till the seventh of July that they neared the mouth of Turtle Creek, a stream entering the Monongahela about eight miles from the French fort.  The way was direct and short, but would lead them through a difficult country and a defile so perilous that Braddock resolved to ford the Monongahela to avoid this danger, and then ford it again to reach his destination.

        Fort Duquesne stood on the point of land where the Alleghany and the Monongahela join to form the Ohio, and where now stands Pittsburg, with its swarming population, its restless industries, the clang of its forges, and its chimneys vomiting foul smoke into the face of heaven.  At that early day a white flag fluttering over a cluster of palisades and embankments betokened the first intrusion of civilized men upon a scene which, a few months before, breathed the repose of a virgin wilderness, voiceless but for the lapping of waves upon the pebbles, or the note of some lonely bird.  But now the sleep of ages was broken, and bugle and drum told the astonished forest that its doom was pronounced and its days numbered.  The fort was a compact little work, solidly built and strong, compared with others on the continent.  It was a square of four bastions, with the water close on two sides, and the other two protected by ravelins, ditch, glacis, and covered way.  The ramparts on these sides were of squared logs, filled in with earth, and ten feet or more thick.  The two water sides were enclosed by a massive stockade of upright logs, twelve feet high, mortised together and loopholed.  The armament consisted of a number of small cannon mounted on the bastions.  A gate and drawbridge on the east side gave access to the area within, which was surrounded by barracks for the soldiers, officers' quarters, the lodgings of the commandant, a guardhouse, and a storehouse, all built partly of logs and partly of boards.  There were no casemates, and the place was commanded by a high woody hill beyond the Monongahela.  The forest had been cleared away to the distance of more than a musket shot from the ramparts, and the stumps were hacked level with the ground.  Here, just outside the ditch, bark cabins had been built for such of the troops and Canadians as could not find room within; and the rest of the open space was covered with Indian corn and other crops.[214]

[Footnote 214: M'Kinney's Description of Fort Duquesne, 1756, in Hazard's Pennsylvania Register, VIII. 318. Letters of Robert Stobo, Hostage at Fort Duquesne, 1754, in Colonial Records of Pa. VI. 141, 161. Stobo's Plan of Fort Duquesne, 1754. Journal of Thomas Forbes, 1755. Letter of Captain Haslet, 1758, in Olden Time, I. 184. Plan of Fort Duquesne in Public Record Office.]


        The garrison consisted of a few companies of the regular troops stationed permanently in the colony, and to these were added a considerable number of Canadians.  Contrecoeur still held the command.[215]  Under him were three other captains, Beaujeu, Dumas, and Ligneris.  Besides the troops and Canadians, eight hundred Indian warriors, mustered from far and near, had built their wigwams and camp-sheds on the open ground, or under the edge of the neighboring woods,—very little to the advantage of the young corn.  Some were baptized savages settled in Canada,—Caughnawagas from Saut St. Louis, Abenakis from St. Francis, and Hurons from Lorette, whose chief bore the name of Anastase, in honor of that Father of the Church.  The rest were unmitigated heathen,—Pottawattamies and Ojibwas from the northern lakes under Charles Langlade, the same bold partisan who had led them, three years before, to attack the Miamis at Pickawillany; Shawanoes and Mingoes from the Ohio; and Ottawas from Detroit, commanded, it is said, by that most redoubtable of savages, Pontiac.  The law of the survival of the fittest had wrought on this heterogeneous crew through countless generations; and with the primitive Indian, the fittest was the hardiest, fiercest, most adroit, and most wily.  Baptized and heathen alike they had just enjoyed a diversion greatly to their taste.  A young Pennsylvanian named James Smith, a spirited and intelligent boy of eighteen, had been waylaid by three Indians on the western borders of the province and led captive to the fort.  When the party came to the edge of the clearing, his captors, who had shot and scalped his companion, raised the scalp-yell; whereupon a din of responsive whoops and firing of guns rose from all the Indian camps, and their inmates swarmed out like bees, while the French in the fort shot off muskets and cannon to honor the occasion.  The unfortunate boy, the object of this obstreperous rejoicing, presently saw a multitude of savages, naked, hideously bedaubed with red, blue, black, and brown, and armed with sticks or clubs, ranging themselves in two long parallel lines, between which he was told that he must run, the faster the better, as they would beat him all the way.  He ran with his best speed, under a shower of blows, and had nearly reached the end of the course, when he was knocked down.  He tried to rise, but was blinded by a handful of sand thrown into his face; and then they beat him till he swooned.  On coming to his senses he found himself in the fort, with the surgeon opening a vein in his arm and a crowd of French and Indians looking on.  In a few days he was able to walk with the help of a stick; and, coming out from his quarters one morning, he saw a memorable scene.[216]

[Footnote 215: See Appendix D.]

[Footnote 216: Account of Remarkable Occurrences in the Life of Colonel James Smith, written by himself. Perhaps the best of all the numerous narratives of captives among the Indians.]


        Three days before, an Indian had brought the report that the English were approaching; and the Chevalier de la Perade was sent out to reconnoitre.[217]  He returned on the next day, the seventh, with news that they were not far distant.  On the eighth the brothers Normanville went out, and found that they were within six leagues of the fort.  The French were in great excitement and alarm; but Contrecoeur at length took a resolution, which seems to have been inspired by Beaujeu.[218]  It was determined to meet the enemy on the march, and ambuscade them if possible at the crossing of the Monongahela, or some other favorable spot.  Beaujeu proposed the plan to the Indians, and offered them the war-hatchet; but they would not take it.  “Do you want to die, my father, and sacrifice us besides?”  That night they held a council, and in the morning again refused to go.  Beaujeu did not despair.  “I am determined,” he exclaimed, “to meet the English.  What!  will you let your father go alone?”[219]  The greater part caught fire at his words, promised to follow him and put on their war-paint.  Beaujeu received the communion, then dressed himself like a savage, and joined the clamorous throng.  Open barrels of gunpowder and bullets were set before the gate of the fort, and James Smith, painfully climbing the rampart with the help of his stick, looked down on the warrior rabble as, huddling together, wild with excitement, they scooped up the contents to fill their powder-horns and pouches.  Then, band after band, they filed off along the forest track that led to the ford of the Monongahela.  They numbered six hundred and thirty-seven; and with them went thirty-six French officers and cadets, seventy-two regular soldiers, and a hundred and forty-six Canadians, or about nine hundred in all.[220]  At eight o'clock the tumult was over.  The broad clearing lay lonely and still, and Contrecoeur, with what was left of his garrison, waited in suspense for the issue.

[Footnote 217: Relation de Godefroy, in Shea, Bataille du Malangueulé (Monongahela).]

[Footnote 218: Dumas, however, declares that Beaujeu adopted the plan at his suggestion. Dumas au Ministre, 24 Juillet, 1756.]

[Footnote 219: Relation depuis le Départ des Trouppes de Québec jusqu'au 30 du Mois de Septembre, 1755.]

[Footnote 220: Liste des Officiers, Cadets, Soldats, Miliciens, et Sauvages qui composaient le Détachement qui a été au devant d'un Corps de 2,000 Anglois à 3 Lieues du Fort Duquesne, le 9 Juillet, 1755; joint à la Lettre de M. Bigot du 6 Août, 1755.]


        It was near one o'clock when Braddock crossed the Monongahela for the second time.  If the French made a stand anywhere, it would be, he thought, at the fording-place; but Lieutenant-Colonel Gage, whom he sent across with a strong advance-party, found no enemy, and quietly took possession of the farther shore.  Then the main body followed.  To impose on the imagination of the French scouts, who were doubtless on the watch, the movement was made with studied regularity and order.  The sun was cloudless, and the men were inspirited by the prospect of near triumph.  Washington afterwards spoke with admiration of the spectacle.[221]  The music, the banners, the mounted officers, the troop of light cavalry, the naval detachment, the red-coated regulars, the blue-coated Virginians, the wagons and tumbrils, cannon, howitzers, and coehorns, the train of packhorses, and the droves of cattle, passed in long procession through the rippling shallows, and slowly entered the bordering forest.  Here, when all were over, a short halt was ordered for rest and refreshment.

[Footnote 221: Compare the account of another eye-witness, Dr. Walker, in Hazard's Pennsylvania Register, VI. 104.]


        Why had not Beaujeu defended the ford?  This was his intention in the morning; but he had been met by obstacles, the nature of which is not wholly clear.  His Indians, it seems, had proved refractory.  Three hundred of them left him, went off in another direction, and did not rejoin him till the English had crossed the river.[222]  Hence perhaps it was that, having left Fort Duquesne at eight o'clock, he spent half the day in marching seven miles, and was more than a mile from the fording-place when the British reached the eastern shore.  The delay, from whatever cause arising, cost him the opportunity of laying an ambush either at the ford or in the gullies and ravines that channelled the forest through which Braddock was now on the point of marching.

[Footnote 222: Relation de Godefroy, in Shea, Bataille du Malangueulé.]


        Not far from the bank of the river, and close by the British line of march, there was a clearing and a deserted house that had once belonged to the trader Fraser.  Washington remembered it well.  It was here that he found rest and shelter on the winter journey homeward from his mission to Fort Le Boeuf.  He was in no less need of rest at this moment; for recent fever had so weakened him that he could hardly sit his horse.  From Fraser's house to Fort Duquesne the distance was eight miles by a rough path, along which the troops were now beginning to move after their halt.  It ran inland for a little; then curved to the left, and followed a course parallel to the river along the base of a line of steep hills that here bordered the valley.  These and all the country were buried in dense and heavy forest, choked with bushes and the carcases of fallen trees.  Braddock has been charged with marching blindly into an ambuscade; but it was not so.  There was no ambuscade; and had there been one, he would have found it.  It is true that he did not reconnoitre the woods very far in advance of the head of the column; yet, with this exception, he made elaborate dispositions to prevent surprise.  Several guides, with six Virginian light horsemen, led the way.  Then, a musket-shot behind, came the vanguard; then three hundred soldiers under Gage; then a large body of axemen, under Sir John Sinclair, to open the road; then two cannon with tumbrils and tool-wagons; and lastly the rear-guard, closing the line, while flanking-parties ranged the woods on both sides.  This was the advance-column.  The main body followed with little or no interval.  The artillery and wagons moved along the road, and the troops filed through the woods close on either hand.  Numerous flanking-parties were thrown out a hundred yards and more to right and left; while, in the space between them and the marching column, the pack horses and cattle, with their drivers, made their way painfully among the trees and thickets; since, had they been allowed to follow the road, the line of march would have been too long for mutual support.  A body of regulars and provincials brought up the rear.

        Gage, with his advance-column, had just passed a wide and bushy ravine that crossed their path, and the van of the main column was on the point of entering it, when the guides and light horsemen in the front suddenly fell back; and the engineer, Gordon, then engaged in marking out the road, saw a man, dressed like an Indian, but wearing the gorget of an officer, bounding forward along the path.[223]  He stopped when he discovered the head of the column, turned, and waved his hat.  The forest behind was swarming with French and savages.  At the signal of the officer, who was probably Beaujeu, they yelled the war-whoop, spread themselves to right and left, and opened a sharp fire under cover of the trees.  Gage's column wheeled deliberately into line, and fired several volleys with great steadiness against the now invisible assailants.  Few of them were hurt; the trees caught the shot, but the noise was deafening under the dense arches of the forest.  The greater part of the Canadians, to borrow the words of Dumas, “fled shamefully, crying 'Sauve qui peut!' ”[224]  Volley followed volley, and at the third Beaujeu dropped dead.  Gage's two cannon were now brought to bear, on which the Indians, like the Canadians, gave way in confusion, but did not, like them, abandon the field.  The close scarlet ranks of the English were plainly to be seen through the trees and the smoke; they were moving forward, cheering lustily, and shouting “God save the King.”  Dumas, now chief in command, thought that all was lost.  “I advanced,” he says, “with the assurance that comes from despair, exciting by voice and gesture the few soldiers that remained.  The fire of my platoon was so sharp that the enemy seemed astonished.”  The Indians, encouraged, began to rally.  The French officers who commanded them showed admirable courage and address; and while Dumas and Ligneris, with the regulars and what was left of the Canadians, held the ground in front, the savage warriors, screeching their war-cries, swarmed through the forest along both flanks of the English, hid behind trees, bushes, and fallen trunks, or crouched in gullies and ravines, and opened a deadly fire on the helpless soldiery, who, themselves completely visible, could see no enemy, and wasted volley after volley on the impassive trees.  The most destructive fire came from a hill on the English right, where the Indians lay in multitudes, firing from their lurking-places on the living target below.  But the invisible death was everywhere, in front, flank, and rear.  The British cheer was heard no more.  The troops broke their ranks and huddled together in a bewildered mass, shrinking from the bullets that cut them down by scores.

[Footnote 223: Journal of the Proceeding of the Detachment of Seamen, in Sargent.]

[Footnote 224: Dumas au Ministre, 24 Juillet, 1756. Contrecoeur à Vaudreuil, 14 Juillet, 1755. See Appendix D, where extracts are given.]


        When Braddock heard the firing in the front, he pushed forward with the main body to the support of Gage, leaving four hundred men in the rear, under Sir Peter Halket, to guard the baggage.  At the moment of his arrival Gage's soldiers had abandoned their two cannon, and were falling back to escape the concentrated fire of the Indians.  Meeting the advancing troops, they tried to find cover behind them.  This threw the whole into confusion.  The men of the two regiments became mixed together; and in a short time the entire force, except the Virginians and the troops left with Halket, were massed in several dense bodies within a small space of ground, facing some one way and some another, and all alike exposed without shelter to the bullets that pelted them like hail.  Both men and officers were new to this blind and frightful warfare of the savage in his native woods.  To charge the Indians in their hiding-places would have been useless.  They would have eluded pursuit with the agility of wildcats, and swarmed back, like angry hornets, the moment that it ceased.  The Virginians alone were equal to the emergency.  Fighting behind trees like the Indians themselves, they might have held the enemy in check till order could be restored, had not Braddock, furious at a proceeding that shocked all his ideas of courage and discipline, ordered them, with oaths, to form into line.  A body of them under Captain Waggoner made a dash for a fallen tree lying in the woods, far out towards the lurking-places of the Indians, and, crouching behind the huge trunk, opened fire; but the regulars, seeing the smoke among the bushes, mistook their best friends for the enemy, shot at them from behind, killed many, and forced the rest to return.  A few of the regulars also tried in their clumsy way to fight behind trees; but Braddock beat them with his sword, and compelled them to stand with the rest, an open mark for the Indians.  The panic increased; the soldiers crowded together, and the bullets spent themselves in a mass of human bodies.  Commands, entreaties, and threats were lost upon them.  “We would fight,” some of them answered, “if we could see anybody to fight with.”  Nothing was visible but puffs of smoke.  Officers and men who had stood all the afternoon under fire afterwards declared that they could not be sure they had seen a single Indian.  Braddock ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Burton to attack the hill where the puffs of smoke were thickest, and the bullets most deadly.  With infinite difficulty that brave officer induced a hundred men to follow him; but he was soon disabled by a wound, and they all faced about.  The artillerymen stood for some time by their guns, which did great damage to the trees and little to the enemy.  The mob of soldiers, stupefied with terror, stood panting, their foreheads beaded with sweat, loading and firing mechanically, sometimes into the air, sometimes among their own comrades, many of whom they killed.  The ground, strewn with dead and wounded men, the bounding of maddened horses, the clatter and roar of musketry and cannon, mixed with the spiteful report of rifles and the yells that rose from the indefatigable throats of six hundred unseen savages, formed a chaos of anguish and terror scarcely paralleled even in Indian war.  “I cannot describe the horrors of that scene,” one of Braddock's officers wrote three weeks after; “no pen could do it.  The yell of the Indians is fresh on my ear, and the terrific sound will haunt me till the hour of my dissolution.”[225]

[Footnote 225: Leslie to a Merchant of Philadelphia, 30 July, 1755, in Hazard's Pennsylvania Register, V. 191. Leslie was a lieutenant of the Forty-fourth.]


        Braddock showed a furious intrepidity.  Mounted on horseback, he dashed to and fro, storming like a madman.  Four horses were shot under him, and he mounted a fifth.  Washington seconded his chief with equal courage; he too no doubt using strong language, for he did not measure words when the fit was on him.  He escaped as by miracle.  Two horses were killed under him, and four bullets tore his clothes.  The conduct of the British officers was above praise.  Nothing could surpass their undaunted self-devotion; and in their vain attempts to lead on the men, the havoc among them was frightful.  Sir Peter Halket was shot dead.  His son, a lieutenant in his regiment, stooping to raise the body of his father, was shot dead in turn.  Young Shirley, Braddock's secretary, was pierced through the brain.  Orme and Morris, his aides-de-camp, Sinclair, the quartermaster-general, Gates and Gage, both afterwards conspicuous on opposite sides in the War of the Revolution, and Gladwin, who, eight years later, defended Detroit against Pontiac, were all wounded.  Of eighty-six officers, sixty-three were killed or disabled;[226] while out of thirteen hundred and seventy-three noncommissioned officers and privates, only four hundred and fifty-nine came off unharmed.[227]

[Footnote 226: A List of the Officers who were present, and of those killed and wounded, in the Action on the Banks of the Monongahela, 9 July, 1755 (Public Record Office, America and West Indies, LXXXII).]

[Footnote 227: Statement of the engineer, Mackellar. By another account, out of a total, officers and men, of 1,460, the number of all ranks who escaped was 583. Braddock's force, originally 1,200, was increased, a few days before the battle, by detachments from Dunbar.]


        Braddock saw that all was lost.  To save the wreck of his force from annihilation, he at last commanded a retreat; and as he and such of his officers as were left strove to withdraw the half-frenzied crew in some semblance of order, a bullet struck him down.  The gallant bulldog fell from his horse, shot through the arm into the lungs.  It is said, though on evidence of no weight, that the bullet came from one of his own men.  Be this as it may, there he lay among the bushes, bleeding, gasping, unable even to curse.  He demanded to be left where he was.  Captain Stewart and another provincial bore him between them to the rear.

        It was about this time that the mob of soldiers, having been three hours under fire, and having spent their ammunition, broke away in a blind frenzy, rushed back towards the ford, “and when,” says Washington, “we endeavored to rally them, it was with as much success as if we had attempted to stop the wild bears of the mountains.”  They dashed across, helter-skelter, plunging through the water to the farther bank, leaving wounded comrades, cannon, baggage, the military chest, and the General's papers, a prey to the Indians.  About fifty of these followed to the edge of the river.  Dumas and Ligneris, who had now only about twenty Frenchmen with them, made no attempt to pursue, and went back to the fort, because, says Contrecoeur, so many of the Canadians had “retired at the first fire.”  The field, abandoned to the savages, was a pandemonium of pillage and murder.[228]

[Footnote 228: “Nous prîmes le parti de nous retirer en vue de rallier notre petite armée.”  Dumas au Ministre, 24 Juillet, 1756.

On the defeat of Braddock, besides authorities already cited,—Shirley to Robinson, 5 Nov. 1755, accompanying the plans of the battle reproduced in this volume (Public Record Office, America and West Indies, LXXXIL). The plans were drawn at Shirley's request by Patrick Mackellar, chief engineer of the expedition, who was with Gage in the advance column when the fight began. They were examined and fully approved by the chief surviving officers, and they closely correspond with another plan made by the aide-de-camp Orme,—which, however, shows only the beginning of the affair.

Report of the Court of Inquiry into the Behavior of the Troops at the Monongahela. Letters of Dinwiddie. Letters of Gage. Burd to Morris, 25 July, 1755. Sinclair to Robinson, 3 Sept. Rutherford to––, 12 July. Writings of Washington, II. 68-93. Review of Military Operations in North America. Entick, I. 145. Gentleman's Magazine (1755), 378, 426. Letter to a Friend on the Ohio Defeat (Boston, 1755).

Contrecoeur à Vaudreuil, 14 Juillet, 1755. Estat de l'Artillerie, etc., qui se sont trouvés sur le Champ de Bataille. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 5 Août, 1755. Bigot au Ministre, 27 Août. Relation du Combat du 9 Juillet. Relation depuis le Départ des Trouppes de Québec jusqu'au 30 du Mois de Septembre. Lotbinière à d'Argenson, 24 Oct. Relation officielle imprimée au Louvre. Relation de Godefroy (Shea). Extraits du Registre du Fort Duquesne (Ibid.). Relation de diverses Mouvements (Ibid.). Pouchot, I. 37.]


        James Smith, the young prisoner at Fort Duquesne, had passed a day of suspense, waiting the result.  “In the afternoon I again observed a great noise and commotion in the fort, and, though at that time I could not understand French, I found it was the voice of joy and triumph, and feared that they had received what I called bad news.  I had observed some of the old-country soldiers speak Dutch; as I spoke Dutch, I went to one of them and asked him what was the news.  He told me that a runner had just arrived who said that Braddock would certainly be defeated; that the Indians and French had surrounded him, and were concealed behind trees and in gullies, and kept a constant fire upon the English; and that they saw the English falling in heaps; and if they did not take the river, which was the only gap, and make their escape, there would not be one man left alive before sundown.  Some time after this, I heard a number of scalp-halloos, and saw a company of Indians and French coming in.  I observed they had a great number of bloody scalps, grenadiers' caps, British canteens, bayonets, etc., with them.  They brought the news that Braddock was defeated.  After that another company came in, which appeared to be about one hundred, and chiefly Indians; and it seemed to me that almost every one of this company was carrying scalps.  After this came another company with a number of wagon-horses, and also a great many scalps.  Those that were coming in and those that had arrived kept a constant firing of small arms, and also the great guns in the fort, which were accompanied with the most hideous shouts and yells from all quarters, so that it appeared to me as though the infernal regions had broke loose.”

        “About sundown I beheld a small party coming in with about a dozen prisoners, stripped naked, with their hands tied behind their backs and their faces and part of their bodies blacked; these prisoners they burned to death on the bank of Alleghany River, opposite the fort.  I stood on the fort wall until I beheld them begin to burn one of these men; they had him tied to a stake, and kept touching him with firebrands, red-hot irons, etc., and he screaming in a most doleful manner, the Indians in the meantime yelling like infernal spirits.  As this scene appeared too shocking for me to behold, I retired to my lodging, both sore and sorry.  When I came into my lodgings I saw Russel's Seven Sermons, which they had brought from the field of battle, which a Frenchman made a present of to me.”

        The loss of the French was slight, but fell chiefly on the officers, three of whom were killed, and four wounded.  Of the regular soldiers, all but four escaped untouched.  The Canadians suffered still less in proportion to their numbers, only five of them being hurt.  The Indians, who won the victory, bore the principal loss.  Of those from Canada, twenty-seven were killed and wounded; while the casualties among the Western tribes are not reported.[229]  All of these last went off the next morning with their plunder and scalps, leaving Contrecoeur in great anxiety lest the remnant of Braddock's troops, reinforced by the division under Dunbar, should attack him again.  His doubts would have vanished had he known the condition of his defeated enemy.

[Footnote 229: Liste des Officiers, Soldats, Miliciens, et Sauvages de Canada qui out été tués et blessés le 9 Juillet, 1755.]


        In the pain and languor of a mortal wound, Braddock showed unflinching resolution.  His bearers stopped with him at a favorable spot beyond the Monongahela; and here he hoped to maintain his position till the arrival of Dunbar.  By the efforts of the officers about a hundred men were collected around him; but to keep them there was impossible.  Within an hour they abandoned him, and fled like the rest.  Gage, however, succeeded in rallying about eighty beyond the other fording-place; and Washington, on an order from Braddock, spurred his jaded horse towards the camp of Dunbar to demand wagons, provisions, and hospital stores.

        Fright overcame fatigue.  The fugitives toiled on all night, pursued by spectres of horror and despair; hearing still the war-whoops and the shrieks; possessed with the one thought of escape from the wilderness of death.  In the morning some order was restored.  Braddock was placed on a horse; then, the pain being insufferable, he was carried on a litter, Captain Orme having bribed the carriers by the promise of a guinea and a bottle of rum apiece.  Early in the succeeding night, such as had not fainted on the way reached the deserted farm of Gist.  Here they met wagons and provisions, with a detachment of soldiers sent by Dunbar, whose camp was six miles farther on; and Braddock ordered them to go to the relief of the stragglers left behind.

        At noon of that day a number of wagoners and packhorse-drivers had come to Dunbar's camp with wild tidings of rout and ruin.  More fugitives followed; and soon after a wounded officer was brought in upon a sheet.  The drums beat to arms.  The camp was in commotion; and many soldiers and teamsters took to flight, in spite of the sentinels, who tried in vain to stop them.[230]  There was a still more disgraceful scene on the next day, after Braddock, with the wreck of his force, had arrived.  Orders were given to destroy such of the wagons, stores, and ammunition as could not be carried back at once to Fort Cumberland.  Whether Dunbar or the dying General gave these orders is not clear; but it is certain that they were executed with shameful alacrity.  More than a hundred wagons were burned; cannon, coehorns, and shells were burst or buried; barrels of gunpowder were staved, and the contents thrown into a brook; provisions were scattered through the woods and swamps.  Then the whole command began its retreat over the mountains to Fort Cumberland, sixty miles distant.  This proceeding, for which, in view of the condition of Braddock, Dunbar must be held answerable, excited the utmost indignation among the colonists.  If he could not advance, they thought, he might at least have fortified himself and held his ground till the provinces could send him help; thus covering the frontier, and holding French war-parties in check.

[Footnote 230: Depositions of Matthew Laird, Michael Hoover, and Jacob Hoover, Wagoners, in Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 482.]


        Braddock's last moment was near.  Orme, who, though himself severely wounded, was with him till his death, told Franklin that he was totally silent all the first day, and at night said only, “Who would have thought it?” that all the next day he was again silent, till at last he muttered, “We shall better know how to deal with them another time,” and died a few minutes after.  He had nevertheless found breath to give orders at Gist's for the succor of the men who had dropped on the road.  It is said, too, that in his last hours “he could not bear the sight of a red coat,” but murmured praises of “the blues,” or Virginians, and said that he hoped he should live to reward them.[231]  He died at about eight o'clock in the evening of Sunday, the thirteenth.  Dunbar had begun his retreat that morning, and was then encamped near the Great Meadows.  On Monday the dead commander was buried in the road; and men, horses, and wagons passed over his grave, effacing every sign of it, lest the Indians should find and mutilate the body.

[Footnote 231: Bolling to his Son, 13 Aug. 1755. Bolling was a Virginian gentleman whose son was at school in England.]


        Colonel James Innes, commanding at Fort Cumberland, where a crowd of invalids with soldiers' wives and other women had been left when the expedition marched, heard of the defeat, only two days after it happened, from a wagoner who had fled from the field on horseback.  He at once sent a note of six lines to Lord Fairfax: “I have this moment received the most melancholy news of the defeat of our troops, the General killed, and numbers of our officers; our whole artillery taken.  In short, the account I have received is so very bad, that as, please God, I intend to make a stand here, 'tis highly necessary to raise the militia everywhere to defend the frontiers.”  A boy whom he sent out on horseback met more fugitives, and came back on the fourteenth with reports as vague and disheartening as the first.  Innes sent them to Dinwiddie.[232]  Some days after, Dunbar and his train arrived in miserable disorder, and Fort Cumberland was turned into a hospital for the shattered fragments of a routed and ruined army.

[Footnote 232: Innes to Dinwiddie, 14 July, 1755.]


        On the sixteenth a letter was brought in haste to one Buchanan at Carlisle, on the Pennsylvanian frontier:—


Sir,—I thought it proper to let you know that I was in the battle where we were defeated.  And we had about eleven hundred and fifty private men, besides officers and others.  And we were attacked the ninth day about twelve o'clock, and held till about three in the afternoon, and then we were forced to retreat, when I suppose we might bring off about three hundred whole men, besides a vast many wounded.  Most of our officers were either wounded or killed; General Braddock is wounded, but I hope not mortal; and Sir John Sinclair and many others, but I hope not mortal.  All the train is cut off in a manner.  Sir Peter Halket and his son, Captain Polson, Captain Gethan, Captain Rose, Captain Tatten killed, and many others.  Captain Ord of the train is wounded, but I hope not mortal.  We lost all our artillery entirely, and everything else.

To Mr. John Smith and Buchannon, and give it to the next post, and let him show this to Mr. George Gibson in Lancaster, and Mr. Bingham, at the sign of the Ship, and you'll oblige,

Yours to command,

JOHN CAMPBELL, Messenger.[233]


[Footnote 233: Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 481.]


        The evil tidings quickly reached Philadelphia, where such confidence had prevailed that certain over-zealous persons had begun to collect money for fireworks to celebrate the victory.  Two of these, brother physicians named Bond, came to Franklin and asked him to subscribe; but the sage looked doubtful.  “Why, the devil!” said one of them, “you surely don't suppose the fort will not be taken?”  He reminded them that war is always uncertain; and the subscription was deferred.[234]  The Governor laid the news of the disaster before his Council, telling them at the same time that his opponents in the Assembly would not believe it, and had insulted him in the street for giving it currency.[235]

[Footnote 234: Autobiography of Franklin.]

[Footnote 235: Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 480.]


        Dinwiddie remained tranquil at Williamsburg, sure that all would go well.  The brief note of Innes, forwarded by Lord Fairfax, first disturbed his dream of triumph; but on second thought he took comfort.  “I am willing to think that account was from a deserter who, in a great panic, represented what his fears suggested.  I wait with impatience for another express from Fort Cumberland, which I expect will greatly contradict the former.”  The news got abroad, and the slaves showed signs of excitement.  “The villany of the negroes on any emergency is what I always feared,” continues the Governor.  “An example of one or two at first may prevent these creatures entering into combinations and wicked designs.”[236]  And he wrote to Lord Halifax: “The negro slaves have been very audacious on the news of defeat on the Ohio.  These poor creatures imagine the French will give them their freedom.  We have too many here; but I hope we shall be able to keep them in proper subjection.”  Suspense grew intolerable.  “It's monstrous they should be so tardy and dilatory in sending down any farther account.”  He sent Major Colin Campbell for news; when, a day or two later, a courier brought him two letters, one from Orme, and the other from Washington, both written at Fort Cumberland on the eighteenth.  The letter of Orme began thus: “My dear Governor, I am so extremely ill in bed with the wound I have received that I am under the necessity of employing my friend Captain Dobson as my scribe.”  Then he told the wretched story of defeat and humiliation.  “The officers were absolutely sacrificed by their unparalleled good behavior; advancing before their men sometimes in bodies, and sometimes separately, hoping by such an example to engage the soldiers to follow them; but to no purpose.  Poor Shirley was shot through the head, Captain Morris very much wounded.  Mr. Washington had two horses shot under him, and his clothes shot through in several places; behaving the whole time with the greatest courage and resolution.”

[Footnote 236: Dinwiddie to Colonel Charles Carter, 18 July, 1755.]


        Washington wrote more briefly, saying that, as Orme was giving a full account of the affair, it was needless for him to repeat it.  Like many others in the fight, he greatly underrated the force of the enemy, which he placed at three hundred, or about a third of the actual number,—a natural error, as most of the assailants were invisible.  “Our poor Virginians behaved like men, and died like soldiers; for I believe that out of three companies that were there that day, scarce thirty were left alive.  Captain Peronney and all his officers down to a corporal were killed.  Captain Polson shared almost as hard a fate, for only one of his escaped.  In short, the dastardly behavior of the English soldiers exposed all those who were inclined to do their duty to almost certain death.  It is imagined (I believe with great justice, too) that two thirds of both killed and wounded received their shots from our own cowardly dogs of soldiers, who gathered themselves into a body, contrary to orders, ten and twelve deep, would then level, fire, and shoot down the men before them.”[237]

[Footnote 237: These extracts are taken from the two letters preserved in the Public Record Office, America and West Indies, LXXIV, LXXXII.]


        To Orme, Dinwiddie replied: “I read your letter with tears in my eyes; but it gave me much pleasure to see your name at the bottom, and more so when I observed by the postscript that your wound is not dangerous.  But pray, dear sir, is it not possible by a second attempt to retrieve the great loss we have sustained?  I presume the General's chariot is at the fort.  In it you may come here, and my house is heartily at your command.  Pray take care of your valuable health; keep your spirits up, and I doubt not of your recovery.  My wife and girls join me in most sincere respects and joy at your being so well, and I always am, with great truth, dear friend, your affectionate humble servant.”

        To Washington he is less effusive, though he had known him much longer.  He begins, it is true, “Dear Washington,” and congratulates him on his escape; but soon grows formal, and asks: “Pray, sir, with the number of them remaining, is there no possibility of doing something on the other side of the mountains before the winter months?  Surely you must mistake.  Colonel Dunbar will not march to winter-quarters in the middle of summer, and leave the frontiers exposed to the invasions of the enemy!  No; he is a better officer, and I have a different opinion of him.  I sincerely wish you health and happiness, and am, with great respect, sir, your obedient, humble servant.”

        Washington's letter had contained the astonishing announcement that Dunbar meant to abandon the frontier and march to Philadelphia.  Dinwiddie, much disturbed, at once wrote to that officer, though without betraying any knowledge of his intention.  “Sir, the melancholy account of the defeat of our forces gave me a sensible and real concern”—on which he enlarges for a while; then suddenly changes style: “Dear Colonel, is there no method left to retrieve the dishonor done to the British arms?  As you now command all the forces that remain, are you not able, after a proper refreshment of your men, to make a second attempt?  You have four months now to come of the best weather of the year for such an expedition.  What a fine field for honor will Colonel Dunbar have to confirm and establish his character as a brave officer.”  Then, after suggesting plans of operation, and entering into much detail, the fervid Governor concludes: “It gives me great pleasure that under our great loss and misfortunes the command devolves on an officer of so great military judgment and established character.  With my sincere respect and hearty wishes for success to all your proceedings, I am, worthy sir, your most obedient, humble servant.”

        Exhortation and flattery were lost on Dunbar.  Dinwiddie received from him in reply a short, dry note, dated on the first of August, and acquainting him that he should march for Philadelphia on the second.  This, in fact, he did, leaving the fort to be defended by invalids and a few Virginians.  “I acknowledge,” says Dinwiddie, “I was not brought up to arms; but I think common sense would have prevailed not to leave the frontiers exposed after having opened a road over the mountains to the Ohio, by which the enemy can the more easily invade us... Your great colonel,” he writes to Orme, “is gone to a peaceful colony, and left our frontiers open... The whole conduct of Colonel Dunbar appears to me monstrous... To march off all the regulars, and leave the fort and frontiers to be defended by four hundred sick and wounded, and the poor remains of our provincial forces, appears to me absurd.”[238]

[Footnote 238: Dinwiddie's view of Dunbar's conduct is fully justified by the letters of Shirley, Governor Morris, and Dunbar himself.]


        He found some comfort from the burgesses, who gave him forty thousand pounds, and would, he thinks, have given a hundred thousand if another attempt against Fort Duquesne had been set afoot.  Shirley, too, whom the death of Braddock had made commander-in-chief, approved the Governor's plan of renewing offensive operations, and instructed Dunbar to that effect; ordering him, however, should they prove impracticable, to march for Albany in aid of the Niagara expedition.[239]  The order found him safe in Philadelphia.  Here he lingered for a while; then marched to join the northern army, moving at a pace which made it certain that he could not arrive in time to be of the least use.

[Footnote 239: Orders for Colonel Thomas Dunbar, 12 Aug. 1755. These supersede a previous order of August 6, by which Shirley had directed Dunbar to march northward at once.]


        Thus the frontier was left unguarded; and soon, as Dinwiddie had foreseen, there burst upon it a storm of blood and fire.

Table of Contents



Chapter 8

1755-1763


Removal of the Acadians


        By the plan which the Duke of Cumberland had ordained and Braddock had announced in the Council at Alexandria, four blows were to be struck at once to force back the French boundaries, lop off the dependencies of Canada, and reduce her from a vast territory to a petty province.  The first stroke had failed, and had shattered the hand of the striker; it remains to see what fortune awaited the others.

        It was long since a project of purging Acadia of French influence had germinated in the fertile mind of Shirley.  We have seen in a former chapter the condition of that afflicted province.  Several thousands of its inhabitants, wrought upon by intriguing agents of the French Government, taught by their priests that fidelity to King Louis was inseparable from fidelity to God, and that to swear allegiance to the British Crown was eternal perdition; threatened with plunder and death at the hands of the savages whom the ferocious missionary, Le Loutre, held over them in terror,—had abandoned, sometimes willingly, but oftener under constraint, the fields which they and their fathers had tilled, and crossing the boundary line of the Missaguash, had placed themselves under the French flag planted on the hill of Beauséjour.[240]  Here, or in the neighborhood, many of them had remained, wretched and half starved; while others had been transported to Cape Breton, Isle St. Jean, or the coasts of the Gulf,—not so far, however, that they could not on occasion be used to aid in an invasion of British Acadia.[241]  Those of their countrymen who still lived under the British flag were chiefly the inhabitants of the district of Mines and of the valley of the River Annapolis, who, with other less important settlements, numbered a little more than nine thousand souls.  We have shown already, by the evidence of the French themselves, that neither they nor their emigrant countrymen had been oppressed or molested in matters temporal or spiritual, but that the English authorities, recognizing their value as an industrious population, had labored to reconcile them to a change of rulers which on the whole was to their advantage.  It has been shown also how, with a heartless perfidy and a reckless disregard of their welfare and safety, the French Government and its agents labored to keep them hostile to the Crown of which it had acknowledged them to be subjects.  The result was, that though they did not, like their emigrant countrymen, abandon their homes, they remained in a state of restless disaffection, refused to supply English garrisons with provisions, except at most exorbitant rates, smuggled their produce to the French across the line, gave them aid and intelligence, and sometimes disguised as Indians, robbed and murdered English settlers.  By the new-fangled construction of the treaty of Utrecht which the French boundary commissioners had devised,[242] more than half the Acadian peninsula, including nearly all the cultivated land and nearly all the population of French descent, was claimed as belonging to France, though England had held possession of it more than forty years.  Hence, according to the political ethics adopted at the time by both nations, it would be lawful for France to reclaim it by force.  England, on her part, it will be remembered, claimed vast tracts beyond the isthmus; and, on the same pretext, held that she might rightfully seize them and capture Beauséjour, with the other French garrisons that guarded them.

[Footnote 240: See ante, Chapter 4.]

[Footnote 241: Rameau (La France aux Colonies, I. 63), estimates the total emigration from 1748 to 1755 at 8,600 souls,—which number seems much too large. This writer, though vehemently anti-English, gives the following passage from a letter of a high French official: “que les Acadiens émigrés et en grande misère comptaient se retirer à Québec et demander des terres, mais il conviendrait mieux qu'ils restent où ils sont, afin d'avoir le voisinage de l'Acadie bien peuplé et défriché, pour approvisionner l'Isle Royale [Cape Breton] et tomber en cas de guerre sur l'Acadie.”  Rameau, I. 133.]

[Footnote 242: Supra, p. 102.]


        On the part of France, an invasion of the Acadian peninsula seemed more than likely.  Honor demanded of her that, having incited the Acadians to disaffection, and so brought on them the indignation of the English authorities, she should intervene to save them from the consequences.  Moreover the loss of the Acadian peninsula had been gall and wormwood to her; and in losing it she had lost great material advantages.  Its possession was necessary to connect Canada with the Island of Cape Breton and the fortress of Louisbourg.  Its fertile fields and agricultural people would furnish subsistence to the troops and garrisons in the French maritime provinces, now dependent on supplies illicitly brought by New England traders, and liable to be cut off in time of war when they were needed most.  The harbors of Acadia, too, would be invaluable as naval stations from which to curb and threaten the northern English colonies.  Hence the intrigues so assiduously practised to keep the Acadians French at heart, and ready to throw off British rule at any favorable moment.  British officers believed that should a French squadron with a sufficient force of troops on board appear in the Bay of Fundy, the whole population on the Basin of Mines and along the Annapolis would rise in arms, and that the emigrants beyond the isthmus, armed and trained by French officers, would come to their aid.  This emigrant population, famishing in exile, looked back with regret to the farms they had abandoned; and, prevented as they were by Le Loutre and his colleagues from making their peace with the English, they would, if confident of success, have gladly joined an invading force to regain their homes by reconquering Acadia for Louis XV.  In other parts of the continent it was the interest of France to put off hostilities; if Acadia alone had been in question, it would have been her interest to precipitate them.

        Her chances of success were good.  The French could at any time send troops from Louisbourg or Quebec to join those maintained upon the isthmus; and they had on their side of the lines a force of militia and Indians amounting to about two thousand, while the Acadians within the peninsula had about an equal number of fighting men who, while calling themselves neutrals, might be counted on to join the invaders.  The English were in no condition to withstand such an attack.  Their regular troops were scattered far and wide through the province, and were nowhere more than equal to the local requirement; while of militia, except those of Halifax, they had few or none whom they dared to trust.  Their fort at Annapolis was weak and dilapidated, and their other posts were mere stockades.  The strongest place in Acadia was the French fort of Beauséjour, in which the English saw a continual menace.  Their apprehensions were well grounded.  Duquesne, governor of Canada, wrote to Le Loutre, who virtually shared the control of Beauséjour with Vergor, its commandant: “I invite both yourself and M. Vergor to devise a plausible pretext for attacking them [the English] vigorously.”[243]  Three weeks after this letter was written, Lawrence, governor of Nova Scotia, wrote to Shirley from Halifax: “Being well informed that the French have designs of encroaching still farther upon His Majesty's rights in this province, and that they propose, the moment they have repaired the fortifications of Louisbourg, to attack our fort at Chignecto [Fort Lawrence], I think it high time to make some effort to drive them from the north side of the Bay of Fundy.”[244]  This letter was brought to Boston by Lieutenant-Colonel Monckton, who was charged by Lawrence to propose to Shirley the raising of two thousand men in New England for the attack of Beauséjour and its dependent forts.  Almost at the moment when Lawrence was writing these proposals to Shirley, Shirley was writing with the same object to Lawrence, enclosing a letter from Sir Thomas Robinson, concerning which he said: “I construe the contents to be orders to us to act in concert for taking any advantages to drive the French of Canada out of Nova Scotia.  If that is your sense of them, and your honor will be pleased to let me know whether you want any and what assistance to enable you to execute the orders, I will endeavor to send you such assistance from this province as you shall want.”[245]

[Footnote 243: Duquesne à Le Loutre, 15 Oct. 1754; extract in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 239.]

[Footnote 244: Lawrence to Shirley, 5 Nov. 1754. Instructions of Lawrence to Monckton, 1 Nov. 1754.]

[Footnote 245: Shirley to Lawrence, 7 Nov. 1754.]


        The letter of Sir Thomas Robinson, of which a duplicate had already been sent to Lawrence, was written in answer to one of Shirley informing the Minister that the Indians of Nova Scotia, prompted by the French, were about to make an attack on all the English settlements east of the Kennebec; whereupon Robinson wrote: “You will without doubt have given immediate intelligence thereof to Colonel Lawrence, and will have concerted the properest measures with him for taking all possible advantage in Nova Scotia itself from the absence of those Indians, in case Mr. Lawrence shall have force enough to attack the forts erected by the French in those parts, without exposing the English settlements; and I am particularly to acquaint you that if you have not already entered into such a concert with Colonel Lawrence, it is His Majesty's pleasure that you should immediately proceed thereupon.”[246]

[Footnote 246: Robinson to Shirley, 5 July, 1754.]


        The Indian raid did not take place; but not the less did Shirley and Lawrence find in the Minister's letter their authorization for the attack of Beauséjour.  Shirley wrote to Robinson that the expulsion of the French from the forts on the isthmus was a necessary measure of self-defence; that they meant to seize the whole country as far as Mines Basin, and probably as far as Annapolis, to supply their Acadian rebels with land; that of these they had, without reckoning Indians, fourteen hundred fighting men on or near the isthmus, and two hundred and fifty more on the St. John, with whom, aided by the garrison of Beauséjour, they could easily take Fort Lawrence; that should they succeed in this, the whole Acadian population would rise in arms, and the King would lose Nova Scotia.  We should anticipate them, concludes Shirley, and strike the first blow.[247]

[Footnote 247: Shirley to Robinson, 8 Dec. 1754. Ibid., 24 Jan. 1755. The Record Office contains numerous other letters of Shirley on the subject. “I am obliged to your Honor for communicating to me the French Mémoire, which, with other reasons, puts it out of doubt that the French are determined to begin an offensive war on the peninsula as soon as ever they shall think themselves strengthened enough to venture up it, and that they have thoughts of attempting it in the ensuing spring. I enclose your Honor extracts from two letters from Annapolis Royal, which show that the French inhabitants are in expectation of its being begun in the spring.”  Shirley to Lawrence, 6 Jan. 1755.]


        He opened his plans to his Assembly in secret session, and found them of one mind with himself.  Preparation was nearly complete, and the men raised for the expedition, before the Council at Alexandria, recognized it as a part of a plan of the summer campaign.

        The French fort of Beauséjour, mounted on its hill between the marshes of Missaguash and Tantemar, was a regular work, pentagonal in form, with solid earthern ramparts, bomb-proofs, and an armament of twenty-four cannon and one mortar.  The commandant, Duchambon de Vergor, a captain in the colony regulars, was a dull man of no education, of stuttering speech, unpleasing countenance, and doubtful character.  He owed his place to the notorious Intendant, Bigot, who it is said, was in his debt for disreputable service in an affair of gallantry, and who had ample means of enabling his friends to enrich themselves by defrauding the King.  Beauséjour was one of those plague-spots of official corruption which dotted the whole surface of New France.  Bigot, sailing for Europe in the summer of 1754, wrote thus to his confederate: “Profit by your place, my dear Vergor; clip and cut—you are free to do what you please—so that you can come soon to join me in France and buy an estate near me.”[248]  Vergor did not neglect his opportunities.  Supplies in great quantities were sent from Quebec for the garrison and the emigrant Acadians.  These last got but a small part of them.  Vergor and his confederates sent the rest back to Quebec, or else to Louisbourg, and sold them for their own profit to the King's agents there, who were also in collusion with him.

[Footnote 248: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. This letter is also mentioned in another contemporary document, Mémoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie.]


        Vergor, however, did not reign alone.  Le Loutre, by force of energy, capacity, and passionate vehemence, held him in some awe, and divided his authority.  The priest could count on the support of Duquesne, who had found, says a contemporary, that “he promised more than he could perform, and that he was a knave,” but who nevertheless felt compelled to rely upon him for keeping the Acadians on the side of France.  There was another person in the fort worthy of notice.  This was Thomas Pichon, commissary of stores, a man of education and intelligence, born in France of an English mother.  He was now acting the part of a traitor, carrying on a secret correspondence with the commandant of Fort Lawrence, and acquainting him with all that passed at Beauséjour.  It was partly from this source that the hostile designs of the French became known to the authorities of Halifax, and more especially the proceedings of “Moses,” by which name Pichon always designated Le Loutre, because he pretended to have led the Acadians from the land of bondage.[249]

[Footnote 249: Pichon, called also Tyrrell from the name of his mother, was author of Genuine Letters and Memoirs relating to Cape Breton,—a book of some value. His papers are preserved at Halifax, and some of them are printed in the Public Documents of Nova Scotia.]


        These exiles, who cannot be called self-exiled, in view of the outrageous means used to force most of them from their homes, were in a deplorable condition.  They lived in constant dread of Le Loutre, backed by Vergor and his soldiers.  The savage missionary, bad as he was, had in him an ingredient of honest fanaticism, both national and religious; though hatred of the English held a large share in it.  He would gladly, if he could, have forced the Acadians into a permanent settlement on the French side of the line, not out of love for them, but in the interest of the cause with which he had identified his own ambition.  His efforts had failed.  There was not land enough for their subsistence and that of the older settlers; and the suffering emigrants pined more and more for their deserted farms.  Thither he was resolved that they should not return.  “If you go,” he told them, “you will have neither priests nor sacraments, but will die like miserable wretches.”[250]  The assertion was false.  Priests and sacraments had never been denied them.  It is true that Daudin, priest of Pisiquid, had lately been sent to Halifax for using insolent language to the commandant, threatening him with an insurrection of the inhabitants, and exciting them to sedition; but on his promise to change conduct, he was sent back to his parishioners.[251]  Vergor sustained Le Loutre, and threatened to put in irons any of the exiles who talked of going back to the English.  Some of them bethought themselves of an appeal to Duquesne, and drew up a petition asking leave to return home.  Le Loutre told the signers that if they did not efface their marks from the paper they should have neither sacraments in this life nor heaven in the next.  He nevertheless allowed two of them to go to Quebec as deputies, writing at the same time to the Governor, that his mind might be duly prepared.  Duquesne replied: “I think that the two rascals of deputies whom you sent me will not soon recover from the fright I gave them, notwithstanding the emollient I administered after my reprimand; and since I told them that they were indebted to you for not being allowed to rot in a dungeon, they have promised me to comply with your wishes.”[252]

[Footnote 250: Pichon to Captain Scott, 14 Oct. 1754, in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 229.]

[Footnote 251: Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 223, 224, 226, 227, 238.]

[Footnote 252: Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 239.]


        An entire heartlessness marked the dealings of the French authorities with the Acadians.  They were treated as mere tools of policy, to be used, broken, and flung away.  Yet, in using them, the sole condition of their efficiency was neglected.  The French Government, cheated of enormous sums by its own ravenous agents, grudged the cost of sending a single regiment to the Acadian border.  Thus unsupported, the Acadians remained in fear and vacillation, aiding the French but feebly, though a ceaseless annoyance and menace to the English.

        This was the state of affairs at Beauséjour while Shirley and Lawrence were planning its destruction.  Lawrence had empowered his agent, Monckton, to draw without limit on two Boston merchants, Apthorp and Hancock.  Shirley, as commander-in-chief of the province of Massachusetts, commissioned John Winslow to raise two thousand volunteers.  Winslow was sprung from the early governors of Plymouth colony; but, though well-born, he was ill-educated, which did not prevent him from being both popular and influential.  He had strong military inclinations, had led a company of his own raising in the luckless attack on Carthagena, had commanded the force sent in the preceding summer to occupy the Kennebec, and on various other occasions had left his Marshfield farm to serve his country.  The men enlisted readily at his call, and were formed into a regiment, of which Shirley made himself the nominal colonel.  It had two battalions, of which Winslow, as lieutenant-colonel, commanded the first, and George Scott the second, both under the orders of Monckton.  Country villages far and near, from the western borders of the Connecticut to uttermost Cape Cod, lent soldiers to the new regiment.  The muster-rolls preserve their names, vocations, birthplaces, and abode.  Obadiah, Nehemiah, Jedediah, Jonathan, Ebenezer, Joshua, and the like Old Testament names abound upon the list.  Some are set down as “farmers,” “yeomen,” or “husbandmen;” others as “shopkeepers,” others as “fishermen,” and many as “laborers;” while a great number were handicraftsmen of various trades, from blacksmiths to wig-makers.  They mustered at Boston early in April, where clothing, haversacks, and blankets were served out to them at the charge of the King; and the crooked streets of the New England capital were filled with staring young rustics.  On the next Saturday the following mandate went forth: “The men will behave very orderly on the Sabbath Day, and either stay on board their transports, or else go to church, and not stroll up and down the streets.”  The transports, consisting of about forty sloops and schooners, lay at Long Wharf; and here on Monday a grand review took place,—to the gratification, no doubt, of a populace whose amusements were few.  All was ready except the muskets, which were expected from England, but did not come.  Hence the delay of a month, threatening to ruin the enterprise.  When Shirley returned from Alexandria he found, to his disgust, that the transports still lay at the wharf where he had left them on his departure.[253]  The muskets arrived at length, and the fleet sailed on the twenty-second of May.  Three small frigates, the “Success,” the “Mermaid,” and the “Siren,” commanded by the ex-privateersman, Captain Rous, acted as convoy; and on the twenty-sixth the whole force safely reached Annapolis.  Thence after some delay they sailed up the Bay of Fundy, and at sunset on the first of June anchored within five miles of the hill of Beauséjour.

[Footnote 253: Shirley to Robinson, 20 June, 1755.]


        At two o'clock on the next morning a party of Acadians from Chipody roused Vergor with the news.  In great alarm, he sent a messenger to Louisbourg to beg for help, and ordered all the fighting men of the neighborhood to repair to the fort.  They counted in all between twelve and fifteen hundred;[254] but they had no appetite for war.  The force of the invaders daunted them; and the hundred and sixty regulars who formed the garrison of Beauséjour were too few to revive their confidence.  Those of them who had crossed from the English side dreaded what might ensue should they be caught in arms; and, to prepare an excuse beforehand, they begged Vergor to threaten them with punishment if they disobeyed his order.  He willingly complied, promised to have them killed if they did not fight, and assured them at the same time that the English could never take the fort.[255]  Three hundred of them thereupon joined the garrison, and the rest, hiding their families in the woods, prepared to wage guerilla war against the invaders.

[Footnote 254: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. An English document, State of the English and French Forts in Nova Scotia, says 1,200 to 1,400.]

[Footnote 255: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]


        Monckton, with all his force, landed unopposed, and encamped at night on the fields around Fort Lawrence, whence he could contemplate Fort Beauséjour at his ease.  The regulars of the English garrison joined the New England men; and then, on the morning of the fourth, they marched to the attack.  Their course lay along the south bank of the Missaguash to where it was crossed by a bridge called Pont-à-Buot.  This bridge had been destroyed; and on the farther bank there was a large blockhouse and a breastwork of timber defended by four hundred regulars, Acadians, and Indians.  They lay silent and unseen till the head of the column reached the opposite bank; then raised a yell and opened fire, causing some loss.  Three field-pieces were brought up, the defenders were driven out, and a bridge was laid under a spattering fusillade from behind bushes, which continued till the English had crossed the stream.  Without further opposition, they marched along the road to Beauséjour, and, turning to the right, encamped among the woody hills half a league from the fort.  That night there was a grand illumination, for Vergor set fire to the church and all the houses outside the ramparts.[256]

[Footnote 256: Winslow, Journal and Letter Book. Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. Letters from officers on the spot in Boston Evening Post and Boston News Letter. Journal of Surgeon John Thomas.]


        The English spent some days in preparing their camp and reconnoitring the ground.  Then Scott, with five hundred provincials, seized upon a ridge within easy range of the works.  An officer named Vannes came out to oppose him with a hundred and eighty men, boasting that he would do great things; but on seeing the enemy, quietly returned, to become the laughing-stock of the garrison.  The fort fired furiously, but with little effect.  In the night of the thirteenth, Winslow, with a part of his own battalion, relieved Scott, and planted in the trenches two small mortars, brought to the camp on carts.  On the next day they opened fire.  One of them was disabled by the French cannon, but Captain Hazen brought up two more, of larger size, on ox-wagons; and, in spite of heavy rain, the fire was brisk on both sides.

        Captain Rous, on board his ship in the harbor, watched the bombardment with great interest.  Having occasion to write to Winslow, he closed his letter in a facetious strain.  “I often hear of your success in plunder, particularly a coach.[257]  I hope you have some fine horses for it, at least four, to draw it, that it may be said a New England colonel [rode in] his coach and four in Nova Scotia.  If you have any good saddle-horses in your stable, I should be obliged to you for one to ride round the ship's deck on for exercise, for I am not likely to have any other.”

[Footnote 257: “11 June. Capt. Adams went with a Company of Raingers, and Returned at 11 Clock with a Coach and Sum other Plunder.”  Journal of John Thomas.]


        Within the fort there was little promise of a strong defence.  Le Loutre, it is true, was to be seen in his shirt-sleeves, with a pipe in his mouth, directing the Acadians in their work of strengthening the fortifications.[258]  They, on their part, thought more of escape than of fighting.  Some of them vainly begged to be allowed to go home; others went off without leave,—which was not difficult, as only one side of the place was attacked.  Even among the officers there were some in whom interest was stronger than honor, and who would rather rob the King than die for him.  The general discouragement was redoubled when, on the fourteenth, a letter came from the commandant of Louisbourg to say that he could send no help, as British ships blocked the way.  On the morning of the sixteenth, a mischance befell, recorded in these words in the diary of Surgeon John Thomas: “One of our large shells fell through what they called their bomb-proof, where a number of their officers were sitting, killed six of them dead, and one Ensign Hay, which the Indians had took prisoner a few days agone and carried to the fort.”  The party was at breakfast when the unwelcome visitor burst in.  Just opposite was a second bomb-proof, where was Vergor himself, with Le Loutre, another priest, and several officers, who felt that they might at any time share the same fate.  The effect was immediate.  The English, who had not yet got a single cannon into position, saw to their surprise a white flag raised on the rampart.  Some officers of the garrison protested against surrender; and Le Loutre, who thought that he had everything to fear at the hands of the victors, exclaimed that it was better to be buried under the ruins of the fort than to give it up; but all was in vain, and the valiant Vannes was sent out to propose terms of capitulation.  They were rejected, and others offered, to the following effect: the garrison to march out with the honors of war and to be sent to Louisbourg at the charge of the King of England, but not to bear arms in America for the space of six months.  The Acadians to be pardoned the part they had just borne in the defence, “seeing that they had been compelled to take arms on pain of death.”  Confusion reigned all day at Beauséjour.  The Acadians went home loaded with plunder.  The French officers were so busy in drinking and pillaging that they could hardly be got away to sign the capitulation.  At the appointed hour, seven in the evening, Scott marched in with a body of provincials, raised the British flag on the ramparts, and saluted it by a general discharge of the French cannon, while Vergor as a last act of hospitality gave a supper to the officers.[259]

[Footnote 258: Journal of Pichon, cited by Beamish Murdoch.]

[Footnote 259: On the capture of Beauséjour, Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760; Pichon, Cape Breton, 318; Journal of Pichon, cited by Murdoch; and the English accounts already mentioned.]


        Le Loutre was not to be found; he had escaped in disguise with his box of papers, and fled to Baye Verte to join his brother missionary, Manach.  Thence he made his way to Quebec, where the Bishop received him with reproaches.  He soon embarked for France; but the English captured him on the way, and kept him eight years in Elizabeth Castle, on the Island of Jersey.  Here on one occasion a soldier on guard made a dash at the father, tried to stab him with his bayonet, and was prevented with great difficulty.  He declared that, when he was with his regiment in Acadia, he had fallen into the hands of Le Loutre, and narrowly escaped being scalped alive, the missionary having doomed him to this fate, and with his own hand drawn a knife round his head as a beginning of the operation.  The man swore so fiercely that he would have his revenge, that the officer in command transferred him to another post.[260]

[Footnote 260: Knox, Campaigns in North America, I. 114, note. Knox, who was stationed in Nova Scotia, says that Le Loutre left behind him “a most remarkable character for inhumanity.”]


        Throughout the siege, the Acadians outside the fort, aided by Indians, had constantly attacked the English, but were always beaten off with loss.  There was an affair of this kind on the morning of the surrender, during which a noted Micmac chief was shot, and being brought into the camp, recounted the losses of his tribe; “after which, and taking a dram or two, he quickly died,” writes Winslow in his Journal.

        Fort Gaspereau, at Baye Verte, twelve miles distant, was summoned by letter to surrender.  Villeray, its commandant, at once complied; and Winslow went with a detachment to take possession.[261]  Nothing remained but to occupy the French post at the mouth of the St. John.  Captain Rous, relieved at last from inactivity, was charged with the task; and on the thirtieth he appeared off the harbor, manned his boats, and rowed for shore.  The French burned their fort, and withdrew beyond his reach.[262]  A hundred and fifty Indians, suddenly converted from enemies to pretended friends, stood on the strand, firing their guns into the air as a salute, and declaring themselves brothers of the English.  All Acadia was now in British hands.  Fort Beausejour became Fort Cumberland,—the second fort in America that bore the name of the royal Duke.

[Footnote 261: Winslow, Journal. Villeray au Ministre, 20 Sept. 1755.]

[Footnote 262: Drucour au Ministre, 1 Déc. 1755.]


        The defence had been of the feeblest.  Two years later, on pressing demands from Versailles, Vergor was brought to trial, as was also Villeray.  The Governor, Vaudreuil, and the Intendant, Bigot, who had returned to Canada, were in the interest of the chief defendant.  The court-martial was packed; adverse evidence was shuffled out of sight; and Vergor, acquitted and restored to his rank, lived to inflict on New France another and a greater injury.[263]

[Footnote 263: Memoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie, 1759. Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]


        Now began the first act of a deplorable drama.  Monckton, with his small body of regulars, had pitched their tents under the walls of Beauséjour.  Winslow and Scott, with the New England troops, lay not far off.  There was little intercourse between the two camps.  The British officers bore themselves towards those of the provincials with a supercilious coldness common enough on their part throughout the war.  July had passed in what Winslow calls “an indolent manner,” with prayers every day in the Puritan camp, when, early in August, Monckton sent for him, and made an ominous declaration.  “The said Monckton was so free as to acquaint me that it was determined to remove all the French inhabitants out of the province, and that he should send for all the adult males from Tantemar, Chipody, Aulac, Beauséjour, and Baye Verte to read the Governor's orders; and when that was done, was determined to retain them all prisoners in the fort.  And this is the first conference of a public nature I have had with the colonel since the reduction of Beauséjour; and I apprehend that no officer of either corps has been made more free with.”

        Monckton sent accordingly to all the neighboring settlements, commanding the male inhabitants to meet him at Beauséjour.  Scarcely a third part of their number obeyed.  These arrived on the tenth, and were told to stay all night under the guns of the fort.  What then befell them will appear from an entry in the diary of Winslow under date of August eleventh: “This day was one extraordinary to the inhabitants of Tantemar, Oueskak, Aulac, Baye Verte, Beauséjour, and places adjacent; the male inhabitants, or the principal of them, being collected together in Fort Cumberland to hear the sentence, which determined their property, from the Governor and Council of Halifax; which was that they were declared rebels, their lands, goods, and chattels forfeited to the Crown, and their bodies to be imprisoned.  Upon which the gates of the fort were shut, and they all confined, to the amount of four hundred men and upwards.”  Parties were sent to gather more, but caught very few, the rest escaping to the woods.

        Some of the prisoners were no doubt among those who had joined the garrison at Beauséjour, and had been pardoned for doing so by the terms of the capitulation.  It was held, however, that, though forgiven this special offence, they were not exempted from the doom that had gone forth against the great body of their countrymen.  We must look closely at the motives and execution of this stern sentence.

        At any time up to the spring of 1755 the emigrant Acadians were free to return to their homes on taking the ordinary oath of allegiance required of British subjects.  The English authorities of Halifax used every means to persuade them to do so; yet the greater part refused.  This was due not only to Le Loutre and his brother priests, backed by the military power, but also to the Bishop of Quebec, who enjoined the Acadians to demand of the English certain concessions, the chief of which were that the priests should exercise their functions without being required to ask leave of the Governor, and that the inhabitants should not be called upon for military service of any kind.  The Bishop added that the provisions of the treaty of Utrecht were insufficient, and that others ought to be exacted.[264]  The oral declaration of the English authorities, that for the present the Acadians should not be required to bear arms, was not thought enough.  They, or rather their prompters, demanded a written pledge.

[Footnote 264: L'Evéque de Quebec à Le Loutre, Nov. 1754, in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 240.]


        The refusal to take the oath without reservation was not confined to the emigrants.  Those who remained in the peninsula equally refused it, though most of them were born and had always lived under the British flag.  Far from pledging themselves to complete allegiance, they showed continual signs of hostility.  In May three pretended French deserters were detected among them inciting them to take arms against the English.[265]

[Footnote 265: Ibid., 242.]


        On the capture of Beauséjour the British authorities found themselves in a position of great difficulty.  The New England troops were enlisted for the year only, and could not be kept in Acadia.  It was likely that the French would make a strong effort to recover the province, sure as they were of support from the great body of its people.  The presence of this disaffected population was for the French commanders a continual inducement to invasion; and Lawrence was not strong enough to cope at once with attack from without and insurrection from within.

        Shirley had held for some time that there was no safety for Acadia but in ridding it of the Acadians.  He had lately proposed that the lands of the district of Chignecto, abandoned by their emigrant owners, should be given to English settlers, who would act as a check and a counterpoise to the neighboring French population.  This advice had not been acted upon.  Nevertheless Shirley and his brother Governor of Nova Scotia were kindred spirits, and inclined to similar measures.  Colonel Charles Lawrence had not the good-nature and conciliatory temper which marked his predecessors, Cornwallis and Hopson.  His energetic will was not apt to relent under the softer sentiments, and the behavior of the Acadians was fast exhausting his patience.  More than a year before, the Lords of Trade had instructed him that they had no right to their lands if they persisted in refusing the oath.[266]  Lawrence replied, enlarging on their obstinacy, treachery, and “ingratitude for the favor, indulgence, and protection they have at all times so undeservedly received from His Majesty's Government;” declaring at the same time that, “while they remain without taking the oaths, and have incendiary French priests among them, there are no hopes of their amendment;” and that “it would be much better, if they refuse the oaths, that they were away.”[267]  “We were in hopes,” again wrote the Lords of Trade, “that the lenity which had been shown to those people by indulging them in the free exercise of their religion and the quiet possession of their lands, would by degrees have gained their friendship and assistance, and weaned their affections from the French; but we are sorry to find that this lenity has had so little effect, and that they still hold the same conduct, furnishing them with labor, provisions, and intelligence, and concealing their designs from us.”  In fact, the Acadians, while calling themselves neutrals, were an enemy encamped in the heart of the province.  These are the reasons which explain and palliate a measure too harsh and indiscriminate to be wholly justified.

[Footnote 266: Lords of Trade to Lawrence, 4 March, 1754.]

[Footnote 267: Lawrence to Lords of Trade, 1 Aug. 1754.]


        Abbé Raynal, who never saw the Acadians, has made an ideal picture of them,[268] since copied and improved in prose and verse, till Acadia has become Arcadia.  The plain realities of their condition and fate are touching enough to need no exaggeration.  They were a simple and very ignorant peasantry, industrious and frugal till evil days came to discourage them; living aloof from the world, with little of that spirit of adventure which an easy access to the vast fur-bearing interior had developed in their Canadian kindred; having few wants, and those of the rudest; fishing a little and hunting in the winter, but chiefly employed in cultivating the meadows along the River Annapolis, or rich marshes reclaimed by dikes from the tides of the Bay of Fundy.  The British Government left them entirely free of taxation.  They made clothing of flax and wool of their own raising, hats of similar materials, and shoes or moccasons of moose and seal skin.  They bred cattle, sheep, hogs, and horses in abundance; and the valley of the Annapolis, then as now, was known for the profusion and excellence of its apples.  For drink, they made cider or brewed spruce-beer.  French officials describe their dwellings as wretched wooden boxes, without ornaments or conveniences, and scarcely supplied with the most necessary furniture.[269]  Two or more families often occupied the same house; and their way of life, though simple and virtuous, was by no means remarkable for cleanliness.  Such as it was, contentment reigned among them, undisturbed by what modern America calls progress.  Marriages were early, and population grew apace.  This humble society had its disturbing elements; for the Acadians, like the Canadians, were a litigious race, and neighbors often quarrelled about their boundaries.  Nor were they without a bountiful share of jealousy, gossip, and backbiting, to relieve the monotony of their lives; and every village had its turbulent spirits, sometimes by fits, though rarely long, contumacious even toward the curé, the guide, counsellor, and ruler of his flock.  Enfeebled by hereditary mental subjection, and too long kept in leading-strings to walk alone, they needed him, not for the next world only, but for this; and their submission, compounded of love and fear, was commonly without bounds.  He was their true government; to him they gave a frank and full allegiance, and dared not disobey him if they would.  Of knowledge he gave them nothing; but he taught them to be true to their wives and constant at confession and Mass, to stand fast for the Church and King Louis, and to resist heresy and King George; for, in one degree or another, the Acadian priest was always the agent of a double-headed foreign power,—the Bishop of Quebec allied with the Governor of Canada.[270]

[Footnote 268: Histoire philosophique et politique, VI. 242 (ed. 1772).]

[Footnote 269: Beauharnois et Hocquart au Comte de Maurepas, 12 Sept. 1745.]

[Footnote 270: Franquet, Journal, 1751, says of the Acadians: “Ils aiment l'argent, n'ont dans toute leur conduite que leur intérêt pour objet, sont, indifféremment des deux sexes, d'une inconsidération dans leurs discours qui dénote de la méchanceté.”  Another observer, Dieréville, gives a more favorable picture.]


        When Monckton and the Massachusetts men laid siege to Beauséjour, Governor Lawrence thought the moment favorable for exacting an unqualified oath of allegiance from the Acadians.  The presence of a superior and victorious force would help, he thought, to bring them to reason; and there were some indications that this would be the result.  A number of Acadian families, who at the promptings of Le Loutre had emigrated to Cape Breton, had lately returned to Halifax, promising to be true subjects of King George If they could be allowed to repossess their lands.  They cheerfully took the oath; on which they were reinstated in their old homes, and supplied with food for the winter.[271]  Their example unfortunately found few imitators.

[Footnote 271: Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 228.]


        Early in June the principal inhabitants of Grand Pré and other settlements about the Basin of Mines brought a memorial, signed with their crosses, to Captain Murray, the military commandant in their district, and desired him to send it to Governor Lawrence, to whom it was addressed.  Murray reported that when they brought it to him they behaved with the greatest insolence, though just before they had been unusually submissive.  He thought that this change of demeanor was caused by a report which had lately got among them of a French fleet in the Bay of Fundy; for it had been observed that any rumor of an approaching French force always had a similar effect.  The deputies who brought the memorial were sent with it to Halifax, where they laid it before the Governor and Council.  It declared that the signers had kept the qualified oath they had taken, “in spite of the solicitations and dreadful threats of another power,” and that they would continue to prove “an unshaken fidelity to His Majesty, provided that His Majesty shall allow us the same liberty that he has [hitherto] granted us.”  Their memorial then demanded, in terms highly offensive to the Council, that the guns, pistols, and other weapons, which they had lately been required to give up, should be returned to them.  They were told in reply that they had been protected for many years in the enjoyment of their lands, though they had not complied with the terms on which the lands were granted; “that they had always been treated by the Government with the greatest lenity and tenderness, had enjoyed more privileges than other English subjects, and had been indulged in the free exercise of their religion;” all which they acknowledged to be true.  The Governor then told them that their conduct had been undutiful and ungrateful; “that they had discovered a constant disposition to assist His Majesty's enemies and to distress his subjects; that they had not only furnished the enemy with provisions and ammunition, but had refused to supply the [English] inhabitants or Government, and when they did supply them, had exacted three times the price for which they were sold at other markets.”  The hope was then expressed that they would no longer obstruct the settlement of the province by aiding the Indians to molest and kill English settlers; and they were rebuked for saying in their memorial that they would be faithful to the King only on certain conditions.  The Governor added that they had some secret reason for demanding their weapons, and flattered themselves that French troops were at hand to support their insolence.  In conclusion, they were told that now was a good opportunity to prove their sincerity by taking the oath of allegiance, in the usual form, before the Council.  They replied that they had not made up their minds on that point, and could do nothing till they had consulted their constituents.  Being reminded that the oath was personal to themselves, and that six years had already been given them to think about it, they asked leave to retire and confer together.  This was granted, and at the end of an hour they came back with the same answer as before; whereupon they were allowed till ten o'clock on the next morning for a final decision.[272]

[Footnote 272: Minutes of Council at Halifax, 3 July, 1755, in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 247-255.]


        At the appointed time the Council again met, and the deputies were brought in.  They persisted stubbornly in the same refusal.  “They were then informed,” says the record, “that the Council could no longer look on them as subjects to His Britannic Majesty, but as subjects to the King of France, and as such they must hereafter be treated; and they were ordered to withdraw.”  A discussion followed in the Council.  It was determined that the Acadians should be ordered to send new deputies to Halifax, who should answer for them, once for all, whether they would accept the oath or not; that such as refused it should not thereafter be permitted to take it; and “that effectual measures ought to be taken to remove all such recusants out of the province.”

        The deputies, being then called in and told this decision, became alarmed, and offered to swear allegiance in the terms required.  The answer was that it was too late; that as they had refused the oath under persuasion, they could not be trusted when they took it under compulsion.  It remained to see whether the people at large would profit by their example.

        “I am determined,” wrote Lawrence to the Lords of Trade, “to bring the inhabitants to a compliance, or rid the province of such perfidious subjects.”[273]  First, in answer to the summons of the Council, the deputies from Annapolis appeared, declaring that they had always been faithful to the British Crown, but flatly refusing the oath.  They were told that, far from having been faithful subjects, they had always secretly aided the Indians, and that many of them had been in arms against the English; that the French were threatening the province; and that its affairs had reached a crisis when its inhabitants must either pledge themselves without equivocation to be true to the British Crown, or else must leave the country.  They all declared that they would lose their lands rather than take the oath.  The Council urged them to consider the matter seriously, warning them that, if they now persisted in refusal, no farther choice would be allowed them; and they were given till ten o'clock on the following Monday to make their final answer.

[Footnote 273: Lawrence to Lords of Trade, 18 July, 1755.]


        When that day came, another body of deputies had arrived from Grand Pré and the other settlements of the Basin of Mines; and being called before the Council, both they and the former deputation absolutely refused to take the oath of allegiance.  These two bodies represented nine tenths of the Acadian population within the peninsula.  “Nothing,” pursues the record of the Council, “now remained to be considered but what measures should be taken to send the inhabitants away, and where they should be sent to.”  If they were sent to Canada, Cape Breton, or the neighboring islands, they would strengthen the enemy, and still threaten the province.  It was therefore resolved to distribute them among the various English colonies, and to hire vessels for the purpose with all despatch.[274]

[Footnote 274: Minutes of Council, 4 July—28 July, in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 255-267. Copies of these and other parts of the record were sent at the time to England, and are now in the Public Record Office, along with the letters of Lawrence.]


        The oath, the refusal of which had brought such consequences, was a simple pledge of fidelity and allegiance to King George II and his successors.  Many of the Acadians had already taken an oath of fidelity, though with the omission of the word “allegiance,” and, as they insisted, with a saving clause exempting them from bearing arms.  The effect of this was that they did not regard themselves as British subjects, and claimed, falsely as regards most of them, the character of neutrals.  It was to put an end to this anomalous state of things that the oath without reserve had been demanded of them.  Their rejection of it, reiterated in full view of the consequences, is to be ascribed partly to a fixed belief that the English would not execute their threats, partly to ties of race and kin, but mainly to superstition.  They feared to take part with heretics against the King of France, whose cause, as already stated, they had been taught to regard as one with the cause of God; they were constrained by the dread of perdition.  “If the Acadians are miserable, remember that the priests are the cause of it,” writes the French officer Boishébert to the missionary Manach.[275]

[Footnote 275: On the oath and his history, compare a long note by Mr. Akin in Public Documents of Nova Scotia, 263-267. Winslow in his Journal gives an abstract of a memorial sent him by the Acadians, in which they say that they had refused the oath, and so forfeited their lands, from motives of religion. I have shown in a former chapter that the priests had been the chief instruments in preventing them from accepting the English government. Add the following:—

“Les malheurs des Accadiens sont beaucoup moins leur ouvrage que le fruit des sollicitations et des démarches des missionnaires.”  Vaudreuil au Ministre, 6 Mai, 1760.

“Si nous avons la guerre, et si les Accadiens sont misérables, souvenez vous que ce sont les prêtres qui en sont la cause.”  Boishébert á Manach, 21 Fév. 1760. Both these writers had encouraged the priests in their intrigues so long as there were likely to profit the French Government, and only blamed them after they failed to accomplished what was expected of them.

“Nous avons six missionnaires dont l'occupation perpetuelle est de porter les esprits au fanatisme et à la vengeance... Je ne puis supporter dans nos prêtres ces odieuses déclamations qu'ils font tous les jours aux sauvages: 'Les Anglois sont les ennemis de Dieu, les compagnons du Diable.' ” Pichon, Lettres et Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire du Cap-Breton, 160, 161. (La Haye, 1760.)]


        The Council having come to a decision, Lawrence acquainted Monckton with the result, and ordered him to seize all the adult males in the neighborhood of Beauséjour; and this, as we have seen, he promptly did.  It remains to observe how the rest of the sentence was carried into effect.

        Instructions were sent to Winslow to secure the inhabitants on or near the Basin of Mines and place them on board transports, which, he was told, would soon arrive from Boston.  His orders were stringent: “If you find that fair means will not do with them, you must proceed by the most vigorous measures possible, not only in compelling them to embark, but in depriving those who shall escape of all means of shelter or support, by burning their houses and by destroying everything that may afford them the means of subsistence in the country.”  Similar orders were given to Major Handfield, the regular officer in command at Annapolis.

        On the fourteenth of August Winslow set out from his camp at Fort Beauséjour, or Cumberland, on his unenviable errand.  He had with him but two hundred and ninety-seven men.  His mood of mind was not serene.  He was chafed because the regulars had charged his men with stealing sheep; and he was doubly vexed by an untoward incident that happened on the morning of his departure.  He had sent forward his detachment under Adams, the senior captain, and they were marching by the fort with drums beating and colors flying, when Monckton sent out his aide-de-camp with a curt demand that the colors should be given up, on the ground that they ought to remain with the regiment.  Whatever the soundness of the reason, there was no courtesy in the manner of enforcing it.  “This transaction raised my temper some,” writes Winslow in his Diary; and he proceeds to record his opinion that “it is the most ungenteel, ill-natured thing that ever I saw.”  He sent Monckton a quaintly indignant note, in which he observed that the affair “looks odd, and will appear so in future history;” but his commander, reckless of the judgments of posterity, gave him little satisfaction.

        Thus ruffled in spirit, he embarked with his men and sailed down Chignecto Channel to the Bay of Fundy.  Here, while they waited the turn of the tide to enter the Basin of Mines, the shores of Cumberland lay before them dim in the hot and hazy air, and the promontory of Cape Split, like some misshapen monster of primeval chaos, stretched its portentous length along the glimmering sea, with head of yawning rock, and ridgy back bristled with forests.  Borne on the rushing flood, they soon drifted through the inlet, glided under the rival promontory of Cape Blomedon, passed the red sandstone cliffs of Lyon's Cove, and descried the mouths of the rivers Canard and Des Habitants, where fertile marshes, diked against the tide, sustained a numerous and thriving population.  Before them spread the boundless meadows of Grand Pré, waving with harvests or alive with grazing cattle; the green slopes behind were dotted with the simple dwellings of the Acadian farmers, and the spire of the village church rose against a background of woody hills.  It was a peaceful, rural scene, soon to become one of the most wretched spots on earth.  Winslow did not land for the present, but held his course to the estuary of the River Pisiquid, since called the Avon.  Here, where the town of Windsor now stands, there was a stockade called Fort Edward, where a garrison of regulars under Captain Alexander Murray kept watch over the surrounding settlements.  The New England men pitched their tents on shore, while the sloops that had brought them slept on the soft bed of tawny mud left by the fallen tide.

        Winslow found a warm reception, for Murray and his officers had been reduced too long to their own society not to welcome the coming of strangers.  The two commanders conferred together.  Both had been ordered by Lawrence to “clear the whole country of such bad subjects;” and the methods of doing so had been outlined for their guidance.  Having come to some understanding with his brother officer concerning the duties imposed on both, and begun an acquaintance which soon grew cordial on both sides, Winslow embarked again and retraced his course to Grand Pré, the station which the Governor had assigned him.  “Am pleased,” he wrote to Lawrence, “with the place proposed by your Excellency for our reception [the village church].  I have sent for the elders to remove all sacred things, to prevent their being defiled by heretics.”  The church was used as a storehouse and place of arms; the men pitched their tents between it and the graveyard; while Winslow took up his quarters in the house of the priest, where he could look from his window on a tranquil scene.  Beyond the vast tract of grassland to which Grand Pré owed its name, spread the blue glistening breast of the Basin of Mines; beyond this again, the distant mountains of Cobequid basked in the summer sun; and nearer, on the left, Cape Blomedon reared its bluff head of rock and forest above the sleeping waves.

        As the men of the settlement greatly outnumbered his own, Winslow set his followers to surrounding the camp with a stockade.  Card-playing was forbidden, because it encouraged idleness, and pitching quoits in camp, because it spoiled the grass.  Presently there came a letter from Lawrence expressing a fear that the fortifying of the camp might alarm the inhabitants.  To which Winslow replied that the making of the stockade had not alarmed them in the least, since they took it as a proof that the detachment was to spend the winter with them; and he added, that as the harvest was not yet got in, he and Murray had agreed not to publish the Governor's commands till the next Friday.  He concludes: “Although it is a disagreeable part of duty we are put upon, I am sensible it is a necessary one, and shall endeavor strictly to obey your Excellency's orders.”

        On the thirtieth, Murray, whose post was not many miles distant, made him a visit.  They agreed that Winslow should summon all the male inhabitants about Grand Pré to meet him at the church and hear the King's orders, and that Murray should do the same for those around Fort Edward.  Winslow then called in his three captains,—Adams, Hobbs, and Osgood,—made them swear secrecy, and laid before them his instructions and plans; which latter they approved.  Murray then returned to his post, and on the next day sent Winslow a note containing the following: “I think the sooner we strike the stroke the better, therefore will be glad to see you here as soon as conveniently you can.  I shall have the orders for assembling ready written for your approbation, only the day blank, and am hopeful everything will succeed according to our wishes.  The gentlemen join me in our best compliments to you and the Doctor.”

        On the next day, Sunday, Winslow and the Doctor, whose name was Whitworth, made the tour of the neighborhood, with an escort of fifty men, and found a great quantity of wheat still on the fields.  On Tuesday Winslow “set out in a whale-boat with Dr. Whitworth and Adjutant Kennedy, to consult with Captain Murray in this critical conjuncture.”  They agreed that three in the afternoon of Friday should be the time of assembling; then between them they drew up a summons to the inhabitants, and got one Beauchamp, a merchant, to “put it into French.”  It ran as follows:—


By John Winslow, Esquire, Lieutenant-Colonel and Commander of His Majesty's troops at Grand Pré, Mines, River Canard, and places adjacent.

To the inhabitants of the districts above named, as well ancients as young men and lads.

Whereas His Excellency the Governor has instructed us of his last resolution respecting the matters proposed lately to the inhabitants, and has ordered us to communicate the same to the inhabitants in general in person, His Excellency being desirous that each of them should be fully satisfied of His Majesty's intentions, which he has also ordered us to communicate to you, such as they have been given him.

We therefore order and strictly enjoin by these presents to all the inhabitants, as well of the above-named districts as of all the other districts, both old men and young men, as well as all the lads of ten years of age, to attend at the church in Grand Pré on Friday, the fifth instant, at three of the clock in the afternoon, that we may impart what we are ordered to communicate to them; declaring that no excuse will be admitted on any pretence whatsoever, on pain of forfeiting goods and chattels in default.

Given at Grand Pré, the second of September, in the twenty-ninth year of His Majesty's reign, A.D. 1755.


        A similar summons was drawn up in the name of Murray for the inhabitants of the district of Fort Edward.

        Captain Adams made a reconnoissance of the rivers Canard and Des Habitants, and reported “a fine country and full of inhabitants, a beautiful church, and abundance of the goods of the world.”  Another reconnoissance by Captains Hobbs and Osgood among the settlements behind Grand Pré brought reports equally favorable.  On the fourth, another letter came from Murray: “All the people quiet, and very busy at their harvest; if this day keeps fair, all will be in here in their barns.  I hope to-morrow will crown all our wishes.”  The Acadians, like the bees, were to gather a harvest for others to enjoy.  The summons was sent out that afternoon.  Powder and ball were served to the men, and all were ordered to keep within the lines.

        On the next day the inhabitants appeared at the hour appointed, to the number of four hundred and eighteen men.  Winslow ordered a table to be set in the middle of the church, and placed on it his instructions and the address he had prepared.  Here he took his stand in his laced uniform, with one or two subalterns from the regulars at Fort Edward, and such of the Massachusetts officers as were not on guard duty; strong, sinewy figures, bearing, no doubt, more or less distinctly, the peculiar stamp with which toil, trade, and Puritanism had imprinted the features of New England.  Their commander was not of the prevailing type.  He was fifty-three years of age, with double chin, smooth forehead, arched eyebrows, close powdered wig, and round, rubicund face, from which the weight of an odious duty had probably banished the smirk of self-satisfaction that dwelt there at other times.[276]  Nevertheless, he had manly and estimable qualities.  The congregation of peasants, clad in rough homespun, turned their sunburned faces upon him, anxious and intent; and Winslow “delivered them by interpreters the King's orders in the following words,” which, retouched in orthography and syntax, ran thus:—


GENTLEMEN,—I have received from His Excellency, Governor Lawrence, the King's instructions, which I have in my hand.  By his orders you are called together to hear His Majesty's final resolution concerning the French inhabitants of this his province of Nova Scotia, who for almost half a century have had more indulgence granted them than any of his subjects in any part of his dominions.  What use you have made of it you yourselves best know.

The duty I am now upon, though necessary, is very disagreeable to my natural make and temper, as I know it must be grievous to you, who are of the same species.  But it is not my business to animadvert on the orders I have received, but to obey them; and therefore without hesitation I shall deliver to you His Majesty's instructions and commands, which are that your lands and tenements and cattle and live-stock of all kinds are forfeited to the Crown, with all your other effects, except money and household goods, and that you yourselves are to be removed from this his province.

The peremptory orders of His Majesty are that all the French inhabitants of these districts be removed; and through His Majesty's goodness I am directed to allow you the liberty of carrying with you your money and as many of your household goods as you can take without overloading the vessels you go in.  I shall do everything in my power that all these goods be secured to you, and that you be not molested in carrying them away, and also that whole families shall go in the same vessel; so that this removal, which I am sensible must give you a great deal of trouble, may be made as easy as His Majesty's service will admit; and I hope that in whatever part of the world your lot may fall, you may be faithful subjects, and a peaceable and happy people.

I must also inform you that it is His Majesty's pleasure that you remain in security under the inspection and direction of the troops that I have the honor to command.

[Footnote 276: See his portrait, at the rooms of the Massachusetts Historical Society.]


        He then declared them prisoners of the King.  “They were greatly struck,” he says, “at this determination, though I believe they did not imagine that they were actually to be removed.”  After delivering the address, he returned to his quarters at the priest's house, whither he was followed by some of the elder prisoners, who begged leave to tell their families what had happened, “since they were fearful that the surprise of their detention would quite overcome them.”  Winslow consulted with his officers, and it was arranged that the Acadians should choose twenty of their number each day to revisit their homes, the rest being held answerable for their return.

        A letter, dated some days before, now came from Major Handfield at Annapolis, saying that he had tried to secure the men of that neighborhood, but that many of them had escaped to the woods.  Murray's report from Fort Edward came soon after, and was more favorable: “I have succeeded finely, and have got a hundred and eighty-three men into my possession.”  To which Winslow replies: “I have the favor of yours of this day, and rejoice at your success, and also for the smiles that have attended the party here.”  But he adds mournfully: “Things are now very heavy on my heart and hands.”  The prisoners were lodged in the church, and notice was sent to their families to bring them food.  “Thus,” says the Diary of the commander, “ended the memorable fifth of September, a day of great fatigue and trouble.”

        There was one quarter where fortune did not always smile.  Major Jedediah Preble, of Winslow's battalion, wrote to him that Major Frye had just returned from Chipody, whither he had gone with a party of men to destroy the settlements and bring off the women and children.  After burning two hundred and fifty-three buildings he had reimbarked, leaving fifty men on shore at a place called Peticodiac to give a finishing stroke to the work by burning the “Mass House,” or church.  While thus engaged, they were set upon by three hundred Indians and Acadians, led by the partisan officer Boishébert.  More than half their number were killed, wounded, or taken.  The rest ensconced themselves behind the neighboring dikes, and Frye, hastily landing with the rest of his men, engaged the assailants for three hours, but was forced at last to reimbark.[277]  Captain Speakman, who took part in the affair, also sent Winslow an account of it, and added: “The people here are much concerned for fear your party should meet with the same fate (being in the heart of a numerous devilish crew), which I pray God avert.”

[Footnote 277: Also Boishébert à Drucourt, 10 Oct. 1755, an exaggerated account. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 18 Oct. 1755, sets Boishébert's force at one hundred and twenty-five men.]


        Winslow had indeed some cause for anxiety.  He had captured more Acadians since the fifth; and had now in charge nearly five hundred able-bodied men, with scarcely three hundred to guard them.  As they were allowed daily exercise in the open air, they might by a sudden rush get possession of arms and make serious trouble.  On the Wednesday after the scene in the church some unusual movements were observed among them, and Winslow and his officers became convinced that they could not safely be kept in one body.  Five vessels, lately arrived from Boston, were lying within the mouth of the neighboring river.  It was resolved to place fifty of the prisoners on board each of these, and keep them anchored in the Basin.  The soldiers were all ordered under arms, and posted on an open space beside the church and behind the priest's house.  The prisoners were then drawn up before them, ranked six deep,—the young unmarried men, as the most dangerous, being told off and placed on the left, to the number of a hundred and forty-one.  Captain Adams, with eighty men, was then ordered to guard them to the vessels.  Though the object of the movement had been explained to them, they were possessed with the idea that they were to be torn from their families and sent away at once; and they all, in great excitement, refused to go.  Winslow told them that there must be no parley or delay; and as they still refused, a squad of soldiers advanced towards them with fixed bayonets; while he himself, laying hold of the foremost young man, commanded him to move forward.  “He obeyed; and the rest followed, though slowly, and went off praying, singing, and crying, being met by the women and children all the way (which is a mile and a half) with great lamentation, upon their knees, praying.”  When the escort returned, about a hundred of the married men were ordered to follow the first party; and, “the ice being broken,” they readily complied.  The vessels were anchored at a little distance from shore, and six soldiers were placed on board each of them as a guard.  The prisoners were offered the King's rations, but preferred to be supplied by their families, who, it was arranged, should go in boats to visit them every day; “and thus,” says Winslow, “ended this troublesome job.”  He was not given to effusions of feeling, but he wrote to Major Handfield: “This affair is more grievous to me than any service I was ever employed in.”[278]

[Footnote 278: Haliburton, who knew Winslow's Journal only by imperfect extracts, erroneously states that the men put on board the vessels were sent away immediately.  They remained at Grand Pré several weeks, and were then sent off at intervals with their families.]


        Murray sent him a note of congratulation: “I am extremely pleased that things are so clever at Grand Pré, and that the poor devils are so resigned.  Here they are more patient than I could have expected for people in their circumstances; and what surprises me still more is the indifference of the women, who really are, or seem, quite unconcerned.  I long much to see the poor wretches embarked and our affair a little settled; and then I will do myself the pleasure of meeting you and drinking their good voyage.”

        This agreeable consummation was still distant.  There was a long and painful delay.  The provisions for the vessels which were to carry the prisoners did not come; nor did the vessels themselves, excepting the five already at Grand Pré.  In vain Winslow wrote urgent letters to George Saul, the commissary, to bring the supplies at once.  Murray, at Fort Edward, though with less feeling than his brother officer, was quite as impatient of the burden of suffering humanity on his hands.  “I am amazed what can keep the transports and Saul.  Surely our friend at Chignecto is willing to give us as much of our neighbors' company as he well can.”[279]  Saul came at last with a shipload of provisions; but the lagging transports did not appear.  Winslow grew heart-sick at the daily sight of miseries which he himself had occasioned, and wrote to a friend at Halifax: “I know they deserve all and more than they feel; yet it hurts me to hear their weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I am in hopes our affairs will soon put on another face, and we get transports, and I rid of the worst piece of service that ever I was in.”

[Footnote 279: Murray to Winslow, 26 Sept. 1755.]


        After weeks of delay, seven transports came from Annapolis; and Winslow sent three of them to Murray, who joyfully responded: “Thank God, the transports are come at last.  So soon as I have shipped off my rascals, I will come down and settle matters with you, and enjoy ourselves a little.”

        Winslow prepared for the embarkation.  The Acadian prisoners and their families were divided into groups answering to their several villages, in order that those of the same village might, as far as possible, go in the same vessel.  It was also provided that the members of each family should remain together; and notice was given them to hold themselves in readiness.  “But even now,” he writes, “I could not persuade the people I was in earnest.”  Their doubts were soon ended.  The first embarkation took place on the eighth of October, under which date the Diary contains this entry: “Began to embark the inhabitants who went off very solentarily [sic] and unwillingly, the women in great distress, carrying off their children in their arms; others carrying their decrepit parents in their carts, with all their goods; moving in great confusion, and appeared a scene of woe and distress.”[280]

[Footnote 280: In spite of Winslow's care, some cases of separation of families occurred; but they were not numerous.]


        Though a large number were embarked on this occasion, still more remained; and as the transports slowly arrived, the dismal scene was repeated at intervals, with more order than at first, as the Acadians had learned to accept their fate as a certainty.  So far as Winslow was concerned, their treatment seems to have been as humane as was possible under the circumstances; but they complained of the men, who disliked and despised them.  One soldier received thirty lashes for stealing fowls from them; and an order was issued forbidding soldiers or sailors, on pain of summary punishment, to leave their quarters without permission, “that an end may be put to distressing this distressed people.”  Two of the prisoners, however, while trying to escape, were shot by a reconnoitring party.

        At the beginning of November Winslow reported that he had sent off fifteen hundred and ten persons, in nine vessels, and that more than six hundred still remained in his district.[281]  The last of these were not embarked till late in December.  Murray finished his part of the work at the end of October, having sent from the district of Fort Edward eleven hundred persons in four frightfully crowded transports.[282]  At the close of that month sixteen hundred and sixty-four had been sent from the district of Annapolis, where many others escaped to the woods.[283]  A detachment which was ordered to seize the inhabitants of the district of Cobequid failed entirely, finding the settlements abandoned.  In the country about Fort Cumberland, Monckton, who directed the operation in person, had very indifferent success, catching in all but little more than a thousand.[284]  Le Guerne, missionary priest in this neighborhood, gives a characteristic and affecting incident of the embarkation.  “Many unhappy women, carried away by excessive attachment to their husbands, whom they had been allowed to see too often, and closing their ears to the voice of religion and their missionary, threw themselves blindly and despairingly into the English vessels.  And now was seen the saddest of spectacles; for some of these women, solely from a religious motive, refused to take with them their grown-up sons and daughters.”[285]  They would expose their own souls to perdition among heretics, but not those of their children.

[Footnote 281: Winslow to Monckton, 3 Nov. 1755.]

[Footnote 282: Ibid.]

[Footnote 283: Captain Adams to Winslow, 29 Nov. 1755; see also Knox, I. 85, who exactly confirms Adams's figures.]

[Footnote 284: Monckton to Winslow, 7 Oct. 1755.]

[Footnote 285: Le Guerne à Prévost, 10 Mars, 1756.]


        When all, or nearly all, had been sent off from the various points of departure, such of the houses and barns as remained standing were burned, in obedience to the orders of Lawrence, that those who had escaped might be forced to come in and surrender themselves.  The whole number removed from the province, men, women, and children, was a little above six thousand.  Many remained behind; and while some of these withdrew to Canada, Isle St. Jean, and other distant retreats, the rest lurked in the woods or returned to their old haunts, whence they waged, for several years a guerilla warfare against the English.  Yet their strength was broken, and they were no longer a danger to the province.

        Of their exiled countrymen, one party overpowered the crew of the vessel that carried them, ran her ashore at the mouth of the St. John, and escaped.[286]  The rest were distributed among the colonies from Massachusetts to Georgia, the master of each transport having been provided with a letter from Lawrence addressed to the Governor of the province to which he was bound, and desiring him to receive the unwelcome strangers.  The provincials were vexed at the burden imposed upon them; and though the Acadians were not in general ill-treated, their lot was a hard one.  Still more so was that of those among them who escaped to Canada.  The chronicle of the Ursulines of Quebec, speaking of these last, says that their misery was indescribable, and attributes it to the poverty of the colony.  But there were other causes.  The exiles found less pity from kindred and fellow Catholics than from the heretics of the English colonies.  Some of them who had made their way to Canada from Boston, whither they had been transported, sent word to a gentleman of that place who had befriended them, that they wished to return.[287]  Bougainville, the celebrated navigator, then aide-de-camp to Montcalm, says concerning them: “They are dying by wholesale.  Their past and present misery, joined to the rapacity of the Canadians, who seek only to squeeze out of them all the money they can, and then refuse them the help so dearly bought, are the cause of this mortality.”  “A citizen of Quebec,” he says farther on, “was in debt to one of the partners of the Great Company [Government officials leagued for plunder].  He had no means of paying.  They gave him a great number of Acadians to board and lodge.  He starved them with hunger and cold, got out of them what money they had, and paid the extortioner.  Quel pays!  Quels moeurs!”[288]

[Footnote 286: Lettre commune de Drucour et Prévost au Ministre, 6 Avril, 1756. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 1 Juin, 1756.]

[Footnote 287: Hutchinson, Hist. Mass., III. 42, note.]

[Footnote 288: Bougainville, Journal, 1756-1758. His statements are sustained by Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]


        Many of the exiles eventually reached Louisiana, where their descendants now form a numerous and distinct population.  Some, after incredible hardship, made their way back to Acadia, where, after the peace, they remained unmolested, and, with those who had escaped seizure, became the progenitors of the present Acadians, now settled in various parts of the British maritime provinces, notably at Madawaska, on the upper St. John, and at Clare, in Nova Scotia.  Others were sent from Virginia to England; and others again, after the complete conquest of the country, found refuge in France.

        In one particular the authors of the deportation were disappointed in its results.  They had hoped to substitute a loyal population for a disaffected one; but they failed for some time to find settlers for the vacated lands.  The Massachusetts soldiers, to whom they were offered, would not stay in the province; and it was not till five years later that families of British stock began to occupy the waste fields of the Acadians.  This goes far to show that a longing to become their heirs had not, as has been alleged, any considerable part in the motives for their removal.

        New England humanitarianism, melting into sentimentality at a tale of woe, has been unjust to its own.  Whatever judgment may be passed on the cruel measure of wholesale expatriation, it was not put in execution till every resource of patience and persuasion had been tried in vain.  The agents of the French Court, civil, military, and ecclesiastical, had made some act of force a necessity.  We have seen by what vile practices they produced in Acadia a state of things intolerable, and impossible of continuance.  They conjured up the tempest; and when it burst on the heads of the unhappy people, they gave no help.  The Government of Louis XV began with making the Acadians its tools, and ended with making them its victims.[289]

[Footnote 289: It may not be remembered that the predecessor of Louis XV, without the slightest provocation or the pretence of any, gave orders that the whole Protestant population of the colony of New York, amounting to about eighteen thousand, should be seized, despoiled of their property, placed on board his ships and dispersed among the other British colonies in such a way that they could not reunite.  Want of power alone prevented the execution of the order.]


Table of Contents



Chapter 9

1755


Dieskau


        The next stroke of the campaign was to be the capture of Crown Point, that dangerous neighbor which, for a quarter of a century, had threatened the northern colonies.  Shirley, in January, had proposed an attack on it to the Ministry; and in February, without waiting their reply, he laid the plan before his Assembly.  They accepted it, and voted money for the pay and maintenance of twelve hundred men, provided the adjacent colonies would contribute in due proportion.[290]  Massachusetts showed a military activity worthy of the reputation she had won.  Forty-five hundred of her men, or one in eight of her adult males, volunteered to fight the French, and enlisted for the various expeditions, some in the pay of the province, and some in that of the King.[291]  It remained to name a commander for the Crown Point enterprise.  Nobody had power to do so, for Braddock was not yet come; but that time might not be lost, Shirley, at the request of his Assembly, took the responsibility on himself.  If he had named a Massachusetts officer, it would have roused the jealousy of the other New England colonies; and he therefore appointed William Johnson of New York, thus gratifying that important province and pleasing the Five Nations, who at this time looked on Johnson with even more than usual favor.  Hereupon, in reply to his request, Connecticut voted twelve hundred men, New Hampshire five hundred, and Rhode Island four hundred, all at their own charge; while New York, a little later, promised eight hundred more.  When, in April, Braddock and the Council at Alexandria approved the plan and the commander, Shirley gave Johnson the commission of major-general of the levies of Massachusetts; and the governors of the other provinces contributing to the expedition gave him similar commissions for their respective contingents.  Never did general take the field with authority so heterogeneous.

[Footnote 290: Governor Shirley's Message to his Assembly, 13 Feb. 1755. Resolutions of the Assembly of Massachusetts, 18 Feb. 1755. Shirley's original idea was to build a fort on a rising ground near Crown Point, in order to command it. This was soon abandoned for the more honest and more practical plan of direct attack.]

[Footnote 291: Correspondence of Shirley, Feb. 1755. The number was much increased later in the season.]


        He had never seen service, and knew nothing of war.  By birth he was Irish, of good family, being nephew of Admiral Sir Peter Warren, who, owning extensive wild lands on the Mohawk, had placed the young man in charge of them nearly twenty years before.  Johnson was born to prosper.  He had ambition, energy, an active mind, a tall, strong person, a rough, jovial temper, and a quick adaptation to his surroundings.  He could drink flip with Dutch boors, or Madeira with royal governors.  He liked the society of the great, would intrigue and flatter when he had an end to gain, and foil a rival without looking too closely at the means; but compared with the Indian traders who infested the border, he was a model of uprightness.  He lived by the Mohawk in a fortified house which was a stronghold against foes and a scene of hospitality to friends, both white and red.  Here—for his tastes were not fastidious—presided for many years a Dutch or German wench whom he finally married; and after her death a young Mohawk squaw took her place.  Over his neighbors, the Indians of the Five Nations, and all others of their race with whom he had to deal, he acquired a remarkable influence.  He liked them, adopted their ways, and treated them kindly or sternly as the case required, but always with a justice and honesty in strong contrast with the rascalities of the commission of Albany traders who had lately managed their affairs, and whom they so detested that one of their chiefs called them “not men, but devils.”  Hence, when Johnson was made Indian superintendent there was joy through all the Iroquois confederacy.  When, in addition, he was made a general, he assembled the warriors in council to engage them to aid the expedition.

        This meeting took place at his own house, known as Fort Johnson; and as more than eleven hundred Indians appeared at his call, his larder was sorely taxed to entertain them.  The speeches were interminable.  Johnson, as master of Indian rhetoric, knew his audience too well not to contest with them the palm of insufferable prolixity.  The climax was reached on the fourth day, and he threw down the war-belt.  An Oneida chief took it up; Stevens, the interpreter, began the war-dance, and the assembled warriors howled in chorus.  Then a tub of punch was brought in, and they all drank the King's health.[292]  They showed less alacrity, however, to fight his battles, and scarcely three hundred of them would take the war-path.  Too many of their friends and relatives were enlisted for the French.

[Footnote 292: Report of Conference between Major-General Johnson and the Indians, June, 1755.]


        While the British colonists were preparing to attack Crown Point, the French of Canada were preparing to defend it.  Duquesne, recalled from his post, had resigned the government to the Marquis de Vaudreuil, who had at his disposal the battalions of regulars that had sailed in the spring from Brest under Baron Dieskau.  His first thought was to use them for the capture of Oswego; but the letters of Braddock, found on the battle-field, warned him of the design against Crown Point; while a reconnoitring party which had gone as far as the Hudson brought back news that Johnson's forces were already in the field.  Therefore the plan was changed, and Dieskau was ordered to lead the main body of his troops, not to Lake Ontario, but to Lake Champlain.  He passed up the Richelieu, and embarked in boats and canoes for Crown Point.  The veteran knew that the foes with whom he had to deal were but a mob of countrymen.  He doubted not of putting them to rout, and meant never to hold his hand till he had chased them back to Albany.[293]  “Make all haste,” Vaudreuil wrote to him; “for when you return we shall send you to Oswego to execute our first design.”[294]

[Footnote 293: Bigot au Ministre, 27 Août, 1755. Ibid., 5 Sept. 1755.]

[Footnote 294: Mémoire pour servir d'Instruction à M. le Baron de Dieskau, Maréchal des Camps et Armées du Roy, 15 Août, 1755.]


        Johnson on his part was preparing to advance.  In July about three thousand provincials were encamped near Albany, some on the “Flats” above the town, and some on the meadows below.  Hither, too, came a swarm of Johnson's Mohawks,—warriors, squaws, and children.  They adorned the General's face with war-paint, and he danced the war-dance; then with his sword he cut the first slice from the ox that had been roasted whole for their entertainment.  “I shall be glad,” wrote the surgeon of a New England regiment, “if they fight as eagerly as they ate their ox and drank their wine.”

        Above all things the expedition needed promptness; yet everything moved slowly.  Five popular legislatures controlled the troops and the supplies.  Connecticut had refused to send her men till Shirley promised that her commanding officer should rank next to Johnson.  The whole movement was for some time at a deadlock because the five governments could not agree about their contributions of artillery and stores.[295]  The New Hampshire regiment had taken a short cut for Crown Point across the wilderness of Vermont; but had been recalled in time to save them from probable destruction.  They were now with the rest in the camp at Albany, in such distress for provisions that a private subscription was proposed for their relief.[296]

[Footnote 295: The Conduct of Major-General Shirley briefly stated (London, 1758).]

[Footnote 296: Blanchard to Wentworth, 28 Aug. 1755, in Provincial Papers of New Hampshire, VI. 429.]


        Johnson's army, crude as it was, had in it good material.  Here was Phineas Lyman, of Connecticut, second in command, once a tutor at Yale College, and more recently a lawyer,—a raw soldier, but a vigorous and brave one; Colonel Moses Titcomb, of Massachusetts, who had fought with credit at Louisbourg; and Ephraim Williams, also colonel of a Massachusetts regiment, a tall and portly man, who had been a captain in the last war, member of the General Court, and deputy-sheriff.  He made his will in the camp at Albany, and left a legacy to found the school which has since become Williams College.  His relative, Stephen Williams, was chaplain of his regiment, and his brother Thomas was its surgeon.  Seth Pomeroy, gunsmith at Northampton, who, like Titcomb, had seen service at Louisbourg, was its lieutenant-colonel.  He had left a wife at home, an excellent matron, to whom he was continually writing affectionate letters, mingling household cares with news of the camp, and charging her to see that their eldest boy, Seth, then in college at New Haven, did not run off to the army.  Pomeroy had with him his brother Daniel; and this he thought was enough.  Here, too, was a man whose name is still a household word in New England,—the sturdy Israel Putnam, private in a Connecticut regiment; and another as bold as he, John Stark, lieutenant in the New Hampshire levies, and the future victor of Bennington.

        The soldiers were no soldiers, but farmers and farmers' sons who had volunteered for the summer campaign.  One of the corps had a blue uniform faced with red.  The rest wore their daily clothing.  Blankets had been served out to them by the several provinces, but the greater part brought their own guns; some under the penalty of a fine if they came without them, and some under the inducement of a reward.[297]  They had no bayonets, but carried hatchets in their belts as a sort of substitute.[298]  At their sides were slung powder-horns, on which, in the leisure of the camp, they carved quaint devices with the points of their jack-knives.  They came chiefly from plain New England homesteads,—rustic abodes, unpainted and dingy, with long well-sweeps, capacious barns, rough fields of pumpkins and corn, and vast kitchen chimneys, above which in winter hung squashes to keep them from frost, and guns to keep them from rust.

[Footnote 297: Proclamation of Governor Shirley, 1755.]

[Footnote 298: Second Letter to a Friend on the Battle of Lake George.]


        As to the manners and morals of the army there is conflict of evidence.  In some respects nothing could be more exemplary.  “Not a chicken has been stolen,” says William Smith, of New York; while, on the other hand, Colonel Ephraim Williams writes to Colonel Israel Williams, then commanding on the Massachusetts frontier: “We are a wicked, profane army, especially the New York and Rhode Island troops.  Nothing to be heard among a great part of them but the language of Hell.  If Crown Point is taken, it will not be for our sakes, but for those good people left behind.”[299]  There was edifying regularity in respect to form.  Sermons twice a week, daily prayers, and frequent psalm-singing alternated with the much-needed military drill.[300]  “Prayers among us night and morning,” writes Private Jonathan Caswell, of Massachusetts, to his father.  “Here we lie, knowing not when we shall march for Crown Point; but I hope not long to tarry.  Desiring your prayers to God for me as I am going to war, I am Your Ever Dutiful son.”[301]

[Footnote 299: Papers of Colonel Israel Williams.]

[Footnote 300: Massachusetts Archives.]

[Footnote 301: Jonathan Caswell to John Caswell, 6 July, 1755.]


        To Pomeroy and some of his brothers in arms it seemed that they were engaged in a kind of crusade against the myrmidons of Rome.  “As you have at heart the Protestant cause,” he wrote to his friend Israel Williams, “so I ask an interest in your prayers that the Lord of Hosts would go forth with us and give us victory over our unreasonable, encroaching, barbarous, murdering enemies.”

        Both Williams the surgeon and Williams the colonel chafed at the incessant delays.  “The expedition goes on very much as a snail runs,” writes the former to his wife; “it seems we may possibly see Crown Point this time twelve months.”  The Colonel was vexed because everything was out of joint in the department of transportation: wagoners mutinous for want of pay; ordnance stores, camp-kettles, and provisions left behind.  “As to rum,” he complains, “it won't hold out nine weeks.  Things appear most melancholy to me.”  Even as he was writing, a report came of the defeat of Braddock; and, shocked at the blow, his pen traced the words: “The Lord have mercy on poor New England!”

        Johnson had sent four Mohawk scouts to Canada.  They returned on the twenty-first of August with the report that the French were all astir with preparation, and that eight thousand men were coming to defend Crown Point.  On this a council of war was called; and it was resolved to send to the several colonies for reinforcements.[302]  Meanwhile the main body had moved up the river to the spot called the Great Carrying Place, where Lyman had begun a fortified storehouse, which his men called Fort Lyman, but which was afterwards named Fort Edward.  Two Indian trails led from this point to the waters of Lake Champlain, one by way of Lake George, and the other by way of Wood Creek.  There was doubt which course the army should take.  A road was begun to Wood Creek; then it was countermanded, and a party was sent to explore the path to Lake George.  “With submission to the general officers,” Surgeon Williams again writes, “I think it a very grand mistake that the business of reconnoitring was not done months agone.”  It was resolved at last to march for Lake George; gangs of axemen were sent to hew out the way; and on the twenty-sixth two thousand men were ordered to the lake, while Colonel Blanchard, of New Hampshire, remained with five hundred to finish and defend Fort Lyman.

[Footnote 302: Minutes of Council of War, 22 Aug. 1755. Ephraim Williams to Benjamin Dwight, 22 Aug. 1755.]


        The train of Dutch wagons, guarded by the homely soldiery, jolted slowly over the stumps and roots of the newly made road, and the regiments followed at their leisure.  The hardships of the way were not without their consolations.  The jovial Irishman who held the chief command made himself very agreeable to the New England officers.  “We went on about four or five miles,” says Pomeroy in his Journal, “then stopped, ate pieces of broken bread and cheese, and drank some fresh lemon-punch and the best of wine with General Johnson and some of the field-officers.”  It was the same on the next day.  “Stopped about noon and dined with General Johnson by a small brook under a tree; ate a good dinner of cold boiled and roast venison; drank good fresh lemon-punch and wine.”

        That afternoon they reached their destination, fourteen miles from Fort Lyman.  The most beautiful lake in America lay before them; then more beautiful than now, in the wild charm of untrodden mountains and virgin forests.  “I have given it the name of Lake George,” wrote Johnson to the Lords of Trade, “not only in honor of His Majesty, but to ascertain his undoubted dominion here.”  His men made their camp on a piece of rough ground by the edge of the water, pitching their tents among the stumps of the newly felled trees.  In their front was a forest of pitch-pine; on their right, a marsh, choked with alders and swamp-maples; on their left, the low hill where Fort George was afterwards built; and at their rear, the lake.  Little was done to clear the forest in front, though it would give excellent cover to an enemy.  Nor did Johnson take much pains to learn the movements of the French in the direction of Crown Point, though he sent scouts towards South Bay and Wood Creek.  Every day stores and bateaux, or flat boats, came on wagons from Fort Lyman; and preparation moved on with the leisure that had marked it from the first.  About three hundred Mohawks came to the camp, and were regarded by the New England men as nuisances.  On Sunday the gray-haired Stephen Williams preached to these savage allies a long Calvinistic sermon, which must have sorely perplexed the interpreter whose business it was to turn it into Mohawk; and in the afternoon young Chaplain Newell, of Rhode Island, expounded to the New England men the somewhat untimely text, “Love your enemies.”  On the next Sunday, September seventh, Williams preached again, this time to the whites from a text in Isaiah.  It was a peaceful day, fair and warm, with a few light showers; yet not wholly a day of rest, for two hundred wagons came up from Fort Lyman, loaded with bateaux.  After the sermon there was an alarm.  An Indian scout came in about sunset, and reported that he had found the trail of a body of men moving from South Bay towards Fort Lyman.  Johnson called for a volunteer to carry a letter of warning to Colonel Blanchard, the commander.  A wagoner named Adams offered himself for the perilous service, mounted, and galloped along the road with the letter.  Sentries were posted, and the camp fell asleep.

        While Johnson lay at Lake George, Dieskau prepared a surprise for him.  The German Baron had reached Crown Point at the head of three thousand five hundred and seventy-three men, regulars, Canadians, and Indians.[303]  He had no thought of waiting there to be attacked.  The troops were told to hold themselves ready to move at a moment's notice.  Officers—so ran the order—will take nothing with them but one spare shirt, one spare pair of shoes, a blanket, a bearskin, and provisions for twelve days; Indians are not to amuse themselves by taking scalps till the enemy is entirely defeated, since they can kill ten men in the time required to scalp one.[304]  Then Dieskau moved on, with nearly all his force, to Carillon, or Ticonderoga, a promontory commanding both the routes by which alone Johnson could advance, that of Wood Creek and that of Lake George.

[Footnote 303: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 25 Sept. 1755.]

[Footnote 304: Livre d'Ordres, Août, Sept. 1755.]


        The Indians allies were commanded by Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, the officer who had received Washington on his embassy to Fort Le Boeuf.  These unmanageable warriors were a constant annoyance to Dieskau, being a species of humanity quite new to him.  “They drive us crazy,” he says, “from morning till night.  There is no end to their demands.  They have already eaten five oxen and as many hogs, without counting the kegs of brandy they have drunk.  In short, one needs the patience of an angel to get on with these devils; and yet one must always force himself to seem pleased with them.”[305]

[Footnote 305: Dieskau à Vaudreuil, 1 Sept. 1755.]


        They would scarcely even go out as scouts.  At last, however, on the fourth of September, a reconnoitring party came in with a scalp and an English prisoner caught near Fort Lyman.  He was questioned under the threat of being given to the Indians for torture if he did not tell the truth; but, nothing daunted, he invented a patriotic falsehood; and thinking to lure his captors into a trap, told them that the English army had fallen back to Albany, leaving five hundred men at Fort Lyman, which he represented as indefensible.  Dieskau resolved on a rapid movement to seize the place.  At noon of the same day, leaving a part of his force at Ticonderoga, he embarked the rest in canoes and advanced along the narrow prolongation of Lake Champlain that stretched southward through the wilderness to where the town of Whitehall now stands.  He soon came to a point where the lake dwindled to a mere canal, while two mighty rocks, capped with stunted forests, faced each other from the opposing banks.  Here he left an officer named Roquemaure with a detachment of troops, and again advanced along a belt of quiet water traced through the midst of a deep marsh, green at that season with sedge and water-weeds, and known to the English as the Drowned Lands.  Beyond, on either hand, crags feathered with birch and fir, or hills mantled with woods, looked down on the long procession of canoes.[306]  As they neared the site of Whitehall, a passage opened on the right, the entrance to a sheet of lonely water slumbering in the shadow of woody mountains, and forming the lake then, as now, called South Bay.  They advanced to its head, landed where a small stream enters it, left the canoes under a guard, and began their march through the forest.  They counted in all two hundred and sixteen regulars of the battalions of Languedoc and La Reine, six hundred and eighty-four Canadians, and above six hundred Indians.[307]  Every officer and man carried provisions for eight days in his knapsack.  They encamped at night by a brook, and in the morning, after hearing Mass, marched again.  The evening of the next day brought them near the road that led to Lake George.  Fort Lyman was but three miles distant.  A man on horseback galloped by; it was Adams, Johnson's unfortunate messenger.  The Indians shot him, and found the letter in his pocket.  Soon after, ten or twelve wagons appeared in charge of mutinous drivers, who had left the English camp without orders.  Several of them were shot, two were taken, and the rest ran off.  The two captives declared that, contrary to the assertion of the prisoner at Ticonderoga, a large force lay encamped at the lake.  The Indians now held a council, and presently gave out that they would not attack the fort, which they thought well supplied with cannon, but that they were willing to attack the camp at Lake George.  Remonstrance was lost upon them.  Dieskau was not young, but he was daring to rashness, and inflamed to emulation by the victory over Braddock.  The enemy were reported greatly to outnumber him; but his Canadian advisers had assured him that the English colony militia were the worst troops on the face of the earth.  “The more there are,” he said to the Canadians and Indians, “the more we shall kill;” and in the morning the order was given to march for the lake.

[Footnote 306: I passed this way three weeks ago. There are some points where the scene is not much changed since Dieskau saw it.]

[Footnote 307: Mémoire sur l'Affaire du 8 Septembre.]


        They moved rapidly on through the waste of pines, and soon entered the rugged valley that led to Johnson's camp.  On their right was a gorge where, shadowed in bushes, gurgled a gloomy brook; and beyond rose the cliffs that buttressed the rocky heights of French Mountain, seen by glimpses between the boughs.  On their left rose gradually the lower slopes of West Mountain.  All was rock, thicket, and forest; there was no open space but the road along which the regulars marched, while the Canadians and Indians pushed their way through the woods in such order as the broken ground would permit.

        They were three miles from the lake, when their scouts brought in a prisoner who told them that a column of English troops was approaching.  Dieskau's preparations were quickly made.  While the regulars halted on the road, the Canadians and Indians moved to the front, where most of them hid in the forest along the slopes of West Mountain, and the rest lay close among the thickets on the other side.  Thus, when the English advanced to attack the regulars in front, they would find themselves caught in a double ambush.  No sight or sound betrayed the snare; but behind every bush crouched a Canadian or a savage, with gun cocked and ears intent, listening for the tramp of the approaching column.

        The wagoners who escaped the evening before had reached the camp about midnight, and reported that there was a war-party on the road near Fort Lyman.  Johnson had at this time twenty-two hundred effective men, besides his three hundred Indians.[308]  He called a council of war in the morning, and a resolution was taken which can only be explained by a complete misconception as to the force of the French.  It was determined to send out two detachments of five hundred men each, one towards Fort Lyman, and the other towards South Bay, the object being, according to Johnson “to catch the enemy in their retreat.”[309]  Hendrick, chief of the Mohawks, a brave and sagacious warrior, expressed his dissent after a fashion of his own.  He picked up a stick and broke it; then he picked up several sticks, and showed that together they could not be broken.  The hint was taken, and the two detachments were joined in one.  Still the old savage shook his head.  “If they are to be killed,” he said, “they are too many; if they are to fight, they are too few.”  Nevertheless, he resolved to share their fortunes; and mounting on a gun-carriage, he harangued his warriors with a voice so animated and gestures so expressive, that the New England officers listened in admiration, though they understood not a word.  One difficulty remained.  He was too old and fat to go afoot; but Johnson lent him a horse, which he bestrode, and trotted to the head of the column, followed by two hundred of his warriors as fast as they could grease, paint, and befeather themselves.

[Footnote 308: Wraxall to Lieutenant-Governor Delancey, 10 Sept. 1755. Wraxall was Johnson's aide-de-camp and secretary. The Second Letter to a Friend says twenty-one hundred whites and two hundred or three hundred Indians. Blodget, who was also on the spot, sets the whites at two thousand.]

[Footnote 309: Letter to the Governors of the several Colonies, 9 Sept. 1755.]


        Captain Elisha Hawley was in his tent, finishing a letter which he had just written to his brother Joseph; and these were the last words: “I am this minute agoing out in company with five hundred men to see if we can intercept 'em in their retreat, or find their canoes in the Drowned Lands; and therefore must conclude this letter.”  He closed and directed it; and in an hour received his death-wound.

        It was soon after eight o'clock when Ephraim Williams left the camp with his regiment, marched a little distance, and then waited for the rest of the detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Whiting.  Thus Dieskau had full time to lay his ambush.  When Whiting came up, the whole moved on together, so little conscious of danger that no scouts were thrown out in front or flank; and, in full security, they entered the fatal snare.  Before they were completely involved in it, the sharp eye of old Hendrick detected some sign of an enemy.  At that instant, whether by accident or design, a gun was fired from the bushes.  It is said that Dieskau's Iroquois, seeing Mohawks, their relatives, in the van, wished to warn them of danger.  If so, the warning came too late.  The thickets on the left blazed out a deadly fire, and the men fell by scores.  In the words of Dieskau, the head of the column “was doubled up like a pack of cards.”  Hendrick's horse was shot down, and the chief was killed with a bayonet as he tried to rise.  Williams, seeing a rising ground on his right, made for it, calling on his men to follow; but as he climbed the slope, guns flashed from the bushes, and a shot through the brain laid him dead.  The men in the rear pressed forward to support their comrades, when a hot fire was suddenly opened on them from the forest along their right flank.  Then there was a panic; some fled outright, and the whole column recoiled.  The van now became the rear, and all the force of the enemy rushed upon it, shouting and screeching.  There was a moment of total confusion; but a part of Williams's regiment rallied under command of Whiting, and covered the retreat, fighting behind trees like Indians, and firing and falling back by turns, bravely aided by some of the Mohawks and by a detachment which Johnson sent to their aid.  “And a very handsome retreat they made,” writes Pomeroy; “and so continued till they came within about three quarters of a mile of our camp.  This was the last fire our men gave our enemies, which killed great numbers of them; they were seen to drop as pigeons.”  So ended the fray long known in New England fireside story as the “bloody morning scout.”  Dieskau now ordered a halt, and sounded his trumpets to collect his scattered men.  His Indians, however, were sullen and unmanageable, and the Canadians also showed signs of wavering.  The veteran who commanded them all, Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, had been killed.  At length they were persuaded to move again, the regulars leading the way.

        About an hour after Williams and his men had begun their march, a distant rattle of musketry was heard at the camp; and as it grew nearer and louder, the listeners knew that their comrades were on the retreat.  Then, at the eleventh hour, preparations were begun for defence.  A sort of barricade was made along the front of the camp, partly of wagons, and partly of inverted bateaux, but chiefly of the trunks of trees hastily hewn down in the neighboring forest and laid end to end in a single row.  The line extended from the southern slopes of the hill on the left across a tract of rough ground to the marshes on the right.  The forest, choked with bushes and clumps of rank ferns, was within a few yards of the barricade, and there was scarcely time to hack away the intervening thickets.  Three cannon were planted to sweep the road that descended through the pines, and another was dragged up to the ridge of the hill.  The defeated party began to come in; first, scared fugitives both white and red, then, gangs of men bringing the wounded; and at last, an hour and a half after the first fire was heard, the main detachment was seen marching in compact bodies down the road.

        Five hundred men were detailed to guard the flanks of the camp.  The rest stood behind the wagons or lay flat behind the logs and inverted bateaux, the Massachusetts men on the right, and the Connecticut men on the left.  Besides Indians, this actual fighting force was between sixteen and seventeen hundred rustics, very few of whom had been under fire before that morning.  They were hardly at their posts when they saw ranks of white-coated soldiers moving down the road, and bayonets that to them seemed innumerable glittering between the boughs.  At the same time a terrific burst of war-whoops rose along the front; and, in the words of Pomeroy, “the Canadians and Indians, helter-skelter, the woods full of them, came running with undaunted courage right down the hill upon us, expecting to make us flee.”[310]  Some of the men grew uneasy; while the chief officers, sword in hand, threatened instant death to any who should stir from their posts.[311]  If Dieskau had made an assault at that instant, there could be little doubt of the result.

[Footnote 310: Seth Pomeroy to his Wife, 10 Sept. 1755.]

[Footnote 311: Dr. Perez Marsh to William Williams, 25 Sept. 1755.]


        This he well knew; but he was powerless.  He had his small force of regulars well in hand; but the rest, red and white, were beyond control, scattering through the woods and swamps, shouting, yelling, and firing from behind trees.  The regulars advanced with intrepidity towards the camp where the trees were thin, deployed, and fired by platoons, till Captain Eyre, who commanded the artillery, opened on them with grape, broke their ranks, and compelled them to take to cover.  The fusillade was now general on both sides, and soon grew furious.  “Perhaps,” Seth Pomeroy wrote to his wife, two days after, “the hailstones from heaven were never much thicker than their bullets came; but, blessed be God!  that did not in the least daunt or disturb us.”  Johnson received a flesh-wound in the thigh, and spent the rest of the day in his tent.  Lyman took command; and it is a marvel that he escaped alive, for he was four hours in the heat of the fire, directing and animating the men.  “It was the most awful day my eyes ever beheld,” wrote Surgeon Williams to his wife; “there seemed to be nothing but thunder and lightning and perpetual pillars of smoke.”  To him, his colleague Doctor Pynchon, one assistant, and a young student called “Billy,” fell the charge of the wounded of his regiment.  “The bullets flew about our ears all the time of dressing them; so we thought best to leave our tent and retire a few rods behind the shelter of a log-house.”  On the adjacent hill stood one Blodget, who seems to have been a sutler, watching, as well as bushes, trees, and smoke would let him, the progress of the fight, of which he soon after made and published a curious bird's-eye view.  As the wounded men were carried to the rear, the wagoners about the camp took their guns and powder-horns, and joined in the fray.  A Mohawk, seeing one of these men still unarmed, leaped over the barricade, tomahawked the nearest Canadian, snatched his gun, and darted back unhurt.  The brave savage found no imitators among his tribesmen, most of whom did nothing but utter a few war-whoops, saying that they had come to see their English brothers fight.  Some of the French Indians opened a distant flank fire from the high ground beyond the swamp on the right, but were driven off by a few shells dropped among them.

        Dieskau had directed his first attack against the left and center of Johnson's position.  Making no impression here, he tried to force the right, where lay the regiments of Titcomb, Ruggles, and Williams.  The fire was hot for about an hour.  Titcomb was shot dead, a rod in front of the barricade, firing from behind a tree like a common soldier.  At length Dieskau, exposing himself within short range of the English line, was hit in the leg.  His adjutant, Montreuil, himself wounded, came to his aid, and was washing the injured limb with brandy, when the unfortunate commander was again hit in the knee and thigh.  He seated himself behind a tree, while the Adjutant called two Canadians to carry him to the rear.  One of them was instantly shot down.  Montreuil took his place; but Dieskau refused to be moved, bitterly denounced the Canadians and Indians, and ordered the Adjutant to leave him and lead the regulars in a last effort against the camp.

        It was too late.  Johnson's men, singly or in small squads, already crossing their row of logs; and in a few moments the whole dashed forward with a shout, falling upon the enemy with hatchets and the butts of their guns.  The French and their allies fled.  The wounded General still sat helpless by the tree, when he saw a soldier aiming at him.  He signed to the man not to fire; but he pulled trigger, shot him across the hips, leaped upon him, and ordered him in French to surrender.  “I said,” writes Dieskau, “ 'You rascal, why did you fire?  You see a man lying in his blood on the ground, and you shoot him!'  He answered: 'How did I know that you had not got a pistol?  I had rather kill the devil than have the devil kill me.'  'You are a Frenchman?'  I asked.  'Yes,' he replied; 'it is more than ten years since I left Canada;' whereupon several others fell on me and stripped me.  I told them to carry me to their general, which they did.  On learning who I was, he sent for surgeons, and, though wounded himself, refused all assistance till my wounds were dressed.”[312]

[Footnote 312: Dialogue entre le Maréchal de Saxe et le Baron de Dieskau aux Champs Élysées. This paper is in the Archives de la Guerre, and was evidently written or inspired by Dieskau himself. In spite of its fanciful form, it is a sober statement of the events of the campaign. There is a translation of it in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 340.]


        It was near five o'clock when the final rout took place.  Some time before, several hundred of the Canadians and Indians had left the field and returned to the scene of the morning fight, to plunder and scalp the dead.  They were resting themselves near a pool in the forest, close beside the road, when their repose was interrupted by a volley of bullets.  It was fired by a scouting party from Fort Lyman, chiefly backwoodsmen, under Captains Folsom and McGinnis.  The assailants were greatly outnumbered; but after a hard fight the Canadians and Indians broke and fled.  McGinnis was mortally wounded.  He continued to give orders till the firing was over; then fainted, and was carried, dying, to the camp.  The bodies of the slain, according to tradition, were thrown into the pool, which bears to this day the name of Bloody Pond.

        The various bands of fugitives rejoined each other towards night, and encamped in the forest; then made their way round the southern shoulder of French Mountain, till, in the next evening, they reached their canoes.  Their plight was deplorable; for they had left their knapsacks behind, and were spent with fatigue and famine.

        Meanwhile their captive general was not yet out of danger.  The Mohawks were furious at their losses in the ambush of the morning, and above all at the death of Hendrick.  Scarcely were Dieskau's wounds dressed, when several of them came into the tent.  There was a long and angry dispute in their own language between them and Johnson, after which they went out very sullenly.  Dieskau asked what they wanted.  “What do they want?” returned Johnson.  “To burn you, by God, eat you, and smoke you in their pipes, in revenge for three or four of their chiefs that were killed.  But never fear; you shall be safe with me, or else they shall kill us both.”[313]  The Mohawks soon came back, and another talk ensued, excited at first, and then more calm; till at length the visitors, seemingly appeased, smiled, gave Dieskau their hands in sign of friendship, and quietly went out again.  Johnson warned him that he was not yet safe; and when the prisoner, fearing that his presence might incommode his host, asked to be removed to another tent, a captain and fifty men were ordered to guard him.  In the morning an Indian, alone and apparently unarmed, loitered about the entrance, and the stupid sentinel let him pass in.  He immediately drew a sword from under a sort of cloak which he wore, and tried to stab Dieskau; but was prevented by the Colonel to whom the tent belonged, who seized upon him, took away his sword, and pushed him out.  As soon as his wounds would permit, Dieskau was carried on a litter, strongly escorted, to Fort Lyman, whence he was sent to Albany, and afterwards to New York.  He is profuse in expressions of gratitude for the kindness shown him by the colonial officers, and especially by Johnson.  Of the provincial soldiers he remarked soon after the battle that in the morning they fought like good boys, about noon like men, and in the afternoon like devils.[314]  In the spring of 1757 he sailed for England, and was for a time at Falmouth; whence Colonel Matthew Sewell, fearing that he might see and learn too much, wrote to the Earl of Holdernesse: “The Baron has great penetration and quickness of apprehension.  His long service under Marshal Saxe renders him a man of real consequence, to be cautiously observed.  His circumstances deserve compassion, for indeed they are very melancholy, and I much doubt of his being ever perfectly cured.”  He was afterwards a long time at Bath, for the benefit of the waters.  in 1760 the famous Diderot met him at Paris, cheerful and full of anecdote, though wretchedly shattered by his wounds.  He died a few years later.

[Footnote 313: See the story as told by Dieskau to the celebrated Diderot, at Paris, in 1760. Mémoires de Diderot, I. 402 (1830). Compare N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 343.]

[Footnote 314: Dr. Perez Marsh to William Williams, 25 Sept. 1755.]


        On the night after the battle the yeomen warriors felt the truth of the saying that, next to defeat, the saddest thing is victory.  Comrades and friends by scores lay scattered through the forest.  As soon as he could snatch a moment's leisure, the overworked surgeon sent the dismal tidings to his wife: “My dear brother Ephraim was killed by a ball through his head; poor brother Josiah's wound I fear will prove mortal; poor Captain Hawley is yet alive, though I did not think he would live two hours after bringing him in.”  Daniel Pomeroy was shot dead; and his brother Seth wrote the news to his wife Rachel, who was just delivered of a child: “Dear Sister, this brings heavy tidings; but let not your heart sink at the news, though it be your loss of a dear husband.  Monday the eighth instant was a memorable day; and truly you may say, had not the Lord been on our side, we must all have been swallowed up.  My brother, being one that went out in the first engagement, received a fatal shot through the middle of the head.”  Seth Pomeroy found a moment to write also to his own wife, whom he tells that another attack is expected; adding, in quaintly pious phrase: “But as God hath begun to show mercy, I hope he will go on to be gracious.”  Pomeroy was employed during the next few days with four hundred men in what he calls “the melancholy piece of business” of burying the dead.  A letter-writer of the time does not approve what was done on this occasion.  “Our people,” he says, “not only buried the French dead, but buried as many of them as might be without the knowledge of our Indians, to prevent their being scalped.  This I call an excess of civility;” his reason being that Braddock's dead soldiers had been left to the wolves.

        The English loss in killed, wounded, and missing was two hundred and sixty-two;[315] and that of the French by their own account, two hundred and twenty-eight,[316]—a somewhat modest result of five hours' fighting.  The English loss was chiefly in the ambush of the morning, where the killed greatly outnumbered the wounded, because those who fell and could not be carried away were tomahawked by Dieskau's Indians.  In the fight at the camp, both Indians and Canadians kept themselves so well under cover that it was very difficult for the New England men to pick them off, while they on their part lay close behind their row of logs.  On the French side, the regular officers and troops bore the brunt of the battle and suffered the chief loss, nearly all of the former and nearly half of the latter being killed or wounded.

[Footnote 315: Return of Killed, Wounded, and Missing at the Battle of Lake George.]

[Footnote 316: Doreil au Ministre, 20 Oct. 1755. Surgeon Williams gives the English loss as two hundred and sixteen killed, and ninety-six wounded. Pomeroy thinks that the French lost four or five hundred. Johnson places their loss at four hundred.]


        Johnson did not follow up his success.  He says that his men were tired.  Yet five hundred of them had stood still all day, and boats enough for their transportation were lying on the beach.  Ten miles down the lake, a path led over a gorge of the mountains to South Bay, where Dieskau had left his canoes and provisions.  It needed but a few hours to reach and destroy them; but no such attempt was made.  Nor, till a week after, did Johnson send out scouts to learn the strength of the enemy at Ticonderoga.  Lyman strongly urged him to make an effort to seize that important pass; but Johnson thought only of holding his own position.  “I think,” he wrote, “we may expect very shortly a more formidable attack.”  He made a solid breastwork to defend his camp; and as reinforcements arrived, set them at building a fort on a rising ground by the lake.  It is true that just after the battle he was deficient in stores, and had not bateaux enough to move his whole force.  It is true, also, that he was wounded, and that he was too jealous of Lyman to delegate the command to him; and so the days passed till, within a fortnight, his nimble enemy were entrenched at Ticonderoga in force enough to defy him.

        The Crown Point expedition was a failure disguised under an incidental success.  The northern provinces, especially Massachusetts and Connecticut, did what they could to forward it, and after the battle sent a herd of raw recruits to the scene of action.  Shirley wrote to Johnson from Oswego; declared that his reasons for not advancing were insufficient, and urged him to push for Ticonderoga at once.  Johnson replied that he had not wagons enough, and that his troops were ill-clothed, ill-fed, discontented, insubordinate and sickly.  He complained that discipline was out of the question, because the officers were chosen by popular election; that many of them were no better than the men, unfit for command, and like so many “heads of a mob.”[317]  The reinforcements began to come in, till, in October there were thirty-six hundred men in the camp; and as most of them wore summer clothing and had but one thin domestic blanket, they were half frozen in the chill autumn nights.

[Footnote 317: Shirley to Johnson, 19 Sept. 1755. Ibid., 24 Sept. 1755. Johnson to Shirley, 22 Sept. 1755. Johnson to Phipps, 10 Oct. 1755 (Massachusetts Archives).]


        Johnson called a council of war; and as he was suffering from inflamed eyes, and was still kept in his tent by his wound, he asked Lyman to preside,—not unwilling, perhaps, to shift the responsibility upon him.  After several sessions and much debate, the assembled officers decided that it was inexpedient to proceed.[318]  Yet the army lay more than a month longer at the lake, while the disgust of the men increased daily under the rains, frosts, and snows of a dreary November.  On the twenty-second, Chandler, chaplain of one of the Massachusetts regiments, wrote in the interleaved almanac that served him as a diary: “The men just ready to mutiny.  Some clubbed their firelocks and marched, but returned back.  Very rainy night.  Miry water standing the tents.  Very distressing time among the sick.”  The men grew more and more unruly, and went off in squads without asking leave.  A difficult question arose: Who should stay for the winter to garrison the new forts, and who should command them?  It was settled at last that a certain number of soldiers from each province should be assigned to this ungrateful service, and that Massachusetts should have the first officer, Connecticut the second, and New York the third.  Then the camp broke up.  “Thursday the 27th,” wrote the chaplain in his almanac, “we set out about ten of the clock, marched in a body, about three thousand, the wagons and baggage in the centre, our colonel much insulted by the way.”  The soldiers dispersed to their villages and farms, where in blustering winter nights, by the blazing logs of New England hearth-stones, they told their friends and neighbors the story of the campaign.

[Footnote 318: Reports of Council of War, 11-21 Oct. 1755.]


        The profit of it fell to Johnson.  If he did not gather the fruits of victory, at least he reaped its laurels.  He was a courtier in his rough way.  He had changed the name of Lac St. Sacrement to Lake George, in compliment to the King.

        He now changed that of Fort Lyman to Fort Edward, in compliment to one of the King's grandsons; and, in compliment to another, called his new fort at the lake, William Henry.  Of General Lyman he made no mention in his report of the battle, and his partisans wrote letters traducing that brave officer; though Johnson is said to have confessed in private that he owed him the victory.  He himself found no lack of eulogists; and, to quote the words of an able but somewhat caustic and prejudiced opponent, “to the panegyrical pen of his secretary, Mr. Wraxall, and the sic volo sic jubeo of Lieutenant-Governor Delancey, is to be ascribed that mighty renown which echoed through the colonies, reverberated to Europe, and elevated a raw, inexperienced youth into a kind of second Marlborough.[319]  Parliament gave him five thousand pounds, and the King made him a baronet.”

[Footnote 319: Review of Military Operations in North America, in a Letter to a Nobleman (ascribed to William Livingston).

On the Battle of Lake George a mass of papers will be found in the N.Y. Col. Docs., Vols. VI and X. Those in Vol. VI, taken chiefly from the archives of New York, consist of official and private letters, reports, etc., on the English side. Those in Vol. X are drawn chiefly from the archives of the French War Department, and include the correspondence of Dieskau and his adjutant Montreuil. I have examined most of them in the original. Besides these I have obtained from the Archives de la Marine and other sources a number of important additional papers, which have never been printed, including Vaudreuil's reports to the Minister of War, and his strictures on Dieskau, whom he accuses of disobeying orders by dividing his force; also the translation of an English journal of the campaign found in the pocket of a captured officer, and a long account of the battle sent by Bigot to the Minister of Marine, 4 Oct. 1755.

I owe to the kindness of Theodore Pomeroy, Esq., a copy of the Journal of Lieutenant-Colonel Seth Pomeroy, whose letters are full of interest; as are those of Surgeon Williams, from the collection of William L. Stone, Esq. The papers of Colonel Israel Williams, in the Library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, contain many other curious letters relating to the campaign, extracts from some of which are given in the text. One of the most curious records of the battle is A Prospective-Plan of the Battle near Lake George, with an Explanation thereof, containing a full, though short, History of that important Affair, by Samuel Blodget, occasionally at the Camp when the Battle was fought. It is an engraving, printed at Boston soon after the fight, of which it gives a clear idea. Four years after, Blodget opened a shop in Boston, where, as appears by his advertisements in the newspapers, he sold “English Goods, also English Hatts, etc.”  The engraving is reproduced in the Documentary History of New York, IV, and elsewhere. The Explanation thereof is only to be found complete in the original. This, as well as the anonymous Second Letter to a Friend, also printed at Boston in 1755, is excellent for the information it gives as to the condition of the ground where the conflict took place, and the position of the combatants. The unpublished Archives of Massachusetts; the correspondence of Sir William Johnson; the Review of Military Operations in North America; Dwight, Travels in New England and New York, III; and Hoyt, Antiquarian Researches on Indian Wars,—should also be mentioned. Dwight and Hoyt drew their information from aged survivors of the battle. I have repeatedly examined the localities.

In the odd effusion of the colonial muse called Tilden's Poems, chiefly to Animate and Rouse the Soldiers, printed 1756, is a piece styled The Christian Hero, or New England's Triumphs, beginning with the invocation,—
      “O Heaven, indulge my feeble Muse,
      Teach her what numbers for to choose!”

and containing the following stanza:—
      “Their Dieskau we from them detain,
      While Canada aloud complains
      And counts the numbers of their slain
          and makes a dire complaint;
      The Indians to their demon gods;
      And with the French there's little odds,
      While images receive their nods,
      Invoking rotten saints.”]


Table of Contents



Chapter 10

1755, 1756


Shirley.   Border War


        The capture of Niagara was to finish the work of the summer.  This alone would have gained for England the control of the valley of the Ohio, and made Braddock's expedition superfluous.  One marvels at the short-sightedness, the dissensions, the apathy which had left this key of the interior so long in the hands of France without an effort to wrest it from her.  To master Niagara would be to cut the communications of Canada with the whole system of French forts and settlements in the West, and leave them to perish like limbs of a girdled tree.

        Major-General Shirley, in the flush of his new martial honors, was to try his prentice hand at the work.  The lawyer-soldier could plan a campaign boldly and well.  It remained to see how he would do his part towards executing it.  In July he arrived at Albany, the starting-point of his own expedition as well as that of Johnson.  This little Dutch city was an outpost of civilization.  The Hudson, descending from the northern wilderness, connected it with the lakes and streams that formed the thoroughfare to Canada; while the Mohawk, flowing from the west, was a liquid pathway to the forest homes of the Five Nations.  Before the war was over, a little girl, Anne MacVicar, daughter of a Highland officer, was left at Albany by her father, and spent several years there in the house of Mrs. Schuyler, aunt of General Schuyler of the Revolution.  Long after, married and middle-aged, she wrote down her recollections of the place,—the fort on the hill behind; the great street, grassy and broad, that descended thence to the river, with market, guardhouse, town hall, and two churches in the middle, and rows of quaint Dutch-built houses on both sides, each detached from its neighbors, each with its well, garden, and green, and its great overshadowing tree.  Before every house was a capacious porch, with seats where the people gathered in the summer twilight; old men at one door, matrons at another, young men and girls mingling at a third; while the cows with their tinkling bells came from the common at the end of the town, each stopping to be milked at the door of its owner; and children, porringer in hand, sat on the steps, watching the process and waiting their evening meal.

        Such was the quiet picture painted on the memory of Anne MacVicar, and reproduced by the pen of Mrs. Ann Grant.[320]  The patriarchal, semi-rural town had other aspects, not so pleasing.  The men were mainly engaged in the fur-trade, sometimes legally with the Five Nations, and sometimes illegally with the Indians of Canada,—an occupation which by no means tends to soften the character.  The Albany Dutch traders were a rude, hard race, loving money, and not always scrupulous as to the means of getting it.  Coming events, too, were soon to have their effect on this secluded community.  Regiments, red and blue, trumpets, drums, banners, artillery trains, and all the din of war transformed its peaceful streets, and brought some attaint to domestic morals hitherto commendable; for during the next five years Albany was to be the principal base of military operations on the continent.

[Footnote 320: Memoirs of an American Lady (Mrs. Schuyler), Chap. VI. A genuine picture of colonial life, and a charming book, though far from being historically trustworthy. Compare the account of Albany in Kalm, II. 102.]


        Shirley had left the place, and was now on his way up the Mohawk.  His force, much smaller than at first intended, consisted of the New Jersey regiment, which mustered five hundred men, known as the Jersey Blues, and of the fiftieth and fifty-first regiments, called respectively Shirley's and Pepperell's.  These, though paid by the King and counted as regulars, were in fact raw provincials, just raised in the colonies, and wearing their gay uniforms with an awkward, unaccustomed air.  How they gloried in them may be gathered from a letter of Sergeant James Gray, of Pepperell's, to his brother John: “I have two Holland shirts, found me by the King, and two pair of shoes and two pair of worsted stockings; a good silver-laced hat (the lace I could sell for four dollars); and my clothes is as fine scarlet broadcloth as ever you did see.  A sergeant here in the King's regiment is counted as good as an ensign with you; and one day in every week we must have our hair or wigs powdered.”[321]  Most of these gorgeous warriors were already on their way to Oswego, their first destination.

[Footnote 321: James Gray to John Gray, 11 July, 1755.]


        Shirley followed, embarking at the Dutch village of Schenectady, and ascending the Mohawk with about two hundred of the so-called regulars in bateaux.  They passed Fort Johnson, the two villages of the Mohawks, and the Palatine settlement of German Flats; left behind the last trace of civilized man, rowed sixty miles through wilderness, and reached the Great Carrying Place, which divided the waters that flow to the Hudson from those that flow to Lake Ontario.  Here now stands the city which the classic zeal of its founders has adorned with the name of Rome.  Then all was swamp and forest, traversed by a track that led to Wood Creek,—which is not to be confounded with the Wood Creek of Lake Champlain.  Thither the bateaux were dragged on sledges and launched on the dark and tortuous stream, which, fed by a decoction of forest leaves that oozed from the marshy shores, crept in shadow through depths of foliage, with only a belt of illumined sky gleaming between the jagged tree-tops.  Tall and lean with straining towards the light, their rough, gaunt stems trickling with perpetual damps, stood on either hand the silent hosts of the forest.  The skeletons of their dead, barkless, blanched, and shattered, strewed the mudbanks and shallows; others lay submerged, like bones of drowned mammoths, thrusting lank, white limbs above the sullen water; and great trees, entire as yet, were flung by age or storms athwart the current,—a bristling barricade of matted boughs.  There was work for the axe as well as for the oar; till at length Lake Oneida opened before them, and they rowed all day over its sunny breast, reached the outlet, and drifted down the shallow eddies of the Onondaga, between walls of verdure, silent as death, yet haunted everywhere with ambushed danger.  It was twenty days after leaving Schenectady when they neared the mouth of the river; and Lake Ontario greeted them, stretched like a sea to the pale brink of the northern sky, while on the bare hill at their left stood the miserable little fort of Oswego.

        Shirley's whole force soon arrived; but not the needful provisions and stores.  The machinery of transportation and the commissariat was in the bewildered state inevitable among a peaceful people at the beginning of a war; while the news of Braddock's defeat produced such an effect on the boatmen and the draymen at the carrying-places, that the greater part deserted.  Along with these disheartening tidings, Shirley learned the death of his eldest son, killed at the side of Braddock.  He had with him a second son, Captain John Shirley, a vivacious young man, whom his father and his father's friends in their familiar correspondence always called “Jack.”  John Shirley's letters give a lively view of the situation.

        “I have sat down to write to you,”—thus he addresses Governor Morris, of Pennsylvania, who seems to have had a great liking for him,—“because there is an opportunity of sending you a few lines; and if you will promise to excuse blots, interlineations, and grease (for this is written in the open air, upon the head of a pork-barrel, and twenty people about me), I will begin another half-sheet.  We are not more than about fifteen hundred men fit for duty; but that I am pretty sure, if we can go in time in our sloop, schooner, row-galleys, and whaleboats, will be sufficient to take Frontenac; after which we may venture to go upon the attack of Niagara, but not before.  I have not the least doubt with myself of knocking down both these places yet this fall, if we can get away in a week.  If we take or destroy their two vessels at Frontenac, and ruin their harbor there, and destroy the two forts of that and Niagara, I shall think we have done great things.  Nobody holds it out better than my father and myself.  We shall all of us relish a good house over our heads, being all encamped, except the General and some few field-officers, who have what are called at Oswego houses; but they would in other countries be called only sheds, except the fort, where my father is.  Adieu, dear sir; I hope my next will be directed from Frontenac.  Yours most affectionately, John Shirley.”[322]

[Footnote 322: The young author of this letter was, like his brother, a victim of the war.

“Permit me, good sir, to offer you my hearty condolence upon the death of my friend Jack, whose worth I admired, and feel for him more than I can express... Few men of his age had so many friends.”  Governor Morris to Shirley, 27 Nov. 1755.

“My heart bleeds for Mr. Shirley. He must be overwhelmed with Grief when he hears of Capt. John Shirley's Death, of which I have an Account by the last Post from New York, where he died of a Flux and Fever that he had contracted at Oswego. The loss of Two Sons in one Campaign scarcely admits of Consolation. I feel the Anguish of the unhappy Father, and mix my Tears very heartily with his. I have had an intimate Acquaintance with Both of Them for many Years, and know well their inestimable Value.”  Morris to Dinwiddie, 29 Nov. 1755.]


        Fort Frontenac lay to the northward, fifty miles or more across the lake.  Niagara lay to the westward, at the distance of four or five days by boat or canoe along the south shore.  At Frontenac there was a French force of fourteen hundred regulars and Canadians.[323]  They had vessels and canoes to cross the lake and fall upon Oswego as soon as Shirley should leave it to attack Niagara; for Braddock's captured papers had revealed to them the English plan.  If they should take it, Shirley would be cut off from his supplies and placed in desperate jeopardy, with the enemy in his rear.  Hence it is that John Shirley insists on taking Frontenac before attempting Niagara.  But the task was not easy; for the French force at the former place was about equal in effective strength to that of the English at Oswego.  At Niagara, too, the French had, at the end of August, nearly twelve hundred Canadians and Indians from Fort Duquesne and the upper lakes.[324]  Shirley was but imperfectly informed by his scouts of the unexpected strength of the opposition that awaited him; but he kNew Enough to see that his position was a difficult one.  His movement on Niagara was stopped, first by want of provisions, and secondly because he was checkmated by the troops at Frontenac.  He did not despair.  Want of courage was not among his failings, and he was but too ready to take risks.  He called a council of officers, told them that the total number of men fit for duty was thirteen hundred and seventy-six, and that as soon as provisions enough should arrive he would embark for Niagara with six hundred soldiers and as many Indians as possible, leaving the rest to defend Oswego against the expected attack from Fort Frontenac.[325]

[Footnote 323: Bigot au Ministre, 27 Août, 1755.]

[Footnote 324: Bigot au Ministre, 5 Sept. 1755.]

[Footnote 325: Minutes of a Council of War at Oswego, 18 Sept. 1755.]


        “All I am uneasy about is our provisions,” writes John Shirley to his friend Morris; “our men have been upon half allowance of bread these three weeks past, and no rum given to 'em.  My father yesterday called all the Indians together and made 'em a speech on the subject of General Johnson's engagement, which he calculated to inspire them with a spirit of revenge.”  After the speech he gave them a bullock for a feast, which they roasted and ate, pretending that they were eating the Governor of Canada!  Some provisions arriving, orders were given to embark on the next day; but the officers murmured their dissent.  The weather was persistently bad, their vessels would not hold half the party, and the bateaux, made only for river navigation, would infallibly founder on the treacherous and stormy lake.  “All the field-officers,” says John Shirley, “think it too rash an attempt; and I have heard so much of it that I think it my duty to let my father know what I hear.”  Another council was called; and the General, reluctantly convinced of the danger, put the question whether to go or not.  The situation admitted but one reply.  The council was of opinion that for the present the enterprise was impracticable; that Oswego should be strengthened, more vessels built, and preparation made to renew the attempt as soon as spring opened.[326]  All thoughts of active operations were now suspended, and during what was left of the season the troops exchanged the musket for the spade, saw, and axe.  At the end of October, leaving seven hundred men at Oswego, Shirley returned to Albany, and narrowly escaped drowning on the way, while passing a rapid in a whale-boat, to try the fitness of that species of craft for river navigation.[327]

[Footnote 326: Minutes of a Council of War at Oswego, 27 Sept. 1755.]

[Footnote 327: On the Niagara expedition, Braddock's Instructions to Major-General Shirley. Correspondence of Shirley, 1755. Conduct of Major-General Shirley (London, 1758). Letters of John Shirley in Pennsylvania Archives, II. Bradstreet to Shirley, 17 Aug. 1755. MSS. in Massachusetts Archives, Review of Military Operations in North America. Gentleman's Magazine, 1757, p. 73. London Magazine, 1759, p. 594. Trumbull, Hist. Connecticut, II. 370.]


        Unfortunately for him, he had fallen out with Johnson, whom he had made what he was, but who now turned against him,—a seeming ingratitude not wholly unprovoked.  Shirley had diverted the New Jersey regiment, destined originally for Crown Point, to his own expedition against Niagara.  Naturally inclined to keep all the reins in his own hands, he had encroached on Johnson's new office of Indian superintendent, held conferences with the Five Nations, and employed agents of his own to deal with them.  These agents were persons obnoxious to Johnson, being allied with the clique of Dutch traders at Albany, who hated him because he had supplanted them in the direction of Indian affairs; and in a violent letter to the Lords of Trade, he inveighs against their “licentious and abandoned proceedings,” “villanous conduct,” “scurrilous falsehoods,” and “base and insolent behavior.”[328]  “I am considerable enough,” he says, “to have enemies and to be envied;”[329]  and he declares he has proof that Shirley told the Mohawks that he, Johnson, was an upstart of his creating, whom he had set up and could pull down.  Again, he charges Shirley's agents with trying to “debauch the Indians from joining him;” while Shirley, on his side, retorts the same complaint against his accuser.[330]  When, by the death of Braddock, Shirley became commander-in-chief, Johnson grew so restive at being subject to his instructions that he declined to hold the management of Indian affairs unless it was made independent of his rival.  The dispute became mingled with the teapot-tempest of New York provincial politics.  The Lieutenant-Governor, Delancey, a politician of restless ambition and consummate dexterity, had taken umbrage at Shirley, of whose rising honors, not borne with remarkable humility, he appears to have been jealous.  Delancey had hitherto favored the Dutch faction in the Assembly, hostile to Johnson; but he now changed attitude, and joined hands with him against the object of their common dislike.  The one was strong in the prestige of a loudly-trumpeted victory, and the other had means of influence over the Ministry.  Their coalition boded ill to Shirley, and he soon felt its effects.[331]

[Footnote 328: Johnson to the Lords of Trade, 3 Sept. 1755.]

[Footnote 329: Johnson to the Lords of Trade, 17 Jan. 1756.]

[Footnote 330: John Shirley to Governor Morris, 12 Aug. 1755.]

[Footnote 331: On this affair, see various papers in N.Y. Col. Docs., VI., VII. Smith, Hist. New York, Part II., Chaps. IV. V. Review of Military Operations in North America. Both Smith and Livingston, the author of the Review, were personally cognizant of the course of the dispute.]


        The campaign was now closed,—a sufficiently active one, seeing that the two nations were nominally at peace.  A disastrous rout on the Monongahela, failure at Niagara, a barren victory at Lake George, and three forts captured in Acadia, were the disappointing results on the part of England.  Nor had her enemies cause to boast.  The Indians, it is true, had won a battle for them: but they had suffered mortifying defeat from a raw militia; their general was a prisoner; and they had lost Acadia past hope.

        The campaign was over; but not its effects.  It remains to see what befell from the rout of Braddock and the unpardonable retreat of Dunbar from the frontier which it was his duty to defend.  Dumas had replaced Contrecoeur in the command of Fort Duquesne; and his first care was to set on the Western tribes to attack the border settlements.  His success was triumphant.  The Delawares and Shawanoes, old friends of the English, but for years past tending to alienation through neglect and ill-usage, now took the lead against them.  Many of the Mingoes, or Five Nation Indians on the Ohio, also took up the hatchet, as did various remoter tribes.  The West rose like a nest of hornets, and swarmed in fury against the English frontier.  Such was the consequence of the defeat of Braddock aided by the skilful devices of the French commander.  “It is by means such as I have mentioned,” says Dumas, “varied in every form to suit the occasion, that I have succeeded in ruining the three adjacent provinces, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, driving off the inhabitants, and totally destroying the settlements over a tract of country thirty leagues wide, reckoning from the line of Fort Cumberland.  M. de Contrecoeur had not been gone a week before I had six or seven different war-parties in the field at once, always accompanied by Frenchmen.  Thus far, we have lost only two officers and a few soldiers; but the Indian villages are full of prisoners of every age and sex.  The enemy has lost far more since the battle than on the day of his defeat.”[332]

[Footnote 332: Dumas au Ministre, 24 Juillet, 1756.]


        Dumas, required by the orders of his superiors to wage a detestable warfare against helpless settlers and their families, did what he could to temper its horrors, and enjoined the officers who went with the Indians to spare no effort to prevent them from torturing prisoners.[333]  The attempt should be set down to his honor; but it did not avail much.  In the record of cruelties committed this year on the borders, we find repeated instances of children scalped alive.  “They kill all they meet,” writes a French priest; “and after having abused the women and maidens, they slaughter or burn them.”[334]

[Footnote 333: Mémoires de Famille de l'Abbé Casgrain, cited in Le Foyer Canadien, III. 26, where an extract is given from an order of Dumas to Baby, a Canadian officer. Orders of Contrecoeur and Ligneris to the same effect are also given. A similar order, signed by Dumas, was found in the pocket of Douville, an officer killed by the English on the Frontier. Writings of Washington, II. 137, note.]

[Footnote 334: Rec. Claude Godefroy Cocquard, S.J., à son Frère, Mars (?), 1757.]


        Washington was now in command of the Virginia regiment, consisting of a thousand men, raised afterwards to fifteen hundred.  With these he was to protect a frontier of three hundred and fifty miles against more numerous enemies, who could choose their time and place of attack.  His headquarters were at Winchester.  His men were an ungovernable crew, enlisted chiefly on the turbulent border, and resenting every kind of discipline as levelling them with negroes; while the sympathizing House of Burgesses hesitated for months to pass any law for enforcing obedience, lest it should trench on the liberties of free white men.  The service was to the last degree unpopular.  “If we talk of obliging men to serve their country,” wrote London Carter, “we are sure to hear a fellow mumble over the words 'liberty' and 'property' a thousand times.”[335]  The people, too, were in mortal fear of a slave insurrection, and therefore dared not go far from home.[336]  Meanwhile a panic reigned along the border.  Captain Waggoner, passing a gap in the Blue Ridge, could hardly make his way for the crowd of fugitives.  “Every day,” writes Washington, “we have accounts of such cruelties and barbarities as are shocking to human nature.  It is not possible to conceive the situation and danger of this miserable country.  Such numbers of French and Indians are all around that no road is safe.”

[Footnote 335: Extract in Writings of Washington, II. 145, note.]

[Footnote 336: Letters of Dinwiddie, 1755.]


        These frontiers had always been at peace.  No forts of refuge had thus far been built, and the scattered settlers had no choice but flight.  Their first impulse was to put wife and children beyond reach of the tomahawk.  As autumn advanced, the invading bands grew more and more audacious.  Braddock had opened a road for them by which they could cross the mountains at their ease; and scouts from Fort Cumberland reported that this road was beaten by as many feet as when the English army passed last summer.  Washington was beset with difficulties.  Men and officers alike were unruly and mutinous.  He was at once blamed for their disorders and refused the means of repressing them.  Envious detractors published slanders against him.  A petty Maryland captain, who had once had a commission from the King, refused to obey his orders, and stirred up factions among his officers.  Dinwiddie gave him cold support.  The temper of the old Scotchman, crabbed at the best, had been soured by disappointment, vexation, weariness, and ill-health.  He had, besides, a friend and countryman, Colonel Innes, whom, had he dared, he would gladly have put in Washington's place.  He was full of zeal in the common cause, and wanted to direct the defence of the borders from his house at Williamsburg, two hundred miles distant.  Washington never hesitated to obey; but he accompanied his obedience by a statement of his own convictions and his reasons for them, which, though couched in terms the most respectful, galled his irascible chief.  The Governor acknowledged his merit; but bore him no love, and sometimes wrote to him in terms which must have tried his high temper to the utmost.  Sometimes, though rarely, he gave words to his emotion.

        “Your Honor,” he wrote in April, “may see to what unhappy straits the distressed inhabitants and myself are reduced.  I see inevitable destruction in so clear a light, that unless vigorous measures are taken by the Assembly, and speedy assistance sent from below, the poor inhabitants that are now in forts must unavoidably fall, while the remainder are flying before the barbarous foe.  In fine, the melancholy situation of the people; the little prospect of assistance; the gross and scandalous abuse cast upon the officers in general, which is reflecting upon me in particular for suffering misconduct of such extraordinary kinds; and the distant prospect, if any, of gaining honor and reputation in the service,—cause me to lament the hour that gave me a commission, and would induce me at any other time than this of imminent danger to resign, without one hesitating moment, a command from which I never expect to reap either honor or benefit, but, on the contrary, have almost an absolute certainty of incurring displeasure below, while the murder of helpless families may be laid to my account here.”

        “The supplicating tears of the women and moving petitions of the men melt me into such deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, if I know my own mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the butchering enemy, provided that would contribute to the people's ease.”[337]

[Footnote 337: Writings of Washington, II. 143.]


        In the turmoil around him, patriotism and public duty seemed all to be centred in the breast of one heroic youth.  He was respected and generally beloved, but he did not kindle enthusiasm.  His were the qualities of an unflagging courage, an all-enduring fortitude, and a deep trust.  He showed an astonishing maturing of character, and the kind of mastery over others which begins with mastery over self.  At twenty-four he was the foremost man, and acknowledged as such, along the whole long line of the western border.

        To feel the situation, the nature of these frontiers must be kept in mind.  Along the skirts of the southern and middle colonies ran for six or seven hundred miles a loose, thin, dishevelled fringe of population, the half-barbarous pioneers of advancing civilization.  Their rude dwellings were often miles apart.  Buried in woods, the settler lived in an appalling loneliness.  A low-browed cabin of logs, with moss stuffed in the chinks to keep out the wind, roof covered with sheets of bark, chimney of sticks and clay, and square holes closed by a shutter in place of windows; an unkempt matron, lean with hard work, and a brood of children with bare heads and tattered garments eked out by deer-skin,—such was the home of the pioneer in the remoter and wilder districts.  The scene around bore witness to his labors.  It was the repulsive transition from savagery to civilization, from the forest to the farm.  The victims of his axe lay strewn about the dismal “clearing” in a chaos of prostrate trunks, tangled boughs, and withered leaves, waiting for the fire that was to be the next agent in the process of improvement; while around, voiceless and grim, stood the living forest, gazing on the desolation, and biding its own day of doom.  The owner of the cabin was miles away, hunting in the woods for the wild turkey and venison which were the chief food of himself and his family till the soil could be tamed into the bearing of crops.

        Towards night he returned; and as he issued from the forest shadows he saw a column of blue smoke rising quietly in the still evening air.  He ran to the spot; and there, among the smouldering logs of his dwelling, lay, scalped and mangled, the dead bodies of wife and children.  A war-party had passed that way.  Breathless, palpitating, his brain on fire, he rushed through the thickening night to carry the alarm to his nearest neighbor, three miles distant.

        Such was the character and the fate of many incipient settlements of the utmost border.  Farther east, they had a different aspect.  Here, small farms with well-built log-houses, cattle, crops of wheat and Indian corn, were strung at intervals along some woody valley of the lower Alleghanies: yesterday a scene of hardy toil; to-day swept with destruction from end to end.  There was no warning; no time for concert, perhaps none for flight.  Sudden as the leaping panther, a pack of human wolves burst out of the forest, did their work, and vanished.

        If the country had been an open one, like the plains beyond the Mississippi, the situation would have been less frightful; but the forest was everywhere, rolled over hill and valley in billows of interminable green,—a leafy maze, a mystery of shade, a universal hiding-place, where murder might lurk unseen at its victim's side, and Nature seemed formed to nurse the mind with wild and dark imaginings.  The detail of blood is set down in the untutored words of those who saw and felt it.  But there was a suffering that had no record,—the mortal fear of women and children in the solitude of their wilderness homes, haunted, waking and sleeping, with nightmares of horror that were but the forecast of an imminent reality.  The country had in past years been so peaceful, and the Indians so friendly, that many of the settlers, especially on the Pennsylvanian border, had no arms, and were doubly in need of help from the Government.  In Virginia they had it, such as it was.  In Pennsylvania they had for months none whatever; and the Assembly turned a deaf ear to their cries.

        Far to the east, sheltered from danger, lay staid and prosperous Philadelphia, the home of order and thrift.  It took its stamp from the Quakers, its original and dominant population, set apart from the other colonists not only in character and creed, but in the outward symbols of a peculiar dress and a daily sacrifice of grammar on the altar of religion.  The even tenor of their lives counteracted the effects of climate, and they are said to have been perceptibly more rotund in feature and person than their neighbors.  Yet, broad and humanizing as was their faith, they were capable of extreme bitterness towards opponents, clung tenaciously to power, and were jealous for the ascendency of their sect, which had begun to show signs of wavering.  On other sects they looked askance; and regarded the Presbyterians in particular with a dislike which in moments of crisis rose to detestation.[338]  They held it sin to fight, and above all to fight against Indians.

[Footnote 338: See a crowd of party pamphlets, Quaker against Presbyterian, which appeared in Philadelphia in 1764, abusively acrimonious on both sides.]


        Here was one cause of military paralysis.  It was reinforced by another.  The old standing quarrel between governor and assembly had grown more violent than ever; and this as a direct consequence of the public distress, which above all things demanded harmony.  The dispute turned this time on a single issue,—that of the taxation of the proprietary estates.  The estates in question consisted of vast tracts of wild land, yielding no income, and at present to a great extent worthless, being overrun by the enemy.[339]  The Quaker Assembly had refused to protect them; and on one occasion had rejected an offer of the proprietaries to join them in paying the cost of their defence.[340]  But though they would not defend the land, they insisted on taxing it; and farther insisted that the taxes upon it should be laid by the provincial assessors.  By a law of the province, these assessors were chosen by popular vote; and in consenting to this law, the proprietaries had expressly provided that their estates should be exempted from all taxes to be laid by officials in whose appointment they had no voice.[341]  Thomas and Richard Penn, the present proprietaries, had debarred their deputy, the Governor, both by the terms of his commission and by special instruction, from consenting to such taxation, and had laid him under heavy bonds to secure his obedience.  Thus there was another side to the question than that of the Assembly; though our American writers have been slow to acknowledge it.

[Footnote 339: The productive estates of the proprietaries were taxed through the tenants.]

[Footnote 340: The proprietaries offered to contribute to the cost of building and maintaining a fort on the spot where the French soon after built Fort Duquesne.  This plan, vigorously executed, would have saved the province from a deluge of miseries.  One of the reasons assigned by the Assembly for rejecting it was that it would irritate the enemy. See Supra, p. 63.]

[Footnote 341: A Brief View of the Conduct of Pennsylvania for the year 1755.]


        Benjamin Franklin was leader in the Assembly and shared its views.  The feudal proprietorship of the Penn family was odious to his democratic nature.  It was, in truth, a pestilent anomaly, repugnant to the genius of the people; and the disposition and character of the present proprietaries did not tend to render it less vexatious.  Yet there were considerations which might have tempered the impatient hatred with which the colonists regarded it.  The first proprietary, William Penn, had used his feudal rights in the interest of a broad liberalism; and through them had established the popular institutions and universal tolerance which made Pennsylvania the most democratic province in America, and nursed the spirit of liberty which now revolted against his heirs.  The one absorbing passion of Pennsylvania was resistance of their deputy, the Governor.  The badge of feudalism, though light, was insufferably irritating; and the sons of William Penn were moreover detested by the Quakers as renegades from the faith of their father.  Thus the immediate political conflict engrossed mind and heart; and in the rancor of their quarrel with the proprietaries, the Assembly forgot the French and Indians.

        In Philadelphia and the eastern districts the Quakers could ply their trades, tend their shops, till their farms, and discourse at their ease on the wickedness of war.  The midland counties, too, were for the most part tolerably safe.  They were occupied mainly by crude German peasants, who nearly equalled in number all the rest of the population, and who, gathered at the centre of the province, formed a mass politically indigestible.  Translated from servitude to the most ample liberty, they hated the thought of military service, which reminded them of former oppression, cared little whether they lived under France or England, and, thinking themselves out of danger, had no mind to be taxed for the defence of others.  But while the great body of the Germans were sheltered from harm, those of them who lived farther westward were not so fortunate.  Here, mixed with Scotch Irish Presbyterians and Celtic Irish Catholics, they formed a rough border population, the discordant elements of which could rarely unite for common action; yet, though confused and disjointed, they were a living rampart to the rest of the colony.  Against them raged the furies of Indian war; and, maddened with distress and terror, they cried aloud for help.

        Petition after petition came from the borders for arms and ammunition, and for a militia law to enable the people to organize and defend themselves.  The Quakers resisted.  “They have taken uncommon pains,” writes Governor Morris to Shirley, “to prevent the people from taking up arms.”[342]  Braddock's defeat, they declared, was a just judgment on him and his soldiers for molesting the French in their settlements on the Ohio.[343]  A bill was passed by the Assembly for raising fifty thousand pounds for the King's use by a tax which included the proprietary lands.  The Governor, constrained by his instructions and his bonds, rejected it.  “I can only say,” he told them, “that I will readily pass a bill for striking any sum in paper money the present exigency may require, provided funds are established for sinking the same in five years.”  Messages long and acrimonious were exchanged between the parties.  The Assembly, had they chosen, could easily have raised money enough by methods not involving the point in dispute; but they thought they saw in the crisis a means of forcing the Governor to yield.  The Quakers had an alternative motive: if the Governor gave way, it was a political victory; if he stood fast, their non-resistance principles would triumph, and in this triumph their ascendency as a sect would be confirmed.  The debate grew every day more bitter and unmannerly.  The Governor could not yield; the Assembly would not.  There was a complete deadlock.  The Assembly requested the Governor “not to make himself the hateful instrument of reducing a free people to the abject state of vassalage.”[344]  As the raising of money and the control of its expenditure was in their hands; as he could not prorogue or dissolve them, and as they could adjourn on their own motion to such time as pleased them; as they paid his support, and could withhold it if he offended them,—which they did in the present case,—it seemed no easy task for him to reduce them to vassalage.  “What must we do,” pursued the Assembly, “to please this kind governor, who takes so much pains to render us obnoxious to our sovereign and odious to our fellow-subjects?  If we only tell him that the difficulties he meets with are not owing to the causes he names,—which indeed have no existence,—but to his own want of skill and abilities for his station, he takes it extremely amiss, and say 'we forget all decency to those in authority.'  We are apt to think there is likewise some decency due to the Assembly as a part of the government; and though we have not, like the Governor, had a courtly education, but are plain men, and must be very imperfect in our politeness, yet we think we have no chance of improving by his example.”[345]  Again, in another Message, the Assembly, with a thrust at Morris himself, tell him that colonial governors have often been “transient persons, of broken fortunes, greedy of money, destitute of all concern for those they govern, often their enemies, and endeavoring not only to oppress, but to defame them.”[346]  In such unseemly fashion was the battle waged.  Morris, who was himself a provincial, showed more temper and dignity; though there was not too much on either side.  “The Assembly,” he wrote to Shirley, “seem determined to take advantage of the country's distress to get the whole power of government into their own hands.”  And the Assembly proclaimed on their part that the Governor was taking advantage of the country's distress to reduce the province to “Egyptian bondage.”

[Footnote 342: Morris to Shirley, 16 Aug. 1755.]

[Footnote 343: Morris to Sir Thomas Robinson, 28 Aug. 1755.]

[Footnote 344: Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 584.]

[Footnote 345: Message of the Assembly to the Governor, 29 Sept. 1755 (written by Franklin), in Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 631, 632.]

[Footnote 346: Writings of Franklin, III. 447. The Assembly at first suppressed this paper, but afterwards printed it.]


        Petitions poured in from the miserable frontiersmen.  “How long will those in power, by their quarrels, suffer us to be massacred?” demanded William Trent, the Indian trader.  “Two and forty bodies have been buried on Patterson's Creek; and since they have killed more, and keep on killing.”[347]  Early in October news came that a hundred persons had been murdered near Fort Cumberland.  Repeated tidings followed of murders on the Susquehanna; then it was announced that the war-parties had crossed that stream, and were at their work on the eastern side.  Letter after letter came from the sufferers, bringing such complaints as this: “We are in as bad circumstances as ever any poor Christians were ever in; for the cries of widowers, widows, fatherless and motherless children, are enough to pierce the most hardest of hearts.  Likewise it's a very sorrowful spectacle to see those that escaped with their lives with not a mouthful to eat, or bed to lie on, or clothes to cover their nakedness, or keep them warm, but all they had consumed into ashes.  These deplorable circumstances cry aloud for your Honor's most wise consideration; for it is really very shocking for the husband to see the wife of his bosom her head cut off, and the children's blood drunk like water, by these bloody and cruel savages.”[348]

[Footnote 347: Trent to James Burd, 4 Oct. 1755.]

[Footnote 348: Adam Hoops to Governor Morris, 3 Nov. 1755.]


        Morris was greatly troubled.  “The conduct of the Assembly,” he wrote to Shirley, “is to me shocking beyond parallel.”  “The inhabitants are abandoning their plantations, and we are in a dreadful situation,” wrote John Harris from the east bank of the Susquehanna.  On the next day he wrote again: “The Indians are cutting us off every day, and I had a certain account of about fifteen hundred Indians, besides French, being on their march against us and Virginia, and now close on our borders, their scouts scalping our families on our frontiers daily.”  The report was soon confirmed; and accounts came that the settlements in the valley called the Great Cove had been completely destroyed.  All this was laid before the Assembly.  They declared the accounts exaggerated, but confessed that outrages had been committed; hinted that the fault was with the proprietaries; and asked the Governor to explain why the Delawares and Shawanoes had become unfriendly.  “If they have suffered wrongs,” said the Quakers, “we are resolved to do all in our power to redress them, rather than entail upon ourselves and our posterity the calamities of a cruel Indian war.”  The Indian records were searched, and several days spent in unsuccessful efforts to prove fraud in a late land-purchase.

        Post after post still brought news of slaughter.  The upper part of Cumberland County was laid waste.  Edward Biddle wrote from Reading: “The drum is beating and bells ringing, and all the people under arms.  This night we expect an attack.  The people exclaim against the Quakers.”  “We seem to be given up into the hands of a merciless enemy,” wrote John Elder from Paxton.  And he declares that more than forty persons have been killed in that neighborhood, besides numbers carried off.  Meanwhile the Governor and Assembly went on fencing with words and exchanging legal subtleties; while, with every cry of distress that rose from the west, each hoped that the other would yield.

        On the eighth of November the Assembly laid before Morris for his concurrence a bill for emitting bills of credit to the amount of sixty thousand pounds, to be sunk in four years by a tax including the proprietary estates.[349]  “I shall not,” he replied, “enter into a dispute whether the proprietaries ought to be taxed or not.  It is sufficient for me that they have given me no power in that case; and I cannot think it consistent either with my duty or safety to exceed the powers of my commission, much less to do what that commission expressly prohibits.”[350]  He stretched his authority, however, so far as to propose a sort of compromise by which the question should be referred to the King; but they refused it; and the quarrel and the murders went on as before.  “We have taken,” said the Assembly, “every step in our power consistent with the just rights of the freemen of Pennsylvania, for the relief of the poor distressed inhabitants; and we have reason to believe that they themselves would not wish us to go farther.  Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”[351]  Then the borderers deserved neither; for, rather than be butchered, they would have let the proprietary lands lie untaxed for another year.  “You have in all,” said the Governor, “proposed to me five money bills, three of them rejected because contrary to royal instructions; the other two on account of the unjust method proposed for taxing the proprietary estate.  If you are disposed to relieve your country, you have many other ways of granting money to which I shall have no objection.  I shall put one proof more both of your sincerity and mine in our professions of regard for the public, by offering to agree to any bill in the present exigency which it is consistent with my duty to pass; lest, before our present disputes can be brought to an issue, we should neither have a privilege to dispute about, nor a country to dispute in.”[352]  They stood fast; and with an obstinacy for which the Quakers were chiefly answerable, insisted that they would give nothing, except by a bill taxing real estate, and including that of the proprietaries.

[Footnote 349: Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 682.]

[Footnote 350: Message of the Governor to the Assembly, 8 Nov. 1755, in Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 684.]

[Footnote 351: Message of the Assembly to the Governor, 11 Nov. Ibid. VI. 692. The words are Franklin's.]

[Footnote 352: Message of the Governor to the Assembly, 22 Nov. 1755, in Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 714.]


        But now the Assembly began to feel the ground shaking under their feet.  A paper, called a “Representation,” signed by some of the chief citizens, was sent to the House, calling for measures of defence.  “You will forgive us, gentlemen,” such was its language, “if we assume characters somewhat higher than that of humble suitors praying for the defence of our lives and properties as a matter of grace or favor on your side.  You will permit us to make a positive and immediate demand of it.”[353]  This drove the Quakers mad.  Preachers, male and female, harangued in the streets, denouncing the iniquity of war.  Three of the sect from England, two women and a man, invited their brethren of the Assembly to a private house, and fervently exhorted them to stand firm.  Some of the principal Quakers joined in an address to the House, in which they declared that any action on its part “inconsistent with the peaceable testimony we profess and have borne to the world appears to us in its consequences to be destructive of our religious liberties.”[354]  And they protested that they would rather “suffer” than pay taxes for such ends.  Consistency, even in folly, has in it something respectable; but the Quakers were not consistent.  A few years after, when heated with party-passion and excited by reports of an irruption of incensed Presbyterian borderers, some of the pacific sectaries armed for battle; and the streets of Philadelphia beheld the curious conjunction of musket and broad-brimmed hat.[355]

[Footnote 353: Pennsylvania Archives, II. 485.]

[Footnote 354: Ibid., II. 487.]

[Footnote 355: See Conspiracy of Pontiac, Chaps. 24 and 25.]


        The mayor, aldermen, and common council next addressed the Assembly, adjuring them, “in the most solemn manner, before God and in the name of all our fellow-citizens,” to provide for defending the lives and property of the people.[356]  A deputation from a band of Indians on the Susquehanna, still friendly to the province, came to ask whether the English meant to fight or not; for, said their speaker, “if they will not stand by us, we will join the French.”  News came that the settlement of Tulpehocken, only sixty miles distant, had been destroyed; and then that the Moravian settlement of Gnadenhütten was burned, and nearly all its inmates massacred.  Colonel William Moore wrote to the Governor that two thousand men were coming from Chester County to compel him and the Assembly to defend the province; and Conrad Weiser wrote that more were coming from Berks on the same errand.  Old friends of the Assembly began to cry out against them.  Even the Germans, hitherto their fast allies, were roused from their attitude of passivity, and four hundred of them came in procession to demand measures of war.  A band of frontiersmen presently arrived, bringing in a wagon the bodies of friends and relatives lately murdered, displaying them at the doors of the Assembly, cursing the Quakers, and threatening vengeance.[357]

[Footnote 356: A Remonstrance, etc., in Colonial Records of Pa., VI. 734.]

[Footnote 357: Mante, 47; Entick, I. 377.]


        Finding some concession necessary, the House at length passed a militia law,—probably the most futile ever enacted.  It specially exempted the Quakers, and constrained nobody; but declared it lawful, for such as chose, to form themselves into companies and elect officers by ballot.  The company officers thus elected might, if they saw fit, elect, also by ballot, colonels, lieutenant-colonels, and majors.  These last might then, in conjunction with the Governor, frame articles of war; to which, however, no officer or man was to be subjected unless, after three days' consideration, he subscribed them in presence of a justice of the peace, and declared his willingness to be bound by them.[358]

[Footnote 358: This remarkable bill, drawn by Franklin, was meant for political rather than military effect. It was thought that Morris would refuse to pass it, and could therefore be accused of preventing the province from defending itself; but he avoided the snare by signing it.]


        This mockery could not appease the people; the Assembly must raise money for men, arms, forts, and all the detested appliances of war.  Defeat absolute and ignominious seemed hanging over the House, when an incident occurred which gave them a decent pretext for retreat.  The Governor informed them that he had just received a letter from the proprietaries, giving to the province five thousand pounds sterling to aid in its defence, on condition that the money should be accepted as a free gift, and not as their proportion of any tax that was or might be laid by the Assembly.  They had not learned the deplorable state of the country, and had sent the money in view of the defeat of Braddock and its probable consequences.  The Assembly hereupon yielded, struck out from the bill before them the clause taxing the proprietary estates, and, thus amended, presented it to the Governor, who by his signature made it a law.[359]

[Footnote 359: Minutes of Council, 27 Nov. 1755.]


        The House had failed to carry its point.  The result disappointed Franklin, and doubly disappointed the Quakers.  His maxim was: Beat the Governor first, and then beat the enemy; theirs: Beat the Governor, and let the enemy alone.  The measures that followed, directed in part by Franklin himself, held the Indians in check, and mitigated the distress of the western counties; yet there was no safety for them throughout the two or three years when France was cheering on her hell-hounds against this tormented frontier.

        As in Pennsylvania, so in most of the other colonies there was conflict between assemblies and governors, to the unspeakable detriment of the public service.  In New York, though here no obnoxious proprietary stood between the people and the Crown, the strife was long and severe.  The point at issue was an important one,—whether the Assembly should continue their practice of granting yearly supplies to the Governor, or should establish a permanent fund for the ordinary expenses of government,—thus placing him beyond their control.  The result was a victory for the Assembly.

        Month after month the great continent lay wrapped in snow.  Far along the edge of the western wilderness men kept watch and ward in lonely blockhouses, or scoured the forest on the track of prowling war-parties.  The provincials in garrison at forts Edward, William Henry, and Oswego dragged out the dreary winter; while bands of New England rangers, muffled against the piercing cold, caps of fur on their heads, hatchets in their belts, and guns in the mittened hands, glided on skates along the gleaming ice-floor of Lake George, to spy out the secrets of Ticonderoga, or seize some careless sentry to tell them tidings of the foe.  Thus the petty war went on; but the big war was frozen into torpor, ready, like a hibernating bear, to wake again with the birds, the bees, and the flowers.[360]

[Footnote 360: On Pennsylvanian disputes,—A Brief State of the Province of Pennsylvania (London, 1755). A Brief View of the Conduct of Pennsylvania (London, 1756). These are pamphlets on the Governor's side, by William Smith, D.D., Provost of the College of Pennsylvania. An Answer to an invidious Pamphlet, intituled a Brief State, etc. (London, 1755). Anonymous. A True and Impartial State of the Province of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1759). Anonymous. The last two works attack the first two with great vehemence. The True and Impartial State is an able presentation of the case of the Assembly, omitting, however, essential facts. But the most elaborate work on the subject is the Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, inspired and partly written by Franklin. It is hotly partisan, and sometimes sophistical and unfair. Articles on the quarrel will also be found in the provincial newspapers, especially the New York Mercury, and in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1755 and 1756. But it is impossible to get any clear and just view of it without wading through the interminable documents concerning it in the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Archives.]


Table of Contents



Chapter 11

1712-1756


Montcalm


        On the eighteenth of May, 1756, England, after a year of open hostility, at length declared war.  She had attacked France by land and sea, turned loose her ships to prey on French commerce, and brought some three hundred prizes into her ports.  It was the act of a weak Government, supplying by spasms of violence what it lacked in considerate resolution.  France, no match for her amphibious enemy in the game of marine depredation, cried out in horror; and to emphasize her complaints and signalize a pretended good faith which her acts had belied, ostentatiously released a British frigate captured by her cruisers.  She in her turn declared war on the ninth of June: and now began the most terrible conflict of the eighteenth century; one that convulsed Europe and shook America, India, the coasts of Africa, and the islands of the sea.

        In Europe the ground was trembling already with the coming earthquake.  Such smothered discords, such animosities, ambitions, jealousies, possessed the rival governments; such entanglements of treaties and alliances, offensive or defensive, open or secret,—that a blow at one point shook the whole fabric.  Hanover, like the heel of Achilles, was the vulnerable part for which England was always trembling.  Therefore she made a defensive treaty with Prussia, by which each party bound itself to aid the other, should its territory be invaded.  England thus sought a guaranty against France, and Prussia against Russia.  She had need.  Her King, Frederic the Great, had drawn upon himself an avalanche.  Three women—two empresses and a concubine—controlled the forces of the three great nations, Austria, Russia, and France; and they all hated him: Elizabeth of Russia, by reason of a distrust fomented by secret intrigue and turned into gall by the biting tongue of Frederic himself, who had jibed at her amours, compared her to Messalina, and called her “infâme catin du Nord;” Maria Theresa of Austria, because she saw in him a rebellious vassal of the Holy Roman Empire, and, above all, because he had robbed her of Silesia; Madame de Pompadour, because when she sent him a message of compliment, he answered, “Je ne la connais pas,” forbade his ambassador to visit her, and in his mocking wit spared neither her nor her royal lover.  Feminine pique, revenge, or vanity had then at their service the mightiest armaments of Europe.

        The recovery of Silesia and the punishment of Frederic for his audacity in seizing it, possessed the mind of Maria Theresa with the force of a ruling passion.  To these ends she had joined herself in secret league with Russia; and now at the prompting of her minister Kaunitz she courted the alliance of France.  It was a reversal of the hereditary policy of Austria; joining hands with an old and deadly foe, and spurning England, of late her most trusty ally.  But France could give powerful aid against Frederic; and hence Maria Theresa, virtuous as she was high-born and proud, stooped to make advances to the all-powerful mistress of Louis XV, wrote her flattering letters, and addressed her, it is said, as “Ma chère cousine.”  Pompadour was delighted, and could hardly do enough for her imperial friend.  She ruled the King, and could make and unmake ministers at will.  They hastened to do her pleasure, disguising their subserviency by dressing it out in specious reasons of state.  A conference at her summer-house, called Babiole, “Bawble,” prepared the way for a treaty which involved the nation in the anti-Prussian war, and made it the instrument of Austria in the attempt to humble Frederic,—an attempt which if successful would give the hereditary enemy of France a predominance over Germany.  France engaged to aid the cause with twenty-four thousand men; but in the zeal of her rulers began with a hundred thousand.  Thus the three great Powers stood leagued against Prussia.  Sweden and Saxony joined them; and the Empire itself, of which Prussia was a part, took arms against its obnoxious member.

        Never in Europe had power been more centralized, and never in France had the reins been held by persons so pitiful, impelled by motives so contemptible.  The levity, vanity, and spite of a concubine became a mighty engine to influence the destinies of nations.  Louis XV, enervated by pleasures and devoured by ennui, still had his emotions; he shared Pompadour's detestation of Frederic, and he was tormented at times by a lively fear of damnation.  But how damn a king who had entered the lists as champion of the Church?  England was Protestant, and so was Prussia; Austria was supremely Catholic.  Was it not a merit in the eyes of God to join her in holy war against the powers of heresy?  The King of the Parc-aux-Cerfs would propitiate Heaven by a new crusade.

        Henceforth France was to turn her strength against her European foes; and the American war, the occasion of the universal outbreak, was to hold in her eyes a second place.  The reasons were several: the vanity of Pompadour, infatuated by the advances of the Empress-Queen, and eager to secure her good graces; the superstition of the King; the anger of both against Frederic; the desire of D'Argenson, minister of war, that the army, and not the navy, should play the foremost part; and the passion of courtiers and nobles, ignorant of the naval service, to win laurels in a continental war,—all conspired to one end.  It was the interest of France to turn her strength against her only dangerous rival; to continue as she had begun, in building up a naval power that could face England on the seas and sustain her own rising colonies in America, India, and the West Indies: for she too might have multiplied herself, planted her language and her race over all the globe, and grown with the growth of her children, had she not been at the mercy of an effeminate profligate, a mistress turned procuress, and the favorites to whom they delegated power.

        Still, something must be done for the American war; at least there must be a new general to replace Dieskau.  None of the Court favorites wanted a command in the backwoods, and the minister of war was free to choose whom he would.  His choice fell on Louis Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm-Gozon de Saint-Véran.

        Montcalm was born in the south of France, at the Château of Candiac, near Nimes, on the twenty-ninth of February, 1712.  At the age of six he was placed in the charge of one Dumas, a natural son of his grandfather.  This man, a conscientious pedant, with many theories of education, ruled his pupil stiffly; and, before the age of fifteen, gave him a good knowledge of Latin, Greek, and history.  Young Montcalm had a taste for books, continued his reading in such intervals of leisure as camps and garrisons afforded, and cherished to the end of his life the ambition of becoming a member of the Academy.  Yet, with all his liking for study, he sometimes revolted against the sway of the pedagogue who wrote letters of complaint to his father protesting against the “judgments of the vulgar, who, contrary to the experience of ages, say that if children are well reproved they will correct their faults.”  Dumas, however, was not without sense, as is shown by another letter to the elder Montcalm, in which he says that the boy had better be ignorant of Latin and Greek “than know them as he does without knowing how to read, write, and speak French well.”  The main difficulty was to make him write a good hand,—a point in which he signally failed to the day of his death.  So refractory was he at times, that his master despaired.  “M. de Montcalm,” Dumas informs the father, “has great need of docility, industry, and willingness to take advice. What will become of him?”  The pupil, aware of these aspersions, met them by writing to his father his own ideas of what his aims should be.  “First, to be an honorable man, of good morals, brave, and a Christian.  Secondly, to read in moderation; to know as much Greek and Latin as most men of the world; also the four rules of arithmetic, and something of history, geography, and French and Latin belles-lettres, as well as to have a taste for the arts and sciences.  Thirdly, and above all, to be obedient, docile, and very submissive to your orders and those of my dear mother; and also to defer to the advice of M. Dumas.  Fourthly, to fence and ride as well as my small abilities will permit.”[361]

[Footnote 361: This passage is given by Somervogel from the original letter.]


        If Louis de Montcalm failed to satisfy his preceptor, he had a brother who made ample amends.  Of this infant prodigy it is related that at six years he knew Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and had some acquaintance with arithmetic, French history, geography, and heraldry.  He was destined for the Church, but died at the age of seven; his precocious brain having been urged to fatal activity by the exertions of Dumas.

        Other destinies and a more wholesome growth were the lot of young Louis.  At fifteen he joined the army as ensign in the regiment of Hainaut.  Two years after, his father bought him a captaincy, and he was first under fire at the siege of Philipsbourg.  His father died in 1735, and left him heir to a considerable landed estate, much embarrassed by debt.  The Marquis de la Fare, a friend of the family, soon after sought for him an advantageous marriage to strengthen his position and increase his prospects of promotion; and he accordingly espoused Mademoiselle Angélique Louise Talon du Boulay,—a union which brought him influential alliances and some property.  Madame de Montcalm bore him ten children, of whom only two sons and four daughters were living in 1752.  “May God preserve them all,” he writes in his autobiography, “and make them prosper for this world and the next!  Perhaps it will be thought that the number is large for so moderate a fortune, especially as four of them are girls; but does God ever abandon his children in their need?”

      “ 'Aux petits des oiseaux il donne la pâture,
      Et sa bonté s'étend sur toute la nature.' ”

He was pious in his soldierly way, and ardently loyal to Church and King.

        His family seat was Candiac; where, in the intervals of campaigning, he found repose with his wife, his children, and his mother, who was a woman of remarkable force of character and who held great influence over her son.  He had a strong attachment to this home of his childhood; and in after years, out of the midst of the American wilderness, his thoughts turned longingly towards it.  “Quand reverrai-je mon cher Candiac!”

        In 1741 Montcalm took part in the Bohemian campaign.  He was made colonel of the regiment of Auxerrois two years later, and passed unharmed through the severe campaign of 1744.  In the next year he fought in Italy under Maréchal de Maillebois.  in 1746, at the disastrous action under the walls of Piacenza, where he twice rallied his regiment, he received five sabre-cuts,—two of which were in the head,—and was made prisoner.  Returning to France on parole, he was promoted in the year following to the rank of brigadier; and being soon after exchanged, rejoined the army, and was again wounded by a musket-shot.  The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle now gave him a period of rest.[362]  At length, being on a visit to Paris late in the autumn of 1755, the minister, D'Argenson, hinted to him that he might be appointed to command the troops in America.  He heard no more of the matter till, after his return home, he received from D'Argenson a letter dated at Versailles the twenty-fifth of January, at midnight.  “Perhaps, Monsieur,” it began, “you did not expect to hear from me again on the subject of the conversation I had with you the day you came to bid me farewell at Paris.  Nevertheless I have not forgotten for a moment the suggestion I then made you; and it is with the greatest pleasure that I announce to you that my views have prevailed.  The King has chosen you to command his troops in North America, and will honor you on your departure with the rank of major-general.”

[Footnote 362: The account of Montcalm up to this time is chiefly from his unpublished autobiography, preserved by his descendants, and entitled Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire de ma Vie. Somervogel, Comme on servait autrefois; Bonnechose, Montcalm et le Canada; Martin, Le Marquis de Montcalm; Éloge de Montcalm; Autre Éloge de Montcalm; Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760, and other writings in print and manuscript have also been consulted.]


        The Chevalier de Lévis, afterwards Marshal of France, was named as his second in command, with the rank of brigadier, and the Chevalier de Bourlamaque as his third, with the rank of colonel; but what especially pleased him was the appointment of his eldest son to command a regiment in France.  He set out from Candiac for the Court, and occupied himself on the way with reading Charlevoix.  “I take great pleasure in it,” he writes from Lyons to his mother; “he gives a pleasant account of Quebec.  But be comforted; I shall always be glad to come home.”  At Paris he writes again: “Don't expect any long letter from me before the first of March; all my business will be done by that time, and I shall begin to breathe again.  I have not yet seen the Chevalier de Montcalm [his son].  Last night I came from Versailles, and am going back to-morrow.  The King gives me twenty-five thousand francs a year, as he did to M. Dieskau, besides twelve thousand for my equipment, which will cost me above a thousand crowns more; but I cannot stop for that.  I embrace my dearest and all the family.”  A few days later his son joined him.  “He is as thin and delicate as ever, but grows prodigiously tall.”

        On the second of March he informs his mother, “My affairs begin to get on.  A good part of the baggage went off the day before yesterday in the King's wagons; an assistant-cook and two liverymen yesterday.  I have got a good cook.  Estève, my secretary, will go on the eighth; Joseph and Déjean will follow me.  To-morrow evening I go to Versailles till Sunday, and will write from there to Madame de Montcalm [his wife].  I have three aides-de-camp; one of them, Bougainville, a man of parts, pleasant company.  Madame Mazade was happily delivered on Wednesday; in extremity on Friday with a malignant fever; Saturday and yesterday, reports favorable.  I go there twice a day, and am just going now.  She has a girl.  I embrace you all.”  Again, on the fifteenth: “In a few hours I set out for Brest.  Yesterday I presented my son, with whom I am well pleased, to all the royal family.  I shall have a secretary at Brest, and will write more at length.”  On the eighteenth he writes from Rennes to his wife: “I arrived, dearest, this morning, and stay here all day.  I shall be at Brest on the twenty-first.  Everything will be on board on the twenty-sixth.  My son has been here since yesterday for me to coach him and get him a uniform made, in which he will give thanks for his regiment at the same time that I take leave in my embroidered coat.  Perhaps I shall leave debts behind.  I wait impatiently for the bills.  You have my will; I wish you would get it copied, and send it to me before I sail.”

        Reaching Brest, the place of embarkation, he writes to his mother: “I have business on hand still.  My health is good, and the passage will be a time of rest.  I embrace you, and my dearest, and my daughters.  Love to all the family.  I shall write up to the last moment.”

        No translation can give an idea of the rapid, abrupt, elliptical style of this familiar correspondence, where the meaning is sometimes suggested by a single word, unintelligible to any but those for whom it is written.

        At the end of March Montcalm, with all his following, was ready to embark; and three ships of the line, the “Léopard,” the “Héros,” and the “Illustre,” fitted out as transports, were ready to receive the troops; while the General, with Lévis and Bourlamaque, were to take passage in the frigates “Licorne,” “Sauvage,” and “Sirène.”  “I like the Chevalier de Lévis,” says Montcalm, “and I think he likes me.”  His first aide-de-camp, Bougainville, pleased him, if possible, still more.  This young man, son of a notary, had begun life as an advocate in the Parliament of Paris, where his abilities and learning had already made him conspicuous, when he resigned the gown for the sword, and became a captain of dragoons.  He was destined in later life to win laurels in another career, and to become one of the most illustrious of French navigators.  Montcalm, himself a scholar, prized his varied talents and accomplishments, and soon learned to feel for him a strong personal regard.

        The troops destined for Canada were only two battalions, one belonging to the regiment of La Sarre, and the other to that of Royal Roussillon.  Louis XV and Pompadour sent a hundred thousand men to fight the battles of Austria, and could spare but twelve hundred to reinforce New France.  These troops marched into Brest at early morning, breakfasted in the town, and went at once on board the transports, “with an incredible gayety,” says Bougainville.  “What a nation is ours!  Happy he who commands it, and commands it worthily!”[363]  Montcalm and he embarked in the “Licorne,” and sailed on the third of April, leaving Lévis and Bourlamaque to follow a few days after.[364]

[Footnote 363: Journal de Bougainville. This is a fragment; his Journal proper begins a few weeks later.]

[Footnote 364: Lévis à––, 5 Avril, 1756.]


        The voyage was a rough one.  “I have been fortunate,” writes Montcalm to his wife, “in not being ill nor at all incommoded by the heavy gale we had in Holy Week.  It was not so with those who were with me, especially M. Estève, my secretary, and Joseph, who suffered cruelly,—seventeen days without being able to take anything but water.  The season was very early for such a hard voyage, and it was fortunate that the winter has been so mild.  We had very favorable weather till Monday the twelfth; but since then till Saturday evening we had rough weather, with a gale that lasted ninety hours, and put us in real danger.  The forecastle was always under water, and the waves broke twice over the quarter-deck.  From the twenty-seventh of April to the evening of the fourth of May we had fogs, great cold, and an amazing quantity of icebergs.  On the thirtieth, when luckily the fog lifted for a time, we counted sixteen of them.  The day before, one drifted under the bowsprit, grazed it, and might have crushed us if the deck-officer had not called out quickly, Luff.  After speaking of our troubles and sufferings, I must tell you of our pleasures, which were fishing for cod and eating it.  The taste is exquisite.  The head, tongue, and liver are morsels worthy of an epicure.  Still, I would not advise anybody to make the voyage for their sake.  My health is as good as it has been for a long time.  I found it a good plan to eat little and take no supper; a little tea now and then, and plenty of lemonade.  Nevertheless I have taken very little liking for the sea, and think that when I shall be so happy as to rejoin you I shall end my voyages there.  I don't know when this letter will go.  I shall send it by the first ship that returns to France, and keep on writing till then.  It is pleasant, I know, to hear particulars about the people one loves, and I thought that my mother and you, my dearest and most beloved, would be glad to read all these dull details.  We heard Mass on Easter Day.  All the week before, it was impossible, because the ship rolled so that I could hardly keep my legs.  If I had dared, I think I should have had myself lashed fast.  I shall not soon forget that Holy Week.”

        This letter was written on the eleventh of May, in the St. Lawrence, where the ship lay at anchor, ten leagues below Quebec, stopped by ice from proceeding farther.  Montcalm made his way to the town by land, and soon after learned with great satisfaction that the other ships were safe in the river below.  “I see,” he writes again, “that I shall have plenty of work.  Our campaign will soon begin.  Everything is in motion.  Don't expect details about our operations; generals never speak of movements till they are over.  I can only tell you that the winter has been quiet enough, though the savages have made great havoc in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and carried off, according to their custom, men, women, and children.  I beg you will have High Mass said at Montpellier or Vauvert to thank God for our safe arrival and ask for good success in future.”[365]

[Footnote 365: These extracts are translated from copies of the original letters, in possession of the present Marquis de Montcalm.]


        Vaudreuil, the governor-general, was at Montreal, and Montcalm sent a courier to inform him of his arrival.  He soon went thither in person, and the two men met for the first time.  The new general was not welcome to Vaudreuil, who had hoped to command the troops himself, and had represented to the Court that it was needless and inexpedient to send out a general officer from France.[366]  The Court had not accepted his views;[367] and hence it was with more curiosity than satisfaction that he greeted the colleague who had been assigned him.  He saw before him a man of small stature, with a lively countenance, a keen eye, and, in moments of animation, rapid, vehement utterance, and nervous gesticulation.  Montcalm, we may suppose, regarded the Governor with no less attention.  Pierre François Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil, who had governed Canada early in the century; and he himself had been governor of Louisiana.  He had not the force of character which his position demanded, lacked decision in times of crisis; and though tenacious of authority, was more jealous in asserting than self-reliant in exercising it.  One of his traits was a sensitive egotism, which made him forward to proclaim his own part in every success, and to throw on others the burden of every failure.  He was facile by nature, and capable of being led by such as had skill and temper for the task.  But the impetuous Montcalm was not of their number; and the fact that he was born in France would in itself have thrown obstacles in his way to the good graces of the Governor.  Vaudreuil, Canadian by birth, loved the colony and its people, and distrusted Old France and all that came out of it.  He had been bred, moreover, to the naval service; and, like other Canadian governors, his official correspondence was with the minister of marine, while that of Montcalm was with the minister of war.  Even had Nature made him less suspicious, his relations with the General would have been critical.  Montcalm commanded the regulars from France, whose very presence was in the eyes of Vaudreuil an evil, though a necessary one.  Their chief was, it is true, subordinate to him in virtue of his office of governor;[368] yet it was clear that for the conduct of the war the trust of the Government was mainly in Montcalm; and the Minister of War had even suggested that he should have the immediate command, not only of the troops from France, but of the colony regulars and the militia.  An order of the King to this effect was sent to Vaudreuil, with instructions to communicate it to Montcalm or withhold it, as he should think best.[369]  He lost no time in replying that the General “ought to concern himself with nothing but the command of the troops from France;” and he returned the order to the minister who sent it.[370]  The Governor and the General represented the two parties which were soon to divide Canada,—those of New France and of Old.

[Footnote 366: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 30 Oct. 1755.]

[Footnote 367: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, Fév. 1756.]

[Footnote 368: Le Ministre à Vaudreuil, 15 Mars, 1756. Commission du Marquis de Montcalm. Mémoire du Roy pour servir d'Instruction au Marquis de Montcalm.]

[Footnote 369: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1756. Le Ministre à Vaudreuil, 15 Mars, 1756.]

[Footnote 370: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 16 Juin, 1756. “Qu'il ne se mêle que du commandement des troupes de terre.”]


        A like antagonism was seen in the forces commanded by the two chiefs.  These were of three kinds,—the troupes de terre, troops of the line, or regulars from France; the troupes de la marine, or colony regulars; and lastly the militia.  The first consisted of the four battalions that had come over with Dieskau and the two that had come with Montcalm, comprising in all a little less than three thousand men.[371]  Besides these, the battalions of Artois and Bourgogne, to the number of eleven hundred men, were in garrison at Louisbourg.  All these troops wore a white uniform, faced with blue, red, yellow, or violet,[372] a black three-cornered hat, and gaiters, generally black, from the foot to the knee.  The subaltern officers in the French service were very numerous, and were drawn chiefly from the class of lesser nobles.  A well-informed French writer calls them “a generation of petits-maîtres, dissolute, frivolous, heedless, light-witted; but brave always, and ready to die with their soldiers, though not to suffer with them.”[373]  In fact the course of the war was to show plainly that in Europe the regiments of France were no longer what they had once been.  It was not so with those who fought in America.  Here, for enduring gallantry, officers and men alike deserve nothing but praise.

[Footnote 371: Of about twelve hundred who came with Montcalm, nearly three hundred were now in hospital.  The four battalions that came with Dieskau are reported at the end of May to have sixteen hundred and fifty-three effective men.  État de la Situation actuelle des Bataillons, appended to Montcalm's despatch of 12 June.  Another document, Dêtail de ce qui s'est passé en Canada, Juin, 1755, jusqu'à Juin, 1756, sets the united effective strength of the battalions in Canada at twenty-six hundred and seventy-seven, which was increased by recruits which arrived from France about midsummer.]

[Footnote 372: Except perhaps, the battalion of Béarn, which formerly wore, and possibly wore still, a uniform of light blue.]

[Footnote 373: Susane, Ancienne Infanterie Française. In the atlas of this work are colored plates of the uniforms of all the regiments of foot.]


        The troupes de la marine had for a long time formed the permanent military establishment of Canada.  Though attached to the naval department, they served on land, and were employed as a police within the limits of the colony, or as garrisons of the outlying forts, where their officers busied themselves more with fur-trading than with their military duties.  Thus they had become ill-disciplined and inefficient, till the hard hand of Duquesne restored them to order.  They originally consisted of twenty-eight independent companies, increased in 1750 to thirty companies, at first of fifty, and afterwards of sixty-five men each, forming a total of nineteen hundred and fifty rank and file.  In March, 1757, ten more companies were added.  Their uniform was not unlike that of the troops attached to the War Department, being white, with black facings.  They were enlisted for the most part in France; but when their term of service expired, and even before, in time of peace, they were encouraged to become settlers in the colony, as was also the case with their officers, of whom a great part were of European birth.  Thus the relations of the troupes de la marine with the colony were close; and formed a sort of connecting link between the troops of the line and the native militia.[374]  Besides these colony regulars, there was a company of colonial artillery, consisting this year of seventy men, and replaced in 1757 by two companies of fifty men each.

[Footnote 374: On the troupes de la marine,—Mémoire pour servir d'Instruction a MM. Jonquière et Bigot, 30 Avril, 1749. Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1750. Ibid., 1755. Ibid., 1757. Instruction pour Vaudreuil, 22 Mars, 1755. Ordonnance pour l'Augmentation de Soldats dans les Compagnies de Canada, 14 Mars, 1755. Duquesne au Ministre, 26 Oct. 1753. Ibid., 30 Oct. 1753. Ibid., 29 Fév. 1754. Duquesne à Marin, 27 Août, 1753. Atlas de Susane.]


        All the effective male population of Canada, from fifteen years to sixty, was enrolled in the militia, and called into service at the will of the Governor.  They received arms, clothing, equipment, and rations from the King, but no pay; and instead of tents they made themselves huts of bark or branches.  The best of them were drawn from the upper parts of the colony, where habits of bushranging were still in full activity.  Their fighting qualities were much like those of the Indians, whom they rivalled in endurance and in the arts of forest war.  As bush-fighters they had few equals; they fought well behind earthworks, and were good at a surprise or sudden dash; but for regular battle on the open field they were of small account, being disorderly, and apt to break and take to cover at the moment of crisis.  They had no idea of the great operations of war.  At first they despised the regulars for their ignorance of woodcraft, and thought themselves able to defend the colony alone; while the regulars regarded them in turn with a contempt no less unjust.  They were excessively given to gasconade, and every true Canadian boasted himself a match for three Englishmen at least.  in 1750 the militia of all ranks counted about thirteen thousand; and eight years later the number had increased to about fifteen thousand.[375]  Until the last two years of the war, those employed in actual warfare were but few.  Even in the critical year 1758 only about eleven hundred were called to arms, except for two or three weeks in summer;[376] though about four thousand were employed in transporting troops and supplies, for which service they received pay.

[Footnote 375: Récapitulation des Milices du Gouvernement de Canada, 1750. Dénombrement des Milices, 1758, 1759. On the militia, see also Bougainville in Margry, Rélations et Mémoires inédits, 60, and N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 680.]

[Footnote 376: Montcalm au Ministre, 1 Sept. 1758.]


        To the white fighting force of the colony are to be added the red men.  The most trusty of them were the Mission Indians, living within or near the settled limits of Canada, chiefly the Hurons of Lorette, the Abenakis of St. Francis and Batiscan, the Iroquois of Caughnawaga and La Présentation, and the Iroquois and Algonkins at the Two Mountains on the Ottawa.  Besides these, all the warriors of the west and north, from Lake Superior to the Ohio, and from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi, were now at the beck of France.  As to the Iroquois or Five Nations who still remained in their ancient seats within the present limits of New York, their power and pride had greatly fallen; and crowded as they were between the French and the English, they were in a state of vacillation, some leaning to one side, some to the other, and some to each in turn.  As a whole, the best that France could expect from them was neutrality.

        Montcalm at Montreal had more visits than he liked from his red allies.  “They are vilains messieurs,” he informs his mother, “even when fresh from their toilet, at which they pass their lives.  You would not believe it, but the men always carry to war, along with their tomahawk and gun, a mirror to daub their faces with various colors, and arrange feathers on their heads and rings in their ears and noses.  They think it a great beauty to cut the rim of the ear and stretch it till it reaches the shoulder.  Often they wear a laced coat, with no shirt at all.  You would take them for so many masqueraders or devils.  One needs the patience of an angel to get on with them.  Ever since I have been here, I have had nothing but visits, harangues, and deputations of these gentry.  The Iroquois ladies, who always take part in their government, came also, and did me the honor to bring me belts of wampum, which will oblige me to go to their village and sing the war-song.  They are only a little way off.  Yesterday we had eighty-three warriors here, who have gone out to fight.  They make war with astounding cruelty, sparing neither men, women, nor children, and take off your scalp very neatly,—an operation which generally kills you.”

        “Everything is horribly dear in this country; and I shall find it hard to make the two ends of the year meet, with the twenty-five thousand francs the King gives me.  The Chevalier de Lévis did not join me till yesterday.  His health is excellent.  In a few days I shall send him to one camp, and M. de Bourlamaque to another; for we have three of them: one at Carillon, eighty leagues from here, towards the place where M. de Dieskau had his affair last year; another at Frontenac, sixty leagues; and the third at Niagara, a hundred and forty leagues.  I don't know when or whither I shall go myself; that depends on the movements of the enemy.  It seems to me that things move slowly in this new world; and I shall have to moderate my activity accordingly.  Nothing but the King's service and the wish to make a career for my son could prevent me from thinking too much of my expatriation, my distance from you, and the dull existence here, which would be duller still if I did not manage to keep some little of my natural gayety.”

        The military situation was somewhat perplexing.  Iroquois spies had brought reports of great preparations on the part of the English.  As neither party dared offend these wavering tribes, their warriors could pass with impunity from one to the other, and were paid by each for bringing information, not always trustworthy.  They declared that the English were gathering in force to renew the attempt made by Johnson the year before against Crown Point and Ticonderoga, as well as that made by Shirley against forts Frontenac and Niagara.  Vaudreuil had spared no effort to meet the double danger.  Lotbinière, a Canadian engineer, had been busied during the winter in fortifying Ticonderoga, while Pouchot, a captain in the battalion of Béarn, had rebuilt Niagara, and two French engineers were at work in strengthening the defences of Frontenac.  The Governor even hoped to take the offensive, anticipate the movements of the English, capture Oswego, and obtain the complete command of Lake Ontario.  Early in the spring a blow had been struck which materially aided these schemes.

        The English had built two small forts to guard the Great Carrying Place on the route to Oswego.  One of these, Fort Williams, was on the Mohawk; the other, Fort Bull, a mere collection of storehouses surrounded by a palisade, was four miles distant, on the bank of Wood Creek.  Here a great quantity of stores and ammunition had imprudently been collected against the opening campaign.  In February Vaudreuil sent Léry, a colony officer, with three hundred and sixty-two picked men, soldiers, Canadians, and Indians, to seize these two posts.  Towards the end of March, after extreme hardship, they reached the road that connected them, and at half-past five in the morning captured twelve men going with wagons to Fort Bull.  Learning from them the weakness of that place, they dashed forward to surprise it.  The thirty provincials of Shirley's regiment who formed the garrison had barely time to shut the gate, while the assailants fired on them through the loopholes, of which they got possession in the tumult.  Léry called on the defenders to yield; but they refused, and pelted the French for an hour with bullets and hand-grenades.  The gate was at last beat down with axes, and they were summoned again; but again refused, and fired hotly through the opening.  The French rushed in, shouting Vive le roi, and a frightful struggle followed.  All the garrison were killed, except two or three who hid themselves till the slaughter was over; the fort was set on fire and blown to atoms by the explosion of the magazines; and Léry then withdrew, not venturing to attack Fort Williams.  Johnson, warned by Indians of the approach of the French, had pushed up the Mohawk with reinforcements; but came too late.[377]

[Footnote 377: Bigot au Ministre, 12 Avril, 1756. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 1 Juin, 1756. Ibid., 8 Juin, 1756. Journal de ce qui s'est passé en Canada depuis le Mois d'Octobre, 1755, jusqu'au Mois de Juin, 1756. Shirley to Fox, 7 May, 1756. Conduct of Major-General Shirley briefly stated. Information of Captain John Vicars, of the Fiftieth (Shirley's) Regiment. Eastburn, Faithful Narrative. Entick, I. 471. The French accounts place the number of English at sixty or eighty.]


        Vaudreuil, who always exaggerates any success in which he has had part, says that besides bombs, bullets, cannon-balls, and other munitions, forty-five thousand pounds of gunpowder were destroyed on this occasion.  It is certain that damage enough was done to retard English operations in the direction of Oswego sufficiently to give the French time for securing all their posts on Lake Ontario.  Before the end of June this was in good measure done.  The battalion of Béarn lay encamped before the now strong fort of Niagara, and the battalions of Guienne and La Sarre, with a body of Canadians, guarded Frontenac against attack.  Those of La Reine and Languedoc had been sent to Ticonderoga, while the Governor, with Montcalm and Lévis, still remained at Montreal watching the turn of events.[378]  Hither, too, came the intendant François Bigot, the most accomplished knave in Canada, yet indispensable for his vigor and executive skill; Bougainville, who had disarmed the jealousy of Vaudreuil, and now stood high in his good graces; and the Adjutant-General, Montreuil, clearly a vain and pragmatic personage, who, having come to Canada with Dieskau the year before, thought it behooved him to give the General the advantage of his experience.  “I like M. de Montcalm very much,” he writes to the minister, “and will do the impossible to deserve his confidence.  I have spoken to him in the same terms as to M. Dieskau; thus: 'Trust only the French regulars for an expedition, but use the Canadians and Indians to harass the enemy.  Don't expose yourself; send me to carry your orders to points of danger.'  The colony officers do not like those from France.  The Canadians are independent, spiteful, lying, boastful; very good for skirmishing, very brave behind a tree, and very timid when not under cover.  I think both sides will stand on the defensive.  It does not seem to me that M. de Montcalm means to attack the enemy; and I think he is right.  In this country a thousand men could stop three thousand.”[379]

[Footnote 378: Correspondance de Montcalm, Vaudreuil, et Lévis.]

[Footnote 379: Montreuil au Ministre, 12 Juin, 1756. The original is in cipher.] “M. de Vaudreuil overwhelms me with civilities,” Montcalm writes to the Minister of War. “I think that he is pleased with my conduct towards him, and that it persuades him there are general officers in France who can act under his orders without prejudice or ill-humor.”[380]  “I am on good terms with him,” he says again; “but not in his confidence, which he never gives to anybody from France. His intentions are good, but he is slow and irresolute.”[381]

[Footnote 380: Montcalm au Ministre, 12 Juin, 1756.]

[Footnote 381: Ibid., 19 Juin, 1756. “Je suis bien avec luy, sans sa confiance, qu'il ne donne jamais à personne de la France.”  Erroneously rendered in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 421.]


        Indians presently brought word that ten thousand English were coming to attack Ticonderoga.  A reinforcement of colony regulars was at once despatched to join the two battalions already there; a third battalion, Royal Roussillon, was sent after them.  The militia were called out and ordered to follow with all speed, while both Montcalm and Lévis hastened to the supposed scene of danger.[382]  They embarked in canoes on the Richelieu, coasted the shore of Lake Champlain, passed Fort Frederic or Crown Point, where all was activity and bustle, and reached Ticonderoga at the end of June.  They found the fort, on which Lotbinière had been at work all winter, advanced towards completion.  It stood on the crown of the promontory, and was a square with four bastions, a ditch, blown in some parts out of the solid rock, bomb-proofs, barracks of stone, and a system of exterior defences as yet only begun.  The rampart consisted of two parallel walls ten feet apart, built of the trunks of trees, and held together by transverse logs dovetailed at both ends, the space between being filled with earth and gravel well packed.[383]  Such was the first Fort Ticonderoga, or Carillon,—a structure quite distinct from the later fort of which the ruins still stand on the same spot.  The forest had been hewn away for some distance around, and the tents of the regulars and huts of the Canadians had taken its place; innumerable bark canoes lay along the strand, and gangs of men toiled at the unfinished works.

[Footnote 382: Montcalm au Ministre, 26 Juin, 1756. Détail de ce qui s'est passé, Oct. 1755 Juin, 1756.]

[Footnote 383: Lotbinière au Ministre, 31 Oct. 1756. Montcalm au Ministre, 20 Juillet, 1756.]


        Ticonderoga was now the most advanced position of the French, and Crown Point, which had before held that perilous honor, was in the second line.  Lévis, to whom had been assigned the permanent command of this post of danger, set out on foot to explore the neighboring woods and mountains, and slept out several nights before he reappeared at the camp.  “I do not think,” says Montcalm, “that many high officers in Europe would have occasion to take such tramps as this.  I cannot speak too well of him.  Without being a man of brilliant parts, he has good experience, good sense, and a quick eye; and, though I had served with him before, I never should have thought that he had such promptness and efficiency.  He has turned his campaigns to good account.”[384]  Lévis writes of his chief with equal warmth.  “I do not know if the Marquis de Montcalm is pleased with me, but I am sure that I am very much so with him, and shall always be charmed to serve under his orders.  It is not for me, Monseigneur, to speak to you of his merit and his talents.  You know him better than anybody else; but I may have the honor of assuring you that he has pleased everybody in this colony, and manages affairs with the Indians extremely well.”[385]

[Footnote 384: Montcalm au Ministre, 20 Juillet, 1756.]

[Footnote 385: Lévis au Ministre, 17 Juillet, 1756.]


        The danger from the English proved to be still remote, and there was ample leisure in the camp.  Duchat, a young captain in the battalion of Languedoc, used it in writing to his father a long account of what he saw about him,—the forests full of game; the ducks, geese, and partridges; the prodigious flocks of wild pigeons that darkened the air, the bears, the beavers; and above all the Indians, their canoes, dress, ball-play, and dances.  “We are making here,” says the military prophet, “a place that history will not forget.  The English colonies have ten times more people than ours; but these wretches have not the least knowledge of war, and if they go out to fight, they must abandon wives, children, and all that they possess.  Not a week passes but the French send them a band of hairdressers, whom they would be very glad to dispense with.  It is incredible what a quantity of scalps they bring us.  In Virginia they have committed unheard-of cruelties, carried off families, burned a great many houses, and killed an infinity of people.  These miserable English are in the extremity of distress, and repent too late the unjust war they began against us.  It is a pleasure to make war in Canada.  One is troubled neither with horses nor baggage; the King provides everything.  But it must be confessed that if it costs no money, one pays for it in another way, by seeing nothing but pease and bacon on the mess-table.  Luckily the lakes are full of fish, and both officers and soldiers have to turn fishermen.”[386]

[Footnote 386: Relation de M. Duchat, Capitaine au Régiment de Languedoc, écrite au Camp de Carillon, 15 Juillet, 1756.]


        Meanwhile, at the head of Lake George, the raw bands of ever-active New England were mustering for the fray.

Table of Contents



Chapter 12

1756


Oswego


        When, at the end of the last year, Shirley returned from his bootless Oswego campaign, he called a council of war at New York and laid before it his scheme for the next summer's operations.  It was a comprehensive one: to master Lake Ontario by an overpowering naval force and seize the French forts upon it, Niagara, Frontenac, and Toronto; attack Ticonderoga and Crown Point on the one hand, and Fort Duquesne on the other, and at the same time perplex and divide the enemy by an inroad down the Chaudière upon the settlements about Quebec.[387]  The council approved the scheme; but to execute it the provinces must raise at least sixteen thousand men.  This they refused to do.  Pennsylvania and Virginia would take no active part, and were content with defending themselves.  The attack on Fort Duquesne was therefore abandoned, as was also the diversion towards Quebec.  The New England colonies were discouraged by Johnson's failure to take Crown Point, doubtful of the military abilities of Shirley, and embarrassed by the debts of the last campaign; but when they learned that Parliament would grant a sum of money in partial compensation for their former sacrifices,[388] they plunged into new debts without hesitation, and raised more men than the General had asked; though, with their usual jealousy, they provided that their soldiers should be employed for no other purpose than the attack on Ticonderoga and Crown Point.  Shirley chose John Winslow to command them, and gave him a commission to that effect; while he, to clinch his authority, asked and obtained supplementary commissions from every government that gave men to the expedition.[389]  For the movement against the fort of Lake Ontario, which Shirley meant to command in person, he had the remains of his own and Pepperell's regiments, the two shattered battalions brought over by Braddock, the “Jersey Blues,” four provincial companies from North Carolina, and the four King's companies of New York.  His first care was to recruit their ranks and raise them to their full complement; which, when effected, would bring them up to the insufficient strength of about forty-four hundred men.

[Footnote 387: Minutes of Council of War held at New York, 12 and 13 Dec. 1755. Shirley to Robinson, 19 Dec. 1755. The Conduct of Major-General Shirley briefly stated. Review of Military Operations in North America.]

[Footnote 388: Lords of Trade to Lords of the Treasury, 12 Feb. 1756. Fox to American Governors, 13 March, 1756. Shirley to Phipps, 15 June, 1756. The sum was £115,000, divided in proportion to the expense incurred by the several colonies; Massachusetts having £54,000, Connecticut £26,000, and New York £15,000, the rest being given to New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.]

[Footnote 389: Letter and Order Books of General Winslow, 1756.]


        While he was struggling with contradictions and cross purposes, a withering blow fell upon him; he learned that he was superseded in the command.  The cabal formed against him, with Delancey at its head, had won over Sir Charles Hardy, the new governor of New York, and had painted Shirley's conduct in such colors that the Ministry removed him.  It was essential for the campaign that a successor should be sent at once, to form plans on the spot and make preparations accordingly.  The Ministry were in no such haste.  It was presently announced that Colonel Daniel Webb would be sent to America, followed by General James Abercromby; who was to be followed in turn by the Earl of Loudon, the destined commander-in-chief.  Shirley was to resign his command to Webb, Webb to Abercromby, and Abercromby to Loudon.[390]  It chanced that the two former arrived in June at about the same time, while the Earl came in July; and meanwhile it devolved on Shirley to make ready for them.  Unable to divine what their plans would be, he prepared the campaign in accordance with his own.

[Footnote 390: Fox to Shirley, 13 March, 1756. Ibid., 31 March, 1756. Order to Colonel Webb, 31 March, 1756. Order to Major-General Abercromby, 1 April, 1756. Halifax to Shirley, 1 April, 1756. Shirley to Fox, 13 June, 1756.]


        His star, so bright a twelvemonth before, was now miserably dimmed.  In both his public and private life he was the butt of adversity.  He had lost two promising sons; he had made a mortifying failure as a soldier; and triumphant enemies were rejoicing in his fall.  It is to the credit of his firmness and his zeal in the cause that he set himself to his task with as much vigor as if he, and not others, were to gather the fruits.  His chief care was for his favorite enterprise in the direction of Lake Ontario.  Making Albany his headquarters, he rebuilt the fort at the Great Carrying Place destroyed in March by the French, sent troops to guard the perilous route to Oswego, and gathered provisions and stores at the posts along the way.

        Meanwhile the New England men, strengthened by the levies of New York, were mustering at Albany for the attack of Crown Point.  At the end of May they moved a short distance up the Hudson, and encamped at a place called Half-Moon, where the navigation was stopped by rapids.  Here and at the posts above were gathered something more than five thousand men, as raw and untrained as those led by Johnson in the summer before.[391]  The four New England colonies were much alike in their way of raising and equipping men, and the example of Massachusetts may serve for them all.  The Assembly or “General Court” voted the required number, and chose a committee of war authorized to impress provisions, munitions, stores, clothing, tools, and other necessaries, for which fair prices were to be paid within six months.  The Governor issued a proclamation calling for volunteers.  If the full number did not appear within the time named, the colonels of militia were ordered to muster their regiments, and immediately draft out of them men enough to meet the need.  A bounty of six dollars was offered this year to stimulate enlistment, and the pay of a private soldier was fixed at one pound six shillings a month, Massachusetts currency.  If he brought a gun, he had an additional bounty of two dollars.  A powderhorn, bullet-pouch, blanket, knapsack, and “wooden bottle,” or canteen, were supplied by the province; and if he brought no gun of his own, a musket was given him, for which, as for the other articles, he was to account at the end of the campaign.  In the next year it was announced that the soldier should receive, besides his pay, “a coat and soldier's hat.”  The coat was of coarse blue cloth, to which breeches of red or blue were afterwards added.  Along with his rations, he was promised a gill of rum each day, a privilege of which he was extremely jealous, deeply resenting every abridgment of it.  He was enlisted for the campaign, and could not be required to serve above a year at farthest.

[Footnote 391: Letter and Order Books of Winslow, 1756.]


        The complement of a regiment was five hundred, divided into companies of fifty; and as the men and officers of each were drawn from the same neighborhood, they generally knew each other.  The officers, though nominally appointed by the Assembly, were for the most part the virtual choice of the soldiers themselves, from whom they were often indistinguishable in character and social standing.  Hence discipline was weak.  The pay—or, as it was called, the wages—of a colonel was twelve pounds sixteen shillings, Massachusetts currency, a month; that of a captain, five pounds eight shillings,—an advance on the pay of the last year; and that of a chaplain, six pounds eight shillings.[392]  Penalties were enacted against “irreligion, immorality, drunkenness, debauchery, and profaneness.”  The ordinary punishments were the wooden horse, irons, or, in bad cases, flogging.

[Footnote 392: Vote of General Court, 26 Feb. 1756.]


        Much difficulty arose from the different rules adopted by the various colonies for the regulation of their soldiers.  Nor was this the only source of trouble.  Besides its war committee, the Assembly of each of the four New England colonies chose another committee “for clothing, arming, paying, victualling, and transporting” its troops.  They were to go to the scene of operations, hire wagons, oxen, and horses, build boats and vessels, and charge themselves with the conveyance of all supplies belonging to their respective governments.  They were to keep in correspondence with the committee of war at home, to whom they were responsible; and the officer commanding the contingent of their colony was required to furnish them with guards and escorts.  Thus four independent committees were engaged in the work of transportation at the same time, over the same roads, for the same object.  Each colony chose to keep the control of its property in its own hands.  The inconveniences were obvious: “I wish to God,” wrote Lord Loudon to Winslow, “you could persuade your people to go all one way.”  The committees themselves did not always find their task agreeable.  One of their number, John Ashley, of Massachusetts, writes in dudgeon to Governor Phipps: “Sir, I am apt to think that things have been misrepresented to your Honor, or else I am certain I should not suffer in my character, and be styled a damned rascal, and ought to be put in irons, etc., when I am certain I have exerted myself to the utmost of my ability to expedite the business assigned me by the General Court.”  At length, late in the autumn, Loudon persuaded the colonies to forego this troublesome sort of independence, and turn over their stores to the commissary-general, receipts being duly given.[393]

[Footnote 393: The above particulars are gathered from the voluminous papers in the State House at Boston, Archives, Military, Vols. LXXV, LXXVI. These contain the military acts of the General Court, proclamations, reports of committees, and other papers relating to military affairs in 1755 and 1756. The Letter and Order Books of Winslow, in the Library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, have supplied much concurrent matter. See also Colonial Records of R.I., V., and Provincial Papers of N.H., VI.]


        From Winslow's headquarters at Half-Moon a road led along the banks of the Hudson to Stillwater, whence there was water carriage to Saratoga.  Here stores were again placed in wagons and carried several miles to Upper Falls; thence by boat to Fort Edward; and thence, fourteen miles across country, to Fort William Henry at Lake George, where the army was to embark for Ticonderoga.  Each of the points of transit below Fort Edward was guarded by a stockade and two or more companies of provincials.  They were much pestered by Indians, who now and then scalped a straggler, and escaped with their usual nimbleness.  From time to time strong bands of Canadians and Indians approached by way of South Bay or Wood Creek, and threatened more serious mischief.  It is surprising that some of the trains were not cut off, for the escorts were often reckless and disorderly to the last degree.  Sometimes the invaders showed great audacity.  Early in June Colonel Fitch at Albany scrawls a hasty note to Winslow: “Friday, 11 o'clock: Sir, about half an hour since, a party of near fifty French and Indians had the impudence to come down to the river opposite to this city and captivate two men;” and Winslow replies with equal quaintness: “We daily discover the Indians about us; but not yet have been so happy as to obtain any of them.”[394]

[Footnote 394: Vaudreuil, in his despatch of 12 August, gives particulars of these raids, with an account of the scalps taken on each occasion. He thought the results disappointing.]


        Colonel Jonathan Bagley commanded at Fort William Henry, where gangs of men were busied under his eye in building three sloops and making several hundred whaleboats to carry the army of Ticonderoga.  The season was advancing fast, and Winslow urged him to hasten on the work; to which the humorous Bagley answered; “Shall leave no stone unturned; every wheel shall go that rum and human flesh can move.”[395]  A fortnight after he reports: “I must really confess I have almost wore the men out, poor dogs.  Pray where are the committee, or what are they about?”  He sent scouts to watch the enemy, with results not quite satisfactory.  “There is a vast deal of news here; every party brings abundance, but all different.”  Again, a little later: “I constantly keep out small scouting parties to the eastward and westward of the lake, and make no discovery but the tracks of small parties who are plaguing us constantly; but what vexes me most, we can't catch one of the sons of––.  I have sent out skulking parties some distance from the sentries in the night, to lie still in the bushes to intercept them; but the flies are so plenty, our people can't bear them.”[396]  Colonel David Wooster, at Fort Edward, was no more fortunate in his attempts to take satisfaction on his midnight visitors; and reports that he has not thus far been able “to give those villains a dressing.”[397]  The English, however, were fast learning the art of forest war, and the partisan chief, Captain Robert Rogers, began already to be famous.  On the seventeenth of June he and his band lay hidden in the bushes within the outposts of Ticonderoga, and made a close survey of the fort and surrounding camps.[398]  His report was not cheering.  Winslow's so-called army had now grown to nearly seven thousand men; and these, it was plain, were not too many to drive the French from their stronghold.

[Footnote 395: Bagley to Winslow, 2 July, 1756.]

[Footnote 396: Ibid., 15 July, 1756.]

[Footnote 397: Wooster to Winslow, 2 June, 1756.]

[Footnote 398: Report of Rogers, 19 June, 1756. Much abridged in his published Journals.]


        While Winslow pursued his preparations, tried to settle disputes of rank among the colonels of the several colonies, and strove to bring order out of the little chaos of his command, Sir William Johnson was engaged in a work for which he was admirably fitted.  This was the attaching of the Five Nations to the English interest.  Along with his patent of baronetcy, which reached him about this time, he received, direct from the Crown, the commission of “Colonel, Agent, and Sole Superintendent of the Six Nations and other Northern Tribes.”[399]  Henceforth he was independent of governors and generals, and responsible to the Court alone.  His task was a difficult one.  The Five Nations would fain have remained neutral, and let the European rivals fight it out; but, on account of their local position, they could not.  The exactions and lies of the Albany traders, the frauds of land-speculators, the contradictory action of the different provincial governments, joined to English weakness and mismanagement in the last war, all conspired to alienate them and to aid the efforts of the French agents, who cajoled and threatened them by turns.  But for Johnson these intrigues would have prevailed.  He had held a series of councils with them at Fort Johnson during the winter, and not only drew from them a promise to stand by the English, but persuaded all the confederated tribes, except the Cayugas, to consent that the English should build forts near their chief towns, under the pretext of protecting them from the French.[400]

[Footnote 399: Fox to Johnson, 13 March, 1756. Papers of Sir William Johnson.]

[Footnote 400: Conferences between Sir William Johnson and the Indians, Dec. 1755, to Feb. 1756, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 44-74. Account of Conferences held and Treaties made between Sir William Johnson, Bart., and the Indian Nations of North America (London, 1756).]


        In June he went to Onondaga, well escorted, for the way was dangerous.  This capital of the Confederacy was under a cloud.  It had just lost one Red Head, its chief sachem; and first of all it behooved the baronet to condole their affliction.  The ceremony was long, with compliments, lugubrious speeches, wampum-belts, the scalp of an enemy to replace the departed, and a final glass of rum for each of the assembled mourners.  The conferences lasted a fortnight; and when Johnson took his leave, the tribes stood pledged to lift the hatchet for the English.[401]

[Footnote 401: Minutes of Councils of Onondaga, 19 June to 3 July, 1756, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 134-150.]


        When he returned to Fort Johnson a fever seized him, and he lay helpless for a time; then rose from his sick bed to meet another congregation of Indians.  These were deputies of the Five Nations, with Mohegans from the Hudson, and Delawares and Shawanoes from the Susquehanna, whom he had persuaded to visit him in hope that he might induce them to cease from murdering the border settlers.  All their tribesmen were in arms against the English; but he prevailed at last, and they accepted the war-belt at his hands.  The Delawares complained that their old conquerors, the Five Nations, had forced them “to wear the petticoat,” that is, to be counted not as warriors but as women.  Johnson, in presence of all the Assembly, now took off the figurative garment, and pronounced them henceforth men.  A grand war-dance followed.  A hundred and fifty Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Delawares, Shawanoes, and Mohegans stamped, whooped, and yelled all night.[402]  In spite of Piquet, the two Joncaires, and the rest of the French agents, Johnson had achieved a success.  But would the Indians keep their word?  It was more than doubtful.  While some of them treated with him on the Mohawk, others treated with Vaudreuil at Montreal.[403]  A display of military vigor on the English side, crowned by some signal victory, would alone make their alliance sure.

[Footnote 402: Minutes of Councils at Fort Johnson, 9 July to 12 July, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 152-160.]

[Footnote 403: Conferences between M. de Vaudreuil and the Five Nations, 28 July to 20 Aug., in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 445-453.]


        It was not the French only who thwarted the efforts of Johnson; for while he strove to make friends of the Delawares and Shawanoes, Governor Morris of Pennsylvania declared war against them, and Governor Belcher of New Jersey followed his example; though persuaded at last to hold his hand till the baronet had tried the virtue of pacific measures.[404]

[Footnote 404: Johnson to Lords of Trade, 28 May, 1756. Ibid., 17 July, 1756. Johnson to Shirley, 24 April, 1756. Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 75, 88, 194.]


        What Shirley longed for was the collecting of a body of Five Nation warriors at Oswego to aid him in his cherished enterprise against Niagara and Frontenac.  The warriors had promised him to come; but there was small hope that they would do so.  Meanwhile he was at Albany pursuing his preparations, posting his scanty force in the forts newly built on the Mohawk and the Great Carrying Place, and sending forward stores and provisions.  Having no troops to spare for escorts, he invented a plan which, like everything he did, was bitterly criticised.  He took into pay two thousand boatmen, gathered from all parts of the country, including many whale-men from the eastern coasts of New England, divided them into companies of fifty, armed each with a gun and a hatchet, and placed them under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Bradstreet.[405]  Thus organized, they would, he hoped, require no escort.  Bradstreet was a New England officer who had been a captain in the last war, somewhat dogged and self-opinioned, but brave, energetic, and well fitted for this kind of service.

[Footnote 405: Shirley to Fox, 7 May, 1756. Shirley to Abercromby, 27 June, 1756. London to Fox, 19 Aug. 1756.]


        In May Vaudreuil sent Coulon de Villiers with eleven hundred soldiers, Canadians, and Indians, to harass Oswego and cut its communications with Albany.[406]  Nevertheless Bradstreet safely conducted a convoy of provisions and military stores to the garrison; and on the third of July set out on his return with the empty boats.  The party were pushing their way up the river in three divisions.  The first of these, consisting of a hundred boats and three hundred men, with Bradstreet at their head, were about nine miles from Oswego, when, at three in the afternoon, they received a heavy volley from the forest on the east bank.  It was fired by a part of Villiers' command, consisting, by English accounts, of about seven hundred men.  A considerable number of the boatmen were killed or disabled, and the others made for the shelter of the western shore.  Some prisoners were taken in the confusion; and if the French had been content to stop here, they might fairly have claimed a kind of victory; but, eager to push their advantage, they tried to cross under cover of an island just above.  Bradstreet saw the movement, and landed on the island with six or eight followers, among whom was young Captain Schuyler, afterwards General Schuyler of the Revolution.  Their fire kept the enemy in check till others joined them, to the number of about twenty.  These a second and a third time beat back the French, who now gave over the attempt, and made for another ford at some distance above.  Bradstreet saw their intention; and collecting two hundred and fifty men, was about to advance up the west bank to oppose them, when Dr. Kirkland, a surgeon, came to tell him that the second division of boats had come up, and that the men had landed.  Bradstreet ordered them to stay where they were, and defend the lower crossing: then hastened forward; but when he reached the upper ford, the French had passed the river, and were ensconced in a pine-swamp near the shore.  Here he attacked them; and both parties fired at each other from behind trees for an hour, with little effect.  Bradstreet at length encouraged his men to make a rush at the enemy, who were put to flight and driven into the river, where many were shot or drowned as they tried to cross.  Another party of the French had meanwhile passed by a ford still higher up to support their comrades; but the fight was over before they reached the spot, and they in their turn were set upon and driven back across the stream.  Half an hour after, Captain Patten arrived from Onondaga with the grenadiers of Shirley's regiment; and late in the evening two hundred men came from Oswego to reinforce the victors.  In the morning Bradstreet prepared to follow the French to their camp, twelve miles distant; but was prevented by a heavy rain which lasted all day.  On the Monday following, he and his men reached Albany, bringing two prisoners, eighty French muskets, and many knapsacks picked up in the woods.  He had lost between sixty and seventy killed, wounded, and taken.[407]

[Footnote 406: Détail de ce qui s'est passé en Canada, Oct. 1755 Juin, 1756.]

[Footnote 407: Letter of J. Choate, Albany, 12 July, 1756, in Massachusetts Archives, LV. Three Letters from Albany, July, Aug. 1756, in Doc. Hist, of N.Y., I. 482. Review of Military Operations. Shirley to Fox, 26 July, 1756. Abercromby to Sir Charles Hardy, 11 July, 1756. Niles, in Mass. His. Coll., Fourth Series, V. 417. Lossing, Life of Schuyler, I. 121 (1860). Mante, 60. Bradstreet's conduct on this occasion afterwards gained for him the warm praises of Wolfe.]


        This affair was trumpeted through Canada as a victory of the French.  Their notices of it are discordant, though very brief.  One of them says that Villiers had four hundred men.  Another gives him five hundred, and a third eight hundred, against fifteen hundred English, of whom they killed eight hundred, or an Englishman apiece.  A fourth writer boasts that six hundred Frenchmen killed nine hundred English.  A fifth contents himself with four hundred; but thinks that forty more would have been slain if the Indians had not fired too soon.  He says further that there were three hundred boats; and presently forgetting himself, adds that five hundred were taken or destroyed.  A sixth announces a great capture of stores and provisions, though all the boats were empty.  A seventh reports that the Canadians killed about three hundred, and would have killed more but for the bad quality of their tomahawks.  An eighth, with rare modesty, puts the English loss at fifty or sixty.  That of Villiers is given in every proportion of killed or wounded, from one up to ten.  Thus was Canada roused to martial ardor, and taught to look for future triumphs cheaply bought.[408]

[Footnote 408: Nouvelles du Camp établi au Portage de Chouaguen, première Relation. Ibid., Séconde Relation, 10 Juillet, 1756. Bougainville, Journal, who gives the report as he heard it Lettre du R.P. Cocquard, S.J., 1756. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 10 Juillet, 1756. Ursulines de Québec, II. 292. N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 434, 467, 477, 483. Some prisoners taken in the first attack were brought to Montreal, where their presence gave countenance to these fabrications.]


        The success of Bradstreet silenced for a time the enemies of Shirley.  His cares, however, redoubled.  He was anxious for Oswego, as the two prisoners declared that the French meant to attack it, instead of waiting to be attacked from it.  Nor was the news from that quarter reassuring.  The engineer, Mackellar, wrote that the works were incapable of defence; and Colonel Mercer, the commandant, reported general discontent in the garrison.[409]  Captain John Vicars, an invalid officer of Shirley's regiment, arrived at Albany with yet more deplorable accounts.  He had passed the winter at Oswego, where he declared the dearth of food to have been such that several councils of war had been held on the question of abandoning the place from sheer starvation.  More than half his regiment died of hunger or disease; and, in his own words, “had the poor fellows lived they must have eaten one another.”  Some of the men were lodged in barracks, though without beds, while many lay all winter in huts on the bare ground.  Scurvy and dysentery made frightful havoc.  “In January,” says Vicars, “we were informed by the Indians that we were to be attacked.  The garrison was then so weak that the strongest guard we proposed to mount was a subaltern and twenty men; but we were seldom able to mount more than sixteen or eighteen, and half of those were obliged to have sticks in their hands to support them.  The men were so weak that the sentries often fell down on their posts, and lay there till the relief came and lifted them up.”  His own company of fifty was reduced to ten.  The other regiment of the garrison, Pepperell's, or the fifty-first, was quartered at Fort Ontario, on the other side of the river; and being better sheltered, suffered less.

[Footnote 409: Mackellar to Shirley, June, 1756. Mercer to Shirley, 2 July, 1756.]


        The account given by Vicars of the state of the defences was scarcely more flattering.  He reported that the principal fort had no cannon on the side most exposed to attack.  Two pieces had been mounted on the trading-house in the centre; but as the concussion shook down the stones from the wall whenever they were fired, they had since been removed.  The second work, called Fort Ontario, he had not seen since it was finished, having been too ill to cross the river.  Of the third, called New Oswego, or “Fort Rascal,” he testifies thus: “It never was finished, and there were no loopholes in the stockades; so that they could not fire out of the fort but by opening the gate and firing out of that.”[410]

[Footnote 410: Information of Captain John Vicars, of the Fiftieth (Shirley's) Regiment, enclosed with a despatch of Lord Loudon. Vicars was a veteran British officer who left Oswego with Bradstreet on the third of July. Shirley to Loudon, 5 Sept. 1756.]


        Through the spring and early summer Shirley was gathering recruits, often of the meanest quality, and sending them to Oswego to fill out the two emaciated regiments.  The place must be defended at any cost.  Its fall would ruin not only the enterprise against Niagara and Frontenac, but also that against Ticonderoga and Crown Point; since, having nothing more to fear on Lake Ontario, the French could unite their whole force on Lake Champlain, whether for defence or attack.

        Towards the end of June Abercromby and Webb arrived at Albany, bringing a reinforcement of nine hundred regulars, consisting of Otway's regiment, or a part of it, and a body of Highlanders.  Shirley resigned his command, and Abercromby requested him to go to New York, wait there till Lord Loudon arrived, and lay before him the state of affairs.[411]  Shirley waited till the twenty-third of July, when the Earl at length appeared.  He was a rough Scotch lord, hot and irascible; and the communications of his predecessor, made, no doubt, in a manner somewhat pompous and self-satisfied, did not please him.  “I got from Major-General Shirley,” he says, “a few papers of very little use; only he insinuated to me that I would find everything prepared, and have nothing to do but to pull laurels; which I understand was his constant conversation before my arrival.”[412]

[Footnote 411: Shirley to Fox, 4 July, 1756.]

[Footnote 412: Loudon (to Fox?), 19 Aug. 1756.]


        Loudon sailed up the Hudson in no placid mood. On reaching Albany he abandoned the attempt against Niagara and Frontenac; and had resolved to turn his whole force against Ticonderoga, when he was met by an obstacle that both perplexed and angered him. By a royal order lately issued, all general and field officers with provincial commissions were to take rank only as eldest captains when serving in conjunction with regular troops.[413]  Hence the whole provincial army, as Winslow observes, might be put under the command of any British major.[414]  The announcement of this regulation naturally caused great discontent. The New England officers held a meeting, and voted with one voice that in their belief its enforcement would break up the provincial army and prevent the raising of another. Loudon, hearing of this, desired Winslow to meet him at Albany for a conference on the subject. Thither Winslow went with some of his chief officers. The Earl asked them to dinner, and there was much talk, with no satisfactory result; whereupon, somewhat chafed, he required Winslow to answer in writing, yes or no, whether the provincial officers would obey the commander-in-chief and act in conjunction with the regulars. Thus forced to choose between acquiescence and flat mutiny, they declared their submission to his orders, at the same time asking as a favor that they might be allowed to act independently; to which Loudon gave for the present an unwilling assent. Shirley, who, in spite of his removal from command, had the good of the service deeply at heart, was much troubled at this affair, and wrote strong letters to Winslow in the interest of harmony.[415]

[Footnote 413: Order concerning the Rank of Provincial General and Field Officers in North America. Given at our Court at Kensington, 12 May, 1756.]

[Footnote 414: Winslow to Shirley, 21 Aug. 1756.]

[Footnote 415: Correspondence of Loudon, Abercromby, and Shirley, July, Aug. 1756. Record of Meeting of Provincial Officers, July, 1756. Letter and Order Books of Winslow.]


        Loudon next proceeded to examine the state of the provincial forces, and sent Lieutenant-Colonel Burton, of the regulars, to observe and report upon it.  Winslow by this time had made a forward movement, and was now at Lake George with nearly half his command, while the rest were at Fort Edward under Lyman, or in detachments at Saratoga and the other small posts below.  Burton found Winslow's men encamped with their right on what are now the grounds of Fort William Henry Hotel, and their left extending southward between the mountain in their front and the marsh in their rear.  “There are here,” he reports, “about twenty-five hundred men, five hundred of them sick, the greatest part of them what they call poorly; they bury from five to eight daily, and officers in proportion; extremely indolent, and dirty to a degree.”  Then, in vernacular English, he describes the infectious condition of the fort, which was full of the sick.  “Their camp,” he proceeds, “is nastier than anything I could conceive; their––, kitchens, graves, and places for slaughtering cattle all mixed through their encampment; a great waste of provisions, the men having just what they please; no great command kept up.  Colonel Gridley governs the general; not in the least alert; only one advanced guard of a subaltern and twenty-four men.  The cannon and stores in great confusion.”  Of the camp at Fort Edward he gives a better account.  “It is much cleaner than at Fort William Henry, but not sufficiently so to keep the men healthy; a much better command kept up here.  General Lyman very ready to order out to work and to assist the engineers with any number of men they require, and keeps a succession of scouting-parties out towards Wood Creek and South Bay.”[416]

[Footnote 416: Burton to Loudon, 27 Aug. 1756.]


        The prejudice of the regular officer may have colored the picture, but it is certain that the sanitary condition of the provincial camps was extremely bad.  “A grievous sickness among the troops,” writes a Massachusetts surgeon at Fort Edward; “we bury five or six a day.  Not more than two thirds of our army fit for duty.  Long encampments are the bane of New England men.”[417]  Like all raw recruits, they did not know how to take care of themselves; and their officers had not the experience, knowledge, or habit of command to enforce sanitary rules.  The same evils were found among the Canadians when kept long in one place.  Those in the camp of Villiers are reported at this time as nearly all sick.[418]

[Footnote 417: Dr. Thomas Williams to Colonel Israel Williams, 28 Aug. 1756.]

[Footnote 418: Bougainville, Journal.]


        Another penman, very different from the military critic, was also on the spot, noting down every day what he saw and felt.  This was John Graham, minister of Suffield, in Connecticut, and now chaplain of Lyman's regiment.  His spirit, by nature far from buoyant, was depressed by bodily ailments, and still more by the extremely secular character of his present surroundings.  It appears by his Diary that he left home “under great exercise of mind,” and was detained at Albany for a time, being, as he says, taken with an ague-fit and a quinsy; but at length he reached the camp at Fort Edward, where deep despondency fell upon him.  “Labor under great discouragements,” says the Diary, under date of July twenty-eighth; “for find my business but mean in the esteem of many, and think there's not much for a chaplain to do.”  Again, Tuesday, August seventeenth: “Breakfasted this morning with the General.  But a graceless meal; never a blessing asked, nor thanks given.  At the evening sacrifice a more open scene of wickedness.  The General and head officers, with some of the regular officers, in General Lyman's tent, within four rods of the place of public prayers.  None came to prayers; but they fixed a table without the door of the tent, where a head colonel was posted to make punch in the sight of all, they within drinking, talking, and laughing during the whole of the service, to the disturbance and disaffection of most present.  This was not only a bare neglect, but an open contempt, of the worship of God by the heads of this army.  'Twas but last Sabbath that General Lyman spent the time of divine service in the afternoon in his tent, drinking in company with Mr. Gordon, a regular officer.  I have oft heard cursing and swearing in his presence by some provincial field-officers, but never heard a reproof nor so much as a check to them come from his mouth, though he never uses such language himself.  Lord, what is man!  Truly, the May-game of Fortune!  Lord, make me know my duty, and what I ought to do!”

        That night his sleep was broken and his soul troubled by angry voices under his window, where one Colonel Glasier was berating, in unhallowed language, the captain of the guard; and here the chaplain's Journal abruptly ends.[419]

[Footnote 419: I owe to my friend George S. Hale, Esq., the opportunity of examining the autograph Journal; it has since been printed in the Magazine of American History for March, 1882.]


        A brother minister, bearing no likeness to the worthy Graham, appeared on the same spot some time after.  This was Chaplain William Crawford, of Worcester, who, having neglected to bring money to the war, suffered much annoyance, aggravated by what he thought a want of due consideration for his person and office.  His indignation finds vent in a letter to his townsman, Timothy Paine, member of the General Court: “No man can reasonably expect that I can with any propriety discharge the duty of a chaplain when I have nothing either to eat or drink, nor any conveniency to write a line other than to sit down upon a stump and put a piece of paper upon my knee.  As for Mr. Weld [another chaplain], he is easy and silent whatever treatment he meets with, and I suppose they thought to find me the same easy and ductile person; but may the wide yawning earth devour me first!  The state of the camp is just such as one at home would guess it to be,—nothing but a hurry and confusion of vice and wickedness, with a stygian atmosphere to breathe in.”[420]  The vice and wickedness of which he complains appear to have consisted in a frequent infraction of the standing order against “Curseing and Swareing,” as well as of that which required attendance on daily prayers, and enjoined “the people to appear in a decent manner, clean and shaved,” at the two Sunday sermons.[421]

[Footnote 420: The autograph letter is in Massachusetts Archives, LVI. no. 142. The same volume contains a letter from Colonel Frye, of Massachusetts, in which he speaks of the forlorn condition in which Chaplain Weld reached the camp. Of Chaplain Crawford, he says that he came decently clothed, but without bed or blanket, till he, Frye, lent them to him, and got Captain Learned to take him into his tent. Chaplains usually had a separate tent, or shared that of the colonel.]

[Footnote 421: Letter and Order Books of Winslow.]


        At the beginning of August Winslow wrote to the committees of the several provinces: “It looks as if it won't be long before we are fit for a remove,”—that is, for an advance on Ticonderoga.  On the twelfth Loudon sent Webb with the forty-fourth regiment and some of Bradstreet's boatmen to reinforce Oswego.[422]  They had been ready for a month; but confusion and misunderstanding arising from the change of command had prevented their departure.[423]  Yet the utmost anxiety had prevailed for the safety of that important post, and on the twenty-eighth Surgeon Thomas Williams wrote: “Whether Oswego is yet ours is uncertain.  Would hope it is, as the reverse would be such a terrible shock as the country never felt, and may be a sad omen of what is coming upon poor sinful New England.  Indeed we can't expect anything but to be severely chastened till we are humbled for our pride and haughtiness.”[424]

[Footnote 422: Loudon (to Fox?), 19 Aug. 1756.]

[Footnote 423: Conduct of Major-General Shirley briefly stated. Shirley to Loudon, 4 Sept. 1756. Shirley to Fox, 16 Sept. 1756.]

[Footnote 424: Thomas Williams to Colonel Israel Williams, 28 Aug. 1756.]


        His foreboding proved true.  Webb had scarcely reached the Great Carrying Place, when tidings of disaster fell upon him like a thunderbolt.  The French had descended in force upon Oswego, taken it with all its garrison; and, as report ran, were advancing into the province, six thousand strong.  Wood Creek had just been cleared, with great labor, of the trees that choked it.  Webb ordered others to be felled and thrown into the stream to stop the progress of the enemy; then, with shameful precipitation, he burned the forts of the Carrying Place, and retreated down the Mohawk to German Flats.  Loudon ordered Winslow to think no more of Ticonderoga, but to stay where he was and hold the French in check.  All was astonishment and dismay at the sudden blow.  “Oswego has changed masters, and I think we may justly fear that the whole of our country will soon follow, unless a merciful God prevent, and awake a sinful people to repentance and reformation.”  Thus wrote Dr. Thomas Williams to his wife from the camp at Fort Edward.  “Such a shocking affair has never found a place in English annals,” wrote the surgeon's young relative, Colonel William Williams.  “The loss is beyond account; but the dishonor done His Majesty's arms is infinitely greater.”[425]  It remains to see how the catastrophe befell.

[Footnote 425: Colonel William Williams to Colonel Israel Williams, 30 Aug. 1756.]


        Since Vaudreuil became chief of the colony he had nursed the plan of seizing Oswego, yet hesitated to attempt it.  Montcalm declares that he confirmed the Governor's wavering purpose; but Montcalm himself had hesitated.  In July, however, there came exaggerated reports that the English were moving upon Ticonderoga in greatly increased numbers; and both Vaudreuil and the General conceived that a feint against Oswego would draw off the strength of the assailants, and, if promptly and secretly executed, might even be turned successfully into a real attack.  Vaudreuil thereupon recalled Montcalm from Ticonderoga.[426]  Leaving the post in the keeping of Lévis and three thousand men, he embarked on Lake Champlain, rowed day and night, and reached Montreal on the nineteenth.  Troops were arriving from Quebec, and Indians from the far west.  A band of Menomonies from beyond Lake Michigan, naked, painted, plumed, greased, stamping, uttering sharp yelps, shaking feathered lances, brandishing tomahawks, danced the war-dance before the Governor, to the thumping of the Indian drum.  Bougainville looked on astonished, and thought of the Pyrrhic dance of the Greeks.

[Footnote 426: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 12 Août, 1756. Montcalm à sa Femme, 20 Juillet, 1756.]


        Montcalm and he left Montreal on the twenty-first, and reached Fort Frontenac in eight days.  Rigaud, brother of the Governor, had gone thither some time before, and crossed with seven hundred Canadians to the south side of the lake, where Villiers was encamped at Niaouré Bay, now Sackett's Harbor, with such of his detachment as war and disease had spared.  Rigaud relieved him, and took command of the united bands.  With their aid the engineer, Descombles, reconnoitred the English forts, and came back with the report that success was certain.[427]  It was but a confirmation of what had already been learned from deserters and prisoners, who declared that the main fort was but a loopholed wall held by six or seven hundred men, ill fed, discontented, and mutinous.[428]  Others said that they had been driven to desert by the want of good food, and that within a year twelve hundred men had died of disease at Oswego.[429]

[Footnote 427: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 4 Août, 1756. Vaudreuil à Bourlamaque, Juin, 1756.]

[Footnote 428: Bougainville, Journal.]

[Footnote 429: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 10 Juillet, 1756. Résumé des Nouvelles du Canada, Sept. 1756.]


        The battalions of La Sarre, Guienne, and Béarn, with the colony regulars, a body of Canadians, and about two hundred and fifty Indians, were destined for the enterprise.  The whole force was a little above three thousand, abundantly supplied with artillery.  La Sarre and Guienne were already at Fort Frontenac.  Béarn was at Niagara, whence it arrived in a few days, much buffeted by the storms of Lake Ontario.  On the fourth of August all was ready.  Montcalm embarked at night with the first division, crossed in darkness to Wolf Island, lay there hidden all day, and embarking again in the evening, joined Rigaud at Niaouré Bay at seven o'clock in the morning of the sixth.  The second division followed, with provisions, hospital train, and eighty artillery boats; and on the eighth all were united at the bay.  On the ninth Rigaud, covered by the universal forest, marched in advance to protect the landing of the troops.  Montcalm followed with the first division; and, coasting the shore in bateaux, landed at midnight of the tenth within half a league of the first English fort.  Four cannon were planted in battery upon the strand, and the men bivouacked by their boats.  So skilful were the assailants and so careless the assailed that the English knew nothing of their danger, till in the morning, a reconnoitring canoe discovered the invaders.  Two armed vessels soon came to cannonade them; but their light guns were no match for the heavy artillery of the French, and they were forced to keep the offing.

        Descombles, the engineer, went before dawn to reconnoitre the fort, with several other officers and a party of Indians.  While he was thus employed, one of these savages, hungry for scalps, took him in the gloom for an Englishman, and shot him dead.  Captain Pouchot, of the battalion of Béarn, replaced him; and the attack was pushed vigorously.  The Canadians and Indians, swarming through the forest, fired all day on the fort under cover of the trees.  The second division came up with twenty-two more cannon; and at night the first parallel was marked out at a hundred and eighty yards from the rampart.  Stumps were grubbed up, fallen trunks shoved aside, and a trench dug, sheltered by fascines, gabions, and a strong abattis.

        Fort Ontario, counted as the best of the three forts at Oswego, stood on a high plateau at the east or right side of the river where it entered the lake.  It was in the shape of a star, and was formed of trunks of trees set upright in the ground, hewn flat on two sides, and closely fitted together,—an excellent defence against musketry or swivels, but worthless against cannon.  The garrison, three hundred and seventy in all, were the remnant of Pepperell's regiment, joined to raw recruits lately sent up to fill the places of the sick and dead.  They had eight small cannon and a mortar, with which on the next day, Friday, the thirteenth, they kept up a brisk fire till towards night; when, after growing more rapid for a time, it ceased, and the fort showed no sign of life.  Not a cannon had yet opened on them from the trenches; but it was certain that with the French artillery once in action, their wooden rampart would be shivered to splinters.  Hence it was that Colonel Mercer, commandant at Oswego, thinking it better to lose the fort than to lose both fort and garrison, signalled to them from across the river to abandon their position and join him on the other side.  Boats were sent to bring them off; and they passed over unmolested, after spiking their cannon and firing off their ammunition or throwing it into the well.

        The fate of Oswego was now sealed.  The principal work, called Old Oswego, or Fort Pepperell, stood at the mouth of the river on the west side, nearly opposite Fort Ontario, and less than five hundred yards distant from it.  The trading-house, which formed the centre of the place, was built of rough stone laid in clay, and the wall which enclosed it was of the same materials; both would crumble in an instant at the touch of a twelve-pound shot.  Towards the west and south they had been protected by an outer line of earthworks, mounted with cannon, and forming an entrenched camp; while the side towards Fort Ontario was left wholly exposed, in the rash confidence that this work, standing on the opposite heights, would guard against attack from that quarter.  On a hill, a fourth of a mile beyond Old Oswego, stood the unfinished stockade called New Oswego, Fort George, or, by reason of its worthlessness, Fort Rascal.  It had served as a cattle pen before the French appeared, but was now occupied by a hundred and fifty Jersey provincials.  Old Oswego with its outwork was held by Shirley's regiment, chiefly invalids and raw recruits, to whom were now joined the garrison of Fort Ontario and a number of sailors, boatmen, and laborers.

        Montcalm lost no time.  As soon as darkness set in he began a battery at the brink of the height on which stood the captured fort.  His whole force toiled all night, digging, setting gabions, and dragging up cannon, some of which had been taken from Braddock.  Before daybreak twenty heavy pieces had been brought to the spot, and nine were already in position.  The work had been so rapid that the English imagined their enemies to number six thousand at least.  The battery soon opened fire.  Grape and round shot swept the intrenchment and crashed through the rotten masonry.  The English, says a French officer, “were exposed to their shoe-buckles.”  Their artillery was pointed the wrong way, in expectation of an attack, not from the east, but from the west.  They now made a shelter of pork-barrels, three high and three deep, planted cannon behind them, and returned the French fire with some effect.

        Early in the morning Montcalm had ordered Rigaud to cross the river with the Canadians and Indians.  There was a ford three quarters of a league above the forts;[430] and here they passed over unopposed, the English not having discovered the movement.[431]  The only danger was from the river.  Some of the men were forced to swim, others waded to the waist, others to the neck; but they all crossed safely, and presently showed themselves at the edge of the woods, yelling and firing their guns, too far for much execution, but not too far to discourage the garrison.

[Footnote 430: Bougainville, Journal.]

[Footnote 431: Pouchot, I. 76.]


        The garrison were already disheartened.  Colonel Mercer, the soul of the defence, had just been cut in two by a cannon-shot while directing the gunners.  Up to this time the defenders had behaved with spirit; but despair now seized them, increased by the screams and entreaties of the women, of whom there were more than a hundred in the place.  There was a council of officers, and then the white flag was raised.  Bougainville went to propose terms of capitulation.  “The cries, threats, and hideous howling of our Canadians and Indians,” says Vaudreuil, “made them quickly decide.”  “This,” observes the Reverend Father Claude Godefroy Cocquard, “reminds me of the fall of Jericho before the shouts of the Israelites.”  The English surrendered prisoners of war, to the number, according to the Governor, of sixteen hundred,[432] which included the sailors, laborers, and women.  The Canadians and Indians broke through all restraint, and fell to plundering.  There was an opening of rum-barrels and a scene of drunkenness, in which some of the prisoners had their share; while others tried to escape in the confusion, and were tomahawked by the excited savages.  Many more would have been butchered, but for the efforts of Montcalm, who by unstinted promises succeeded in appeasing his ferocious allies, whom he dared not offend.  “It will cost the King,” he says, “eight or ten thousand livres in presents.”[433]

[Footnote 432: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 20 Août, 1756. He elsewhere makes the number somewhat greater. That the garrison, exclusive of civilians, did not exceed at the utmost fourteen hundred, is shown by Shirley to Loudon, 5 Sept. 1756. Loudon had charged Shirley with leaving Oswego weakly garrisoned; and Shirley replies by alleging that the troops there were in the number as above. It was of course his interest to make them appear as numerous as possible. In the printed Conduct of Major-General Shirley briefly stated, they are put at only ten hundred and fifty.]

[Footnote 433: Several English writers say, however, that fifteen or twenty young men were given up to the Indians to be adopted in place of warriors lately killed.]


        The loss on both sides is variously given.  By the most trustworthy accounts, that of the English did not reach fifty killed, and that of the French was still less.  In the forts and vessels were found above a hundred pieces of artillery, most of them swivels and other light guns, with a large quantity of powder, shot, and shell.  The victors burned the forts and the vessels on the stocks, destroyed such provisions and stores as they could not carry away, and made the place a desert.  The priest Piquet, who had joined the expedition, planted amid the ruin a tall cross, graven with the words, In hoc signo vincunt; and near it was set a pole bearing the arms of France, with the inscription, Manibus date lilia plenis.  Then the army decamped, loaded with prisoners and spoil, descended to Montreal, hung the captured flags in the churches, and sang Te Deum in honor of their triumph.

        It was the greatest that the French arms had yet achieved in America.  The defeat of Braddock was an Indian victory; this last exploit was the result of bold enterprise and skilful tactics.  With its laurels came its fruits.  Hated Oswego had been laid in ashes, and the would-be assailants forced to a vain and hopeless defence.  France had conquered the undisputed command of Lake Ontario, and her communications with the West were safe.  A small garrison at Niagara and another at Frontenac would now hold those posts against any effort that the English could make this year; and the whole French force could concentrate at Ticonderoga, repel the threatened attack, and perhaps retort it by seizing Albany.  If the English, on the other side, had lost a great material advantage, they had lost no less in honor.  The news of the surrender was received with indignation in England and in the colonies.  Yet the behaviour of the garrison was not so discreditable as it seemed.  The position was indefensible, and they could have held out at best but a few days more.  They yielded too soon; but unless Webb had come to their aid, which was not to be expected, they must have yielded at last.

        The French had scarcely gone, when two English scouts, Thomas Harris and James Conner, came with a party of Indians to the scene of desolation.  The ground was strewn with broken casks and bread sodden with rain.  The remains of burnt bateaux and whaleboats were scattered along the shore.  The great stone trading-house in the old fort was a smoking ruin; Fort Rascal was still burning on the neighboring hill; Fort Ontario was a mass of ashes and charred logs, and by it stood two poles on which were written words which the visitors did not understand.  They went back to Fort Johnson with their story; and Oswego reverted for a time to the bears, foxes, and wolves.[434]

[Footnote 434: On the capture of Oswego, the authorities examined have been very numerous, and only the best need be named. Livre d'Ordres, Campagne de 1756, contains all orders from headquarters. Mémoires pour servir d'Instruction à M. le Marquis de Montcalm, 21 Juillet; 1756, signé Vaudreuil. Bougainville, Journal. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 15 Juin, 1756 (designs against Oswego). Ibid., 13 Août, 1755. Ibid., 30 Août. Pouchot, I. 67-81. Relation de la Prise des Forts de Chouaguen. Bigot au Ministre, 3 Sept. 1756 Journal du Siége de Chouaguen. Précis des Événements, 1756. Montcalm au Ministre, 20 Juillet, 1756. Ibid., 28 Août, 1756. Desandrouins à––, même date. Montcalm à sa Femme, 30 Août. Translations of several of the above papers, along with others less important, will be found in N.Y. Col. Docs., X., and Doc. Hist. N.Y., I.

State of Facts relating to the Loss of Oswego, in London Magazine for 1757, p. 14. Correspondence of Shirley. Correspondence of Loudon. Littlehales to Loudon, 30 Aug. 1756. Hardy to Lords of Trade, 5 Sept. 1756. Conduct of Major-General Shirley briefly stated. Declaration of some Soldiers of Shirley's Regiment, in N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 126. Letter from an officer present, in Boston Evening Post of 16 May, 1757. The published plans and drawings of Oswego at this time are very inexact.]


Table of Contents



Chapter 13

1756, 1757


Partisan War


        Shirley's grand scheme for cutting New France in twain had come to wreck.  There was an element of boyishness in him.  He made bold plans without weighing too closely his means of executing them.  The year's campaign would in all likelihood have succeeded if he could have acted promptly; if he had had ready to his hand a well-trained and well-officered force, furnished with material of war and means of transportation, and prepared to move as soon as the streams and lakes of New York were open, while those of Canada were still sealed with ice.  But timely action was out of his power.  The army that should have moved in April was not ready to move till August.  Of the nine discordant semi-republics whom he asked to join in the work, three or four refused, some of the others were lukewarm, and all were slow.  Even Massachusetts, usually the foremost, failed to get all her men into the field till the season was nearly ended.  Having no military establishment, the colonies were forced to improvise a new army for every campaign.  Each of them watched its neighbors, or, jealous lest it should do more than its just share, waited for them to begin.  Each popular assembly acted under the eye of a frugal constituency, who, having little money, were as chary of it as their descendants are lavish; and most of them were shaken by internal conflicts, more absorbing than the great question on which hung the fate of the continent.  Only the four New England colonies were fully earnest for the war, and one, even of these, was ready to use the crisis as a means of extorting concessions from its Governor in return for grants of money and men.  When the lagging contingents came together at last, under a commander whom none of them trusted, they were met by strategical difficulties which would have perplexed older soldiers and an abler general; for they were forced to act on the circumference of a vast semicircle, in a labyrinth of forests, without roads, and choked with every kind of obstruction.

        Opposed to them was a trained army, well organized and commanded, focused at Montreal, and moving for attack or defence on two radiating lines,—one towards Lake Ontario, and the other towards Lake Champlain,—supported by a martial peasantry, supplied from France with money and material, dependent on no popular vote, having no will but that of its chief, and ready on the instant to strike to right or left as the need required.  It was a compact military absolutism confronting a heterogeneous group of industrial democracies, where the force of numbers was neutralized by diffusion and incoherence.  A long and dismal apprenticeship waited them before they could hope for success; nor could they ever put forth their full strength without a radical change of political conditions and an awakened consciousness of common interests and a common cause.  It was the sense of powerlessness arising from the want of union that, after the fall of Oswego, spread alarm through the northern and middle colonies, and drew these desponding words from William Livingston, of New Jersey: “The colonies are nearly exhausted, and their funds already anticipated by expensive unexecuted projects.  Jealous are they of each other; some ill-constituted, others shaken with intestine divisions, and, if I may be allowed the expression, parsimonious even to prodigality.  Our assemblies are diffident of their governors, governors despise their assemblies; and both mutually misrepresent each other to the Court of Great Britain.”  Military measures, he proceeds, demand secrecy and despatch; but when so many divided provinces must agree to join in them, secrecy and despatch are impossible.  In conclusion he exclaims: “Canada must be demolished, —Delenda est Carthago,—or we are undone.”[435]  But Loudon was not Scipio, and cis-Atlantic Carthage was to stand for some time longer.

[Footnote 435: Review of Military Operations, 187, 189 (Dublin, 1757).]


        The Earl, in search of a scapegoat for the loss of Oswego, naturally chose Shirley, attacked him savagely, told him that he was of no use in America, and ordered him to go home to England without delay.[436]  Shirley, who was then in Boston, answered this indecency with dignity and effect.[437]  The chief fault was with Loudon himself, whose late arrival in America had caused a change of command and of plans in the crisis of the campaign.  Shirley well knew the weakness of Oswego; and in early spring had sent two engineers to make it defensible, with particular instructions to strengthen Fort Ontario.[438]  But they, thinking that the chief danger lay on the west and south, turned all their attention thither, and neglected Ontario till it was too late.  Shirley was about to reinforce Oswego with a strong body of troops when the arrival of Abercromby took the control out of his hands and caused ruinous delay.  He cannot, however, be acquitted of mismanagement in failing to supply the place with wholesome provisions in the preceding autumn, before the streams were stopped with ice.  Hence came the ravages of disease and famine which, before spring, reduced the garrison to a hundred and forty effective men.  Yet there can be no doubt that the change of command was a blunder.  This is the view of Franklin, who knew Shirley well, and thus speaks of him: “He would in my opinion, if continued in place, have made a much better campaign than that of Loudon, which was frivolous, expensive, and disgraceful to our nation beyond conception.  For though Shirley was not bred a soldier, he was sensible and sagacious in himself, and attentive to good advice from others, capable of forming judicious plans, and quick and active in carrying them into execution.”[439]  He sailed for England in the autumn, disappointed and poor; the bull-headed Duke of Cumberland had been deeply prejudiced against him, and it was only after long waiting that this strenuous champion of British interests was rewarded in his old age with the petty government of the Bahamas.

[Footnote 436: Loudon to Shirley, 6 Sept. 1756.]

[Footnote 437: The correspondence on both sides is before me, copied from the originals in the Public Record Office.]

[Footnote 438: “The principal thing for which I sent Mr. Mackellar to Oswego was to strengthen Fort Ontario as much as he possibly could.”  Shirley to Loudon, 4 Sept. 1756.]

[Footnote 439: Works of Franklin, I. 220.]


        Loudon had now about ten thousand men at his command, though not all fit for duty.  They were posted from Albany to Lake George.  The Earl himself was at Fort Edward, while about three thousand of the provincials still lay, under Winslow, at the lake.  Montcalm faced them at Ticonderoga, with five thousand three hundred regulars and Canadians, in a position where they could defy three times their number.[440]  “The sons of Belial are too strong for me,” jocosely wrote Winslow;[441] and he set himself to intrenching his camp; then had the forest cut down for the space of a mile from the lake to the mountains, so that the trees, lying in what he calls a “promiscuous manner,” formed an almost impenetrable abatis.  An escaped prisoner told him that the French were coming to visit him with fourteen thousand men;[442] but Montcalm thought no more of stirring than Loudon himself; and each stood watching the other, with the lake between them, till the season closed.

[Footnote 440: “Nous sommes tant à Carillon qu'aux postes avancés 5,300 hommes.”  Bougainville, Journal.]

[Footnote 441: Winslow to Loudon, 29 Sept. 1756.]

[Footnote 442: Examination of Sergeant James Archibald.]


        Meanwhile the western borders were still ravaged by the tomahawk.  New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia all writhed under the infliction.  Each had made a chain of blockhouses and wooden forts to cover its frontier, and manned them with disorderly bands, lawless, and almost beyond control.[443]  The case was at the worst in Pennsylvania, where the tedious quarrelling of Governor and Assembly, joined to the doggedly pacific attitude of the Quakers, made vigorous defence impossible.  Rewards were offered for prisoners and scalps, so bountiful that the hunting of men would have been a profitable vocation, but for the extreme wariness and agility of the game.[444]  Some of the forts were well built stockades; others were almost worthless; but the enemy rarely molested even the feeblest of them, preferring to ravage the lonely and unprotected farms.  There were two or three exceptions.  A Virginian fort was attacked by a war-party under an officer named Douville, who was killed, and his followers were put to flight.[445]  The assailants were more fortunate at a small stockade called Fort Granville, on the Juniata.  A large body of French and Indians attacked it in August while most of the garrison were absent protecting the farmers at their harvest; they set it on fire, and, in spite of a most gallant resistance by the young lieutenant left in command, took it, and killed all but one of the defenders.[446]

[Footnote 443: In the public Record Office, America and West Indies, LXXXII., is a manuscript map showing the positions of such of these posts as were north of Virginia. They are thirty-five in number, from the head of James River to a point west of Esopus, on the Hudson.]

[Footnote 444: Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 76.]

[Footnote 445: Washington to Morris,—April, 1756.]

[Footnote 446: Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 232, 242; Pennsylvania Archives, II. 744.]


        What sort of resistance the Pennsylvanian borderers would have made under political circumstances less adverse may be inferred from an exploit of Colonel John Armstrong, a settler of Cumberland.  After the loss of Fort Granville the Governor of the province sent him with three hundred men to attack the Delaware town of Kittanning, a populous nest of savages on the Alleghany, between the two French posts of Duquesne and Venango.  Here most of the war-parties were fitted out, and the place was full of stores and munitions furnished by the French.  Here, too, lived the redoubted chief called Captain Jacobs, the terror of the English border.  Armstrong set out from Fort Shirley, the farthest outpost, on the last of August, and, a week after, was within six miles of the Indian town.  By rapid marching and rare good luck, his party had escaped discovery.  It was ten o'clock at night, with a bright moon.  The guides were perplexed, and knew neither the exact position of the place nor the paths that led to it.  The adventurers threaded the forest in single file, over hills and through hollows, bewildered and anxious, stopping to watch and listen.  At length they heard in the distance the beating of an Indian drum and the whooping of warriors in the war-dance.  Guided by the sounds, they cautiously moved forward, till those in the front, scrambling down a rocky hill, found themselves on the banks of the Alleghany, about a hundred rods below Kittanning.  The moon was near setting; but they could dimly see the town beyond a great intervening field of corn.  “At that moment,” says Armstrong, “an Indian whistled in a very singular manner, about thirty perches from our front, in the foot of the cornfield.”  He thought they were discovered; but one Baker, a soldier well versed in Indian ways, told him that it was only some village gallant calling to a young squaw.  The party then crouched in the bushes, and kept silent.  The moon sank behind the woods, and fires soon glimmered through the field, kindled to drive off mosquitoes by some of the Indians who, as the night was warm, had come out to sleep in the open air.  The eastern sky began to redden with the approach of day.  Many of the party, spent with a rough march of thirty miles, had fallen asleep.  They were now cautiously roused; and Armstrong ordered nearly half of them to make their way along the ridge of a bushy hill that overlooked the town, till they came opposite to it, in order to place it between two fires.  Twenty minutes were allowed them for the movement; but they lost their way in the dusk, and reached their station too late.  When the time had expired, Armstrong gave the signal to those left with him, who dashed into the cornfield, shooting down the astonished savages or driving them into the village, where they turned and made desperate fight.

        It was a cluster of thirty log-cabins, the principal being that of the chief, Jacobs, which was loopholed for musketry, and became the centre of resistance.  The fight was hot and stubborn.  Armstrong ordered the town to be set on fire, which was done, though not without loss; for the Delawares at this time were commonly armed with rifles, and used them well.  Armstrong himself was hit in the shoulder.  As the flames rose and the smoke grew thick, a warrior in one of the houses sang his death-song, and a squaw in the same house was heard to cry and scream.  Rough voices silenced her, and then the inmates burst out, but were instantly killed.  The fire caught the house of Jacobs, who, trying to escape through an opening in the roof, was shot dead.  Bands of Indians were gathering beyond the river, firing from the other bank, and even crossing to help their comrades; but the assailants held to their work till the whole place was destroyed.  “During the burning of the houses,” says Armstrong, “we were agreeably entertained by the quick succession of charged guns, gradually firing off as reached by the fire; but much more so with the vast explosion of sundry bags and large kegs of gunpowder, wherewith almost every house abounded; the prisoners afterwards informing us that the Indians had frequently said they had a sufficient stock of ammunition for ten years' war with the English.”

        These prisoners were eleven men, women, and children, captured in the border settlements, and now delivered by their countrymen.  The day was far spent when the party withdrew, carrying their wounded on Indian horses, and moving perforce with extreme slowness, though expecting an attack every moment.  None took place; and they reached the settlements at last, having bought their success with the loss of seventeen killed and thirteen wounded.[447]  A medal was given to each officer, not by the Quaker-ridden Assembly, but by the city council of Philadelphia.

[Footnote 447: Report of Armstrong to Governor Denny, 14 Sept. 1756, in Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 257,—a modest yet very minute account. A list of the Names of the Persons killed, wounded, and missing in the late Expedition against the Kittanning. Hazard, Pennsylvania Register, I. 366.]


        The report of this affair made by Dumas, commandant at Fort Duquesne, is worth noting.  He says that Attiqué, the French name of Kittanning, was attacked by “le Général Wachinton,” with three or four hundred men on horseback; that the Indians gave way; but that five or six Frenchmen who were in the town held the English in check till the fugitives rallied; that Washington and his men then took to flight, and would have been pursued but for the loss of some barrels of gunpowder which chanced to explode during the action.  Dumas adds that several large parties are now on the track of the enemy, and he hopes will cut them to pieces.  He then asks for a supply of provisions and merchandise to replace those which the Indians of Attiqué had lost by a fire.[448]  Like other officers of the day, he would admit nothing but successes in the department under his command.

[Footnote 448: Dumas à Vaudreuil, 9 Sept. 1756, cited in Bigot au Ministre, 6 Oct. 1756, and in Bougainville, Journal.]


        Vaudreuil wrote singular despatches at this time to the minister at Versailles.  He takes credit to himself for the number of war-parties that his officers kept always at work, and fills page after page with details of the coups they had struck; how one brought in two English scalps, another three, another one, and another seven.  He owns that they committed frightful cruelties, mutilating and sometimes burning their prisoners; but he expresses no regret, and probably felt none, since he declares that the object of this murderous warfare was to punish the English till they longed for peace.[449]

[Footnote 449: Dépêches de Vaudreuil, 1756.]


        The waters and mountains of Lake George, and not the western borders, were the chief centre of partisan war.  Ticonderoga was a hornet's nest, pouring out swarms of savages to infest the highways and byways of the wilderness.  The English at Fort William Henry, having few Indians, could not retort in kind; but they kept their scouts and rangers in active movement.  What they most coveted was prisoners, as sources of information.  One Kennedy, a lieutenant of provincials, with five followers, white and red, made a march of rare audacity, passed all the French posts, took a scalp and two prisoners on the Richelieu, and burned a magazine of provisions between Montreal and St. John.  The party were near famishing on the way back; and Kennedy was brought into Fort William Henry in a state of temporary insanity from starvation.[450]  Other provincial officers, Peabody, Hazen, Waterbury, and Miller, won a certain distinction in this adventurous service, though few were so conspicuous as the blunt and sturdy Israel Putnam.  Winslow writes in October that he has just returned from the best “scout” yet made, and that, being a man of strict truth, he may be entirely trusted.[451]  Putnam had gone with six followers down Lake George in a whale-boat to a point on the east side, opposite the present village of Hague, hid the boat, crossed northeasterly to Lake Champlain, three miles from the French fort, climbed the mountain that overlooks it, and made a complete reconnoissance; then approached it, chased three Frenchmen, who escaped within the lines, climbed the mountain again, and moving westward along the ridge, made a minute survey of every outpost between the fort and Lake George.[452]  These adventures were not always fortunate.  On the nineteenth of September Captain Hodges and fifty men were ambushed a few miles from Fort William Henry by thrice their number of Canadians and Indians, and only six escaped.  Thus the record stands in the Letter Book of Winslow.[453]  By visiting the encampments of Ticonderoga, one may learn how the blow was struck.

[Footnote 450: Minute of Lieutenant Kennedy's Scout. Winslow to Loudon, 20 Sept. 1756.]

[Footnote 451: Winslow to Loudon, 16 Oct. 1756.]

[Footnote 452: Report of a Scout to Ticonderoga, Oct. 1756, signed Israel Putnam.]

[Footnote 453: Compare Massachusetts Archives, LXXVI. 81.]


        After much persuasion, much feasting, and much consumption of tobacco and brandy, four hundred Indians, Christians from the Missions and heathen from the far west, were persuaded to go on a grand war-party with the Canadians.  Of these last there were a hundred,—a wild crew, bedecked and bedaubed like their Indian companions.  Perière, an officer of colony regulars, had nominal command of the whole; and among the leaders of the Canadians was the famous bushfighter, Marin.  Bougainville was also of the party.  In the evening of the sixteenth they all embarked in canoes at the French advance-post commanded by Contrecoeur, near the present steamboat-landing, passed in the gloom under the bare steeps of Rogers Rock, paddled a few hours, landed on the west shore, and sent scouts to reconnoitre.  These came back with their reports on the next day, and an Indian crier called the chiefs to council.  Bougainville describes them as they stalked gravely to the place of meeting, wrapped in colored blankets, with lances in their hands.  The accomplished young aide-de-camp studied his strange companions with an interest not unmixed with disgust.  “Of all caprice,” he says, “Indian caprice is the most capricious.”  They were insolent to the French, made rules for them which they did not observe themselves, and compelled the whole party to move when and whither they pleased.  Hiding the canoes, and lying close in the forest by day, they all held their nocturnal course southward, by the lofty heights of Black Mountain, and among the islets of the Narrows, till the eighteenth.  That night the Indian scouts reported that they had seen the fires of an encampment on the west shore; on which the whole party advanced to the attack, an hour before dawn, filing silently under the dark arches of the forest, the Indians nearly naked, and streaked with their war-paint of vermilion and soot.  When they reached the spot they found only the smouldering fires of a deserted bivouac.  Then there was a consultation; ending, after much dispute, with the choice by the Indians of a hundred and ten of their most active warriors to attempt some stroke in the neighborhood of the English fort.  Marin joined them with thirty Canadians, and they set out on their errand; while the rest encamped to await the result.  At night the adventurers returned, raising the death-cry and firing their guns; somewhat depressed by losses they had suffered, but boasting that they had surprised fifty-three English, and killed or taken all but one.  It was a modest and perhaps an involuntary exaggeration.  “The very recital of the cruelties they committed on the battle-field is horrible,” writes Bougainville.  “The ferocity and insolence of these black-souled barbarians makes one shudder.  It is an abominable kind of war.  The air one breathes is contagious of insensibility and hardness.”[454]  This was but one of the many such parties sent out from Ticonderoga this year.

[Footnote 454: Bougainville, Journal.]


        Early in September a band of New England rangers came to Winslow's camp, with three prisoners taken within the lines of Ticonderoga.  Their captain was Robert Rogers, of New Hampshire,—a strong, well-knit figure, in dress and appearance more woodsman than soldier, with a clear, bold eye, and features that would have been good but for the ungainly proportions of the nose.[455]  He had passed his boyhood in the rough surroundings of a frontier village.  Growing to manhood, he engaged in some occupation which, he says, led him to frequent journeyings in the wilderness between the French and English settlements, and gave him a good knowledge of both.[456]  It taught him also to speak a little French.  He does not disclose the nature of this mysterious employment; but there can be little doubt that it was a smuggling trade with Canada.  His character leaves much to be desired.  He had been charged with forgery, or complicity in it, seems to have had no scruple in matters of business, and after the war was accused of treasonable dealings with the French and Spaniards in the west.[457]  He was ambitious and violent, yet able in more ways than one, by no means uneducated, and so skilled in woodcraft, so energetic and resolute, that his services were invaluable.  In recounting his own adventures, his style is direct, simple, without boasting, and to all appearance without exaggeration.  During the past summer he had raised a band of men, chiefly New Hampshire borderers, and made a series of daring excursions which gave him a prominent place in this hardy by-play of war.  In the spring of the present year he raised another company, and was commissioned as its captain, with his brother Richard as his first lieutenant, and the intrepid John Stark as his second.  In July still another company was formed, and Richard Rogers was promoted to command it.  Before the following spring there were seven such; and more were afterwards added, forming a battalion dispersed on various service, but all under the orders of Robert Rogers, with the rank of major.[458]  These rangers wore a sort of woodland uniform, which varied in the different companies, and were armed with smooth-bore guns, loaded with buckshot, bullets, or sometimes both.

[Footnote 455: A large engraved portrait of him, nearly at full length, is before me, printed at London in 1776.]

[Footnote 456: Rogers, Journals, Introduction (1765).]

[Footnote 457: Provincial Papers of New Hampshire, VI. 364. Correspondence of Gage, 1766. N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 990. Caleb Stark, Memoir and Correspondence of John Stark, 386.]

[Footnote 458: Rogers, Journals. Report of the Adjutant-General of New Hampshire (1866), II. 158, 159.]


        The best of them were commonly employed on Lake George; and nothing can surpass the adventurous hardihood of their lives.  Summer and winter, day and night, were alike to them.  Embarked in whaleboats or birch-canoes, they glided under the silent moon or in the languid glare of a breathless August day, when islands floated in dreamy haze, and the hot air was thick with odors of the pine; or in the bright October, when the jay screamed from the woods, squirrels gathered their winter hoard, and congregated blackbirds chattered farewell to their summer haunts; when gay mountains basked in light, maples dropped leaves of rustling gold, sumachs glowed like rubies under the dark green of the unchanging spruce, and mossed rocks with all their painted plumage lay double in the watery mirror: that festal evening of the year, when jocund Nature disrobes herself, to wake again refreshed in the joy of her undying spring.  Or, in the tomb-like silence of the winter forest, with breath frozen on his beard, the ranger strode on snow-shoes over the spotless drifts; and, like Dürer's knight, a ghastly death stalked ever at his side.  There were those among them for whom this stern life had a fascination that made all other existence tame.

        Rogers and his men had been in active movement since midwinter.  In January they skated down Lake George, passed Ticonderoga, hid themselves by the forest-road between that post and Crown Point, intercepted two sledges loaded with provisions, and carried the drivers to Fort William Henry.  In February they climbed a hill near Crown Point and made a plan of the works; then lay in ambush by the road from the fort to the neighboring village, captured a prisoner, burned houses and barns, killed fifty cattle, and returned without loss.  At the end of the month they went again to Crown Point, burned more houses and barns, and reconnoitred Ticonderoga on the way back.  Such excursions were repeated throughout the spring and summer.  The reconnoissance of Ticonderoga and the catching of prisoners there for the sake of information were always capital objects.  The valley, four miles in extent, that lay between the foot of Lake George and the French fort, was at this time guarded by four distinct outposts or fortified camps.  Watched as it was at all points, and ranged incessantly by Indians in the employ of France, Rogers and his men knew every yard of the ground.  On a morning in May he lay in ambush with eleven followers on a path between the fort and the nearest camp.  A large body of soldiers passed; the rangers counted a hundred and eighteen, and lay close in their hiding-place.  Soon after came a party of twenty-two.  They fired on them, killed six, captured one, and escaped with him to Fort William Henry.  In October Rogers was passing with twenty men in two whaleboats through the seeming solitude of the Narrows when a voice called to them out of the woods.  It was that of Captain Shepherd, of the New Hampshire regiment, who had been captured two months before, and had lately made his escape.  He told them that the French had the fullest information of the numbers and movements of the English; that letters often reached them from within the English lines; and that Lydius, a Dutch trader at Albany, was their principal correspondent.[459]  Arriving at Ticonderoga, Rogers cautiously approached the fort, till, about noon, he saw a sentinel on the road leading thence to the woods.  Followed by five of his men, he walked directly towards him.  The man challenged, and Rogers answered in French.  Perplexed for a moment, the soldier suffered him to approach; till, seeing his mistake, he called out in amazement, “Qui êtes vous?”  “Rogers,” was the answer; and the sentinel was seized, led in hot haste to the boats, and carried to the English fort, where he gave important information.

[Footnote 459: Letter and Order Books of Winslow. “One Lydiass ... whom we suspect for a French spy; he lives better than anybody, without any visible means, and his daughters have had often presents from Mr. Vaudreuil.”  Loudon (to Fox?), 19 Aug. 1756.]


        An exploit of Rogers towards midsummer greatly perplexed the French.  He embarked at the end of June with fifty men in five whaleboats, made light and strong, expressly for this service, rowed about ten miles down Lake George, landed on the east side, carried the boats six miles over a gorge of the mountains, launched them again in South Bay, and rowed down the narrow prolongation of Lake Champlain under cover of darkness.  At dawn they were within six miles of Ticonderoga.  They landed, hid their boats, and lay close all day.  Embarking again in the evening, they rowed with muffled oars under the shadow of the eastern shore, and passed so close to the French fort that they heard the voices of the sentinels calling the watchword.  In the morning they had left it five miles behind.  Again they hid in the woods; and from their lurking-place saw bateaux passing, some northward, and some southward, along the narrow lake.

        Crown Point was ten or twelve miles farther on.  They tried to pass it after nightfall, but the sky was too clear and the stars too bright; and as they lay hidden the next day, nearly a hundred boats passed before them on the way to Ticonderoga.  Some other boats which appeared about noon landed near them, and they watched the soldiers at dinner, within a musket-shot of their lurking-place.  The next night was more favorable.  They embarked at nine in the evening, passed Crown Point unseen, and hid themselves as before, ten miles below.  It was the seventh of July.  Thirty boats and a schooner passed them, returning towards Canada.  On the next night they rowed fifteen miles farther, and then sent men to reconnoitre, who reported a schooner at anchor about a mile off.  They were preparing to board her, when two sloops appeared, coming up the lake at but a short distance from the land.  They gave them a volley, and called on them to surrender; but the crews put off in boats and made for the opposite shore.  They followed and seized them.  Out of twelve men their fire had killed three and wounded two, one of whom, says Rogers in his report, “could not march, therefore we put an end to him, to prevent discovery.”[460]  They sank the vessels, which were laden with wine, brandy, and flour, hid their boats on the west shore, and returned on foot with their prisoners.[461]

[Footnote 460: Report of Rogers to Sir William Johnson, July, 1756. This incident is suppressed in the printed Journals, which merely say that the man “soon died.”]

[Footnote 461: Rogers, Journals, 20. Shirley to Fox, 26 July, 1756. “This afternoon Capt. Rogers came down with 4 scalps and 8 prisoners which he took on Lake Champlain, between 20 and 30 miles beyond Crown Point.”  Surgeon Williams to his Wife, 16 July, 1756.]


        Some weeks after, Rogers returned to the place where he had left the boats, embarked in them, reconnoitred the lake nearly to St. John, hid them again eight miles north of Crown Point, took three prisoners near that post, and carried them to Fort William Henry.  In the next month the French found several English boats in a small cove north of Crown Point.  Bougainville propounds five different hypotheses to account for their being there; and exploring parties were sent out in the vain attempt to find some water passage by which they could have reached the spot without passing under the guns of two French forts.[462]

[Footnote 462: Bougainville, Journal.]


        The French, on their side, still kept their war-parties in motion, and Vaudreuil faithfully chronicled in his despatches every English scalp they brought in.  He believed in Indians, and sent them to Ticonderoga in numbers that were sometimes embarrassing.  Even Pottawattamies from Lake Michigan were prowling about Winslow's camp and silently killing his sentinels with arrows, while their “medicine men” remained at Ticonderoga practising sorcery and divination to aid the warriors or learn how it fared with them.  Bougainville writes in his Journal on the fifteenth of October: “Yesterday the old Pottawattamies who have stayed here 'made medicine' to get news of their brethren.  The lodge trembled, the sorcerer sweated drops of blood, and the devil came at last and told him that the warriors would come back with scalps and prisoners.  A sorcerer in the medicine lodge is exactly like the Pythoness on the tripod or the witch Canidia invoking the shades.”  The diviner was not wholly at fault.  Three days after, the warriors came back with a prisoner.[463]

[Footnote 463: This kind of divination was practised by Algonkin tribes from the earliest times.]


        Till November, the hostile forces continued to watch each other from the opposite ends of Lake George.  Loudon repeated his orders to Winslow to keep the defensive, and wrote sarcastically to the Colonial Minister: “I think I shall be able to prevent the provincials doing anything very rash, without their having it in their power to talk in the language of this country that they could have taken all Canada if they had not been prevented by the King's servants.”  Winslow tried to console himself for the failure of the campaign, and wrote in his odd English to Shirley: “Am sorry that this years' performance has not succeeded as was intended; have only to say I pushed things to the utmost of my power to have been sooner in motion, which was the only thing that should have carried us to Crown Point; and though I am sensible that we are doing our duty in acting on the defensive, yet it makes no eclate [sic], and answers to little purpose in the eyes of my constituents.”

        On the first of the month the French began to move off towards Canada, and before many days Ticonderoga was left in the keeping of five or six companies.[464]  Winslow's men followed their example.  Major Eyre, with four hundred regulars, took possession of Fort William Henry, and the provincials marched for home, their ranks thinned by camp diseases and small-pox.[465]  In Canada the regulars were quartered on the inhabitants, who took the infliction as a matter of course.  In the English provinces the question was not so simple.  Most of the British troops were assigned to Philadelphia, New York, and Boston; and Loudon demanded free quarters for them, according to usage then prevailing in England during war.  Nor was the demand in itself unreasonable, seeing that the troops were sent over to fight the battles of the colonies.  In Philadelphia lodgings were given them in the public-houses, which, however, could not hold them all.  A long dispute followed between the Governor, who seconded Loudon's demand, and the Assembly, during which about half the soldiers lay on straw in outhouses and sheds till near midwinter, many sickening, and some dying from exposure.  Loudon grew furious, and threatened, if shelter were not provided, to send Webb with another regiment and billet the whole on the inhabitants; on which the Assembly yielded, and quarters were found.[466]

[Footnote 464: Bougainville, Journal. Malartic, Journal.]

[Footnote 465: Letter and Order Books of Winslow. Winslow to Halifax, 30 Dec. 1756.]

[Footnote 466: Loudon to Denny, 28 Oct. 1756. Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 358-380. Loudon to Pitt, 10 March, 1757. Notice of Colonel Bouquet, in Pennsylvania Magazine, III. 124. The Conduct of a Noble Commander in America impartially reviewed (1758).]


        In New York the privates were quartered in barracks, but the officers were left to find lodging for themselves.  Loudon demanded that provision should be made for them also.  The city council hesitated, afraid of incensing the people if they complied.  Cruger, the mayor, came to remonstrate.  “God damn my blood!”  replied the Earl; “if you do not billet my officers upon free quarters this day, I'll order here all the troops in North America, and billet them myself upon this city.”  Being no respecter of persons, at least in the provinces, he began with Oliver Delancey, brother of the late acting Governor, and sent six soldiers to lodge under his roof.  Delancey swore at the unwelcome guests, on which Loudon sent him six more.  A subscription was then raised among the citizens, and the required quarters were provided.[467]  In Boston there was for the present less trouble.  The troops were lodged in the barracks of Castle William, and furnished with blankets, cooking utensils, and other necessaries.[468]

[Footnote 467: Smith, Hist. of N.Y., Part II. 242. William Carry to Johnson, 15 Jan. 1757, in Stone, Life of Sir William Johnson, II. 24, note. Loudon to Hardy, 21 Nov. 1756.]

[Footnote 468: Massachusetts Archives, LXXVI. 153.]


        Major Eyre and his soldiers, in their wilderness exile by the borders of Lake George, whiled the winter away with few other excitements than the evening howl of wolves from the frozen mountains, or some nocturnal savage shooting at a sentinel from behind a stump on the moonlit fields of snow.  A livelier incident at last broke the monotony of their lives.  In the middle of January Rogers came with his rangers from Fort Edward, bound on a scouting party towards Crown Point.  They spent two days at Fort William Henry in making snow-shoes and other preparation, and set out on the seventeenth.  Captain Spikeman was second in command, with Lieutenants Stark and Kennedy, several other subalterns, and two gentlemen volunteers enamoured of adventure.  They marched down the frozen lake and encamped at the Narrows.  Some of them, unaccustomed to snow-shoes, had become unfit for travel, and were sent back, thus reducing the number to seventy-four.  In the morning they marched again, by icicled rocks and ice-bound waterfalls, mountains gray with naked woods and fir-trees bowed down with snow.  On the nineteenth they reached the west shore, about four miles south of Rogers Rock, marched west of north eight miles, and bivouacked among the mountains.  On the next morning they changed their course, marched east of north all day, passed Ticonderoga undiscovered, and stopped at night some five miles beyond it.  The weather was changing, and rain was coming on.  They scraped away the snow with their snow-shoes, piled in it a bank around them, made beds of spruce-boughs, built fires, and lay down to sleep, while the sentinels kept watch in the outer gloom.  In the morning there was a drizzling rain, and the softened snow stuck to their snow-shoes.  They marched eastward three miles through the dripping forest, til they reached the banks of Lake Champlain, near what is now called Five Mile Point, and presently saw a sledge, drawn by horses, moving on the ice from Ticonderoga towards Crown Point.  Rogers sent Stark along the shore to the left to head it off, while he with another party, covered by the woods, moved in the opposite direction to stop its retreat.  He soon saw eight or ten more sledges following the first, and sent a messenger to prevent Stark from showing himself too soon; but Stark was already on the ice.

        All the sledges turned back in hot haste.  The rangers ran in pursuit and captured three of them, with seven men and six horses, while the rest escaped to Ticonderoga.  The prisoners, being separately examined, told an ominous tale.  There were three hundred and fifty regulars at Ticonderoga; two hundred Canadians and forty-five Indians had lately arrived there, and more Indians were expected that evening,—all destined to waylay the communications between the English forts, and all prepared to march at a moment's notice.  The rangers were now in great peril.  The fugitives would give warning of their presence, and the French and Indians, in overwhelming force, would no doubt cut off their retreat.

        Rogers at once ordered his men to return to their last night's encampment, rekindle the fires, and dry their guns, which were wet by the rain of the morning.  Then they marched southward in single file through the snow-encumbered forest, Rogers and Kennedy in the front, Spikeman in the centre, and Stark in the rear.  In this order they moved on over broken and difficult ground till two in the afternoon, when they came upon a valley, or hollow, scarcely a musket-shot wide, which ran across their line of march, and, like all the rest of the country, was buried in thick woods.  The front of the line had descended the first hill, and was mounting that on the farther side, when the foremost men heard a low clicking sound, like the cocking of a great number of guns; and in an instant a furious volley blazed out of the bushes on the ridge above them.  Kennedy was killed outright, as also was Gardner, one of the volunteers.  Rogers was grazed in the head by a bullet, and others were disabled or hurt.  The rest returned the fire, while a swarm of French and Indians rushed upon them from the ridge and the slopes on either hand, killing several more, Spikeman among the rest, and capturing others.  The rangers fell back across the hollow and regained the hill they had just descended.  Stark with the rear, who were at the top when the fray began, now kept the assailants in check by a brisk fire till their comrades joined them.  Then the whole party, spreading themselves among the trees that covered the declivity, stubbornly held their ground and beat back the French in repeated attempts to dislodge them.  As the assailants were more than two to one, what Rogers had most to dread was a movement to outflank him and get into his rear.  This they tried twice, and were twice repulsed by a party held in reserve for the purpose.  The fight lasted several hours, during which there was much talk between the combatants.  The French called out that it was a pity so many brave men should be lost, that large reinforcements were expected every moment, and that the rangers would then be cut to pieces without mercy; whereas if they surrendered at once they should be treated with the utmost kindness.  They called to Rogers by name, and expressed great esteem for him.  Neither threats nor promises had any effect, and the firing went on till darkness stopped it.  Towards evening Rogers was shot through the wrist; and one of the men, John Shute, used to tell in his old age how he saw another ranger trying to bind the captain's wound with the ribbon of his own queue.

        As Ticonderoga was but three miles off, it was destruction to stay where they were; and they withdrew under cover of night, reduced to forty-eight effective and six wounded men.  Fourteen had been killed, and six captured.  Those that were left reached Lake George in the morning, and Stark, with two followers, pushed on in advance to bring a sledge for the wounded.  The rest made their way to the Narrows, where they encamped, and presently descried a small dark object on the ice far behind them.  It proved to be one of their own number, Sergeant Joshua Martin, who had received a severe wound in the fight, and was left for dead; but by desperate efforts had followed on their tracks, and was now brought to camp in a state of exhaustion.  He recovered, and lived to an advanced age.  The sledge sent by Stark came in the morning, and the whole party soon reached the fort.  Abercromby, on hearing of the affair, sent them a letter of thanks for gallant conduct.

        Rogers reckons the number of his assailants at about two hundred and fifty in all.  Vaudreuil says that they consisted of eighty-nine regulars and ninety Canadians and Indians.  With his usual boastful exaggeration, he declares that forty English were left dead on the field, and that only three reached Fort William Henry alive.  He says that the fight was extremely hot and obstinate, and admits that the French lost thirty-seven killed and wounded.  Rogers makes the number much greater.  That it was considerable is certain, as Lusignan, commandant at Ticonderoga, wrote immediately for reinforcements.[469]

[Footnote 469: Rogers, Journals, 38-44. Caleb Stark, Memoir and Correspondence of John Stark, 18, 412. Return of Killed, Wounded, and Missing in the Action near Ticonderoga, Jan. 1757; all the names are here given. James Abercromby, aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Abercromby, wrote to Rogers from Albany: “You cannot imagine how all ranks of people here are pleased with your conduct and your men's behavior.”

The accounts of the French writers differ from each other, but agree in placing the English force at from seventy to eighty, and their own much higher. The principal report is that of Vaudreuil au Ministre, 19 Avril, 1757 (his second letter of this date). Bougainville, Montcalm, Malartic, and Montreuil all speak of the affair, placing the English loss much higher than is shown by the returns. The story, repeated in most of the French narratives, that only three of the rangers reached Fort William Henry, seems to have arisen from the fact that Stark with two men went thither in advance of the rest. As regards the antecedents of the combat, the French and English accounts agree.]


        The effects of his wound and an attack of small-pox kept Rogers quiet for a time.  Meanwhile the winter dragged slowly away, and the ice of Lake George, cracking with change of temperature, uttered its strange cry of agony, heralding that dismal season when winter begins to relax its grip, but spring still holds aloof; when the sap stirs in the sugar-maples, but the buds refuse to swell, and even the catkins of the willows will not burst their brown integuments; when the forest is patched with snow, though on its sunny slopes one hears in the stillness the whisper of trickling waters that ooze from the half-thawed soil and saturated beds of fallen leaves; when clouds hang low on the darkened mountains, and cold mists entangle themselves in the tops of the pines; now a dull rain, now a sharp morning frost, and now a storm of snow powdering the waste, and wrapping it again in the pall of winter.

        In this cheerless season, on St. Patrick's Day, the seventeenth of March, the Irish soldiers who formed a part of the garrison of Fort William Henry were paying homage to their patron saint in libations of heretic rum, the product of New England stills; and it is said that John Stark's rangers forgot theological differences in their zeal to share the festivity.  The story adds that they were restrained by their commander, and that their enforced sobriety proved the saving of the fort.  This may be doubted; for without counting the English soldiers of the garrison who had no special call to be drunk that day, the fort was in no danger till twenty-four hours after, when the revellers had had time to rally from their pious carouse.  Whether rangers or British soldiers, it is certain that watchmen were on the alert during the night between the eighteenth and nineteenth, and that towards one in the morning they heard a sound of axes far down the lake, followed by the faint glow of a distant fire.  The inference was plain, that an enemy was there, and that the necessity of warming himself had overcome his caution.  Then all was still for some two hours, when, listening in the pitchy darkness, the watchers heard the footsteps of a great body of men approaching on the ice, which at the time was bare of snow.  The garrison were at their posts, and all the cannon on the side towards the lake vomited grape and round-shot in the direction of the sound, which thereafter was heard no more.

        Those who made it were a detachment, called by Vaudreuil an army, sent by him to seize the English fort.  Shirley had planned a similar stroke against Ticonderoga a year before; but the provincial levies had come in so slowly, and the ice had broken up so soon, that the scheme was abandoned.  Vaudreuil was more fortunate.  The whole force, regulars, Canadians, and Indians, was ready to his hand.  No pains were spared in equipping them.  Overcoats, blankets, bear-skins to sleep on, tarpaulins to sleep under, spare moccasons, spare mittens, kettles, axes, needles, awls, flint and steel, and many miscellaneous articles were provided, to be dragged by the men on light Indian sledges, along with provisions for twelve days.  The cost of the expedition is set at a million francs, answering to more than as many dollars of the present time.  To the disgust of the officers from France, the Governor named his brother Rigaud for the chief command; and before the end of February the whole party was on its march along the ice of Lake Champlain.  They rested nearly a week at Ticonderoga, where no less than three hundred short scaling-ladders, so constructed that two or more could be joined in one, had been made for them; and here, too, they received a reinforcement, which raised their number to sixteen hundred.  Then, marching three days along Lake George, they neared the fort on the evening of the eighteenth, and prepared for a general assault before daybreak.

        The garrison, including rangers, consisted of three hundred and forty-six effective men.[470]  The fort was not strong, and a resolute assault by numbers so superior must, it seems, have overpowered the defenders; but the Canadians and Indians who composed most of the attacking force were not suited for such work; and, disappointed in his hope of a surprise, Rigaud withdrew them at daybreak, after trying in vain to burn the buildings outside.  A few hours after, the whole body reappeared, filing off to surround the fort, on which they kept up a brisk but harmless fire of musketry.  In the night they were heard again on the ice, approaching as if for an assault; and the cannon, firing towards the sound, again drove them back.  There was silence for a while, till tongues of flame lighted up the gloom, and two sloops, ice-bound in the lake, and a large number of bateaux on the shore were seen to be on fire.  A party sallied to save them; but it was too late.  In the morning they were all consumed, and the enemy had vanished.

[Footnote 470: Strength of the Garrison of Fort William Henry when the Enemy came before it, enclosed in the letter of Major Eyre to Loudon, 26 March, 1757. There were also one hundred and twenty-eight invalids.]


        It was Sunday, the twentieth.  Everything was quiet till noon, when the French filed out of the woods and marched across the ice in procession, ostentatiously carrying their scaling-ladders, and showing themselves to the best effect.  They stopped at a safe distance, fronting towards the fort, and several of them advanced, waving a red flag.  An officer with a few men went to meet them, and returned bringing Le Mercier, chief of the Canadian artillery, who, being led blindfold into the fort, announced himself as bearer of a message from Rigaud.  He was conducted to the room of Major Eyre, where all the British officers were assembled; and, after mutual compliments, he invited them to give up the place peaceably, promising the most favorable terms, and threatening a general assault and massacre in case of refusal.  Eyre said that he should defend himself to the last; and the envoy, again blindfolded, was led back to whence he came.

        The whole French force now advanced as if to storm the works, and the garrison prepared to receive them.  Nothing came of it but a fusillade, to which the British made no reply.  At night the French were heard advancing again, and each man nerved himself for the crisis.  The real attack, however, was not against the fort, but against the buildings outside, which consisted of several storehouses, a hospital, a saw-mill, and the huts of the rangers, besides a sloop on the stocks and piles of planks and cord-wood.  Covered by the night, the assailants crept up with fagots of resinous sticks, placed them against the farther side of the buildings, kindled them, and escaped before the flame rose; while the garrison, straining their ears in the thick darkness, fired wherever they heard a sound.  Before morning all around them was in a blaze, and they had much ado to save the fort barracks from the shower of burning cinders.  At ten o'clock the fires had subsided, and a thick fall of snow began, filling the air with a restless chaos of large moist flakes.  This lasted all day and all the next night, till the ground and the ice were covered to a depth of three feet and more.  The French lay close in their camps till a little before dawn on Tuesday morning, when twenty volunteers from the regulars made a bold attempt to burn the sloop on the stocks, with several storehouses and other structures, and several hundred scows and whaleboats which had thus far escaped.  They were only in part successful; but they fired the sloop and some buildings near it, and stood far out on the ice watching the flaming vessel, a superb bonfire amid the wilderness of snow.  The spectacle cost the volunteers a fourth of their number killed and wounded.

        On Wednesday morning the sun rose bright on a scene of wintry splendor, and the frozen lake was dotted with Rigaud's retreating followers toiling towards Canada on snow-shoes.  Before they reached it many of them were blinded for a while by the insufferable glare, and their comrades led them homewards by the hand.[471]

[Footnote 471: Eyre to Loudon, 24 March, 1757. Ibid., 25 March, enclosed in Loudon's despatch of 25 April, 1757. Message of Rigaud to Major Eyre, 20 March, 1757. Letter from Fort William Henry, 26 March, 1757, in Boston Gazette, No. 106, and Boston Evening Post, No. 1,128. Abstract of Letters from Albany, in Boston News Letter, No. 2,860. Caleb Stark, Memoir and Correspondence of John Stark, 22, a curious mixture of truth and error. Relation de la Campagne sur le Lac St. Sacrement pendant l'Hiver, 1757. Bougainville, Journal. Malartic, Journal. Montcalm au Ministre, 24 Avril, 1757. Montreuil au Ministre, 23 Avril, 1757. Montcalm à sa Mère, 1 Avril, 1757. Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.

The French loss in killed and wounded is set by Montcalm at eleven. That of the English was seven, slightly wounded, chiefly in sorties. They took three prisoners. Stark was touched by a bullet, for the only time in his adventurous life.]


Table of Contents



Chapter 14

1757


Montcalm and Vaudreuil


        Spring came at last, and the Dutch burghers of Albany heard, faint from the far height, the clamor of the wild-fowl, streaming in long files northward to their summer home.  As the aerial travellers winged their way, the seat of war lay spread beneath them like a map.  First the blue Hudson, slumbering among its forests, with the forts along its banks, Half-Moon, Stillwater, Saratoga, and the geometric lines and earthen mounds of Fort Edward.  Then a broad belt of dingy evergreen; and beyond, released from wintry fetters, the glistening breast of Lake George, with Fort William Henry at its side, amid charred ruins and a desolation of prostrate forests.  Hence the lake stretched northward, like some broad river, trenched between mountain ranges still leafless and gray.  Then they looked down on Ticonderoga, with the flag of the Bourbons, like a flickering white speck, waving on its ramparts; and next on Crown Point with its tower of stone.  Lake Champlain now spread before them, widening as they flew: on the left, the mountain wilderness of the Adirondacks, like a stormy sea congealed; on the right, the long procession of the Green Mountains; and, far beyond, on the dim verge of the eastern sky, the White Mountains throned in savage solitude.  They passed over the bastioned square of Fort St. John, Fort Chambly guarding the rapids of the Richelieu, and the broad belt of the St. Lawrence, with Montreal seated on its bank.  Here we leave them, to build their nests and hatch their brood among the fens of the lonely North.

        Montreal, the military heart of Canada, was in the past winter its social centre also, where were gathered conspicuous representatives both of Old France and of New; not men only, but women.  It was a sparkling fragment of the reign of Louis XV dropped into the American wilderness.  Montcalm was here with his staff and his chief officers, now pondering schemes of war, and now turning in thought to his beloved Château of Candiac, his mother, children, and wife, to whom he sent letters with every opportunity.  To his wife he writes: “Think of me affectionately; give love to my girls.  I hope next year I may be with you all.  I love you tenderly, dearest.”  He says that he has sent her a packet of marten-skins for a muff, “and another time I shall send some to our daughter; but I should like better to bring them myself.”  Of this eldest daughter he writes in reply to a letter of domestic news from Madame de Montcalm: “The new gown with blonde trimmings must be becoming, for she is pretty.”  Again, “There is not an hour in the day when I do not think of you, my mother and my children.”  He had the tastes of a country gentleman, and was eager to know all that was passing on his estate.  Before leaving home he had set up a mill to grind olives for oil, and was well pleased to hear of its prosperity.  “It seems to be a good thing, which pleases me very much.  Bougainville and I talk a great deal about the oil-mill.”  Some time after, when the King sent him the coveted decoration of the cordon rouge, he informed Madame de Montcalm of the honor done him, and added: “But I think I am better pleased with what you tell me of the success of my oil-mill.”

        To his mother he writes of his absorbing occupations, and says: “You can tell my dearest that I have no time to occupy myself with the ladies, even if I wished to.”  Nevertheless he now and then found leisure for some little solace in his banishment; for he writes to Bourlamaque, whom he had left at Quebec, after a visit which he had himself made there early in the winter: “I am glad you sometimes speak of me to the three ladies in the Rue du Parloir; and I am flattered by their remembrance, especially by that of one of them, in whom I find at certain moments too much wit and too many charms for my tranquillity.”  These ladies of the Rue du Parloir are several times mentioned in his familiar correspondence with Bourlamaque.

        His station obliged him to maintain a high standard of living, to his great financial detriment, for Canadian prices were inordinate.  “I must live creditably, and so I do; sixteen persons at table every day.  Once a fortnight I dine with the Governor-General and with the Chevalier de Lévis, who lives well too.  He has given three grand balls.  As for me, up to Lent I gave, besides dinners, great suppers, with ladies, three times a week.  They lasted till two in the morning; and then there was dancing, to which company came uninvited, but sure of a welcome from those who had been at supper.  It is very expensive, not very amusing, and often tedious.  At Quebec, where we spent a month, I gave receptions or parties, often at the Intendant's house.  I like my gallant Chevalier de Lévis very much.  Bourlamaque was a good choice; he is steady and cool, with good parts.  Bougainville has talent, a warm head, and warm heart; he will ripen in time.  Write to Madame Cornier that I like her husband; he is perfectly well, and as impatient for peace as I am.  Love to my daughters, and all affection and respect to my mother.  I live only in the hope of joining you all again.  Nevertheless, Montreal is as good a place as Alais even in time of peace, and better now, because the Government is here; for the Marquis de Vaudreuil, like me, spent only a month at Quebec.  As for Quebec, it is as good as the best cities of France, except ten or so.  Clear sky, bright sun; neither spring nor autumn, only summer and winter.  July, August, and September, hot as in Languedoc: winter insupportable; one must keep always indoors.  The ladies spirituelles, galantes, dévotes.  Gambling at Quebec, dancing and conversation at Montreal.  My friends the Indians, who are often unbearable, and whom I treat with perfect tranquillity and patience, are fond of me.  If I were not a sort of general, though very subordinate to the Governor, I could gossip about the plans of the campaign, which it is likely will begin on the tenth or fifteenth of May.  I worked at the plan of the last affair [Rigaud's expedition to Fort William Henry], which might have turned out better, though good as it was.  I wanted only eight hundred men.  If I had had my way, Monsieur de Lévis or Monsieur de Bougainville would have had charge of it.  However, the thing was all right, and in good hands.  The Governor, who is extremely civil to me, gave it to his brother; he thought him more used to winter marches.  Adieu, my heart; I adore and love you!”

        To meet his manifold social needs, he sends to his wife orders for prunes, olives, anchovies, muscat wine, capers, sausages, confectionery, cloth for liveries, and many other such items; also for scent-bags of two kinds, and perfumed pomatum for presents; closing in postscript with an injunction not to forget a dozen pint-bottles of English lavender.  Some months after, he writes to Madame de Saint-Véran: “I have got everything that was sent me from Montpellier except the sausages.  I have lost a third of what was sent from Bordeaux.  The English captured it on board the ship called 'La Superbe;' and I have reason to fear that everything sent from Paris is lost on board 'La Liberté.'  I am running into debt here.  Pshaw!  I must live.  I do not worry myself.  Best love to you, my mother.”

        When Rigaud was about to march with his detachment against Fort William Henry, Montcalm went over to La Prairie to see them.  “I reviewed them,” he writes to Bourlamaque, “and gave the officers a dinner, which, if anybody else had given it, I should have said was a grand affair.  There were two tables, for thirty-six persons in all.  On Wednesday there was an Assembly at Madame Varin's; on Friday the Chevalier de Lévis gave a ball.  He invited sixty-five ladies, and got only thirty, with a great crowd of men.  Rooms well lighted, excellent order, excellent service, plenty of refreshments of every sort all through the night; and the company stayed till seven in the morning.  As for me, I went to bed early.  I had had that day eight ladies at a supper given to Madame Varin.  To-morrow I shall have half-a-dozen at another supper, given to I don't know whom, but incline to think it will be La Roche Beaucour.  The gallant Chevalier is to give us still another ball.”

        Lent put a check on these festivities.  “To-morrow,” he tells Bourlamaque, “I shall throw myself into devotion with might and main (à corps perdu).  It will be easier for me to detach myself from the world and turn heavenward here at Montreal than it would be at Quebec.”  And, some time after, “Bougainville spent Monday delightfully at Isle Ste. Hélène, and Tuesday devoutly with the Sulpitian Fathers at the Mountain.  I was there myself at four o'clock, and did them the civility to sup in their refectory at a quarter before six.”

        In May there was a complete revival of social pleasures, and Montcalm wrote to Bourlamaque: “Madame de Beaubassin's supper was very gay.  There were toasts to the Rue du Parloir and to the General.  To-day I must give a dinner to Madame de Saint-Ours, which will be a little more serious.  Péan is gone to establish himself at La Chine, and will come back with La Barolon, who goes thither with a husband of hers, bound to the Ohio with Villejoin and Louvigny.  The Chevalier de Lévis amuses himself very much here.  He and his friends spend all their time with Madame de Lenisse.”

        Under these gayeties and gallantries there were bitter heart-burnings.  Montcalm hints at some of them in a letter to Bourlamaque, written at the time of the expedition to Fort William Henry, which, in the words of Montcalm, who would have preferred another commander, the Governor had ordered to march “under the banners of brother Rigaud.”  “After he got my letter on Sunday evening,” says the disappointed General, “Monsieur de Vaudreuil sent me his secretary with the instructions he had given his brother,” which he had hitherto withheld.  “This gave rise after dinner to a long conversation with him; and I hope for the good of the service that his future conduct will prove the truth of his words.  I spoke to him with frankness and firmness of the necessity I was under of communicating to him my reflections; but I did not name any of the persons who, to gain his good graces, busy themselves with destroying his confidence in me.  I told him that he would always find me disposed to aid in measures tending to our success, even should his views, which always ought to prevail, be different from mine; but that I dared flatter myself that he would henceforward communicate his plans to me sooner; for, though his knowledge of the country gave greater weight to his opinions, he might rest satisfied that I should second him in methods and details.  This explanation passed off becomingly enough, and ended with a proposal to dine on a moose's nose [an estimed morsel] the day after to-morrow.  I burn your letters, Monsieur, and I beg you to do the same with mine, after making a note of anything you may want to keep.”  But Bourlamaque kept all the letters, and bound them in a volume, which still exists.[472]

[Footnote 472: The preceding extracts are from Lettres de Montcalm à Madame de Saint-Véran, sa Mère, et à Madame de Montcalm, sa Femme, 1756, 1757 (Papiers de Famille); and Lettres de Montcalm à Bourlamaque, 1757. See Appendix E.]


        Montcalm was not at this time fully aware of the feeling of Vaudreuil towards him.  The touchy egotism of the Governor and his jealous attachment to the colony led him to claim for himself and the Canadians the merit of every achievement and to deny it to the French troops and their general.  Before the capture of Oswego was known, he wrote to the naval minister that Montcalm would never have dared attack that place if he had not encouraged him and answered his timid objections.[473]  “I am confident that I shall reduce it,” he adds; “my expedition is sure to succeed if Monsieur de Montcalm follows the directions I have given him.”  When the good news came he immediately wrote again, declaring that the victory was due to his brother Rigaud and the Canadians, who, he says, had been ill-used by the General, and not allowed either to enter the fort or share the plunder, any more than the Indians, who were so angry at the treatment they had met that he had great difficulty in appeasing them.  He hints that the success was generally ascribed to him.  “There has been a great deal of talk here; but I will not do myself the honor of repeating it to you, especially as it relates to myself.  I know how to do violence to my self-love.  The measures I took assured our victory, in spite of opposition.  If I had been less vigilant and firm, Oswego would still be in the hands of the English.  I cannot sufficiently congratulate myself on the zeal which my brother and the Canadians and Indians showed on this occasion; for without them my orders would have been given in vain.  The hopes of His Britannic Majesty have vanished, and will hardly revive again; for I shall take care to crush them in the bud.”[474]

[Footnote 473: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 13 Août, 1756.]

[Footnote 474: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 1 Sept. 1756.]


        The pronouns “I” and “my” recur with monotonous frequency in his correspondence.  “I have laid waste all the British provinces.”  “By promptly uniting my forces at Carillon, I have kept General Loudon in check, though he had at his disposal an army of about twenty thousand men;”[475] and so without end, in all varieties of repetition.  It is no less characteristic that he here assigns to his enemies double their actual force.

[Footnote 475: Ibid., 6 Nov. 1756.]


        He has the faintest of praise for the troops from France.  “They are generally good, but thus far they have not absolutely distinguished themselves.  I do justice to the firmness they showed at Oswego; but it was only the colony troops, Canadians, and Indians who attacked the forts.  Our artillery was directed by the Chevalier Le Mercier and M. Frémont [colony officers], and was served by our colony troops and our militia.  The officers from France are more inclined to defence than attack.  Far from spending the least thing here, they lay by their pay.  They saved the money allowed them for refreshments, and had it in pocket at the end of the campaign.  They get a profit, too, out of their provisions, by having certificates made under borrowed names, so that they can draw cash for them on their return.  It is the same with the soldiers, who also sell their provisions to the King and get paid for them.  In conjunction with M. Bigot, I labor to remedy all these abuses; and the rules we have established have saved the King a considerable expense. M. de Montcalm has complained very much of these rules.”  The Intendant Bigot, who here appears as a reformer, was the centre of a monstrous system of public fraud and robbery; while the charges against the French officers are unsupported.  Vaudreuil, who never loses an opportunity of disparaging them, proceeds thus:—“The troops from France are not on very good terms with our Canadians.  What can the soldiers think of them when they see their officers threaten them with sticks or swords?  The Canadians are obliged to carry these gentry on their shoulders, through the cold water, over rocks that cut their feet; and if they make a false step they are abused.  Can anything be harder?  Finally, Monsieur de Montcalm is so quick-tempered that he goes to the length of striking the Canadians.  How can he restrain his officers when he cannot restrain himself?  Could any example be more contagious?  This is the way our Canadians are treated.  They deserve something better.”  He then enlarges on their zeal, hardihood, and bravery, and adds that nothing but their blind submission to his commands prevents many of them from showing resentment at the usage they had to endure.  The Indians, he goes on to say, are not so gentle and yielding; and but for his brother Rigaud and himself, might have gone off in a rage.  “After the campaign of Oswego they did not hesitate to tell me that they would go wherever I sent them, provided I did not put them under the orders of M. de Montcalm.  They told me positively that they could not bear his quick temper.  I shall always maintain the most perfect union and understanding with M. le Marquis de Montcalm, but I shall be forced to take measures which will assure to our Canadians and Indians treatment such as their zeal and services merit.”[476]

[Footnote 476: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 23 Oct. 1756. The above extracts are somewhat condensed in the translation. See the letter in Dussieux, 279.]


        To the subject of his complaints Vaudreuil used a different language; for Montcalm says, after mentioning that he had had occasion to punish some of the Canadians at Oswego: “I must do Monsieur de Vaudreuil the justice to say that he approved my proceedings.”  He treated the General with the blandest politeness.  “He is a good-natured man,” continues Montcalm, “mild, with no character of his own, surrounded by people who try to destroy all his confidence in the general of the troops from France.  I am praised excessively, in order to make him jealous, excite his Canadian prejudices, and prevent him from dealing with me frankly, or adopting my views when he can help it.”[477]  He elsewhere complains that Vaudreuil gave to both him and Lévis orders couched in such equivocal terms that he could throw the blame on them in case of reverse.[478]  Montcalm liked the militia no better than the Governor liked the regulars.  “I have used them with good effect, though not in places exposed to the enemy's fire.  They know neither discipline nor subordination, and think themselves in all respects the first nation on earth.”  He is sure, however, that they like him: “I have gained the utmost confidence of the Canadians and Indians; and in the eyes of the former, when I travel or visit their camps, I have the air of a tribune of the people.”[479]  “The affection of the Indians for me is so strong that there are moments when it astonishes the Governor.”[480]  “The Indians are delighted with me,” he says in another letter; “the Canadians are pleased with me; their officers esteem and fear me, and would be glad if the French troops and their general could be dispensed with; and so should I.”[481]  And he writes to his mother: “The part I have to play is unique: I am a general-in-chief subordinated; sometimes with everything to do, and sometimes nothing; I am esteemed, respected, beloved, envied, hated; I pass for proud, supple, stiff, yielding, polite, devout, gallant, etc.; and I long for peace.”[482]

[Footnote 477: Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, 11 Juillet, 1757.]

[Footnote 478: Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, 1 Nov. 1756.]

[Footnote 479: Ibid., 18 Sept. 1757.]

[Footnote 480: Ibid., 4 Nov. 1757.]

[Footnote 481: Ibid., 28 Août, 1756.]

[Footnote 482: Montcalm à Madame de Saint-Véran, 23 Sept. 1757.]


        The letters of the Governor and those of the General, it will be seen, contradict each other flatly at several points.  Montcalm is sustained by his friend Bougainville, who says that the Indians had a great liking for him, and that he “knew how to manage them as well as if he had been born in their wigwams.”[483]  And while Vaudreuil complains that the Canadians are ill-used by Montcalm, Bougainville declares that the regulars are ill-used by Vaudreuil.  “One must be blind not to see that we are treated as the Spartans treated the Helots.”  Then he comments on the jealous reticence of the Governor.  “The Marquis de Montcalm has not the honor of being consulted; and it is generally through public rumor that he first hears of Monsieur de Vaudreuil's military plans.”  He calls the Governor “a timid man, who can neither make a resolution nor keep one;” and he gives another trait of him, illustrating it, after his usual way, by a parallel from the classics: “When V. produces an idea he falls in love with it, as Pygmalion did with his statue.  I can forgive Pygmalion, for what he produced was a masterpiece.”[484]

[Footnote 483: Bougainville à Saint-Laurens, 19 Août, 1757.]

[Footnote 484: Bougainville, Journal.]


        The exceeding touchiness of the Governor was sorely tried by certain indiscretions on the part of the General, who in his rapid and vehement utterances sometimes forgot the rules of prudence.  His anger, though not deep, was extremely impetuous; and it is said that his irritation against Vaudreuil sometimes found escape in the presence of servants and soldiers.[485]  There was no lack of reporters, and the Governor was told everything.  The breach widened apace, and Canada divided itself into two camps: that of Vaudreuil with the colony officers, civil and military, and that of Montcalm with the officers from France.  The principal exception was the Chevalier de Lévis.  This brave and able commander had an easy and adaptable nature, which made him a sort of connecting link between the two parties.  “One should be on good terms with everybody,” was a maxim which he sometimes expressed, and on which he shaped his conduct with notable success.  The Intendant Bigot also, an adroit and accomplished person, had the skill to avoid breaking with either side.

[Footnote 485: Événements de la Guerre en Canada, 1759, 1760.]


        But now the season of action was near, and domestic strife must give place to efforts against the common foe.  “God or devil!” Montcalm wrote to Bourlamaque, “we must do something and risk a fight.  If we succeed, we can, all three of us [you, Lévis, and I], ask for promotion.  Burn this letter.”  The prospects, on the whole, were hopeful.  The victory at Oswego had wrought marvels among the Indians, inspired the faithful, confirmed the wavering, and daunted the ill-disposed.  The whole West was astir, ready to pour itself again in blood and fire against the English border; and even the Cherokees and Choctaws, old friends of the British colonies, seemed on the point of turning against them.[486]  The Five Nations were half won for France.  In November a large deputation of them came to renew the chain of friendship at Montreal.  “I have laid Oswego in ashes,” said Vaudreuil; “the English quail before me.  Why do you nourish serpents in your bosom?  They mean only to enslave you.”  The deputies trampled under foot the medals the English had given them, and promised the “Devourer of Villages,” for so they styled the Governor, that they would never more lift the hatchet against his children.  The chief difficulty was to get rid of them; for, being clothed and fed at the expense of the King, they were in no haste to take leave; and learning that New Year's Day was a time of visits, gifts, and health-drinking, they declared that they would stay to share its pleasures; which they did, to their own satisfaction and the annoyance of those who were forced to entertain them and their squaws.[487]  An active siding with France was to be expected only from the western bands of the Confederacy.  Neutrality alone could be hoped for from the others, who were too near the English safely to declare against them; while from one of the tribes, the Mohawks, even neutrality was doubtful.

[Footnote 486: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 19 Avril, 1757.]

[Footnote 487: Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, 24 Avril, 1757; Relation de l'Ambassade des Cinq Nations à Montreal, jointe á la lettre précédente. Procès-verbal de différentes Entrevues entre M. de Vaudreuil et les Deputés des Nations sauvages du 13 au 30 Déc. 1756. Malartic, Journal. Montcalm á Madame de Saint-Véran, 1 Avril, 1757.]


        Vaudreuil, while disliking the French regulars, felt that he could not dispense with them, and had asked for a reinforcement.  His request was granted; and the Colonial Minister informed him that twenty-four hundred men had been ordered to Canada to strengthen the colony regulars and the battalions of Montcalm.[488]  This, according to the estimate of the Minister, would raise the regular force in Canada to sixty-six hundred rank and file.[489]  The announcement was followed by another, less agreeable.  It was to the effect that a formidable squadron was fitting out in British ports.  Was Quebec to be attacked, or Louisbourg?  Louisbourg was beyond reach of succor from Canada; it must rely on its own strength and on help from France.  But so long as Quebec was threatened, all the troops in the colony must be held ready to defend it, and the hope of attacking England in her own domains must be abandoned.  Till these doubts were solved, nothing could be done; and hence great activity in catching prisoners for the sake of news.  A few were brought in, but they knew no more of the matter than the French themselves; and Vaudreuil and Montcalm rested for a while in suspense.

[Footnote 488: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, Mars, 1757.]

[Footnote 489: Ministerial Minute on the Military Force in Canada, 1757, in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 523.]


        The truth, had they known it, would have gladdened their hearts.  The English preparations were aimed at Louisbourg.  In the autumn before, Loudon, prejudiced against all plans of his predecessor, Shirley, proposed to the Ministry a scheme of his own, involving a possible attack on Quebec, but with the reduction of Louisbourg as its immediate object,—an important object, no doubt, but one that had no direct bearing on the main question of controlling the interior of the continent.  Pitt, then for a brief space at the head of the Government, accepted the suggestion, and set himself to executing it; but he was hampered by opposition, and early in April was forced to resign.  Then, followed a contest of rival claimants to office; and the war against France was made subordinate to disputes of personal politics.  Meanwhile one Florence Hensey, a spy at London, had informed the French Court that a great armament was fitting out for America, though he could not tell its precise destination.  Without loss of time three French squadrons were sent across the Atlantic, with orders to rendezvous at Louisbourg, the conjectured point of attack.

        The English were as tardy as their enemies were prompt.  Everything depended on speed; yet their fleet, under Admiral Holbourne, consisting of fifteen ships of the line and three frigates, with about five thousand troops on board, did not get to sea till the fifth of May, when it made sail for Halifax, where Loudon was to meet it with additional forces.

        Loudon had drawn off the best part of the troops from the northern frontier, and they were now at New York waiting for embarkation.  That the design might be kept secret, he laid an embargo on colonial shipping,—a measure which exasperated the colonists without answering its purpose.  Now ensued a long delay, during which the troops, the provincial levies, the transports destined to carry them, and the ships of war which were to serve as escort, all lay idle.  In the interval Loudon showed great activity in writing despatches and other avocations more or less proper to a commander, being always busy, without, according to Franklin, accomplishing anything.  One Innis, who had come with a message from the Governor of Pennsylvania, and had waited above a fortnight for the General's reply, remarked of him that he was like St. George on a tavern sign, always on horseback, and never riding on.[490]  Yet nobody longed more than he to reach the rendezvous at Halifax.  He was waiting for news of Holbourne, and he waited in vain.  He knew only that a French fleet had been seen off the coast strong enough to overpower his escort and sink all his transports.[491]  But the season was growing late; he must act quickly if he was to act at all.  He and Sir Charles Hardy agreed between them that the risk must be run; and on the twentieth of June the whole force put to sea.  They met no enemy, and entered Halifax harbor on the thirtieth.  Holbourne and his fleet had not yet appeared; but his ships soon came straggling in, and before the tenth of July all were at anchor before the town.  Then there was more delay.  The troops, nearly twelve thousand in all, were landed, and weeks were spent in drilling them and planting vegetables for their refreshment.  Sir Charles Hay was put under arrest for saying that the nation's money was spent in sham battles and raising cabbages.  Some attempts were made to learn the state of Louisbourg; and Captain Gorham, of the rangers, who reconnoitred it from a fishing vessel, brought back an imperfect report, upon which, after some hesitation, it was resolved to proceed to the attack.  The troops were embarked again, and all was ready, when, on the fourth of August, a sloop came from Newfoundland, bringing letters found on board a French vessel lately captured.  From these it appeared that all three of the French squadrons were united in the harbor of Louisbourg, to the number of twenty-two ships of the line, besides several frigates, and that the garrison had been increased to a total force of seven thousand men, ensconced in the strongest fortress of the continent.  So far as concerned the naval force, the account was true.  La Motte, the French admiral, had with him a fleet carrying an aggregate of thirteen hundred and sixty cannon, anchored in a sheltered harbor under the guns of the town.  Success was now hopeless, and the costly enterprise was at once abandoned.  Loudon with his troops sailed back for New York, and Admiral Holbourne, who had been joined by four additional ships, steered for Louisbourg, in hopes that the French fleet would come out and fight him.  He cruised off the port; but La Motte did not accept the challenge.

[Footnote 490: Works of Franklin, I. 219. Franklin intimates that while Loudon was constantly writing, he rarely sent off despatches. This is a mistake; there is abundance of them, often tediously long, in the Public Record Office.]

[Footnote 491: Loudon to Pitt, 30 May, 1757. He had not learned Pitt's resignation.]


        The elements declared for France.  A September gale, of fury rare even on that tempestuous coast, burst upon the British fleet.  “It blew a perfect hurricane,” says the unfortunate Admiral, “and drove us right on shore.”  One ship was dashed on the rocks, two leagues from Louisbourg.  A shifting of the wind in the nick of time saved the rest from total wreck.  Nine were dismasted; others threw their cannon into the sea.  Not one was left fit for immediate action; and had La Motte sailed out of Louisbourg, he would have had them all at his mercy.

        Delay, the source of most of the disasters that befell England and her colonies at this dismal epoch, was the ruin of the Louisbourg expedition.  The greater part of La Motte's fleet reached its destination a full month before that of Holbourne.  Had the reverse taken place, the fortress must have fallen.  As it was, the ill-starred attempt, drawing off the British forces from the frontier, where they were needed most, did for France more than she could have done for herself, and gave Montcalm and Vaudreuil the opportunity to execute a scheme which they had nursed since the fall of Oswego.[492]

[Footnote 492: Despatches of Loudon, Feb. to Aug. 1757. Knox, Campaigns in North America, I. 6-28. Knox was in the expedition. Review of Mr. Pitt's Administration (London, 1763). The Conduct of a Noble Commander in America impartially reviewed (London, 1758). Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs, II. 49-59. Answer to the Letter to two Great Men (London, 1760). Entick, II. 168, 169. Holbourne to Loudon, 4 Aug. 1757. Holbourne to Pitt, 29 Sept. 1757. Ibid., 30 Sept. 1757. Holbourne to Pownall, 2 Nov. 1757. Mante, 86, 97. Relation du Désastre arrivé à la Flotte Anglaise commandée par l'Amiral Holbourne. Chevalier Johnstone, Campaign of Louisbourg. London Magazine, 1757, 514. Gentleman's Magazine, 1757, 463, 476. Ibid., 1758, 168-173.

It has been said that Loudon was scared from his task by false reports of the strength of the French at Louisbourg. This was not the case. The Gazette de France, 621, says that La Motte had twenty-four ships of war. Bougainville says that as early as the ninth of June there were twenty-one ships of war, including five frigates, at Louisbourg. To this the list given by Knox closely answers.]


Table of Contents



Chapter 15

1757


Fort William Henry


        “I am going on the ninth to sing the war-song at the Lake of Two Mountains, and on the next day at Saut St. Louis,—a long, tiresome, ceremony.  On the twelfth I am off; and I count on having news to tell you by the end of this month or the beginning of next.”  Thus Montcalm wrote to his wife from Montreal early in July.  All doubts had been solved.  Prisoners taken on the Hudson and despatches from Versailles had made it certain that Loudon was bound to Louisbourg, carrying with him the best of the troops that had guarded the New York frontier.  The time was come, not only to strike the English on Lake George, but perhaps to seize Fort Edward and carry terror to Albany itself.  Only one difficulty remained, the want of provisions.  Agents were sent to collect corn and bacon among the inhabitants; the curés and militia captains were ordered to aid in the work; and enough was presently found to feed twelve thousand men for a month.[493]

[Footnote 493: Vaudreuil, Lettres circulates aux Curés et aux Capitaines de Milice des Paroisses du Gouvernement de Montreal, 16 Juin, 1757.]


        The emissaries of the Governor had been busy all winter among the tribes of the West and North; and more than a thousand savages, lured by prospect of gifts, scalps, and plunder, were now encamped at Montreal.  Many of them had never visited a French settlement before.  All were eager to see Montcalm, whose exploit in taking Oswego had inflamed their imagination; and one day, on a visit of ceremony, an orator from Michillimackinac addressed the General thus: “We wanted to see this famous man who tramples the English under his feet.  We thought we should find him so tall that his head would be lost in the clouds.  But you are a little man, my Father.  It is when we look into your eyes that we see the greatness of the pine-tree and the fire of the eagle.”[494]

[Footnote 494: Bougainville, Journal.]


        It remained to muster the Mission Indians settled in or near the limits of the colony; and it was to this end that Montcalm went to sing the war-song with the converts of the Two Mountains.  Rigaud, Bougainville, young Longueuil, and others were of the party; and when they landed, the Indians came down to the shore, their priests at their head, and greeted the General with a volley of musketry; then received him after dark in their grand council-lodge, where the circle of wild and savage visages, half seen in the dim light of a few candles, suggested to Bougainville a midnight conclave of wizards.  He acted vicariously the chief part in the ceremony.  “I sang the war-song in the name of M. de Montcalm, and was much applauded.  It was nothing but these words: 'Let us trample the English under our feet,' chanted over and over again, in cadence with the movements of the savages.”  Then came the war-feast, against which occasion Montcalm had caused three oxen to be roasted.[495]  On the next day the party went to Caughnawaga, or Saut St. Louis, where the ceremony was repeated; and Bougainville, who again sang the war-song in the name of his commander, was requited by adoption into the clan of the Turtle.  Three more oxen were solemnly devoured, and with one voice the warriors took up the hatchet.

[Footnote 495: Bougainville describes a ceremony in the Mission Church of the Two Mountains in which warriors and squaws sang in the choir.  Ninety-nine years after, in 1856, I was present at a similar ceremony on the same spot, and heard the descendants of the same warriors and squaws sing like their ancestors. Great changes have since taken place at this old mission.]


        Meanwhile troops, Canadians and Indians, were moving by detachments up Lake Champlain.  Fleets of bateaux and canoes followed each other day by day along the capricious lake, in calm or storm, sunshine or rain, till, towards the end of July, the whole force was gathered at Ticonderoga, the base of the intended movement.  Bourlamaque had been there since May with the battalions of Béarn and Royal Roussillon, finishing the fort, sending out war-parties, and trying to discover the force and designs of the English at Fort William Henry.

        Ticonderoga is a high rocky promontory between Lake Champlain on the north and the mouth of the outlet of Lake George on the south.  Near its extremity and close to the fort were still encamped the two battalions under Bourlamaque, while bateaux and canoes were passing incessantly up the river of the outlet.  There were scarcely two miles of navigable water, at the end of which the stream fell foaming over a high ledge of rock that barred the way.  Here the French were building a saw-mill; and a wide space had been cleared to form an encampment defended on all sides by an abattis, within which stood the tents of the battalions of La Reine, La Sarre, Languedoc, and Guienne, all commanded by Lévis.  Above the cascade the stream circled through the forest in a series of beautiful rapids, and from the camp of Lévis a road a mile and a half long had been cut to the navigable water above.  At the end of this road there was another fortified camp, formed of colony regulars, Canadians, and Indians, under Rigaud.  It was scarcely a mile farther to Lake George, where on the western side there was an outpost, chiefly of Canadians and Indians; while advanced parties were stationed at Bald Mountain, now called Rogers Rock, and elsewhere on the lake, to watch the movements of the English.  The various encampments just mentioned were ranged along a valley extending four miles from Lake Champlain to Lake George, and bordered by mountains wooded to the top.

        Here was gathered a martial population of eight thousand men, including the brightest civilization and the darkest barbarism: from the scholar-soldier Montcalm and his no less accomplished aide-de-camp; from Lévis, conspicuous for graces of person; from a throng of courtly young officers, who would have seemed out of place in that wilderness had they not done their work so well in it; from these to the foulest man-eating savage of the uttermost northwest.

        Of Indian allies there were nearly two thousand.  One of their tribes, the Iowas, spoke a language which no interpreter understood; and they all bivouacked where they saw fit: for no man could control them.  “I see no difference,” says Bougainville, “in the dress, ornaments, dances, and songs of the various western nations.  They go naked, excepting a strip of cloth passed through a belt, and paint themselves black, red, blue, and other colors.  Their heads are shaved and adorned with bunches of feathers, and they wear rings of brass wire in their ears.  They wear beaver-skin blankets, and carry lances, bows and arrows, and quivers made of the skins of beasts.  For the rest they are straight, well made, and generally very tall.  Their religion is brute paganism.  I will say it once for all, one must be the slave of these savages, listen to them day and night, in council and in private, whenever the fancy takes them, or whenever a dream, a fit of the vapors, or their perpetual craving for brandy, gets possession of them; besides which they are always wanting something for their equipment, arms, or toilet, and the general of the army must give written orders for the smallest trifle,—an eternal, wearisome detail, of which one has no idea in Europe.”

        It was not easy to keep them fed.  Rations would be served to them for a week; they would consume them in three days, and come for more.  On one occasion they took the matter into their own hands, and butchered and devoured eighteen head of cattle intended for the troops; nor did any officer dare oppose this “St. Bartholomew of the oxen,” as Bougainville calls it.  “Their paradise is to be drunk,” says the young officer.  Their paradise was rather a hell; for sometimes, when mad with brandy, they grappled and tore each other with their teeth like wolves.  They were continually “making medicine,” that is, consulting the Manitou, to whom they hung up offerings, sometimes a dead dog, and sometimes the belt-cloth which formed their only garment.

        The Mission Indians were better allies than these heathen of the west; and their priests, who followed them to the war, had great influence over them.  They were armed with guns, which they well knew how to use.  Their dress, though savage, was generally decent, and they were not cannibals; though in other respects they retained all their traditional ferocity and most of their traditional habits.  They held frequent war-feasts, one of which is described by Roubaud, Jesuit missionary of the Abenakis of St. Francis, whose flock formed a part of the company present.

        “Imagine,” says the father, “a great assembly of savages adorned with every ornament most suited to disfigure them in European eyes, painted with vermilion, white, green, yellow, and black made of soot and the scrapings of pots.  A single savage face combines all these different colors, methodically laid on with the help of a little tallow, which serves for pomatum.  The head is shaved except at the top, where there is a small tuft, to which are fastened feathers, a few beads of wampum, or some such trinket.  Every part of the head has its ornament.  Pendants hang from the nose and also from the ears, which are split in infancy and drawn down by weights till they flap at last against the shoulders.  The rest of the equipment answers to this fantastic decoration: a shirt bedaubed with vermilion, wampum collars, silver bracelets, a large knife hanging on the breast, moose-skin moccasons, and a belt of various colors always absurdly combined.  The sachems and war-chiefs are distinguished from the rest: the latter by a gorget, and the former by a medal, with the King's portrait on one side, and on the other Mars and Bellona joining hands, with the device, Virtues et Honor.”

        Thus attired, the company sat in two lines facing each other, with kettles in the middle filled with meat chopped for distribution.  To a dignified silence succeeded songs, sung by several chiefs in succession, and compared by the narrator to the howling of wolves.  Then followed a speech from the chief orator, highly commended by Roubaud, who could not help admiring this effort of savage eloquence.  “After the harangue,” he continues, “they proceeded to nominate the chiefs who were to take command.  As soon as one was named he rose and took the head of some animal that had been butchered for the feast.  He raised it aloft so that all the company could see it, and cried: 'Behold the head of the enemy!'  Applause and cries of joy rose from all parts of the assembly.  The chief, with the head in his hand, passed down between the lines, singing his war-song, bragging of his exploits, taunting and defying the enemy, and glorifying himself beyond all measure.  To hear his self-laudation in these moments of martial transport one would think him a conquering hero ready to sweep everything before him.  As he passed in front of the other savages, they would respond by dull broken cries jerked up from the depths of their stomachs, and accompanied by movements of their bodies so odd that one must be well used to them to keep countenance.  In the course of his song the chief would utter from time to time some grotesque witticism; then he would stop, as if pleased with himself, or rather to listen to the thousand confused cries of applause that greeted his ears.  He kept up his martial promenade as long as he liked the sport; and when he had had enough, ended by flinging down the head of the animal with an air of contempt, to show that his warlike appetite craved meat of another sort.”[496]  Others followed with similar songs and pantomime, and the festival was closed at last by ladling out the meat from the kettles, and devouring it.

[Footnote 496: Lettre du Père ...(Roubaud), Missionnaire chez les Abnakis, 21 Oct. 1757, in Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses, VI. 189 (1810).]


        Roubaud was one day near the fort, when he saw the shore lined with a thousand Indians, watching four or five English prisoners, who, with the war-party that had captured them, were approaching in a boat from the farther side of the water.  Suddenly the whole savage crew broke away together and ran into the neighboring woods, whence they soon emerged, yelling diabolically, each armed with a club.  The wretched prisoners were to be forced to “run the gauntlet” which would probably have killed them.  They were saved by the chief who commanded the war-party, and who, on the persuasion of a French officer, claimed them as his own and forbade the game; upon which, according to rule in such cases, the rest abandoned it.  On this same day the missionary met troops of Indians conducting several bands of English prisoners along the road that led through the forest from the camp of Lévis.  Each of the captives was held by a cord made fast about the neck; and the sweat was starting from their brows in the extremity of their horror and distress.  Roubaud's tent was at this time in the camp of the Ottawas.  He presently saw a large number of them squatted about a fire, before which meat was roasting on sticks stuck in the ground; and, approaching, he saw that it was the flesh of an Englishman, other parts of which were boiling in a kettle, while near by sat eight or ten of the prisoners, forced to see their comrade devoured.  The horror-stricken priest began to remonstrate; on which a young savage fiercely replied in broken French: “You have French taste; I have Indian.  This is good meat for me;” and the feasters pressed him to share it.

        Bougainville says that this abomination could not be prevented; which only means that if force had been used to stop it, the Ottawas would have gone home in a rage.  They were therefore left to finish their meal undisturbed.  Having eaten one of their prisoners, they began to treat the rest with the utmost kindness, bringing them white bread, and attending to all their wants—a seeming change of heart due to the fact that they were a valuable commodity, for which the owners hoped to get a good price at Montreal.  Montcalm wished to send them thither at once, to which after long debate the Indians consented, demanding, however, a receipt in full, and bargaining that the captives should be supplied with shoes and blankets.[497]

[Footnote 497: Journal de l'Expédition contre le Fort George [William Henry] du 12 Juillet au 16 Août, 1757. Bougainville, Journal. Lettre du P. Roubaud.]


        These unfortunates belonged to a detachment of three hundred provincials, chiefly New Jersey men, sent from Fort William Henry under command of Colonel Parker to reconnoitre the French outposts.  Montcalm's scouts discovered them; on which a band of Indians, considerably more numerous, went to meet them under a French partisan named Corbière, and ambushed themselves not far from Sabbath Day Point.  Parker had rashly divided his force; and at daybreak of the twenty-sixth of July three of his boats fell into the snare, and were captured without a shot.  Three others followed, in ignorance of what had happened, and shared the fate of the first.  When the rest drew near, they were greeted by a deadly volley from the thickets, and a swarm of canoes darted out upon them.  The men were seized with such a panic that some of them jumped into the water to escape, while the Indians leaped after them and speared them with their lances like fish.  “Terrified,” says Bougainville, “by the sight of these monsters, their agility, their firing, and their yells, they surrendered almost without resistance.”  About a hundred, however, made their escape.  The rest were killed or captured, and three of the bodies were eaten on the spot.  The journalist adds that the victory so elated the Indians that they became insupportable; “but here in the forests of America we can no more do without them than without cavalry on the plain.”[498]

[Footnote 498: Bougainville, Journal. Malartic, Journal. Montcalm à Vaudreuil, 27 Juillet, 1757. Webb to Loudon, 1 Aug. 1757. Webb to Delancey, 30 July, 1757. Journal de l'Expédition contre le Fort George. London Magazine, 1757, 457. Miles, French and Indian Wars. Boston Gazette, 15 Aug. 1757.]


        Another success at about the same time did not tend to improve their manners.  A hundred and fifty of them, along with a few Canadians under Marin, made a dash at Fort Edward, killed or drove in the pickets, and returned with thirty-two scalps and a prisoner.  It was found, however, that the scalps were far from representing an equal number of heads, the Indians having learned the art of making two or three out of one by judicious division.[499]

[Footnote 499: This affair was much exaggerated at the time. I follow Bougainville, who had the facts from Marin. According to him, the thirty-two scalps represented eleven killed; which exactly answers to the English loss as stated by Colonel Frye in a letter from Fort Edward.]


        Preparations were urged on with the utmost energy.  Provisions, camp equipage, ammunition, cannon, and bateaux were dragged by gangs of men up the road from the camp of Lévis to the head of the rapids.  The work went on through heat and rain, by day and night, till, at the end of July, all was done.  Now, on the eve of departure, Montcalm, anxious for harmony among his red allies, called them to a grand council near the camp of Rigaud.  Forty-one tribes and sub-tribes, Christian and heathen, from the east and from the west, were represented in it.  Here were the mission savages,—Iroquois of Caughnawaga, Two Mountains, and La Présentation; Hurons of Lorette and Detroit; Nipissings of Lake Nipissing; Abenakis of St. Francis, Becancour, Missisqui, and the Penobscot; Algonkins of Three Rivers and Two Mountains; Micmacs and Malecites from Acadia: in all eight hundred chiefs and warriors.  With these came the heathen of the west,—Ottawas of seven distinct bands; Ojibwas from Lake Superior, and Mississagas from the region of Lakes Erie and Huron; Pottawattamies and Menomonies from Lake Michigan; Sacs, Foxes, and Winnebagoes from Wisconsin; Miamis from the prairies of Illinois, and Iowas from the banks of the Des Moines: nine hundred and seventy-nine chiefs and warriors, men of the forests and men of the plains, hunters of the moose and hunters of the buffalo, bearers of steel hatchets and stone war-clubs, of French guns and of flint-headed arrows.  All sat in silence, decked with ceremonial paint, scalp-locks, eagle plumes, or horns of buffalo; and the dark and wild assemblage was edged with white uniforms of officers from France, who came in numbers to the spectacle.  Other officers were also here, all belonging to the colony.  They had been appointed to the command of the Indian allies, over whom, however, they had little or no real authority.  First among them was the bold and hardy Saint-Luc de la Corne, who was called general of the Indians; and under him were others, each assigned to some tribe or group of tribes,—the intrepid Marin; Charles Langlade, who had left his squaw wife at Michillimackinac to join the war; Niverville, Langis, La Plante, Hertel, Longueuil, Herbin, Lorimier, Sabrevois, and Fleurimont; men familiar from childhood with forests and savages.  Each tribe had its interpreter, often as lawless as those with whom he had spent his life; and for the converted tribes there were three missionaries,—Piquet for the Iroquois, Mathevet for the Nipissings, who were half heathen, and Roubaud for the Abenakis.[500]

[Footnote 500: The above is chiefly from Tableau des Sauvages qui se trouvent à l'Armée du Marquis de Montcalm, le 28 Juillet, 1757. Forty-one tribes and sub-tribes are here named, some, however, represented by only three or four warriors. Besides those set down under the head of Christians, it is stated that a few of the Ottawas of Detroit and Michillimackinac still retained the faith.]


        There was some complaint among the Indians because they were crowded upon by the officers who came as spectators.  This difficulty being removed, the council opened, Montcalm having already explained his plans to the chiefs and told them the part he expected them to play.

        Pennahouel, chief of the Ottawas, and senior of all the Assembly, rose and said: “My father, I, who have counted more moons than any here, thank you for the good words you have spoken.  I approve them.  Nobody ever spoke better.  It is the Manitou of War who inspires you.”

        Kikensick, chief of the Nipissings, rose in behalf of the Christian Indians, and addressed the heathen of the west.  “Brothers, we thank you for coming to help us defend our lands against the English.  Our cause is good.  The Master of Life is on our side.  Can you doubt it, brothers, after the great blow you have just struck?  It covers you with glory.  The lake, red with the blood of Corlaer [the English] bears witness forever to your achievement.  We too share your glory, and are proud of what you have done.”  Then, turning to Montcalm: “We are even more glad than you, my father, who have crossed the great water, not for your own sake, but to obey the great King and defend his children.  He has bound us all together by the most solemn of ties.  Let us take care that nothing shall separate us.”

        The various interpreters, each in turn, having explained this speech to the Assembly, it was received with ejaculations of applause; and when they had ceased, Montcalm spoke as follows: “Children, I am delighted to see you all joined in this good work.  So long as you remain one, the English cannot resist you.  The great King has sent me to protect and defend you; but above all he has charged me to make you happy and unconquerable, by establishing among you the union which ought to prevail among brothers, children of one father, the great Onontio.”  Then he held out a prodigious wampum belt of six thousand beads: “Take this sacred pledge of his word.  The union of the beads of which it is made is the sign of your united strength.  By it I bind you all together, so that none of you can separate from the rest till the English are defeated and their fort destroyed.”

        Pennahouel took up the belt and said: “Behold, brothers, a circle drawn around us by the great Onontio.  Let none of us go out from it; for so long as we keep in it, the Master of Life will help all our undertakings.”  Other chiefs spoke to the same effect, and the council closed in perfect harmony.[501]  Its various members bivouacked together at the camp by the lake, and by their carelessness soon set it on fire; whence the place became known as the Burned Camp.  Those from the missions confessed their sins all day; while their heathen brothers hung an old coat and a pair of leggings on a pole as tribute to the Manitou.  This greatly embarrassed the three priests, who were about to say Mass, but doubted whether they ought to say it in presence of a sacrifice to the devil.  Hereupon they took counsel of Montcalm.  “Better say it so than not at all,” replied the military casuist.  Brandy being prudently denied them, the allies grew restless; and the greater part paddled up the lake to a spot near the place where Parker had been defeated.  Here they encamped to wait the arrival of the army, and amused themselves meantime with killing rattlesnakes, there being a populous “den” of those reptiles among the neighboring rocks.

[Footnote 501: Bougainville, Journal.]


        Montcalm sent a circular letter to the regular officers, urging them to dispense for a while with luxuries, and even comforts.  “We have but few bateaux, and these are so filled with stores that a large division of the army must go by land;” and he directed that everything not absolutely necessary should be left behind, and that a canvas shelter to every two officers should serve them for a tent, and a bearskin for a bed.  “Yet I do not forbid a mattress,” he adds.  “Age and infirmities may make it necessary to some; but I shall not have one myself, and make no doubt that all who can will willingly imitate me.”[502]

[Footnote 502: Circulaire du Marquis de Montcalm, 25 Juillet, 1757.]


        The bateaux lay ready by the shore, but could not carry the whole force; and Lévis received orders to march by the side of the lake with twenty-five hundred men, Canadians, regulars, and Iroquois.  He set out at daybreak of the thirtieth of July, his men carrying nothing but their knapsacks, blankets, and weapons.  Guided by the unerring Indians, they climbed the steep gorge at the side of Rogers Rock, gained the valley beyond, and marched southward along a Mohawk trail which threaded the forest in a course parallel to the lake.  The way was of the roughest; many straggled from the line, and two officers completely broke down.  The first destination of the party was the mouth of Ganouskie Bay, now called Northwest Bay, where they were to wait for Montcalm, and kindle three fires as a signal that they had reached the rendezvous.[503]

[Footnote 503: Guerre du Canada, par le Chevalier de Lévis. This manuscript of Lévis is largely in the nature of a journal.]


        Montcalm left a detachment to hold Ticonderoga; and then, on the first of August, at two in the afternoon, he embarked at the Burned Camp with all his remaining force.  Including those with Lévis, the expedition counted about seven thousand six hundred men, of whom more than sixteen hundred were Indians.[504]  At five in the afternoon they reached the place where the Indians, having finished their rattlesnake hunt, were smoking their pipes and waiting for the army.  The red warriors embarked, and joined the French flotilla; and now, as evening drew near, was seen one of those wild pageantries of war which Lake George has often witnessed.  A restless multitude of birch canoes, filled with painted savages, glided by shores and islands, like troops of swimming water-fowl.  Two hundred and fifty bateaux came next, moved by sail and oar, some bearing the Canadian militia, and some the battalions of Old France in trim and gay attire: first, La Reine and Languedoc; then the colony regulars; then La Sarre and Guienne; then the Canadian brigade of Courtemanche; then the cannon and mortars, each on a platform sustained by two bateaux lashed side by side, and rowed by the militia of Saint-Ours; then the battalions of Béarn and Royal Roussillon; then the Canadians of Gaspé, with the provision-bateaux and the field-hospital; and, lastly, a rear guard of regulars closed the line.  So, under the flush of sunset, they held their course along the romantic lake, to play their part in the historic drama that lends a stern enchantment to its fascinating scenery.  They passed the Narrows in mist and darkness; and when, a little before dawn, they rounded the high promontory of Tongue Mountain, they saw, far on the right, three fiery sparks shining through the gloom.  These were the signal-fires of Lévis, to tell them that he had reached the appointed spot.[505]

[Footnote 504: État de l'Armée Française devant le Fort George, autrement Guillaume-Henri, le 3 Août, 1757. Tableau des Sauvages qui se trouvent à l'Armée du Marquis de Montcalm, le 28 Juillet, 1757. This gives a total of 1,799 Indians, of whom some afterwards left the army. État de l'Armée du Roi en Canada, sur le Lac St. Sacrement et dans les Camps de Carillon, le 29 Juillet, 1757. This gives a total of 8,019 men, of whom about four hundred were left in garrison at Ticonderoga.]

[Footnote 505: The site of the present village of Bolton.]


        Lévis had arrived the evening before, after his hard march through the sultry midsummer forest.  His men had now rested for a night, and at ten in the morning he marched again.  Montcalm followed at noon, and coasted the western shore, till, towards evening, he found Lévis waiting for him by the margin of a small bay not far from the English fort, though hidden from it by a projecting point of land.  Canoes and bateaux were drawn up on the beach, and the united forces made their bivouac together.

        The earthen mounds of Fort William Henry still stand by the brink of Lake George; and seated at the sunset of an August day under the pines that cover them, one gazes on a scene of soft and soothing beauty, where dreamy waters reflect the glories of the mountains and the sky.  As it is to-day, so it was then; all breathed repose and peace.  The splash of some leaping trout, or the dipping wing of a passing swallow, alone disturbed the summer calm of that unruffled mirror.

        About ten o'clock at night two boats set out from the fort to reconnoitre.  They were passing a point of land on their left, two miles or more down the lake, when the men on board descried through the gloom a strange object against the bank; and they rowed towards it to learn what it might be.  It was an awning over the bateaux that carried Roubaud and his brother missionaries.  As the rash oarsmen drew near, the bleating of a sheep in one of the French provision-boats warned them of danger; and turning, they pulled for their lives towards the eastern shore.  Instantly more than a thousand Indians threw themselves into their canoes and dashed in hot pursuit, making the lake and the mountains ring with the din of their war-whoops.  The fugitives had nearly reached land when their pursuers opened fire.  They replied; shot one Indian dead, and wounded another; then snatched their oars again, and gained the beach.  But the whole savage crew was upon them.  Several were killed, three were taken, and the rest escaped in the dark woods.[506]  The prisoners were brought before Montcalm, and gave him valuable information of the strength and position of the English.[507]

[Footnote 506: Lettre du Père Roubaud, 21 Oct. 1757. Roubaud, who saw the whole, says that twelve hundred Indians joined the chase, and that their yells were terrific.]

[Footnote 507: The remains of Fort William Henry are now—1882—crowded between a hotel and the wharf and station of a railway. While I write, a scheme is on foot to level the whole for other railway structures. When I first knew the place the ground was in much the same state as in the time of Montcalm.]


        The Indian who was killed was a noted chief of the Nipissings; and his tribesmen howled in grief for their bereavement.  They painted his face with vermilion, tied feathers in his hair, hung pendants in his ears and nose, clad him in a resplendent war-dress, put silver bracelets on his arms, hung a gorget on his breast with a flame colored ribbon, and seated him in state on the top of a hillock, with his lance in his hand, his gun in the hollow of his arm, his tomahawk in his belt, and his kettle by his side.  Then they all crouched about him in lugubrious silence.  A funeral harangue followed; and next a song and solemn dance to the booming of the Indian drum.  In the gray of the morning they buried him as he sat, and placed food in the grave for his journey to the land of souls.[508]

[Footnote 508: Lettre du Père Roubaud.]


        As the sun rose above the eastern mountains the French camp was all astir.  The column of Lévis, with Indians to lead the way, moved through the forest towards the fort, and Montcalm followed with the main body; then the artillery boats rounded the point that had hid them from the sight of the English, saluting them as they did so with musketry and cannon; while a host of savages put out upon the lake, ranged their canoes abreast in a line from shore to shore, and advanced slowly, with measured paddle-strokes and yells of defiance.

        The position of the enemy was full in sight before them.  At the head of the lake, towards the right, stood the fort, close to the edge of the water.  On its left was a marsh; then the rough piece of ground where Johnson had encamped two years before; then a low, flat, rocky hill, crowned with an entrenched camp; and, lastly, on the extreme left, another marsh.  Far around the fort and up the slopes of the western mountain the forest had been cut down and burned, and the ground was cumbered with blackened stumps and charred carcasses and limbs of fallen trees, strewn in savage disorder one upon another.[509]  This was the work of Winslow in the autumn before.  Distant shouts and war-cries, the clatter of musketry, white puffs of smoke in the dismal clearing and along the scorched edge of the bordering forest, told that Lévis' Indians were skirmishing with parties of the English, who had gone out to save the cattle roaming in the neighborhood, and burn some out-buildings that would have favored the besiegers.  Others were taking down the tents that stood on a plateau near the foot of the mountain on the right, and moving them to the entrenchment on the hill.  The garrison sallied from the fort to support their comrades, and for a time the firing was hot.

[Footnote 509: Précis des Événements de la Campagne de 1757 en la Nouvelle France.]


        Fort William Henry was an irregular bastioned square, formed by embankments of gravel surmounted by a rampart of heavy logs, laid in tiers crossed one upon another, the interstices filled with earth.  The lake protected it on the north, the marsh on the east, and ditches with chevaux-de-frise on the south and west.  Seventeen cannon, great and small, besides several mortars and swivels, were mounted upon it;[510] and a brave Scotch veteran, Lieutenant-Colonel Monro, of the thirty-fifth regiment, was in command.

[Footnote 510: État des Effets et Munitions de Guerre qui se sont trouvés au Fort Guillaume-Henri. There were six more guns in the entrenched camp.]


        General Webb lay fourteen miles distant at Fort Edward, with twenty-six hundred men, chiefly provincials.  On the twenty-fifth of July he had made a visit to Fort William Henry, examined the place, given some orders, and returned on the twenty-ninth.  He then wrote to the Governor of New York, telling him that the French were certainly coming, begging him to send up the militia, and saying: “I am determined to march to Fort William Henry with the whole army under my command as soon as I shall hear of the farther approach of the enemy.”  Instead of doing so he waited three days, and then sent up a detachment of two hundred regulars under Lieutenant-Colonel Young, and eight hundred Massachusetts men under Colonel Frye.  This raised the force at the lake to two thousand and two hundred, including sailors and mechanics, and reduced that of Webb to sixteen hundred, besides half as many more distributed at Albany and the intervening forts.[511]  If, according to his spirited intention, he should go to the rescue of Monro, he must leave some of his troops behind him to protect the lower posts from a possible French inroad by way of South Bay.  Thus his power of aiding Monro was slight, so rashly had Loudon, intent on Louisburg, left this frontier open to attack.  The defect, however, was as much in Webb himself as in his resources.  His conduct in the past year had raised doubts of his personal courage; and this was the moment for answering them.  Great as was the disparity of numbers, the emergency would have justified an attempt to save Monro at any risk.  That officer sent him a hasty note, written at nine o'clock on the morning of the third, telling him that the French were in sight on the lake; and, in the next night, three rangers came to Fort Edward, bringing another short note, dated at six in the evening, announcing that the firing had begun, and closing with the words: “I believe you will think it proper to send a reinforcement as soon as possible.”  Now, if ever, was the time to move, before the fort was invested and access cut off.  But Webb lay quiet, sending expresses to New England for help which could not possibly arrive in time.  On the next night another note came from Monro to say that the French were upon him in great numbers, well supplied with artillery, but that the garrison were all in good spirits.  “I make no doubt,” wrote the hardpressed officer, “that you will soon send us a reinforcement;” and again on the same day: “We are very certain that a part of the enemy have got between you and us upon the high road, and would therefore be glad (if it meets with your approbation) the whole army was marched.”[512]  But Webb gave no sign.[513]

[Footnote 511: Frye, Journal of the Attack of Fort William Henry. Webb to Loudon, 1 Aug. 1757. Ibid., 5 Aug. 1757.]

[Footnote 512: Copy of four Letters from Lieutenant-Colonel Monro to Major-General Webb, enclosed in the General's Letter of the fifth of August to the Earl of Loudon.]

[Footnote 513: “The number of troops remaining under my Command at this place [Fort Edward], excluding the Posts on Hudson's River, amounts to but sixteen hundred men fit for duty, with which Army, so much inferior to that of the enemy, I did not think it prudent to pursue my first intentions of Marching to their Assistance.”  Webb to Loudon, 5 Aug. 1757.]


        When the skirmishing around the fort was over, La Corne, with a body of Indians, occupied the road that led to Fort Edward, and Lévis encamped hard by to support him, while Montcalm proceeded to examine the ground and settle his plan of attack.  He made his way to the rear of the entrenched camp and reconnoitred it, hoping to carry it by assault; but it had a breastwork of stones and logs, and he thought the attempt too hazardous.  The ground where he stood was that where Dieskau had been defeated; and as the fate of his predecessor was not of flattering augury, he resolved to besiege the fort in form.

        He chose for the site of his operations the ground now covered by the village of Caldwell.  A little to the north of it was a ravine, beyond which he formed his main camp, while Lévis occupied a tract of dry ground beside the marsh, whence he could easily move to intercept succors from Fort Edward on the one hand, or repel a sortie from Fort William Henry on the other.  A brook ran down the ravine and entered the lake at a small cove protected from the fire of the fort by a point of land; and at this place, still called Artillery Cove, Montcalm prepared to debark his cannon and mortars.

        Having made his preparations, he sent Fontbrune, one of his aides-de-camp, with a letter to Monro.  “I owe it to humanity,” he wrote, “to summon you to surrender.  At present I can restrain the savages, and make them observe the terms of a capitulation, as I might not have power to do under other circumstances; and an obstinate defence on your part could only retard the capture of the place a few days, and endanger an unfortunate garrison which cannot be relieved, in consequence of the dispositions I have made.  I demand a decisive answer within an hour.”  Monro replied that he and his soldiers would defend themselves to the last.  While the flags of truce were flying, the Indians swarmed over the fields before the fort; and when they learned the result, an Abenaki chief shouted in broken French: “You won't surrender, eh!  Fire away then, and fight your best; for if I catch you, you shall get no quarter.”  Monro emphasized his refusal by a general discharge of his cannon.

        The trenches were opened on the night of the fourth,—a task of extreme difficulty, as the ground was covered by a profusion of half-burned stumps, roots, branches, and fallen trunks.  Eight hundred men toiled till daylight with pick, spade, and axe, while the cannon from the fort flashed through the darkness, and grape and round-shot whistled and screamed over their heads.  Some of the English balls reached the camp beyond the ravine, and disturbed the slumbers of the officers off duty, as they lay wrapped in their blankets and bear-skins.  Before daybreak the first parallel was made; a battery was nearly finished on the left, and another was begun on the right.  The men now worked under cover, safe in their burrows; one gang relieved another, and the work went on all day.

        The Indians were far from doing what was expected of them.  Instead of scouting in the direction of Fort Edward to learn the movements of the enemy and prevent surprise, they loitered about the camp and in the trenches, or amused themselves by firing at the fort from behind stumps and logs.  Some, in imitation of the French, dug little trenches for themselves, in which they wormed their way towards the rampart, and now and then picked off an artillery-man, not without loss on their own side.  On the afternoon of the fifth, Montcalm invited them to a council, gave them belts of wampum, and mildly remonstrated with them.  “Why expose yourselves without necessity?  I grieve bitterly over the losses that you have met, for the least among you is precious to me.  No doubt it is a good thing to annoy the English; but that is not the main point.  You ought to inform me of everything the enemy is doing, and always keep parties on the road between the two forts.”  And he gently hinted that their place was not in his camp, but in that of Lévis, where missionaries were provided for such of them as were Christians, and food and ammunition for them all.  They promised, with excellent docility, to do everything he wished, but added that there was something on their hearts.  Being encouraged to relieve themselves of the burden, they complained that they had not been consulted as to the management of the siege, but were expected to obey orders like slaves.  “We know more about fighting in the woods than you,” said their orator; “ask our advice, and you will be the better for it.”[514]

[Footnote 514: Bougainville, Journal.]


        Montcalm assured them that if they had been neglected, it was only through the hurry and confusion of the time; expressed high appreciation of their talents for bush-fighting, promised them ample satisfaction, and ended by telling them that in the morning they should hear the big guns.  This greatly pleased them, for they were extremely impatient for the artillery to begin.  About sunrise the battery of the left opened with eight heavy cannon and a mortar, joined, on the next morning, by the battery of the right, with eleven pieces more.  The fort replied with spirit.  The cannon thundered all day, and from a hundred peaks and crags the astonished wilderness roared back the sound.  The Indians were delighted.  They wanted to point the guns; and to humor them, they were now and then allowed to do so.  Others lay behind logs and fallen trees, and yelled their satisfaction when they saw the splinters fly from the wooden rampart.

        Day after day the weary roar of the distant cannonade fell on the ears of Webb in his camp at Fort Edward.  “I have not yet received the least reinforcement,” he writes to Loudon; “this is the disagreeable situation we are at present in.  The fort, by the heavy firing we hear from the lake, is still in our possession; but I fear it cannot long hold out against so warm a cannonading if I am not reinforced by a sufficient number of militia to march to their relief.”  The militia were coming; but it was impossible that many could reach him in less than a week.  Those from New York alone were within call, and two thousand of them arrived soon after he sent Loudon the above letter.  Then, by stripping all the forts below, he could bring together forty-five hundred men; while several French deserters assured him that Montcalm had nearly twelve thousand.  To advance to the relief of Monro with a force so inferior, through a defile of rocks, forests, and mountains, made by nature for ambuscades,—and this too with troops who had neither the steadiness of regulars nor the bush-fighting skill of Indians,—was an enterprise for firmer nerve than his.

        He had already warned Monro to expect no help from him.  At midnight of the fourth, Captain Bartman, his aide-de-camp, wrote: “The General has ordered me to acquaint you he does not think it prudent to attempt a junction or to assist you till reinforced by the militia of the colonies, for the immediate march of which repeated expresses have been sent.”  The letter then declared that the French were in complete possession of the road between the two forts, that a prisoner just brought in reported their force in men and cannon to be very great, and that, unless the militia came soon, Monro had better make what terms he could with the enemy.[515]

[Footnote 515: Frye, in his Journal, gives the letter in full. A spurious translation of it is appended to a piece called Jugement impartial sur les Opérations militaires en Canada.]


        The chance was small that this letter would reach its destination; and in fact the bearer was killed by La Corne's Indians, who, in stripping the body, found the hidden paper, and carried it to the General.  Montcalm kept it several days, till the English rampart was half battered down; and then, after saluting his enemy with a volley from all his cannon, he sent it with a graceful compliment to Monro.  It was Bougainville who carried it, preceded by a drummer and a flag.  He was met at the foot of the glacis, blindfolded, and led through the fort and along the edge of the lake to the entrenched camp, where Monro was at the time.  “He returned many thanks,” writes the emissary in his Diary, “for the courtesy of our nation, and protested his joy at having to do with so generous an enemy.  This was his answer to the Marquis de Montcalm.  Then they led me back, always with eyes blinded; and our batteries began to fire again as soon as we thought that the English grenadiers who escorted me had had time to re-enter the fort.  I hope General Webb's letter may induce the English to surrender the sooner.”[516]

[Footnote 516: Bougainville, Journal. Bougainville au Ministre, 19 Août, 1757.]


        By this time the sappers had worked their way to the angle of the lake, where they were stopped by a marshy hollow, beyond which was a tract of high ground, reaching to the fort and serving as the garden of the garrison.[517]  Logs and fascines in large quantities were thrown into the hollow, and hurdles were laid over them to form a causeway for the cannon.  Then the sap was continued up the acclivity beyond, a trench was opened in the garden, and a battery begun, not two hundred and fifty yards from the fort.  The Indians, in great number, crawled forward among the beans, maize, and cabbages, and lay there ensconced.  On the night of the seventh, two men came out of the fort, apparently to reconnoitre, with a view to a sortie, when they were greeted by a general volley and a burst of yells which echoed among the mountains; followed by responsive whoops pealing through the darkness from the various camps and lurking-places of the savage warriors far and near.

[Footnote 517: Now (1882) the site of Fort William Henry Hotel, with its grounds. The hollow is partly filled by the main road of Caldwell.]


        The position of the besieged was now deplorable.  More than three hundred of them had been killed and wounded; small-pox was raging in the fort; the place was a focus of infection, and the casemates were crowded with the sick.  A sortie from the entrenched camp and another from the fort had been repulsed with loss.  All their large cannon and mortars had been burst, or disabled by shot; only seven small pieces were left fit for service;[518] and the whole of Montcalm's thirty-one cannon and fifteen mortars and howitzers would soon open fire, while the walls were already breached, and an assault was imminent.  Through the night of the eighth they fired briskly from all their remaining pieces.  In the morning the officers held a council, and all agreed to surrender if honorable terms could be had.  A white flag was raised, a drum was beat, and Lieutenant-Colonel Young, mounted on horseback, for a shot in the foot had disabled him from walking, went, followed by a few soldiers, to the tent of Montcalm.

[Footnote 518: Frye, Journal.]


        It was agreed that the English troops should march out with the honors of war, and be escorted to Fort Edward by a detachment of French troops; that they should not serve for eighteen months; and that all French prisoners captured in America since the war began should be given up within three months.  The stores, munitions, and artillery were to be the prize of the victors, except one field-piece, which the garrison were to retain in recognition of their brave defence.

        Before signing the capitulation Montcalm called the Indian chiefs to council, and asked them to consent to the conditions, and promise to restrain their young warriors from any disorder.  They approved everything and promised everything.  The garrison then evacuated the fort, and marched to join their comrades in the entrenched camp, which was included in the surrender.  No sooner were they gone than a crowd of Indians clambered through the embrasures in search of rum and plunder.  All the sick men unable to leave their beds were instantly butchered.[519]  “I was witness of this spectacle,” says the missionary Roubaud; “I saw one of these barbarians come out of the casemates with a human head in his hand, from which the blood ran in streams, and which he paraded as if he had got the finest prize in the world.”  There was little left to plunder; and the Indians, joined by the more lawless of the Canadians, turned their attention to the entrenched camp, where all the English were now collected.

[Footnote 519: Attestation of William Arbuthnot, Captain in Frye's Regiment.]


        The French guard stationed there could not or would not keep out the rabble.  By the advice of Montcalm the English stove their rum-barrels; but the Indians were drunk already with homicidal rage, and the glitter of their vicious eyes told of the devil within.  They roamed among the tents, intrusive, insolent, their visages besmirched with war-paint; grinning like fiends as they handled, in anticipation of the knife, the long hair of cowering women, of whom, as well as of children, there were many in the camp, all crazed with fright.  Since the last war the New England border population had regarded Indians with a mixture of detestation and horror.  Their mysterious warfare of ambush and surprise, their midnight onslaughts, their butcheries, their burnings, and all their nameless atrocities, had been for years the theme of fireside story; and the dread they excited was deepened by the distrust and dejection of the time.  The confusion in the camp lasted through the afternoon.  “The Indians,” says Bougainville, “wanted to plunder the chests of the English; the latter resisted; and there was fear that serious disorder would ensue.  The Marquis de Montcalm ran thither immediately, and used every means to restore tranquillity: prayers, threats, caresses, interposition of the officers and interpreters who have some influence over these savages.”[520]  “We shall be but too happy if we can prevent a massacre.  Detestable position!  of which nobody who has not been in it can have any idea, and which makes victory itself a sorrow to the victors.  The Marquis spared no efforts to prevent the rapacity of the savages and, I must say it, of certain persons associated with them, from resulting in something worse than plunder.  At last, at nine o'clock in the evening, order seemed restored.  The Marquis even induced the Indians to promise that, besides the escort agreed upon in the capitulation, two chiefs for each tribe should accompany the English on their way to Fort Edward.”[521]  He also ordered La Corne and the other Canadian officers attached to the Indians to see that no violence took place.  He might well have done more.  In view of the disorders of the afternoon, it would not have been too much if he had ordered the whole body of regular troops, whom alone he could trust for the purpose, to hold themselves ready to move to the spot in case of outbreak, and shelter their defeated foes behind a hedge of bayonets.

[Footnote 520: Bougainville au Ministre, 19 Août, 1757.]

[Footnote 521: Bougainville, Journal.]


        Bougainville was not to see what ensued; for Montcalm now sent him to Montreal, as a special messenger to carry news of the victory.  He embarked at ten o'clock.  Returning daylight found him far down the lake; and as he looked on its still bosom flecked with mists, and its quiet mountains sleeping under the flush of dawn, there was nothing in the wild tranquillity of the scene to suggest the tragedy which even then was beginning on the shore he had left behind.

        The English in their camp had passed a troubled night, agitated by strange rumors.  In the morning something like a panic seized them; for they distrusted not the Indians only, but the Canadians.  In their haste to be gone they got together at daybreak, before the escort of three hundred regulars had arrived.  They had their muskets, but no ammunition; and few or none of the provincials had bayonets.  Early as it was, the Indians were on the alert; and, indeed, since midnight great numbers of them had been prowling about the skirts of the camp, showing, says Colonel Frye, “more than usual malice in their looks.”  Seventeen wounded men of his regiment lay in huts, unable to join the march.  In the preceding afternoon Miles Whitworth, the regimental surgeon, had passed them over to the care of a French surgeon, according to an agreement made at the time of the surrender; but, the Frenchman being absent, the other remained with them attending to their wants.  The French surgeon had caused special sentinels to be posted for their protection.  These were now removed, at the moment when they were needed most; upon which, about five o'clock in the morning, the Indians entered the huts, dragged out the inmates, and tomahawked and scalped them all, before the eyes of Whitworth, and in presence of La Corne and other Canadian officers, as well as of a French guard stationed within forty feet of the spot; and, declares the surgeon under oath, “none, either officer or soldier, protected the said wounded men.”[522]  The opportune butchery relieved them of a troublesome burden.

[Footnote 522: Affidavit of Miles Whitworth. See Appendix F.]


        A scene of plundering now began.  The escort had by this time arrived, and Monro complained to the officers that the capitulation was broken; but got no other answer than advice to give up the baggage to the Indians in order to appease them.  To this the English at length agreed; but it only increased the excitement of the mob.  They demanded rum; and some of the soldiers, afraid to refuse, gave it to them from their canteens, thus adding fuel to the flame.  When, after much difficulty, the column at last got out of the camp and began to move along the road that crossed the rough plain between the entrenchment and the forest, the Indians crowded upon them, impeded their march, snatched caps, coats, and weapons from men and officers, tomahawked those that resisted, and, seizing upon shrieking women and children, dragged them off or murdered them on the spot.  It is said that some of the interpreters secretly fomented the disorder.[523]  Suddenly there rose the screech of the war-whoop.  At this signal of butchery, which was given by Abenaki Christians from the mission of the Penobscot,[524] a mob of savages rushed upon the New Hampshire men at the rear of the column, and killed or dragged away eighty of them.[525]  A frightful tumult ensued, when Montcalm, Lévis, Bourlamaque, and many other French officers, who had hastened from their camp on the first news of disturbance, threw themselves among the Indians, and by promises and threats tried to allay their frenzy.  “Kill me, but spare the English who are under my protection,” exclaimed Montcalm.  He took from one of them a young officer whom the savage had seized; upon which several other Indians immediately tomahawked their prisoners, lest they too should be taken from them.  One writer says that a French grenadier was killed and two wounded in attempting to restore order; but the statement is doubtful.  The English seemed paralyzed, and fortunately did not attempt a resistance, which, without ammunition as they were, would have ended in a general massacre.  Their broken column straggled forward in wild disorder, amid the din of whoops and shrieks, till they reached the French advance-guard, which consisted of Canadians; and here they demanded protection from the officers, who refused to give it, telling them that they must take to the woods and shift for themselves.  Frye was seized by a number of Indians, who, brandishing spears and tomahawks, threatened him with death and tore off his clothing, leaving nothing but breeches, shoes, and shirt.  Repelled by the officers of the guard, he made for the woods.  A Connecticut soldier who was present says of him that he leaped upon an Indian who stood in his way, disarmed and killed him, and then escaped; but Frye himself does not mention the incident.  Captain Burke, also of the Massachusetts regiment, was stripped, after a violent struggle, of all his clothes; then broke loose, gained the woods, spent the night shivering in the thick grass of a marsh, and on the next day reached Fort Edward.  Jonathan Carver, a provincial volunteer, declares that, when the tumult was at its height, he saw officers of the French army walking about at a little distance and talking with seeming unconcern.  Three or four Indians seized him, brandished their tomahawks over his head, and tore off most of his clothes, while he vainly claimed protection from a sentinel, who called him an English dog, and violently pushed him back among his tormentors.  Two of them were dragging him towards the neighboring swamp, when an English officer, stripped of everything but his scarlet breeches, ran by.  One of Carver's captors sprang upon him, but was thrown to the ground; whereupon the other went to the aid of his comrade and drove his tomahawk into the back of the Englishman.  As Carver turned to run, an English boy, about twelve years old, clung to him and begged for help.  They ran on together for a moment, when the boy was seized, dragged from his protector, and, as Carver judged by his shrieks, was murdered.  He himself escaped to the forest, and after three days of famine reached Fort Edward.

[Footnote 523: This is stated by Pouchot and Bougainville; the latter of whom confirms the testimony of the English witnesses, that Canadian officers present did nothing to check the Indians.]

[Footnote 524: See note, end of chapter.]

[Footnote 525: Belknap, History of New Hampshire, says that eighty were killed. Governor Wentworth, writing immediately after the event, says “killed or captivated.”]


        The bonds of discipline seem for the time to have been completely broken; for while Montcalm and his chief officers used every effort to restore order, even at the risk of their lives, many other officers, chiefly of the militia, failed atrociously to do their duty.  How many English were killed it is impossible to tell with exactness.  Roubaud says that he saw forty or fifty corpses scattered about the field.  Lévis says fifty; which does not include the sick and wounded before murdered in the camp and fort.  It is certain that six or seven hundred persons were carried off, stripped, and otherwise maltreated.  Montcalm succeeded in recovering more than four hundred of them in the course of the day; and many of the French officers did what they could to relieve their wants by buying back from their captors the clothing that had been torn from them.  Many of the fugitives had taken refuge in the fort, whither Monro himself had gone to demand protection for his followers; and here Roubaud presently found a crowd of half-frenzied women, crying in anguish for husbands and children.  All the refugees and redeemed prisoners were afterwards conducted to the entrenched camp, where food and shelter were provided for them and a strong guard set for their protection until the fifteenth, when they were sent under an escort to Fort Edward.  Here cannon had been fired at intervals to guide those who had fled to the woods, whence they came dropping in from day to day, half dead with famine.

        On the morning after the massacre the Indians decamped in a body and set out for Montreal, carrying with them their plunder and some two hundred prisoners, who, it is said, could not be got out of their hands.  The soldiers were set to the work of demolishing the English fort; and the task occupied several days.  The barracks were torn down, and the huge pine-logs of the rampart thrown into a heap.  The dead bodies that filled the casemates were added to the mass, and fire was set to the whole.  The mighty funeral pyre blazed all night.  Then, on the sixteenth, the army reimbarked.  The din of ten thousand combatants, the rage, the terror, the agony, were gone; and no living thing was left but the wolves that gathered from the mountains to feast upon the dead.[526]

[Footnote 526: The foregoing chapter rests largely on evidence never before brought to light, including the minute Journal of Bougainville,—document which can hardly be commended too much,—the correspondence of Webb, a letter of Colonel Frye, written just after the massacre, and a journal of the siege, sent by him to Governor Pownall as his official report. Extracts from these, as well as from the affidavit of Dr. Whitworth, which is also new evidence, are given in Appendix F.

The Diary of Malartic and the correspondence of Montcalm, Lévis, Vaudreuil, and Bigot, also throw light on the campaign, as well as numerous reports of the siege, official and semi-official. The long letter of the Jesuit Roubaud, printed anonymously in the Lettres Édifiantes et Curieuses, gives a remarkably vivid account of what he saw. He was an intelligent person, who may be trusted where he has no motive for lying. Curious particulars about him will be found in a paper called, The deplorable Case of Mr. Roubaud, printed in the Historical Magazine, Second Series, VIII. 282. Compare Verreau, Report on Canadian Archives, 1874.

Impressions of the massacre at Fort William Henry have hitherto been derived chiefly from the narrative of Captain Jonathan Carver, in his Travels. He has discredited himself by his exaggeration of the number killed; but his account of what he himself saw tallies with that of the other witnesses. He is outdone in exaggeration by an anonymous French writer of the time, who seems rather pleased at the occurrence, and affirms that all the English were killed except seven hundred, these last being captured, so that none escaped (Nouvelles du Canada envoyées de Montréal, Août, 1757). Carver puts killed and captured together at fifteen hundred. Vaudreuil, who always makes light of Indian barbarities, goes to the other extreme, and avers that no more than five or six were killed. Lévis and Roubaud, who saw everything, and were certain not to exaggerate the number, give the most trustworthy evidence on this point. The capitulation, having been broken by the allies of France, was declared void by the British Government.

The Signal of Butchery.  Montcalm, Bougainville, and several others say that the massacre was begun by the Abenakis of Panaouski. Father Martin, in quoting the letter in which Montcalm makes this statement, inserts the word idolâtres, which is not in the original. Dussieux and O'Callaghan give the passage correctly. This Abenaki band, ancestors of the present Penobscots, were no idolaters, but had been converted more than half a century. In the official list of the Indian allies they are set down among the Christians. Roubaud, who had charge of them during the expedition, speaks of these and other converts with singular candor: “Vous avez dû vous apercevoir ... que nos sauvages, pour être Chrétiens, n'en sont pas plus irrépréhensibles dans leur conduite.”]


Table of Contents



Chapter 16

1757, 1758


A Winter of Discontent


        Loudon, on his way back from Halifax, was at sea off the coast of Nova Scotia when a despatch-boat from Governor Pownall of Massachusetts startled him with news that Fort William Henry was attacked; and a few days after he learned by another boat that the fort was taken and the capitulation “inhumanly and villanously broken.”  On this he sent Webb orders to hold the enemy in check without risking a battle till he should himself arrive.  “I am on the way,” these were his words, “with a force sufficient to turn the scale, with God's assistance; and then I hope we shall teach the French to comply with the laws of nature and humanity.  For although I abhor barbarity, the knowledge I have of Mr. Vaudreuil's behavior when in Louisiana, from his own letters in my possession, and the murders committed at Oswego and now at Fort William Henry, will oblige me to make those gentlemen sick of such inhuman villany whenever it is in my power.”  He reached New York on the last day of August, and heard that the French had withdrawn.  He nevertheless sent his troops up the Hudson, thinking, he says, that he might still attack Ticonderoga; a wild scheme, which he soon abandoned, if he ever seriously entertained it.[527]

[Footnote 527: Loudon to Webb, 20 Aug. 1757. London to Holdernesse, Oct. 1757. Loudon to Pownall, 16 [18?] Aug. 1757. A passage in this last letter, in which Loudon says that he shall, if prevented by head-winds from getting into New York, disembark the troops on Long Island, is perverted by that ardent partisan, William Smith, the historian of New York, into the absurd declaration “that he should encamp on Long Island for the defence of the continent.”]


        Webb had remained at Fort Edward in mortal dread of attack.  Johnson had joined him with a band of Mohawks; and on the day when Fort William Henry surrendered there had been some talk of attempting to throw succors into it by night.  Then came the news of its capture; and now, when it was too late, tumultuous mobs of militia came pouring in from the neighboring provinces.  In a few days thousands of them were bivouacked on the fields about Fort Edward, doing nothing, disgusted and mutinous, declaring that they were ready to fight, but not to lie still without tents, blankets, or kettles.  Webb writes on the fourteenth that most of those from New York had deserted, threatening to kill their officers if they tried to stop them.  Delancey ordered them to be fired upon.  A sergeant was shot, others were put in arrest, and all was disorder till the seventeenth; when Webb, learning that the French were gone, sent them back to their homes.[528]

[Footnote 528: Delancey to [Holdernesse?], 24 Aug. 1757.]


        Close on the fall of Fort William Henry came crazy rumors of disaster, running like wildfire through the colonies.  The number and ferocity of the enemy were grossly exaggerated; there was a cry that they would seize Albany and New York itself;[529] while it was reported that Webb, as much frightened as the rest, was for retreating to the Highlands of the Hudson.[530]  This was the day after the capitulation, when a part only of the militia had yet appeared.  If Montcalm had seized the moment, and marched that afternoon to Fort Edward, it is not impossible that in the confusion he might have carried it by a coup-de-main.

[Footnote 529: Captain Christie to Governor Wentworth, 11 Aug. 1757. Ibid., to Governor Pownall, same date.]

[Footnote 530: Smith, Hist. N.Y., Part II. 254.]


        Here was an opportunity for Vaudreuil, and he did not fail to use it.  Jealous of his rival's exploit, he spared no pains to tarnish it; complaining that Montcalm had stopped half way on the road to success, and, instead of following his instructions, had contented himself with one victory when he should have gained two.  But the Governor had enjoined upon him as a matter of the last necessity that the Canadians should be at their homes before September to gather the crops, and he would have been the first to complain had the injunction been disregarded.  To besiege Fort Edward was impossible, as Montcalm had no means of transporting cannon thither; and to attack Webb without them was a risk which he had not the rashness to incur.

        It was Bougainville who first brought Vaudreuil the news of the success on Lake George.  A day or two after his arrival, the Indians, who had left the army after the massacre, appeared at Montreal, bringing about two hundred English prisoners.  The Governor rebuked them for breaking the capitulation, on which the heathen savages of the West declared that it was not their fault, but that of the converted Indians, who, in fact, had first raised the war-whoop.  Some of the prisoners were presently bought from them at the price of two kegs of brandy each; and the inevitable consequences followed.

        “I thought,” writes Bougainville, “that the Governor would have told them they should have neither provisions nor presents till all the English were given up; that he himself would have gone to their huts and taken the prisoners from them; and that the inhabitants would be forbidden, under the severest penalties, from selling or giving them brandy.  I saw the contrary; and my soul shuddered at the sights my eyes beheld.  On the fifteenth, at two o'clock, in the presence of the whole town, they killed one of the prisoners, put him into the kettle, and forced his wretched countrymen to eat of him.”  The Intendant Bigot, the friend of the Governor, confirms this story; and another French writer says that they “compelled mothers to eat the flesh of their children.”[531]  Bigot declares that guns, canoes, and other presents were given to the Western tribes before they left Montreal; and he adds, “they must be sent home satisfied at any cost.”  Such were the pains taken to preserve allies who were useful chiefly through the terror inspired by their diabolical cruelties.  This time their ferocity cost them dear.  They had dug up and scalped the corpses in the graveyard of Fort William Henry, many of which were remains of victims of the small-pox; and the savages caught the disease, which is said to have made great havoc among them.[532]

[Footnote 531: “En chemin faisant et même en entrant à Montréal ils les ont mangés et fait manger aux autres prisonniers.”  Bigot au Ministre, 24 Août, 1757.

“Des sauvages out fait manger aux mères la chair de leurs enfants.”  Jugement impartial sur les Opérations militaires en Canada. A French diary kept in Canada at this time, and captured at sea, is cited by Hutchinson as containing similar statements.]

[Footnote 532: One of these corpses was that of Richard Rogers, brother of the noted partisan Robert Rogers. He had died of small-pox some time before. Rogers, Journals, 55, note.]


        Vaudreuil, in reporting what he calls “my capture of Fort William Henry,” takes great credit to himself for his “generous procedures” towards the English prisoners; alluding, it seems, to his having bought some of them from the Indians with the brandy which was sure to cause the murder of others.[533]  His obsequiousness to his red allies did not cease with permitting them to kill and devour before his eyes those whom he was bound in honor and duty to protect.  “He let them do what they pleased,” says a French contemporary; “they were seen roaming about Montreal, knife in hand, threatening everybody, and often insulting those they met.  When complaint was made, he said nothing.  Far from it; instead of reproaching them, he loaded them with gifts, in the belief that their cruelty would then relent.”[534]

[Footnote 533: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 15 Sept. 1757.]

[Footnote 534: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]


        Nevertheless, in about a fortnight all, or nearly all, the surviving prisoners were bought out of their clutches; and then, after a final distribution of presents and a grand debauch at La Chine, the whole savage rout paddled for their villages.

        The campaign closed in November with a partisan exploit on the Mohawk.  Here, at a place called German Flats, on the farthest frontier, there was a thriving settlement of German peasants from the Palatinate, who were so ill-disposed towards the English that Vaudreuil had had good hope of stirring them to revolt, while at the same time persuading their neighbors, the Oneida Indians, to take part with France.[535]  As his measures to this end failed, he resolved to attack them.  Therefore, at three o'clock in the morning of the twelfth of November, three hundred colony troops, Canadians and Indians, under an officer named Belêtre, wakened the unhappy peasants by a burst of yells, and attacked the small picket forts which they had built as places of refuge.  These were taken one by one and set on fire.  The sixty dwellings of the settlement, with their barns and outhouses, were all burned, forty or fifty of the inhabitants were killed, and about three times that number, chiefly women and children, were made prisoners, including Johan Jost Petrie, the magistrate of the place.  Fort Herkimer was not far off, with a garrison of two hundred men under Captain Townshend, who at the first alarm sent out a detachment too weak to arrest the havoc; while Belêtre, unable to carry off his booty, set on his followers to the work of destruction, killed a great number of hogs, sheep, cattle, and horses, and then made a hasty retreat.  Lord Howe, pushing up the river from Schenectady with troops and militia, found nothing but an abandoned slaughter-field.  Vaudreuil reported the affair to the Court, and summed up the results with pompous egotism: “I have ruined the plans of the English; I have disposed the Five Nations to attack them; I have carried consternation and terror into all those parts.”[536]

[Footnote 535: Dépêches de Vaudreuil, 1757.]

[Footnote 536: Loudon to Pitt, 14 Feb. 1758. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 12 Fév. 1758. Ibid., 28 Nov. 1758. Bougainville, Journal. Summary of M. de Belêtre's Campaign, in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 672. Extravagant reports of the havoc made were sent to France. It was pretended that three thousand cattle, three thousand sheep (Vaudreuil says four thousand), and from five hundred to fifteen hundred horses were destroyed, with other personal property to the amount of 1,500,000 livres. These official falsehoods are contradicted in a letter from Quebec, Daine au Maréchal de Belleisle, 19 Mai, 1758. Levis says that the whole population of the settlement, men, women, and children, was not above three hundred.]


        Montcalm, his summer work over, went to Montreal; and thence in September to Quebec, a place more to his liking.  “Come as soon as you can,” he wrote to Bourlamaque, “and I will tell a certain fair lady how eager you are.”  Even Quebec was no paradise for him; and he writes again to the same friend: “My heart and my stomach are both ill at ease, the latter being the worse.”  To his wife he says: “The price of everything is rising.  I am ruining myself; I owe the treasurer twelve thousand francs.  I long for peace and for you.  In spite of the public distress, we have balls and furious gambling.”  In February he returned to Montreal in a sleigh on the ice of the St. Lawrence,—a mode of travelling which he describes as cold but delicious.  Montreal pleased him less than ever, especially as he was not in favor at what he calls the Court, meaning the circle of the Governor-General.  “I find this place so amusing,” he writes ironically to Bourlamaque, “that I wish Holy Week could be lengthened, to give me a pretext for neither making nor receiving visits, staying at home, and dining there almost alone.  Burn all my letters, as I do yours.”  And in the next week: “Lent and devotion have upset my stomach and given me a cold; which does not prevent me from having the Governor-General at dinner to-day to end his lenten fast, according to custom here.”  Two days after he announces: “To-day a grand dinner at Martel's; twenty-three persons, all big-wigs (les grosses perruques); no ladies.  We still have got to undergo those of Péan, Deschambault, and the Chevalier de Lévis.  I spend almost every evening in my chamber, the place I like best, and where I am least bored.”

        With the opening spring there were changes in the modes of amusement.  Picnics began, Vaudreuil and his wife being often of the party, as too was Lévis.  The Governor also made visits of compliment at the houses of the seigniorial proprietors along the river; “very much,” says Montcalm, as “Henri IV did to the bourgeois notables of Paris.  I live as usual, fencing in the morning, dining, and passing the evening at home or at the Governor's.  Péan has gone up to La Chine to spend six days with the reigning sultana [Péan's wife, mistress of Bigot].  As for me, my ennui increases.  I don't know what to do, or say, or read, or where to go; and I think that at the end of the next campaign I shall ask bluntly, blindly, for my recall, only because I am bored.”[537]

[Footnote 537: Montcalm à Bourlamaque, 22 Mai, 1758.]


        His relations with Vaudreuil were a constant annoyance to him, notwithstanding the mask of mutual civility.  “I never,” he tells his mother, “ask for a place in the colony troops for anybody.  You need not be an Oedipus to guess this riddle.  Here are four lines from Corneille:—

“ 'Mon crime véritable est d'avoir aujourd'hui
Plus de nom que ... [Vaudreuil], plus de vertus que lui,
Et c'est de là que part cette secrète haine
Que le temps ne rendra que plus forte et plus pleine.'

Nevertheless I live here on good terms with everybody, and do my best to serve the King.  If they could but do without me; if they could but spring some trap on me, or if I should happen to meet with some check!”

        Vaudreuil meanwhile had written to the Court in high praise of Lévis, hinting that he, and not Montcalm, ought to have the chief command.[538]

[Footnote 538: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 16 Sept. 1757. Ibid., au Ministre de la Guerre, même date.]


        Under the hollow gayeties of the ruling class lay a great public distress, which broke at last into riot.  Towards midwinter no flour was to be had in Montreal; and both soldiers and people were required to accept a reduced ration, partly of horse-flesh.  A mob gathered before the Governor's house, and a deputation of women beset him, crying out that the horse was the friend of man, and that religion forbade him to be eaten.  In reply he threatened them with imprisonment and hanging; but with little effect, and the crowd dispersed, only to stir up the soldiers quartered in the houses of the town.  The colony regulars, ill-disciplined at the best, broke into mutiny, and excited the battalion of Béarn to join them.  Vaudreuil was helpless; Montcalm was in Quebec; and the task of dealing with the mutineers fell upon Lévis, who proved equal to the crisis, took a high tone, threatened death to the first soldier who should refuse horse-flesh, assured them at the same time that he ate it every day himself, and by a characteristic mingling of authority and tact, quelled the storm.[539]

[Footnote 539: Bougainville, Journal. Montcalm à Mirepoix, 20 Avril, 1758. Lévis, Journal de la Guerre du Canada.]


        The prospects of the next campaign began to open.  Captain Pouchot had written from Niagara that three thousand savages were waiting to be let loose against the English borders.  “What a scourge!” exclaims Bougainville.  “Humanity groans at being forced to use such monsters.  What can be done against an invisible enemy, who strikes and vanishes, swift as the lightning?  It is the destroying angel.”  Captain Hebecourt kept watch and ward at Ticonderoga, begirt with snow and ice, and much plagued by English rangers, who sometimes got into the ditch itself.[540]  This was to reconnoitre the place in preparation for a winter attack which Loudon had planned, but which, like the rest of his schemes, fell to the ground.[541]  Towards midwinter a band of these intruders captured two soldiers and butchered some fifteen cattle close to the fort, leaving tied to the horns of one of them a note addressed to the commandant in these terms: “I am obliged to you, sir, for the rest you have allowed me to take and the fresh meat you have sent me.  I shall take good care of my prisoners.  My compliments to the Marquis of Montcalm.”  Signed, Rogers.[542]

[Footnote 540: Montcalm à Bourlamaque, 28 Mars, 1758.]

[Footnote 541: Loudon to Pitt, 14 Feb. 1758.]

[Footnote 542: Journal de ce qui s'est passé en Canada, 1757, 1758. Compare Rogers, Journals, 72-75.]


        A few weeks later Hebecourt had his revenge.  About the middle of March a report came to Montreal that a large party of rangers had been cut to pieces a few miles from Ticonderoga, and that Rogers himself was among the slain.  This last announcement proved false; but the rangers had suffered a crushing defeat.  Colonel Haviland, commanding at Fort Edward, sent a hundred and eighty of them, men and officers, on a scouting party towards Ticonderoga; and Captain Pringle and Lieutenant Roche, of the twenty-seventh regiment, joined them as volunteers, no doubt through a love of hardy adventure, which was destined to be fully satisfied.  Rogers commanded the whole.  They passed down Lake George on the ice under cover of night, and then, as they neared the French outposts, pursued their way by land behind Rogers Rock and the other mountains of the western shore.  On the preceding day, the twelfth of March, Hebecourt had received a reinforcement of two hundred Mission Indians and a body of Canadians.  The Indians had no sooner arrived than, though nominally Christians, they consulted the spirits, by whom they were told that the English were coming.  On this they sent out scouts, who came back breathless, declaring that they had found a great number of snow-shoe tracks.  The superhuman warning being thus confirmed, the whole body of Indians, joined by a band of Canadians and a number of volunteers from the regulars, set out to meet the approaching enemy, and took their way up the valley of Trout Brook, a mountain gorge that opens from the west upon the valley of Ticonderoga.

        Towards three o'clock on the afternoon of that day Rogers had reached a point nearly west of the mountain that bears his name.  The rough and rocky ground was buried four feet in snow, and all around stood the gray trunks of the forest, bearing aloft their skeleton arms and tangled intricacy of leafless twigs.  Close on the right was a steep hill, and at a little distance on the left was the brook, lost under ice and snow.  A scout from the front told Rogers that a party of Indians was approaching along the bed of the frozen stream, on which he ordered his men to halt, face to that side, and advance cautiously.  The Indians soon appeared, and received a fire that killed some of them and drove back the rest in confusion.

        Not suspecting that they were but an advance-guard, about half the rangers dashed in pursuit, and were soon met by the whole body of the enemy.  The woods rang with yells and musketry.  In a few minutes some fifty of the pursuers were shot down, and the rest driven back in disorder upon their comrades.  Rogers formed them all on the slope of the hill; and here they fought till sunset with stubborn desperation, twice repulsing the overwhelming numbers of the assailants, and thwarting all their efforts to gain the heights in the rear.  The combatants were often not twenty yards apart, and sometimes they were mixed together.  At length a large body of Indians succeeded in turning the right flank of the rangers.  Lieutenant Phillips and a few men were sent by Rogers to oppose the movement; but they quickly found themselves surrounded, and after a brave defence surrendered on a pledge of good treatment.  Rogers now advised the volunteers, Pringle and Roche, to escape while there was time, and offered them a sergeant as guide; but they gallantly resolved to stand by him.  Eight officers and more than a hundred rangers lay dead and wounded in the snow.  Evening was near and the forest was darkening fast, when the few survivors broke and fled.  Rogers with about twenty followers escaped up the mountain; and gathering others about him, made a running fight against the Indian pursuers, reached Lake George, not without fresh losses, and after two days of misery regained Fort Edward with the remnant of his band.  The enemy on their part suffered heavily, the chief loss falling on the Indians; who, to revenge themselves, murdered all the wounded and nearly all the prisoners, and tying Lieutenant Phillips and his men to trees, hacked them to pieces.

        Captain Pringle and Lieutenant Roche had become separated from the other fugitives; and, ignorant of woodcraft, they wandered by moonlight amid the desolation of rocks and snow, till early in the night they met a man whom they knew as a servant of Rogers, and who said that he could guide them to Fort Edward.  One of them had lost his snow-shoes in the fight; and, crouching over a miserable fire of broken sticks, they worked till morning to make a kind of substitute with forked branches, twigs, and a few leather strings.  They had no hatchet to cut firewood, no blankets, no overcoats, and no food except part of a Bologna sausage and a little ginger which Pringle had brought with him.  There was no game; not even a squirrel was astir; and their chief sustenance was juniper-berries and the inner bark of trees.  But their worst calamity was the helplessness of their guide.  His brain wandered; and while always insisting that he knew the country well, he led them during four days hither and thither among a labyrinth of nameless mountains, clambering over rocks, wading through snowdrifts, struggling among fallen trees, till on the fifth day they saw with despair that they had circled back to their own starting-point.  On the next morning, when they were on the ice of Lake George, not far from Rogers Rock, a blinding storm of sleet and snow drove in their faces.  Spent as they were, it was death to stop; and bending their heads against the blast, they fought their way forward, now on the ice, and now in the adjacent forest, till in the afternoon the storm ceased, and they found themselves on the bank of an unknown stream.  It was the outlet of the lake; for they had wandered into the valley of Ticonderoga, and were not three miles from the French fort.  In crossing the torrent Pringle lost his gun, and was near losing his life.  All three of the party were drenched to the skin; and, becoming now for the first time aware of where they were, they resolved on yielding themselves prisoners to save their lives.  Night, however, again found them in the forest.  Their guide became delirious, saw visions of Indians all around, and, murmuring incoherently, straggled off a little way, seated himself in the snow, and was soon dead.  The two officers, themselves but half alive, walked all night round a tree to keep the blood in motion.  In the morning, again toiling on, they presently saw the fort across the intervening snowfields, and approached it, waving a white handkerchief.  Several French officers dashed towards them at full speed, and reached them in time to save them from the clutches of the Indians, whose camps were near at hand.  They were kindly treated, recovered from the effects of their frightful ordeal, and were afterwards exchanged.  Pringle lived to old age, and died in 1800, senior major-general of the British army.[543]

[Footnote 543: Rogers, two days after reaching Fort Edward, made a detailed report of the fight, which was printed in the New Hampshire Gazette and other provincial papers. It is substantially incorporated in his published Journals, which also contain a long letter from Pringle to Colonel Haviland, dated at Carillon (Ticonderoga), 28 March, and giving an excellent account of his and Roche's adventures. It was sent by a flag of truce, which soon after arrived from Fort Edward with a letter for Vaudreuil. The French accounts of the fight are Hebecourt à [Vaudreuil?], 15 Mars, 1758. Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, 10 Avril, 1758. Bougainville, Journal. Relation de l'Affaire de Roger, 19 Mars, 1758. Autre Relation, même date. Lévis, Journal. According to Lévis, the French force consisted of 250 Indians and Canadians, and a number of officers, cadets, and soldiers. Rogers puts it at 700.  Most of the French writers put the force of the rangers, correctly, at about 180.  Rogers reports his loss at 125.  None of the wounded seem to have escaped, being either murdered after the fight, or killed by exposure in the woods. The Indians brought in 144 scalps, having no doubt divided some of them, after their ingenious custom. Rogers threw off his overcoat during the fight, and it was found on the field, with his commission in the pocket; whence the report of his death. There is an unsupported tradition that he escaped by sliding on his snow-shoes down a precipice of Rogers Rock.]


Table of Contents



Chapter 17

1753-1760


Bigot


        At this stormy epoch of Canadian history the sinister figure of the Intendant Bigot moves conspicuous on the scene.  Not that he was answerable for all the manifold corruption that infected the colony, for much of it was rife before his time, and had a vitality of its own; but his office and character made him the centre of it, and, more than any other man, he marshalled and organized the forces of knavery.

        In the dual government of Canada the Governor represented the King and commanded the troops; while the Intendant was charged with trade, finance, justice, and all other departments of civil administration.  In former times the two functionaries usually quarrelled; but between Vaudreuil and Bigot there was perfect harmony.

        François Bigot, in the words of his biographer, was “born in the bosom of the magistracy,” both his father and his grandfather having held honorable positions in the parliament of Bordeaux.[544]  In appearance he was not prepossessing, though his ugly, pimpled face was joined with easy and agreeable manners.  In spite of indifferent health, he was untiring both in pleasure and in work, a skilful man of business, of great official experience, energetic, good-natured, free-handed, ready to oblige his friends and aid them in their needs at the expense of the King, his master; fond of social enjoyments, lavish in hospitality.

[Footnote 544: Procès de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Mémoire pour Messire François Bigot, accusé, contre Monsieur le Procureur-Général du Roi, accusateur.]


        A year or two before the war began, the engineer Franquet was sent from France to strengthen Louisbourg and inspect the defences of Canada.  He kept a copious journal, full of curious observation, and affording bright glimpses not only of the social life of the Intendant, but of Canadian society in the upper or official class.  Thus, among various matters of the kind, he gives us the following.  Bigot, who was in Quebec, had occasion to go to Montreal to meet the Governor; and this official journey was turned into a pleasure excursion, of which the King paid all the costs.  Those favored with invitations, a privilege highly prized, were Franquet, with seven or eight military officers and a corresponding number of ladies, including the wife of Major Pean, of whom Bigot was enamoured.  A chief steward, cooks, servants, and other attendants, followed the party.  The guests had been requested to send their portmanteaus to the Intendant's Palace six days before, that they might be sent forward on sledges along with bedding, table, service, cooking utensils, and numberless articles of comfort and luxury.  Orders were given to the inhabitants along the way, on pain of imprisonment, to level the snowdrifts and beat the road smooth with ox-teams, as also to provide relays of horses.  It is true that they were well paid for this last service; so well that the hire of a horse to Montreal and back again would cost the King the entire value of the animal.  On the eighth of February the party met at the palace; and after a grand dinner set out upon their journey in twenty or more sleighs, some with two guests and a driver, and the rest with servants and attendants.  The procession passed at full trot along St. Vallier street amid the shouts of an admiring crowd, stopped towards night at Pointe-aux-Trembles, where each looked for lodging; and then they all met and supped with the Intendant.  The militia captain of the place was ordered to have fresh horses ready at seven in the morning, when Bigot regaled his friends with tea, coffee, and chocolate, after which they set out again, drove to Cap-Santé, and stopped two hours at the house of the militia captain to breakfast and warm themselves.  In the afternoon they reached Ste. Anne-de-la-Pérade, when Bigot gave them a supper at the house in which he lodged, and they spent the evening at cards.

        The next morning brought them to Three Rivers, where Madame Marin, Franquet's travelling companion, wanted to stop to see her sister, the wife of Rigaud, who was then governor of the place.  Madame de Rigaud, being ill, received her visitors in bed, and ordered an ample dinner to be provided for them; after which they returned to her chamber for coffee and conversation.  Then they all set out again, saluted by the cannon of the fort.

        Their next stopping-place was Isle-au-Castor, where, being seated at cards before supper, they were agreeably surprised by the appearance of the Governor, who had come down from Montreal to meet them with four officers, Duchesnaye, Marin, Le Mercier, and Péan.  Many were the embraces and compliments; and in the morning they all journeyed on together, stopping towards night at the largest house they could find, where their servants took away the partitions to make room, and they sat down to a supper, followed by the inevitable game of cards.  On the next night they reached Montreal and were lodged at the intendency, the official residence of the hospitable Bigot.  The succeeding day was spent in visiting persons of eminence and consideration, among whom are to be noted the names, soon to become notorious, of Varin, naval commissary, Martel, King's storekeeper, Antoine Penisseault, and François Maurin.  A succession of festivities followed, including the benediction of three flags for a band of militia on their way to the Ohio.  All persons of quality in Montreal were invited on this occasion, and the Governor gave them a dinner and a supper.  Bigot, however, outdid him in the plenitude of his hospitality, since, in the week before Lent, forty guests supped every evening at his table, and dances, masquerades, and cards consumed the night.[545]

[Footnote 545: Franquet, Journal.]


        His chief abode was at Quebec, in the capacious but somewhat ugly building known as the Intendant's Palace.  Here it was his custom during the war to entertain twenty persons at dinner every day; and there was also a hall for dancing, with a gallery to which the citizens were admitted as spectators.[546]  The bounteous Intendant provided a separate dancing-hall for the populace; and, though at the same time he plundered and ruined them, his gracious demeanor long kept him a place in their hearts.  Gambling was the chief feature of his entertainments, and the stakes grew deeper as the war went on.  He played desperately himself, and early in 1758 lost two hundred and four thousand francs,—a loss which he well knew how to repair.  Besides his official residence on the banks of the St. Charles, he had a country house about five miles distant, a massive old stone building in the woods at the foot of the mountain of Charlebourg; its ruins are now known as Chateau Bigot.  In its day it was called the Hermitage; though the uses to which it was applied savored nothing of asceticism.  Tradition connects it and its owner with a romantic, but more than doubtful, story of love, jealousy, and murder.

[Footnote 546: De Gaspé, Mémoires, 119.]


        The chief Canadian families were so social in their habits and so connected by intermarriage that, along with the French civil and military officers of the colonial establishment, they formed a society whose members all knew each other, like the corresponding class in Virginia.  There was among them a social facility and ease rare in democratic communities; and in the ladies of Quebec and Montreal were often seen graces which visitors from France were astonished to find at the edge of a wilderness.  Yet this small though lively society had anomalies which grew more obtrusive towards the close of the war.  Knavery makes strange companions; and at the tables of high civil officials and colony officers of rank sat guests as boorish in manners as they were worthless in character.

        Foremost among these was Joseph Cadet, son of a butcher at Quebec, who at thirteen went to sea as a pilot's boy, then kept the cows of an inhabitant of Charlebourg, and at last took up his father's trade and prospered in it.[547]  In 1756 Bigot got him appointed commissary-general, and made a contract with him which flung wide open the doors of peculation.  In the next two years Cadet and his associates, Péan, Maurin, Corpron, and Penisseault, sold to the King, for about twenty-three million francs, provisions which cost them eleven millions, leaving a net profit of about twelve millions.  It was not legally proved that the Intendant shared Cadet's gains; but there is no reasonable doubt that he did so.  Bigot's chief profits rose, however, from other sources.  It was his business to see that the King's storehouses for the supply of troops, militia, and Indians were kept well stocked.  To this end he and Bréard, naval comptroller at Quebec, made a partnership with the commercial house of Gradis and Son at Bordeaux.  He next told the Colonial Minister that there were stores enough already in Canada to last three years, and that it would be more to the advantage of the King to buy them in the colony than to take the risk of sending them from France.[548]  Gradis and Son then shipped them to Canada in large quantities, while Bréard or his agent declared at the custom-house that they belonged to the King, and so escaped the payment of duties.  They were then, as occasion rose, sold to the King at a huge profit, always under fictitious names.  Often they were sold to some favored merchant or speculator, who sold them in turn to Bigot's confederate, the King's storekeeper; and sometimes they passed through several successive hands, till the price rose to double or triple the first cost, the Intendant and his partners sharing the gains with friends and allies.  They would let nobody else sell to the King; and thus a grinding monopoly was established, to the great profit of those who held it.[549]

[Footnote 547: Procès de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Mémoire pour Messire François Bigot. Compare Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]

[Footnote 548: Bigot au Ministre, 8 Oct. 1749.]

[Footnote 549: Procés de Bigot, Cadet, et autres. Mémoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie. Compare Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]


        Under the name of a trader named Claverie, Bigot, some time before the war, set up a warehouse on land belonging to the King and not far from his own palace.  Here the goods shipped from Bordeaux were collected, to be sold in retail to the citizens, and in wholesale to favored merchants and the King.  This establishment was popularly known as La Friponne, at Montreal, which was leagued with that of Quebec, and received goods from it.

        Bigot and his accomplices invented many other profitable frauds.  Thus he was charged with the disposal of the large quantity of furs belonging to his master, which it was his duty to sell at public auction, after due notice, to the highest bidder.  Instead of this, he sold them privately at a low price to his own confederates.  It was also his duty to provide transportation for troops, artillery, provisions, and stores, in which he made good profit by letting to the King, at high prices, boats or vessels which he had himself bought or hired for the purpose.[550]

[Footnote 550: Jugement rendu souverainement dans l'Affaire du Canada.]


        Yet these and other illicit gains still left him but the second place as public plunderer.  Cadet, the commissary-general, reaped an ampler harvest, and became the richest man in the colony.  One of the operations of this scoundrel, accomplished with the help of Bigot, consisted in buying for six hundred thousand francs a quantity of stores belonging to the King, and then selling them back to him for one million four hundred thousand.[551]  It was further shown on his trial that in 1759 he received 1,614,354 francs for stores furnished at the post of Miramichi, while the value of those actually furnished was but 889,544 francs; thus giving him a fraudulent profit of more than seven hundred and twenty-four thousand.[552]  Cadet's chief resource was the falsification of accounts.  The service of the King in Canada was fenced about by rigid formalities.  When supplies were wanted at any of the military posts, the commandant made a requisition specifying their nature and quantity, while, before pay could be drawn for them, the King's storekeeper, the local commissary, and the inspector must set their names as vouchers to the list, and finally Bigot must sign it.[553]  But precautions were useless where all were leagued to rob the King.  It appeared on Cadet's trial that by gifts of wine, brandy, or money he had bribed the officers, both civil and military, at all the principal forts to attest the truth of accounts in which the supplies furnished by him were set at more than twice their true amount.  Of the many frauds charged against him there was one peculiarly odious.  Large numbers of refugee Acadians were to be supplied with rations to keep them alive.  Instead of wholesome food, mouldered and unsalable salt cod was sent them, and paid for by the King at inordinate prices.[554]  It was but one of many heartless outrages practised by Canadian officials on this unhappy people.

[Footnote 551: Procès de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Requête du Procureur-Général, 19 Dec. 1761.]

[Footnote 552: Procès de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Mémoire pour Messire François Bigot.]

[Footnote 553: Mémoire sur le Canada (Archives Nationales).]

[Footnote 554: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]


        Cadet told the Intendant that the inhabitants were hoarding their grain, and got an order from him requiring them to sell it at a low fixed price, on pain of having it seized.  Thus nearly the whole fell into his hands.  Famine ensued; and he then sold it at a great profit, partly to the King, and partly to its first owners.  Another of his devices was to sell provisions to the King which, being sent to the outlying forts, were falsely reported as consumed; on which he sold them to the King a second time.  Not without reason does a writer of the time exclaim: “This is the land of abuses, ignorance, prejudice, and all that is monstrous in government.  Peculation, monopoly, and plunder have become a bottomless abyss.”[555]

[Footnote 555: Considérations sur l'État présent du Canada.]


        The command of a fort brought such opportunities of making money that, according to Bougainville, the mere prospect of appointment to it for the usual term of three years was thought enough for a young man to marry upon.  It was a favor in the gift of the Governor, who was accused of sharing the profits.  These came partly from the fur-trade, and still more from frauds of various kinds.  For example, a requisition was made for supplies as gifts to the Indians in order to keep them friendly or send them on the war-path; and their number was put many times above the truth in order to get more goods, which the commandant and his confederates then bartered for furs on their own account, instead of giving them as presents.  “And,” says a contemporary, addressing the Colonial Minister, “those who treat the savages so basely are officers of the King, depositaries of his authority, ministers of that Great Onontio whom they call their father.”[556]  At the post of Green Bay, the partisan officer Marin, and Rigaud, the Governor's brother, made in a short time a profit of three hundred and twelve thousand francs.[557]  “Why is it,” asks Bougainville, “that of all which the King sends to the Indians two thirds are stolen, and the rest sold to them instead of being given?”[558]

[Footnote 556: Considérations sur l'État présent du Canada.]

[Footnote 557: Mémoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie. Bougainville, Mémoire sur l'État de la Nouvelle France.]

[Footnote 558: Bougainville, Journal.]


        The transportation of military stores gave another opportunity of plunder.  The contractor would procure from the Governor or the local commandant an order requiring the inhabitants to serve him as boatmen, drivers, or porters, under a promise of exemption that year from duty as soldiers.  This saved him his chief item of expense, and the profits of his contract rose in proportion.

        A contagion of knavery ran through the official life of the colony; and to resist it demanded no common share of moral robustness.  The officers of the troops of the line were not much within its influence; but those of the militia and colony regulars, whether of French or Canadian birth, shared the corruption of the civil service.  Seventeen of them, including six chevaliers of St. Louis and eight commandants of forts, were afterwards arraigned for fraud and malversation, though some of the number were acquitted.  Bougainville gives the names of four other Canadian officers as honorable exceptions to the general demoralization,—Benoît, Repentigny, Lainé, and Le Borgne; “not enough,” he observes, “to save Sodom.”

        Conspicuous among these military thieves was Major Péan, whose qualities as a soldier have been questioned, but who nevertheless had shown almost as much vigor in serving the King during the Ohio campaign of 1753 as he afterwards displayed effrontery in cheating him.  “Le petit Péan” had married a young wife, Mademoiselle Desméloizes, Canadian like himself, well born, and famed for beauty, vivacity, and wit.  Bigot, who was near sixty, became her accepted lover; and the fortune of Péan was made.  His first success seems to have taken him by surprise.  He had bought as a speculation a large quantity of grain, with money of the King lent him by the Intendant.  Bigot, officially omnipotent, then issued an order raising the commodity to a price far above that paid by Péan, who thus made a profit of fifty thousand crowns.[559]  A few years later his wealth was estimated at from two to four million francs.  Madame Péan became a power in Canada, the dispenser of favors and offices; and all who sought opportunity to rob the King hastened to pay her their court.  Péan, jilted by his own wife, made prosperous love to the wife of his partner, Penisseault; who, though the daughter of a Montreal tradesman, had the air of a woman of rank, and presided with dignity and grace at a hospitable board where were gathered the clerks of Cadet and other lesser lights of the administrative hierarchy.  It was often honored by the presence of the Chevalier de Lévis, who, captivated by the charms of the hostess, condescended to a society which his friends condemned as unworthy of his station.  He succeeded Péan in the graces of Madame Penisseault, and after the war took her with him to France; while the aggrieved husband found consolation in the wives of the small functionaries under his orders.[560]

[Footnote 559: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760. Mémoire sur les Fraudes, etc. Compare Pouchot, I. 8.]

[Footnote 560: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]


        Another prominent name on the roll of knavery was that of Varin, commissary of marine, and Bigot's deputy at Montreal, a Frenchman of low degree, small in stature, sharp witted, indefatigable, conceited, arrogant, headstrong, capricious, and dissolute.  Worthless as he was, he found a place in the Court circle of the Governor, and aspired to supplant Bigot in the intendancy.  To this end, as well as to save himself from justice, he had the fatuity to turn informer and lay bare the sins of his confederates, though forced at the same time to betray his own.  Among his comrades and allies may be mentioned Deschenaux, son of a shoemaker at Quebec, and secretary to the Intendant; Martel, King's storekeeper at Montreal; the humpback Maurin, who is not to be confounded with the partisan officer Marin; and Corpron, a clerk whom several tradesmen had dismissed for rascality, but who was now in the confidence of Cadet, to whom he made himself useful, and in whose service he grew rich.

        Canada was the prey of official jackals,—true lion's providers, since they helped to prepare a way for the imperial beast, who, roused at last from his lethargy, was gathering his strength to seize her for his own.  Honesty could not be expected from a body of men clothed with arbitrary and ill-defined powers, ruling with absolute sway an unfortunate people who had no voice in their own destinies, and answerable only to an apathetic master three thousand miles away.  Nor did the Canadian Church, though supreme, check the corruptions that sprang up and flourished under its eye.  The Governor himself was charged with sharing the plunder; and though he was acquitted on his trial, it is certain that Bigot had him well in hand, that he was intimate with the chief robbers, and that they found help in his weak compliances and wilful blindness.  He put his stepson, Le Verrier, in command at Michillimackinac, where, by fraud and the connivance of his stepfather, the young man made a fortune.[561]  When the Colonial Minister berated the Intendant for maladministration, Vaudreuil became his advocate, and wrote thus in his defence: “I cannot conceal from you, Monseigneur, how deeply M. Bigot feels the suspicions expressed in your letters to him.  He does not deserve them, I am sure.  He is full of zeal for the service of the King; but as he is rich, or passes as such, and as he has merit, the ill-disposed are jealous, and insinuate that he has prospered at the expense of His Majesty.  I am certain that it is not true, and that nobody is a better citizen than he, or has the King's interest more at heart.”[562]  For Cadet, the butcher's son, the Governor asked a patent of nobility as a reward for his services.[563]  When Péan went to France in 1758, Vaudreuil wrote to the Colonial Minister: “I have great confidence in him.  He knows the colony and its needs.  You can trust all he says.  He will explain everything in the best manner.  I shall be extremely sensible to any kindness you may show him, and hope that when you know him you will like him as much as I do.”[564]

[Footnote 561: Mémoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]

[Footnote 562: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 15 Oct. 1759.]

[Footnote 563: Ibid., 7 Nov. 1759.]

[Footnote 564: Ibid., 6 Août, 1758.]


        Administrative corruption was not the only bane of Canada.  Her financial condition was desperate.  The ordinary circulating medium consisted of what was known as card money, and amounted to only a million of francs.  This being insufficient, Bigot, like his predecessor Hocquart, issued promissory notes on his own authority, and made them legal tender.  They were for sums from one franc to a hundred, and were called ordonnances.  Their issue was blamed at Versailles as an encroachment on the royal prerogative, though they were recognized by the Ministry in view of the necessity of the case.  Every autumn those who held them to any considerable amount might bring them to the colonial treasurer, who gave in return bills of exchange on the royal treasury in France.  At first these bills were promptly paid; then delays took place, and the notes depreciated; till in 1759 the Ministry, aghast at the amount, refused payment, and the utmost dismay and confusion followed.[565]

[Footnote 565: Réflections sommaires sur le Commerce qui s'est fait en Canada. État présent du Canada. Compare Stevenson, Card Money of Canada, in Transactions of the Historical Society of Quebec, 1873-1875.]


        The vast jarring, discordant mechanism of corruption grew incontrollable; it seized upon Bigot, and dragged him, despite himself, into perils which his prudence would have shunned.  He was becoming a victim to the rapacity of his own confederates, whom he dared not offend by refusing his connivance and his signature of frauds which became more and more recklessly audacious.  He asked leave to retire from office, in the hope that his successor would bear the brunt of the ministerial displeasure.  Péan had withdrawn already, and with the fruits of his plunder bought land in France, where he thought himself safe.  But though the Intendant had long been an object of distrust, and had often been warned to mend his ways,[566] yet such was his energy, his executive power, and his fertility of resource, that in the crisis of the war it was hard to dispense with him.  Neither his abilities, however, nor his strong connections in France, nor an ally whom he had secured in the bureau of the Colonial Minister himself, could avail him much longer; and the letters from Versailles became appalling in rebuke and menace.

[Footnote 566: Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1751-1758.]


        “The ship 'Britannia,'” wrote the Minister, Berryer, “laden with goods such as are wanted in the colony, was captured by a privateer from St. Malo, and brought into Quebec.  You sold the whole cargo for eight hundred thousand francs.  The purchasers made a profit of two millions.  You bought back a part for the King at one million, or two hundred thousand more than the price which you sold the whole.  With conduct like this it is no wonder that the expenses of the colony become insupportable.  The amount of your drafts on the treasury is frightful.  The fortunes of your subordinates throw suspicion on your administration.”  And in another letter on the same day: “How could it happen that the small-pox among the Indians cost the King a million francs?  What does this expense mean?  Who is answerable for it?  Is it the officers who command the posts, or is it the storekeepers?  You give me no particulars.  What has become of the immense quantity of provisions sent to Canada last year?  I am forced to conclude that the King's stores are set down as consumed from the moment they arrive, and then sold to His Majesty at exorbitant prices.  Thus the King buys stores in France, and then buys them again in Canada.  I no longer wonder at the immense fortunes made in the colony.”[567]  Some months later the Minister writes: “You pay bills without examination, and then find an error in your accounts of three million six hundred thousand francs.  In the letters from Canada I see nothing but incessant speculation in provisions and goods, which are sold to the King for ten times more than they cost in France.  For the last time, I exhort you to give these things your serious attention, for they will not escape from mine.”[568]

[Footnote 567: Le Ministre à Bigot, 19 Jan. 1759.]

[Footnote 568: Ibid., 29 Août, 1759.]


        “I write, Monsieur, to answer your last two letters, in which you tell me that instead of sixteen millions, your drafts on the treasury for 1758 will reach twenty-four millions, and that this year they will rise to from thirty-one to thirty-three millions.  It seems, then, that there are no bounds to the expenses of Canada.  They double almost every year, while you seem to give yourself no concern except to get them paid.  Do you suppose that I can advise the King to approve such an administration?  or do you think that you can take the immense sum of thirty-three millions out of the royal treasury by merely assuring me that you have signed drafts for it?  This, too, for expenses incurred irregularly, often needlessly, always wastefully; which make the fortune of everybody who has the least hand in them, and about which you know so little that after reporting them at sixteen millions, you find two months after that they will reach twenty-four.  You are accused of having given the furnishing of provisions to one man, who under the name of commissary-general, has set what prices he pleased; of buying for the King at second or third hand what you might have got from the producer at half the price; of having in this and other ways made the fortunes of persons connected with you; and of living in splendor in the midst of a public misery, which all the letters from the colony agree in ascribing to bad administration, and in charging M. de Vaudreuil with weakness in not preventing.”[569]

[Footnote 569: Le Ministre à Bigotû, 29 Août, 1759 (second letter of this date).]


        These drastic utterances seem to have been partly due to a letter written by Montcalm in cipher to the Maréchal de Belleisle, then minister of war.  It painted the deplorable condition of Canada, and exposed without reserve the peculations and robberies of those intrusted with its interests.  “It seems,” said the General, “as if they were all hastening to make their fortunes before the loss of the colony; which many of them perhaps desire as a veil to their conduct.”  He gives among other cases that of Le Mercier, chief of Canadian artillery, who had come to Canada as a private soldier twenty years before, and had so prospered on fraudulent contracts that he would soon be worth nearly a million.  “I have often,” continues Montcalm, “spoken of these expenditures to M. de Vaudreuil and M. Bigot; and each throws the blame on the other.”[570]  And yet at the same time Vaudreuil was assuring the Minister that Bigot was without blame.

[Footnote 570: Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, Lettre confidentielle, 12 Avril, 1759.]


        Some two months before Montcalm wrote this letter, the Minister, Berryer, sent a despatch to the Governor and Intendant which filled them with ire and mortification.  It ordered them to do nothing without consulting the general of the French regulars, not only in matters of war, but in all matters of administration touching the defence and preservation of the colony.  A plainer proof of confidence on one hand and distrust on the other could not have been given.[571]

[Footnote 571: Le Ministre à Vaudreuil et Bigot, 20 Fév. 1759.]


        One Querdisien-Tremais was sent from Bordeaux as an agent of Government to make investigation.  He played the part of detective, wormed himself into the secrets of the confederates, and after six months of patient inquisition traced out four distinct combinations for public plunder.  Explicit orders were now given to Bigot, who, seeing no other escape, broke with Cadet, and made him disgorge two millions of stolen money.  The Commissary-General and his partners became so terrified that they afterwards gave up nearly seven millions more.[572]  Stormy events followed, and the culprits found shelter for a time amid the tumults of war.  Peculation did not cease, but a day of reckoning was at hand.

[Footnote 572: Procès de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Mémoirs pour François Bigot, 3'me partie.]


      NOTE: The printed documents of the trial of Bigot and the other peculators include the defence of Bigot, of which the first part occupies 303 quarto pages, and the second part 764. Among the other papers are the arguments for Péan, Varin, Saint-Blin, Boishébert, Martel, Joncaire-Chabert and several more, along with the elaborate Jugement rendue, the Requêtes du Procureur-Général, the Réponse aux Mémoires de M. Bigot et du Sieur Péan, etc., forming together five quarto volumes, all of which I have carefully examined. These are in the Library of Harvard University. There is another set, also of five volumes, in the Library of the Historical Society of Quebec, containing most of the papers just mentioned, and, bound with them, various others in manuscript, among which are documents in defence of Vaudreuil (printed in part); Estèbe, Corpron, Penisseault, Maurin, and Bréard. I have examined this collection also. The manuscript Ordres du Roy et Dépêches des Ministres, 1757-1760, as well as the letters of Vaudreuil, Bougainville, Daine, Doreil, and Montcalm throw much light on the maladministration of the time; as do many contemporary documents, notably those entitled Mémoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie, État présent du Canada, and Mémoire sur le Canada (Archives Nationales). The remarkable anonymous work printed by the Historical Society of Quebec under the title Mémoires sur le Canada depuis 1749 jusqu'àé 1760, is full of curious matter concerning Bigot and his associates which squares well with other evidence. This is the source from which Smith, in his History of Canada (Quebec, 1815), drew most of his information on the subject. A manuscript which seems to be the original draft of this valuable document was preserved at the Bastile, and, with other papers, was thrown into the street when that castle was destroyed. They were gathered up, and afterwards bought by a Russian named Dubrowski, who carried them to St. Petersburg. Lord Dufferin, when minister there, procured a copy of the manuscript in question, which is now in the keeping of Abbé H. Verreau at Montreal, to whose kindness I owe the opportunity of examining it. In substance it differs little from the printed work, though the language and the arrangement often vary from it. The author, whoever he may have been, was deeply versed in Canadian affairs of the time, and though often caustic, is generally trustworthy.


Table of Contents



Chapter 18

1757, 1758


Pitt


        The war kindled in the American forest was now raging in full conflagration among the kingdoms of Europe; and in the midst stood Frederic of Prussia, a veritable fire-king.  He had learned through secret agents that he was to be attacked, and that the wrath of Maria Theresa with her two allies, Pompadour and the Empress of Russia, was soon to wreak itself upon him.  With his usual prompt audacity he anticipated his enemies, marched into Saxony, and began the Continental war.  His position seemed desperate.  England, sundered from Austria, her old ally, had made common cause with him; but he had no other friend worth the counting.  France, Russia, Austria, Sweden, Saxony, the collective Germanic Empire, and most of the smaller German States had joined hands for his ruin, eager to crush him and divide the spoil, parcelling out his dominions among themselves in advance by solemn mutual compact.  Against the five millions of Prussia were arrayed populations of more than a hundred million.  The little kingdom was open on all sides to attack, and her enemies were spurred on by the bitterest animosity.  It was thought that one campaign would end the war.  The war lasted seven years, and Prussia came out of it triumphant.  Such a warrior as her indomitable king Europe has rarely seen.  If the Seven Years War made the maritime and colonial greatness of England, it also raised Prussia to the rank of a first-class Power.

        Frederic began with a victory, routing the Austrians in one of the fiercest of recorded conflicts, the battle of Prague.  Then in his turn he was beaten at Kolin.  All seemed lost.  The hosts of the coalition were rolling in upon him like a deluge.  Surrounded by enemies, in the jaws of destruction, hoping for little but to die in battle, this strange hero solaced himself with an exhaustless effusion of bad verses, sometimes mournful, sometimes cynical, sometimes indignant, and sometimes breathing a dauntless resolution; till, when his hour came, he threw down his pen to achieve those feats of arms which stamp him one of the foremost soldiers of the world.

        The French and Imperialists, in overwhelming force, thought to crush him at Rosbach.  He put them to shameful rout; and then, instead of bonfires and Te Deums, mocked at them in doggerel rhymes of amazing indecency.  While he was beating the French, the Austrians took Silesia from him.  He marched to recover it, found them strongly posted at Leuthen, eighty thousand men against thirty thousand, and without hesitation resolved to attack them.  Never was he more heroic than on the eve of this, his crowning triumph.  “The hour is at hand,” he said to his generals.  “I mean, in spite of the rules of military art, to attack Prince Karl's army, which is nearly thrice our own.  This risk I must run, or all is lost.  We must beat him or die, all of us, before his batteries.”  He burst unawares upon the Austrian left, and rolled their whole host together, corps upon corps, in a tumult of irretrievable ruin.

        While her great ally was reaping a full harvest of laurels, England, dragged into the Continental war because that apple of discord, Hanover, belonged to her King, found little but humiliation.  Minorca was wrested from her, and the Ministry had an innocent man shot to avert from themselves the popular indignation; while the same Ministry, scared by a phantom of invasion, brought over German troops to defend British soil.  But now an event took place pregnant with glorious consequence.  The reins of power fell into the hands of William Pitt.  He had already held them for a brief space, forced into office at the end of 1756 by popular clamor, in spite of the Whig leaders and against the wishes of the King.  But the place was untenable.  Newcastle's Parliament would not support him; the Duke of Cumberland opposed him; the King hated him; and in April 1757, he was dismissed.  Then ensued eleven weeks of bickering and dispute, during which, in the midst of a great war, England was left without a government.  It became clear that none was possible without Pitt; and none with him could be permanent and strong unless joined with those influences which had thus far controlled the majorities of Parliament.  Therefore an extraordinary union was brought about; Lord Chesterfield acting as go-between to reconcile the ill-assorted pair.  One of them brought to the alliance the confidence and support of the people; the other, Court management, borough interest, and parliamentary connections.  Newcastle was made First Lord of the Treasury, and Pitt, the old enemy who had repeatedly browbeat and ridiculed him, became Secretary of State, with the lead of the House of Commons and full control of the war and foreign affairs.  It was a partnership of magpie and eagle.  The dirty work of government, intrigue, bribery, and all the patronage that did not affect the war, fell to the share of the old politician.  If Pitt could appoint generals, admirals, and ambassadors, Newcastle was welcome to the rest.  “I will borrow the Duke's majorities to carry on the government,” said the new secretary; and with the audacious self-confidence that was one of his traits, he told the Duke of Devonshire, “I am sure that I can save this country, and that nobody else can.”  England hailed with one acclaim the undaunted leader who asked for no reward but the honor of serving her.  The hour had found the man.  For the next four years this imposing figure towers supreme in British history.

        He had glaring faults, some of them of a sort not to have been expected in him.  Vanity, the common weakness of small minds, was the most disfiguring foible of this great one.  He had not the simplicity which becomes greatness so well.  He could give himself theatrical airs, strike attitudes, and dart stage lightnings from his eyes; yet he was formidable even in his affectations.  Behind his great intellectual powers lay a burning enthusiasm, a force of passion and fierce intensity of will, that gave redoubled impetus to the fiery shafts of his eloquence; and the haughty and masterful nature of the man had its share in the ascendency which he long held over Parliament.  He would blast the labored argument of an adversary by a look of scorn or a contemptuous wave of the hand.

        The Great Commoner was not a man of the people in the popular sense of that hackneyed phrase.  Though himself poor, being a younger son, he came of a rich and influential family; he was patrician at heart; both his faults and his virtues, his proud incorruptibility and passionate, domineering patriotism, bore the patrician stamp.  Yet he loved liberty and he loved the people, because they were the English people.  The effusive humanitarianism of to-day had no part in him, and the democracy of to-day would detest him.  Yet to the middle-class England of his own time, that unenfranchised England which had little representation in Parliament, he was a voice, an inspiration, and a tower of strength.  He would not flatter the people; but, turning with contempt from the tricks and devices of official politics, he threw himself with a confidence that never wavered on their patriotism and public spirit.  They answered him with a boundless trust, asked but to follow his lead, gave him without stint their money and their blood, loved him for his domestic virtues and his disinterestedness, believed him even in his self-contradiction, and idolized him even in his bursts of arrogant passion.  It was he who waked England from her lethargy, shook off the spell that Newcastle and his fellow-enchanters had cast over her, and taught her to know herself again.  A heart that beat in unison with all that was British found responsive throbs in every corner of the vast empire that through him was to become more vast.  With the instinct of his fervid patriotism he would join all its far-extended members into one, not by vain assertions of parliamentary supremacy, but by bonds of sympathy and ties of a common freedom and a common cause.

        The passion for power and glory subdued in him all the sordid parts of humanity, and he made the power and glory of England one with his own.  He could change front through resentment or through policy; but in whatever path he moved, his objects were the same: not to curb the power of France in America, but to annihilate it; crush her navy, cripple her foreign trade, ruin her in India, in Africa, and wherever else, east or west, she had found foothold; gain for England the mastery of the seas, open to her the great highways of the globe, make her supreme in commerce and colonization; and while limiting the activities of her rival to the European continent, give to her the whole world for a sphere.

        To this British Roman was opposed the pampered Sardanapalus of Versailles, with the silken favorite who by calculated adultery had bought the power to ruin France.  The Marquise de Pompadour, who began life as Jeanne Poisson,—Jane Fish,—daughter of the head clerk of a banking house, who then became wife of a rich financier, and then, as mistress of the King, rose to a pinnacle of gilded ignominy, chose this time to turn out of office the two ministers who had shown most ability and force,—Argenson, head of the department of war, and Machault, head of the marine and colonies; the one because he was not subservient to her will, and the other because he had unwittingly touched the self-love of her royal paramour.  She aspired to a share in the conduct of the war, and not only made and unmade ministers and generals, but discussed campaigns and battles with them, while they listened to her prating with a show of obsequious respect, since to lose her favor was to risk losing all.  A few months later, when blows fell heavy and fast, she turned a deaf ear to representations of financial straits and military disasters, played the heroine, affected a greatness of soul superior to misfortune, and in her perfumed boudoir varied her tiresome graces by posing as a Roman matron.  In fact she never wavered in her spite against Frederic, and her fortitude was perfect in bearing the sufferings of others and defying dangers that could not touch her.

        When Pitt took office it was not over France, but over England that the clouds hung dense and black.  Her prospects were of the gloomiest.  “Whoever is in or whoever is out,” wrote Chesterfield, “I am sure we are undone both at home and abroad: at home by our increasing debt and expenses; abroad by our ill-luck and incapacity.  We are no longer a nation.”  And his despondency was shared by many at the beginning of the most triumphant Administration in British history.  The shuffling weakness of his predecessors had left Pitt a heritage of tribulation.  From America came news of Loudon's manifold failures; from Germany that of the miscarriage of the Duke of Cumberland, who, at the head of an army of Germans in British pay, had been forced to sign the convention of Kloster-Zeven, by which he promised to disband them.  To these disasters was added a third, of which the new Government alone had to bear the burden.  At the end of summer Pitt sent a great expedition to attack Rochefort; the military and naval commanders disagreed, and the consequence was failure.  There was no light except from far-off India, where Clive won the great victory of Plassey, avenged the Black Hole of Calcutta, and prepared the ruin of the French power and the undisputed ascendency of England.

        If the English had small cause as yet to rejoice in their own successes, they found comfort in those of their Prussian allies.  The rout of the French at Rossbach and of the Austrians at Leuthen spread joy through their island.  More than this, they felt that they had found at last a leader after their own heart; and the consciousness regenerated them.  For the paltering imbecility of the old Ministry they had the unconquerable courage, the iron purpose, the unwavering faith, the inextinguishable hope, of the new one.  “England has long been in labor,” said Frederic of Prussia, “and at last she has brought forth a man.”  It was not only that instead of weak commanders Pitt gave her strong ones; the same men who had served her feebly under the blight of the Newcastle Administration served her manfully and well under his robust impulsion.  “Nobody ever entered his closet,” said Colonel Barre, “who did not come out of it a braver man.”  That inspiration was felt wherever the British flag waved.  Zeal awakened with the assurance that conspicuous merit was sure of its reward, and that no officer who did his duty would now be made a sacrifice, like Admiral Byng, to appease public indignation at ministerial failures.  As Nature, languishing in chill vapors and dull smothering fogs, revives at the touch of the sun, so did England spring into fresh life under the kindling influence of one great man.

        With the opening of the year 1758 her course of Continental victories began.  The Duke of Cumberland, the King's son, was recalled in disgrace, and a general of another stamp, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, was placed in command of the Germans in British pay, with the contingent of English troops now added to them.  The French, too, changed commanders.  The Duke of Richelieu, a dissolute old beau, returned to Paris to spend in heartless gallantries the wealth he had gained by plunder; and a young soldier-churchman, the Comte de Clermont, took his place.  Prince Ferdinand pushed him hard with an inferior force, drove him out of Hanover, and captured eleven thousand of his soldiers.  Clermont was recalled, and was succeeded by Contades, another incapable.  One of his subordinates won for him the battle; of Lutterberg; but the generalship of Ferdinand made it a barren victory, and the campaign remained a success for the English.  They made descents on the French coasts, captured; St.-Servan, a suburb of St.-Malo, and burned three ships of the line, twenty-four privateers, and sixty merchantmen; then entered Cherbourg, destroyed the forts, carried off or spiked the cannon, and burned twenty-seven vessels,—a success partially offset by a failure on the coast of Brittany, where they were repulsed with some loss.  In Africa they drove the French from the Guinea coast, and seized their establishment at Senegal.

        It was towards America that Pitt turned his heartiest efforts.  His first aim was to take Louisbourg, as a step towards taking Quebec; then Ticonderoga, that thorn in the side of the northern colonies; and lastly Fort Duquesne, the Key of the Great West.  He recalled Loudon, for whom he had a fierce contempt; but there were influences which he could not disregard, and Major-General Abercromby, who was next in order of rank, an indifferent soldier, though a veteran in years, was allowed to succeed him, and lead in person the attack on Ticonderoga.[573]  Pitt hoped that Brigadier Lord Howe, an admirable officer, who was joined with Abercromby, would be the real commander, and make amends for all short-comings of his chief.  To command the Louisbourg expedition, Colonel Jeffrey Amherst was recalled from the German war, and made at one leap a major-general.[574]  He was energetic and resolute, somewhat cautious and slow, but with a bulldog tenacity of grip.  Under him were three brigadiers, Whitmore, Lawrence, and Wolfe, of whom the youngest is the most noteworthy.  In the luckless Rochefort expedition, Colonel James Wolfe was conspicuous by a dashing gallantry that did not escape the eye of Pitt, always on the watch for men to do his work.  The young officer was ardent, headlong, void of fear, often rash, almost fanatical in his devotion to military duty, and reckless of life when the glory of England or his own was at stake.  The third expedition, that against Fort Duquesne, was given to Brigadier John Forbes, whose qualities well fitted him for the task.

[Footnote 573: Order, War Office, 19 Dec. 1757.]

[Footnote 574: Pitt to Abercromby, 27 Jan. 1758. Instructions for our Trusty and Well-beloved Jeffrey Amherst, Esq., Major-General of our Forces in North America, 3 March, 1758.]


        During his first short term of office, Pitt had given a new species of troops to the British army.  These were the Scotch Highlanders, who had risen against the House of Hanover in 1745, and would raise against it again should France accomplish her favorite scheme of throwing a force into Scotland to excite another insurrection for the Stuarts.  But they would be useful to fight the French abroad, though dangerous as their possible allies at home; and two regiments of them were now ordered to America.

        Delay had been the ruin of the last year's attempt against Louisbourg.  This time preparation was urged on apace; and before the end of winter two fleets had put to sea: one, under Admiral Boscawen, was destined for Louisbourg; while the other, under Admiral Osborn, sailed for the Mediterranean to intercept the French fleet of Admiral La Clue, who was about to sail from Toulon for America.  Osborn, cruising between the coasts of Spain and Africa, barred the way to the Straits of Gibraltar, and kept his enemy imprisoned.  La Clue made no attempt to force a passage; but several combats of detached ships took place, one of which is too remarkable to pass unnoticed.  Captain Gardiner of the “Monmouth,” a ship of four hundred and seventy men and sixty-four guns, engaged the French ship “Foudroyant,” carrying a thousand men and eighty-four guns of heavier metal than those of the Englishman.  Gardiner had lately been reproved by Anson, First Lord of the Admiralty, for some alleged misconduct or shortcoming, and he thought of nothing but retrieving his honor.  “We must take her,” he said to his crew as the “Foudroyant” hove in sight.  “She looks more than a match for us, but I will not quit her while this ship can swim or I have a soul left alive;” and the sailors answered with cheers.  The fight was long and furious.  Gardiner was killed by a musket shot, begging his first lieutenant with his dying breath not to haul down his flag.  The lieutenant nailed it to the mast.  At length the “Foudroyant” ceased from thundering, struck her colors, and was carried a prize to England.[575]

[Footnote 575: Entick, III. 56-60.]


        The typical British naval officer of that time was a rugged sea-dog, a tough and stubborn fighter, though no more so than the politer generations that followed, at home on the quarter-deck, but no ornament to the drawing-room, by reason of what his contemporary, Entick, the strenuous chronicler of the war, calls, not unapprovingly, “the ferocity of his manners.”  While Osborn held La Clue imprisoned at Toulon, Sir Edward Hawke, worthy leader of such men, sailed with seven ships of the line and three frigates to intercept a French squadron from Rochefort convoying a fleet of transports with troops for America.  The French ships cut their cables and ran for the shore, where most of them stranded in the mud, and some threw cannon and munitions overboard to float themselves.  The expedition was broken up.  Of the many ships fitted out this year for the succor of Canada and Louisbourg, comparatively few reached their destination, and these for the most part singly or by twos and threes.

        Meanwhile Admiral Boscawen with his fleet bore away for Halifax, the place of rendezvous, and Amherst, in the ship “Dublin,” followed in his wake.

Table of Contents



Chapter 19

1758


Louisbourg


        The stormy coast of Cape Breton is indented by a small land-locked bay, between which and the ocean lies a tongue of land dotted with a few grazing sheep, and intersected by rows of stone that mark more or less distinctly the lines of what once were streets.  Green mounds and embankments of earth enclose the whole space, and beneath the highest of them yawn arches and caverns of ancient masonry.  This grassy solitude was once the “Dunkirk of America;” the vaulted caverns where the sheep find shelter from the ram were casemates where terrified women sought refuge from storms of shot and shell, and the shapeless green mounds were citadel, bastion, rampart, and glacis.  Here stood Louisbourg; and not all the efforts of its conquerors, nor all the havoc of succeeding times, have availed to efface it.  Men in hundreds toiled for months with lever, spade, and gunpowder in the work of destruction, and for more than a century it has served as a stone quarry; but the remains of its vast defences still tell their tale of human valor and human woe.

        Stand on the mounds that were once the King's Bastion.  The glistening sea spreads eastward three thousand miles, and its waves meet their first rebuff against this iron coast.  Lighthouse Point is white with foam; jets of spray spout from the rocks of Goat Island; mist curls in clouds from the seething surf that lashes the crags of Black Point, and the sea boils like a caldron among the reefs by the harbor's mouth; but on the calm water within, the small fishing vessels rest tranquil at their moorings.  Beyond lies a hamlet of fishermen by the edge of the water, and a few scattered dwellings dot the rough hills, bristled with stunted firs, that gird the quiet basin; while close at hand, within the precinct of the vanished fortress, stand two small farmhouses.  All else is a solitude of ocean, rock, marsh, and forest.[576]

[Footnote 576: Louisbourg is described as I saw it ten days before writing the above, after an easterly gale.]


        At the beginning of June, 1758, the place wore another aspect.  Since the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle vast sums had been spent in repairing and strengthening it; and Louisbourg was the strongest fortress in French or British America.  Nevertheless it had its weaknesses.  The original plan of the works had not been fully carried out; and owing, it is said, to the bad quality of the mortar, the masonry of the ramparts was in so poor a condition that it had been replaced in some parts with fascines.  The circuit of the fortifications was more than a mile and a half, and the town contained about four thousand inhabitants.  The best buildings in it were the convent, the hospital, the King's storehouses, and the chapel and governor's quarters, which were under the same roof.  Of the private houses, only seven or eight were of stone, the rest being humble wooden structures, suited to a population of fishermen.  The garrison consisted of the battalions of Artois, Bourgogne, Cambis, and Volontaires Étrangers, with two companies of artillery and twenty-four of colony troops from Canada,—in all three thousand and eighty regular troops, besides officers;[577] and to these were added a body of armed inhabitants and a band of Indians.  In the harbor were five ships of the line and seven frigates, carrying in all five hundred and forty-four guns and about three thousand men.[578]  Two hundred and nineteen cannon and seventeen mortars were mounted on the walls and outworks.[579]  Of these last the most important were the Grand Battery on the shore of the harbor opposite its mouth, and the Island Battery on the rocky islet at its entrance.

[Footnote 577: Journal du Siége de Louisbourg. Twenty-nine hundred regulars were able to bear arms when the siege began. Houllière, Commandant des Troupes, au Ministre, 6 Août, 1758.]

[Footnote 578: Le Prudent, 74 guns; Entreprenant, 74; Capricieux, 64; Célèbre, 64; Bienfaisant, 64; Apollon, 50; Chèvre, 22; Biche, 18; Fidèle, 22; Écho, 26; Aréthuse, 36; Comète, 30. The Bizarre, 64, sailed for France on the eighth of June, and was followed by the Comète.]

[Footnote 579: État d'Artillerie, appended to the Journal of Drucour. There were also forty-four cannon in reserve.]


        The strongest front of the works was on the land side, along the base of the peninsular triangle on which the town stood.  This front, about twelve hundred yards in extent, reached from the sea on the left to the harbor on the right, and consisted of four bastions with then-connecting curtains, the Princess's, the Queen's, the King's, and the Dauphin's.  The King's Bastion formed part of the citadel.  The glacis before it sloped down to an extensive marsh, which, with an adjacent pond, completely protected this part of the line.  On the right, however, towards the harbor, the ground was high enough to offer advantages to an enemy, as was also the case, to a less degree, on the left, towards the sea.  The best defence of Louisbourg was the craggy shore, that, for leagues on either hand, was accessible only at a few points, and even there with difficulty.  All these points were vigilantly watched.

        There had been signs of the enemy from the first opening of spring.  In the intervals of fog, rain, and snow-squalls, sails were seen hovering on the distant sea; and during the latter part of May a squadron of nine ships cruised off the mouth of the harbor, appearing and disappearing, sometimes driven away by gales, sometimes lost in fogs, and sometimes approaching to within cannon-shot of the batteries.  Their object was to blockade the port,—in which they failed; for French ships had come in at intervals, till, as we have seen, twelve of them lay safe anchored in the harbor, with more than a year's supply of provisions for the garrison.

        At length, on the first of June, the southeastern horizon was white with a cloud of canvas.  The long-expected crisis was come.  Drucour, the governor, sent two thousand regulars, with about a thousand militia and Indians, to guard the various landing-places; and the rest, aided by the sailors, remained to hold the town.[580]

[Footnote 580: Rapport de Grucour. Journal du Siége.]


        At the end of May Admiral Boscawen was at Halifax with twenty-three ships of the line, eighteen frigates and fireships, and a fleet of transports, on board of which were eleven thousand and six hundred soldiers, all regulars, except five hundred provincial rangers.[581]  Amherst had not yet arrived, and on the twenty-eighth, Boscawen, in pursuance of his orders and to prevent loss of time, put to sea without him; but scarcely had the fleet sailed out of Halifax, when they met the ship that bore the expected general.  Amherst took command of the troops; and the expedition held its way till the second of June, when they saw the rocky shore-line of Cape Breton, and descried the masts of the French squadron in the harbor of Louisbourg.

[Footnote 581: Of this force, according to Mante, only 9,900 were fit for duty. The table printed by Knox (I. 127) shows a total of 11,112, besides officers, artillery, and rangers. The Authentic Account of the Reduction of Louisbourg, by a Spectator, puts the force at 11,326 men, besides officers. Entick makes the whole 11,936.]


        Boscawen sailed into Gabarus Bay.  The sea was rough; but in the afternoon Amherst, Lawrence, and Wolfe, with a number of naval officers, reconnoitred the shore in boats, coasting it for miles, and approaching it as near as the French batteries would permit.  The rocks were white with surf, and every accessible point was strongly guarded.  Boscawen saw little chance of success.  He sent for his captains, and consulted them separately.  They thought, like him, that it would be rash to attempt a landing, and proposed a council of war.  One of them alone, an old sea officer named Ferguson advised his commander to take the responsibility himself, hold no council, and make the attempt at every risk.  Boscawen took his advice, and declared that he would not leave Gabarus Bay till he had fulfilled his instructions and set the troops on shore.[582]

[Footnote 582: Entick, III. 224.]


        West of Louisbourg there were three accessible places, Freshwater Cove, four miles from the town, and Flat Point, and White Point, which were nearer, the last being within a mile of the fortifications.  East of the town there was an inlet called Lorambec, also available for landing.  In order to distract the attention of the enemy, it was resolved to threaten all these places, and to form the troops into three divisions, two of which, under Lawrence and Whitmore, were to advance towards Flat Point and White Point, while a detached regiment was to make a feint at Lorambec.  Wolfe, with the third division, was to make the real attack and try to force a landing at Freshwater Cove, which, as it proved, was the most strongly defended of all.  When on shore Wolfe was an habitual invalid, and when at sea every heave of the ship made him wretched; but his ardor was unquenchable.  Before leaving England he wrote to a friend: “Being of the profession of arms, I would seek all occasions to serve; and therefore have thrown myself in the way of the American war, though I know that the very passage threatens my life, and that my constitution must be utterly ruined and undone.”

        On the next day, the third, the surf was so high that nothing could be attempted.  On the fourth there was a thick fog and a gale.  The frigate “Trent” struck on a rock, and some of the transports were near being stranded.  On the fifth there was another fog and a raging surf.  On the sixth there was fog, with rain in the morning and better weather towards noon, whereupon the signal was made and the troops entered the boats; but the sea rose again, and they were ordered back to the ships.  On the seventh more fog and more surf till night, when the sea grew calmer, and orders were given for another attempt.  At two in the morning of the eighth the troops were in the boats again.  At daybreak the frigates of the squadron, anchoring before each point of real or pretended attack, opened a fierce cannonade on the French intrenchments; and, a quarter of an hour after, the three divisions rowed towards the shore.  That of the left, under Wolfe, consisted of four companies of grenadiers, with the light infantry and New England rangers, followed and supported by Fraser's Highlanders and eight more companies of grenadiers.  They pulled for Freshwater Cove.  Here there was a crescent-shaped beach, a quarter of a mile long, with rocks at each end.  On the shore above, about a thousand Frenchmen, under Lieutenant-Colonel de Saint-Julien, lay behind entrenchments covered in front by spruce and fir trees, felled and laid on the ground with the tops outward.[583]  Eight cannon and swivels were planted to sweep every part of the beach and its approaches, and these pieces were masked by young evergreens stuck in the ground before them.

[Footnote 583: Drucour reports 985 soldiers as stationed here under Saint-Julien there were also some Indians. Freshwater Cove, otherwise Kennington Cove, was called La Cormorandière by the French.]


        The English were allowed to come within close range unmolested.  Then the batteries opened, and a deadly storm of grape and musketry was poured upon the boats.  It was clear in an instant that to advance farther would be destruction; and Wolfe waved his hand as a signal to sheer off.  At some distance on the right, and little exposed to the fire, were three boats of light infantry under Lieutenants Hopkins and Brown and Ensign Grant; who, mistaking the signal or wilfully misinterpreting it, made directly for the shore before them.  It was a few roads east of the beach; a craggy coast and a strand strewn with rocks and lashed with breakers, but sheltered from the cannon by a small projecting point.  The three officers leaped ashore, followed by their men.  Wolfe saw the movement, and hastened to support it.  The boat of Major Scott, who commanded the light infantry and rangers, next came up, and was stove in an instant; but Scott gained the shore, climbed the crags, and found himself with ten men in front of some seventy French and Indians.  Half his followers were killed and wounded, and three bullets were shot through his clothes; but with admirable gallantry he held his ground till others came to his aid.[584]  The remaining boats now reached the landing.  Many were stove among the rocks, and others were overset; some of the men were dragged back by the surf and drowned; some lost their muskets, and were drenched to the skin: but the greater part got safe ashore.  Among the foremost was seen the tall, attenuated form of Brigadier Wolfe, armed with nothing but a cane, as he leaped into the surf and climbed the crags with his soldiers.  As they reached the top they formed in compact order, and attacked and carried with the bayonet the nearest French battery, a few rods distant.  The division of Lawrence soon came up; and as the attention of the enemy was now distracted, they made their landing with little opposition at the farther end of the beach whither they were followed by Amherst himself.  The French, attacked on right and left, and fearing, with good reason, that they would be cut off from the town, abandoned all their cannon and fled into the woods.  About seventy of them were captured and fifty killed.  The rest, circling among the hills and around the marshes, made their way to Louisbourg, and those at the intermediate posts joined their flight.  The English followed through a matted growth of firs till they reached the cleared ground; when the cannon, opening on them from the ramparts, stopped the pursuit.  The first move of the great game was played and won.[585]

[Footnote 584: Pichon, Mémoires du Cap-Breton, 284.]

[Footnote 585: Journal of Amherst, in Mante, 117. Amherst to Pitt, 11 June, 1758. Authentic Account of the Reduction of Louisbourg, by a Spectator, 11. General Orders of Amherst, 3-7 June, 1759. Letter from an Officer, in Knox, I. 191; Entick, III. 225. The French accounts generally agree in essentials with the English. The English lost one hundred and nine, killed, wounded, and drowned.]


        Amherst made his camp just beyond range of the French cannon, and Flat Point Cove was chosen as the landing-place of guns and stores.  Clearing the ground, making roads, and pitching tents filled the rest of the day.  At night there was a glare of flames from the direction of the town.  The French had abandoned the Grand Battery after setting fire to the buildings in it and to the houses and fish-stages along the shore of the harbor.  During the following days stores were landed as fast as the surf would permit: but the task was so difficult that from first to last more than a hundred boats were stove in accomplishing it; and such was the violence of the waves that none of the siege-guns could be got ashore till the eighteenth.  The camp extended two miles along a stream that flowed down to the Cove among the low, woody hills that curved around the town and harbor.  Redoubts were made to protect its front, and blockhouses to guard its left and rear from the bands of Acadians known to be hovering in the woods.

        Wolfe, with twelve hundred men, made his way six or seven miles round the harbor, took possession of the battery at Lighthouse Point which the French had abandoned, planted guns and mortars, and opened fire on the Island Battery that guarded the entrance.  Other guns were placed at different points along the shore, and soon opened on the French ships.  The ships and batteries replied.  The artillery fight raged night and day; till on the twenty-fifth the island guns were dismounted and silenced.  Wolfe then strengthened his posts, secured his communications, and returned to the main army in front of the town.

        Amherst had reconnoitred the ground and chosen a hillock at the edge of the marsh, less than half a mile from the ramparts, as the point for opening his trenches.  A road with an epaulement to protect it must first be made to the spot; and as the way was over a tract of deep mud covered with water-weeds and moss, the labor was prodigious.  A thousand men worked at it day and night under the fire of the town and ships.

        When the French looked landward from their ramparts they could see scarcely a sign of the impending storm.  Behind them Wolfe's cannon were playing busily from Lighthouse Point and the heights around the harbor; but, before them, the broad flat marsh and the low hills seemed almost a solitude.  Two miles distant, they could descry some of the English tents; but the greater part were hidden by the inequalities of the ground.  On the right, a prolongation of the harbor reached nearly half a mile beyond the town, ending in a small lagoon formed by a projecting sandbar, and known as the Barachois.  Near this bar lay moored the little frigate “Aréthuse,” under a gallant officer named Vauquelin.  Her position was a perilous one; but so long as she could maintain it she could sweep with her fire the ground before the works, and seriously impede the operations of the enemy.  The other naval captains were less venturous; and when the English landed, they wanted to leave the harbor and save their ships.  Drucour insisted that they should stay to aid the defence, and they complied; but soon left their moorings and anchored as close as possible under the guns of the town, in order to escape the fire of Wolfe's batteries.  Hence there was great murmuring among the military officers, who would have had them engage the hostile guns at short range.  The frigate “Écho,” under cover of a fog, had been sent to Quebec for aid; but she was chased and captured; and, a day or two after, the French saw her pass the mouth of the harbor with an English flag at her mast-head.

        When Wolfe had silenced the Island Battery, a new and imminent danger threatened Louisbourg.  Boscawen might enter the harbor, overpower the French naval force, and cannonade the town on its weakest side.  Therefore Drucour resolved to sink four large ships at the entrance; and on a dark and foggy night this was successfully accomplished.  Two more vessels were afterwards sunk, and the harbor was then thought safe.

        The English had at last finished their preparations, and were urging on the siege with determined vigor.  The landward view was a solitude no longer.  They could be seen in multitudes piling earth and fascines beyond the hillock at the edge of the marsh.  On the twenty-fifth they occupied the hillock itself, and fortified themselves there under a shower of bombs.  Then they threw up earth on the right, and pushed their approaches towards the Barachois, in spite of a hot fire from the frigate “Aréthuse.”  Next they appeared on the left towards the sea about a third of a mile from the Princess's Bastion.  It was Wolfe, with a strong detachment, throwing up a redoubt and opening an entrenchment.  Late on the night of the ninth of July six hundred French troops sallied to interrupt the work.  The English grenadiers in the trenches fought stubbornly with bayonet and sword, but were forced back to the second line, where a desperate conflict in the dark took place; and after severe loss on both sides the French were driven back.  Some days before, there had been another sortie on the opposite side, near the Barachois, resulting in a repulse of the French and the seizure by Wolfe of a more advanced position.

        Various courtesies were exchanged between the two commanders.  Drucour, on occasion of a flag of truce, wrote to Amherst that there was a surgeon of uncommon skill in Louisbourg, whose services were at the command of any English officer who might need them.  Amherst on his part sent to his enemy letters and messages from wounded Frenchmen in his hands, adding his compliments to Madame Drucour, with an expression of regret for the disquiet to which she was exposed, begging her at the same time to accept a gift of pineapples from the West Indies.  She returned his courtesy by sending him a basket of wine; after which amenities the cannon roared again.  Madame Drucour was a woman of heroic spirit.  Every day she was on the ramparts, where her presence roused the soldiers to enthusiasm; and every day with her own hand she fired three cannon to encourage them.

        The English lines grew closer and closer, and their fire more and more destructive.  Desgouttes, the naval commander, withdrew the “Aréthuse” from her exposed position, where her fire had greatly annoyed the besiegers.  The shot-holes in her sides were plugged up, and in the dark night of the fourteenth of July she was towed through the obstructions in the mouth of the harbor, and sent to France to report the situation of Louisbourg.  More fortunate than her predecessor, she escaped the English in a fog.  Only five vessels now remained afloat in the harbor, and these were feebly manned, as the greater part of their officers and crews had come ashore, to the number of two thousand, lodging under tents in the town, amid the scarcely suppressed murmurs of the army officers.

        On the eighth of July news came that the partisan Boishébert was approaching with four hundred Acadians, Canadians, and Micmacs to attack the English outposts and detachments.  He did little or nothing, however, besides capturing a few stragglers.  On the sixteenth, early in the evening, a party of English, led by Wolfe, dashed forward, drove off a band of French volunteers, seized a rising ground called Hauteur-de-la-Potence, or Gallows Hill, and began to entrench themselves scarcely three hundred yards from the Dauphin's Bastion.  The town opened on them furiously with grapeshot; but in the intervals of the firing the sound of their picks and spades could plainly be heard.  In the morning they were seen throwing up earth like moles as they burrowed their way forward; and on the twenty-first they opened another parallel, within two hundred yards of the rampart.  Still their sappers pushed on.  Every day they had more guns in position, and on right and left their fire grew hotter.  Their pickets made a lodgment along the foot of the glacis, and fired up the slope at the French in the covered way.

        The twenty-first was a memorable day.  In the afternoon a bomb fell on the ship “Célèbre” and set her on fire.  An explosion followed.  The few men on board could not save her, and she drifted from her moorings.  The wind blew the flames into the rigging of the “Entreprenant,” and then into that of the “Capricieux.”  At night all three were in full blaze; for when the fire broke out the English batteries turned on them a tempest of shot and shell to prevent it from being extinguished.  The glare of the triple conflagration lighted up the town, the trenches, the harbor, and the surrounding hills, while the burning ships shot off their guns at random as they slowly drifted westward, and grounded at last near the Barachois.  In the morning they were consumed to the water's edge; and of all the squadron the “Prudent” and the “Bienfaisant” alone were left.

        In the citadel, of which the King's Bastion formed the front, there was a large oblong stone building containing the chapel, lodgings for men and officers, and at the southern end the quarters of the Governor.  On the morning after the burning of the ships a shell fell through the roof among a party of soldiers in the chamber below, burst, and set the place on fire.  In half an hour the chapel and all the northern part of the building were in flames; and no sooner did the smoke rise above the bastion than the English threw into it a steady shower of missiles.  Yet soldiers, sailors, and inhabitants hastened to the spot, and labored desperately to check the fire.  They saved the end occupied by Drucour and his wife, but all the rest was destroyed.  Under the adjacent rampart were the casemates, one of which was crowded with wounded officers, and the rest with women and children seeking shelter in these subterranean dens.  Before the entrances there was a long barrier of timber to protect them from exploding shells; and as the wind blew the flames towards it, there was danger that it would take fire and suffocate those within.  They rushed out, crazed with fright, and ran hither and thither with outcries and shrieks amid the storm of iron.

        In the neighboring Queen's Bastion was a large range of barracks built of wood by the New England troops after their capture of the fortress in 1745.  So flimsy and combustible was it that the French writers call it a “house of cards” and “a paper of matches.”  Here were lodged the greater part of the garrison: but such was the danger of fire, that they were now ordered to leave it; and they accordingly lay in the streets or along the foot of the ramparts, under shelters of timber which gave some little protection against bombs.  The order was well timed; for on the night after the fire in the King's Bastion, a shell filled with combustibles set this building also in flames.  A fearful scene ensued.  All the English batteries opened upon it.  The roar of mortars and cannon, the rushing and screaming of round-shot and grape, the hissing of fuses and the explosion of grenades and bombs mingled with a storm of musketry from the covered way and trenches; while, by the glare of the conflagration, the English regiments were seen drawn up in battle array, before the ramparts, as if preparing for an assault.

        Two days after, at one o'clock in the morning, a burst of loud cheers was heard in the distance, followed by confused cries and the noise of musketry, which lasted but a moment.  Six hundred English sailors had silently rowed into the harbor and seized the two remaining ships, the “Prudent” and the “Bienfaisant.”  After the first hubbub all was silent for half an hour.  Then a light glowed through the thick fog that covered the water.  The “Prudent” was burning.  Being aground with the low tide, her captors had set her on fire, allowing the men on board to escape to the town in her boats.  The flames soon wrapped her from stem to stern; and as the broad glare pierced the illumined mists, the English sailors, reckless of shot and shell, towed her companion-ship, with all on board, to a safe anchorage under Wolfe's batteries.

        The position of the besieged was deplorable.  Nearly a fourth of their number were in the hospitals; while the rest, exhausted with incessant toil, could find no place to snatch an hour of sleep; “and yet,” says an officer, “they still show ardor.”  “To-day,” he again says, on the twenty-fourth, “the fire of the place is so weak that it is more like funeral guns than a defence.”  On the front of the town only four cannon could fire at all.  The rest were either dismounted or silenced by the musketry from the trenches.  The masonry of the ramparts had been shaken by the concussion of their own guns; and now, in the Dauphin's and King's bastions, the English shot brought it down in masses.  The trenches had been pushed so close on the rising grounds at the right that a great part of the covered way was enfiladed, while a battery on a hill across the harbor swept the whole front with a flank fire.  Amherst had ordered the gunners to spare the houses of the town; but, according to French accounts, the order had little effect, for shot and shell fell everywhere.  “There is not a house in the place,” says the Diary just quoted, “that has not felt the effects of this formidable artillery.  From yesterday morning till seven o'clock this evening we reckon that a thousand or twelve hundred bombs, great and small, have been thrown into the town, accompanied all the time by the fire of forty pieces of cannon, served with an activity not often seen.  The hospital and the houses around it, which also serve as hospitals, are attacked with cannon and mortar.  The surgeon trembles as he amputates a limb amid cries of Gare la bombe! and leaves his patient in the midst of the operation, lest he should share his fate.  The sick and wounded, stretched on mattresses, utter cries of pain, which do not cease till a shot or the bursting of a shell ends them.”[586]  On the twenty-sixth the last cannon was silenced in front of the town, and the English batteries had made a breach which seemed practicable for assault.

[Footnote 586: Early in the siege Drucour wrote to Amherst asking that the hospitals should be exempt from fire. Amherst answered that shot and shell might fall on any part of so small a town, but promised to insure the sick and wounded from molestation if Drucour would send them either to the island at the mouth of the harbor, or to any of the ships, if anchored apart from the rest. The offer was declined, for reasons not stated. Drucour gives the correspondence in his Diary.]


        On the day before, Drucour, with his chief officers and the engineer, Franquet, had made the tour of the covered way, and examined the state of the defences.  All but Franquet were for offering to capitulate.  Early on the next morning a council of war was held, at which were present Drucour, Franquet, Desgouttes, naval commander, Houllière, commander of the regulars, and the several chiefs of battalions.  Franquet presented a memorial setting forth the state of the fortifications.  As it was he who had reconstructed and repaired them, he was anxious to show the quality of his work in the best light possible; and therefore, in the view of his auditors, he understated the effects of the English fire.  Hence an altercation arose, ending in a unanimous decision to ask for terms.  Accordingly, at ten o'clock, a white flag was displayed over the breach in the Dauphin's Bastion, and an officer named Loppinot was sent out with offers to capitulate.  The answer was prompt and stern: the garrison must surrender as prisoners of war; a definite reply must be given within an hour; in case of refusal the place will be attacked by land and sea.[587]

[Footnote 587: Mante and other English writers give the text of this reply.]


        Great was the emotion in the council; and one of its members, D'Anthonay, lieutenant-colonel of the battalion of Volontaires Étrangers, was sent to propose less rigorous terms.  Amherst would not speak with him; and jointly with Boscawen despatched this note to the Governor:—


Sir,—We have just received the reply which it has pleased your Excellency to make as to the conditions of the capitulation offered you.  We shall not change in the least our views regarding them.  It depends on your Excellency to accept them or not; and you will have the goodness to give your answer, yes or no, within half an hour.
We have the honor to be, etc.,
E. BOSCAWEN.
J. AMHERST.[588]


Drucour answered as follows:—


Gentlemen,—To reply to your Excellencies in as few words as possible, I have the honor to repeat that my position also remains the same, and that I persist in my first resolution.
I have the honor to be, etc.,
The Chevalier de Drucour


[Footnote 588: Translated from the Journal of Drucour.]


        In other words, he refused the English terms, and declared his purpose to abide the assault.  Loppinot was sent back to the English camp with this note of defiance.  He was no sooner gone than Prévost, the intendant, an officer of functions purely civil, brought the Governor a memorial which, with or without the knowledge of the military authorities, he had drawn up in anticipation of the emergency.  “The violent resolution which the council continues to hold,” said this document, “obliges me, for the good of the state, the preservation of the King's subjects, and the averting of horrors shocking to humanity, to lay before your eyes the consequences that may ensue.  What w