A year after his victories over the forts at Oswego, General Montcalm began an expedition against the forts which the English still held on Lake George and the Hudson River. Fort William Henry was situated on the south end of Lac du St. Sacrament, renamed by the English as Lake George, and was garrisoned by troops under Lieutenant Colonel George Munro. A short distance away, on the headwaters of the Hudson River was Fort Edward. To cap his victory over the forts at Oswego, Montcalm determined to take these two forts also.
Montcalm ordered a detachment of 1,200 men under Captain Rigaud de Vaudreuil (the governor's brother) to attack Fort George (known by the British as Fort William Henry).
Fort William Henry was garrisoned by approximately five hundred English soldiers. Also stationed at the fort in the spring of 1757 was a small detachment of troops from Rogers Rangers under Lieutenant Colonel William Eyre. The English held strong. Four attacks were repulsed by the English. Despite destroying all of the buildings outside the forts stockade, along with a ship under construction in on the lake, the French lifted the siege and withdrew after a few days.
The minor setback of not being able to take the fort in March did not deter Montcalm entirely. He withdrew his army to Fort Carillon / Ticonderoga. There, he amassed a larger army, bringing the total number of troops to eight thousand and thirteen, of which 5,500 would be available for an expedition. That force included some eighteen hundred Indian allies, including the Abenaki, Algonkin, Amalecite, Huron, Iroquois, and Nepissing. From regions distant, there came Aoais, Chagouamigon, Delaware, Folles Avoines, Fox (from the Mississippi), Miami (from St. Joseph), Mississagues, Outaouats, Pouteouatami (from St. Joseph and Detroit), Puants (of the Bay), Sacs, and Tetes de Boules. The one tribe included in the Indian contingent, the Aoais (variously, Iowas), was difficult to control because they spoke a language different than the other tribes.
A French fleet bringing supplies to Montcalm was delayed. The lack of provisions nearly brought a halt to any expedition that spring. But the Marquis de Vaudreuil sent couriers throughout the Canadian countryside to obtain supplies from the inhabitants. The farmers responded favorably and supplied the provisions that the delayed fleet would have supplied.
Following the French withdrawal from the first attack on the fort, Colonel Parker, with a detachment of 400, left Fort William Henry to attack the French at Ticonderoga. But their attempt was not fruitful. They were taken by surprise by the French who killed or captured half of the detachment.
By mid-July, Montcalm was ready to make another attempt at taking Fort William Henry. The French troops were ferried down Lake George during the last week in July. On the night of 31 July the majority of the French troops, along with artillery and munitions, were loaded onto 250 bateaux and 200 canoes. The number of transport vessels were insufficient to acomodate all of the troops, so about 2,000 of the troops, in addition to 500 of the Indian allies, under the command of Brigadier de Levis, set out two days earlier marching overland. The point for a rendezvous between the land force and the troops being ferried, was the Bay of Ganaouske, about four leagues from Fort William Henry.
Levis' troops arrived at the rendezvous point at the Bay of Ganaouske around four o'clock on the afternoon of 01 August. He lit three signal fires along the shore and then pushed on to a cove within three leagues of the fort. At three o'clock in the morning of the 2nd, Montcalm's army of 4,800 French soldiers and Indians arrived at Ganaouske Bay and found Levis' signal fires and some troops Levis had posted there. Being directed on to the cove, Montcalm's army arrived there by evening. During that evening of the 2nd, the French captured two barks carrying British soldiers scouting the region around the fort. They informed Montcalm that the fort's garrison consisted of three thousand men, five hundred of which were stationed within the fortification, while the rest were entrenched on a rise adjacent to the fort.
A gunshot was heard at two o'clock on the morning of 03 August. It was the signal for the British troops to prepare for the the imminent assault by the French.
Montcalm had given orders to advance on the fort and to particularly engage the entrenchments ouside of the fort if such would seem favorable to the French.
At dawn on the 3rd of August, Brigadier Levis advanced in the van with a detachment of British troops and all of the Indians. M. de Rigaud de Vaudreuil followed on the right with the Canadians that formed Courtemanche's and Gaspe's brigades. De Bourlamaque advanced on the left; Montcalm commanded the center.
At around ten o'clock in the forenoon, Levis took up a position on the road between fort William Henry and Fort Edward. He waiting there for the rest of the army to arrive. The Marquis de Montcalm proceeded in person to the front, and after taking a view of the entrenchments invested by the British soldiers, decided that an assault on those entrenchments would be disastrous for the French army. Instead, Montcalm made plans to make a direct assault against the fort.
The captured British troops had given Montcalm incorrect figures in regard to the number of their garrison; there were, in fact, no more than twenty-three hundred and seventy-two soldiers, of which only eleven hundred were actually fit for duty (the rest being ill, primarily with smallpox). Brigadier General Daniel Webb, stationed at Fort Edward (known by the French as Fort Lidius) just fourteen miles to the south, when contacted with a request for reinforcements, at first had refused to send any of his twenty-five hundred troops to help Munro. Later he decided to send two hundred regular British army soldiers under Lieutenant Colonel Young and eight hundred Massachusetts-Bay militia under Colonel Frye to join Munro's garrison. Webb feared a possible French attack via South Bay and could not afford to reduce the garrison at Fort Edward any more. In the fashion typical of the English military authority of the time, Webb sent a letter to Munro suggesting that he simply surrender to the French on the best terms he could obtain. The letter was intercepted by Montcalm, who, after reading it himself, and realizing that it would be damaging to the morale of the fort's British defenders, sent it on through to Munro.
Montcalm sent out some troops to reconnoiter the fort. Finding the manner that the English had reinforced the log stockade with stone, the French commander changed his mind about engaging the British in a battle immediately, and decided to besiege the fort by cannonade. Montcalm sent a letter to Munro calling for his immediate surrender, noting that he could control his Indian allies for the time being, but could not guarantee that to be the case should the siege of the fort last very long. Munro refused the French overture for capitulation, and replied that he and his men would defend the fort to the end.
The French artillery was set up in two batteries that they constructed during the 4th under a constant fire of cannon shot from the fort. All the while, the Indians, impatient for the artillery to begin firing, sniped at the fort's defenders, Finally, about sunrise on the morning of 06 August, eight cannon and one mortar in the left battery opened fire on the fort. By the following morning, the right battery was completed and eleven guns began firing from that point.
The English held out this time for a week. Although the French did not make any direct assault on the fort with their foot soldiers, the continual bombardment eventually weakened the palisade defenses and Munro knew he could not hold out much longer. General Webb, likewise from his position at Fort Edward, was not convinced that his comrades at Fort William Henry could hold out against the French siege. He wrote to Loudoun and to the governor of New York begging for militia reinforcements, but although some two thousand were sent from Albany, they came too late to be of use.
Munro capitulated to Montcalm on 09 August 1757. His garrison was weakened by a raging smallpox epidemic, and his cannon, except for seven small pieces, had been burst or otherwise disabled by the continual firing. A portion of the fort's palisade wall had already been breached, and it was evident that time was running out. On the morning of the 9th Munro held a council with his officers, and they unanimously agreed to surrender. As part of the terms of surrender, the French commander promised Munro that the English would be permitted to keep their arms. Montcalm further assured Munro that French troops would escort the English to Fort Edward.
Following are the Articles of Capitulation granted to Lieutenant-Colonel Monra for his Britannic Majety's garrion of Fort William Henry, the intrenched camps adjoining the ame and their dependencies, by the Marquis de Montcalm, General of his Mot Chritian Majety's troops in Canada, the 9th of Augut 1757.
|Article 1st.||The garrion of Fort William Henry, and the troops in the intrenched camp adjoining, hall march out with their arms and the other honors of war.
The baggage of the officers and of the oldiers only.
They hall proceed to Fort Edward ecorted by a detachment of French troops and ome Officers and Interpreters attached to the Indians, and march at an early hour to-morrow morning.
|Article 2d.||The gate of the fort hall be delivered up to the troops of his Mot Chritian Majety after the igning of the capitulation, and the intrenched camp, on the departure of his Britannic Majety's troops.|
|Article 3d.||All the artillery, warlike tores, proviions, and in general everything except the effects of the officers and oldiers pecified in the firt article, hall, upon honor, be delivered up to the troops of his Mot Chritian Majety, and with that view an exact inventory of the property herein mentioned hall be delivered after the capitulation, oberving that this Article includes the fort, intrenchment and dependencies.|
|Article 4th.||The garrion of the fort, intrenched camp and dependencies hall not be at liberty to erve for eighteen months, reckoning from this date, againt hi Mot Chritian Majety nor againt his allies; and with the capitulation hall be furnished an exact return of his troops, wherein hall be et forth the names of the officers, Majors, other officers, Engineers, artillery officers, Commiaries and employes.|
|Article 5th.||All the officers, oldiers, Canadians, women and Indians, taken on land ince the commencement of this war in North America, hall be delivered at Carillon within the pace of three months, on the receipts of the French Commandants, to whom they hall be delivered; an equal number of the garrion of Fort George hall be at liberty to erve, according to the return which hall be given in thereof by the Englih officer, who will have charge of the prioners.|
|Article 6th.||An officer hall be given as an hotage until the return of the detachment, which will be furnihed as an ecort for his Britannic Majety's troops.|
|Article 7th.||All the ick and wounded who are not in a condition to be removed to Fort Edward, hall remain under the protection of the Marquis de Montcalm, who will take proper care of them and return them immediately after they are cured.|
|Article 8th.||Proviions for the ubitence of aid troops hall be iued for this day and to-morrow only.|
|Article 9th.||The Marquis de Montcalm being willing to how Lieutenant-Colonel Monro and his garrion ome token of his eteem on account of their honorable defence, grants them one piece of cannon ~ a ix-pounder.|
|Done at noon, in the trenches before Fort William Henry, the ninth of Augut, one thouand even [hundred] and fifty-even.
Granted in the name of his Mot Chritian Majety, puruant to the power I poe from the Marquis de Vaudreuil, his Governor and Lieutenant-General in New France.
(Signed), Geo. Monro, Lieutenant- Colonel 35th, and Commandant of his Majety's forces in and near Fort William Henry.
In one of the most abominable acts of the war, the Indians allied to the French committed an act of barbarism against the English, who were led to believe that they would be able to withdraw honorably from the fort.
Marquis de Montcalm ordered an escort to be formed under the command of Marquis de St. Luc de la Corne. De la Corne was one of the French officers who dealt primarily with the Indian allies and was 'conversant with their languages'. De la Corne was informed by several of his officers that the greater number of their Indian allies had gone to lie in ambush along the Lidius Road, down which the British troops and their train would pass. De la Corne and his officers met with Colonel Munro to advise him not to set out until the later on the morning of the next day, the 10th; but Munro had his mind set to leave at dawn.
Despite the assurances that Montcalm gave to Munro that he would attempt to keep the Indians restrained during the British withdrawal to Fort Edward, throughout the afternoon of the 9th, the Indians harrassed the English and plundered their personal belongings, which Montcalm had allowed them to retain. As was usual for the armies of the time, there were quite a number of the troops' wives and some children at the fort. These, the Indians terrorized with the threat of scalping.
On the morning of 10 August 1757, as Munro had insisted, the English troops prepared to leave for Fort Edward at daybreak. The British were impatient to get on their way as quickly as possible, and so they started out before the escort of three hundred regular French soldiers could be assembled. The Indians, some of whom had been agitated and prowling among the English most of the night, were alerted. Seventeen wounded men from Colonel Frye's regiment were dragged from their beds by the Indians, who tomahawked and scalped them. A general chaos ensued with the English attempting to march away, while the Indians hounded them, stripping articles of clothing from their bodies and snatching empty weapons from them. Here and there, individuals, especially the women and children, were pulled from the column, and either dragged off into the surrounding woods as captives or murdered right there. A party of Indians attacked militiamen of New Hampshire bringing up the rear of the column, and killed at least eighty on the spot. The French soldiers, for the most part, simply watched the massacre without attempting to restrain the savages. Eventually though, Montcalm and some of his officers tried to stop the Indians, but by then they were helpless to do so.
In the end, the Indians massacred over two hundred of the English. Through the course of the next few days, Montcalm and his officers bargained with the Indians to release the English that they had taken captive but had not yet murdered. They succeeded in saving nearly four hundred. About fourteen hundred of the English were able to escape the Indians wrath and made their way to the safety of Fort Edward by the 15th of August.
Louis-Antoine, Comte de Bougainville, in a letter to the French Minister of Defense, Marc-Rene de Voyer, Marquis de Paulmy, dated 19 August 1757, described the Indians' actions. Note that he ascribes one of the causitive factors for the massacre on the English troops' impatience to get going ~ not allowing the French troops the time to form an escort.
In a bit of irony, the Indians, by attacking and murdering the troops who were confined to the Fort William Henry's hospital, contracted the smallpox disease and unwittingly carried it back to their own families.
There was a reason why there were no troops available to reinforce the garrisons at Fort William Henry and Fort Edward, during the spring and summer of 1757. The majority of available troops were being sent by General Loudoun to carry out an expedition against Quebec. William Pitt became the Secretary of State for the Southern Department in December of 1756. One of the priorities of the Southern Department was the management of the affairs of the colonies in America. Pitt began, almost immediately, to put into action plans to take the war deeper into Canada. Within three weeks of his appointment, Pitt ordered Loudoun to launch a campaign against Quebec. The campaign would begin with the capture of the large French naval base at Louisbourg, and then advance up the Saint Lawrence River to end in the capture of Quebec. That campaign would be undertaken during the summer and fall of 1757.
Two Royal American battalions and five companies of Rangers were assembled at New York City during the spring. The troops were boarded on seventy ships under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Charles Hardy and left New York on 20 June 1757, bound for Nova Scotia. They arrived at Halifax on 30 June. There they disembarked and waited for Admiral Francis Holborne to arrive from England with additional reinforcements of over five thousand Royal British Army soldiers and supplies. During that wait, Loudoun drilled his men. Everything pointed toward a positive result, and the English assumed Louisbourg would be theirs before the winter set in.
The only problem was that the French had anticipated the English arrival. Three thousand troops and a large fleet of eighteen ships were present to defend the fort at Louisbourg. Before the end of July, four more warships arrived to bolster the French fleet. On top of that, diseases ravaged the English army, resulting in the death of over two hundred men and the hospitalization of nearly five hundred more. Loudoun and Holborne made the decision on 04 August to postpone the assault until the following season. It was a decision that would be fatal to Loudouns career in America.
Loudoun returned with most of the troops to New York. Some were left to augment the garrisons of Fort Cumberland (at Bay of Fundy) and Fort Edward (36 miles from Halifax). The English fleet left to return to England; it was caught in a storm (believed to be a hurricane) on 24 September. One of the ships was sunk in the storm and most of the others were damaged. In order to survive the ravages of the storm, the cannon were thrown overboard, resulting in a loss of the much needed ordnance for England.
After news of the aborted campaign reached London, Loudoun was recalled by Secretary of State, William Pitt. On 30 December, Major General James Abercromby was placed in charge of the English armies in North America. Pitt was not totally enamored with Abercromby to lead the armies in North America, so he followed a course of action of appointing the commanders of individual campaigns himself. He gave those commanders the freedom of making their own decisions. It was a decision that would change the course of the war in the favor of the British.
Three campaigns were planned to be undertaken in the year 1758. General Jeffrey Amherst would re-attempt the capture of Louisbourg. General Abercromby would undertake an attack on Fort Carillon at Ticonderoga and the fort at Crown Point. And General John Forbes would attempt the capture of Fort Duquesne. A fourth campaign would present itself halfway through the year: Colonel John Bradstreet would attempt the capture of Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario.
General Jeffrey Amherst was in Germany when the year 1758 began. It should be remembered that the French and Indian War was also being waged in Europe under the name of the Seven Years War. England was allied with Prussia against the alliance of France, Austria, Russia and Sweden. Amherst had been sent to the European Theatre, but English Secretary of State, William Pitt felt his services would be better utilized in North America. He was recalled and appointed to command the army against Louisbourg. His subordinate officer would be General James Wolfe.
Admiral Edward Boscawen was directed to command a fleet to carry armament from Great Britain to Halifax, Nova Scotia where a mixed royal and provincial militia army would be picked up and transported to Cape Breton. The fleet of one hundred and fifty-seven ships got underway in late February of 1758 and arrived at Halifax on 28 May. Nearly fourteen thousand troops were boarded at Halifax and the fleet set sail again. On 02 June the fleet arrived at Cape Breton, but the troops could not be landed due to inclement weather. The surf was so great that no boat could make it to shore. Besides the obstacle of the weather, the French had constructed entrenchments and artillery batteries on practically every good landing spot along the coast.
The weather cleared enough on the 8th to make a landing possible, and General Amherst took advantage of it. He organized the troops into three divisions with the intention of using the divisions on the right and center simply as feints to draw attention from the enemy long enough for the division on the left to make a safe landing. The left division would be commanded by General Wolfe. Behind Wolfe's division, the division in the center, under General Edward Whitmore, would move to the left and follow, with the right division, under the command of General Charles Lawrence, eventually bringing up the rear.
A furious fire was commenced from five frigates against the French batteries. After about fifteen minutes, Wolfe ordered his men to move toward the shore. The French poured a deadly barrage of cannon and musket fire down on Wolfe's troops, but despite many casualties, they pressed on. As soon as they landed, they rushed toward the entrenchments, routing the startled French.
The overall plan of attack worked like clockwork, and the siege of the town proceeded. The other two divisions successfully followed Wolfe's onto the shore without much opposition. The English army established a camp near the place of landing. The weather continued to be an obstacle for the intended siege, but by the 12th of June the English had captured the Lighthouse Point battery, and by the 25th the island battery had also been taken. The English ships fired on the French batteries and the town of Louisbourg when the weather permitted.
The French had five ships of the line and a couple frigates stationed in the harbor. They harassed the English, but not to any significant extent. Although they attempted to hinder the English cannonade, they were so outnumbered that they were nothing more than a nuisance. On the 21st of July one of those ships caught fire and blew up. The explosion that ripped through that ship set two others on fire and they all burned to the water's edge. That tragedy for the French effectively ended their hopes that their ships would badger the English fleet into submission.
The English bombs had inflicted quite a bit of damage throughout the town, but the French maintained their stance and continued to answer the English cannonade with shot of their own. Despite the fact that it was becoming apparent that the English siege would eventually win out, the French refused to capitulate. Admiral Boscawen directed a detachment of six hundred men under the command of Captains Laforey and Balfour to take the two remaining French warships. On the night of the 25th of July, under the cover of darkness, the detachment made their way in small boats toward the two French ships. The French, when they became aware of the attack, began to shower cannonballs and musketry fire on the attackers. The attack was successful, causing one of the ships to run aground and capturing the other.
On 26 July 1758, the French commander, Augustin Boschenry de Drucour, gave in, and the French garrison at Louisbourg surrendered. English losses during the forty-nine days of the siege amounted to one hundred and sixty-seven men (of whom twenty-one were officers). The French sustained the loss of three hundred and fifty men and five thousand, seven hundred and thirty-seven men were made prisoner. The English took possession of one hundred and twenty cannon and eighteen mortars along with a large quantity of ammunition.
The capitulation of Louisbourg was not the only English victory at Cape Breton. The garrison at Spaniard's Bay surrendered to Major Dalling on 07 August. St. John Island surrendered to Lord Andrew Rollo. Colonel Robert Monckton captured Saint Anne and destroyed the French settlements along the St. John River, General Wolfe likewise destroyed settlements up the St Lawrence River.
General James Abercromby made preparations for the attack on Fort Carillon during the spring of 1758; he assembled an army of nearly sixteen thousand troops in the vicinity of Lake George.
Abercromby needed to obtain information about the French at Fort Carillon. He directed Robert Rogers to take a detachment of his Rangers on a mission to reconnoiter the French garrison. Rogers set out with one hundred and seventy men on 10 March. Not far from Fort Edward, the Rangers came upon a French force of one hundred troops and six hundred Indians. Before Rogers retreated one hundred of his detachment were dead. The French and Indians lost one hundred and fifty.
By end of June, Abercromby's army of six thousand, three hundred and sixty-seven regular troops and nine thousand and thirty-four provincial militia were encamped near the site of Fort William Henry at the south end of Lake George. French General Montcalm commanded a force of thirty-five hundred at the fort at Ticonderoga. The English were confident that their greater numbers would prevail and that the capture of the fort would be an easy one.
The English left their encampment on the evening of 04 July 1758. The army was ferried across Lake George to the point called the Narrows, about three miles southwest of Ticonderoga. From there, the English would march overland the rest of the way to Fort Carillon. The fort was situated so that it could be attacked by only a single side by land.
French General Louis Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm-Gozon was waiting impatiently for the English to advance. Earlier in the spring of 1758 the French had intended to launch a campaign against the English forces still present in the Mohawk Valley. The plan was to attack the various forts still held by the English between Ticonderoga and Schenectady, to capture Schenectady itself, and in the process, to obtain the alliance of the Five Nations of the Iroquois. The plan was in the various stages of development when a couple rangers were taken captive near Lake George. They claimed that the English were amassing an army of some thirty thousand men to attack Fort Carillon at Ticonderoga. The French believed the rangers' exaggerations and brought the intended campaign to a halt. Instead, all available French soldiers were directed to Ticonderoga to reinforce the garrison at Fort Carillon. Montcalm organized his army with a battalion commanded by ----- Berry stationed at the fort, a detachment under Francois Bourlamaque at the head of the portage, and the main body of the army under Montcalm himself near the falls on the river that emptied Lake George into Lake Champlain. A sawmill at that place would serve as a makeshift fortification.
On the afternoon of the 5th of July, a detachment under one of Montcalm's partisan officers, a man by the name of Langy, had gone out to reconnoiter in the vicinity of the head of Lake George. There they had seen the movement of the English, and got word back to Montcalm. Montcalm immediately moved into action. He ordered Berry's battalion to begin construction of a breastworks on the high ground to the northwest side of the fort, facing the only approach by land. He sent an urgent message to the General Duc de Levis, who was yet at Montreal, for reinforcements.
To the English army, General Abercromby was more of a figurehead than anything. The real commander of the English army approaching Fort Carillon, chosen as such by William Pitt, was Brigadier Lord George Howe. Howe was a strict disciplinarian, but he was very beloved by the troops.
On the evening of 04 July, under Howe's orders and instructions for marching, the army moved out. They crossed Lake George on nine hundred bateaux and one hundred and thirty-five whaleboats just as the sun was rising on the 5th. The convoy, stretching nearly six miles in length, began to enter the Narrows a little before ten o'clock that morning. The rangers under Robert Rogers led, followed by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gage and the light infantry. They were followed by Colonel John Bradstreet, leading a company of armed boatmen. They in turn were followed by Lord Howe's Fifty-Fifth Regiment and the main body of regulars. They were followed, in turn, by the Royal Americans, the Twenty-Seventh, Forty-Fourth, Forty-Sixth and the Eightieth Regiments of infantry. Duncan Campbell's Forty-Second Regiment of Highlanders came next, followed by provincial militia from Connecticut, Massachusetts-Bay, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. Bringing up the rear were the bateaux carrying supplies and flatboats carrying artillery. The army came to a stop at Sabbath Day Point, some twenty-five miles from Fort Carillon, around five o'clock. There, the army rested, waiting for the artillery and supply boats to catch up.
At eleven o'clock on the evening of the 5th, the army once more started to move, and reached the Second Narrows, beyond which they would land, at sunrise on the 6th. A small French detachment was easily driven off, and the army began to disembark. Rogers' Rangers were chosen to lead the advance toward Fort Carillon. Rogers' company of rangers, along with regiments of militia commanded by Fitch and Lyman, began the march through the dense forest that lay to the northwest of the army's landing point.
About a half mile distant from the English army's landing place, a string of mountains would have to be crossed, on the far side of which flowed Trout Brook. The Trout Brook Valley would provide the entry route to Montcalm's main army's encampment. The forest, through which the army would have to march, in order to reach the Trout Brook Valley, was very dense. They started out in an orderly fashion composed of four columns, behind Rogers' advance party, but although they were able to maintain that order, the English became confused and lost in the forest. But, unbeknownst to them, they had actually made their way between the detachment of French soldiers under Langy and the rest of the French army. That happened because Langy had attempted to retreat from the area when the English were first sighted. The detachment of three hundred and fifty French regulars and Canadians, though, had become as confused and lost as the English.
Around nightfall, the French troops arrived near the junction of Trout Brook and the river emptying out of Lake George. There they came upon the main body of the English army. Lord Howe and Major Israel Putnam were at the head of the first column, some distance behind Rogers' advance party. Although they could not see anyone, they heard a challenge in French come from the thick undergrowth. An answer was given in French, but Langy's troops doubted that it was genuine. The French opened fire from the bushes, which was returned from the English. A shot ripped into Lord Howe's breast, killing him instantly. A series of fierce volleys rang through the forest. Rogers, hearing the musketfire behind him, turned his troops around. Howe's death had somewhat demoralized his column, but as Rogers' troops arrived, they hemmed Langy's French soldiers in between them and Howe's column. The French desperately fought the English at their front and back, but their efforts were futile. Some fifty of them made their escape through the cover of the forest, but about one hundred and forty-eight were taken prisoner and the rest were either killed in the skirmish, or drowned as they tried to escape across the river. The English lost their beloved commander but the rest of their losses were small - only about forty of the troops.
Montcalm maintained his position at the falls until about five o'clock on the evening of the sixth, but then, on the urgings of his officers Bernes and Montguy, he withdrew to a position closer to the fort behind the breastworks constructed by Berry. Before leaving the falls, he destroyed the bridge that spanned the river there.
According to a French narrative describing the engagement: "At 9 o'clock the enemy landed at half a quarter of a league from the Portage; our advanced pots fired on their firt troops and fell back on Sieur de Bourlamaque's corps, who having joined the Mis de Montcalm, the 5 reunited battalions paed the defile of the River of the Falls, detroyed the bridge over it and ranged themelves with the two battalions of La Sarre and Languedoc in order of battle on the heights which bordered it. This retreat was effected in the enemy's preence, without the los of a ingle man."
The English army, after their skirmish with the French, remained in the forest under arms, waiting for a renewed French attack which never came. During the morning of 07 July, they were directed back to the landing place. About noon, Bradstreet, who had wanted to advance on the French earlier in the morning, was sent with a detachment of regulars and provincials to reconnoiter the region. The detachment found the camp held the night before by Montcalm and set about rebuilding the bridge. Word was then sent back to Abercromby, who mobilized the army once more. They reached the deserted French camp at the falls by the late afternoon and established their own encampment.
Fort Carillon was situated on a small peninsula created by Lake Champlain and the river that empties Lake George into it. The peninsula was surrounded, therefore, on nearly three sides by water, with only the northwest approach by land. The plain that stretched in that direction from the fort was accented by a low ridge about a half mile from the fort. It was upon that ridge, that Montcalm had instructed Berry to build a breastworks and abatis, or palisade. The work had proceeded well, but Montcalm was not satisfied that it would hold against the large force of English that he had been led to believe was coming his way.
The French had time to complete the breastworks, though, because of the withdrawal of the English on the morning of the 7th back to their landing place. That action prevented them from reaching the fort for a whole day, and during that time Montcalm was able to construct a rather substantial abatis from the forest trees that covered the plain. By evening, as the troops were putting their finishing touches to the breastwork, Captain Pierre Pouchot, with a contingent of regulars, arrived with the inspiring information that Levis would be arriving the following morning with more reinforcements. Levis actually arrived later that night with an additional four hundred soldiers.
A rumble of musketryfire broke the morning stillness around nine o'clock on the 8th of July. It came from the vicinity of Mount Defiance, a hill to the north of the ridge occupied by the French. Sir William Johnson had arrived with four hundred Indians. Their fire was practically ineffectual, resulting only in the heightening of anticipation on the part of both armies. According to the French narrative on the engagement: "About ten o'clock in the morning, the enemy's light troops appeared on the other ide of the river and opened a brik fire, o ditant that the work was continued without noticing them."
About noon, the English light infantry pushed forward, driving some French pickets ahead of them. Montcalm gave orders to line up in formation behind the breastwork. Three rows of infantry formed along the line, with the grenadiers behind. A battalion of Berry's men were kept to the rear to watch the flanks.
Abercromby had reformed the English army for the assault of the breastworks with the rangers at the front, followed by the light infantry. Bradstreet's armed boatmen came next, followed by some of the provincial militia companies and the regular Royal Army infantry in their bright red uniforms. As the various segments of the English army broke through the forest and into the opening before the French lines, they let loose volleys against the French breastwork. The French held their fire until the order was given. Then, all of a sudden, the breastwork was obscured by the smoke of the discharge of their muskets. Grapeshot and musket balls filled the air, raking through the English lines, and making their forward movement difficult. Although they had intended to assault the breastwork with a bayonet charge, they encountered too many obstructions in the form of tree stumps and brush to effectively carry out that plan. The abatis of branches prevented the scaling of the breastwork. They instead fired from where they stood, spread out in the open field. The French continued to fire from the safety behind the breastwork and abatis. The battle raged for more than an hour before the English troops were forced to retire.
According to the French narrative: "The left was the firt attacked by two columns, one of which endeavored to turn the intrenchment and found itelf under the fire of the regiment of la Sarre, the other directed its efforts againt a alient point between Languedoc and Berry;" It continued: "the centre, where the Royal Rouillon was tationed, was attacked almot at the ame moment, by a third column, and a fourth directed its attack towards the right, between Bearn and La Reine."
Abercromby ordered another frontal assault. Again the English army surged forward, only to be mowed down by the French who they could not see to fire back upon. Entangled in the cut brush and briers, many of the English soldiers who were killed by the French balls did not even drop to the ground, but rather hung in macabre and grotesque positions upon the field of battle. Montcalm later expressed admiration for the valor of the English, claiming that they made six assaults between one o'clock and seven that evening. One of those assaults in particular, made around five o'clock, was nearly successful. It was carried primarily by Scot Highlanders under the command of Campbell of Inverawe. Their assault resulted in a portion of the abatis being breached and Captain John Campbell and a few others being able to scale the breastwork wall. But, despite their heroism, the Highlanders were all bayoneted to death as they dropped down among the French defenders.
The French army included companies of Canadians who were positioned outside of the breastwork and out of the general fighting. Levis ordered them to attack the English's left flank. They took up their position among the trees and fired into the English columns as they made two last charges against the breastwork.
According to the French narrative: "About ix o'clock, the two right columns which abandoned the attack on Guyenne, came to make another attempt at the centre againt Royal Rouillon and Berry, and, in ucceion, one lat effort againt the left; from 6 to 7 o'clock the hotile army was buy retreating, under cover of the fire of the light troops, which continued until nightfall."
There wasn't much fight left in the English army, and by seven-thirty in the evening only the rangers and some of the provincial companies were left on the field. They were occupied at carrying the wounded off the field and covering the retreat of the regulars, who were making their way back to the falls.
Of the English army, one thousand, nine hundred and forty-four men were either killed, wounded or missing. Those killed included Lord Howe, killed on the 6th, and Major General Spittall. The French had lost, according to their reports, ninety-two soldiers and twelve officers killed, and 248 soldiers and twenty-five officers wounded. The French officer, M. de Bourlamaque, was shot in the shoulder while M. de Bougainville was "wounded slightly in the head."
Abercromby ordered his army to head back to Albany. They left in such a hurried state that, on the morning of the 10th, a detachment led by Levis, in addition to finding many wounded British soldiers, also found hundreds of barrels of flour and baggage that the English had left behind. They also found a large number of shoes stuck in the mud at a marshy place that the English had passed through; apparently the soldiers weren't given time to retrieve them.
Colonel John Bradstreet, after the defeat of the English army at Ticonderoga, undertook an expedition against Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario. The campaign would be a success for the English primarily because the most of the fort's garrison had been taken from that place to reinforce Fort Carillon at Ticonderoga. Governor Vaudreuil believed that the English might attempt another assault on Carillon. General Montcalm concurred with the idea and removed all but one hundred and ten occupants (which including women and children).
Colonel Bradstreet had proposed the campaign to take Fort Frontenac (aka Fort Cataraqui) to the Earl of Loudoun, but although Loudoun was in favor of the idea, it was not pursued at the time. Despite his later efforts to pursuade Abercromby to sanction the campaign, Bradstreet was rebuffed. With the disaster at Ticonderoga casting a pall on the English army, Bradstreet's plan now seemed to hold some merit. A council of war was held to decide the matter, and Bradstreet's proposed campaign was approved.
Bradstreet assembled an army of three thousand provincial troops to take the fort. The army consisted of six hundred and seventy-five men from Massachusetts-Bay, four hundred and twelve from New Jersey, one thousand, one hundred and twelve from New York and three hundred and eighteen from Rhode Island. One hundred and thirty-five English regulars and three hundred bateaumen supplemented the provincial militia. Along the way, seventy Oneida Indians joined with the army.
Bradstreet's army traveled up the Mohawk River and then down the Onandaga, past the place where the forts at Oswego had once stood. On 22 August the army was boarded onto batteaux and started northward across Lake Ontario. On the 25th the army landed in the vicinity of the French fort. Bradstreet intended to make a bold assault against the fort at once, and therefore advanced to within two hundred yards of it, setting up his encampment there on the evening of the 26th of August. Bradstreet got his artillery in position and immediately began a bombardment of the fort. It soon became apparent that a long siege would not be needed because the commander of the fort, Pierre Jacques Payan de Noyan, sent out word to the English that he was ready to surrender early the next morning.
Also surrendered to the English in the capitulation of Fort Frontenac on 27 August 1758 were nine vessels that made up the French fleet on Lake Ontario. Bradstreet destroyed all but two of the ships.
The one hundred and ten inhabitants of the fort were taken prisoner, and it was all that Bradstreet could do to prevent the Indians from scalping them. It was said that they begged Bradstreet to turn his back and shut his eyes so that they could massacre the French prisoners. To his credit, Bradstreet refused their request. Instead, the prisoners were taken to Montreal to be exchanged for English prisoners.
In a codicil to the articles of capitulation for Fort Frontenac, it was noted: "Colonel Broadstreet, in consideration of the infirmities of Mr de Noyan, Commandant of this fort, permits him to return to Mont Real, and to take four men; the same to Mdme Duvivier, Mdme. Barollon and the other women belonging to this fort who are without men."
A great store of supplies along with sixty cannon and sixteen mortars were surrendered to the English. They took what they could handle, destroying the rest along with the fort itself, and then headed back across the Ontario to Oswego. Carrying the captured supplies were the two French ships that Bradstreet had not burned. Fort Frontenac had served as a valuable supply depot for the French, and its loss would affect the well being of forts Niagara and Duquesne.
The last campaign to be undertaken by the English in 1758 was that of the capture of Fort Duquesne. Following the defeat of Braddock three years earlier, the Indians, largely by the encouragement by the French, had been attacking the English settlements along the Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiers. Colonel George Washington, with the Virginia Regiment of militia, was kept busy waging a defensive war against them, but had not made much headway in putting an end to the depredations.
General John Forbes was given the task of raising an army to attempt, for the third time, the capture of the fort at the confluence of the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers in western Pennsylvania. Subordinate to Forbes was a Swiss immigrant, Henry Bouquet, in command of the Royal American Regiment at the time of his appointment as Forbes' second-in-command.
Lord Pitt urged the colonial governments of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia to support the campaign that Forbes would undertake, and General Abercromby assigned a quota of six thousand troops to be raised in those three colonies. Twenty-seven hundred men were to be raised in Pennsylvania, and one thousand were to be raised in Maryland. The internal quarrels between the provincial governor of Maryland and its legislative body prevented that colony's quota from being reached. In the end, Forbes' army came to be comprised of twenty-seven hundred men from Pennsylvania and sixteen hundred men from Virginia, but only two to three hundred from Maryland. North Carolina raised two companies to join the campaign. There were also some twelve hundred Highlanders and three hundred and fifty Royal Americans assigned to Forbes' army. In all, the army consisted of between six and seven thousand men, including waggoners and sutlers.
General Forbes negotiated with the various local Indian tribes to obtain allies. The Iroquois were reluctant to join with the English against the French who had been courting them succesfully over the past couple of years. But nearly seven hundred Catawba and Cherokee warriors agreed to accompany Forbes. The English army was not to benefit from this apparent alliance. Forbes' army was not quick to move due to problems with obtaining supplies and the funds to pay the militia. The Indians grew restless as the days passed and the English army failed to mobilize. On 29 May Forbes wrote in a letter that "The Cherokees are now no longer to be kept with us, neither by promies or preents..." It is believed that upwards of five hundred of the Indian warriors left Forbes in May, and another hundred and fifty by October, leaving only fifty.
According to reports obtained from scouting parties and French officers captured in sporadic skirmishes with the Virginians during the prior summer and fall, the French garrison at Fort Duquesne consisted of roughly six hundred French regulars and two hundred Indians. On 01 April 1758 Lieutenant Nathaniel Gist, with six soldiers and thirty Indians, left to reconnoiter Fort Duquesne. Although Gist was incapacitated by a fall down a steep bank, some of the Indians in the party were able to get close to the fort to bring in the following information, according to a letter from George Washington to Sir John St. Clair, the Quartermaster General of Forbes' army:
As noted above, the English army was slow in mobilizing. One of the major obstacles was the decision on what route the army would take through the mountain ranges of western Pennsylvania. Washington strongly urged widening and utilizing the road cut by Braddock. Perhaps his motivation was tinged by his loyalty to the province of Virginia, who did not want to see Pennsylvania having her own route west to the Ohio Valley. But Bouquet argued that a new route should be cut due west from Ray's Town to the Fort Duquesne. Once completed, the new route would provide faster access between Philadelphia and the west. The fact of the matter was that there were only about twenty miles difference between the two routes. Forbes decided to go with the route proposed by Bouquet, and directed him to begin cutting it at the beginning of August. Bouquet employed seventeen hundred men to the construction of the road. It would not be completed to the Loyal Hanna Creek near present-day Ligonier, Pennsylvania, about fifty miles west of Fort Bedford, until mid-October. Fort Ligonier was established at that place to serve as another supply depot. Fort Duquesne stood some fifty more miles to the west. The responsibility for construction of the road from that point would be placed in the hands of Colonel John Armstrong. The responsibility would later be shared by Washington, who had continued to argue with Forbes about the route.
The troops raised in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina were assembled at Fort Loudoun (near present-day Winchester, Virginia) under the command of Washington. The Pennsylvania troops and the Regulars were assembled at Ray's Town, a trading post where the town of Bedford, Pennsylvania now stands, under the command of Bouquet. There an encampment was established and Fort Raystown, later renamed Fort Bedford, was constructed to serve as a supply depot and staging point. General Forbes had become ill and did not reach the camp at Ray's Town until mid-September. Washington marched his portion of the army via Fort Cumberland to Ray's Town, arriving there shortly after Forbes in mid-September.
Henry Bouquet was impatient to get on with the campaign. He directed Major James Grant to take a detachment of eight hundred and eighty-seven men (which included thirty-seven officers) from the camp at Loyal Hanna to reconnoiter Fort Duquesne. Grant led his men out on 11 September and arrived around three o'clock on the afternoon of the 13th within eleven miles of the French fortification. Grant then marched his men quietly to a point within two miles of the fort, where he left his baggage to be guarded by Captain Bullitt and fifty-two men. Grant and the rest of the troops proceeded forward and arrived on the brow of a hill (later named Grant's Hill) about a quarter of a mile distant from the fort. It was about two o'clock in the morning of the 14th when the party reached the hill. The lack of any activity within the vicinity of the fort caused Grant to believe that it might have been abandoned by all but a small force prior to their arrival. Two officers, one of whom was Major Andrew Lewis, were directed to take a detachment of fifty men to approach the fort immediately to possibly draw any defenders out. They were to approach the fort, feign a retreat, and thereby draw the French garrison out into the arms of the main body of troops. The party got close to the fort's pallisade walls but were not challenged by any sentinels. They returned to the English camp. On their return trip, the party set fire to a log storage house.
As the morning of 14 September dawned, Grant directed Major Lewis to take two hundred men about a half mile back along the trail they had come, supposedly to guard against an attempt by the French to escape by that route or to capture their supplies. He then posted four hundred men along the hill facing the fort. Then, with drums beating, a company under a Captain McDonald marched directly toward the fort. The French garrison was aroused, and they poured out of the fort in three divisions. The first two divisions moved quickly along the banks of the rivers forming the fork in the center of which the fort sat, and came up behind the main body of Grant's army. The third positioned themselves in front of the fort facing McDonald's advancing column. McDonald immediately directed his men to fall back to the point from which they had started, all the while returning a deadly barrage of musket fire. By that time, the two divisions of French soldiers, who had made their way along the banks of the rivers, began a deadly flanking movement.
Grant's force was virtually crushed between the two assailing columns of French in a furious battle that lasted less than an hour. The English troops panicked and began to retreat. Major Grant attempted to rally his men and keep them from fleeing the field of battle. It was useless; so he determined to fall back to where Lewis' two hundred men would be waiting, and there with the combined force, make a stand against the French. Hearing the commotion, Major Lewis advanced with his troops to assist Grant, but he took a straight course through the forest toward the sound of the battle rather than follow the trail. Grant's retreating troops were traveling along the trail, and so the two parts of the army missed each other. Lewis's troops were likewise caught in the flanking maneuver of the French, resulting in the death of most and the capture of many including Lewis. Grant, in the meantime, finding that Lewis' troops were not waiting for him, continued the retreat back to the place where Captain Bullitt was stationed with the baggage. There he once more attempted to rally his men, but the French were too close behind.
Despite the general retreat taking place around him, Captain Bullitt maintained order within his own little company of fifty Virginian troops. As the French column approached, Bullitt led his company headlong against the advancing French troops. The Virginians struck the French hard, and bought the rest of Grant's fleeing army some time to make their escape. Eventually, though, they too had to give in to the superior might of the French. Captain Bullitt and Major Grant were the last to leave the field, at which time Grant was taken prisoner.
According to a letter written by George Washington to Francis Fauquier on 25 September:
In letters to Mrs. George William Fairfax dated the 25th of September, and to Francis Fauquier dated the 28th, Washington provided the following additional details:
The French commander of Fort Duquesne, Francois-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery, if not previously, was now aware of the campaign being waged against him, and decided to take an offensive action against the English army. On 12 October, a force of nearly twelve hundred French soldiers and two hundred Indians under the command of De Vetri attacked Bouquet's encampment at Loyal Hanna. The battle raged for four hours before the French gave up the attempt and retreated. They made a second attempt during the night, but Bouquet answered their attack with artillery, and the French made a final retreat. The English lost sixty-seven men in the engagement.
The main body of the army, under General Forbes, finally left the camp at Rays Town around 23 October, arriving at the Loyal Hanna encampment on the 1st of November. Forbes, who was greatly incapacitated by illness, was carried on a litter. At Loyal Hanna Forbes held a council of war with his officers. The decision was made to bring the campaign to a halt because the autumn rains were changing to winter snow. But only a few days later three French soldiers were taken prisoner; what they told of the condition of the French garrison changed the English minds.
The Indians who were allied with the French had begun returning to their homes in October, and they were followed by militia from the French colonies of Louisiana and Illinois. The desertions were partly induced by the lack of supplies reaching the fort. The capture of Fort Frontenac by Bradstreet had effectively cut the life line to Fort Duquesne.
On 18 November, twenty-five hundred hand-picked men left the camp at Loyal Hanna and, without baggage or artillery to weigh them down, began a march toward Fort Duquesne. The detachment reached a point within a day's journey of the fort on the evening of 24 November, and there, along the Turkey Creek, set up a temporary camp in anticipation of attacking the fort the following day. During the night, sounds of heavy booming were heard by the sentrys. The following morning, the army set out in formation toward the fort. An advance guard led the way, with Forbes being carried on a litter. Then came three parallel columns, the Royal Americans under Henry Bouquet on the right, the Highlanders under Archibald Montgomery in the center, and the provincial militia under George Washington on the left. They arrived in front of the fort just as the sun was setting, having passed the bodies of their slain comrades from Grant's attack over the last three miles. The closer they got to the fort, the more their desire for vengeance increased. That desire for vengeance was goaded on by the sight of the heads of the Highlanders, who were captured at the defeat of Grant, stuck on poles with their kilts tied below. But they would not be permitted to vent their rage because, as they approached the fort, they found that the French garrison had already left. The sounds the sentrys had heard during the night had been the sound of the fort being blown up by the French. Only a few Indians remained at the smouldering ruins. They told Forbes that the French, numbering between four and five hundred, had divided up, some going down the Ohio, some traveling to the fort at Presq'isle, and the remainder going up the Allegheny River to the French fort at Venango.
A company of two hundred provincial troops, primarily Virginians, under Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Mercer was left to hold the site, while the rest of Forbes' army were discharged and returned to their homes back east. Forbes, his illness worsening, was carried back to Philadelphia, where he died in the following March. It would not be until the following autumn that an English fortification would be built by General John Stanwix on the site of Duquesne, and christened Fort Pitt.
The balance of power was shifted to the English as the year 1759 dawned.