Henry Marvin.

A complete history of Lake George online

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Online LibraryHenry MarvinA complete history of Lake George → online text (page 1 of 5)
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11 Spruce Street.

18 5 3.


Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1853.
By W. E. & J. SIBKL.L.,

in the Clerk's office, of the District Court of the United
States for the Southern District of New-York.

ym ^ w> M 1^ ^

IN submitting tliis little volume to the considera-
tion of an intellig-ent public, I trust I have made such

a presentation as will meet the approbation of all
those who indulgently peruse its pages. Tli^ design

of this little work, is to present to the reader, and to
convey as accurately as possible, a full and complete
history of Lake George ; embracing every possible ob-
ject of interest connected with its history, its islands,
mountains, and legendary associations ; together with
the graver details of history. In fact, every thing
which I judged as likely to enhance the interest of its

Our knowledge of the past, is necessarily derived
from the information of others ; and while I have been
benefited by their researches, I deem it but an act of
courtesy to acknowledge the obligation, which I be-
lieve I have invariably done. I have not deemed it
necessary to present sketches of the scenes I have at-
tempted to describe — only prefacing the work with an


iv. prp:face.

excellent map— from the fact, they are too familiar to
most travellers, and more particularly so, because art
furnishes but a poor and inaccurate portraiture, where
nature is so beautifully displayed.

It would be unjust in me to conclude this simple
introductory, without returning my sincere thanks
to MosES Harris, Esq., patriarch of the Lake, to
whose knowledge and experience for sixty years
past, I am in the main indebted, for much of the ma-
terials of this little volume.

The best tribute of thanks that I can offer him, for
he is now far " in the sear and yellow leaf," is the
heartfelt wish, that his '' eve of life" may be as serene
as the morn was bright and joyous.

If these pages afford to the reader, but half the plea-
sure I derived from hearing the story of the Lake, as
told by my venerable informer, together with the ad-
ditional pleasure of its compilation, it will have per-
formed its pleasing office, and fully, and most satisfac-
torily, requited the labors of the



e f^



4k Page.
Introductory— Glenn's Falla— Description of the Falls— Bloody
Pond— Battle of Lake George, Sept. 8, 175o— Anecdote of
Hendrick, the Indian Sachem 7

Hotels — General Remarks in regard thereto 22

The Attractiveness of Lake George. . 25


Warren County— Its Boundaries— Caldwell— Lake George— His-
tory — Its 'Frcuch and Indian Names 30


Massacre at Fort William Henry- Montcalm's Defeat on St.
Patrick's Day— Lieutenant Stark's Gallantry— Montcalm's
successful Attack and Demolition of the Fort. August,
1757 — Indian Ferocities — The Remains of the Fort — The
Spirit of Vandalism — Fort George, its present appearance —
Fort Gage. 35


The appearance of the Lake tempered by the Elements — The
echos produced by the sound of the human voice and by
the discharge of Musketry— The Amusements of Visitors-
Its Sailing Advantages — Fishing — Interesting remains to be
seen — Relics frequently found 44




Remarks on Travel — The Steamboat John Jay — Future growth
of Lake George as a Summer Resort — A Description of the
Islands and Mountains on the Lake, together with their
Names and all the Historical and Legendary associations
connected with them, and the trip to old •• Ty." 51


A Description of the Fortress of^iconderoga — Its History and
present appearance — Abercrombie's Attack on Ticondero-
ga, July 8, 1758— His Defeat — Anecdote of young Lord
Howe 72


The causes which induced the commencement of Hostilities —
The zeal of the Americans — An Explanation — Account of
Colonel Ethan Allen's Capture of Ticonderoga 81


A Description of the Kuius as now represented — Interesting
localities described — Vandalism, its effects — Lcssing's Pic-
torial Field Book of the Revolution 90

Evacuation of Ticonderoga by General St. Clair, July 6th, 1777. 94

A word at Parting 100

^ Q



Introductory — Glenn's Falls — Description of
THE Falls — Bloody Pond — Battle of Lake
George, Sept. 8, 1755 — Anecdote of Hendrick,
THE Indian Sachem.

EAR Reader : — Consider me
as the viewless spirit of a
kind informer, and as such,
allow me to travel incognito
with voii, through the scenes

^i:x our Guide Book may describe. Shall


^ I make the salutation at '' Ty," or at
w Moreau Station, the depot where, from
V' the cars, in flaming capitals meets the
eye, " Plank Road to Lake George !" The
old stage coach, despite the elegancies of
art, still maintains its primitive simplicity,
and in this age of steam, and " fast contri-
vances," is it not a pleasant change from the




din and noise of cars, to the easy rolling of
the swinging coach ? At the station, coaches
from the two hotels, the United States, and
the Lake House, are in readiness to convey
passengers. The ride to the lake is exceed-
ingly pleasant : formerly it was a very tire-
some and fatiguing journey. The soil, com-
posed of a loose sand, rendered it tedious
and perplexing in the extreme, and company
from Saratoga were a whole day in making
the journey to the lake. Now we travel over
a good plank road, which extends as far as
Chester, and through a wild and almost
unbroken region of country, which from
its variety and picturesqueness of scenery,
greatly relieves the tediousness of travel.
But the progress of art, in conformity
with the progressive spirit of the age, will
soon send the rattling car on its impetu-
ous way, and the iron horse, superceding
every convenience of travel, will soon
make our stage route " among the things
that were." Five miles from the station
is Glenn's Falls, situated upon the high,
left bank of the Hudson, fifty-three miles I
h ^ 3


from Albany, and seventeen from Saratoga.
It received its name from Mr. Glenn, the
first settler, and is now one of the most en-
terprising villages in the State. The bridge
we cross, is nearly 600 feet long, resting in
the centre upon a marble island, and from
its centre there is a fine view of the falls.
These falls have a total descent of about
seventy feet ; the water flows in one sheet
over the brink of the precipice, 900 feet in
length, and when in full flood, rushes in one
mass down the cataract, producing to the
beholder, a grand and imposing spectacle.
In ordinary seasons, t!:e river is divided at
the falls into three channels by rocks piled
in wild confusion and beautifully carved and
polished by the rushing waters. These falls
have evidently receded from a position lower
down the stream. The banks below are in
some places seventy feet in perpendicular
height, formed of rocks, and are beautifully
stratified. Many fossils are imbedded in
the rocks, among which, the trilobite is quite
plentiful. Among the rocks below, are
what is termed '' big snake," and the " In-



dian cave ;" the former is a petrifaction on
the surface of a flat rock, representing the
appearance of a huge serpent, the latter ex-
tends through the small island, from one
channel to the other, and is pointed out as
the place where figured the young heroines
of Cooper's " Last of the Mohicans." The
natural music of the falls might have chimed
in pleasing accordance with the pitch-pipe
of David, and the " Isle of Wight," for here
Uncas the last of the Mohicans advised, and
Hawk Eye kept his vigils.

Leaving the Falls, for there is nothing
further to interest or amuse, our attention
is not again particularly engaged, until we
arrive within about two miles of the lake,
where we may observe on the right hand
side of the road, a small slimy pond, called
" Bloody Pond." It is near 300 feet in di-
ameter, presenting no attraction, but is me-
morialized in history as being near the battle
ground where Williams and his men were
slain. It received its name from the num-
ber of corpses thrown into it, giving to the
water, as tradition avers, a bloody hue.
^ — 9



The celebrated battle of Lake George,
on September 8, 1755, was fought in the
vicinity of " Bloody Fond." The battle was
between the provincial troops under Major
General, afterwards Sir William Johnson,
aided by a body of Indians under Hendrick,
the Mohawk chieftain, and a body of French
Canadians and Indians, under Baron Dies-
kau, a French nobleman ; the baron em-
barked at Fort Frederick, at Crown Point,
with 2000 men in batteaux, and landed at
Skeensboro', near Whitehall. Having un-
derstood that Johnson lay carelessly en-
camped at the head of lake George, he de-
termined to attack him. The following
account of the conflict that ensued, is given
by Dr. Dwight, Avho received much of his in-
formation from eye witnesses of the action :

On the night of Sunday, September 7, at
12 o'clock, information was brought that the
enemy had advanced four miles on the road
from Fort Edward to Lake George, or half
way between the village of Sandy Hill and
Glenn's Falls. A council of war was held
early in the morning, at which it was resolv-

" 3


ed to send a party to meet them ; the num-
ber of men determined upon at first was
mentioned by the general to Hendrick, and
his opinion was asked ; he replied, " If
they are to fight they are too few, if they
are to be killed they are too many.''' The
number was accordingly increased. Gen-
eral Johnson also proposed to divide them
into three parties. Hendrick took three
sticks and putting them together, said to
him. " put these sticks together and you
can't break them, take them one by one, and
you will break them easily." The trick
succeeded, and Hendrick's sticks saved the
party and probably the whole army from

* A singular instance of artfulness is related of Hendrick which
I extract from " Lossing's Pictorial Field Bonk of the Revolution.''^
Sir William Johnson obtained from Hendrick nearly one hundred
thousand acres of choice land now lying in Herkimer county, north
of the Mohawk in the following manner : The sachem being at the
baronet's house, saw a richly embroidered coat and coTeted it.
The next morning he said to Sir William. '• Brother, me dream last
night ;" '-Indeed." answered Sir William, "what did my red bro-
ther dream'"' '• Me dream that coat be mine." '-It is yours,-'
said the shrewd ba-rouet. Not long afterward Sir William visited
the sachem, and he too had a dream. '"Brother," he said, " I
dreamed last night." '• What did my pale brother dream ?" asked
Hendrick. " I dreamed that this tract of land was mine," describ-


The party detatched consisted of 1,200,
and were commanded by Col. Ephraim
Williams, a brave and skilful officer, greatly
beloved by the soldiery, and highly respect-
ed by the country at large. Lieut. Col.
Whiting, of New Haven, was second in com-
mand and brought up the rear. Col. Will-
iams met the enemy at Eocky Brook, four
miles from Lake George ; Dieskau had been
informed of his approach by his scouts and
arranged his men in the best possible order
to receive them, extending his line on both
sides of the road in the form of a half moon.
Johnson did not begin to raise his breast-
work until after Williams had marched, nor,
as a manuscript account of this transaction
now before me declares, until after the ren-
counter between Williams and the enemy
had begun.

ing a square, bounded on the south by the Mohawk, on the east
by Canada Creek, and north and west by objects equally well
known. Ilendrick was astonished ; he saw the enormity of the
request, but was not to be outdone in generosity. He sat thought-
fully for a moment, and then said, '• Brother the land is yours, but
you must not dream again." The title was confirmed by the Brit-
ish government and the tract was called the Royal Grant. — Simms^
Scoharie County, p. 124.



Williams marched his men directly into
the hollow of the half-moon ; this Tvill be
explained by the fact that the whole conn-
try was a deep forest. When the enemy
saw them completely within his power, he
opened a fire of mnskctry on the front and
on the flanks of the English at the same
moment, and they fell in heaps, and at the
head of them their gallant commander.
Hendrick, also, was mortally wounded,
fighting with invincible courage in the front
of his people ; he was shot in the back, a
fact which filled him with disdain and an-
guish, as he thought he should be believed
to have fled from the enemy. The truth
was, the horns of the half-moon were so far
advanced, that they in a great measure en-
closed the van of the English and fired
upon them from the rear. From this fire
Hendrick received the wound which termi-
nated his life.

Upon the death of Col. Williams, Lieut.
Col. Whiting succeeded to the command of
the detachment. He was an ofiicer of great
merit and gained much applause at the re-

^ &


duction of Louisbiirg ; and in consequence
of his gallant conduct at that seige, had
been made a captain in the regular British
service. Whiting, seeing the danger of his
men, immediately ordered a retreat, and
conducted it so judiciously, that he saved
the great body of them from destruction,
in circumstances of extreme peril, in which
their own confusion and alarm and the sit-
uation of the ground threatened their exter-
mination, no less than the superior numbers
of the enemy. The noise of the first fire
was heard at Lake George ; efforts began
then to be made in earnest by the General
for the defence of the camp, and a party of
300 men were despatched under Lieut. Col.
Cole, to support the retreating corps. A
few stragglers, both English and Indians
came into the camp and announced what had
indeed been already sufficiently evident,
from the approaching sound of the musketry,
that the French army was superior in num-
bers and strength to Col. Williams' corps,
and was driving them towards the camp.
Some time after, " the whole party that es-
j ^ _ -&


caped," says Gen. Johnson, "came in in large
bodies,'' a decisive proof of the skill and
coolness with which Lieut. Col. Whiting
conducted this retreat. These men also ar-
ranged themselves in their proper places
and took their share in the eao'ao-ement
which followed. About half after 11 o'clock,
the enemy appeared in sight, marching up
the road in the best order, towards the cen-
tre of the English. When they came to the
bottom of an open valley directly in front
of the elevation on which Fort George was
afterwards built, and on which the centre of
the English army was posted, Dieskau halt-
ed his men about fifteen minutes at the dis-
tance of little more than 150 yards from
the breast-work. I have never seen a rea-
son assigned for this measure, but I think
I can assign one ; the Indians were sent out
on the right flank and a part of the Cana-
dians on the left, intending to come in upon
the rear of the English, while the main body
attacked them in front. The ground was
remarkably favorable to this design, being
swampy, thickly forested, and therefore per-

e — ^


fectly fitted to conceal the approach of these
parties. The Indians, however, were soon
discovered by Lieut. Col. Pomeroy, who im-
mediately mentioned the fact to the Gen-
eral; and observing to him, that these people
were extremely afraid of cannon, requested
that one or two pieces might be pointed
against them. They were then near the
e:round on which Fort William Henrv was
afterward built. The General approved of
the proposal. A shell was instantly thrown
among them from a howitzer, and some
field-pieces showered upon them a quantity
of grape-shot. The Indians fled. The
Baron, in the meantime, led up his main
body to attack the centre. They began the
engagement by firing regularly in platoons,
but at so great a distance that they did very
little execution. This circumstance was
favorable to the English, and soon recover-
ing from the panic into which they had been
thrown by the preceding events of the day,
they fought with great spirit and firmness.
General Johnson, at the commencement
of the battle, received a flesh wound in his



thigh, and the ball lodged in it. He bled
freely, but was able to walk away from the
army to his tent. General Lyman then
took the command and continued in it
during the action. This gentleman, who
seemed to have no passions, except those
which are involved in the word humani-
ty, immediately stationed himself in front
of the breast- work ; and there, amid the
thickest danger, issued his orders during
five hours to every part of the army, as oc-
casion demanded, with a serenity which
many covet, and some boast, but very few
acquire. The main body of the French
kept their ground and preserved their order
for a considerable time, but the artillery,
under the command of Captain Eyre, a
brave English officer, who performed his
part with much skill and reputation, played
upon them with such success, and the fire
from the musketry was so warm and well
directed, that their ranks were soon thinned
and their efforts slackened sufficiently to
show that they despaired of success in this
quarter. They then made another effort




against the right of the English, stationed
between the road and the site of Fort
William Henry, and composed of Ruggles'
regiment, Williams', now commanded by
Lieut. Col. Pomeroy, and Titcomb's. Here
a warm fire was kept up on both sides
about an hour ; but on the part of the
enemy was unavailing. At 4 o'clock, the
Eno-lish and the Indians who fought with
them, leaped over their breast-work and
charged the enemy. They fled, and were
vigorously pursued for a short distance.
A considerable number were slain in the
pursuit. The wounded, and a very few
others, were made prisoners ; among these
was Dieskau. He was found by a soldier,
resting on a stump, with hardly an attend-
ant. As he was feeling for his watch, in
order to give it to the soldier, the man sus-
pecting that he was searching for a pistol,
discharged the contents of his musket
through his hips. He was carried into the
camp in a blanket by eight men, with the
greatest care and tenderness, but evidently
in extreme distress. Hendrick had lived to

r i


this day witli singular honor, and died
fighting with a spirit not to be excelled.
He was, at this time, from 60 to 65 years of
age ; his head was covered with white
locks, and what is uncommon among In-
dians, he was corpulent. Immediately be-
fore Colonel Williams began his march, he
mounted a stage and harangued his people.
He had a strong masculine voice, and it was
thought, might be distinctly heard at the
distance of half a mile : a fact which to my
own view has diffused a new degree of
probability over Homer's representations
of the effects produced by the speeches and
shouts of his heroes. Lieut. Col. Pomeroy,
who was present and heard this effusion of
Indian eloquence, told me that, although he
did not understand a Avord of the language,
yet such was the animation of Hendrick,
the fire of his eye, the force of his gesture,
the strength of his emphasis, the apparent
propriety of the inflections of his voice, and
the natural appearance of his whole man-
ner, that himself was more deeply afected
with this speech than with any other which



he had ever heard. In the Pennsylvania
Gazette, Sept. 25, 1755, he is styled " the
famous Hendrick, a renowned Indian war-
rior among the Mohawks ;" and it is said
that his son being told that his father was
killed, gave the usual Indian groan upon
such occasions, and suddenly putting his
hand on his left breast, swore that his
father was still alive in that place, and that
there stood his son. Baron Dieskau was
conveyed from Albany to New- York, and
from thence to England, where, soon after,
he died.




" Not placid Leman. where I've late been straying,
Norgificd Pliny's wild tuniuUvous lake,
Nor magiore round its inlands playing ;
More beautious visions in the mind awake
Than thou fair Uoricon I whose waters, bright
And pure, and holy, now first greet my sight."

Hotels — General Remarks ix regard thereto.

WO hours ride brings us in

view of the romantic waters

of Lake George, and now

that our journey is nearly

ended, we must consult our

whereabouts to dine ; for our ride is

an encourager of dinner, or, if late

in the day —

'Timid Nature's Kweet restorer, balmy sleep !"
invites —

There are two good hotels at the Lake,
" the United States" and the " Lake House."


The " Lake House," situated on the west
side, in the village of Caldwell, is long
established and favorably known to trav-
ellers ; but the increase of visitors has in-
duced the construction of the new hotel,
the " United States," erected on the east
side. Pleasantly situated on a high bluil, a
projection from the main land, it is unques-
tionably admitted as commanding tlie linest
view of any point on Lake George. Dia-
mond Island, Dome Island, Long Island and
Northwest Bay, are conspicuously in view,
together Avitli Tongue Mountain and otliers
of equal celebrity. The house is located
in a beautiful forest grove, is easy and ac-
cessible of communication, built and furnish-
ed in modern style, and with every possible
I regard to taste and convenience. The piaz-
j zas to this house are unsurpassed for ele-
gance, and commend themselves to the lover
of nature for the fine view to be obtained
1 from them. Bells on the approved tele-
I graphic plan communicate with every room
I in the house — a desideratum much needed
in our summer houses. Baths, conveniently

ii ■ ^Q


arranged, are connected with the house.
It is distinctly wished by the author, as
honestly due to the travelling public, to
state, that both houses have equal facilities
of communication. Sensible travellers, rea-
sonably imagine, that a good hotel desirous
of popularity, must of necessity have good
facilities of communication. Both of the
houses at the Lake, are in this respect emi-
nently favored.

Travellers for the north are conveyed by
the excellent steamer '^ John Jay," which
leaves the head of the Lake every morning
at T o'clock, while those southward bound,
are taken over the same road which has
brought us thus far.



'•' I care not Fortune what you do deny,
You cannot rob me of free Nature's grace :
You cannot shut the windows of the sky,
Through which Aurora shews her brightening face ;
You cannot bar my constant feet to trace
The woods and lawns by liTing streams at eve — "

The Attractiveness of Lake George.

HE idea of sublimity, and
the love of the beautiful, is
so congenial to every hu-
man breast, acting in such
'^^^^^ perfect accordance with
every ennobling faculty of a rational
mind, that the true realization of the
pleasure, has no appropriate channel
for expression. The ingenuity of
art. the mechanism of man's devices, may
surprise and create astonishment, but the
stupendous vastness, and immensity of na-


ture's works, produce far different, and
more ennobling feelings.

We enjoy the entertainment of the mind
when it feasts on objects of natural beauty,

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Online LibraryHenry MarvinA complete history of Lake George → online text (page 1 of 5)