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8th, and bivouacked at the latter place all day of the 9th.
At nightfall they again set forth, and reached Cabin cove
at two o'clock the morning of the 10th. They had four
cannon with them, but the most of the artillery was with
the second division, which followed more slowly.

At six o'clock, the morning of the 10th, the vanguard
set forth through the woods, reaching the lake again at a
cove which the French accounts loaitc only a mile and a
half from Fort Ontario, and consc(juently just within the
present limits of Oswego city. There is a projection into
the lake, however, just of the city limits, and it is
probable that behind that projection was the cove that shel-
tered the invaders. Here the vanguard remained perfectly
quiet all day, without the English having apparently the
slightftst suspicion of their presence. After dark De Mont^
calm, with the first division, rowed cautiously along the
shore, reaching at midnight the cove where the vanguard
waited ready to cover their landing. The four cannon
were at once landed, and formed in a battery looking out
upon the lake, the bateaux were fastened to the shore, and
the wearied soldiers flung tbem.selves down on the beach
for a few hours' rest.

At three o'clock in the morning, Descombles, the chief
engineer, went forward to the edge of the forest to recon-
noitre the forts, the object of all this preparation. Return-
ing ere it was fairly light, he was mistaken by an Indian
for an Englishman, shot, and instantly killed. The French
movement could no longer be concealed. As day began to
break the Canadians and Indians were pushed forward to
within two hundred rods of Fort Ontario, forming a curved
line of investment from the lake to the river. Many of
the Indians skulked among the stumps of the clearing, and
opened fire on the astonished soldiers as they appeared on
the walls of the fortress.

This .seems to have been the first indication that the had that a French army was anywhere this .side of
Montreal. The fire was returned from the garrison, but
even yet they did not know but that the assailants were
merely some of De Villiers' rangers renewing their old
tricks. Sieur Desandronius, the only surviving engineer,
designated the route for a road for the cannon through the
woods, and the laborers began work on it at eleven o'clock.
At noon Commodore Barclay with his three vessels sailed
out of port. Discovering the right of the French camp
near the landing-place, he fired a few fruitless shots at it,
but was easily driven off' by the battery before mentioned.
All the afternoon the soldiers worked at the road for the
artillery, and continued their labors far into the night to
complete it.

The force in the three fortifications which the Marquis
de Montcalm was about to attack had been somewhat in-
creased during the spring, and now numbered about fifteen
hundred men. Of these, the main strength was in the
regiments known as "Shirley's" and " PeppereU's." They
were otherwise designated sis the first and second royal
American regiments, being a portion of the British regular
army, but raised principally in America. Their colonels,
whose names they bore, were Governor Sliiiley and Sir


William Pepperell, but, as was the case with most colonels
in the British army, they did not serve with their regiments.
PeppereU's was commanded by Lieutenant^Colonel Mercer,
who was also commander of the post, and Shirley's by
Lieutenant-Colonel Littlehales. These two regiments had
seen service in Europe, but had been sent to America on
the outbreak of hostilities here. They had been much de-
pleted, but numbered together about nine hundred men fit
for duty.

There was also a weak regiment of New Jersey militia
under Colonel Schuyler, a relative of Captain Philip Schuy-
ler, containing about two hundred men ; two or three inde-
pendent companies, numbering perhaps a hundred more,
besides some three hundred carpenters, laborers, sailors, etc.,
who were trained to manage the guns and otherwise aid the

It was not until the morning of the 12th that the second
division of De Montcalm's army arrived with the numei-ous
bateaux laden with the artillery and provisions. A large
part of this artillery had been captured from the unlucky
Braddock the year before. Both artillery and supplies
were unloaded during the forenoon, right under the eyes
of Commodore Barclay, who was cruising off shore with
his three vessels. The commodore showed a very apathetic
spirit throughout the whole affair. He might have done
the French great, perhaps iireparable, damage while they
were landing, and ought to have risked the destruction of
his vessels to do it. But they were allowed to carry on
their preparations without interruption from the ships,
Montcalm pushing them forward with indefatigable energy.

As engineer Desandronius was a young, inexperienced
man, Captain Pouchot, of the Beam regiment, who was
also an engineer, was directed to take charge of the opera-
tions. This was the same able officer to whose memoirs of
the war of 1754-60 we are largely indebted for information
regarding the operations in Oswego County.

Firing was kept up briskly from Fort Ontario through-
out the day, but at eleven o'clock at night it ceased. It
was not until midnight that the French were ready to begin
work on the trenches, and then labor was at once com-
menced in the darkness, among the stumps, and continued
until daylight. In this time a parallel six hundred feet
long had been erected within a little over five hundred feet
from Fort Ontario. The French now opened a heavy fire
on the fort, which responded to them through the fore-
noon, but with constantly decreasing energy. At three in
the afternoon the watchful Frenchmen observed a great
commotion between the fort and the river, and in a few
moments it was evident that Fort Ontario Wiis being evacu-
ated. Colonel Mercer sent over some whale-boats for the
purpose, and in great disorder the garrison passed to the
other side. They were so well protected by the guns of
Fort Oswego that the French were not able to do them any
serious damage in their retreat. Only four men had been
killed and wounded in Fort Ontario. Perhaps, in view of
the small size of his force. Colonel Mercer was justified in
contracting his lines, but the movement greatly encouraged
the French, and correspondingly depressed the English.
Eight small cannon and four mortars were left in the de-
serted fortress, which was at once taken i)os.session of by

the joyful French, while their red allies made the woods
re-echo with their yells of triumph, striking terror into all
the timorous hearts in the beleagured garrison.

Mercer soon sent PeppereU's regiment and a hundred of
Smiley's to reinforce Colonel Schuyler at the redoubt on
the hill, where they were employed during the day in cut-
ting down the bushes which afforded a cover for assailants,
and making other preparations against an attack.

All day De Montcalm pressed on the siege with renewed
vigor. A small, lithe, active man, as rapid of speech as of
motion, the marquis hurried to and fro, regardless of dan-
ger, supervising everything, pouring out censure or praise
as occasion required, and infusing his own impetuous spirit
into all his men.

The guns of Fort Ontario were turned upon Fort Oswego.
The south end of the now trench was curved to the west
and curried down to the river's edge, where at uightfiill a
battery was erected, designed to beat down the walls of Fort
Oswego, and also reach the line of communication between
that and Fort George. Darkness only increased the labor.
The whole army was set at work, and twenty cannon were
carried in their arms (a Herculean task) to the places
designed for them.

At daylight the ever-active Montcalm ordered Rigaud de
Vaudreuil, with his Canadians and Indians, to cross the
river a little way up, occupy the woods on the other side,
and harass the English rear. The gallant partisau imme-
diately flung himself into the foaming stream and made his
way across it, followed by the whole body of provincials and
savages, some swimming, some in water to waist or neck,
but all successful in reaching the western shore. They
took positions in the edge of the forest, and made a target
of every Englishman who showed his head above the

At six o'clock Montcalm had nine heavy guns ready for
use in his new battery, and then the game commenced in
earnest. This was the most serious fighting during the
siege. The roar of the heavy battery resounded through
the forest and rolled out upon the lake ; other French
guns in various locations added to the din. The English
responded with the fire of twelve cannon and four mortars,
while the yells of the furious Indians in the forest added
to the terrors of the scene. One of the English mortars
burst. Soon afterwards, and between eight and nine o'clock.
Colonel Mercer was killed while gallantly directing the fire
of the English guns.

The command devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel John
Littlehales, who certainly seems to have lost his head amid
the terrible confusion rcigning'around. He ordered Colonel
Schuyler to abandon Fort George, where Mercer had placed
him, thus leaving Fort Oswego liable to be commanded from
that important position. Two of Schuyler's men were
killed while marching down. The firing was still kept up
from Fort Oswego ; but Littlehales had evidently lost heart
as well as head. He soon called a council of the field-officers
and captains, and they, taking their tone from their com-
mander, quite readily agreed to a capitulation. A flag was
sent to Montcalm, and after some parleying the forts were
surrendered, the garrison became prisoners of war, and not
only all the ammunition, stores, etc., were vieldod up, but


all the vessels, finished as well as unfinishoil, with twelve
naval officers and nearly two hundred scainen.

From a comparison of different accounts, it is (|uitc cer-
tain that at the time of the surrender not over thirty of the
Anglo- Ameriain force had boon killed or wounded. The
French loss was stated by themselves at thirty ; that of the
English, who were sheltered, could not well have been
larger. Several of Shirley's regiment who escaped fixed it
at twenty-four, and the latter number is probably very near
correct. The total number of men made prisoners was
fifteen hundred and twenty, but of these, as has been said,
several hundred were sailors, carpenters, artificers, etc. ; all
of whom, however, worked the guns, or did other duty
about the forts. There was an ample supply of provisions
and ammunition, no less than twenty-three thousand
pounds of powder being among the spoils gained by the
victors ; and under all the circumstances the surrender
must be considered highly discreditable to Colonel Little-
hales. The victors themselves were surprised at the ease
with which their triumph was gained.

The French took immediate possession, and then fol-
lowed one of those scenes so frequent in the old border
wars of America, which sully the lustre of the brightest
victory. Near one hundred of the captives were slain by
the enraged Indians, and their scalps, torn from their man-
gled remains, were borne to decorate the wigwams of their
murderei-s on the banks of the St. Lawrence, the Ottawa,
and Lake Huron. The massacre was at length stopped by
the interposition of Montcalm ; but one cannot help think-
ing that he must have known how the savages would act,
and that he might have prevented their cruelties entirely
if he had been very anxious to do so. It looks as if he
thought it would disaffection if he prevented entirely
their feast of blood, and did not interfere till they had been
partially satiated.

We are aware that it has been doubted whether any
massacre was perpetrated, but all the statements point the
same way. One French writer, who was present, says dis-
tinctly that the Indians " perpetrated there a multitude of
hoiTors, and assassinated more than one hundred persons,
included in the capitulation, without our being able to pre-
vent them, or having the right to remonstrate with them."
Another stated that one hundred and fifty English were
killed and wounded, " including several soldiers, who, wish-
ing to escape into the woods, fell into the hands of the
Indians." Deducting thirty for the number killed and
wounded in the fighting, leaves a hundred and twenty who
fell beneath the savage tomahawks. This accords with the
statement of the first-mentioned writer, that over a hun-
dred were massacred. He said nothing about their at-
tempted escape, and that was probably a mere excuse.
Montcalm himself wrote that the savages attempted a mas-
sacre, but that he prevented it. But that intervention did
not take place until after many had been slain ; too late to
clear the memory of Montcalm from the suspicion of con-

There is reason to believe, too, that some of the prLsoners
were reserved by the savages for the still more horrible fate
of death by torture. Among the prisoners was Francis
Lewis, afterwards a di.stinf;uished citizen of New York,

and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
His biography, together with that of Governor Morgan
Lewis, has lately been publishi^ by his descendant, Mrs.
Delafield. There is one anecdote, which the authoress
received from her grandfather, Morgan Lewis, and lie from
Francis Lewis, which bears directly on the question of the
treatment of the Oswego prisoners. Although it comes to
the public at third hand, yet the main facts are so impor-
tant, and must have been so well known in the Lewis
family, that there could hardly be any serious mistake ;
and besides, in regard to the atrocities committed by the
Indians, it harmonizes but too well with accounts derived
from French sources. Mrs. Delafield says :

" Montcalm allowed his Indian allies to select thirty
prisoners as their share of the booty, and Lewis was one of
the number. The Indians retreated northward. Towards
the of each day, when they found by the side of a
mountain stream, or in a sheltered valley, a pleasant spot
which invited them to rest and to feast, they lit their fires
and celebrated their victory by the sacrifice of a captive.

"The bloody rite was repeated so often that Lewis was
certain of the fate awaiting him. He was not a man under
any circumstances to lose his presence of mind or to de-
spair. He seemed to submit, watched, and waited. Two
warriors were selected as his guard. As the prisoner
showed no disposition to escape, they were satisfied with
binding his arms, allowing him to walk otherwise un-
shackled while they beguiled the time talking together.

" Presently words familiar to his childhood struck his
ear. Acquainted with both the Gaelic and Cymracg dia-
lects, it was easy for him to join in their conversation. It
may be that Lewis was gifted with the power of controlling
men, — it may be that his calm and dignified bearing had
already had an influence upon the savages. When they
found that there was the tie of a common language between
them, he was no longer a prisoner, — he was treated as a
friend and brother. They accompanied him to Montreal,
recommended him to the protection of the governor, and
requested that he might be permitted to return at once to
his home. This permission, however, was not granted.
He was sent to France in a cartel and exchanged."

Lewis was a native of Wales, where he learned the
"Cymraeg dialect;" and it is suggested that the Indians
might have acquired some knowledge of the Breton lan-
guage, which is almost identical with the Welsh, from the
French settlers at Cape Breton. It would be foreign to
our purpose to enter into any discussion of this branch of
the subject, but the story, coming from so distinguished a
man as Francis Lewis, adds much to the evidence that a
portion of the captured garrison of Oswego was massacred
by JFontcalm's Indian allies.

The Indians departed for their homes almost immedi-
ately after the close of the siege. The main body of the
French remained for a week. During that time the re-
maining prisoners were sent away under guard ; the cap-
tured supplies and artillery, as well as what the French had
brought, were shipped, and then the fortifications of Chou-
aguen, so long an eye-sore to French officials, were razed
to the ground. The buildings were burned, and utter deso-
laticiTi reigned over the locality so long considered the bul-


walk of the province of New York. On the 21st of August
the victorious army re-embarked and returned to the bay
of Niaoure. whence the various coi-ps wore distributed where
their presence was needed, and the commander-in-chief
proceeded to Montreal.

The numbers engaged were small, but in every other re-
spect this achievement of the Blarquis de Montcalm is
entitled to rank as one of the most brilliant in the annals
of war. From beginning to end not a misstep was made.
The concentration of forces at Frontenac and Niaoure, the
engaging of the enemy's attention by the appearance of the
marquis on Lake George, liis rapid return and advance up
the St. Lawrence, the silent movement along the lake-shore
in the night, the unloading the artillery in face of the
enemy's fleet, the amazing energy with which the siege was
pushed forward, and the valor with which the example of
the commander inspired his soldiers, all show the work of
the master, and display in the clearest light the remarkable
military genius of Field-Marshal the Marquis de Montcalm.
It is the more to be regretted that the suspicion of conniv-
ing at cruelty mare the lustre of the brilliant achievement.
Possibly that suspicion is unfounded.

During all this while the English authorities were as
stupid and dilatory as the French were skillful and ener-
getic. We have mentioned that the Earl of Loudon had
at length ordered Colonel Webb, with a brigade of troops,
to march to the relief of Oswego. That oflScer, faithfully
copying the example of his superiors, did not get his com-
mand under motion fiom Albany till the 12th of August,
two days before the surrender. On his way up the Mo-
hawk he was met by an express bearing the news of the
arrival of the French before the fated fortiess. The mes-
senger went on to Albany, and Lord Loudon, on learning
the news, ordered Sir William Johnson to march to the
support of Webb.

At the " Oneida carrying-place," now Rome, the latter
officer was met by a few scattered fugitives, bringing news
of the surrender. Although it was to be expected that
Montcalm would advance upon the settlements, and though
the safety of the Mohawk valley depended on holding the
forts at the portage, Webb turned and fled with rapid steps
towards Albany. Everywhere consternation reigned su-
preme. Oswego had so long been considered the main
defense from attack in that quarter, that the news of its
capture filled iiH minds with the expectation of a hostile
army marching down the valley, and, worse still, of blood-
thirsty Indians making that peaceful land hideous with
indescribable atrocities. Fortunately, Montcalm's force was
too small to justify a farther advance.

The remainder of 175C and the whole of 1757 passed
away very quietly, so far as Oswego was concerned, though
the province of New York suffered seveiely on account of
its loss. The Mohawks had been profoundly impressed
with the prowess of the French in capturing the very gate-
way of their domain, and in April, 1757, a delegation of
their chiefs visited Montreal to treat for peace. Satisfactory
arrangements were made, and all the Iroquois except the
Mohawks remained neutral, while the French and the
Canadian Indians ravaged the frontiers. The British gen-
erals acted as if they, too, were neutral, and the year 1757

closed in disgrace, foreboding the destruction of the English
dominion in America.

But in 1758 the celebrated William Pitt became prime
minister of England, and new vigor was at once infused
into all the English operations. Various important French
posts were captured. All of De Montcalm's energies were
required to defend Lower Canada from invasion. Fort
Frontenac was left with but a small guard. The enter-
prising Bradstreet being commissioned as brigadier-general,
asked permission to take a force by way of Oswego and
capture Frontenac, but was refused by General Abercrom-
bie, now become commander-in-chief. But in July, Aber-
crombie was defeated with terrible slaughter at Ticonderoga.
Bradstreet then renewed his request, and, as it was desira-
ble to do something to ameliorate the efi'ects of that defeat
on the public mind, his petition was granted.

Provided with the requisite orders, and accompanied as
usual by his deputy, — Major Philip Schuyler, — Bradstreet
hastened to the Oneida portage, where he found General
Stanwix with nearly three thousand provincial troops, re-
building the fort at that point, which thenceforth bore his
name. Of these Bradstreet took command, and proceeded
with all speed to Oswego. In the words of a contemporary,
he flew rather than marched. Fast as he went, however,
still faster sped Major Schuyler, in command of the advance-
guard, accompanied by a corps of ship-carpenters and other
artisans. He arrived at Oswego several days before Brad-
street, and instantly began the construction of a schooner,
called the " Mohawk," intended to carry the necessary can-
non for the expedition. He urged on the work with such
energy that in three weeks the vessel was ready for sea.
Meanwhile Bradstreet had arrived, bringing with him the
bateaux and whale-boats with which he had so often navi-
gated the Oneida lake and river, and about the 20th of
August his army embarked on Lake Ontario.

Among the New York regiments in this expedition was
one commanded by Colonel Charles Clinton, the ancestor of
a family which has had more influence than any other over
the destinies of the State of New York. The captain of
one of its companies was the colonel's third son, — James. —
afterwards a distinguished Revolutionary general, and the
father of De Witt Clinton. The lieutenant of Captain
James Clinton's company was his younger brother, — -
George, — governor of New York for nearly twenty years
after its independence, and for eight years vice-president
of the United States.

After a short voyage the expedition arrived before Fort
Frontenac, and as that post was defended by only a hun-
dred and fifty men, it was soon surrendered to the English
commander, together with an immense quantity of stores.
Early in September, the army returned to Oswego, whence
the greater portion of it proceeded to the settlements. A
detachment (but whether detached before or afVer the expe-
dition to Frontenac is uncertain) built in that year (1758) a
new fort, a short distance below Oswego falls. Its name, if it
had one, is unknown. It was octagonal in form, with the sides
curved inward, and the angles very acute, making it almost
star-shaped. The west part of it was cut off' when the Os-
wego canal was dug, but the remains of the rest could be
traced down to a few years ago. Fifty rods below was also


to be seen, within the recollection of the earliest settlers,
the remains of another fortification, semicircular in form,
situated on the high bank of the river; but this is supposed
to have been built before the coming of the white man,
either by Indians or some still earlier race.

A fort was also built — probably this year (1758), but
possibly the nest — at Three Rivers point, on the east side
of the Oswego, in the present town of Schroeppel, — a small
fortification only about twenty yards square, but provided
with four bastions, and having three largo store-houses on
the inside.

Early in 1759, General Amherst was api>iiinted com-
mander-in-chief, and herculean effort* were made by Eng-
land and her colonics to overthrow the French power in
America. Owing to her superiority by sea. Great Britain
could transfer much larger armies to the scat of war than
could her Gallic rival, and the populous colonies which bor-
dered the Atlantic could give far more aid than could the
scattered settlements on the shores of the St. Lawrence.

Again Oswego County became the scene of hostile opera-
tions. Captain Pouchot, the engineer at the capture of
Oswego, was in command at Fort Niagara. Early in June
he sent a colonial officer named Blainville, with a company

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