Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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the fact until Braddock s own messengers
passed from post to post, from tavern to
tavern, from a The Whip" to the "Indian
Queen," with that open letter, which au
thoritatively published the catastrophe.

Dunbar himself finally came in with
his fifteen hundred men, and tookmp his
winter-quarters in Philadelphia in mid
summer, where we hear of him and his
gallant officers getting up a military ball,
to do honor to the beauty of the Penn
sylvania dames.

Smollett has truly said of the French
success and of the English retreat : " On
the whole, this was perhaps the most ex
traordinary victory that ever was ob
tained, and the farthest flight that ever
was made."

The effect of Braddock s unfortunate
campaign was something far greater than
the loss of a battle, with its waste of life
and treasure. It so weakened the tie
between the colonies and mother-coun
try, that it finally gave way in the Amer
ican Revolution. The provinces now no
longer trusted to the courage and skill
of British regulars, and had learned to
confide in the strength of their own
forces, which had shown themselves so
much superior as allies, that they had no
reason to dread the possible position of
enemies. The British contempt for the
provincial militiaman had been proved
to be so little merited, that the Ameri
can, no longer humbled, became assured



of his own power; while his pride, in-
Hamed by the humiliating treatment it
had received, burned to vindicate itself
against those who had wantonly offend
ed it.

Shirley, of Massachusetts, one of the
most energetic and able of the provincial
governors, had the command of the ex
pedition ordered for the reduction of Fort
Niagara. His force consisted principally
of the two provincial regiments of New
England known as those of Shirley and
Pepperell, both of whom had been made
British colonels, in reward for their ser
vices in the conquest of Louisburg. This
energetic commander had reached Alba
ny, and was preparing to move on to Os-
wego, when the news of Braddock s mis
fortune reached him, and struck a panic
to the hearts of his men. Many of his
troops deserted him, and all the native
boatmen and fur-hunters whom he had
engaged to man his batteaux for the con
veyance of his force and its supplies west
ward, fled away, and could not be pre-

Aiiff, 18,

vailed upon to return. Shirley, however,
with the remnant left him, boldly pushed
on, and, being reinforced by a detach
ment of Royal artillery spared him from
the troops disheartened by the defeat of
Braddock and the inglorious retreat of
Dunbar, reached Oswe^o, with

O 7

some hope of a successful at
tempt on Niagara. At Oswego, on the
southeast side of Lake Ontario, there was
a fortified trading-post in the English in
terest. Here it was hoped to obtain a
large accession of Indians ; but these wa
ry savages, having heard of the French
success on the Monongahela, were not
disposed to join those whom they be
lieved to belorig to the weaker party.
Deprived of this Indian aid, and finding
the season advanced and provisions scan
ty, Shirley was forced to return from Os
wego, without proceeding to Niagara.
He, however, strengthened the Oswego
fort, and left a garrison of seven hundred
men, under Mercer, for its more effectual
protection against the French.





Colonel William Johnson at Crown Point. Johnson s Career, Character, Magnificence, and LiAucnce upon his Savage
Dependants. His Baronial Hall and its Guests. Partial Success at Lake George. Surprise. Repulse of the French.
Great Rewards and Small Deeds. Johnson made a Baronet. An Indian in London. One Shilling Each Person.
A Spirited Subaltern. The Easy Triumph in Acadia. A Garden turned into a Desert. Trie Energy of the French.
The Gallant Bradstreet. His Desperate but Successful Expedition to Oswego. The Pertinacious Resistance of the
French. The British Government making a more Vigorous Demonstration. The Earl of Loudoun s Appointment.
Grand Preparations. Major-General Abercrombie arrives in Advance. Does nothing. The Earl of Loudoun ar
rives, and does likewise. British Contempt of Colonial Troops. The French make Great Preparations. The Mar
quis de Montcalrn. His Life and Character. His Heroism at Exilles. Montcalm s Energy. A Winter Attack on
Fort Ontario. Victory. Canadian Exultation. " Bring Lilies with Full Hands." The English in Despair. Inac
tivity of Lord Loudoun. The Massacre at Kittanang.

the third expedition. This set out to at
tack the French fort at Crown Point, on
Lake Champlain. Johnson was selected,
not from any proof he had given of mili
tary skill, but in consequence of the won
derful influence he was known to possess
over the Indians. Having been early in
duced to leave his native Ireland by his
uncle, Admiral Warren, who had large
possessions in the western part of the
province of New York, and who wished
him to take charge of them, the young
Irishman came over to America. His
home was now fixed on the banks of the
Mohawk, then almost a wilderness, with
no inhabitants but the roaming Indians.
Johnson became fond of this wild life,
and sought to share with his savage
neighbors in their untrammelled habits.

His personal appearance as he was
tall, well-proportioned, and possessed of
<i handsome face, with an expression of
calm dignity such as belongs to those
born to command commended him at
once to Indian admiration, which is free
ly extended to those who can claim pre

tensions to manly strength and beauty.
He was, moreover, so cool, that he never
seemed to lose his self-possession; and.
although ordinarily a man of few words,
yet, when the occasion prompted, he was
fervid and even eloquent in speech. He
was fond, too, of the exciting dangers of
the chase. He excelled as a marksman,
with his rifle ; while, incapable of fatigue,
he could follow the game with as long
and untiring an endurance as that of the
most practised native hunter. The In
dians found, in these characteristics of the
young Irishman, so much that was con
genial to their own nature, that they
readily welcomed Johnson among them
as one of themselves. His powers of com
mand soon effected the rest ; and, from
appreciation of him as a companion, came
naturally admiration of his superior na
ture, and a ready subjection to his will.

With a lingering attachment, in spite
of his love of a forest-life, for the luxu
ries and comforts of civilization, he built
on the banks of the Mohawk two spn-
cious mansions, known as his castle and
his hall. In the former he shut himself



[PART i.

up in the winter, and the latter was his
summer residence. Here he received all
British officers or adventurous travellers
whom duty or love of travel had brought
there, and entertained them with the free
hospitality of an old English baronial hall.
Here, too, the Indians came in tribes ; and
five hundred of them have been known
to be welcomed by him to the profuse
conviviality of the hall by day, and to
have thrown themselves at night on the
ground, with their liberal host in their
midst, and thus have slept over the effects
of the carouse. Johnson had won such
an influence over the Indians, that he
never feared, though the only white man
present, thus to trust himself unguarded
to his savage neighbors. With the Five
Nations he ruled almost supreme ; and
now that he was called upon to do ser
vice for his country, Hendrik, a Mohawk
chief, followed him at his bidding, with
three hundred warriors of his tribe.

Besides his Indian allies, Johnson had
mustered at Albany a large provincial
force, consisting of several thousand men,
chiefly from Connecticut and Massachu
setts. Most of these were sent forward,
to establish a post between Lake George
and the Hudson river. This was done,
and the place was called Fort Edward.
Johnson himself followed after with his
Indians and the rest of the troops, and,
joining the advance-party at the fort
which they had completed, marched on,
with all his force, excepting a small gar
rison of three hundred left to guard Fort
Edward. Passing through the wilderness,
where there was neither house nor fort,
Johnson halts his men on the southern

borders of a lake, to which he gives the
name of his sovereign, and which has ever
since been known as Lake George.

Bancroft, with his usual artistic skill,
paints a picture of the scene thus : " The
lake protects him on the north ; his flanks
are covered by a thick wood and a swamp.
The tents of the husbandmen and me
chanics, who form his summer army, are
spread on a rising ground ; but no forti
fications are raised, nor is even a trench
thrown up. On week-days, the men, ac
customed to freedom, saunter to and fro
in idleness ; or some, weary of inaction,
are ready to mutiny and go home. On
Sunday, all come forth and collect in the
groves for the worship of God ; three hun
dred men, also, regularly enlisted under
the English flag, and paid from the Eng
lish treasury, seat themselves on the hil
lock, and, while the light of a summer s
afternoon is shedding its sweetest influ
ence on the tops of the forest-clad mount
ains and on the still waters of the deep,
transparent lake, they listen gravely to
the interpretation of a long sermon.
Meanwhile, wagon after wagon brought
artillery, and stores and boats for the
troops that were listlessly whiling away
the season."

This idle state of existence was, how
ever, interrupted by the return of some
scouts with the intelligence that Dieskau
was approaching with a large force ; but
what were their exact numbers, the scouts
(who were Indians, and unable to count)
could not tell. Johnson now resolved
upon sending out a force to check the
French advance. Accordingly, one thou
sand provincials and two hundred Indians




were despatched for this service, under
the command of Colonel Ephraim Wil
liams. Among his private soldiers was
Israel Putnam, of Connecticut, of whom,
in the course of our history, we shall
have much that is memorable to relate.
They had hardly gone three miles from
the camp on Lake George, and fairly en
tered the ravine through which the nar
row road passed, when they were at
tacked by the French and Indians, who
had awaited them in ambush among the
forests and wooded swamps extending on
either side of the long line of march.
With this disadvantage, the English pro
vincials, though they resisted bravely,
were utterly routed, and pursued to with
in a short distance of the camp, where
the French were brought to a check by
a vigorous onset of a party of three hun
dred men sent by Johnson to drive off
the pursuers.

The camp had not been intrenched.
So, while the enemy was brought to a
pause, Johnson began to prepare a tem
porary defence, by cutting down trees
and rolling them together, in order to
form a breastwork, behind which several
cannon were dragged and placed in posi
tion. The wagons and baggage were also
arranged so as to serve as a cover for
the provincial marksmen.

Johnson had hardly time to make
these hasty preparations, before Dieskau
and his French and Indians made a rush
for the camp. The English artillery now
began to play with such good effect, that
the savages were scattered at once, and
hid themselves in the pine-wood covert
on the neighboring rising ground, from

which they kept up a desultory and al
most harmless fire. The Frenchmen, how
ever, under their gallant commander, still
advanced in the very mouth of the can
non, until finally almost every man was
struck down, and among the foremost
fell the baron Dieskau himself, mortally
wounded. Two of his soldiers hurried
to his relief, and one being shot down,
the other was ordered away; and the
dying commander, crawling to the fallen
trunk of a tree, seated himself upon it,
and calmly awaited, amid a shower of
bullets, the issue of the struggle. The
result was a complete victory, the French
having lost no less than eight hundred
men, while the Americans suffered only
to the extent of two hundred and twenty
killed and nineteen wounded. Johnson
himself was wounded early in the strug
gle, and was obliged to retire to his tent.
Lyman, his second in command, however,
completed the success of the day by pur
suing the enemy for a short time at the
close with great slaughter.

The Canadians and Indians, as they
retreated, were met by a party of a hun
dred and twenty New-Hampshire men,
under a youth of the name of M Ginnes,
and, being attacked, were put to the rout,
although the young American leader was

This small success of Johnson was such
an exceptional case of triumph during
that year for the English arms in Amer
ica, that the British government was dis
posed to make the most of it. A baro
netcy was accordingly bestowed upon
Colonel Johnson, and a grant of five thou
sand pounds, as a reward for his services.




The public interest in England in John
son s success was kept alive by the exag
gerated importance given to it by the
authorities ; and in this contemporary ad
vertisement in the Public Advertiser of the
year 1755, we read the appeal of a show
man, which illustrates the general curi
osity of London on the occasion:


COFFEE-HOUSE, in Sweeting s Alley, from 12
to 3, and from 4 till 6, to the latter end
of next week, and then will embark for
America in the General Webb, Captain
Boardman, a famous MOHAWK INDIAN WAR
RIOR ! the same person who took M. DIES-
KAU, THE FRENCH GENERAL, prisoner at the
JOHNSON beat the French, and was one of
the said General s Guards. He is dressed
in the same manner with his native In
dians when they go to war ; his face and
body painted, with his SCALPING-KNIFE, TOM-
AXE, and all other implements of war that
are used by the Indians in battle ; a sight
worthy the curiosity of every TRUE BRITON.

" PRICE, one shilling each person?

The conduct of Colonel Johnson was
hardly such as to merit all the distinc
tion and public notice it received. How
ever brilliant his success at Lake George,
his proceedings afterward showed less
energy and spirit than might have been
expected from the supposed courage and
activity of this remarkable man. Instead
of pushing on, while his troops were in
the full tide of victory, and making a bold

stroke for the position at Crown Point,
which was the object of the expedition,
Johnson remained at L ake George. Here
it is true he kept his men busy, for he
built a fort, which he named Fort Henry,
and garrisoned it with a small detach
ment of provincial troops; he then moved
the main body of his forces back to Al
bany, and sent the men to their several

A spirited subaltern, of the name of
Rogers, who was left at Lake George, did
something; however, by his activity and
boldness, toward retrieving what was lost
by the remissness of Johnson. Rogers
made frequent sallies against the French
in the neighborhood of Crown Point, by
which he succeeded in cutting off many
of their detached parties, and keeping a
watchful eye upon their proceedings.
Thus, he learned that the French had
collected together some two thousand
Canadians and Indians, and a good force
of artillery, at Ticonderoga, situated .at
the northern end of Lake George, and
that they were busy in fortifying that
post. ^

To this partial success of Johnson, the
British could only add that of the cruel
expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Sco
tia. It is not for us, however, to do more
than make a passing mention of what cer
tainly can not properly be included in
"The Battles of America." It is true
that New England sent its two thousand
men, and some heavy artillery served by
British regulars, to compel by force, if
need be, the submission of the French
inhabitants of the English province of
Nova Scotia. The troops were landed




without interruption ; they paraded gay-
ly upon the shores, and, after a night s
quiet repose,marched deliberately against
the Acadians, who hardly ventured to op
pose them. The fort of Beausejour sur
rendered in four clays. That of St. John
was abandoned and burnt ; and the other
small fortresses capitulated without resist
ance. The inhabitants were declared trai
tors, their possessions forfeited, and all
the men, women, and children, exiled for
ever from their homes and their altars,
their gardens and their pastures ! This
was persecution, not war. Hate tortured
her victims. Courage did not strike a
blow. The tears of the weak and inno
cent were poured out. Not a drop of
blood was shed by the strong in the
might of resistance. We pass, therefore,
gladly from woman s tears and children s
cries, wrung by cruelty, to listen to the
shouts of men and heroes battling for
right or might. Our duty, thank Heav
en, is to record the deeds of the manly
brave, not the work of the inhuman per
secutor !

The French were prepared to recom
mence hostilities with the opening of an
other year, and their first move
ment was a success. There was a
small English fort on the Oswego route.
This was now the point of attack. Three
hundred and fifty Canadians, under M.
Chaussegros de Levy, arrived before the
fort. Lieutenant Ball, in command, with
two dozen men, was summoned to sur
render. He refused, determined to resist
to the last. The French began their at-
tack, and overpowered their handful of
opponents, who, with the exception of

two, were mercilessly scalped by the
French savages.

Another expedition from Canada now
set out to attack the provincial fort at
Oswego ; but, before reaching it, the
French halted at a short distance, and
erected a small fortification of their own,
so hid in the forest as to be unseen by
their opponents ; and thus succeeded in
greatly harassing them, by cutting off
supplies and preventing reinforcements.
LieutenantrColonel Bradstreet, who had
w r on the confidence of Sir William Pep-
perell in the famous siege of Louisburg,
by his prowess, now went to the rescue
of Oswego. His men were chiefly raw
Irish recruits, but Bradstreet knew how
to control their irregular impulses, and
succeeded in getting a great deal of ef
fective work out of them. He succeeded
in reaching Oswego, and supplying the
garrison with provisions. A French force
of seven hundred men tried to intercept
him, but, having lost their way in the for
est, did not discover, until it was too late,
that Bradstreet was in advance of them.
They now determined to lay in wait for
him on his return.

Bradstreet, having relieved Oswego,
now commenced to retrace his steps.
His route lay by the river Onondaga, on
the banks of which the French had con
cealed themselves, awaiting his approach.
He, either conscious of this danger, or
from his experience of American warfare
became exceedingly wary, and hit upon
an excellent expedient for avoiding the
dangers of an ambuscade. Bradstreet
accordingly took the precaution of divi
ding his men into three parties, each one



of which was placed in a separate fleet
of canoes, which were ordered to ascend
the Onondaga at small distances apart.
In this way, if one party was attacked
suddenly, the others might come up pre
pared to sustain it. Bradstreet himself
took the lead, in the very first canoe ;
the others followed after, bold and eager
enough for a fight ; and it was with the
greatest difficulty that their prudent lead
er could keep the Irish blood of his men
sufficiently cool for the discreet conduct
that was necessary.

Bradstreet s experience in border war
fare led him to expect, at any moment,
to see the flash of the Canadian musket,
or hear the war-whoop of the savage, from
the dark clumps of cedars, and the crags
of the rugged banks which bordered the
river.* It was on the 3d of July when
they embarked. The stream was low,
and difficult of navigation ; and the trees
and underwood, luxuriant with their mid
summer foliage, afforded complete con
cealment to the enemy. For a length of
nine miles the canoes were forced up the
Onondaga with great toil, but with no
interference. They had thus reached a
point where there was a small island sur
rounded by rapids, and the banks of the
river were thickly shaded by a dense for
est-growth, when suddenly a volley of
musketry and an Indian war-whoop burst
through the silence of the wilderness.
The effect upon those in the advance-
canoes was terribly fatal ; but Bradstreet
and six of his men pushed at once for
the island, where a score of the enemy,

* The Conquest of Canada, by the Author of " Hochela-
ga," &c. New York : Plarper and Brothers.

having plunged into the river and made
their way through a ford, had arrived be
fore him. So spirited, however, was the
onset of the colonel and his half-dozen
men, that he succeeded in driving back
the enemy to the mainland.

The French, however, now came up
again to the attack with increased num
bers. Bradstreet, too, in the meantime
had been reinforced by fourteen other
men, who had just landed from those ca
noes w r hich had brought up the rear of
the advance-party. The French were
forced again to retire ; and, renewing for
a third time the attack, with more men
still, a fierce struggle ensued, which last
ed nearly an hour. Bradstreet w r as again
victorious, and with his twenty men suc
ceeded in putting to a complete rout all
who were left of the seventy Frenchmen
who had attempted to dislodge him from
the island.

The rest of Bradstreet s forces had land
ed on the shore lower down, and were
marching to the relief of their comrades
on the island. The main body of the
French, observing this movement, crossed
the stream, to prevent the junction. But
Bradstreet, having now succeeded in beat
ing off the enemy s attack on the island,
was free to join the rest of his troops
which he succeeded in doing, and led
them with a vigorous onslaught against
the main body of the French, who were
forced back into the river. Many fell
dead before the brisk fire of Bradstreet s
men, but many more were drowned in
their attempts to cross the river.

The enemy, in spite of these repeated
defeats, still pertinaciously prolonged the




struggle. A number, while Bradstreet
was below, on the mainland, began to
cross the ford below, near the small isl
and ; but they had hardly reached the
opposite bank, and made ready for an
attack, when the English came rushing
down, and with one impulsive effort drove
them back into the stream. The French
lost more than a hundred men, who were
either shot or drowned, while seventy
were taken prisoners. The loss of Brad-
street, too, was no less than sixty killed
or wounded.

The English troops were too much fa
tigued to continue the pursuit immedi
ately; and when, next morning, they
were reinforced by a company of grena
diers on their way to Oswego, and some
two hundred men besides who had come
to their aid from that fort, Bradstreet
found that the Onondaga was so flooded
with the pouring rain during the night,
that it would be quite impracticable to
follow the enemy. The company of gren
adiers, therefore, accompanied the detach
ment from the fort back to Oswego, and
Bradstreet with the rest of his forces went
on his way to Albany.

The British government, having now
at last declared an open war against the
French, was disposed to carry on
hostilities in America with greater
vigor. The earl of Loudoun, a great
stickler for the prerogatives of the crown,
and a proportionate opponent of all co
lonial disenthralment, was sent out to
America, with unusual powers. Pie was
made general-in-chief of all the forces on
the American continent, and colonel of a
regiment of four battalions, to be corn-


posed principally of the Swiss and Ger
man Protestants in America, and to be
commanded by officers of their own na
tive countries. To give additional dig
nity to his lordship s appointment, he was
also made governor of Virginia.

Previous, however, to the setting out
of the earl of Loudoun, Major-General
Abercrombie had been ordered to pre
cede him, and hold the command until
his lordship s arrival. Abercrombie was
now at Albany, with four regiments of

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 12 of 126)