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

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British regulars, two of which
had accompanied him from Eng
land, the New-England battalions, eight
independent companies, and a large body
of provincial militia, making all together
the formidable army, for those days, of
ten thousand men. At Albany, too, was
assembled the council of governors from
the various provinces, to confer with the
British general in regard to the plans of
a campaign against the French in Amer
ica. Abercrombie resisted the urgent ap
peals of the council to carry out a scheme
of general attack, on the plea that his
force was not sufficiently large for so ex
tensive an undertaking. He, therefore,
declined to act on his own responsibility,
and determined to await the arrival of
his superior in command, the earl of Lou
doun. He, however, was prevailed upon
to send General Winslow, with the pro
vincial forces, to the English fort William
Henry, on Lake George, where he was
to await reinforcements, and then march
against the French post at Crown Point,
on Lake Cham plain.

On the arrival of the brave Bradstreet
at Albany, he hurried to the quarters of


fl ART I.

General Abercrombie, and, giving in the
report of his own successes, laid before
him the dangerous position of Oswego,
and earnestly urged the necessity of de
spatching immediate relief. The British
officer, Colonel Webb, was accordingly
ordered to hold himself in readiness to
march with his regiment on this service ;
but, for some reason or other, a long and
fatal delay ensued. The provincial coun
cil and Abercrombie were supposed to
be at loggerheads. The former declared
for Crown Point : the latter favored the
march to Oswego. So, to settle the dif
ference, nothing was done.

Lord Loudoun now arrived at
Albany, and assumed command
at once ; but, full of his own dignity, and
reserved in his communications with oth
ers, he would listen to no suggestions
from those who knew so much of a coun
try about which he knew so little. He
had the proverbial contempt of his coun
trymen for the colonies, and had no faith
either in the wisdom of the colonial gov
ernor or the courage of the colonial sol
dier. The force at Albany was large
amounting, as we have seen, to ten thou
sand men ; but more than half of these
were provincials "mostly vagabonds
picked up by the New-Englanders at ran
dom," wrote Abercrombie, who exclaimed,
" With such troops, what can we do ?"
Loudoun no doubt echoed, with fellow-
contempt, these opinions so disparaging
to the colonists. They could not learn the
simple lesson of experience, which, if they
had, would have taught them that all the
victories had been w r on in these colonial
battles by the " vagabonds," while the de

feats were to be set down to the boasted
" regulars." Abercrombie did nothing; :

o CD

Lord Loudoun did no more.

The French, however, were not inac
tive. The court at Versailles had sent
out a considerable force of regulars to
America, under the command of the mar
quis de Montcalm. A better leader could
not have been chosen. Montcalm had a
wise head and a dauntless spirit. Born
of a noble family, he had inherited the
traditional chivalry of his race. On his
escutcheon he bore the motto of " Extin
guisher of the Dragon," as a perpetual
record, handed down from generation to
generation, of the prowess of an ances
tral Templar of St. John, who had deliv
ered the isle of Rhodes from the ravages
of some mysterious monster. He was de
scended from a long line of heroes, and
w r as destined to illustrate, in his own ca
reer the heroic temperament of his fain-


His education was carefully conducted
by a distinguished man of science, who
bore the name of Dumas. Under his tui
tion, the young Montcalm was so endued
with a love of study, that, although he
entered the army at the early age of four
teen, he preserved his taste for science
and literature amid all the tumultuous
life of the camp, and became remarkable
for his mental acquirements.

Montcalm s military career was rapidly
made brilliant by his gallant behavior.
He was wounded three times at the bat
tle of Plaisance, and twice in the heroic
struo-o-le at Exilles. This latter was the


battle where was enacted a scene that
has only been paralleled since by the



charge of the English "Light-Brigade"
at Balaklava, when

" Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred !"

The count of Belleisle had been prom
ised the baton of a marshal if he should
succeed in the campaign in Piedmont.
Meeting the enemy at Exilles, the count
began an imprudent attack, which result
ed in the defeat of the French. He felt
so greatly the ill success of an attempt
which had been disapproved of by all
experience, that in his desperation he
put himself at the head of his officers,
and led them in a column against the
intrenchments Avithin which the enemy
had withdrawn ! Few only escaped.
Belleisle himself, wounded in both hands,
madly strove to tear down with his teeth
the palisades of the wall, when he re
ceived a mortal shot. Montcalm was one
of this heroic brigade, which, true to dis
cipline, obeyed even the insane command
of their leader.

But a few years past forty, Montcalm,
although full of the enterprising spirit
of youth, was, from his long service in
the army, a veteran in experience. He
was short in person, but of a wiry struc
ture. Active, and of great powers of en
durance, he possessed all the gay vivaci
ty 6f his countrymen, and was lively in
times of social enjoyment as he was all
activity in business. He was quick to
observe, and bold and prompt in action.
He soon proved that he was the right
man in the right place.

There was no dilly-dallying about Mont
calm. He had not been at Quebec a week
before he was ready to set out with his

Aug. 12.

French troops for Oswego, which had
been so disgracefully neglected by the
dilatory Abercrombie and the self-suffi
cient Lord Loudoun. De Vaudreuil was
sent in advance with a considerable force
of Canadian militia, raised at Montreal.
Montcalm was not long behind him, with
his regulars, and ready to commence op
erations. The French commander s first
object was to attack Fort Ontario, which
was situated on the river Onondaga, at
its mouth, where it empties into Lake
Ontario, and opposite to the more im
portant Fort Oswego. Here accordingly
he opened his trenches at once,
and, with his usual promptness,
beginning at the dawn of day, succeeded
in overcoming the resistance of the be
sieged before nightfall. Taking posses
sion of Fort Ontario, from which the gar
rison had fled to Oswego, without spiking
all the cannon in their hurry, Montcalm
turned the remaining guns with great ef
fect upon the fort opposite. It w r as not
long before the walls of Oswego gave
way ; and the English seeing, with their
leader Mercer struck down, and a breach
made in their fortress, no hope of a longer
resistance, capitulated.

The victory for the French was a great
one. They became possessed of an im
portant post, took captive twelve hundred
prisoners, and obtained several armed ves
sels, two hundred batteaux, and a vast
quantity of treasure, military stores, and
provisions. They made the most of their
triumph, sending the British flags to be
hung in the churches of Quebec and Mon
treal; erecting crosses at Oswego, with
the inscription, " This is the banner of



[PART r.

victory;" and raising triumphant columns,
upon which their joy was illustrated^ by
the exultant words, carved in stone
" Bring lilies with full hands !"

Montcalm razed the fort at Oswego to
the ground, and began a desolating inarch
eastward, burning the dwellings and the
crops of the frontier settlers of New York,
and killing and scalping all the unfortu
nate inhabitants he met. Colonel Webb,
in the meantime, with his seventeen hun
dred men, who had been kept back until
it was too late to render any service to
the neglected fort at Oswego, was slowly
making his way, until he heard of the
French success, when he precipitately
took to flight. Walpole might well say,
when this disastrous news reached Eng
land : " The negligence and dilatoriness
of our government at home, and the lit
tle-minded quarrels between the regular
and irregular forces, have reduced our af
fairs in that part of the world [America]
to a most deplorable state. Oswego, of
ten times more importance even than Mi
norca, is so annihilated, that we can not
learn the particulars."

Something was naturally expected from
the expedition of General Winslow, an
able officer, who had acquired great re
nown in the siege of Louisburg; but, al
though the French fort at Crown Point,
on Lake Cham plain, was its original des
tination, it got no farther than the Eng
lish forts Edward and William Henry.


These Winslow strengthened by leaving
a portion of his force ; but was prevented
from striking a blow against the enemy
by the inactivity and pusillanimous con
duct of his superiors. Lord Loudoun

having so far done nothing, now seemed
resolved to do nothing for the future ;
and, after an inglorious inactivity at Al
bany, he sent the provincials to their sev
eral homes.

The English colonists obtained some
consolation for their repeated ill fortune,
by a small success against the Indian
town of Kittanang, lying in a valley
among the Alleghanies. This was the
nest of a horde of Indian savages, who
had stolen upon the English settlers scat
tered about the western frontier, and mas
sacred a thousand of them. About three
hundred men now hurriedly collected to
gether, and, choosing one Armstrong for
their leader, determined to revenge the
merciless murder of their countrymen.
They pushed on, forgetting the fatigues
and perils of the hard and dangerous road
of some hundred and fifty miles in length,
in their eagerness for revenge. On arri
ving at the Indian settlement at night,
they heard the savage murderers exult
ing, in songs and dances, over their late
massacre. Armstrong awaited until dawn
the next morning, when, suddenly pre
senting himself, he offered the Indians
quarter, on their immediately surrender
ing. The savages dared not accept it ;
and then the provincials began an attack,
which resulted in a slaughter and a cru
elty that could have only been equalled
by the Indians themselves. Some of the
savages were shot, some beaten down
with the butt-ends of muskets, some shut
up in their huts and burned to death,
some blown up with gunpowder, and
others seized and scalped as the Indians
themselves would have seized and scalped




the English if they had been victims in
stead of avengers.

This was one of the pitiful successes

which were to weigh against the prepon
derating victories of the French during
the whole campaign of 1756.


A North -American Winter. Montcalrn s Vigor. Attack upon Fort William Henry. Repulse. Lord Loudoun s Great
Means and Small Results. Sails with a Great Fleet to Halifax. Does nothing. Success of Montcalm against Fort
William Henry. Lord Loudoun returns to New York. England in Despair. Pitt comes to the Rescue. The Right
Men in the Right Place. Amherst. Boscawen. James Wolfe. His Life, Character, and Personal Appearance.
The Expedition against Louisburg. Wolfe the first to land. The French repulsed from the Shore. Cooke the Navi
gator. Victory at Louisburg. Wolfe returns Home ill. Seeks Employment in the next American Campaign. Pitt s
Liberal Measures toward Provincial Officers. Abercrombie succeeds Lord London in Command in America. An
Immense Provincial Force marches against the French Fort of Ticonderoga. Surprised by the French. Death of the
Gallant and Youthful Lord Howe. Grief at his Full. Failure of the Attack upon Ticonderoga. Bradstreet s Expe
dition. Its Success. The Expedition against Du Quesne. The Highlanders. A Celt in Kilt taken for an Indian.
A Catastrophe. The Highlanders in Difficulty. A Canny Scot gets the Advantage of the Indians. Escapes Torture
Fort Du Quesne abandoned. Washington plants the British Flag. Pittsburg.


WITH the successes of the previ
ous year, the French, under the
ever vigilant and active Montcalm, were
emboldened to begin 1757 with great
vigor. It was January. Canada was
bound with the fetters of winter. The
waves of those great inland seas, the
northern lakes, were stilled. The rivers
ceased to flow. The waters everywhere
had turned to ice. The snow covered
the mountain-tops, and filled in the val
leys. Fields, roads, and by-paths, had
departed with the life of the year, and
were now overspread with the universal
shroud of winter. The smoke of a few
hamlets, under the cover of the hillsides,
scattered distantly over the wide, wintry
expanse, betokened the existence of oc
casional home warmth and comfort but
for the most part the scene was one of
universal wintry desolation.

It was not in the nature of Montcalrn s

active spirit to grow torpid, even under
the influence of a North-American win
ter. In the very depth of this season of
frost and snow, he determined to send a
force against the English fort William
Henry, at the southern end of Lake
George. Fifteen hundred men, four hun
dred of whom were Indians, were accord
ingly selected for this service, and placed
under the command of Rigaud de Vau-

The route was a long one. One hun
dred and fifty miles were to be travelled
before reaching the fort. Sledges were
made ready, and dogs harnessed to them
with thongs, as in the arctic regions, to
drag the provisions and stores through
the snow and over the ice. Each man
was clad like an Esquimaux, in furs, and
given a leathern mask to protect his face
from the fatal touch of the biting wind
and the frost, and a bearskin within which



[_PART 1.

to enfold himself when encamped at night
upon the snow. Thus equipped., they set
out, passing rapidly over the frozen sur
face of Lake Champlain and of Lake
George with their sledges and their snow-
shoes. As they approach the English
fort, they await the coming of night, and
are more cautious in their movements.
Pioneers are sent in advance, with axes
in hand, to try the strength of the ice,
and to guide the force in safety to the
walls of the enemy. With cautious steps
they reach the spot in the dead of night,
and are lifting the scaling-ladders against
the fortifications, when the sentry ob
serves them, and gives the alarm. The
garrison are in a moment on their de
fence, and, with a brisk volley from their
cannon and musketry, drive back the as

Next morning the French renew the
attack, but without effect ; and again
make an attempt later in the day, but
are once more driven back. They now
summon the officer in command, a Major
Eyres, to surrender. He resolutely re
fuses. The French continue the assault,
and, after making in all five unsuccessful
efforts, they give up in despair. The
stronghold can not be taken. The ene
my, however, revenged themselves for
their repulse, by destroying such out
works of the fort as were within their
reach. Vaudreuil now sent reinforce
ments to the French forts at Ticondero-
ga, Crown Point, and Niagara, and then
returned to Montreal.

The garrison at Fort William Henry
does not allow the winter to pass in idle
ness. Its rangers accordingly sally out,

under the gallant subaltern Stark, and
succeed in falling in with sledges on their
route, with men and provisions, for the
French forts. Stark, with some seventy
men, takes a party thus by surprise, at
tacks them, and comes off victorious. He
is, however, intercepted by a considera
ble force on his return to the fort, with
his prisoners and booty, and a third of
his adventurous rangers are laid low ;
but Stark and the survivors so gallantly
defend themselves, that the enemy are
obliged to re-treat, and the English come
off with all the glory.

Lord Loudoun, having done nothing
where he could do something, now un
dertook to do something where he could
do nothing. Taking a large provincial
force from the colonies, where they wer^
needed, he embarked them on board ai
Eno-lish fleet consisting of numerous men-

o o

of-war and transports,and sailed with them
to Halifax, in Nova Scotia. With nine
teen ships-of-the-line and a large number
of smaller vessels in that harbor, and no
less than thirteen battalions of troops
landed after a prosperous voyage, Lou
doun was in a condition to have under
taken anything, no matter how formida
ble. The time was, nevertheless, wasted
in parade and mock-fights. Louisburg,
which, after the famous conquest by Sir
William Pepperell, had been ceded to
France, was supposed to be the object
of attack of this magnificent armament.
News arriving, however, to the effect that
the French, with some three thousand
troops, a considerable body of Indians
and militiamen, and a fleet of eighteen
ships-of-the-line, were prepared to defend




themselves, it was determined by the pru
dent Loudoun to postpone the attempt
upon Louisburg.

When Loudoun sailed away from the
place where he was most wanted, Mont-
calm took occasion to avail himself of his
absence, by making an attack upon Fort
William Henry, on Lake George. Gath
ering some eight thousand men at the
French fort at Ticonderoga, he marched
with his usual rapidity against Fort Wil
liam Henry, and met with a brave resist
ance from the English commander, Mun-
ro, who, to a haughty demand to surren
der, answered thus spiritedly : " I will
defend my trust to the last extremity !"
It was, however, in vain. The English,
disappointed in their hope of relief from
the timid Webb, who was running away,
instead of coming to their assistance, were
obliged to capitulate.

Lord Loudoun, while at Halifax in a
state of inaction, heard this disastrous
news of the capture of Fort William Hen
ry, and immediately returned,with a large
proportion of his troops, to New York ;
but, with what purpose, it would be diffi
cult to conjecture. He left the English
admiral at Halifax ; but that officer did
nothing but sail to Louisburg and back
again. When this intelligence reached
England, Walpole wrote, on the 3d day
of September, 1757: "We had a torrent
of bad news yesterday from America.
Lord Loudoun has found an army of
Iwenty thousand French, gives over the
design on Louisburg, and retires to Hali
fax. Admiral Holborne writes that they
have nineteen ships to his seventeen, and
that he can not attack them. It is time

for England to slip her own cables, and
float away into some unknown sea."

Lord Loudoun arrived at New York,
and thence made his way to Fort Edward,
the only northern post left to the Eng
lish. Here he gave some directions for
defence, and prudently retired to Albany.
Nothing, however, was done ; and the
British people and the British govern
ment became aware at last that, without
some change in men and measures, Brit
ish dominion in the West would be lost
to them for ever.

" My lord, I am sure that I can save
this country, and that no one else can !"
were the proud, self-reliant words of the
great commoner, William Pitt. His coun
try took him at his word ; and, with the
power to execute what his comprehen
sive genius had conceived, he made good
his grand promise. The incapable duke
of Newcastle, deserted by Fox, Avas forced
to let drop from his feeble hands the
reins of government. Fox himself now
strove to form a ministry ; but, with all
his great talents, he felt himself incapa
ble of the charge of administration with
out the aid of Pitt, and solicited his alli
ance. The " great commoner," however,
rejected all overtures from his superior,
in wealth and rank, but by far his in
ferior in moral influence. Pitt, conscious
of the faith of the British nation in him,
and him alone, was determined to share
with no other the glory of delivering that
nation from her agony of shame and dis

"Whoever is in or whoever is out,"
writes Lord Chesterfield, in despair of
his country, " I am sure we are undone,




both at home and abroad : at home, by
our increasing debt and expenses; abroad,

by our ill luck and incapacity The

French are masters to do what they please
in America. We are no longer a nation.
I never yet saw so dreadful a prospect."
The British people, however, still had a
hope : that hope was William Pitt. The
lords were in despair, and yet resisted,
in their mad pride of birth, the aid of a
commoner. But such was the resolute
will of the nation to be governed by Pitt,
that king and peers were obliged to yield,
and suffer him to take hold of the helm
and guide the ship of state.

With Pitt s administration began a new
era for British arms in America. His first
act was to get rid of the incapables, and
to put the right men in the right place.
The weak and capriciousLoudoun,aswell
as the over-cautious and inactive Admi
ral Holborne, were recalled, and men of
sterner stuff sent to America to replace
them. Amherst, the resolutely brave, the
spiritedly active, and the coolly judicious,
was, in spite of the formalities of milita
ry precedence, promoted to the rank of
major-general, and given the command
of the land-forces destined for America.
Boscawen, a dashing naval officer, of
known skill and courage, was made admi
ral of the fleet then off Halifax, in Nova

Louisburg was marked out in the plan
of the campaign as the first object of at-
tack. Amherst sailed with a large arma-
ment on the 19th of February for
Halifax, but was delayed in his
voyage by storms and unfavorable winds,
and did not arrive off that port until the

Juiie 2.

28th of May, when he met the impatient
Boscawen coining out, with all his ships,
on his way to Louisburg.

The two forces, land and naval, thus
combined, presented a formidable array.
There floated the grand fleet, with twen
ty-two ships-of-the-line, fifteen frigates,
and one hundred and twenty smaller ves
sels. There gathered the eleven thou
sand six hundred troops, mostly British
regulars, with their battalions of infantry,
their formidable artillery, and their skil
ful engineers. Amherst s land-force was
divided into three brigades, under the sev
eral commands of the brigadier-generals
Whitmore, Lawrence, and Wolfe. This
effective armament now sailed
for Cape Breton, and in a few
days reached Gabarus bay, within can
non-shot of Louisburg.

There was one in this expedition whose
subsequent career of heroism entitles him
to more than a mere enumeration among
a list of other gallant officers. This was

JAMES WOLFE was the son of a soldier.
His father had won an honorable name
as an officer under Marlborough. The
elder Wolfe had sought after his mar
riage with a Miss Thompson, the sister
of the member of Parliament for York
a temporary retreat in the neighborhood
of that city, in the quiet village of West-
erham. Here his son was born, on the
2d of January, 1727, at the modest vicar
age-house, which the father had rented
for his temporary residence. At West-
erham the young Wolfe was sent to a
good private school, where he remained
until he was fourteen years of age. As




a boy, he was spirited and clever, but not
remarkable for his devotion to work.

His father being now ordered to join
Lord Cathcart s expedition to Flanders,
he took with him his son, although but
fourteen years of age. On the journey,
the lad, who was always feeble in health,
fell ill, and was landed at Portsmouth.
In a short time, however, he recovered
his strength, and rejoined his father at
the camp, where he entered at once with
youthful ardor upon all the duties of a
military life. A commission was secured
for him, and the boy of fourteen became
an officer in a battalion of marines as
early as 1741. In another year he was
made ensign, and then fought his first
battle at Dettingen. In 1 743, he becomes
a lieutenant, and is engaged in active ser
vice in Flanders. He next receives the
command of a company, and we hear of
the youthful officer fighting under the
duke of Cumberland at Fontenoy, and
redeeming, by his gallant behavior, in
common with the other British officers,
the misfortunes of that day.

The young Wolfe s merit was so obvi
ous, that nothing could resist his advance
ment, and he was rapidly promoted. Ev
ery step he took in rank was more than
justified by his progress in the path of

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