Opposed to them was a trained army, well organized and commanded, focused at Montreal, and moving for attack or defence on two radiating lines,—one towards Lake Ontario, and the other towards Lake Champlain,—supported by a martial peasantry, supplied from France with money and material, dependent on no popular vote, having no will but that of its chief, and ready on the instant to strike to right or left as the need required. It was a compact military absolutism confronting a heterogeneous group of industrial democracies, where the force of numbers was neutralized by diffusion and incoherence. A long and dismal apprenticeship waited them before they could hope for success; nor could they ever put forth their full strength without a radical change of political conditions and an awakened consciousness of common interests and a common cause. It was the sense of powerlessness arising from the want of union that, after the fall of Oswego, spread alarm through the northern and middle colonies, and drew these desponding words from William Livingston, of New Jersey: "The colonies are nearly exhausted, and their funds already anticipated by expensive unexecuted projects. Jealous are they of each other; some ill-constituted, others shaken with intestine divisions, and, if I may be allowed the expression, parsimonious even to prodigality. Our assemblies are diffident of their governors, governors despise their assemblies; and both mutually misrepresent each other to the Court of Great Britain." Military measures, he proceeds, demand secrecy and despatch; but when so many divided provinces must agree to join in them, secrecy and despatch are impossible. In conclusion he exclaims: "Canada must be demolished, —Delenda est Carthago,—or we are undone." But Loudon was not Scipio, and cis-Atlantic Carthage was to stand for some time longer.
[Footnote 435: Review of Military Operations, 187, 189 (Dublin, 1757).]
The Earl, in search of a scapegoat for the loss of Oswego, naturally chose Shirley, attacked him savagely, told him that he was of no use in America, and ordered him to go home to England without delay. Shirley, who was then in Boston, answered this indecency with dignity and effect. The chief fault was with Loudon himself, whose late arrival in America had caused a change of command and of plans in the crisis of the campaign. Shirley well knew the weakness of Oswego; and in early spring had sent two engineers to make it defensible, with particular instructions to strengthen Fort Ontario. But they, thinking that the chief danger lay on the west and south, turned all their attention thither, and neglected Ontario till it was too late. Shirley was about to reinforce Oswego with a strong body of troops when the arrival of Abercromby took the control out of his hands and caused ruinous delay. He cannot, however, be acquitted of mismanagement in failing to supply the place with wholesome provisions in the preceding autumn, before the streams were stopped with ice. Hence came the ravages of disease and famine which, before spring, reduced the garrison to a hundred and forty effective men. Yet there can be no doubt that the change of command was a blunder. This is the view of Franklin, who knew Shirley well, and thus speaks of him: "He would in my opinion, if continued in place, have made a much better campaign than that of Loudon, which was frivolous, expensive, and disgraceful to our nation beyond conception. For though Shirley was not bred a soldier, he was sensible and sagacious in himself, and attentive to good advice from others, capable of forming judicious plans, and quick and active in carrying them into execution." He sailed for England in the autumn, disappointed and poor; the bull-headed Duke of Cumberland had been deeply prejudiced against him, and it was only after long waiting that this strenuous champion of British interests was rewarded in his old age with the petty government of the Bahamas.
[Footnote 436: Loudon to Shirley, 6 Sept. 1756.]
[Footnote 437: The correspondence on both sides is before me, copied from the originals in the Public Record Office.]
[Footnote 438: "The principal thing for which I sent Mr. Mackellar to Oswego was to strengthen Fort Ontario as much as he possibly could." Shirley to Loudon, 4 Sept. 1756.]
[Footnote 439: Works of Franklin, I. 220.]
Loudon had now about ten thousand men at his command, though not all fit for duty. They were posted from Albany to Lake George. The Earl himself was at Fort Edward, while about three thousand of the provincials still lay, under Winslow, at the lake. Montcalm faced them at Ticonderoga, with five thousand three hundred regulars and Canadians, in a position where they could defy three times their number. "The sons of Belial are too strong for me," jocosely wrote Winslow; and he set himself to intrenching his camp; then had the forest cut down for the space of a mile from the lake to the mountains, so that the trees, lying in what he calls a "promiscuous manner," formed an almost impenetrable abatis. An escaped prisoner told him that the French were coming to visit him with fourteen thousand men; but Montcalm thought no more of stirring than Loudon himself; and each stood watching the other, with the lake between them, till the season closed.
[Footnote 440: "Nous sommes tant a Carillon qu'aux postes avances 5,300 hommes." Bougainville, Journal.]
[Footnote 441: Winslow to Loudon, 29 Sept. 1756.]
[Footnote 442: Examination of Sergeant James Archibald.]
Meanwhile the western borders were still ravaged by the tomahawk. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia all writhed under the infliction. Each had made a chain of blockhouses and wooden forts to cover its frontier, and manned them with disorderly bands, lawless, and almost beyond control. The case was at the worst in Pennsylvania, where the tedious quarrelling of Governor and Assembly, joined to the doggedly pacific attitude of the Quakers, made vigorous defence impossible. Rewards were offered for prisoners and scalps, so bountiful that the hunting of men would have been a profitable vocation, but for the extreme wariness and agility of the game. Some of the forts were well built stockades; others were almost worthless; but the enemy rarely molested even the feeblest of them, preferring to ravage the lonely and unprotected farms. There were two or three exceptions. A Virginian fort was attacked by a war-party under an officer named Douville, who was killed, and his followers were put to flight. The assailants were more fortunate at a small stockade called Fort Granville, on the Juniata. A large body of French and Indians attacked it in August while most of the garrison were absent protecting the farmers at their harvest; they set it on fire, and, in spite of a most gallant resistance by the young lieutenant left in command, took it, and killed all but one of the defenders.
[Footnote 443: In the public Record Office, America and West Indies, LXXXII., is a manuscript map showing the positions of such of these posts as were north of Virginia. They are thirty-five in number, from the head of James River to a point west of Esopus, on the Hudson.]
[Footnote 444: Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 76.]
[Footnote 445: Washington to Morris,—April, 1756.]
[Footnote 446: Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 232, 242; Pennsylvania Archives, II. 744.]
What sort of resistance the Pennsylvanian borderers would have made under political circumstances less adverse may be inferred from an exploit of Colonel John Armstrong, a settler of Cumberland. After the loss of Fort Granville the Governor of the province sent him with three hundred men to attack the Delaware town of Kittanning, a populous nest of savages on the Alleghany, between the two French posts of Duquesne and Venango. Here most of the war-parties were fitted out, and the place was full of stores and munitions furnished by the French. Here, too, lived the redoubted chief called Captain Jacobs, the terror of the English border. Armstrong set out from Fort Shirley, the farthest outpost, on the last of August, and, a week after, was within six miles of the Indian town. By rapid marching and rare good luck, his party had escaped discovery. It was ten o'clock at night, with a bright moon. The guides were perplexed, and knew neither the exact position of the place nor the paths that led to it. The adventurers threaded the forest in single file, over hills and through hollows, bewildered and anxious, stopping to watch and listen. At length they heard in the distance the beating of an Indian drum and the whooping of warriors in the war-dance. Guided by the sounds, they cautiously moved forward, till those in the front, scrambling down a rocky hill, found themselves on the banks of the Alleghany, about a hundred rods below Kittanning. The moon was near setting; but they could dimly see the town beyond a great intervening field of corn. "At that moment," says Armstrong, "an Indian whistled in a very singular manner, about thirty perches from our front, in the foot of the cornfield." He thought they were discovered; but one Baker, a soldier well versed in Indian ways, told him that it was only some village gallant calling to a young squaw. The party then crouched in the bushes, and kept silent. The moon sank behind the woods, and fires soon glimmered through the field, kindled to drive off mosquitoes by some of the Indians who, as the night was warm, had come out to sleep in the open air. The eastern sky began to redden with the approach of day. Many of the party, spent with a rough march of thirty miles, had fallen asleep. They were now cautiously roused; and Armstrong ordered nearly half of them to make their way along the ridge of a bushy hill that overlooked the town, till they came opposite to it, in order to place it between two fires. Twenty minutes were allowed them for the movement; but they lost their way in the dusk, and reached their station too late. When the time had expired, Armstrong gave the signal to those left with him, who dashed into the cornfield, shooting down the astonished savages or driving them into the village, where they turned and made desperate fight.
It was a cluster of thirty log-cabins, the principal being that of the chief, Jacobs, which was loopholed for musketry, and became the centre of resistance. The fight was hot and stubborn. Armstrong ordered the town to be set on fire, which was done, though not without loss; for the Delawares at this time were commonly armed with rifles, and used them well. Armstrong himself was hit in the shoulder. As the flames rose and the smoke grew thick, a warrior in one of the houses sang his death-song, and a squaw in the same house was heard to cry and scream. Rough voices silenced her, and then the inmates burst out, but were instantly killed. The fire caught the house of Jacobs, who, trying to escape through an opening in the roof, was shot dead. Bands of Indians were gathering beyond the river, firing from the other bank, and even crossing to help their comrades; but the assailants held to their work till the whole place was destroyed. "During the burning of the houses," says Armstrong, "we were agreeably entertained by the quick succession of charged guns, gradually firing off as reached by the fire; but much more so with the vast explosion of sundry bags and large kegs of gunpowder, wherewith almost every house abounded; the prisoners afterwards informing us that the Indians had frequently said they had a sufficient stock of ammunition for ten years' war with the English."
These prisoners were eleven men, women, and children, captured in the border settlements, and now delivered by their countrymen. The day was far spent when the party withdrew, carrying their wounded on Indian horses, and moving perforce with extreme slowness, though expecting an attack every moment. None took place; and they reached the settlements at last, having bought their success with the loss of seventeen killed and thirteen wounded. A medal was given to each officer, not by the Quaker-ridden Assembly, but by the city council of Philadelphia.
[Footnote 447: Report of Armstrong to Governor Denny, 14 Sept. 1756, in Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 257,—a modest yet very minute account. A list of the Names of the Persons killed, wounded, and missing in the late Expedition against the Kittanning. Hazard, Pennsylvania Register, I. 366.]
The report of this affair made by Dumas, commandant at Fort Duquesne, is worth noting. He says that Attique, the French name of Kittanning, was attacked by "le General Wachinton," with three or four hundred men on horseback; that the Indians gave way; but that five or six Frenchmen who were in the town held the English in check till the fugitives rallied; that Washington and his men then took to flight, and would have been pursued but for the loss of some barrels of gunpowder which chanced to explode during the action. Dumas adds that several large parties are now on the track of the enemy, and he hopes will cut them to pieces. He then asks for a supply of provisions and merchandise to replace those which the Indians of Attique had lost by a fire. Like other officers of the day, he would admit nothing but successes in the department under his command.
[Footnote 448: Dumas a Vaudreuil, 9 Sept. 1756, cited in Bigot au Ministre, 6 Oct. 1756, and in Bougainville, Journal.]
Vaudreuil wrote singular despatches at this time to the minister at Versailles. He takes credit to himself for the number of war-parties that his officers kept always at work, and fills page after page with details of the coups they had struck; how one brought in two English scalps, another three, another one, and another seven. He owns that they committed frightful cruelties, mutilating and sometimes burning their prisoners; but he expresses no regret, and probably felt none, since he declares that the object of this murderous warfare was to punish the English till they longed for peace.
[Footnote 449: Depeches de Vaudreuil, 1756.]
The waters and mountains of Lake George, and not the western borders, were the chief centre of partisan war. Ticonderoga was a hornet's nest, pouring out swarms of savages to infest the highways and byways of the wilderness. The English at Fort William Henry, having few Indians, could not retort in kind; but they kept their scouts and rangers in active movement. What they most coveted was prisoners, as sources of information. One Kennedy, a lieutenant of provincials, with five followers, white and red, made a march of rare audacity, passed all the French posts, took a scalp and two prisoners on the Richelieu, and burned a magazine of provisions between Montreal and St. John. The party were near famishing on the way back; and Kennedy was brought into Fort William Henry in a state of temporary insanity from starvation. Other provincial officers, Peabody, Hazen, Waterbury, and Miller, won a certain distinction in this adventurous service, though few were so conspicuous as the blunt and sturdy Israel Putnam. Winslow writes in October that he has just returned from the best "scout" yet made, and that, being a man of strict truth, he may be entirely trusted. Putnam had gone with six followers down Lake George in a whale-boat to a point on the east side, opposite the present village of Hague, hid the boat, crossed northeasterly to Lake Champlain, three miles from the French fort, climbed the mountain that overlooks it, and made a complete reconnoissance; then approached it, chased three Frenchmen, who escaped within the lines, climbed the mountain again, and moving westward along the ridge, made a minute survey of every outpost between the fort and Lake George. These adventures were not always fortunate. On the nineteenth of September Captain Hodges and fifty men were ambushed a few miles from Fort William Henry by thrice their number of Canadians and Indians, and only six escaped. Thus the record stands in the Letter Book of Winslow. By visiting the encampments of Ticonderoga, one may learn how the blow was struck.
[Footnote 450: Minute of Lieutenant Kennedy's Scout. Winslow to Loudon, 20 Sept. 1756.]
[Footnote 451: Winslow to Loudon, 16 Oct. 1756.]
[Footnote 452: Report of a Scout to Ticonderoga, Oct. 1756, signed Israel Putnam.]
[Footnote 453: Compare Massachusetts Archives, LXXVI. 81.]
After much persuasion, much feasting, and much consumption of tobacco and brandy, four hundred Indians, Christians from the Missions and heathen from the far west, were persuaded to go on a grand war-party with the Canadians. Of these last there were a hundred,—a wild crew, bedecked and bedaubed like their Indian companions. Periere, an officer of colony regulars, had nominal command of the whole; and among the leaders of the Canadians was the famous bushfighter, Marin. Bougainville was also of the party. In the evening of the sixteenth they all embarked in canoes at the French advance-post commanded by Contrecoeur, near the present steamboat-landing, passed in the gloom under the bare steeps of Rogers Rock, paddled a few hours, landed on the west shore, and sent scouts to reconnoitre. These came back with their reports on the next day, and an Indian crier called the chiefs to council. Bougainville describes them as they stalked gravely to the place of meeting, wrapped in colored blankets, with lances in their hands. The accomplished young aide-de-camp studied his strange companions with an interest not unmixed with disgust. "Of all caprice," he says, "Indian caprice is the most capricious." They were insolent to the French, made rules for them which they did not observe themselves, and compelled the whole party to move when and whither they pleased. Hiding the canoes, and lying close in the forest by day, they all held their nocturnal course southward, by the lofty heights of Black Mountain, and among the islets of the Narrows, till the eighteenth. That night the Indian scouts reported that they had seen the fires of an encampment on the west shore; on which the whole party advanced to the attack, an hour before dawn, filing silently under the dark arches of the forest, the Indians nearly naked, and streaked with their war-paint of vermilion and soot. When they reached the spot they found only the smouldering fires of a deserted bivouac. Then there was a consultation; ending, after much dispute, with the choice by the Indians of a hundred and ten of their most active warriors to attempt some stroke in the neighborhood of the English fort. Marin joined them with thirty Canadians, and they set out on their errand; while the rest encamped to await the result. At night the adventurers returned, raising the death-cry and firing their guns; somewhat depressed by losses they had suffered, but boasting that they had surprised fifty-three English, and killed or taken all but one. It was a modest and perhaps an involuntary exaggeration. "The very recital of the cruelties they committed on the battle-field is horrible," writes Bougainville. "The ferocity and insolence of these black-souled barbarians makes one shudder. It is an abominable kind of war. The air one breathes is contagious of insensibility and hardness." This was but one of the many such parties sent out from Ticonderoga this year.
[Footnote 454: Bougainville, Journal.]
Early in September a band of New England rangers came to Winslow's camp, with three prisoners taken within the lines of Ticonderoga. Their captain was Robert Rogers, of New Hampshire,—a strong, well-knit figure, in dress and appearance more woodsman than soldier, with a clear, bold eye, and features that would have been good but for the ungainly proportions of the nose. He had passed his boyhood in the rough surroundings of a frontier village. Growing to manhood, he engaged in some occupation which, he says, led him to frequent journeyings in the wilderness between the French and English settlements, and gave him a good knowledge of both. It taught him also to speak a little French. He does not disclose the nature of this mysterious employment; but there can be little doubt that it was a smuggling trade with Canada. His character leaves much to be desired. He had been charged with forgery, or complicity in it, seems to have had no scruple in matters of business, and after the war was accused of treasonable dealings with the French and Spaniards in the west. He was ambitious and violent, yet able in more ways than one, by no means uneducated, and so skilled in woodcraft, so energetic and resolute, that his services were invaluable. In recounting his own adventures, his style is direct, simple, without boasting, and to all appearance without exaggeration. During the past summer he had raised a band of men, chiefly New Hampshire borderers, and made a series of daring excursions which gave him a prominent place in this hardy by-play of war. In the spring of the present year he raised another company, and was commissioned as its captain, with his brother Richard as his first lieutenant, and the intrepid John Stark as his second. In July still another company was formed, and Richard Rogers was promoted to command it. Before the following spring there were seven such; and more were afterwards added, forming a battalion dispersed on various service, but all under the orders of Robert Rogers, with the rank of major. These rangers wore a sort of woodland uniform, which varied in the different companies, and were armed with smooth-bore guns, loaded with buckshot, bullets, or sometimes both.
[Footnote 455: A large engraved portrait of him, nearly at full length, is before me, printed at London in 1776.]
[Footnote 456: Rogers, Journals, Introduction (1765).]
[Footnote 457: Provincial Papers of New Hampshire, VI. 364. Correspondence of Gage, 1766. N.Y. Col. Docs., VII. 990. Caleb Stark, Memoir and Correspondence of John Stark, 386.]
[Footnote 458: Rogers, Journals. Report of the Adjutant-General of New Hampshire (1866), II. 158, 159.]
The best of them were commonly employed on Lake George; and nothing can surpass the adventurous hardihood of their lives. Summer and winter, day and night, were alike to them. Embarked in whaleboats or birch-canoes, they glided under the silent moon or in the languid glare of a breathless August day, when islands floated in dreamy haze, and the hot air was thick with odors of the pine; or in the bright October, when the jay screamed from the woods, squirrels gathered their winter hoard, and congregated blackbirds chattered farewell to their summer haunts; when gay mountains basked in light, maples dropped leaves of rustling gold, sumachs glowed like rubies under the dark green of the unchanging spruce, and mossed rocks with all their painted plumage lay double in the watery mirror: that festal evening of the year, when jocund Nature disrobes herself, to wake again refreshed in the joy of her undying spring. Or, in the tomb-like silence of the winter forest, with breath frozen on his beard, the ranger strode on snow-shoes over the spotless drifts; and, like Duerer's knight, a ghastly death stalked ever at his side. There were those among them for whom this stern life had a fascination that made all other existence tame.
Rogers and his men had been in active movement since midwinter. In January they skated down Lake George, passed Ticonderoga, hid themselves by the forest-road between that post and Crown Point, intercepted two sledges loaded with provisions, and carried the drivers to Fort William Henry. In February they climbed a hill near Crown Point and made a plan of the works; then lay in ambush by the road from the fort to the neighboring village, captured a prisoner, burned houses and barns, killed fifty cattle, and returned without loss. At the end of the month they went again to Crown Point, burned more houses and barns, and reconnoitred Ticonderoga on the way back. Such excursions were repeated throughout the spring and summer. The reconnoissance of Ticonderoga and the catching of prisoners there for the sake of information were always capital objects. The valley, four miles in extent, that lay between the foot of Lake George and the French fort, was at this time guarded by four distinct outposts or fortified camps. Watched as it was at all points, and ranged incessantly by Indians in the employ of France, Rogers and his men knew every yard of the ground. On a morning in May he lay in ambush with eleven followers on a path between the fort and the nearest camp. A large body of soldiers passed; the rangers counted a hundred and eighteen, and lay close in their hiding-place. Soon after came a party of twenty-two. They fired on them, killed six, captured one, and escaped with him to Fort William Henry. In October Rogers was passing with twenty men in two whaleboats through the seeming solitude of the Narrows when a voice called to them out of the woods. It was that of Captain Shepherd, of the New Hampshire regiment, who had been captured two months before, and had lately made his escape. He told them that the French had the fullest information of the numbers and movements of the English; that letters often reached them from within the English lines; and that Lydius, a Dutch trader at Albany, was their principal correspondent. Arriving at Ticonderoga, Rogers cautiously approached the fort, till, about noon, he saw a sentinel on the road leading thence to the woods. Followed by five of his men, he walked directly towards him. The man challenged, and Rogers answered in French. Perplexed for a moment, the soldier suffered him to approach; till, seeing his mistake, he called out in amazement, "Qui etes vous?" "Rogers," was the answer; and the sentinel was seized, led in hot haste to the boats, and carried to the English fort, where he gave important information.
[Footnote 459: Letter and Order Books of Winslow. "One Lydiass ... whom we suspect for a French spy; he lives better than anybody, without any visible means, and his daughters have had often presents from Mr. Vaudreuil." Loudon (to Fox?), 19 Aug. 1756.]
An exploit of Rogers towards midsummer greatly perplexed the French. He embarked at the end of June with fifty men in five whaleboats, made light and strong, expressly for this service, rowed about ten miles down Lake George, landed on the east side, carried the boats six miles over a gorge of the mountains, launched them again in South Bay, and rowed down the narrow prolongation of Lake Champlain under cover of darkness. At dawn they were within six miles of Ticonderoga. They landed, hid their boats, and lay close all day. Embarking again in the evening, they rowed with muffled oars under the shadow of the eastern shore, and passed so close to the French fort that they heard the voices of the sentinels calling the watchword. In the morning they had left it five miles behind. Again they hid in the woods; and from their lurking-place saw bateaux passing, some northward, and some southward, along the narrow lake.
Crown Point was ten or twelve miles farther on. They tried to pass it after nightfall, but the sky was too clear and the stars too bright; and as they lay hidden the next day, nearly a hundred boats passed before them on the way to Ticonderoga. Some other boats which appeared about noon landed near them, and they watched the soldiers at dinner, within a musket-shot of their lurking-place. The next night was more favorable. They embarked at nine in the evening, passed Crown Point unseen, and hid themselves as before, ten miles below. It was the seventh of July. Thirty boats and a schooner passed them, returning towards Canada. On the next night they rowed fifteen miles farther, and then sent men to reconnoitre, who reported a schooner at anchor about a mile off. They were preparing to board her, when two sloops appeared, coming up the lake at but a short distance from the land. They gave them a volley, and called on them to surrender; but the crews put off in boats and made for the opposite shore. They followed and seized them. Out of twelve men their fire had killed three and wounded two, one of whom, says Rogers in his report, "could not march, therefore we put an end to him, to prevent discovery." They sank the vessels, which were laden with wine, brandy, and flour, hid their boats on the west shore, and returned on foot with their prisoners.
[Footnote 460: Report of Rogers to Sir William Johnson, July, 1756. This incident is suppressed in the printed Journals, which merely say that the man "soon died."]
[Footnote 461: Rogers, Journals, 20. Shirley to Fox, 26 July, 1756. "This afternoon Capt. Rogers came down with 4 scalps and 8 prisoners which he took on Lake Champlain, between 20 and 30 miles beyond Crown Point." Surgeon Williams to his Wife, 16 July, 1756.]
Some weeks after, Rogers returned to the place where he had left the boats, embarked in them, reconnoitred the lake nearly to St. John, hid them again eight miles north of Crown Point, took three prisoners near that post, and carried them to Fort William Henry. In the next month the French found several English boats in a small cove north of Crown Point. Bougainville propounds five different hypotheses to account for their being there; and exploring parties were sent out in the vain attempt to find some water passage by which they could have reached the spot without passing under the guns of two French forts.
[Footnote 462: Bougainville, Journal.]
The French, on their side, still kept their war-parties in motion, and Vaudreuil faithfully chronicled in his despatches every English scalp they brought in. He believed in Indians, and sent them to Ticonderoga in numbers that were sometimes embarrassing. Even Pottawattamies from Lake Michigan were prowling about Winslow's camp and silently killing his sentinels with arrows, while their "medicine men" remained at Ticonderoga practising sorcery and divination to aid the warriors or learn how it fared with them. Bougainville writes in his Journal on the fifteenth of October: "Yesterday the old Pottawattamies who have stayed here 'made medicine' to get news of their brethren. The lodge trembled, the sorcerer sweated drops of blood, and the devil came at last and told him that the warriors would come back with scalps and prisoners. A sorcerer in the medicine lodge is exactly like the Pythoness on the tripod or the witch Canidia invoking the shades." The diviner was not wholly at fault. Three days after, the warriors came back with a prisoner.
[Footnote 463: This kind of divination was practised by Algonkin tribes from the earliest times.]
Till November, the hostile forces continued to watch each other from the opposite ends of Lake George. Loudon repeated his orders to Winslow to keep the defensive, and wrote sarcastically to the Colonial Minister: "I think I shall be able to prevent the provincials doing anything very rash, without their having it in their power to talk in the language of this country that they could have taken all Canada if they had not been prevented by the King's servants." Winslow tried to console himself for the failure of the campaign, and wrote in his odd English to Shirley: "Am sorry that this years' performance has not succeeded as was intended; have only to say I pushed things to the utmost of my power to have been sooner in motion, which was the only thing that should have carried us to Crown Point; and though I am sensible that we are doing our duty in acting on the defensive, yet it makes no eclate [sic], and answers to little purpose in the eyes of my constituents."
On the first of the month the French began to move off towards Canada, and before many days Ticonderoga was left in the keeping of five or six companies. Winslow's men followed their example. Major Eyre, with four hundred regulars, took possession of Fort William Henry, and the provincials marched for home, their ranks thinned by camp diseases and small-pox. In Canada the regulars were quartered on the inhabitants, who took the infliction as a matter of course. In the English provinces the question was not so simple. Most of the British troops were assigned to Philadelphia, New York, and Boston; and Loudon demanded free quarters for them, according to usage then prevailing in England during war. Nor was the demand in itself unreasonable, seeing that the troops were sent over to fight the battles of the colonies. In Philadelphia lodgings were given them in the public-houses, which, however, could not hold them all. A long dispute followed between the Governor, who seconded Loudon's demand, and the Assembly, during which about half the soldiers lay on straw in outhouses and sheds till near midwinter, many sickening, and some dying from exposure. Loudon grew furious, and threatened, if shelter were not provided, to send Webb with another regiment and billet the whole on the inhabitants; on which the Assembly yielded, and quarters were found.
[Footnote 464: Bougainville, Journal. Malartic, Journal.]
[Footnote 465: Letter and Order Books of Winslow. Winslow to Halifax, 30 Dec. 1756.]
[Footnote 466: Loudon to Denny, 28 Oct. 1756. Colonial Records of Pa., VII. 358-380. Loudon to Pitt, 10 March, 1757. Notice of Colonel Bouquet, in Pennsylvania Magazine, III. 124. The Conduct of a Noble Commander in America impartially reviewed (1758).]
In New York the privates were quartered in barracks, but the officers were left to find lodging for themselves. Loudon demanded that provision should be made for them also. The city council hesitated, afraid of incensing the people if they complied. Cruger, the mayor, came to remonstrate. "God damn my blood!" replied the Earl; "if you do not billet my officers upon free quarters this day, I'll order here all the troops in North America, and billet them myself upon this city." Being no respecter of persons, at least in the provinces, he began with Oliver Delancey, brother of the late acting Governor, and sent six soldiers to lodge under his roof. Delancey swore at the unwelcome guests, on which Loudon sent him six more. A subscription was then raised among the citizens, and the required quarters were provided. In Boston there was for the present less trouble. The troops were lodged in the barracks of Castle William, and furnished with blankets, cooking utensils, and other necessaries.
[Footnote 467: Smith, Hist. of N.Y., Part II. 242. William Carry to Johnson, 15 Jan. 1757, in Stone, Life of Sir William Johnson, II. 24, note. Loudon to Hardy, 21 Nov. 1756.]
[Footnote 468: Massachusetts Archives, LXXVI. 153.]
Major Eyre and his soldiers, in their wilderness exile by the borders of Lake George, whiled the winter away with few other excitements than the evening howl of wolves from the frozen mountains, or some nocturnal savage shooting at a sentinel from behind a stump on the moonlit fields of snow. A livelier incident at last broke the monotony of their lives. In the middle of January Rogers came with his rangers from Fort Edward, bound on a scouting party towards Crown Point. They spent two days at Fort William Henry in making snow-shoes and other preparation, and set out on the seventeenth. Captain Spikeman was second in command, with Lieutenants Stark and Kennedy, several other subalterns, and two gentlemen volunteers enamoured of adventure. They marched down the frozen lake and encamped at the Narrows. Some of them, unaccustomed to snow-shoes, had become unfit for travel, and were sent back, thus reducing the number to seventy-four. In the morning they marched again, by icicled rocks and ice-bound waterfalls, mountains gray with naked woods and fir-trees bowed down with snow. On the nineteenth they reached the west shore, about four miles south of Rogers Rock, marched west of north eight miles, and bivouacked among the mountains. On the next morning they changed their course, marched east of north all day, passed Ticonderoga undiscovered, and stopped at night some five miles beyond it. The weather was changing, and rain was coming on. They scraped away the snow with their snow-shoes, piled in it a bank around them, made beds of spruce-boughs, built fires, and lay down to sleep, while the sentinels kept watch in the outer gloom. In the morning there was a drizzling rain, and the softened snow stuck to their snow-shoes. They marched eastward three miles through the dripping forest, til they reached the banks of Lake Champlain, near what is now called Five Mile Point, and presently saw a sledge, drawn by horses, moving on the ice from Ticonderoga towards Crown Point. Rogers sent Stark along the shore to the left to head it off, while he with another party, covered by the woods, moved in the opposite direction to stop its retreat. He soon saw eight or ten more sledges following the first, and sent a messenger to prevent Stark from showing himself too soon; but Stark was already on the ice.
All the sledges turned back in hot haste. The rangers ran in pursuit and captured three of them, with seven men and six horses, while the rest escaped to Ticonderoga. The prisoners, being separately examined, told an ominous tale. There were three hundred and fifty regulars at Ticonderoga; two hundred Canadians and forty-five Indians had lately arrived there, and more Indians were expected that evening,—all destined to waylay the communications between the English forts, and all prepared to march at a moment's notice. The rangers were now in great peril. The fugitives would give warning of their presence, and the French and Indians, in overwhelming force, would no doubt cut off their retreat.
Rogers at once ordered his men to return to their last night's encampment, rekindle the fires, and dry their guns, which were wet by the rain of the morning. Then they marched southward in single file through the snow-encumbered forest, Rogers and Kennedy in the front, Spikeman in the centre, and Stark in the rear. In this order they moved on over broken and difficult ground till two in the afternoon, when they came upon a valley, or hollow, scarcely a musket-shot wide, which ran across their line of march, and, like all the rest of the country, was buried in thick woods. The front of the line had descended the first hill, and was mounting that on the farther side, when the foremost men heard a low clicking sound, like the cocking of a great number of guns; and in an instant a furious volley blazed out of the bushes on the ridge above them. Kennedy was killed outright, as also was Gardner, one of the volunteers. Rogers was grazed in the head by a bullet, and others were disabled or hurt. The rest returned the fire, while a swarm of French and Indians rushed upon them from the ridge and the slopes on either hand, killing several more, Spikeman among the rest, and capturing others. The rangers fell back across the hollow and regained the hill they had just descended. Stark with the rear, who were at the top when the fray began, now kept the assailants in check by a brisk fire till their comrades joined them. Then the whole party, spreading themselves among the trees that covered the declivity, stubbornly held their ground and beat back the French in repeated attempts to dislodge them. As the assailants were more than two to one, what Rogers had most to dread was a movement to outflank him and get into his rear. This they tried twice, and were twice repulsed by a party held in reserve for the purpose. The fight lasted several hours, during which there was much talk between the combatants. The French called out that it was a pity so many brave men should be lost, that large reinforcements were expected every moment, and that the rangers would then be cut to pieces without mercy; whereas if they surrendered at once they should be treated with the utmost kindness. They called to Rogers by name, and expressed great esteem for him. Neither threats nor promises had any effect, and the firing went on till darkness stopped it. Towards evening Rogers was shot through the wrist; and one of the men, John Shute, used to tell in his old age how he saw another ranger trying to bind the captain's wound with the ribbon of his own queue.
As Ticonderoga was but three miles off, it was destruction to stay where they were; and they withdrew under cover of night, reduced to forty-eight effective and six wounded men. Fourteen had been killed, and six captured. Those that were left reached Lake George in the morning, and Stark, with two followers, pushed on in advance to bring a sledge for the wounded. The rest made their way to the Narrows, where they encamped, and presently descried a small dark object on the ice far behind them. It proved to be one of their own number, Sergeant Joshua Martin, who had received a severe wound in the fight, and was left for dead; but by desperate efforts had followed on their tracks, and was now brought to camp in a state of exhaustion. He recovered, and lived to an advanced age. The sledge sent by Stark came in the morning, and the whole party soon reached the fort. Abercromby, on hearing of the affair, sent them a letter of thanks for gallant conduct.
Rogers reckons the number of his assailants at about two hundred and fifty in all. Vaudreuil says that they consisted of eighty-nine regulars and ninety Canadians and Indians. With his usual boastful exaggeration, he declares that forty English were left dead on the field, and that only three reached Fort William Henry alive. He says that the fight was extremely hot and obstinate, and admits that the French lost thirty-seven killed and wounded. Rogers makes the number much greater. That it was considerable is certain, as Lusignan, commandant at Ticonderoga, wrote immediately for reinforcements.
[Footnote 469: Rogers, Journals, 38-44. Caleb Stark, Memoir and Correspondence of John Stark, 18, 412. Return of Killed, Wounded, and Missing in the Action near Ticonderoga, Jan. 1757; all the names are here given. James Abercromby, aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Abercromby, wrote to Rogers from Albany: "You cannot imagine how all ranks of people here are pleased with your conduct and your men's behavior."
The accounts of the French writers differ from each other, but agree in placing the English force at from seventy to eighty, and their own much higher. The principal report is that of Vaudreuil au Ministre, 19 Avril, 1757 (his second letter of this date). Bougainville, Montcalm, Malartic, and Montreuil all speak of the affair, placing the English loss much higher than is shown by the returns. The story, repeated in most of the French narratives, that only three of the rangers reached Fort William Henry, seems to have arisen from the fact that Stark with two men went thither in advance of the rest. As regards the antecedents of the combat, the French and English accounts agree.]
The effects of his wound and an attack of small-pox kept Rogers quiet for a time. Meanwhile the winter dragged slowly away, and the ice of Lake George, cracking with change of temperature, uttered its strange cry of agony, heralding that dismal season when winter begins to relax its grip, but spring still holds aloof; when the sap stirs in the sugar-maples, but the buds refuse to swell, and even the catkins of the willows will not burst their brown integuments; when the forest is patched with snow, though on its sunny slopes one hears in the stillness the whisper of trickling waters that ooze from the half-thawed soil and saturated beds of fallen leaves; when clouds hang low on the darkened mountains, and cold mists entangle themselves in the tops of the pines; now a dull rain, now a sharp morning frost, and now a storm of snow powdering the waste, and wrapping it again in the pall of winter.
In this cheerless season, on St. Patrick's Day, the seventeenth of March, the Irish soldiers who formed a part of the garrison of Fort William Henry were paying homage to their patron saint in libations of heretic rum, the product of New England stills; and it is said that John Stark's rangers forgot theological differences in their zeal to share the festivity. The story adds that they were restrained by their commander, and that their enforced sobriety proved the saving of the fort. This may be doubted; for without counting the English soldiers of the garrison who had no special call to be drunk that day, the fort was in no danger till twenty-four hours after, when the revellers had had time to rally from their pious carouse. Whether rangers or British soldiers, it is certain that watchmen were on the alert during the night between the eighteenth and nineteenth, and that towards one in the morning they heard a sound of axes far down the lake, followed by the faint glow of a distant fire. The inference was plain, that an enemy was there, and that the necessity of warming himself had overcome his caution. Then all was still for some two hours, when, listening in the pitchy darkness, the watchers heard the footsteps of a great body of men approaching on the ice, which at the time was bare of snow. The garrison were at their posts, and all the cannon on the side towards the lake vomited grape and round-shot in the direction of the sound, which thereafter was heard no more.
Those who made it were a detachment, called by Vaudreuil an army, sent by him to seize the English fort. Shirley had planned a similar stroke against Ticonderoga a year before; but the provincial levies had come in so slowly, and the ice had broken up so soon, that the scheme was abandoned. Vaudreuil was more fortunate. The whole force, regulars, Canadians, and Indians, was ready to his hand. No pains were spared in equipping them. Overcoats, blankets, bear-skins to sleep on, tarpaulins to sleep under, spare moccasons, spare mittens, kettles, axes, needles, awls, flint and steel, and many miscellaneous articles were provided, to be dragged by the men on light Indian sledges, along with provisions for twelve days. The cost of the expedition is set at a million francs, answering to more than as many dollars of the present time. To the disgust of the officers from France, the Governor named his brother Rigaud for the chief command; and before the end of February the whole party was on its march along the ice of Lake Champlain. They rested nearly a week at Ticonderoga, where no less than three hundred short scaling-ladders, so constructed that two or more could be joined in one, had been made for them; and here, too, they received a reinforcement, which raised their number to sixteen hundred. Then, marching three days along Lake George, they neared the fort on the evening of the eighteenth, and prepared for a general assault before daybreak.
The garrison, including rangers, consisted of three hundred and forty-six effective men. The fort was not strong, and a resolute assault by numbers so superior must, it seems, have overpowered the defenders; but the Canadians and Indians who composed most of the attacking force were not suited for such work; and, disappointed in his hope of a surprise, Rigaud withdrew them at daybreak, after trying in vain to burn the buildings outside. A few hours after, the whole body reappeared, filing off to surround the fort, on which they kept up a brisk but harmless fire of musketry. In the night they were heard again on the ice, approaching as if for an assault; and the cannon, firing towards the sound, again drove them back. There was silence for a while, till tongues of flame lighted up the gloom, and two sloops, ice-bound in the lake, and a large number of bateaux on the shore were seen to be on fire. A party sallied to save them; but it was too late. In the morning they were all consumed, and the enemy had vanished.
[Footnote 470: Strength of the Garrison of Fort William Henry when the Enemy came before it, enclosed in the letter of Major Eyre to Loudon, 26 March, 1757. There were also one hundred and twenty-eight invalids.]
It was Sunday, the twentieth. Everything was quiet till noon, when the French filed out of the woods and marched across the ice in procession, ostentatiously carrying their scaling-ladders, and showing themselves to the best effect. They stopped at a safe distance, fronting towards the fort, and several of them advanced, waving a red flag. An officer with a few men went to meet them, and returned bringing Le Mercier, chief of the Canadian artillery, who, being led blindfold into the fort, announced himself as bearer of a message from Rigaud. He was conducted to the room of Major Eyre, where all the British officers were assembled; and, after mutual compliments, he invited them to give up the place peaceably, promising the most favorable terms, and threatening a general assault and massacre in case of refusal. Eyre said that he should defend himself to the last; and the envoy, again blindfolded, was led back to whence he came.
The whole French force now advanced as if to storm the works, and the garrison prepared to receive them. Nothing came of it but a fusillade, to which the British made no reply. At night the French were heard advancing again, and each man nerved himself for the crisis. The real attack, however, was not against the fort, but against the buildings outside, which consisted of several storehouses, a hospital, a saw-mill, and the huts of the rangers, besides a sloop on the stocks and piles of planks and cord-wood. Covered by the night, the assailants crept up with fagots of resinous sticks, placed them against the farther side of the buildings, kindled them, and escaped before the flame rose; while the garrison, straining their ears in the thick darkness, fired wherever they heard a sound. Before morning all around them was in a blaze, and they had much ado to save the fort barracks from the shower of burning cinders. At ten o'clock the fires had subsided, and a thick fall of snow began, filling the air with a restless chaos of large moist flakes. This lasted all day and all the next night, till the ground and the ice were covered to a depth of three feet and more. The French lay close in their camps till a little before dawn on Tuesday morning, when twenty volunteers from the regulars made a bold attempt to burn the sloop on the stocks, with several storehouses and other structures, and several hundred scows and whaleboats which had thus far escaped. They were only in part successful; but they fired the sloop and some buildings near it, and stood far out on the ice watching the flaming vessel, a superb bonfire amid the wilderness of snow. The spectacle cost the volunteers a fourth of their number killed and wounded.
On Wednesday morning the sun rose bright on a scene of wintry splendor, and the frozen lake was dotted with Rigaud's retreating followers toiling towards Canada on snow-shoes. Before they reached it many of them were blinded for a while by the insufferable glare, and their comrades led them homewards by the hand.
[Footnote 471: Eyre to Loudon, 24 March, 1757. Ibid., 25 March, enclosed in Loudon's despatch of 25 April, 1757. Message of Rigaud to Major Eyre, 20 March, 1757. Letter from Fort William Henry, 26 March, 1757, in Boston Gazette, No. 106, and Boston Evening Post, No. 1,128. Abstract of Letters from Albany, in Boston News Letter, No. 2,860. Caleb Stark, Memoir and Correspondence of John Stark, 22, a curious mixture of truth and error. Relation de la Campagne sur le Lac St. Sacrement pendant l'Hiver, 1757. Bougainville, Journal. Malartic, Journal. Montcalm au Ministre, 24 Avril, 1757. Montreuil au Ministre, 23 Avril, 1757. Montcalm a sa Mere, 1 Avril, 1757. Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.
The French loss in killed and wounded is set by Montcalm at eleven. That of the English was seven, slightly wounded, chiefly in sorties. They took three prisoners. Stark was touched by a bullet, for the only time in his adventurous life.]
Montcalm and Vaudreuil
Spring came at last, and the Dutch burghers of Albany heard, faint from the far height, the clamor of the wild-fowl, streaming in long files northward to their summer home. As the aerial travellers winged their way, the seat of war lay spread beneath them like a map. First the blue Hudson, slumbering among its forests, with the forts along its banks, Half-Moon, Stillwater, Saratoga, and the geometric lines and earthen mounds of Fort Edward. Then a broad belt of dingy evergreen; and beyond, released from wintry fetters, the glistening breast of Lake George, with Fort William Henry at its side, amid charred ruins and a desolation of prostrate forests. Hence the lake stretched northward, like some broad river, trenched between mountain ranges still leafless and gray. Then they looked down on Ticonderoga, with the flag of the Bourbons, like a flickering white speck, waving on its ramparts; and next on Crown Point with its tower of stone. Lake Champlain now spread before them, widening as they flew: on the left, the mountain wilderness of the Adirondacks, like a stormy sea congealed; on the right, the long procession of the Green Mountains; and, far beyond, on the dim verge of the eastern sky, the White Mountains throned in savage solitude. They passed over the bastioned square of Fort St. John, Fort Chambly guarding the rapids of the Richelieu, and the broad belt of the St. Lawrence, with Montreal seated on its bank. Here we leave them, to build their nests and hatch their brood among the fens of the lonely North.
Montreal, the military heart of Canada, was in the past winter its social centre also, where were gathered conspicuous representatives both of Old France and of New; not men only, but women. It was a sparkling fragment of the reign of Louis XV. dropped into the American wilderness. Montcalm was here with his staff and his chief officers, now pondering schemes of war, and now turning in thought to his beloved Chateau of Candiac, his mother, children, and wife, to whom he sent letters with every opportunity. To his wife he writes: "Think of me affectionately; give love to my girls. I hope next year I may be with you all. I love you tenderly, dearest." He says that he has sent her a packet of marten-skins for a muff, "and another time I shall send some to our daughter; but I should like better to bring them myself." Of this eldest daughter he writes in reply to a letter of domestic news from Madame de Montcalm: "The new gown with blonde trimmings must be becoming, for she is pretty." Again, "There is not an hour in the day when I do not think of you, my mother and my children." He had the tastes of a country gentleman, and was eager to know all that was passing on his estate. Before leaving home he had set up a mill to grind olives for oil, and was well pleased to hear of its prosperity. "It seems to be a good thing, which pleases me very much. Bougainville and I talk a great deal about the oil-mill." Some time after, when the King sent him the coveted decoration of the cordon rouge, he informed Madame de Montcalm of the honor done him, and added: "But I think I am better pleased with what you tell me of the success of my oil-mill."
To his mother he writes of his absorbing occupations, and says: "You can tell my dearest that I have no time to occupy myself with the ladies, even if I wished to." Nevertheless he now and then found leisure for some little solace in his banishment; for he writes to Bourlamaque, whom he had left at Quebec, after a visit which he had himself made there early in the winter: "I am glad you sometimes speak of me to the three ladies in the Rue du Parloir; and I am flattered by their remembrance, especially by that of one of them, in whom I find at certain moments too much wit and too many charms for my tranquillity." These ladies of the Rue du Parloir are several times mentioned in his familiar correspondence with Bourlamaque.
His station obliged him to maintain a high standard of living, to his great financial detriment, for Canadian prices were inordinate. "I must live creditably, and so I do; sixteen persons at table every day. Once a fortnight I dine with the Governor-General and with the Chevalier de Levis, who lives well too. He has given three grand balls. As for me, up to Lent I gave, besides dinners, great suppers, with ladies, three times a week. They lasted till two in the morning; and then there was dancing, to which company came uninvited, but sure of a welcome from those who had been at supper. It is very expensive, not very amusing, and often tedious. At Quebec, where we spent a month, I gave receptions or parties, often at the Intendant's house. I like my gallant Chevalier de Levis very much. Bourlamaque was a good choice; he is steady and cool, with good parts. Bougainville has talent, a warm head, and warm heart; he will ripen in time. Write to Madame Cornier that I like her husband; he is perfectly well, and as impatient for peace as I am. Love to my daughters, and all affection and respect to my mother. I live only in the hope of joining you all again. Nevertheless, Montreal is as good a place as Alais even in time of peace, and better now, because the Government is here; for the Marquis de Vaudreuil, like me, spent only a month at Quebec. As for Quebec, it is as good as the best cities of France, except ten or so. Clear sky, bright sun; neither spring nor autumn, only summer and winter. July, August, and September, hot as in Languedoc: winter insupportable; one must keep always indoors. The ladies spirituelles, galantes, devotes. Gambling at Quebec, dancing and conversation at Montreal. My friends the Indians, who are often unbearable, and whom I treat with perfect tranquillity and patience, are fond of me. If I were not a sort of general, though very subordinate to the Governor, I could gossip about the plans of the campaign, which it is likely will begin on the tenth or fifteenth of May. I worked at the plan of the last affair [Rigaud's expedition to Fort William Henry], which might have turned out better, though good as it was. I wanted only eight hundred men. If I had had my way, Monsieur de Levis or Monsieur de Bougainville would have had charge of it. However, the thing was all right, and in good hands. The Governor, who is extremely civil to me, gave it to his brother; he thought him more used to winter marches. Adieu, my heart; I adore and love you!"
To meet his manifold social needs, he sends to his wife orders for prunes, olives, anchovies, muscat wine, capers, sausages, confectionery, cloth for liveries, and many other such items; also for scent-bags of two kinds, and perfumed pomatum for presents; closing in postscript with an injunction not to forget a dozen pint-bottles of English lavender. Some months after, he writes to Madame de Saint-Veran: "I have got everything that was sent me from Montpellier except the sausages. I have lost a third of what was sent from Bordeaux. The English captured it on board the ship called 'La Superbe;' and I have reason to fear that everything sent from Paris is lost on board 'La Liberte.' I am running into debt here. Pshaw! I must live. I do not worry myself. Best love to you, my mother."
When Rigaud was about to march with his detachment against Fort William Henry, Montcalm went over to La Prairie to see them. "I reviewed them," he writes to Bourlamaque, "and gave the officers a dinner, which, if anybody else had given it, I should have said was a grand affair. There were two tables, for thirty-six persons in all. On Wednesday there was an Assembly at Madame Varin's; on Friday the Chevalier de Levis gave a ball. He invited sixty-five ladies, and got only thirty, with a great crowd of men. Rooms well lighted, excellent order, excellent service, plenty of refreshments of every sort all through the night; and the company stayed till seven in the morning. As for me, I went to bed early. I had had that day eight ladies at a supper given to Madame Varin. To-morrow I shall have half-a-dozen at another supper, given to I don't know whom, but incline to think it will be La Roche Beaucour. The gallant Chevalier is to give us still another ball."
Lent put a check on these festivities. "To-morrow," he tells Bourlamaque, "I shall throw myself into devotion with might and main (a corps perdu). It will be easier for me to detach myself from the world and turn heavenward here at Montreal than it would be at Quebec." And, some time after, "Bougainville spent Monday delightfully at Isle Ste. Helene, and Tuesday devoutly with the Sulpitian Fathers at the Mountain. I was there myself at four o'clock, and did them the civility to sup in their refectory at a quarter before six."
In May there was a complete revival of social pleasures, and Montcalm wrote to Bourlamaque: "Madame de Beaubassin's supper was very gay. There were toasts to the Rue du Parloir and to the General. To-day I must give a dinner to Madame de Saint-Ours, which will be a little more serious. Pean is gone to establish himself at La Chine, and will come back with La Barolon, who goes thither with a husband of hers, bound to the Ohio with Villejoin and Louvigny. The Chevalier de Levis amuses himself very much here. He and his friends spend all their time with Madame de Lenisse."
Under these gayeties and gallantries there were bitter heart-burnings. Montcalm hints at some of them in a letter to Bourlamaque, written at the time of the expedition to Fort William Henry, which, in the words of Montcalm, who would have preferred another commander, the Governor had ordered to march "under the banners of brother Rigaud." "After he got my letter on Sunday evening," says the disappointed General, "Monsieur de Vaudreuil sent me his secretary with the instructions he had given his brother," which he had hitherto withheld. "This gave rise after dinner to a long conversation with him; and I hope for the good of the service that his future conduct will prove the truth of his words. I spoke to him with frankness and firmness of the necessity I was under of communicating to him my reflections; but I did not name any of the persons who, to gain his good graces, busy themselves with destroying his confidence in me. I told him that he would always find me disposed to aid in measures tending to our success, even should his views, which always ought to prevail, be different from mine; but that I dared flatter myself that he would henceforward communicate his plans to me sooner; for, though his knowledge of the country gave greater weight to his opinions, he might rest satisfied that I should second him in methods and details. This explanation passed off becomingly enough, and ended with a proposal to dine on a moose's nose [an estimed morsel] the day after to-morrow. I burn your letters, Monsieur, and I beg you to do the same with mine, after making a note of anything you may want to keep." But Bourlamaque kept all the letters, and bound them in a volume, which still exists.
[Footnote 472: The preceding extracts are from Lettres de Montcalm a Madame de Saint-Veran, sa Mere, et a Madame de Montcalm, sa Femme, 1756, 1757 (Papiers de Famille); and Lettres de Montcalm a Bourlamaque, 1757. See Appendix E.]
Montcalm was not at this time fully aware of the feeling of Vaudreuil towards him. The touchy egotism of the Governor and his jealous attachment to the colony led him to claim for himself and the Canadians the merit of every achievement and to deny it to the French troops and their general. Before the capture of Oswego was known, he wrote to the naval minister that Montcalm would never have dared attack that place if he had not encouraged him and answered his timid objections. "I am confident that I shall reduce it," he adds; "my expedition is sure to succeed if Monsieur de Montcalm follows the directions I have given him." When the good news came he immediately wrote again, declaring that the victory was due to his brother Rigaud and the Canadians, who, he says, had been ill-used by the General, and not allowed either to enter the fort or share the plunder, any more than the Indians, who were so angry at the treatment they had met that he had great difficulty in appeasing them. He hints that the success was generally ascribed to him. "There has been a great deal of talk here; but I will not do myself the honor of repeating it to you, especially as it relates to myself. I know how to do violence to my self-love. The measures I took assured our victory, in spite of opposition. If I had been less vigilant and firm, Oswego would still be in the hands of the English. I cannot sufficiently congratulate myself on the zeal which my brother and the Canadians and Indians showed on this occasion; for without them my orders would have been given in vain. The hopes of His Britannic Majesty have vanished, and will hardly revive again; for I shall take care to crush them in the bud."
[Footnote 473: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 13 Aout, 1756.]
[Footnote 474: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 1 Sept. 1756.]
The pronouns "I" and "my" recur with monotonous frequency in his correspondence. "I have laid waste all the British provinces." "By promptly uniting my forces at Carillon, I have kept General Loudon in check, though he had at his disposal an army of about twenty thousand men;" and so without end, in all varieties of repetition. It is no less characteristic that he here assigns to his enemies double their actual force.
[Footnote 475: Ibid., 6 Nov. 1756.]
He has the faintest of praise for the troops from France. "They are generally good, but thus far they have not absolutely distinguished themselves. I do justice to the firmness they showed at Oswego; but it was only the colony troops, Canadians, and Indians who attacked the forts. Our artillery was directed by the Chevalier Le Mercier and M. Fremont [colony officers], and was served by our colony troops and our militia. The officers from France are more inclined to defence than attack. Far from spending the least thing here, they lay by their pay. They saved the money allowed them for refreshments, and had it in pocket at the end of the campaign. They get a profit, too, out of their provisions, by having certificates made under borrowed names, so that they can draw cash for them on their return. It is the same with the soldiers, who also sell their provisions to the King and get paid for them. In conjunction with M. Bigot, I labor to remedy all these abuses; and the rules we have established have saved the King a considerable expense. M. de Montcalm has complained very much of these rules." The Intendant Bigot, who here appears as a reformer, was the centre of a monstrous system of public fraud and robbery; while the charges against the French officers are unsupported. Vaudreuil, who never loses an opportunity of disparaging them, proceeds thus:—
"The troops from France are not on very good terms with our Canadians. What can the soldiers think of them when they see their officers threaten them with sticks or swords? The Canadians are obliged to carry these gentry on their shoulders, through the cold water, over rocks that cut their feet; and if they make a false step they are abused. Can anything be harder? Finally, Monsieur de Montcalm is so quick-tempered that he goes to the length of striking the Canadians. How can he restrain his officers when he cannot restrain himself? Could any example be more contagious? This is the way our Canadians are treated. They deserve something better." He then enlarges on their zeal, hardihood, and bravery, and adds that nothing but their blind submission to his commands prevents many of them from showing resentment at the usage they had to endure. The Indians, he goes on to say, are not so gentle and yielding; and but for his brother Rigaud and himself, might have gone off in a rage. "After the campaign of Oswego they did not hesitate to tell me that they would go wherever I sent them, provided I did not put them under the orders of M. de Montcalm. They told me positively that they could not bear his quick temper. I shall always maintain the most perfect union and understanding with M. le Marquis de Montcalm, but I shall be forced to take measures which will assure to our Canadians and Indians treatment such as their zeal and services merit."
[Footnote 476: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 23 Oct. 1756. The above extracts are somewhat condensed in the translation. See the letter in Dussieux, 279.]
To the subject of his complaints Vaudreuil used a different language; for Montcalm says, after mentioning that he had had occasion to punish some of the Canadians at Oswego: "I must do Monsieur de Vaudreuil the justice to say that he approved my proceedings." He treated the General with the blandest politeness. "He is a good-natured man," continues Montcalm, "mild, with no character of his own, surrounded by people who try to destroy all his confidence in the general of the troops from France. I am praised excessively, in order to make him jealous, excite his Canadian prejudices, and prevent him from dealing with me frankly, or adopting my views when he can help it." He elsewhere complains that Vaudreuil gave to both him and Levis orders couched in such equivocal terms that he could throw the blame on them in case of reverse. Montcalm liked the militia no better than the Governor liked the regulars. "I have used them with good effect, though not in places exposed to the enemy's fire. They know neither discipline nor subordination, and think themselves in all respects the first nation on earth." He is sure, however, that they like him: "I have gained the utmost confidence of the Canadians and Indians; and in the eyes of the former, when I travel or visit their camps, I have the air of a tribune of the people." "The affection of the Indians for me is so strong that there are moments when it astonishes the Governor." "The Indians are delighted with me," he says in another letter; "the Canadians are pleased with me; their officers esteem and fear me, and would be glad if the French troops and their general could be dispensed with; and so should I." And he writes to his mother: "The part I have to play is unique: I am a general-in-chief subordinated; sometimes with everything to do, and sometimes nothing; I am esteemed, respected, beloved, envied, hated; I pass for proud, supple, stiff, yielding, polite, devout, gallant, etc.; and I long for peace."
[Footnote 477: Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, 11 Juillet, 1757.]
[Footnote 478: Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, 1 Nov. 1756.]
[Footnote 479: Ibid., 18 Sept. 1757.]
[Footnote 480: Ibid., 4 Nov. 1757.]
[Footnote 481: Ibid., 28 Aout, 1756.]
[Footnote 482: Montcalm a Madame de Saint-Veran, 23 Sept. 1757.]
The letters of the Governor and those of the General, it will be seen, contradict each other flatly at several points. Montcalm is sustained by his friend Bougainville, who says that the Indians had a great liking for him, and that he "knew how to manage them as well as if he had been born in their wigwams." And while Vaudreuil complains that the Canadians are ill-used by Montcalm, Bougainville declares that the regulars are ill-used by Vaudreuil. "One must be blind not to see that we are treated as the Spartans treated the Helots." Then he comments on the jealous reticence of the Governor. "The Marquis de Montcalm has not the honor of being consulted; and it is generally through public rumor that he first hears of Monsieur de Vaudreuil's military plans." He calls the Governor "a timid man, who can neither make a resolution nor keep one;" and he gives another trait of him, illustrating it, after his usual way, by a parallel from the classics: "When V. produces an idea he falls in love with it, as Pygmalion did with his statue. I can forgive Pygmalion, for what he produced was a masterpiece."
[Footnote 483: Bougainville a Saint-Laurens, 19 Aout, 1757.]
[Footnote 484: Bougainville, Journal.]
The exceeding touchiness of the Governor was sorely tried by certain indiscretions on the part of the General, who in his rapid and vehement utterances sometimes forgot the rules of prudence. His anger, though not deep, was extremely impetuous; and it is said that his irritation against Vaudreuil sometimes found escape in the presence of servants and soldiers. There was no lack of reporters, and the Governor was told everything. The breach widened apace, and Canada divided itself into two camps: that of Vaudreuil with the colony officers, civil and military, and that of Montcalm with the officers from France. The principal exception was the Chevalier de Levis. This brave and able commander had an easy and adaptable nature, which made him a sort of connecting link between the two parties. "One should be on good terms with everybody," was a maxim which he sometimes expressed, and on which he shaped his conduct with notable success. The Intendant Bigot also, an adroit and accomplished person, had the skill to avoid breaking with either side.
[Footnote 485: Evenements de la Guerre en Canada, 1759, 1760.]
But now the season of action was near, and domestic strife must give place to efforts against the common foe. "God or devil!" Montcalm wrote to Bourlamaque, "we must do something and risk a fight. If we succeed, we can, all three of us [you, Levis, and I], ask for promotion. Burn this letter." The prospects, on the whole, were hopeful. The victory at Oswego had wrought marvels among the Indians, inspired the faithful, confirmed the wavering, and daunted the ill-disposed. The whole West was astir, ready to pour itself again in blood and fire against the English border; and even the Cherokees and Choctaws, old friends of the British colonies, seemed on the point of turning against them. The Five Nations were half won for France. In November a large deputation of them came to renew the chain of friendship at Montreal. "I have laid Oswego in ashes," said Vaudreuil; "the English quail before me. Why do you nourish serpents in your bosom? They mean only to enslave you." The deputies trampled under foot the medals the English had given them, and promised the "Devourer of Villages," for so they styled the Governor, that they would never more lift the hatchet against his children. The chief difficulty was to get rid of them; for, being clothed and fed at the expense of the King, they were in no haste to take leave; and learning that New Year's Day was a time of visits, gifts, and health-drinking, they declared that they would stay to share its pleasures; which they did, to their own satisfaction and the annoyance of those who were forced to entertain them and their squaws. An active siding with France was to be expected only from the western bands of the Confederacy. Neutrality alone could be hoped for from the others, who were too near the English safely to declare against them; while from one of the tribes, the Mohawks, even neutrality was doubtful.
[Footnote 486: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 19 Avril, 1757.]
[Footnote 487: Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, 24 Avril, 1757; Relation de l'Ambassade des Cinq Nations a Montreal, jointe a la lettre precedente. Proces-verbal de differentes Entrevues entre M. de Vaudreuil et les Deputes des Nations sauvages du 13 au 30 Dec. 1756. Malartic, Journal. Montcalm a Madame de Saint-Veran, 1 Avril, 1757.]
Vaudreuil, while disliking the French regulars, felt that he could not dispense with them, and had asked for a reinforcement. His request was granted; and the Colonial Minister informed him that twenty-four hundred men had been ordered to Canada to strengthen the colony regulars and the battalions of Montcalm. This, according to the estimate of the Minister, would raise the regular force in Canada to sixty-six hundred rank and file. The announcement was followed by another, less agreeable. It was to the effect that a formidable squadron was fitting out in British ports. Was Quebec to be attacked, or Louisbourg? Louisbourg was beyond reach of succor from Canada; it must rely on its own strength and on help from France. But so long as Quebec was threatened, all the troops in the colony must be held ready to defend it, and the hope of attacking England in her own domains must be abandoned. Till these doubts were solved, nothing could be done; and hence great activity in catching prisoners for the sake of news. A few were brought in, but they knew no more of the matter than the French themselves; and Vaudreuil and Montcalm rested for a while in suspense.
[Footnote 488: Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres, Mars, 1757.]
[Footnote 489: Ministerial Minute on the Military Force in Canada, 1757, in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 523.]
The truth, had they known it, would have gladdened their hearts. The English preparations were aimed at Louisbourg. In the autumn before, Loudon, prejudiced against all plans of his predecessor, Shirley, proposed to the Ministry a scheme of his own, involving a possible attack on Quebec, but with the reduction of Louisbourg as its immediate object,—an important object, no doubt, but one that had no direct bearing on the main question of controlling the interior of the continent. Pitt, then for a brief space at the head of the Government, accepted the suggestion, and set himself to executing it; but he was hampered by opposition, and early in April was forced to resign. Then, followed a contest of rival claimants to office; and the war against France was made subordinate to disputes of personal politics. Meanwhile one Florence Hensey, a spy at London, had informed the French Court that a great armament was fitting out for America, though he could not tell its precise destination. Without loss of time three French squadrons were sent across the Atlantic, with orders to rendezvous at Louisbourg, the conjectured point of attack.
The English were as tardy as their enemies were prompt. Everything depended on speed; yet their fleet, under Admiral Holbourne, consisting of fifteen ships of the line and three frigates, with about five thousand troops on board, did not get to sea till the fifth of May, when it made sail for Halifax, where Loudon was to meet it with additional forces.
Loudon had drawn off the best part of the troops from the northern frontier, and they were now at New York waiting for embarkation. That the design might be kept secret, he laid an embargo on colonial shipping,—a measure which exasperated the colonists without answering its purpose. Now ensued a long delay, during which the troops, the provincial levies, the transports destined to carry them, and the ships of war which were to serve as escort, all lay idle. In the interval Loudon showed great activity in writing despatches and other avocations more or less proper to a commander, being always busy, without, according to Franklin, accomplishing anything. One Innis, who had come with a message from the Governor of Pennsylvania, and had waited above a fortnight for the General's reply, remarked of him that he was like St. George on a tavern sign, always on horseback, and never riding on. Yet nobody longed more than he to reach the rendezvous at Halifax. He was waiting for news of Holbourne, and he waited in vain. He knew only that a French fleet had been seen off the coast strong enough to overpower his escort and sink all his transports. But the season was growing late; he must act quickly if he was to act at all. He and Sir Charles Hardy agreed between them that the risk must be run; and on the twentieth of June the whole force put to sea. They met no enemy, and entered Halifax harbor on the thirtieth. Holbourne and his fleet had not yet appeared; but his ships soon came straggling in, and before the tenth of July all were at anchor before the town. Then there was more delay. The troops, nearly twelve thousand in all, were landed, and weeks were spent in drilling them and planting vegetables for their refreshment. Sir Charles Hay was put under arrest for saying that the nation's money was spent in sham battles and raising cabbages. Some attempts were made to learn the state of Louisbourg; and Captain Gorham, of the rangers, who reconnoitred it from a fishing vessel, brought back an imperfect report, upon which, after some hesitation, it was resolved to proceed to the attack. The troops were embarked again, and all was ready, when, on the fourth of August, a sloop came from Newfoundland, bringing letters found on board a French vessel lately captured. From these it appeared that all three of the French squadrons were united in the harbor of Louisbourg, to the number of twenty-two ships of the line, besides several frigates, and that the garrison had been increased to a total force of seven thousand men, ensconced in the strongest fortress of the continent. So far as concerned the naval force, the account was true. La Motte, the French admiral, had with him a fleet carrying an aggregate of thirteen hundred and sixty cannon, anchored in a sheltered harbor under the guns of the town. Success was now hopeless, and the costly enterprise was at once abandoned. Loudon with his troops sailed back for New York, and Admiral Holbourne, who had been joined by four additional ships, steered for Louisbourg, in hopes that the French fleet would come out and fight him. He cruised off the port; but La Motte did not accept the challenge.
[Footnote 490: Works of Franklin, I. 219. Franklin intimates that while Loudon was constantly writing, he rarely sent off despatches. This is a mistake; there is abundance of them, often tediously long, in the Public Record Office.]
[Footnote 491: Loudon to Pitt, 30 May, 1757. He had not learned Pitt's resignation.]
The elements declared for France. A September gale, of fury rare even on that tempestuous coast, burst upon the British fleet. "It blew a perfect hurricane," says the unfortunate Admiral, "and drove us right on shore." One ship was dashed on the rocks, two leagues from Louisbourg. A shifting of the wind in the nick of time saved the rest from total wreck. Nine were dismasted; others threw their cannon into the sea. Not one was left fit for immediate action; and had La Motte sailed out of Louisbourg, he would have had them all at his mercy.
Delay, the source of most of the disasters that befell England and her colonies at this dismal epoch, was the ruin of the Louisbourg expedition. The greater part of La Motte's fleet reached its destination a full month before that of Holbourne. Had the reverse taken place, the fortress must have fallen. As it was, the ill-starred attempt, drawing off the British forces from the frontier, where they were needed most, did for France more than she could have done for herself, and gave Montcalm and Vaudreuil the opportunity to execute a scheme which they had nursed since the fall of Oswego.
[Footnote 492: Despatches of Loudon, Feb. to Aug. 1757. Knox, Campaigns in North America, I. 6-28. Knox was in the expedition. Review of Mr. Pitt's Administration (London, 1763). The Conduct of a Noble Commander in America impartially reviewed (London, 1758). Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs, II. 49-59. Answer to the Letter to two Great Men (London, 1760). Entick, II. 168, 169. Holbourne to Loudon, 4 Aug. 1757. Holbourne to Pitt, 29 Sept. 1757. Ibid., 30 Sept. 1757. Holbourne to Pownall, 2 Nov. 1757. Mante, 86, 97. Relation du Desastre arrive a la Flotte Anglaise commandee par l'Amiral Holbourne. Chevalier Johnstone, Campaign of Louisbourg. London Magazine, 1757, 514. Gentleman's Magazine, 1757, 463, 476. Ibid., 1758, 168-173.
It has been said that Loudon was scared from his task by false reports of the strength of the French at Louisbourg. This was not the case. The Gazette de France, 621, says that La Motte had twenty-four ships of war. Bougainville says that as early as the ninth of June there were twenty-one ships of war, including five frigates, at Louisbourg. To this the list given by Knox closely answers.]
Fort William Henry
"I am going on the ninth to sing the war-song at the Lake of Two Mountains, and on the next day at Saut St. Louis,—a long, tiresome, ceremony. On the twelfth I am off; and I count on having news to tell you by the end of this month or the beginning of next." Thus Montcalm wrote to his wife from Montreal early in July. All doubts had been solved. Prisoners taken on the Hudson and despatches from Versailles had made it certain that Loudon was bound to Louisbourg, carrying with him the best of the troops that had guarded the New York frontier. The time was come, not only to strike the English on Lake George, but perhaps to seize Fort Edward and carry terror to Albany itself. Only one difficulty remained, the want of provisions. Agents were sent to collect corn and bacon among the inhabitants; the cures and militia captains were ordered to aid in the work; and enough was presently found to feed twelve thousand men for a month.
[Footnote 493: Vaudreuil, Lettres circulates aux Cures et aux Capitaines de Milice des Paroisses du Gouvernement de Montreal, 16 Juin, 1757.]
The emissaries of the Governor had been busy all winter among the tribes of the West and North; and more than a thousand savages, lured by prospect of gifts, scalps, and plunder, were now encamped at Montreal. Many of them had never visited a French settlement before. All were eager to see Montcalm, whose exploit in taking Oswego had inflamed their imagination; and one day, on a visit of ceremony, an orator from Michillimackinac addressed the General thus: "We wanted to see this famous man who tramples the English under his feet. We thought we should find him so tall that his head would be lost in the clouds. But you are a little man, my Father. It is when we look into your eyes that we see the greatness of the pine-tree and the fire of the eagle."
[Footnote 494: Bougainville, Journal.]
It remained to muster the Mission Indians settled in or near the limits of the colony; and it was to this end that Montcalm went to sing the war-song with the converts of the Two Mountains. Rigaud, Bougainville, young Longueuil, and others were of the party; and when they landed, the Indians came down to the shore, their priests at their head, and greeted the General with a volley of musketry; then received him after dark in their grand council-lodge, where the circle of wild and savage visages, half seen in the dim light of a few candles, suggested to Bougainville a midnight conclave of wizards. He acted vicariously the chief part in the ceremony. "I sang the war-song in the name of M. de Montcalm, and was much applauded. It was nothing but these words: 'Let us trample the English under our feet,' chanted over and over again, in cadence with the movements of the savages." Then came the war-feast, against which occasion Montcalm had caused three oxen to be roasted. On the next day the party went to Caughnawaga, or Saut St. Louis, where the ceremony was repeated; and Bougainville, who again sang the war-song in the name of his commander, was requited by adoption into the clan of the Turtle. Three more oxen were solemnly devoured, and with one voice the warriors took up the hatchet.
[Footnote 495: Bougainville describes a ceremony in the Mission Church of the Two Mountains in which warriors and squaws sang in the choir. Ninety-nine years after, in 1856, I was present at a similar ceremony on the same spot, and heard the descendants of the same warriors and squaws sing like their ancestors. Great changes have since taken place at this old mission.]
Meanwhile troops, Canadians and Indians, were moving by detachments up Lake Champlain. Fleets of bateaux and canoes followed each other day by day along the capricious lake, in calm or storm, sunshine or rain, till, towards the end of July, the whole force was gathered at Ticonderoga, the base of the intended movement. Bourlamaque had been there since May with the battalions of Bearn and Royal Roussillon, finishing the fort, sending out war-parties, and trying to discover the force and designs of the English at Fort William Henry.
Ticonderoga is a high rocky promontory between Lake Champlain on the north and the mouth of the outlet of Lake George on the south. Near its extremity and close to the fort were still encamped the two battalions under Bourlamaque, while bateaux and canoes were passing incessantly up the river of the outlet. There were scarcely two miles of navigable water, at the end of which the stream fell foaming over a high ledge of rock that barred the way. Here the French were building a saw-mill; and a wide space had been cleared to form an encampment defended on all sides by an abattis, within which stood the tents of the battalions of La Reine, La Sarre, Languedoc, and Guienne, all commanded by Levis. Above the cascade the stream circled through the forest in a series of beautiful rapids, and from the camp of Levis a road a mile and a half long had been cut to the navigable water above. At the end of this road there was another fortified camp, formed of colony regulars, Canadians, and Indians, under Rigaud. It was scarcely a mile farther to Lake George, where on the western side there was an outpost, chiefly of Canadians and Indians; while advanced parties were stationed at Bald Mountain, now called Rogers Rock, and elsewhere on the lake, to watch the movements of the English. The various encampments just mentioned were ranged along a valley extending four miles from Lake Champlain to Lake George, and bordered by mountains wooded to the top.
Here was gathered a martial population of eight thousand men, including the brightest civilization and the darkest barbarism: from the scholar-soldier Montcalm and his no less accomplished aide-de-camp; from Levis, conspicuous for graces of person; from a throng of courtly young officers, who would have seemed out of place in that wilderness had they not done their work so well in it; from these to the foulest man eating savage of the uttermost northwest.
Of Indian allies there were nearly two thousand. One of their tribes, the Iowas, spoke a language which no interpreter understood; and they all bivouacked where they saw fit: for no man could control them. "I see no difference," says Bougainville, "in the dress, ornaments, dances, and songs of the various western nations. They go naked, excepting a strip of cloth passed through a belt, and paint themselves black, red, blue, and other colors. Their heads are shaved and adorned with bunches of feathers, and they wear rings of brass wire in their ears. They wear beaver-skin blankets, and carry lances, bows and arrows, and quivers made of the skins of beasts. For the rest they are straight, well made, and generally very tall. Their religion is brute paganism. I will say it once for all, one must be the slave of these savages, listen to them day and night, in council and in private, whenever the fancy takes them, or whenever a dream, a fit of the vapors, or their perpetual craving for brandy, gets possession of them; besides which they are always wanting something for their equipment, arms, or toilet, and the general of the army must give written orders for the smallest trifle,—an eternal, wearisome detail, of which one has no idea in Europe."
It was not easy to keep them fed. Rations would be served to them for a week; they would consume them in three days, and come for more. On one occasion they took the matter into their own hands, and butchered and devoured eighteen head of cattle intended for the troops; nor did any officer dare oppose this "St. Bartholomew of the oxen," as Bougainville calls it. "Their paradise is to be drunk," says the young officer. Their paradise was rather a hell; for sometimes, when mad with brandy, they grappled and tore each other with their teeth like wolves. They were continually "making medicine," that is, consulting the Manitou, to whom they hung up offerings, sometimes a dead dog, and sometimes the belt-cloth which formed their only garment.
The Mission Indians were better allies than these heathen of the west; and their priests, who followed them to the war, had great influence over them. They were armed with guns, which they well knew how to use. Their dress, though savage, was generally decent, and they were not cannibals; though in other respects they retained all their traditional ferocity and most of their traditional habits. They held frequent war-feasts, one of which is described by Roubaud, Jesuit missionary of the Abenakis of St. Francis, whose flock formed a part of the company present.
"Imagine," says the father, "a great assembly of savages adorned with every ornament most suited to disfigure them in European eyes, painted with vermilion, white, green, yellow, and black made of soot and the scrapings of pots. A single savage face combines all these different colors, methodically laid on with the help of a little tallow, which serves for pomatum. The head is shaved except at the top, where there is a small tuft, to which are fastened feathers, a few beads of wampum, or some such trinket. Every part of the head has its ornament. Pendants hang from the nose and also from the ears, which are split in infancy and drawn down by weights till they flap at last against the shoulders. The rest of the equipment answers to this fantastic decoration: a shirt bedaubed with vermilion, wampum collars, silver bracelets, a large knife hanging on the breast, moose-skin moccasons, and a belt of various colors always absurdly combined. The sachems and war-chiefs are distinguished from the rest: the latter by a gorget, and the former by a medal, with the King's portrait on one side, and on the other Mars and Bellona joining hands, with the device, Virtues et Honor."
Thus attired, the company sat in two lines facing each other, with kettles in the middle filled with meat chopped for distribution. To a dignified silence succeeded songs, sung by several chiefs in succession, and compared by the narrator to the howling of wolves. Then followed a speech from the chief orator, highly commended by Roubaud, who could not help admiring this effort of savage eloquence. "After the harangue," he continues, "they proceeded to nominate the chiefs who were to take command. As soon as one was named he rose and took the head of some animal that had been butchered for the feast. He raised it aloft so that all the company could see it, and cried: 'Behold the head of the enemy!' Applause and cries of joy rose from all parts of the assembly. The chief, with the head in his hand, passed down between the lines, singing his war-song, bragging of his exploits, taunting and defying the enemy, and glorifying himself beyond all measure. To hear his self-laudation in these moments of martial transport one would think him a conquering hero ready to sweep everything before him. As he passed in front of the other savages, they would respond by dull broken cries jerked up from the depths of their stomachs, and accompanied by movements of their bodies so odd that one must be well used to them to keep countenance. In the course of his song the chief would utter from time to time some grotesque witticism; then he would stop, as if pleased with himself, or rather to listen to the thousand confused cries of applause that greeted his ears. He kept up his martial promenade as long as he liked the sport; and when he had had enough, ended by flinging down the head of the animal with an air of contempt, to show that his warlike appetite craved meat of another sort." Others followed with similar songs and pantomime, and the festival was closed at last by ladling out the meat from the kettles, and devouring it.