[Footnote 496: Lettre du Pere ...(Roubaud), Missionnaire chez les Abnakis, 21 Oct. 1757, in Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses, VI. 189 (1810).]
Roubaud was one day near the fort, when he saw the shore lined with a thousand Indians, watching four or five English prisoners, who, with the war-party that had captured them, were approaching in a boat from the farther side of the water. Suddenly the whole savage crew broke away together and ran into the neighboring woods, whence they soon emerged, yelling diabolically, each armed with a club. The wretched prisoners were to be forced to "run the gauntlet" which would probably have killed them. They were saved by the chief who commanded the war-party, and who, on the persuasion of a French officer, claimed them as his own and forbade the game; upon which, according to rule in such cases, the rest abandoned it. On this same day the missionary met troops of Indians conducting several bands of English prisoners along the road that led through the forest from the camp of Levis. Each of the captives was held by a cord made fast about the neck; and the sweat was starting from their brows in the extremity of their horror and distress. Roubaud's tent was at this time in the camp of the Ottawas. He presently saw a large number of them squatted about a fire, before which meat was roasting on sticks stuck in the ground; and, approaching, he saw that it was the flesh of an Englishman, other parts of which were boiling in a kettle, while near by sat eight or ten of the prisoners, forced to see their comrade devoured. The horror-stricken priest began to remonstrate; on which a young savage fiercely replied in broken French: "You have French taste; I have Indian. This is good meat for me;" and the feasters pressed him to share it.
Bougainville says that this abomination could not be prevented; which only means that if force had been used to stop it, the Ottawas would have gone home in a rage. They were therefore left to finish their meal undisturbed. Having eaten one of their prisoners, they began to treat the rest with the utmost kindness, bringing them white bread, and attending to all their wants—a seeming change of heart due to the fact that they were a valuable commodity, for which the owners hoped to get a good price at Montreal. Montcalm wished to send them thither at once, to which after long debate the Indians consented, demanding, however, a receipt in full, and bargaining that the captives should be supplied with shoes and blankets.
[Footnote 497: Journal de l'Expedition contre le Fort George [William Henry] du 12 Juillet au 16 Aout, 1757. Bougainville, Journal. Lettre du P. Roubaud.]
These unfortunates belonged to a detachment of three hundred provincials, chiefly New Jersey men, sent from Fort William Henry under command of Colonel Parker to reconnoitre the French outposts. Montcalm's scouts discovered them; on which a band of Indians, considerably more numerous, went to meet them under a French partisan named Corbiere, and ambushed themselves not far from Sabbath Day Point. Parker had rashly divided his force; and at daybreak of the twenty-sixth of July three of his boats fell into the snare, and were captured without a shot. Three others followed, in ignorance of what had happened, and shared the fate of the first. When the rest drew near, they were greeted by a deadly volley from the thickets, and a swarm of canoes darted out upon them. The men were seized with such a panic that some of them jumped into the water to escape, while the Indians leaped after them and speared them with their lances like fish. "Terrified," says Bougainville, "by the sight of these monsters, their agility, their firing, and their yells, they surrendered almost without resistance." About a hundred, however, made their escape. The rest were killed or captured, and three of the bodies were eaten on the spot. The journalist adds that the victory so elated the Indians that they became insupportable; "but here in the forests of America we can no more do without them than without cavalry on the plain."
[Footnote 498: Bougainville, Journal. Malartic, Journal. Montcalm a Vaudreuil, 27 Juillet, 1757. Webb to Loudon, 1 Aug. 1757. Webb to Delancey, 30 July, 1757. Journal de l'Expedition contre le Fort George. London Magazine, 1757, 457. Miles, French and Indian Wars. Boston Gazette, 15 Aug. 1757.]
Another success at about the same time did not tend to improve their manners. A hundred and fifty of them, along with a few Canadians under Marin, made a dash at Fort Edward, killed or drove in the pickets, and returned with thirty-two scalps and a prisoner. It was found, however, that the scalps were far from representing an equal number of heads, the Indians having learned the art of making two or three out of one by judicious division.
[Footnote 499: This affair was much exaggerated at the time. I follow Bougainville, who had the facts from Marin. According to him, the thirty-two scalps represented eleven killed; which exactly answers to the English loss as stated by Colonel Frye in a letter from Fort Edward.]
Preparations were urged on with the utmost energy. Provisions, camp equipage, ammunition, cannon, and bateaux were dragged by gangs of men up the road from the camp of Levis to the head of the rapids. The work went on through heat and rain, by day and night, till, at the end of July, all was done. Now, on the eve of departure, Montcalm, anxious for harmony among his red allies, called them to a grand council near the camp of Rigaud. Forty-one tribes and sub-tribes, Christian and heathen, from the east and from the west, were represented in it. Here were the mission savages,—Iroquois of Caughnawaga, Two Mountains, and La Presentation; Hurons of Lorette and Detroit; Nipissings of Lake Nipissing; Abenakis of St. Francis, Becancour, Missisqui, and the Penobscot; Algonkins of Three Rivers and Two Mountains; Micmacs and Malecites from Acadia: in all eight hundred chiefs and warriors. With these came the heathen of the west,—Ottawas of seven distinct bands; Ojibwas from Lake Superior, and Mississagas from the region of Lakes Erie and Huron; Pottawattamies and Menomonies from Lake Michigan; Sacs, Foxes, and Winnebagoes from Wisconsin; Miamis from the prairies of Illinois, and Iowas from the banks of the Des Moines: nine hundred and seventy-nine chiefs and warriors, men of the forests and men of the plains, hunters of the moose and hunters of the buffalo, bearers of steel hatchets and stone war-clubs, of French guns and of flint-headed arrows. All sat in silence, decked with ceremonial paint, scalp-locks, eagle plumes, or horns of buffalo; and the dark and wild assemblage was edged with white uniforms of officers from France, who came in numbers to the spectacle. Other officers were also here, all belonging to the colony. They had been appointed to the command of the Indian allies, over whom, however, they had little or no real authority. First among them was the bold and hardy Saint-Luc de la Corne, who was called general of the Indians; and under him were others, each assigned to some tribe or group of tribes,—the intrepid Marin; Charles Langlade, who had left his squaw wife at Michillimackinac to join the war; Niverville, Langis, La Plante, Hertel, Longueuil, Herbin, Lorimier, Sabrevois, and Fleurimont; men familiar from childhood with forests and savages. Each tribe had its interpreter, often as lawless as those with whom he had spent his life; and for the converted tribes there were three missionaries,—Piquet for the Iroquois, Mathevet for the Nipissings, who were half heathen, and Roubaud for the Abenakis.
[Footnote 500: The above is chiefly from Tableau des Sauvages qui se trouvent a l'Armee du Marquis de Montcalm, le 28 Juillet, 1757. Forty-one tribes and sub-tribes are here named, some, however, represented by only three or four warriors. Besides those set down under the head of Christians, it is stated that a few of the Ottawas of Detroit and Michillimackinac still retained the faith.]
There was some complaint among the Indians because they were crowded upon by the officers who came as spectators. This difficulty being removed, the council opened, Montcalm having already explained his plans to the chiefs and told them the part he expected them to play.
Pennahouel, chief of the Ottawas, and senior of all the Assembly, rose and said: "My father, I, who have counted more moons than any here, thank you for the good words you have spoken. I approve them. Nobody ever spoke better. It is the Manitou of War who inspires you."
Kikensick, chief of the Nipissings, rose in behalf of the Christian Indians, and addressed the heathen of the west. "Brothers, we thank you for coming to help us defend our lands against the English. Our cause is good. The Master of Life is on our side. Can you doubt it, brothers, after the great blow you have just struck? It covers you with glory. The lake, red with the blood of Corlaer [the English] bears witness forever to your achievement. We too share your glory, and are proud of what you have done." Then, turning to Montcalm: "We are even more glad than you, my father, who have crossed the great water, not for your own sake, but to obey the great King and defend his children. He has bound us all together by the most solemn of ties. Let us take care that nothing shall separate us."
The various interpreters, each in turn, having explained this speech to the Assembly, it was received with ejaculations of applause; and when they had ceased, Montcalm spoke as follows: "Children, I am delighted to see you all joined in this good work. So long as you remain one, the English cannot resist you. The great King has sent me to protect and defend you; but above all he has charged me to make you happy and unconquerable, by establishing among you the union which ought to prevail among brothers, children of one father, the great Onontio." Then he held out a prodigious wampum belt of six thousand beads: "Take this sacred pledge of his word. The union of the beads of which it is made is the sign of your united strength. By it I bind you all together, so that none of you can separate from the rest till the English are defeated and their fort destroyed."
Pennahouel took up the belt and said: "Behold, brothers, a circle drawn around us by the great Onontio. Let none of us go out from it; for so long as we keep in it, the Master of Life will help all our undertakings." Other chiefs spoke to the same effect, and the council closed in perfect harmony. Its various members bivouacked together at the camp by the lake, and by their carelessness soon set it on fire; whence the place became known as the Burned Camp. Those from the missions confessed their sins all day; while their heathen brothers hung an old coat and a pair of leggings on a pole as tribute to the Manitou. This greatly embarrassed the three priests, who were about to say Mass, but doubted whether they ought to say it in presence of a sacrifice to the devil. Hereupon they took counsel of Montcalm. "Better say it so than not at all," replied the military casuist. Brandy being prudently denied them, the allies grew restless; and the greater part paddled up the lake to a spot near the place where Parker had been defeated. Here they encamped to wait the arrival of the army, and amused themselves meantime with killing rattlesnakes, there being a populous "den" of those reptiles among the neighboring rocks.
[Footnote 501: Bougainville, Journal.]
Montcalm sent a circular letter to the regular officers, urging them to dispense for a while with luxuries, and even comforts. "We have but few bateaux, and these are so filled with stores that a large division of the army must go by land;" and he directed that everything not absolutely necessary should be left behind, and that a canvas shelter to every two officers should serve them for a tent, and a bearskin for a bed. "Yet I do not forbid a mattress," he adds. "Age and infirmities may make it necessary to some; but I shall not have one myself, and make no doubt that all who can will willingly imitate me."
[Footnote 502: Circulaire du Marquis de Montcalm, 25 Juillet, 1757.]
The bateaux lay ready by the shore, but could not carry the whole force; and Levis received orders to march by the side of the lake with twenty-five hundred men, Canadians, regulars, and Iroquois. He set out at daybreak of the thirtieth of July, his men carrying nothing but their knapsacks, blankets, and weapons. Guided by the unerring Indians, they climbed the steep gorge at the side of Rogers Rock, gained the valley beyond, and marched southward along a Mohawk trail which threaded the forest in a course parallel to the lake. The way was of the roughest; many straggled from the line, and two officers completely broke down. The first destination of the party was the mouth of Ganouskie Bay, now called Northwest Bay, where they were to wait for Montcalm, and kindle three fires as a signal that they had reached the rendezvous.
[Footnote 503: Guerre du Canada, par le Chevalier de Levis. This manuscript of Levis is largely in the nature of a journal.]
Montcalm left a detachment to hold Ticonderoga; and then, on the first of August, at two in the afternoon, he embarked at the Burned Camp with all his remaining force. Including those with Levis, the expedition counted about seven thousand six hundred men, of whom more than sixteen hundred were Indians. At five in the afternoon they reached the place where the Indians, having finished their rattlesnake hunt, were smoking their pipes and waiting for the army. The red warriors embarked, and joined the French flotilla; and now, as evening drew near, was seen one of those wild pageantries of war which Lake George has often witnessed. A restless multitude of birch canoes, filled with painted savages, glided by shores and islands, like troops of swimming water-fowl. Two hundred and fifty bateaux came next, moved by sail and oar, some bearing the Canadian militia, and some the battalions of Old France in trim and gay attire: first, La Reine and Languedoc; then the colony regulars; then La Sarre and Guienne; then the Canadian brigade of Courtemanche; then the cannon and mortars, each on a platform sustained by two bateaux lashed side by side, and rowed by the militia of Saint-Ours; then the battalions of Bearn and Royal Roussillon; then the Canadians of Gaspe, with the provision-bateaux and the field-hospital; and, lastly, a rear guard of regulars closed the line. So, under the flush of sunset, they held their course along the romantic lake, to play their part in the historic drama that lends a stern enchantment to its fascinating scenery. They passed the Narrows in mist and darkness; and when, a little before dawn, they rounded the high promontory of Tongue Mountain, they saw, far on the right, three fiery sparks shining through the gloom. These were the signal-fires of Levis, to tell them that he had reached the appointed spot.
[Footnote 504: Etat de l'Armee Francaise devant le Fort George, autrement Guillaume-Henri, le 3 Aout, 1757. Tableau des Sauvages qui se trouvent a l'Armee du Marquis de Montcalm, le 28 Juillet, 1757. This gives a total of 1,799 Indians, of whom some afterwards left the army. Etat de l'Armee du Roi en Canada, sur le Lac St. Sacrement et dans les Camps de Carillon, le 29 Juillet, 1757. This gives a total of 8,019 men, of whom about four hundred were left in garrison at Ticonderoga.]
[Footnote 505: The site of the present village of Bolton.]
Levis had arrived the evening before, after his hard march through the sultry midsummer forest. His men had now rested for a night, and at ten in the morning he marched again. Montcalm followed at noon, and coasted the western shore, till, towards evening, he found Levis waiting for him by the margin of a small bay not far from the English fort, though hidden from it by a projecting point of land. Canoes and bateaux were drawn up on the beach, and the united forces made their bivouac together.
The earthen mounds of Fort William Henry still stand by the brink of Lake George; and seated at the sunset of an August day under the pines that cover them, one gazes on a scene of soft and soothing beauty, where dreamy waters reflect the glories of the mountains and the sky. As it is to-day, so it was then; all breathed repose and peace. The splash of some leaping trout, or the dipping wing of a passing swallow, alone disturbed the summer calm of that unruffled mirror.
About ten o'clock at night two boats set out from the fort to reconnoitre. They were passing a point of land on their left, two miles or more down the lake, when the men on board descried through the gloom a strange object against the bank; and they rowed towards it to learn what it might be. It was an awning over the bateaux that carried Roubaud and his brother missionaries. As the rash oarsmen drew near, the bleating of a sheep in one of the French provision-boats warned them of danger; and turning, they pulled for their lives towards the eastern shore. Instantly more than a thousand Indians threw themselves into their canoes and dashed in hot pursuit, making the lake and the mountains ring with the din of their war-whoops. The fugitives had nearly reached land when their pursuers opened fire. They replied; shot one Indian dead, and wounded another; then snatched their oars again, and gained the beach. But the whole savage crew was upon them. Several were killed, three were taken, and the rest escaped in the dark woods. The prisoners were brought before Montcalm, and gave him valuable information of the strength and position of the English.
[Footnote 506: Lettre du Pere Roubaud, 21 Oct. 1757. Roubaud, who saw the whole, says that twelve hundred Indians joined the chase, and that their yells were terrific.]
[Footnote 507: The remains of Fort William Henry are now—1882—crowded between a hotel and the wharf and station of a railway. While I write, a scheme is on foot to level the whole for other railway structures. When I first knew the place the ground was in much the same state as in the time of Montcalm.]
The Indian who was killed was a noted chief of the Nipissings; and his tribesmen howled in grief for their bereavement. They painted his face with vermilion, tied feathers in his hair, hung pendants in his ears and nose, clad him in a resplendent war-dress, put silver bracelets on his arms, hung a gorget on his breast with a flame colored ribbon, and seated him in state on the top of a hillock, with his lance in his hand, his gun in the hollow of his arm, his tomahawk in his belt, and his kettle by his side. Then they all crouched about him in lugubrious silence. A funeral harangue followed; and next a song and solemn dance to the booming of the Indian drum. In the gray of the morning they buried him as he sat, and placed food in the grave for his journey to the land of souls.
[Footnote 508: Lettre du Pere Roubaud.]
As the sun rose above the eastern mountains the French camp was all astir. The column of Levis, with Indians to lead the way, moved through the forest towards the fort, and Montcalm followed with the main body; then the artillery boats rounded the point that had hid them from the sight of the English, saluting them as they did so with musketry and cannon; while a host of savages put out upon the lake, ranged their canoes abreast in a line from shore to shore, and advanced slowly, with measured paddle-strokes and yells of defiance.
The position of the enemy was full in sight before them. At the head of the lake, towards the right, stood the fort, close to the edge of the water. On its left was a marsh; then the rough piece of ground where Johnson had encamped two years before; then a low, flat, rocky hill, crowned with an entrenched camp; and, lastly, on the extreme left, another marsh. Far around the fort and up the slopes of the western mountain the forest had been cut down and burned, and the ground was cumbered with blackened stumps and charred carcasses and limbs of fallen trees, strewn in savage disorder one upon another. This was the work of Winslow in the autumn before. Distant shouts and war-cries, the clatter of musketry, white puffs of smoke in the dismal clearing and along the scorched edge of the bordering forest, told that Levis' Indians were skirmishing with parties of the English, who had gone out to save the cattle roaming in the neighborhood, and burn some out-buildings that would have favored the besiegers. Others were taking down the tents that stood on a plateau near the foot of the mountain on the right, and moving them to the entrenchment on the hill. The garrison sallied from the fort to support their comrades, and for a time the firing was hot.
[Footnote 509: Precis des Evenements de la Campagne de 1757 en la Nouvelle France.]
Fort William Henry was an irregular bastioned square, formed by embankments of gravel surmounted by a rampart of heavy logs, laid in tiers crossed one upon another, the interstices filled with earth. The lake protected it on the north, the marsh on the east, and ditches with chevaux-de-frise on the south and west. Seventeen cannon, great and small, besides several mortars and swivels, were mounted upon it; and a brave Scotch veteran, Lieutenant-Colonel Monro, of the thirty-fifth regiment, was in command.
[Footnote 510: Etat des Effets et Munitions de Guerre qui se sont trouves au Fort Guillaume-Henri. There were six more guns in the entrenched camp.]
General Webb lay fourteen miles distant at Fort Edward, with twenty-six hundred men, chiefly provincials. On the twenty-fifth of July he had made a visit to Fort William Henry, examined the place, given some orders, and returned on the twenty-ninth. He then wrote to the Governor of New York, telling him that the French were certainly coming, begging him to send up the militia, and saying: "I am determined to march to Fort William Henry with the whole army under my command as soon as I shall hear of the farther approach of the enemy." Instead of doing so he waited three days, and then sent up a detachment of two hundred regulars under Lieutenant-Colonel Young, and eight hundred Massachusetts men under Colonel Frye. This raised the force at the lake to two thousand and two hundred, including sailors and mechanics, and reduced that of Webb to sixteen hundred, besides half as many more distributed at Albany and the intervening forts. If, according to his spirited intention, he should go to the rescue of Monro, he must leave some of his troops behind him to protect the lower posts from a possible French inroad by way of South Bay. Thus his power of aiding Monro was slight, so rashly had Loudon, intent on Louisburg, left this frontier open to attack. The defect, however, was as much in Webb himself as in his resources. His conduct in the past year had raised doubts of his personal courage; and this was the moment for answering them. Great as was the disparity of numbers, the emergency would have justified an attempt to save Monro at any risk. That officer sent him a hasty note, written at nine o'clock on the morning of the third, telling him that the French were in sight on the lake; and, in the next night, three rangers came to Fort Edward, bringing another short note, dated at six in the evening, announcing that the firing had begun, and closing with the words: "I believe you will think it proper to send a reinforcement as soon as possible." Now, if ever, was the time to move, before the fort was invested and access cut off. But Webb lay quiet, sending expresses to New England for help which could not possibly arrive in time. On the next night another note came from Monro to say that the French were upon him in great numbers, well supplied with artillery, but that the garrison were all in good spirits. "I make no doubt," wrote the hardpressed officer, "that you will soon send us a reinforcement;" and again on the same day: "We are very certain that a part of the enemy have got between you and us upon the high road, and would therefore be glad (if it meets with your approbation) the whole army was marched." But Webb gave no sign.
[Footnote 511: Frye, Journal of the Attack of Fort William Henry. Webb to Loudon, 1 Aug. 1757. Ibid., 5 Aug. 1757.]
[Footnote 512: Copy of four Letters from Lieutenant-Colonel Monro to Major-General Webb, enclosed in the General's Letter of the fifth of August to the Earl of Loudon.]
[Footnote 513: "The number of troops remaining under my Command at this place [Fort Edward], excluding the Posts on Hudson's River, amounts to but sixteen hundred men fit for duty, with which Army, so much inferior to that of the enemy, I did not think it prudent to pursue my first intentions of Marching to their Assistance." Webb to Loudon, 5 Aug. 1757.]
When the skirmishing around the fort was over, La Corne, with a body of Indians, occupied the road that led to Fort Edward, and Levis encamped hard by to support him, while Montcalm proceeded to examine the ground and settle his plan of attack. He made his way to the rear of the entrenched camp and reconnoitred it, hoping to carry it by assault; but it had a breastwork of stones and logs, and he thought the attempt too hazardous. The ground where he stood was that where Dieskau had been defeated; and as the fate of his predecessor was not of flattering augury, he resolved to besiege the fort in form.
He chose for the site of his operations the ground now covered by the village of Caldwell. A little to the north of it was a ravine, beyond which he formed his main camp, while Levis occupied a tract of dry ground beside the marsh, whence he could easily move to intercept succors from Fort Edward on the one hand, or repel a sortie from Fort William Henry on the other. A brook ran down the ravine and entered the lake at a small cove protected from the fire of the fort by a point of land; and at this place, still called Artillery Cove, Montcalm prepared to debark his cannon and mortars.
Having made his preparations, he sent Fontbrune, one of his aides-de-camp, with a letter to Monro. "I owe it to humanity," he wrote, "to summon you to surrender. At present I can restrain the savages, and make them observe the terms of a capitulation, as I might not have power to do under other circumstances; and an obstinate defence on your part could only retard the capture of the place a few days, and endanger an unfortunate garrison which cannot be relieved, in consequence of the dispositions I have made. I demand a decisive answer within an hour." Monro replied that he and his soldiers would defend themselves to the last. While the flags of truce were flying, the Indians swarmed over the fields before the fort; and when they learned the result, an Abenaki chief shouted in broken French: "You won't surrender, eh! Fire away then, and fight your best; for if I catch you, you shall get no quarter." Monro emphasized his refusal by a general discharge of his cannon.
The trenches were opened on the night of the fourth,—a task of extreme difficulty, as the ground was covered by a profusion of half-burned stumps, roots, branches, and fallen trunks. Eight hundred men toiled till daylight with pick, spade, and axe, while the cannon from the fort flashed through the darkness, and grape and round-shot whistled and screamed over their heads. Some of the English balls reached the camp beyond the ravine, and disturbed the slumbers of the officers off duty, as they lay wrapped in their blankets and bear-skins. Before daybreak the first parallel was made; a battery was nearly finished on the left, and another was begun on the right. The men now worked under cover, safe in their burrows; one gang relieved another, and the work went on all day.
The Indians were far from doing what was expected of them. Instead of scouting in the direction of Fort Edward to learn the movements of the enemy and prevent surprise, they loitered about the camp and in the trenches, or amused themselves by firing at the fort from behind stumps and logs. Some, in imitation of the French, dug little trenches for themselves, in which they wormed their way towards the rampart, and now and then picked off an artillery-man, not without loss on their own side. On the afternoon of the fifth, Montcalm invited them to a council, gave them belts of wampum, and mildly remonstrated with them. "Why expose yourselves without necessity? I grieve bitterly over the losses that you have met, for the least among you is precious to me. No doubt it is a good thing to annoy the English; but that is not the main point. You ought to inform me of everything the enemy is doing, and always keep parties on the road between the two forts." And he gently hinted that their place was not in his camp, but in that of Levis, where missionaries were provided for such of them as were Christians, and food and ammunition for them all. They promised, with excellent docility, to do everything he wished, but added that there was something on their hearts. Being encouraged to relieve themselves of the burden, they complained that they had not been consulted as to the management of the siege, but were expected to obey orders like slaves. "We know more about fighting in the woods than you," said their orator; "ask our advice, and you will be the better for it."
[Footnote 514: Bougainville, Journal.]
Montcalm assured them that if they had been neglected, it was only through the hurry and confusion of the time; expressed high appreciation of their talents for bush-fighting, promised them ample satisfaction, and ended by telling them that in the morning they should hear the big guns. This greatly pleased them, for they were extremely impatient for the artillery to begin. About sunrise the battery of the left opened with eight heavy cannon and a mortar, joined, on the next morning, by the battery of the right, with eleven pieces more. The fort replied with spirit. The cannon thundered all day, and from a hundred peaks and crags the astonished wilderness roared back the sound. The Indians were delighted. They wanted to point the guns; and to humor them, they were now and then allowed to do so. Others lay behind logs and fallen trees, and yelled their satisfaction when they saw the splinters fly from the wooden rampart.
Day after day the weary roar of the distant cannonade fell on the ears of Webb in his camp at Fort Edward. "I have not yet received the least reinforcement," he writes to Loudon; "this is the disagreeable situation we are at present in. The fort, by the heavy firing we hear from the lake, is still in our possession; but I fear it cannot long hold out against so warm a cannonading if I am not reinforced by a sufficient number of militia to march to their relief." The militia were coming; but it was impossible that many could reach him in less than a week. Those from New York alone were within call, and two thousand of them arrived soon after he sent Loudon the above letter. Then, by stripping all the forts below, he could bring together forty-five hundred men; while several French deserters assured him that Montcalm had nearly twelve thousand. To advance to the relief of Monro with a force so inferior, through a defile of rocks, forests, and mountains, made by nature for ambuscades,—and this too with troops who had neither the steadiness of regulars nor the bush-fighting skill of Indians,—was an enterprise for firmer nerve than his.
He had already warned Monro to expect no help from him. At midnight of the fourth, Captain Bartman, his aide-de-camp, wrote: "The General has ordered me to acquaint you he does not think it prudent to attempt a junction or to assist you till reinforced by the militia of the colonies, for the immediate march of which repeated expresses have been sent." The letter then declared that the French were in complete possession of the road between the two forts, that a prisoner just brought in reported their force in men and cannon to be very great, and that, unless the militia came soon, Monro had better make what terms he could with the enemy.
[Footnote 515: Frye, in his Journal, gives the letter in full. A spurious translation of it is appended to a piece called Jugement impartial sur les Operations militaires en Canada.]
The chance was small that this letter would reach its destination; and in fact the bearer was killed by La Corne's Indians, who, in stripping the body, found the hidden paper, and carried it to the General. Montcalm kept it several days, till the English rampart was half battered down; and then, after saluting his enemy with a volley from all his cannon, he sent it with a graceful compliment to Monro. It was Bougainville who carried it, preceded by a drummer and a flag. He was met at the foot of the glacis, blindfolded, and led through the fort and along the edge of the lake to the entrenched camp, where Monro was at the time. "He returned many thanks," writes the emissary in his Diary, "for the courtesy of our nation, and protested his joy at having to do with so generous an enemy. This was his answer to the Marquis de Montcalm. Then they led me back, always with eyes blinded; and our batteries began to fire again as soon as we thought that the English grenadiers who escorted me had had time to re-enter the fort. I hope General Webb's letter may induce the English to surrender the sooner."
[Footnote 516: Bougainville, Journal. Bougainville au Ministre, 19 Aout, 1757.]
By this time the sappers had worked their way to the angle of the lake, where they were stopped by a marshy hollow, beyond which was a tract of high ground, reaching to the fort and serving as the garden of the garrison. Logs and fascines in large quantities were thrown into the hollow, and hurdles were laid over them to form a causeway for the cannon. Then the sap was continued up the acclivity beyond, a trench was opened in the garden, and a battery begun, not two hundred and fifty yards from the fort. The Indians, in great number, crawled forward among the beans, maize, and cabbages, and lay there ensconced. On the night of the seventh, two men came out of the fort, apparently to reconnoitre, with a view to a sortie, when they were greeted by a general volley and a burst of yells which echoed among the mountains; followed by responsive whoops pealing through the darkness from the various camps and lurking-places of the savage warriors far and near.
[Footnote 517: Now (1882) the site of Fort William Henry Hotel, with its grounds. The hollow is partly filled by the main road of Caldwell.]
The position of the besieged was now deplorable. More than three hundred of them had been killed and wounded; small-pox was raging in the fort; the place was a focus of infection, and the casemates were crowded with the sick. A sortie from the entrenched camp and another from the fort had been repulsed with loss. All their large cannon and mortars had been burst, or disabled by shot; only seven small pieces were left fit for service; and the whole of Montcalm's thirty-one cannon and fifteen mortars and howitzers would soon open fire, while the walls were already breached, and an assault was imminent. Through the night of the eighth they fired briskly from all their remaining pieces. In the morning the officers held a council, and all agreed to surrender if honorable terms could be had. A white flag was raised, a drum was beat, and Lieutenant-Colonel Young, mounted on horseback, for a shot in the foot had disabled him from walking, went, followed by a few soldiers, to the tent of Montcalm.
[Footnote 518: Frye, Journal.]
It was agreed that the English troops should march out with the honors of war, and be escorted to Fort Edward by a detachment of French troops; that they should not serve for eighteen months; and that all French prisoners captured in America since the war began should be given up within three months. The stores, munitions, and artillery were to be the prize of the victors, except one field-piece, which the garrison were to retain in recognition of their brave defence.
Before signing the capitulation Montcalm called the Indian chiefs to council, and asked them to consent to the conditions, and promise to restrain their young warriors from any disorder. They approved everything and promised everything. The garrison then evacuated the fort, and marched to join their comrades in the entrenched camp, which was included in the surrender. No sooner were they gone than a crowd of Indians clambered through the embrasures in search of rum and plunder. All the sick men unable to leave their beds were instantly butchered. "I was witness of this spectacle," says the missionary Roubaud; "I saw one of these barbarians come out of the casemates with a human head in his hand, from which the blood ran in streams, and which he paraded as if he had got the finest prize in the world." There was little left to plunder; and the Indians, joined by the more lawless of the Canadians, turned their attention to the entrenched camp, where all the English were now collected.
[Footnote 519: Attestation of William Arbuthnot, Captain in Frye's Regiment.]
The French guard stationed there could not or would not keep out the rabble. By the advice of Montcalm the English stove their rum-barrels; but the Indians were drunk already with homicidal rage, and the glitter of their vicious eyes told of the devil within. They roamed among the tents, intrusive, insolent, their visages besmirched with war-paint; grinning like fiends as they handled, in anticipation of the knife, the long hair of cowering women, of whom, as well as of children, there were many in the camp, all crazed with fright. Since the last war the New England border population had regarded Indians with a mixture of detestation and horror. Their mysterious warfare of ambush and surprise, their midnight onslaughts, their butcheries, their burnings, and all their nameless atrocities, had been for years the theme of fireside story; and the dread they excited was deepened by the distrust and dejection of the time. The confusion in the camp lasted through the afternoon. "The Indians," says Bougainville, "wanted to plunder the chests of the English; the latter resisted; and there was fear that serious disorder would ensue. The Marquis de Montcalm ran thither immediately, and used every means to restore tranquillity: prayers, threats, caresses, interposition of the officers and interpreters who have some influence over these savages." "We shall be but too happy if we can prevent a massacre. Detestable position! of which nobody who has not been in it can have any idea, and which makes victory itself a sorrow to the victors. The Marquis spared no efforts to prevent the rapacity of the savages and, I must say it, of certain persons associated with them, from resulting in something worse than plunder. At last, at nine o'clock in the evening, order seemed restored. The Marquis even induced the Indians to promise that, besides the escort agreed upon in the capitulation, two chiefs for each tribe should accompany the English on their way to Fort Edward." He also ordered La Corne and the other Canadian officers attached to the Indians to see that no violence took place. He might well have done more. In view of the disorders of the afternoon, it would not have been too much if he had ordered the whole body of regular troops, whom alone he could trust for the purpose, to hold themselves ready to move to the spot in case of outbreak, and shelter their defeated foes behind a hedge of bayonets.
[Footnote 520: Bougainville au Ministre, 19 Aout, 1757.]
[Footnote 521: Bougainville, Journal.]
Bougainville was not to see what ensued; for Montcalm now sent him to Montreal, as a special messenger to carry news of the victory. He embarked at ten o'clock. Returning daylight found him far down the lake; and as he looked on its still bosom flecked with mists, and its quiet mountains sleeping under the flush of dawn, there was nothing in the wild tranquillity of the scene to suggest the tragedy which even then was beginning on the shore he had left behind.
The English in their camp had passed a troubled night, agitated by strange rumors. In the morning something like a panic seized them; for they distrusted not the Indians only, but the Canadians. In their haste to be gone they got together at daybreak, before the escort of three hundred regulars had arrived. They had their muskets, but no ammunition; and few or none of the provincials had bayonets. Early as it was, the Indians were on the alert; and, indeed, since midnight great numbers of them had been prowling about the skirts of the camp, showing, says Colonel Frye, "more than usual malice in their looks." Seventeen wounded men of his regiment lay in huts, unable to join the march. In the preceding afternoon Miles Whitworth, the regimental surgeon, had passed them over to the care of a French surgeon, according to an agreement made at the time of the surrender; but, the Frenchman being absent, the other remained with them attending to their wants. The French surgeon had caused special sentinels to be posted for their protection. These were now removed, at the moment when they were needed most; upon which, about five o'clock in the morning, the Indians entered the huts, dragged out the inmates, and tomahawked and scalped them all, before the eyes of Whitworth, and in presence of La Corne and other Canadian officers, as well as of a French guard stationed within forty feet of the spot; and, declares the surgeon under oath, "none, either officer or soldier, protected the said wounded men." The opportune butchery relieved them of a troublesome burden.
[Footnote 522: Affidavit of Miles Whitworth. See Appendix F.]
A scene of plundering now began. The escort had by this time arrived, and Monro complained to the officers that the capitulation was broken; but got no other answer than advice to give up the baggage to the Indians in order to appease them. To this the English at length agreed; but it only increased the excitement of the mob. They demanded rum; and some of the soldiers, afraid to refuse, gave it to them from their canteens, thus adding fuel to the flame. When, after much difficulty, the column at last got out of the camp and began to move along the road that crossed the rough plain between the entrenchment and the forest, the Indians crowded upon them, impeded their march, snatched caps, coats, and weapons from men and officers, tomahawked those that resisted, and, seizing upon shrieking women and children, dragged them off or murdered them on the spot. It is said that some of the interpreters secretly fomented the disorder. Suddenly there rose the screech of the war-whoop. At this signal of butchery, which was given by Abenaki Christians from the mission of the Penobscot, a mob of savages rushed upon the New Hampshire men at the rear of the column, and killed or dragged away eighty of them. A frightful tumult ensued, when Montcalm, Levis, Bourlamaque, and many other French officers, who had hastened from their camp on the first news of disturbance, threw themselves among the Indians, and by promises and threats tried to allay their frenzy. "Kill me, but spare the English who are under my protection," exclaimed Montcalm. He took from one of them a young officer whom the savage had seized; upon which several other Indians immediately tomahawked their prisoners, lest they too should be taken from them. One writer says that a French grenadier was killed and two wounded in attempting to restore order; but the statement is doubtful. The English seemed paralyzed, and fortunately did not attempt a resistance, which, without ammunition as they were, would have ended in a general massacre. Their broken column straggled forward in wild disorder, amid the din of whoops and shrieks, till they reached the French advance-guard, which consisted of Canadians; and here they demanded protection from the officers, who refused to give it, telling them that they must take to the woods and shift for themselves. Frye was seized by a number of Indians, who, brandishing spears and tomahawks, threatened him with death and tore off his clothing, leaving nothing but breeches, shoes, and shirt. Repelled by the officers of the guard, he made for the woods. A Connecticut soldier who was present says of him that he leaped upon an Indian who stood in his way, disarmed and killed him, and then escaped; but Frye himself does not mention the incident. Captain Burke, also of the Massachusetts regiment, was stripped, after a violent struggle, of all his clothes; then broke loose, gained the woods, spent the night shivering in the thick grass of a marsh, and on the next day reached Fort Edward. Jonathan Carver, a provincial volunteer, declares that, when the tumult was at its height, he saw officers of the French army walking about at a little distance and talking with seeming unconcern. Three or four Indians seized him, brandished their tomahawks over his head, and tore off most of his clothes, while he vainly claimed protection from a sentinel, who called him an English dog, and violently pushed him back among his tormentors. Two of them were dragging him towards the neighboring swamp, when an English officer, stripped of everything but his scarlet breeches, ran by. One of Carver's captors sprang upon him, but was thrown to the ground; whereupon the other went to the aid of his comrade and drove his tomahawk into the back of the Englishman. As Carver turned to run, an English boy, about twelve years old, clung to him and begged for help. They ran on together for a moment, when the boy was seized, dragged from his protector, and, as Carver judged by his shrieks, was murdered. He himself escaped to the forest, and after three days of famine reached Fort Edward.
[Footnote 523: This is stated by Pouchot and Bougainville; the latter of whom confirms the testimony of the English witnesses, that Canadian officers present did nothing to check the Indians.]
[Footnote 524: See note, end of chapter.]
[Footnote 525: Belknap, History of New Hampshire, says that eighty were killed. Governor Wentworth, writing immediately after the event, says "killed or captivated."]
The bonds of discipline seem for the time to have been completely broken; for while Montcalm and his chief officers used every effort to restore order, even at the risk of their lives, many other officers, chiefly of the militia, failed atrociously to do their duty. How many English were killed it is impossible to tell with exactness. Roubaud says that he saw forty or fifty corpses scattered about the field. Levis says fifty; which does not include the sick and wounded before murdered in the camp and fort. It is certain that six or seven hundred persons were carried off, stripped, and otherwise maltreated. Montcalm succeeded in recovering more than four hundred of them in the course of the day; and many of the French officers did what they could to relieve their wants by buying back from their captors the clothing that had been torn from them. Many of the fugitives had taken refuge in the fort, whither Monro himself had gone to demand protection for his followers; and here Roubaud presently found a crowd of half-frenzied women, crying in anguish for husbands and children. All the refugees and redeemed prisoners were afterwards conducted to the entrenched camp, where food and shelter were provided for them and a strong guard set for their protection until the fifteenth, when they were sent under an escort to Fort Edward. Here cannon had been fired at intervals to guide those who had fled to the woods, whence they came dropping in from day to day, half dead with famine.
On the morning after the massacre the Indians decamped in a body and set out for Montreal, carrying with them their plunder and some two hundred prisoners, who, it is said, could not be got out of their hands. The soldiers were set to the work of demolishing the English fort; and the task occupied several days. The barracks were torn down, and the huge pine-logs of the rampart thrown into a heap. The dead bodies that filled the casemates were added to the mass, and fire was set to the whole. The mighty funeral pyre blazed all night. Then, on the sixteenth, the army reimbarked. The din of ten thousand combatants, the rage, the terror, the agony, were gone; and no living thing was left but the wolves that gathered from the mountains to feast upon the dead.
[Footnote 526: The foregoing chapter rests largely on evidence never before brought to light, including the minute Journal of Bougainville,—document which can hardly be commended too much,—the correspondence of Webb, a letter of Colonel Frye, written just after the massacre, and a journal of the siege, sent by him to Governor Pownall as his official report. Extracts from these, as well as from the affidavit of Dr. Whitworth, which is also new evidence, are given in Appendix F.
The Diary of Malartic and the correspondence of Montcalm, Levis, Vaudreuil, and Bigot, also throw light on the campaign, as well as numerous reports of the siege, official and semi-official. The long letter of the Jesuit Roubaud, printed anonymously in the Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses, gives a remarkably vivid account of what he saw. He was an intelligent person, who may be trusted where he has no motive for lying. Curious particulars about him will be found in a paper called, The deplorable Case of Mr. Roubaud, printed in the Historical Magazine, Second Series, VIII. 282. Compare Verreau, Report on Canadian Archives, 1874.
Impressions of the massacre at Fort William Henry have hitherto been derived chiefly from the narrative of Captain Jonathan Carver, in his Travels. He has discredited himself by his exaggeration of the number killed; but his account of what he himself saw tallies with that of the other witnesses. He is outdone in exaggeration by an anonymous French writer of the time, who seems rather pleased at the occurrence, and affirms that all the English were killed except seven hundred, these last being captured, so that none escaped (Nouvelles du Canada envoyees de Montreal, Aout, 1757). Carver puts killed and captured together at fifteen hundred. Vaudreuil, who always makes light of Indian barbarities, goes to the other extreme, and avers that no more than five or six were killed. Levis and Roubaud, who saw everything, and were certain not to exaggerate the number, give the most trustworthy evidence on this point. The capitulation, having been broken by the allies of France, was declared void by the British Government.
The Signal of Butchery. Montcalm, Bougainville, and several others say that the massacre was begun by the Abenakis of Panaouski. Father Martin, in quoting the letter in which Montcalm makes this statement, inserts the word idolatres, which is not in the original. Dussieux and O'Callaghan give the passage correctly. This Abenaki band, ancestors of the present Penobscots, were no idolaters, but had been converted more than half a century. In the official list of the Indian allies they are set down among the Christians. Roubaud, who had charge of them during the expedition, speaks of these and other converts with singular candor: "Vous avez du vous apercevoir ... que nos sauvages, pour etre Chretiens, n'en sont pas plus irreprehensibles dans leur conduite."]
A Winter of Discontent
Loudon, on his way back from Halifax, was at sea off the coast of Nova Scotia when a despatch-boat from Governor Pownall of Massachusetts startled him with news that Fort William Henry was attacked; and a few days after he learned by another boat that the fort was taken and the capitulation "inhumanly and villanously broken." On this he sent Webb orders to hold the enemy in check without risking a battle till he should himself arrive. "I am on the way," these were his words, "with a force sufficient to turn the scale, with God's assistance; and then I hope we shall teach the French to comply with the laws of nature and humanity. For although I abhor barbarity, the knowledge I have of Mr. Vaudreuil's behavior when in Louisiana, from his own letters in my possession, and the murders committed at Oswego and now at Fort William Henry, will oblige me to make those gentlemen sick of such inhuman villany whenever it is in my power." He reached New York on the last day of August, and heard that the French had withdrawn. He nevertheless sent his troops up the Hudson, thinking, he says, that he might still attack Ticonderoga; a wild scheme, which he soon abandoned, if he ever seriously entertained it.
[Footnote 527: Loudon to Webb, 20 Aug. 1757. London to Holdernesse, Oct. 1757. Loudon to Pownall, 16 [18?] Aug. 1757. A passage in this last letter, in which Loudon says that he shall, if prevented by head-winds from getting into New York, disembark the troops on Long Island, is perverted by that ardent partisan, William Smith, the historian of New York, into the absurd declaration "that he should encamp on Long Island for the defence of the continent."]
Webb had remained at Fort Edward in mortal dread of attack. Johnson had joined him with a band of Mohawks; and on the day when Fort William Henry surrendered there had been some talk of attempting to throw succors into it by night. Then came the news of its capture; and now, when it was too late, tumultuous mobs of militia came pouring in from the neighboring provinces. In a few days thousands of them were bivouacked on the fields about Fort Edward, doing nothing, disgusted and mutinous, declaring that they were ready to fight, but not to lie still without tents, blankets, or kettles. Webb writes on the fourteenth that most of those from New York had deserted, threatening to kill their officers if they tried to stop them. Delancey ordered them to be fired upon. A sergeant was shot, others were put in arrest, and all was disorder till the seventeenth; when Webb, learning that the French were gone, sent them back to their homes.
[Footnote 528: Delancey to [Holdernesse?], 24 Aug. 1757.]
Close on the fall of Fort William Henry came crazy rumors of disaster, running like wildfire through the colonies. The number and ferocity of the enemy were grossly exaggerated; there was a cry that they would seize Albany and New York itself; while it was reported that Webb, as much frightened as the rest, was for retreating to the Highlands of the Hudson. This was the day after the capitulation, when a part only of the militia had yet appeared. If Montcalm had seized the moment, and marched that afternoon to Fort Edward, it is not impossible that in the confusion he might have carried it by a coup-de-main.
[Footnote 529: Captain Christie to Governor Wentworth, 11 Aug. 1757. Ibid., to Governor Pownall, same date.]
[Footnote 530: Smith, Hist. N.Y., Part II. 254.]
Here was an opportunity for Vaudreuil, and he did not fail to use it. Jealous of his rival's exploit, he spared no pains to tarnish it; complaining that Montcalm had stopped half way on the road to success, and, instead of following his instructions, had contented himself with one victory when he should have gained two. But the Governor had enjoined upon him as a matter of the last necessity that the Canadians should be at their homes before September to gather the crops, and he would have been the first to complain had the injunction been disregarded. To besiege Fort Edward was impossible, as Montcalm had no means of transporting cannon thither; and to attack Webb without them was a risk which he had not the rashness to incur.
It was Bougainville who first brought Vaudreuil the news of the success on Lake George. A day or two after his arrival, the Indians, who had left the army after the massacre, appeared at Montreal, bringing about two hundred English prisoners. The Governor rebuked them for breaking the capitulation, on which the heathen savages of the West declared that it was not their fault, but that of the converted Indians, who, in fact, had first raised the war-whoop. Some of the prisoners were presently bought from them at the price of two kegs of brandy each; and the inevitable consequences followed.
"I thought," writes Bougainville, "that the Governor would have told them they should have neither provisions nor presents till all the English were given up; that he himself would have gone to their huts and taken the prisoners from them; and that the inhabitants would be forbidden, under the severest penalties, from selling or giving them brandy. I saw the contrary; and my soul shuddered at the sights my eyes beheld. On the fifteenth, at two o'clock, in the presence of the whole town, they killed one of the prisoners, put him into the kettle, and forced his wretched countrymen to eat of him." The Intendant Bigot, the friend of the Governor, confirms this story; and another French writer says that they "compelled mothers to eat the flesh of their children." Bigot declares that guns, canoes, and other presents were given to the Western tribes before they left Montreal; and he adds, "they must be sent home satisfied at any cost." Such were the pains taken to preserve allies who were useful chiefly through the terror inspired by their diabolical cruelties. This time their ferocity cost them dear. They had dug up and scalped the corpses in the graveyard of Fort William Henry, many of which were remains of victims of the small-pox; and the savages caught the disease, which is said to have made great havoc among them.
[Footnote 531: "En chemin faisant et meme en entrant a Montreal ils les ont manges et fait manger aux autres prisonniers." Bigot au Ministre, 24 Aout, 1757.
"Des sauvages out fait manger aux meres la chair de leurs enfants." Jugement impartial sur les Operations militaires en Canada. A French diary kept in Canada at this time, and captured at sea, is cited by Hutchinson as containing similar statements.]
[Footnote 532: One of these corpses was that of Richard Rogers, brother of the noted partisan Robert Rogers. He had died of small-pox some time before. Rogers, Journals, 55, note.]
Vaudreuil, in reporting what he calls "my capture of Fort William Henry," takes great credit to himself for his "generous procedures" towards the English prisoners; alluding, it seems, to his having bought some of them from the Indians with the brandy which was sure to cause the murder of others. His obsequiousness to his red allies did not cease with permitting them to kill and devour before his eyes those whom he was bound in honor and duty to protect. "He let them do what they pleased," says a French contemporary; "they were seen roaming about Montreal, knife in hand, threatening everybody, and often insulting those they met. When complaint was made, he said nothing. Far from it; instead of reproaching them, he loaded them with gifts, in the belief that their cruelty would then relent."
[Footnote 533: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 15 Sept. 1757.]
[Footnote 534: Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]
Nevertheless, in about a fortnight all, or nearly all, the surviving prisoners were bought out of their clutches; and then, after a final distribution of presents and a grand debauch at La Chine, the whole savage rout paddled for their villages.
The campaign closed in November with a partisan exploit on the Mohawk. Here, at a place called German Flats, on the farthest frontier, there was a thriving settlement of German peasants from the Palatinate, who were so ill-disposed towards the English that Vaudreuil had had good hope of stirring them to revolt, while at the same time persuading their neighbors, the Oneida Indians, to take part with France. As his measures to this end failed, he resolved to attack them. Therefore, at three o'clock in the morning of the twelfth of November, three hundred colony troops, Canadians and Indians, under an officer named Beletre, wakened the unhappy peasants by a burst of yells, and attacked the small picket forts which they had built as places of refuge. These were taken one by one and set on fire. The sixty dwellings of the settlement, with their barns and outhouses, were all burned, forty or fifty of the inhabitants were killed, and about three times that number, chiefly women and children, were made prisoners, including Johan Jost Petrie, the magistrate of the place. Fort Herkimer was not far off, with a garrison of two hundred men under Captain Townshend, who at the first alarm sent out a detachment too weak to arrest the havoc; while Beletre, unable to carry off his booty, set on his followers to the work of destruction, killed a great number of hogs, sheep, cattle, and horses, and then made a hasty retreat. Lord Howe, pushing up the river from Schenectady with troops and militia, found nothing but an abandoned slaughter-field. Vaudreuil reported the affair to the Court, and summed up the results with pompous egotism: "I have ruined the plans of the English; I have disposed the Five Nations to attack them; I have carried consternation and terror into all those parts."
[Footnote 535: Depeches de Vaudreuil, 1757.]
[Footnote 536: Loudon to Pitt, 14 Feb. 1758. Vaudreuil au Ministre, 12 Fev. 1758. Ibid., 28 Nov. 1758. Bougainville, Journal. Summary of M. de Beletre's Campaign, in N.Y. Col. Docs., X. 672. Extravagant reports of the havoc made were sent to France. It was pretended that three thousand cattle, three thousand sheep (Vaudreuil says four thousand), and from five hundred to fifteen hundred horses were destroyed, with other personal property to the amount of 1,500,000 livres. These official falsehoods are contradicted in a letter from Quebec, Daine au Marechal de Belleisle, 19 Mai, 1758. Levis says that the whole population of the settlement, men, women, and children, was not above three hundred.]
Montcalm, his summer work over, went to Montreal; and thence in September to Quebec, a place more to his liking. "Come as soon as you can," he wrote to Bourlamaque, "and I will tell a certain fair lady how eager you are." Even Quebec was no paradise for him; and he writes again to the same friend: "My heart and my stomach are both ill at ease, the latter being the worse." To his wife he says: "The price of everything is rising. I am ruining myself; I owe the treasurer twelve thousand francs. I long for peace and for you. In spite of the public distress, we have balls and furious gambling." In February he returned to Montreal in a sleigh on the ice of the St. Lawrence,—a mode of travelling which he describes as cold but delicious. Montreal pleased him less than ever, especially as he was not in favor at what he calls the Court, meaning the circle of the Governor-General. "I find this place so amusing," he writes ironically to Bourlamaque, "that I wish Holy Week could be lengthened, to give me a pretext for neither making nor receiving visits, staying at home, and dining there almost alone. Burn all my letters, as I do yours." And in the next week: "Lent and devotion have upset my stomach and given me a cold; which does not prevent me from having the Governor-General at dinner to-day to end his lenten fast, according to custom here." Two days after he announces: "To-day a grand dinner at Martel's; twenty-three persons, all big-wigs (les grosses perruques); no ladies. We still have got to undergo those of Pean, Deschambault, and the Chevalier de Levis. I spend almost every evening in my chamber, the place I like best, and where I am least bored."
With the opening spring there were changes in the modes of amusement. Picnics began, Vaudreuil and his wife being often of the party, as too was Levis. The Governor also made visits of compliment at the houses of the seigniorial proprietors along the river; "very much," says Montcalm, as "Henri IV. did to the bourgeois notables of Paris. I live as usual, fencing in the morning, dining, and passing the evening at home or at the Governor's. Pean has gone up to La Chine to spend six days with the reigning sultana [Pean's wife, mistress of Bigot]. As for me, my ennui increases. I don't know what to do, or say, or read, or where to go; and I think that at the end of the next campaign I shall ask bluntly, blindly, for my recall, only because I am bored."
[Footnote 537: Montcalm a Bourlamaque, 22 Mai, 1758.]
His relations with Vaudreuil were a constant annoyance to him, notwithstanding the mask of mutual civility. "I never," he tells his mother, "ask for a place in the colony troops for anybody. You need not be an Oedipus to guess this riddle. Here are four lines from Corneille:—
"'Mon crime veritable est d'avoir aujourd'hui Plus de nom que ... [Vaudreuil], plus de vertus que lui, Et c'est de la que part cette secrete haine Que le temps ne rendra que plus forte et plus pleine.'
Nevertheless I live here on good terms with everybody, and do my best to serve the King. If they could but do without me; if they could but spring some trap on me, or if I should happen to meet with some check!"
Vaudreuil meanwhile had written to the Court in high praise of Levis, hinting that he, and not Montcalm, ought to have the chief command.
[Footnote 538: Vaudreuil au Ministre de la Marine, 16 Sept. 1757. Ibid., au Ministre de la Guerre, meme date.]
Under the hollow gayeties of the ruling class lay a great public distress, which broke at last into riot. Towards midwinter no flour was to be had in Montreal; and both soldiers and people were required to accept a reduced ration, partly of horse-flesh. A mob gathered before the Governor's house, and a deputation of women beset him, crying out that the horse was the friend of man, and that religion forbade him to be eaten. In reply he threatened them with imprisonment and hanging; but with little effect, and the crowd dispersed, only to stir up the soldiers quartered in the houses of the town. The colony regulars, ill-disciplined at the best, broke into mutiny, and excited the battalion of Bearn to join them. Vaudreuil was helpless; Montcalm was in Quebec; and the task of dealing with the mutineers fell upon Levis, who proved equal to the crisis, took a high tone, threatened death to the first soldier who should refuse horse-flesh, assured them at the same time that he ate it every day himself, and by a characteristic mingling of authority and tact, quelled the storm.
[Footnote 539: Bougainville, Journal. Montcalm a Mirepoix, 20 Avril, 1758. Levis, Journal de la Guerre du Canada.]
The prospects of the next campaign began to open. Captain Pouchot had written from Niagara that three thousand savages were waiting to be let loose against the English borders. "What a scourge!" exclaims Bougainville. "Humanity groans at being forced to use such monsters. What can be done against an invisible enemy, who strikes and vanishes, swift as the lightning? It is the destroying angel." Captain Hebecourt kept watch and ward at Ticonderoga, begirt with snow and ice, and much plagued by English rangers, who sometimes got into the ditch itself. This was to reconnoitre the place in preparation for a winter attack which Loudon had planned, but which, like the rest of his schemes, fell to the ground. Towards midwinter a band of these intruders captured two soldiers and butchered some fifteen cattle close to the fort, leaving tied to the horns of one of them a note addressed to the commandant in these terms: "I am obliged to you, sir, for the rest you have allowed me to take and the fresh meat you have sent me. I shall take good care of my prisoners. My compliments to the Marquis of Montcalm." Signed, Rogers.
[Footnote 540: Montcalm a Bourlamaque, 28 Mars, 1758.]
[Footnote 541: Loudon to Pitt, 14 Feb. 1758.]
[Footnote 542: Journal de ce qui s'est passe en Canada, 1757, 1758. Compare Rogers, Journals, 72-75.]
A few weeks later Hebecourt had his revenge. About the middle of March a report came to Montreal that a large party of rangers had been cut to pieces a few miles from Ticonderoga, and that Rogers himself was among the slain. This last announcement proved false; but the rangers had suffered a crushing defeat. Colonel Haviland, commanding at Fort Edward, sent a hundred and eighty of them, men and officers, on a scouting party towards Ticonderoga; and Captain Pringle and Lieutenant Roche, of the twenty-seventh regiment, joined them as volunteers, no doubt through a love of hardy adventure, which was destined to be fully satisfied. Rogers commanded the whole. They passed down Lake George on the ice under cover of night, and then, as they neared the French outposts, pursued their way by land behind Rogers Rock and the other mountains of the western shore. On the preceding day, the twelfth of March, Hebecourt had received a reinforcement of two hundred Mission Indians and a body of Canadians. The Indians had no sooner arrived than, though nominally Christians, they consulted the spirits, by whom they were told that the English were coming. On this they sent out scouts, who came back breathless, declaring that they had found a great number of snow-shoe tracks. The superhuman warning being thus confirmed, the whole body of Indians, joined by a band of Canadians and a number of volunteers from the regulars, set out to meet the approaching enemy, and took their way up the valley of Trout Brook, a mountain gorge that opens from the west upon the valley of Ticonderoga.
Towards three o'clock on the afternoon of that day Rogers had reached a point nearly west of the mountain that bears his name. The rough and rocky ground was buried four feet in snow, and all around stood the gray trunks of the forest, bearing aloft their skeleton arms and tangled intricacy of leafless twigs. Close on the right was a steep hill, and at a little distance on the left was the brook, lost under ice and snow. A scout from the front told Rogers that a party of Indians was approaching along the bed of the frozen stream, on which he ordered his men to halt, face to that side, and advance cautiously. The Indians soon appeared, and received a fire that killed some of them and drove back the rest in confusion.
Not suspecting that they were but an advance-guard, about half the rangers dashed in pursuit, and were soon met by the whole body of the enemy. The woods rang with yells and musketry. In a few minutes some fifty of the pursuers were shot down, and the rest driven back in disorder upon their comrades. Rogers formed them all on the slope of the hill; and here they fought till sunset with stubborn desperation, twice repulsing the overwhelming numbers of the assailants, and thwarting all their efforts to gain the heights in the rear. The combatants were often not twenty yards apart, and sometimes they were mixed together. At length a large body of Indians succeeded in turning the right flank of the rangers. Lieutenant Phillips and a few men were sent by Rogers to oppose the movement; but they quickly found themselves surrounded, and after a brave defence surrendered on a pledge of good treatment. Rogers now advised the volunteers, Pringle and Roche, to escape while there was time, and offered them a sergeant as guide; but they gallantly resolved to stand by him. Eight officers and more than a hundred rangers lay dead and wounded in the snow. Evening was near and the forest was darkening fast, when the few survivors broke and fled. Rogers with about twenty followers escaped up the mountain; and gathering others about him, made a running fight against the Indian pursuers, reached Lake George, not without fresh losses, and after two days of misery regained Fort Edward with the remnant of his band. The enemy on their part suffered heavily, the chief loss falling on the Indians; who, to revenge themselves, murdered all the wounded and nearly all the prisoners, and tying Lieutenant Phillips and his men to trees, hacked them to pieces.
Captain Pringle and Lieutenant Roche had become separated from the other fugitives; and, ignorant of woodcraft, they wandered by moonlight amid the desolation of rocks and snow, till early in the night they met a man whom they knew as a servant of Rogers, and who said that he could guide them to Fort Edward. One of them had lost his snow-shoes in the fight; and, crouching over a miserable fire of broken sticks, they worked till morning to make a kind of substitute with forked branches, twigs, and a few leather strings. They had no hatchet to cut firewood, no blankets, no overcoats, and no food except part of a Bologna sausage and a little ginger which Pringle had brought with him. There was no game; not even a squirrel was astir; and their chief sustenance was juniper-berries and the inner bark of trees. But their worst calamity was the helplessness of their guide. His brain wandered; and while always insisting that he knew the country well, he led them during four days hither and thither among a labyrinth of nameless mountains, clambering over rocks, wading through snowdrifts, struggling among fallen trees, till on the fifth day they saw with despair that they had circled back to their own starting-point. On the next morning, when they were on the ice of Lake George, not far from Rogers Rock, a blinding storm of sleet and snow drove in their faces. Spent as they were, it was death to stop; and bending their heads against the blast, they fought their way forward, now on the ice, and now in the adjacent forest, till in the afternoon the storm ceased, and they found themselves on the bank of an unknown stream. It was the outlet of the lake; for they had wandered into the valley of Ticonderoga, and were not three miles from the French fort. In crossing the torrent Pringle lost his gun, and was near losing his life. All three of the party were drenched to the skin; and, becoming now for the first time aware of where they were, they resolved on yielding themselves prisoners to save their lives. Night, however, again found them in the forest. Their guide became delirious, saw visions of Indians all around, and, murmuring incoherently, straggled off a little way, seated himself in the snow, and was soon dead. The two officers, themselves but half alive, walked all night round a tree to keep the blood in motion. In the morning, again toiling on, they presently saw the fort across the intervening snowfields, and approached it, waving a white handkerchief. Several French officers dashed towards them at full speed, and reached them in time to save them from the clutches of the Indians, whose camps were near at hand. They were kindly treated, recovered from the effects of their frightful ordeal, and were afterwards exchanged. Pringle lived to old age, and died in 1800, senior major-general of the British army.
[Footnote 543: Rogers, two days after reaching Fort Edward, made a detailed report of the fight, which was printed in the New Hampshire Gazette and other provincial papers. It is substantially incorporated in his published Journals, which also contain a long letter from Pringle to Colonel Haviland, dated at Carillon (Ticonderoga), 28 March, and giving an excellent account of his and Roche's adventures. It was sent by a flag of truce, which soon after arrived from Fort Edward with a letter for Vaudreuil. The French accounts of the fight are Hebecourt a [Vaudreuil?], 15 Mars, 1758. Montcalm au Ministre de la Guerre, 10 Avril, 1758. Bougainville, Journal. Relation de l'Affaire de Roger, 19 Mars, 1758. Autre Relation, meme date. Levis, Journal. According to Levis, the French force consisted of 250 Indians and Canadians, and a number of officers, cadets, and soldiers. Roger puts it at 700. Most of the French writers put the force of the rangers, correctly, at about 180. Rogers reports his loss at 125. None of the wounded seem to have escaped, being either murdered after the fight, or killed by exposure in the woods. The Indians brought in 144 scalps, having no doubt divided some of them, after their ingenious custom. Rogers threw off his overcoat during the fight, and it was found on the field, with his commission in the pocket; whence the report of his death. There is an unsupported tradition that he escaped by sliding on his snow-shoes down a precipice of Rogers Rock.]
At this stormy epoch of Canadian history the sinister figure of the Intendant Bigot moves conspicuous on the scene. Not that he was answerable for all the manifold corruption that infected the colony, for much of it was rife before his time, and had a vitality of its own; but his office and character made him the centre of it, and, more than any other man, he marshalled and organized the forces of knavery.
In the dual government of Canada the Governor represented the King and commanded the troops; while the Intendant was charged with trade, finance, justice, and all other departments of civil administration. In former times the two functionaries usually quarrelled; but between Vaudreuil and Bigot there was perfect harmony.
Francois Bigot, in the words of his biographer, was "born in the bosom of the magistracy," both his father and his grandfather having held honorable positions in the parliament of Bordeaux. In appearance he was not prepossessing, though his ugly, pimpled face was joined with easy and agreeable manners. In spite of indifferent health, he was untiring both in pleasure and in work, a skilful man of business, of great official experience, energetic, good-natured, free-handed, ready to oblige his friends and aid them in their needs at the expense of the King, his master; fond of social enjoyments, lavish in hospitality.
[Footnote 544: Proces de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Memoire pour Messire Francois Bigot, accuse, contre Monsieur le Procureur-General du Roi, accusateur.]
A year or two before the war began, the engineer Franquet was sent from France to strengthen Louisbourg and inspect the defences of Canada. He kept a copious journal, full of curious observation, and affording bright glimpses not only of the social life of the Intendant, but of Canadian society in the upper or official class. Thus, among various matters of the kind, he gives us the following. Bigot, who was in Quebec, had occasion to go to Montreal to meet the Governor; and this official journey was turned into a pleasure excursion, of which the King paid all the costs. Those favored with invitations, a privilege highly prized, were Franquet, with seven or eight military officers and a corresponding number of ladies, including the wife of Major Pean, of whom Bigot was enamoured. A chief steward, cooks, servants, and other attendants, followed the party. The guests had been requested to send their portmanteaus to the Intendant's Palace six days before, that they might be sent forward on sledges along with bedding, table, service, cooking utensils, and numberless articles of comfort and luxury. Orders were given to the inhabitants along the way, on pain of imprisonment, to level the snowdrifts and beat the road smooth with ox-teams, as also to provide relays of horses. It is true that they were well paid for this last service; so well that the hire of a horse to Montreal and back again would cost the King the entire value of the animal. On the eighth of February the party met at the palace; and after a grand dinner set out upon their journey in twenty or more sleighs, some with two guests and a driver, and the rest with servants and attendants. The procession passed at full trot along St. Vallier street amid the shouts of an admiring crowd, stopped towards night at Pointe-aux-Trembles, where each looked for lodging; and then they all met and supped with the Intendant. The militia captain of the place was ordered to have fresh horses ready at seven in the morning, when Bigot regaled his friends with tea, coffee, and chocolate, after which they set out again, drove to Cap-Sante, and stopped two hours at the house of the militia captain to breakfast and warm themselves. In the afternoon they reached Ste. Anne-de-la-Perade, when Bigot gave them a supper at the house in which he lodged, and they spent the evening at cards.
The next morning brought them to Three Rivers, where Madame Marin, Franquet's travelling companion, wanted to stop to see her sister, the wife of Rigaud, who was then governor of the place. Madame de Rigaud, being ill, received her visitors in bed, and ordered an ample dinner to be provided for them; after which they returned to her chamber for coffee and conversation. Then they all set out again, saluted by the cannon of the fort.
Their next stopping-place was Isle-au-Castor, where, being seated at cards before supper, they were agreeably surprised by the appearance of the Governor, who had come down from Montreal to meet them with four officers, Duchesnaye, Marin, Le Mercier, and Pean. Many were the embraces and compliments; and in the morning they all journeyed on together, stopping towards night at the largest house they could find, where their servants took away the partitions to make room, and they sat down to a supper, followed by the inevitable game of cards. On the next night they reached Montreal and were lodged at the intendency, the official residence of the hospitable Bigot. The succeeding day was spent in visiting persons of eminence and consideration, among whom are to be noted the names, soon to become notorious, of Varin, naval commissary, Martel, King's storekeeper, Antoine Penisseault, and Francois Maurin. A succession of festivities followed, including the benediction of three flags for a band of militia on their way to the Ohio. All persons of quality in Montreal were invited on this occasion, and the Governor gave them a dinner and a supper. Bigot, however, outdid him in the plenitude of his hospitality, since, in the week before Lent, forty guests supped every evening at his table, and dances, masquerades, and cards consumed the night.
[Footnote 545: Franquet, Journal.]
His chief abode was at Quebec, in the capacious but somewhat ugly building known as the Intendant's Palace. Here it was his custom during the war to entertain twenty persons at dinner every day; and there was also a hall for dancing, with a gallery to which the citizens were admitted as spectators. The bounteous Intendant provided a separate dancing-hall for the populace; and, though at the same time he plundered and ruined them, his gracious demeanor long kept him a place in their hearts. Gambling was the chief feature of his entertainments, and the stakes grew deeper as the war went on. He played desperately himself, and early in 1758 lost two hundred and four thousand francs,—a loss which he will knew how to repair. Besides his official residence on the banks of the St. Charles, he had a country house about five miles distant, a massive old stone building in the woods at the foot of the mountain of Charlebourg; its ruins are now known as Chateau Bigot. In its day it was called the Hermitage; though the uses to which it was applied savored nothing of asceticism. Tradition connects it and its owner with a romantic, but more than doubtful, story of love, jealousy, and murder.
[Footnote 546: De Gaspe, Memoires, 119.]
The chief Canadian families were so social in their habits and so connected by intermarriage that, along with the French civil and military officers of the colonial establishment, they formed a society whose members all knew each other, like the corresponding class in Virginia. There was among them a social facility and ease rare in democratic communities; and in the ladies of Quebec and Montreal were often seen graces which visitors from France were astonished to find at the edge of a wilderness. Yet this small though lively society had anomalies which grew more obtrusive towards the close of the war. Knavery makes strange companions; and at the tables of high civil officials and colony officers of rank sat guests as boorish in manners as they were worthless in character.
Foremost among these was Joseph Cadet, son of a butcher at Quebec, who at thirteen went to sea as a pilot's boy, then kept the cows of an inhabitant of Charlebourg, and at last took up his father's trade and prospered in it. In 1756 Bigot got him appointed commissary-general, and made a contract with him which flung wide open the doors of peculation. In the next two years Cadet and his associates,Pean, Maurin, Corpron, and Penisseault, sold to the King, for about twenty-three million francs, provisions which cost them eleven millions, leaving a net profit of about twelve millions. It was not legally proved that the Intendant shared Cadet's gains; but there is no reasonable doubt that he did so. Bigot's chief profits rose, however, from other sources. It was his business to see that the King's storehouses for the supply of troops, militia, and Indians were kept well stocked. To this end he and Breard, naval comptroller at Quebec, made a partnership with the commercial house of Gradis and Son at Bordeaux. He next told the Colonial Minister that there were stores enough already in Canada to last three years, and that it would be more to the advantage of the King to buy them in the colony than to take the risk of sending them from France. Gradis and Son then shipped them to Canada in large quantities, while Breard or his agent declared at the custom-house that they belonged to the King, and so escaped the payment of duties. Theywere then, as occasion rose, sold to the King at a huge profit, always under fictitious names. Often they were sold to some favored merchant or speculator, who sold them in turn to Bigot's confederate, the King's storekeeper; and sometimes they passed through several successive hands, till the price rose to double or triple the first cost, the Intendant and his partners sharing the gains with friends and allies. They would let nobody else sell to the King; and thus a grinding monopoly was established, to the great profit of those who held it.
[Footnote 547: Proces de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Memoire pour Messire Francois Bigot. Compare Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]
[Footnote 548: Bigot au Ministre, 8 Oct. 1749.]
[Footnote 549: Proces de Bigot, Cadet, et autres. Memoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie. Compare Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]
Under the name of a trader named Claverie, Bigot, some time before the war, set up a warehouse on land belonging to the King and not far from his own palace. Here the goods shipped from Bordeaux were collected, to be sold in retail to the citizens, and in wholesale to favored merchants and the King. This establishment was popularly known as La Friponne, at Montreal, which was leagued with that of Quebec, and received goods from it.
Bigot and his accomplices invented many other profitable frauds. Thus he was charged with the disposal of the large quantity of furs belonging to his master, which it was his duty to sell at public auction, after due notice, to the highest bidder. Instead of this, he sold them privately at a low price to his own confederates. It was also his duty to provide transportation for troops, artillery, provisions, and stores, in which he made good profit by letting to the King, at high prices, boats or vessels which he had himself bought or hired for the purpose.
[Footnote 550: Jugement rendu souverainement dans l'Affaire du Canada.]
Yet these and other illicit gains still left him but the second place as public plunderer. Cadet, the commissary-general, reaped an ampler harvest, and became the richest man in the colony. One of the operations of this scoundrel, accomplished with the help of Bigot, consisted in buying for six hundred thousand francs a quantity of stores belonging to the King, and then selling them back to him for one million four hundred thousand. It was further shown on his trial that in 1759 he received 1,614,354 francs for stores furnished at the post of Miramichi, while the value of those actually furnished was but 889,544 francs; thus giving him a fraudulent profit of more than seven hundred and twenty-four thousand. Cadet's chief resource was the falsification of accounts. The service of the King in Canada was fenced about by rigid formalities. When supplies were wanted at any of the military posts, the commandant made a requisition specifying their nature and quantity, while, before pay could be drawn for them, the King's storekeeper, the local commissary, and the inspector must set their names as vouchers to the list, and finally Bigot must sign it. But precautions were useless where all were leagued to rob the King. It appeared on Cadet's trial that by gifts of wine, brandy, or money he had bribed the officers, both civil and military, at all the principal forts to attest the truth of accounts in which the supplies furnished by him were set at more than twice their true amount. Of the many frauds charged against him there was one peculiarly odious. Large numbers of refugee Acadians were to be supplied with rations to keep them alive. Instead of wholesome food, mouldered and unsalable salt cod was sent them, and paid for by the King at inordinate prices. It was but one of many heartless outrages practised by Canadian officials on this unhappy people.
[Footnote 551: Proces de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Requete du Procureur-General, 19 Dec. 1761.]
[Footnote 552: Proces de Bigot, Cadet, et autres, Memoire pour Messire Francois Bigot.]
[Footnote 553: Memoire sur le Canada (Archives Nationales).]
[Footnote 554: Memoires sur le Canada, 1749-1760.]
Cadet told the Intendant that the inhabitants were hoarding their grain, and got an order from him requiring them to sell it at a low fixed price, on pain of having it seized. Thus nearly the whole fell into his hands. Famine ensued; and he then sold it at a great profit, partly to the King, and partly to its first owners. Another of his devices was to sell provisions to the King which, being sent to the outlying forts, were falsely reported as consumed; on which he sold them to the King a second time. Not without reason does a writer of the time exclaim: "This is the land of abuses, ignorance, prejudice, and all that is monstrous in government. Peculation, monopoly, and plunder have become a bottomless abyss."
[Footnote 555: Considerations sur l'Etat present du Canada.]
The command of a fort brought such opportunities of making money that, according to Bougainville, the mere prospect of appointment to it for the usual term of three years was thought enough for a young man to marry upon. It was a favor in the gift of the Governor, who was accused of sharing the profits. These came partly from the fur-trade, and still more from frauds of various kinds. For example, a requisition was made for supplies as gifts to the Indians in order to keep them friendly or send them on the war-path; and their number was put many times above the truth in order to get more goods, which the commandant and his confederates then bartered for furs on their own account, instead of giving them as presents. "And," says a contemporary, addressing the Colonial Minister, "those who treat the savages so basely are officers of the King, depositaries of his authority, ministers of that Great Onontio whom they call their father." At the post of Green Bay, the partisan officer Marin, and Rigaud, the Governor's brother, made in a short time a profit of three hundred and twelve thousand francs. "Why is it," asks Bougainville, "that of all which the King sends to the Indians two thirds are stolen, and the rest sold to them instead of being given?"
[Footnote 556: Considerations sur l'Etat present du Canada.]
[Footnote 557: Memoire sur les Fraudes commises dans la Colonie. Bougainville, Memoire sur l'Etat de la Nouvelle France.]
[Footnote 558: Bougainville, Journal.]
The transportation of military stores gave another opportunity of plunder. The contractor would procure from the Governor or the local commandant an order requiring the inhabitants to serve him as boatmen, drivers, or porters, under a promise of exemption that year from duty as soldiers. This saved him his chief item of expense, and the profits of his contract rose in proportion.
A contagion of knavery ran through the official life of the colony; and to resist it demanded no common share of moral robustness. The officers of the troops of the line were not much within its influence; but those of the militia and colony regulars, whether of French or Canadian birth, shared the corruption of the civil service. Seventeen of them, including six chevaliers of St. Louis and eight commandants of forts, were afterwards arraigned for fraud and malversation, though some of the number were acquitted. Bougainville gives the names of four other Canadian officers as honorable exceptions to the general demoralization,—Benoit, Repentigny, Laine, and Le Borgne; "not enough," he observes, "to save Sodom."
Conspicuous among these military thieves was Major Pean, whose qualities as a soldier have been questioned, but who nevertheless had shown almost as much vigor in serving the King during the Ohio campaign of 1753 as he afterwards displayed effrontery in cheating him. "Le petit Pean" had married a young wife, Mademoiselle Desmeloizes, Canadian like himself, well born, and famed for beauty, vivacity, and wit. Bigot, who was near sixty, became her accepted lover; and the fortune of Pean was made. His first success seems to have taken him by surprise. He had bought as a speculation a large quantity of grain, with money of the King lent him by the Intendant. Bigot, officially omnipotent, then issued an order raising the commodity to a price far above that paid by Pean, who thus made a profit of fifty thousand crowns. A few years later his wealth was estimated at from two to four million francs. Madame Pean became a power in Canada, the dispenser of favors and offices; and all who sought opportunity to rob the King hastened to pay her their court. Pean, jilted by his own wife, made prosperous love to the wife of his partner, Penisseault; who, though the daughter of a Montreal tradesman, had the air of a woman of rank, and presided with dignity and grace at a hospitable board where were gathered the clerks of Cadet and other lesser lights of the administrative hierarchy. It was often honored by the presence of the Chevalier de Levis, who, captivated by the charms of the hostess, condescended to a society which his friends condemned as unworthy of his station. He succeeded Pean in the graces of Madame Penisseault, and after the war took her with him to France; while the aggrieved husband found consolation in the wives of the small functionaries under his orders.