When the assailants advanced to the charge, they were received with firmness. The militia and savages fled; and Dieskau was under the necessity of ordering his regulars to retreat. A close and ardent pursuit ensued; and the general himself, being mortally wounded and left alone, was taken prisoner.
During the engagement, a scouting party from fort Edward, under captains Folsom and McGennis, fell in with the baggage of the enemy and routed the guard which had been placed over it. Soon afterwards, the retreating army of Dieskau approached, and was gallantly attacked by the Americans. This unexpected attack from an enemy whose numbers were unknown, completed the confusion of the defeated army, which, abandoning its baggage, fled towards the posts on the lake.
[Footnote 151: Minot. Belknap. Entic.]
The repulse of Dieskau, magnified into a splendid victory, had some tendency to remove the depression of spirits occasioned by the defeat of Braddock, and to inspire the provincials with more confidence in themselves. General Johnson, who was wounded in the engagement, received very solid testimonials of the gratitude and liberality of his country. Five thousand pounds sterling, and the title of baronet, were the rewards of his service.
This success was not improved. The hopes and expectations of the public were not gratified; and the residue of the campaign was spent in fortifying the camp. Massachusetts pressed a winter campaign; but when her commissioners met those of Connecticut and the lieutenant governor and council of New York, it was unanimously agreed that the army under general Johnson should be discharged, except six hundred men to garrison fort Edward, on the great carrying place between the Hudson and lake George, and fort William Henry on that lake.
The French took possession of Ticonderoga, and fortified it.
[Sidenote: Expedition against Niagara.]
The expedition against Niagara and fort Frontignac, was also defeated by delays in making the preparations necessary for its prosecution. Shirley did not reach Oswego till late in August. After ascertaining the state of the garrison, he determined to abandon that part of the enterprise which respected fort Frontignac, and to proceed against Niagara. While employed in the embarkation of his troops on the lake, the rains set in with such violence as to suspend his operations until the season was so far advanced that the attempt against Niagara was also relinquished, and Shirley returned to Albany.
[Footnote 152: Minot. Belknap. Entic.]
Thus terminated the campaign of 1755. It opened with so decided a superiority of force on the part of the English, as to promise the most important advantages. But, if we except the expulsion of the French from Nova Scotia, no single enterprise was crowned with success. Great exertions were made by the northern colonies, but their efforts were productive of no benefit. From the want of one general superintending authority in their councils, which could contemplate and control the different parts of the system, which could combine all their operations, and direct them with effect towards the attainment of the object pursued, every thing failed. Such delays and deficiencies were experienced that, though a considerable force was in motion, it could not be brought to the point against which it was to act, until the season for action was over; nor execute the plans which were concerted until the opportunity had passed away.
[Illustration: General Braddock's Grave
Showing the monument recently erected
It is not generally appreciated that this British commander was chosen to head the expedition to destroy the French power in America, in 1754-5, because of his distinguished army record. In the Battle of Fontency, for instance, he was colonel in command of the famous Coldstream Guards, who covered themselves with glory; and shortly before embarking for America he was made major-general of the line. Braddock had won his promotion solely through gallantry and at a time when a lieutenant-colonelcy in this crack British regiment sold for L5000 Sterling.
Despite his fatal mistake in not heeding the advice of his aide, Washington, in conducting his expedition against Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh), Braddock regarded Washington and Franklin as the greatest men in the colonies. Meeting the French and Indians on July 9, 1755, the British were routed and Braddock was fatally wounded, after having four horses shot under him. Dying four days later at Great Meadows, where he is buried, he bequeathed his favorite surviving horse and body servant to Washington, then a colonel.]
The system adopted by the British cabinet, for conducting the war in America, left to the colonial governments to determine, what number of men each should bring into the field; but required them to support their own troops, and to contribute to the support of those sent from Great Britain to their assistance. But this system could not be enforced. The requisitions of the minister were adopted, rejected, or modified, at the discretion of the government on which they were made; and, as no rule of apportionment had been adopted, each colony was inclined to consider itself as having contributed more than its equal share towards the general object, and as having received, less than its just proportion, of the attention and protection of the mother country. This temper produced a slow and reluctant compliance on the part of some, which enfeebled and disconcerted enterprises, for the execution of which the resources of several were to be combined.
[Sidenote: Distress of the frontiers.]
In the mean time the whole frontier, as far as North Carolina, was exposed to the depredations of the savages, who were, almost universally, under the influence of the French. Their bloody incursions were made in all directions, and many settlements were entirely broken up.
It is a curious and singular fact that, while hostilities were thus carried on by France and England against each other in America, the relations of peace and amity were preserved between them in Europe. Each nation had, in consequence of the military operations in 1754, determined to fit out a considerable armament to aid the efforts made in its colonies; and, when it was understood that admiral Boscawen was ordered to intercept that of France, the Duc de Mirepoix, the French ambassador at London, complained of the proposed measure, and gave formal notice that the King his master would consider the first gun fired at sea, as a declaration of war. On receiving intelligence of the capture of a part of the squadron by Boscawen, the French minister at the court of St. James was recalled without asking an audience of leave; upon which, letters of marque and reprisal were issued by the British government. This prompt and vigorous measure had much influence on the war, which was declared, in form, the following spring.
General Shirley, on his return to Albany after the close of the campaign in 1755, received a commission appointing him commander in chief of the King's forces in North America. A meeting of all the governors was immediately called at New York, for the purpose of concerting a plan for the ensuing campaign. Operations equally extensive with those proposed for the preceding campaign were again contemplated. To ensure their success, it was determined to raise ten thousand men, for the expedition against Crown Point; six thousand, for that against Niagara; and three thousand, for that against fort Du Quesne. To favour the operations of this formidable force, it was farther determined that two thousand men should advance up the Kennebec, destroy the settlement on the Chaudiere, and, descending to the mouth of that river, keep all that part of Canada in alarm.
In the mean time, it was proposed to take advantage of the season when the lake should be frozen, to seize Ticonderoga, in order to facilitate the enterprise against Crown Point. This project was defeated by the unusual mildness of the winter; and, about the middle of January, general Shirley repaired to Boston in order to make the necessary preparations for the ensuing campaign.
Such was the solicitude to accomplish the objects in contemplation, and so deep an interest did the colonists take in the war, that every nerve was strained, to raise and equip the number of men required.
[Sidenote: Command bestowed on Lord Loudoun.]
Having made in Massachusetts all the preparations for the next campaign, so far as depended on the government, Shirley repaired to Albany, where he was superseded by major general Abercrombie; who, soon afterwards, yielded the command to the earl of Loudoun. Early in the year, that nobleman had been appointed to the command of all his majesty's forces in North America; and extensive powers, civil as well as military, had been conferred on him. But he did not arrive at Albany until midsummer.
[Footnote 153: He was also recalled from his government.]
In the spring, the provincial troops destined for the expedition against Crown Point, were assembled in the neighbourhood of lake George. They were found not much to exceed seven thousand men; and even this number was to be reduced in order to garrison posts in the rear. This army being too weak to accomplish its object, major general Winslow, who commanded it, declared himself unable to proceed on the expedition without reinforcements. The arrival of a body of British troops, with general Abercrombie, removed this difficulty; but another occurred which still farther suspended the enterprise.
The regulations respecting rank had given great disgust in America; and had rendered it disagreeable and difficult to carry on any military operations which required a junction of British and provincial troops. When consulted on this delicate subject, Winslow assured general Abercrombie of his apprehensions that, if the result of the junction should be to place the provincial troops under British officers, it would produce general discontent, and perhaps desertion. His officers concurred in this opinion; and it was finally agreed that British troops should succeed the provincials in the posts then occupied by them, so as to enable the whole colonial force to proceed under Winslow, against Crown Point.
On the arrival of the earl of Loudoun, this subject was revived. The question was seriously propounded, "whether the troops in the several colonies of New England, armed with his majesty's arms, would, in obedience to his commands signified to them, act in conjunction with his European troops; and under the command of his commander in chief?" The colonial officers answered this question in the affirmative; but entreated it as a favour of his lordship, as the New England troops had been raised on particular terms, that he would permit them, so far as might consist with his majesty's service, to act separately. This request was acceded to; but before the army could be put in motion, the attention both of the Europeans and provincials, was directed to their own defence.
[Sidenote: Montcalm takes Oswego.]
Monsieur de Montcalm, an able officer, who succeeded Dieskau in the command of the French troops in Canada, sought to compensate by superior activity, for the inferiority of his force. While the British and Americans were adjusting their difficulties respecting rank, and deliberating whether to attack Niagara or fort Du Quesne, Montcalm advanced at the head of about five thousand Europeans, Canadians, and Indians, against Oswego. In three days he brought up his artillery, and opened a battery which played on the fort with considerable effect. Colonel Mercer, the commanding officer, was killed; and, in a few hours, the place was declared by the engineers to be no longer tenable. The garrison, consisting of the regiments of Shirley and Pepperel, amounting to sixteen hundred men, supplied with provisions for five months, capitulated, and became prisoners of war. A respectable naval armament, then on the lake, was also captured.
The fort at Oswego had been erected in the country of the Five Nations, and had been viewed by them with some degree of jealousy. Montcalm, actuated by a wise policy, destroyed it in their presence; declaring at the same time, that the French wished only to enable them to preserve their neutrality, and would, therefore, make no other use of the rights of conquest, than to demolish the fortresses which the English had erected in their country to overawe them.
The British general, disconcerted at this untoward event, abandoned all his plans of offensive operations. General Winslow was ordered to relinquish his intended expedition, and to fortify his camp, and endeavour to prevent the enemy from penetrating into the country by the way of South bay, or Wood creek. Major general Webb, with fourteen hundred men, was posted at the great carrying place; and, to secure his rear, sir William Johnson, with one thousand militia, was stationed at the German flats.
These dispositions being made, the colonies were strenuously urged to reinforce the army. It was represented to them that, should any disaster befall Winslow, the enemy might be enabled to overrun the country, unless opposed by a force much superior to that in the field.
[Footnote 154: The northern colonies had been enabled to attend to these representations, and, in some degree to comply with the requisitions made on them, by having received from the British government, in the course of the summer, a considerable sum of money as a reimbursement for the extraordinary expenses of the preceding year. One hundred and fifteen thousand pounds sterling had been apportioned among them, and this sum gave new vigour and energy to their councils.]
[Sidenote: Small-pox in Albany.]
During this state of apprehensive inactivity, the small-pox broke out in Albany. This enemy was more dreaded by the provincials than Montcalm himself. So great was the alarm, that it was found necessary to garrison the posts in that quarter, entirely with British troops, and to discharge all the provincials except a regiment raised in New York.
Thus terminated for a second time, in defeat and utter disappointment, the sanguine hopes which the colonists had formed of a brilliant and successful campaign. After all their expensive and laborious preparations, not an effort had been made to drive the invaders of the country even from their out-post at Ticonderoga.
The expedition to lake Ontario had not been commenced; and no preparations had been made for that against fort Du Quesne. The colonies of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, far from contemplating offensive operations, had been unable to defend themselves; and their frontiers were exposed to all the horrors of Indian warfare.
The expedition up the Kennebec was also abandoned. Thus, no one enterprise contemplated at the opening of the campaign, was carried into execution.
[Footnote 155: Minot. Belknap. Entic.]
About the middle of January, the governors of the northern provinces were convened in a military council at Boston. The earl of Loudoun opened his propositions to them with a speech in which he attributed all the disasters that had been sustained, to the colonies; and in which he proposed that New England should raise four thousand men for the ensuing campaign. Requisitions proportionably large were also made on New York and New Jersey.
[Sidenote: Campaign of 1757.]
The ill success which had, thus far, attended the combined arms of Great Britain and her colonies, did not discourage them. Their exertions to bring a powerful force into the field were repeated; and the winter was employed in preparations for the ensuing campaign. The requisitions of lord Loudoun were complied with; and he found himself, in the spring, at the head of a respectable army. Some important enterprise against Canada, when the armament expected from Europe should arrive, was eagerly anticipated; and the most sanguine hopes of success were again entertained.
[Sidenote: Admiral Holbourne arrives.]
[Sidenote: Is joined by Lord Loudoun.]
In the beginning of July, Admiral Holbourne reached Halifax with a powerful squadron, and reinforcement of five thousand British troops commanded by George Viscount Howe, and, on the 6th of the same month, the earl of Loudoun sailed from New York with six thousand regulars. A junction of these formidable armaments was effected without opposition, and the Loudoun colonists looked forward with confidence for a decisive blow which would shake the power of France in America.
[Sidenote: The expedition against Louisbourg relinquished.]
The plan of this campaign varied from that which had been adopted in the preceding years. The vast and complex movements heretofore proposed, were no longer contemplated, and offensive operations were to be confined to a single object. Leaving the posts on the lakes strongly garrisoned, the British general determined to direct his whole disposable force against Louisbourg; and fixed on Halifax as the place of rendezvous for the fleet and army.
After assembling the land and naval forces at this place, information was received that a fleet had lately arrived from France, and that Louisbourg was so powerfully defended as to render any attempt upon it hopeless. In consequence of this intelligence the enterprise was deferred until the next year; the general and admiral returned to New York in August; and the provincials were dismissed.
[Sidenote: Fort William Henry taken.]
The French general, feeling no apprehension for Louisbourg, determined to avail himself of the absence of a large part of the British force, and to obtain complete possession of lake George. With an army collected chiefly from the garrisons of Crown Point, Ticonderoga, and the adjacent forts; amounting, with the addition of Indians, and Canadians, to nine thousand men, the marquis de Montcalm laid siege to fort William Henry. That place was well fortified, and garrisoned by three thousand men; and derived additional security from an army of four thousand men at fort Edwards, under the command of major general Webb. Notwithstanding the strength of the place and its means of defence, Montcalm urged his approaches with so much vigour, that articles of capitulation, surrendering the fort, artillery, and stores, and stipulating that the garrison should not serve against his Most Christian Majesty or his allies for the space of eighteen months, were signed within six days after its investment.
When this important place was surrendered, the commander in chief had not returned from Halifax. General Webb, alarmed for fort Edward, applied for reinforcements; and the utmost exertions were made to furnish the aids he required. The return of the army to New York on the last of August, dispelled all fear of an invasion, and enabled the general, who contemplated no farther active operations, to dismiss the provincials.
Unsuccessful in all his attempts to gather laurels from the common enemy, the earl of Loudoun engaged in a controversy with Massachusetts; in the commencement of which, he displayed a degree of vigour which had been kept in reserve for two campaigns. This controversy is thus stated by Mr. Minot.
Upon information from the governor that a regiment of Highlanders was expected in Boston, the general court provided barracks for the accommodation of one thousand men at Castle Island. Soon afterwards, several officers arrived from Nova Scotia to recruit their regiments. Finding it impracticable to perform this service while in the barracks at the castle, they applied to the justices of the peace to quarter and billet them, as provided by act of parliament. The justices refused to grant this request, on the principle that the act did not extend to the colonies. When informed of this refusal, lord Loudoun addressed a letter to the justices, insisting peremptorily on the right, as the act did, in his opinion, extend to America, and to every part of the King's dominions, where the necessities of the people should oblige him to send his troops. He concluded a long dissertation on the question in the following decisive terms, "that having used gentleness and patience, and confuted their arguments, without effect, they having returned to their first mistaken plan, their not complying would lay him under the necessity of taking measures to prevent the whole continent from being thrown into a state of confusion. As nothing was wanting to set things right, but the justices doing their duty (for no act of the assembly was necessary or wanting for it) he had ordered the messenger to remain only forty-eight hours in Boston; and if on his return he found things not settled, he would instantly order into Boston the three battalions from New York, Long Island, and Connecticut; and if more were wanting, he had two in the Jerseys at hand, besides those in Pennsylvania. As public business obliged him to take another route, he had no more time left to settle this material affair, and must take the necessary steps before his departure, in case they were not done by themselves."
The general court passed a law for the purpose of removing the inconveniences of which the officers complained; but, this law not equalling the expectations of lord Loudoun, he communicated his dissatisfaction in a letter to the governor, which was laid before the assembly, who answered by an address to his excellency in which the spirit of their forefathers seemed to revive. They again asserted that the act of parliament did not extend to the colonies; and that they had for this reason enlarged the barracks at the castle, and passed a law for the benefit of recruiting parties, as near the act of parliament as the circumstances of the country would admit; that such a law was necessary to give power to the magistrates, and they were willing to make it, whenever his majesty's troops were necessary for their defence. They asserted their natural rights as Englishmen; that by the royal charter, the powers and privileges of civil government were granted to them; that their enjoyment of these was their support under all burdens, and would animate them to resist an invading enemy to the last. If their adherence to their rights and privileges should, in any measure, lessen the esteem which his lordship had conceived for them, it would be their great misfortune; but that they would have the satisfaction of reflecting that, both in their words and actions, they had been governed by a sense of duty to his majesty, and faithfulness to the trust committed to them.
This address being forwarded to lord Loudoun, he affected to rely on their removing all difficulties in future, and not only countermanded the march of the troops, but condescended to make some conciliatory observations respecting the zeal of the province in his majesty's service. For these the two houses made an ample return in a message to the governor, in which they disavowed any intention of lessening their dependence on parliament; and expressly acknowledged the authority of all acts which concerned, and extended to, the colonies.
This explicit avowal of sentiments so different from those which Massachusetts had long cherished respecting her connexion with the mother country, would induce a belief that she had recently become more colonial in her opinions. This was probably the fact; but Mr. Minot, who may be presumed to have been personally acquainted with the transaction, does not attribute to that cause entirely, the conciliating temper manifested at the close of a contest, which had commenced with such appearances of asperity. Massachusetts had made large advances for the prosecution of the war, for which she expected reimbursements from parliament; and was not willing, at such a juncture, to make impressions unfavorable to the success of her claims.
Preparations for the campaign of 1758.... Admiral Boscawen and general Amherst arrive at Halifax.... Plan of the campaign.... Expedition against Louisbourg, Ticonderoga, and Crown Point.... General Abercrombie repulsed under the walls of Ticonderoga.... Fort Frontignac taken.... Expedition against fort Du Quesne.... Preparations for the campaign of 1759.... General Amherst succeeds general Abercrombie.... Plan of the campaign.... Ticonderoga and Crown Point taken.... Army goes into winter quarters.... French repulsed at Oswego.... Defeated at Niagara.... Niagara taken.... Expedition against Quebec.... Check to the English army.... Battle on the Plains of Abraham.... Death of Wolfe and Montcalm.... Quebec capitulates.... Garrisoned by the English under the command of general Murray.... Attempt to recover Quebec.... Battle near Sillery.... Quebec besieged by Monsieur Levi.... Siege raised.... Montreal capitulates.... War with the southern Indians.... Battle near the town of Etchoe.... Grant defeats them and burns their towns.... Treaty with the Cherokees.... War with Spain.... Success of the English.... Peace.
The affairs of Great Britain in North America wore a more gloomy aspect, at the close of the campaign of 1757, than at any former period. By the acquisition of fort William Henry, the French had obtained complete possession of the lakes Champlain and George. By the destruction of Oswego, they had acquired the dominion of those lakes which connect the St. Lawrence with the waters of the Mississippi, and unite Canada to Louisiana. By means of fort Du Quesne, they maintained their ascendency over the Indians, and held undisturbed possession of the country west of the Allegheny mountains; while the English settlers were driven to the Blue Ridge. The great object of the war in that quarter was gained, and France held the country for which hostilities had been commenced. With inferior numbers, the French had been victorious in every campaign, and had uniformly gained ground on the English colonies. Nor were they less successful elsewhere. The flame of war which was kindled in America, had communicated itself to Europe and Asia. In every quarter of the world where hostilities had been carried on, the British arms were attended with defeat and disgrace.
But this inglorious scene was about to be succeeded by one of unrivalled brilliancy. From the point of extreme depression to which their affairs had sunk, the brightest era of British history was to commence. Far from being broken by misfortune, the spirit of the nation was high; and more of indignation than dismay was inspired by the ill success of their arms. The public voice had, at length, made its way to the throne, and had forced, on the unwilling monarch, a minister who has been justly deemed one of the greatest men of the age in which he lived.
Mr. Pitt had been long distinguished in the House of Commons, for the boldness and the splendour of his eloquence. His parliamentary talents, and the independent grandeur of his character, had given him a great ascendency in that body, and had made him the idol of the nation. In 1756, he had been introduced into the cabinet, but could not long retain his place. The public affection followed him out of office; and, the national disasters continuing, it was found impracticable to conduct the complicated machine of government without his aid. In the summer of 1757, an administration was formed, which conciliated the great contending interests in parliament; and Mr. Pitt was placed at its head. The controlling superiority of his character gave him the same ascendency in the cabinet which he had obtained in the house of commons; and he seemed to dictate the measures of the nation. Only a short time was required to show that qualities, seldom united in the same person, were combined in him; and his talents for action seemed to eclipse even those he had displayed in debate. His plans partaking of the proud elevation of his own mind, and the exalted opinion he entertained of his countrymen, were always grand; and the means he employed for their execution, were always adequate to the object. Possessing the public confidence without limitation, he commanded all the resources of the nation, and drew liberally from the public purse; but the money was always faithfully and judiciously applied to the public service. Too great in his spirit, too lofty in his views, to become the instrument of faction; when placed at the head of the nation, he regarded only the interest of the nation; and, overlooking the country or the party, which had given birth to merit, he searched for merit only, and employed it wherever it was found. From the elevation of the house of Brunswick to the British throne, a great portion of the people, under the denomination of tories, had been degraded, persecuted, and oppressed. Superior to this narrow and short sighted policy, Mr. Pitt sought to level these enfeebling and irritating distinctions, and to engage every British subject in the cause of his country. Thus commanding both the strength and the wealth of the kingdom, with perhaps greater talents, he possessed certainly greater means, than any of his predecessors.
[Footnote 156: Fussel.]
In no part of his majesty's dominions was the new administration more popular than in his American colonies. Deeply and peculiarly interested in the events of the war, they looked for a change of fortune from this change of men, and cheerfully made every exertion, of which they were capable, for the ensuing campaign. The circular letter of Mr. Pitt assured the several governors that, to repair the losses and disappointments of the last inactive campaign, the cabinet was determined to send a formidable force, to operate by sea and land, against the French in America; and he called upon them to raise as large bodies of men, within their respective governments, as the number of inhabitants might allow. Arms, ammunition, tents, provisions, and boats, would, he said, be furnished by the crown; and he required the colonies to clothe and pay their men; assuring them, at the same time, that it should be recommended to parliament to make them compensation.
[Sidenote: Great preparations for the campaign.]
The legislature of Massachusetts agreed to furnish seven thousand men; Connecticut five thousand; and New Hampshire three thousand. These troops, great as were their numbers, when compared with the population of the country, were in the field early in May; and the transports for carrying those of Massachusetts to Halifax, were ready to sail in fifteen days after they were engaged. Near one-third of the effective men of that province, are said to have been in military service; and the taxes were so heavy that, in the capital, they amounted to two-thirds of the income of real estate.
[Footnote 157: Minot.]
[Sidenote: Admiral Boscawen and General Amherst arrive.]
In the mother country too, the utmost activity was transfused into every department. Her fleets blocked up in the French ports the men and stores designed for Canada, and captured, on the seas, most of those which had been able to make their way into the ocean. At the same time, a powerful armament, equipped with unusual expedition, sailed from her ports. Early in the spring, admiral Boscawen arrived at Halifax with a formidable fleet, and twelve thousand British troops, under the command of general Amherst.
The earl of Loudoun had returned to England, and the command of the British and American forces in the colonies, had devolved on general Abercrombie. That officer found himself at the head of the most powerful army ever seen in the new world. His whole numbers, comprehending troops of every description, have been computed by Mr. Belsham at fifty thousand men, of whom twenty thousand were provincials.
The objects of the campaign were no longer defeated by delays. The preparations for action were made during the winter, and military operations commenced in the spring.
[Sidenote: Plan of the campaign.]
Three expeditions were proposed. The first was against Louisbourg; the second against Ticonderoga and Crown Point; and the third against fort Du Quesne.
[Footnote 158: Minot. Belknap.]
[Sidenote: Expedition against Louisbourg.]
The army destined against Louisbourg, consisting of fourteen thousand men, was commanded by major general Amherst; and the fleet, consisting of twenty ships of the line and eighteen frigates, by admiral Boscawen. On the 24th of May, the troops embarked at Halifax; and, on the 2d of June, arrived before Louisbourg.
The use made by Great Britain of her naval superiority was felt in no part of the possessions of his Most Christian Majesty more sensibly than in Louisbourg. The garrison of that important place was composed of only two thousand five hundred regulars, aided by six hundred militia. The harbour was defended by five ships of the line; one ship of fifty guns; and five frigates, three of which were sunk across the mouth of the basin.
Soon after investment of the place, one of the large ships was set on fire by a bomb from a battery on the light house point, and blown up. The flames were communicated to two others which shared the same fate. The English admiral then sent a detachment of six hundred seamen, in boats, into the harbour, under captains La Forcey and Balfour, to make an attempt on the two remaining ships of the line, which still kept possession of the basin. This service was executed with great gallantry. One, which was aground, was destroyed, and the other was towed off in triumph.
The harbour being in possession of the English, and several practicable breaches made in the works, the place was no longer deemed defensible, and the governor was under the necessity of capitulating. The garrison became prisoners of war, and Louisbourg, with its artillery, provisions and military stores; and also Island Royal, St. Johns, and their dependencies, were surrendered to the English, who encountered no farther difficulty in taking possession of the whole island.
[Footnote 159: Minot. Belknap. Belsham. Russel.]
This important acquisition was made with the loss of between five and six hundred men, killed and wounded. The joy it diffused throughout the colonies, long familiarised to disaster, was in proportion to their former disappointments.
[Sidenote: Against Ticonderoga.]
The expedition against Ticonderoga and Crown Point was conducted by general Abercrombie in person. His army, consisting of near sixteen thousand effectives, of whom nine thousand were provincials, was attended by a formidable train of artillery, and possessed every requisite to ensure success.
On the 5th of July, he embarked on lake George, and reached the landing place early the next morning. A disembarkation being effected without opposition, the troops were immediately formed into four columns, the British in the centre, and the Provincials on the flanks; in which order they marched towards the advanced guard of the French, composed of one battalion posted in a log camp, which, on the approach of the English, made a precipitate retreat.
Abercrombie continued his march towards Ticonderoga, with the intention of investing that place; but, the woods being thick, and the guides unskilful, his columns were thrown into confusion, and, in some measure, entangled with each other. In this situation lord Howe, at the head of the right centre column, fell in with a part of the advance guard of the French, which, in retreating from lake George, was likewise lost in the wood. He immediately attacked and dispersed them; killing several, and taking one hundred and forty-eight prisoners, among whom were five officers.
This small advantage was purchased at a dear rate. Though only two officers, on the side of the British, were killed, one of these was lord Howe himself, who fell on the first fire. This gallant young nobleman had endeared himself to the whole army. The British and provincials alike lamented his death; and the assembly of Massachusetts passed a vote for the erection of a superb cenotaph to his memory, in the collegiate church of Westminster, among the heroes and patriots of Great Britain.
Without farther opposition, the English army took possession of the post at the Saw Mills, within two miles of Ticonderoga. This fortress, which commands the communication between the two lakes, is encompassed on three sides by water, and secured in front by a morass. The ordinary garrison amounting to four thousand men, was stationed under the cannon of the place, and covered by a breast-work, the approach to which had been rendered extremely difficult by trees felled in front, with their branches outward, many of which were sharpened so as to answer the purpose of chevaux-de-frize. This body of troops was rendered still more formidable by its general than by its position. It was commanded by the marquis de Montcalm.
Having learned from his prisoners the strength of the army under the walls of Ticonderoga, and that a reinforcement of three thousand men was daily expected, general Abercrombie thought it advisable to storm the place before this reinforcement should arrive. Being informed by an engineer directed to reconnoitre the works, that they were unfinished, and were practicable, he resolved, without waiting for his artillery, to storm the lines; and the dispositions for an assault were instantly made.
The rangers, the light infantry, and the right wing of the provincials, were ordered to form a line out of cannon shot of the intrenchments, with their right extending to lake George, and their left to lake Champlain. The regulars who were to storm the works, were formed in the rear of this line. The piquets were to begin the attack, and to be sustained by the grenadiers; and the grenadiers by the battalions. The whole were ordered to march up briskly, to rush upon the enemy's fire, and to reserve their own until they had passed the breast-work.
The troops marched to the assault with great intrepidity; but their utmost efforts could make no impression on the works. The impediments in front of the intrenchments retarded their advance, and exposed them, while entangled among the boughs of the trees, to a very galling fire. The breast-work itself was eight or nine feet high, and much stronger than had been represented; so that the assailants, who do not appear to have been furnished with ladders, were unable to pass it. After a contest of near four hours, and several repeated attacks, general Abercrombie ordered a retreat.
[Sidenote: General Abercrombie repulsed under the walls of Ticonderoga.]
The army retired to the camp from which it had marched in the morning; and, the next day, resumed its former position on the south side of lake George.
[Footnote 160: Letter of general Abercrombie.]
In this rash attempt, the killed and wounded of the English amounted to near two thousand men, of whom not quite four hundred were provincials. The French were covered during the whole action, and their loss was inconsiderable.
[Footnote 161: Minot. Belknap.]
Entirely disconcerted by this unexpected and bloody repulse, General Abercrombie relinquished his designs against Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Searching however for the means of repairing the misfortune, if not the disgrace, sustained by his arms, he readily acceded to a proposition made by colonel Bradstreet, for an expedition against fort Frontignac. This fortress stands on the north side of Ontario, at the point where the St. Lawrence issues from that lake; and though a post of real importance, had been left, in a great degree, undefended.
The detachment designed for this service was commanded by colonel Bradstreet. It consisted of three thousand men, of whom two hundred were British, and was furnished with eight pieces of cannon, and three mortars.
[Sidenote: Fort Frontignac taken.]
Colonel Bradstreet embarked on the Ontario at Oswego, and on the 25th of August, landed within one mile of the fort. In two days, his batteries were opened at so short a distance that almost every shell took effect; and the governor, finding the place absolutely untenable, surrendered at discretion. The Indians having deserted, the prisoners amounted only to one hundred and ten men. A great quantity of military stores, together with nine armed vessels, mounting from eight to eighteen guns, also fell into the hands of the English.
[Footnote 162: Letter of colonel Bradstreet.]
After destroying the fort and vessels, and such stores as could not be brought off, colonel Bradstreet returned to the army which undertook nothing farther during the campaign.
[Sidenote: Expedition against Fort Du Quesne.]
The demolition of fort Frontignac and of the stores which had been collected there, contributed materially, to the success of the expedition against fort Du Quesne. The conduct of this enterprise had been entrusted to general Forbes, who marched from Philadelphia, about the beginning of July, at the head of the main body of the army, destined for this service, in order to join colonel Bouquet at Raystown. So much time was employed in preparing to move from this place, that the Virginia regulars, commanded by colonel Washington, were not ordered to join the British troops until the month of September. It had been determined not to use the road made by Braddock, but to cut a new one from Raystown to fort du Quesne. About the time this resolution was formed, and before the army was put in motion, major Grant was detached from the advanced post at Loyal Hannan with eight hundred men, to reconnoitre the fort and the adjacent country. This gentleman invited an attack from the garrison, the result of which was that upwards of three hundred of the detachment were killed and wounded, and major Grant himself was made a prisoner.
[Footnote 163: MSS.]
[Sidenote: Fort Du Quesne evacuated.]
Early in October general Forbes moved from Raystown; but the obstructions to his march were so great that he did not reach fort Du Quesne until late in November. The garrison, being deserted by the Indians, and too weak to maintain the place against the formidable army which was approaching, abandoned the fort the evening before the arrival of the British, and escaped down the Ohio in boats. The English placed a garrison in it, and changed its name to Pittsburg, in compliment to their popular minister. The acquisition of this post was of great importance to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Its possession had given the French an absolute control over the Indians of the Ohio, who were accustomed to assemble at that place, for the purpose of making their destructive incursions into those colonies. Their route was marked by fire and the scalping knife; and neither age nor sex could afford exemption from their ferocity. The expulsion of the French gave the English entire possession of the country, and produced a complete revolution in the disposition of the Indians inhabiting it. Finding the current of success to be running against their ancient friends, they were willing to reconcile themselves to the most powerful; and all the Indians between the lakes and the Ohio concluded a peace with the English.
Although the events of 1758 did not equal the expectations which had been formed from the force brought into the field, the advantages were decisive. The whole country constituting the original cause of the war, had changed masters, and was in possession of the English. The acquisition of the island of Cape Breton opened the way to Quebec; and their success in the west enabled them to direct all their force against Canada. The colonists, encouraged by this revolution in their affairs, and emboldened, by the conquests already made, to hope for others still more extensive, prepared vigorously on the application of Mr. Pitt, for the farther prosecution of the war.
[Sidenote: General Amherst succeeds General Abercrombie.]
Late in the year 1758, general Abercrombie was succeeded in the command of the army by major general Amherst, who formed the bold plan of conquering Canada in the course of the ensuing campaign.
[Sidenote: Plan of the campaign.]
The decided superiority of Great Britain at sea, and the great exertions of France in other quarters of the world, still prevented the arrival of such reinforcements as were necessary for the preservation of his most christian majesty's possessions in North America. To take advantage of this weakness, the English proposed to enter Canada by three different routes, with three powerful armies; and to attack all the strongholds by which that country was defended.
It was determined that one division of the army, to be commanded by brigadier general Wolfe, a young officer who had signalised himself in the siege of Louisbourg, should ascend the St. Lawrence, and lay siege to Quebec. A strong fleet was to escort the troops destined for this enterprise, and to co-operate with them.
Major general Amherst was to lead the central and main army against Ticonderoga and Crown Point. After making himself master of these places, he was to proceed over lake Champlain, and by the way of Richelieu, to the St. Lawrence, and down that river, so as to effect a junction with general Wolfe before the walls of Quebec. From their combined force, the conquest of the capital of Canada was expected.
The third army was to be commanded by general Prideaux. Its first destination was against Niagara. After the reduction of this place, Prideaux was to embark on lake Ontario, and proceed down the St. Lawrence against Montreal. Should Montreal fall into his hands before the surrender of Quebec, he was to join the grand army at that place.
[Footnote 164: Minot. Belknap. Belsham. Russel. Entic.]
It could not be expected that a plan so extensive and so complex, should succeed in all its parts; and it was greatly to be apprehended, that the failure of one part might defeat the whole. But it suited the daring spirit which eminently distinguished the officers then commanding the British forces, and was entered upon with zeal and activity.
[Sidenote: Ticonderoga abandoned.]
As the other two expeditions, especially that against Quebec, were supposed to depend greatly on the celerity with which the movements of the main army should be made, general Amherst began his preparations in the commencement of winter, for the enterprise he was to undertake. Early in the spring, he transferred his head quarters from New York to Albany, where his troops were assembled by the last of May. Notwithstanding his continued exertions, the summer was far advanced before he could cross lake George; nor did he reach Ticonderoga until the 22d of July. The lines drawn around that place were immediately abandoned, and the English took possession of them.
The French troops in this quarter being unequal to the defence of the posts they held, their object seems to have been to embarrass and delay the invading army; but not to hazard any considerable diminution of strength, by persevering in the defence of places until the retreat of the garrison should become impracticable. The hope was entertained, that by retreating from post to post, and making a show of intending to defend each, the advance of the English might be retarded, until the season for action on the lakes should pass away; while the French would be gradually strengthened by concentration, and thus enabled to maintain some point, which would arrest the progress of Amherst down the St. Lawrence.
In pursuance of this plan, as soon as the English had completed their arrangements for taking possession of lake Champlain, the garrison of Ticonderoga retreated to Crown Point.
[Sidenote: and Crown Point.]
Early in the month of August, Amherst advanced to Crown Point, which was abandoned on his approach; and the garrison retired to isle Aux Noix, at the northern extremity of lake Champlain. The French had collected between three and four thousand men at this place, in an entrenched camp, defended by artillery, and protected by several armed vessels on the lake. After making great exertions to obtain a naval superiority, General Amherst embarked his army on lake Champlain; but, a succession of storms compelling him to abandon the farther prosecution of the enterprise, he returned to Crown Point, where the troops were put into winter quarters.
[Footnote 165: Minot. Belknap. Belsham. Russel. New York Gazette.]
In the beginning of July, general Prideaux, embarked on lake Ontario with the army destined against Niagara. Immediately after his departure from Oswego, that place, which was defended by twelve hundred men under the command of colonel Haldiman, was vigorously attacked by a body of French and Indians, who were repulsed with some loss.
In the mean time, Prideaux proceeded towards Niagara, and landed without opposition, about three miles from the fort. The place was invested in form, and the siege was carried on by regular approaches. In its progress, General Prideaux was killed by the bursting of a cohorn, and the command devolved on general Johnson. Great efforts were made to relieve this important place. A considerable body of troops drawn from the neighbouring garrisons, aided by some Indian auxiliaries, advanced on the English army, with the determination to risk a battle, in order to raise the siege. Early in the morning of the 24th, the approach of this party was announced, and a strong detachment marched out to meet it. The action, which immediately commenced, was not of long duration. The French were forsaken by their savage allies, and victory soon declared in favour of the English.
[Sidenote: Niagara capitulates.]
This battle decided the fate of Niagara. The works of the besiegers had been pushed within one hundred yards of the walls, and a farther attempt to defend the place being hopeless, a capitulation was signed, by which the garrison, amounting to rather more than six hundred men, became prisoners of war.
Although important advantages were gained by the British arms in Upper Canada, yet, as neither division of the army, in that quarter, succeeded so completely as to co-operate with general Wolfe, serious fears were entertained for the fate of that officer. The enterprise conducted by him being of the greatest hazard and of the deepest interest, its success was to decide, whether the whole campaign would terminate in a manner favourable to the future conquest of Canada.
[Sidenote: Expedition against Quebec.]
As soon as the waters were sufficiently freed from ice to be navigable, Wolfe embarked eight thousand men with a formidable train of artillery, at Louisbourg, under convoy of admirals Saunders and Holmes. Late in June, he anchored about half way up the island of Orleans, on which he landed, without opposition.
From this position, he could take a near and accurate view of the obstacles to be surmounted, before he could hope for success in his enterprise. These were so great, that even his bold and sanguine temper perceived more to fear than to hope; and, in a celebrated letter written to Mr. Pitt, and afterwards published, he declared that he could not flatter himself with being able to reduce the place.
[Footnote 166: Belsham.]
Quebec stands on the north side of the St. Lawrence, and on the west of the St. Charles, which rivers unite immediately below the town. It consists of an upper and a lower town; the latter is built upon the strand, which stretches along the base of the lofty rock, on which the former is situated. This rock continues, with a bold and steep front, far to the westward, parallel to, and near the river St. Lawrence. On this side, therefore, the city might well be deemed inaccessible. On the other, it was protected by the river St. Charles, in which were several armed vessels, and floating batteries, deriving additional security from a strong boom drawn across its mouth. The channel of this river is rough and broken, and its borders intersected with ravines. On its left, or eastern bank, was encamped a French army, strongly entrenched, and amounting, according to the English accounts, to ten thousand men. The encampment extended from St. Charles, eastward, to the Montmorency, and its rear was covered by an almost impenetrable wood. To render this army still more formidable, it was commanded by a general, who had given signal proofs of active courage, and consummate prudence. The marquis de Montcalm, who, when strong enough to act offensively, had so rapidly carried Oswego, and fort William Henry, and who, when reduced to the defensive, had driven Abercrombie with such slaughter from the walls of Ticonderoga, was now at the head of the army which covered Quebec, and was an antagonist, in all respects, worthy of Wolfe.
[Footnote 167: These accounts must be exaggerated. According to the letter of general Townshend, the force engaged on the Plains of Abraham amounted to three thousand five hundred men; and not more than fifteen hundred are stated to have been detached under Bougainville.]
The British general perceived these difficulties in their full extent, but, his ardent mind glowing with military enthusiasm, sought only how to subdue them.
He took possession of Point Levi, on the southern side of the St. Lawrence, where he erected several heavy batteries, which opened on the town, but were at too great a distance to make any considerable impression on the works. Nor could his ships be employed in this service. The elevation of the principal fortifications placed them beyond the reach of the guns of the fleet; and the river was so commanded by the batteries on shore, as to render a station near the town ineligible.
The English general, sensible of the impracticability of reducing Quebec, unless he should be enabled to erect his batteries on the north side of the St. Lawrence, determined to use his utmost endeavours to bring Montcalm to an engagement. After several unavailing attempts to draw that able officer from his advantageous position, Wolfe resolved to pass the Montmorency, and to attack him in his entrenchments.
In consequence of this resolution, thirteen companies of British grenadiers, and part of the second battalion of royal Americans, were landed near the mouth of the Montmorency, under cover of the cannon of the ships; while two divisions, under generals Townshend and Murray, prepared to cross that river higher up. The original plan was to make the first attack on a detached redoubt close to the water's edge, apparently unprotected by the fire from the entrenchments, in the hope that Montcalm might be induced to support this work, and thereby enable Wolfe to bring on a general engagement.
[Footnote 168: Belsham.]
On the approach of the British troops, this redoubt was evacuated. Observing some confusion in the French camp, Wolfe determined to avail himself of the supposed impression of the moment, and to storm the lines. With this view, he directed the grenadiers and royal Americans to form on the beach, where they were to wait until the whole army could be arranged to sustain them. Orders were at the same time dispatched to Townshend and Murray to be in readiness for fording the river.
[Sidenote: The English army repulsed.]
The grenadiers and royal Americans, disregarding their orders, rushed forward, with impetuous valour on the entrenchments of the enemy. They were received with so steady and well supported a fire, that they were thrown into confusion, and compelled to retreat. The general advancing in person with the remaining brigades, the fugitives formed again in the rear of the army; but the plan of the attack was effectually disconcerted, and the English commander gave orders for re-passing the river, and returning to the island of Orleans.
Convinced by this disaster of the impracticability of approaching Quebec on the side of the Montmorency, Wolfe again turned his whole attention to the St. Lawrence. To destroy some ships of war lying in the river, and at the same time to distract the attention of Montcalm by descents at different places, twelve hundred men were embarked in transports under the command of general Murray, who made two vigorous, but unsuccessful attempts, to land on the northern shore. In the third he was more fortunate. In a sudden descent on Chambaud, he burnt a valuable magazine filled with military stores, but was still unable to accomplish the main object of the expedition. The ships were secured in such a manner as not to be approached by the fleet or army. Murray was recalled; and on his return brought with him the intelligence that Niagara was taken, that Ticonderoga and Crown Point had been abandoned, and that general Amherst was making preparations to attack the isle Aux Noix.
[Footnote 169: Belsham. Russel.]
This intelligence, though joyfully received, promised no immediate assistance; and the season for action was rapidly wasting away. Nor was it easy for Wolfe to avoid contrasting the success of the British arms under other auspices, with the ill fortune attending his own.
[Footnote 170: Belsham.]
A council of war having determined that all their future efforts should be directed towards effecting a landing above the town, the troops were withdrawn from the island of Orleans, and embarked on board the fleet. Some of them were landed at Point Levi, and the residue carried higher up the river.
[Footnote 171: Belsham.]
Montcalm could not view this movement without alarm. That part of Quebec, which faces the country, had not been well fortified; and he was apprehensive that a landing might be effected high up the river, and the town approached on its weak side. At the same time, he could not safely relinquish his position, because the facility of transportation which the command of the water gave the English, would enable them to seize the ground he then occupied, should his army be moved above the town.
Thus embarrassed, he detached Monsieur de Bougainville with fifteen hundred men, to watch the motions of the English, and to prevent their landing.
In this state of things Wolfe formed the bold and hazardous plan of landing in the night, a small distance above the city, on the northern bank of the river; and, by scaling a precipice, accessible only by a narrow path, and therefore but weakly guarded, to gain the heights in the rear of the town.
This resolution being taken, the admiral moved up the river, several leagues above the place where the landing was to be attempted, and made demonstrations of an intention to disembark a body of troops at different places. During the night, a strong detachment, in flat bottomed boats, fell silently down with the tide to the place fixed on for the descent. This was made an hour before day-break, about a mile above cape Diamond, Wolfe being the first man who leaped on shore. The Highlanders and light infantry, who composed the van, under the particular command of colonel Howe, had been directed to secure a four gun battery defending an entrenched path by which the heights were to be ascended, and to cover the landing of the remaining troops. The violence of the current forced them rather below the point of disembarkation; a circumstance which increased their difficulties. However, scrambling up the precipice, they gained the heights, and quickly dispersed the guard. The whole army followed up this narrow pass; and, having encountered only a scattering fire from some Canadians and Indians, gained the summit by the break of day, when the several corps were formed under their respective leaders.
[Footnote 172: Belsham. Russel.]
The intelligence that the English had gained the heights of Abraham was soon conveyed to Montcalm, who comprehended at once the full force of the advantage obtained by his adversary, and prepared for the engagement which could no longer be avoided. Leaving his camp at Montmorency, he crossed the St. Charles, for the purpose of attacking the English army.
[Footnote 173: Townshend's letter.]
This movement was made in the view of Wolfe, who immediately formed his order of battle. His right wing was commanded by general Monckton, and his left by general Murray. The right flank was covered by the Louisbourg grenadiers, and the rear and left by the light infantry of Howe. The reserve consisted of Webb's regiment, drawn up in eight subdivisions, with large intervals between them.
Montcalm had formed his two wings of European and colonial troops in nearly equal numbers. A column of Europeans composed his centre; and two small field pieces were brought up to play on the English line. In this order he marched to the attack, advancing in his front about fifteen hundred militia and Indians, who kept up an irregular and galling fire under cover of the bushes.
The movements of the French indicating an intention to flank his left, general Wolfe ordered the battalion of Amherst, and the two battalions of royal Americans, to that part of his line; where they were formed en potence under general Townshend, presenting a double front. Disregarding the fire of the militia and Indians, he ordered his troops to reserve themselves for the column advancing in the rear of these irregulars.
[Sidenote: Battle on the plains of Abraham.]
[Sidenote: Death of Wolfe,]
[Sidenote: and of Montcalm.]
Montcalm had taken post on the left of the French army, and Wolfe on the right of the British; so that the two generals met each other, at the head of their respective troops; and there the battle was most severe. The French advanced briskly to the charge, and commenced the action with great animation. The English reserved their fire until the enemy were within forty yards of them, when they gave it with immense effect. The action was kept up for some time with great spirit. Wolfe, advancing at the head of his grenadiers with charged bayonets, received a mortal wound and soon afterwards expired. Undismayed by the loss of their general, the English continued their exertions under Monckton, on whom the command devolved. He also received a ball through his body, and general Townshend took command of the British army. About the same time Montcalm received a mortal wound, and general Senezergus, the second in command, also fell. The left wing and centre of the French began to give way; and, being pressed close by the British, were driven from the field.
On the left and rear of the English, the action was less severe. The light infantry had been placed in houses; and colonel Howe, the better to support them, had taken post still farther to the left, behind a copse. As the right of the French attacked the English left, he sallied from this position, upon their flanks, and threw them into disorder. In this critical moment, Townshend advanced several platoons against their front, and completely frustrated the attempt to turn the left flank.
[Sidenote: Victory of the English.]
In this state of the action, Townshend was informed that the command had devolved on him. Proceeding instantly to the centre, he found that part of the army thrown into some disorder by the ardour of pursuit; and his immediate efforts were employed in restoring the line. Scarcely was this effected, when Monsieur de Bougainville, who had been detached as high as cape Rouge to prevent a landing above, and who, on hearing that the English had gained the plains of Abraham, hastened to the assistance of Montcalm, appeared in the rear at the head of fifteen hundred men. Fortunately for the English, the right wing of the French, as well as their left and centre, had been entirely broken, and driven off the field. Two battalions and two pieces of artillery being advanced towards Bougainville, he retired; and Townshend did not think it advisable to risk the important advantages already gained, by pursuing this fresh body of troops through a difficult country.
[Footnote 174: Townshend's letter. Belsham. Russel. Gazette.]
In this decisive battle, nearly equal numbers appear to have been engaged. The English however possessed this immense advantage:—they were all veterans; while not more than half the French were of the same description. This circumstance would lead to an opinion that some motive, not well explained, must have induced Montcalm to hazard an action before he was assured of being joined by Bougainville.
The French regulars were almost entirely cut to pieces. The loss of the English was not so considerable as the fierceness of the action would indicate. The killed and wounded were less than six hundred men; but among the former, was the commander in chief. This gallant officer, whose rare merit, and lamented fate, have presented a rich theme for panegyric to both the poet and historian, received a ball in his wrist in the commencement of the action; but, wrapping a handkerchief around his arm, he continued to encourage his troops. Soon afterwards he received a shot in the groin, which he also concealed; and was advancing at the head of the grenadiers, when a third bullet pierced his breast. Though expiring, it was with reluctance he permitted himself to be carried into the rear, where he displayed, in the agonies of death, the most anxious solicitude concerning the fate of the day. Being told that the enemy was visibly broken, he reclined his head, from extreme faintness, on the arm of an officer standing near him; but was soon roused with the distant cry of "they fly, they fly." "Who fly?" exclaimed the dying hero. On being answered "the French." "Then," said he, "I depart content;" and, almost immediately expired. "A death more glorious," adds Mr. Belsham, "and attended with circumstances more picturesque and interesting, is no where to be found in the annals of history."
The less fortunate, but not less gallant Montcalm expired on the same day. The same love of glory, and the same fearlessness of death, which so remarkably distinguished the British hero, were equally conspicuous in his competitor for victory and for fame. He expressed the highest satisfaction on hearing that his wound was mortal; and when told that he could survive only a few hours, quickly replied, "so much the better, I shall not then live to see the surrender of Quebec."
[Footnote 175: Russel.]
[Sidenote: Quebec capitulates.]
The first days after the action were employed by general Townshend in making preparations for the siege of Quebec. But before his batteries were opened, the town capitulated; on condition that the inhabitants should, during the war, be protected in the free exercise of their religion, and the full enjoyment of their civil rights, leaving their future destinies to be decided by the treaty of peace.
Quebec was garrisoned by about five thousand English, under the command of general Murray; and the fleet sailed from the St. Lawrence.
The English minister, aware of the importance of completing the work thus fortunately begun, was not of a temper to relax his exertions. His letters to the governors of the several colonies contained declarations of his intention to employ a strong military force for the ensuing year, and exhortations to them to continue their efforts for the annihilation of the French power in Canada. These exhortations were accompanied with assurances that he would again apply to parliament to reimburse their future extraordinary expenses; and were productive of the desired effect. The several assemblies voted the same number of troops, and amount of supplies, as had been furnished the preceding year.
In the mean time the governor of New France, and the general of the army, made great exertions to retrieve their affairs, and to avert the ruin which threatened them.
The remaining European troops were collected about Montreal; where they were reinforced with six thousand militia, and a body of Indians. Monsieur de Levi, on whom the command had devolved, determined to attempt the recovery of Quebec, before the opening of the St. Lawrence should enable the English to reinforce the garrison, and to afford it the protection of their fleet. But the out-posts being found too strong to admit of his carrying the place by a coup de main, he was under the necessity of postponing the execution of this design, until the upper part of the St. Lawrence should open, and afford a transportation by water, for his artillery and military stores.
In the month of April these were embarked at Montreal, under convoy of six frigates; which, sailing down the St. Lawrence, while the army marched by land, reached Point au Tremble in ten days.
[Sidenote: Battle near Sillery.]
To avoid the hardships and dangers of a siege in a town too extensive to be defended by his sickly garrison, and inhabited by persons known to be hostile, Murray took the bold resolution of hazarding a battle. Having formed this determination, he led out his garrison to the heights of Abraham, and attacked the French near Sillery. He was received with unexpected firmness; and, perceiving that his utmost efforts could make no impression, he called off his army, and retired into the city. In this fierce encounter, the English loss amounted to near one thousand men; and they represent that of the French to have been not less considerable.
[Sidenote: Quebec besieged.]
Monsieur de Levi improved his victory to the utmost. His trenches were opened before the town, on the same evening; but such was the difficulty of bringing up his heavy artillery, that near a fortnight elapsed before he could mount his batteries, and bring his guns to bear on the city. The batteries had been opened but a few days, when the garrison was relieved from its perilous situation, by the arrival of a British fleet.
Quebec being secure, Monsieur de Levi raised the siege, and retired to Montreal.
During these transactions, general Amherst was taking measures for the annihilation of the remnant of French power in Canada. He determined to employ the immense force under his command for the accomplishment of this object, and made arrangements, during the winter, to bring the armies from Quebec, lake Champlain, and lake Ontario, to act against Montreal.
The preparations being completed, the commander in chief marched at the head of upwards of ten thousand British and provincials, from the frontiers of New York to Oswego, where he was joined by sir William Johnson, with one thousand Indians. He embarked his army at that place, and proceeded down the St. Lawrence to Montreal.
Murray, who had been directed to advance up the river to the same point, with as many men as could be spared from Quebec, appeared below the town on the very day that Amherst approached it from above. The two generals found no difficulty in disembarking their troops, and the whole plan of co-operation had been so well concerted that, in a short time, they were joined by colonel Haviland with the detachment from Crown Point.
[Sidenote: Montreal capitulates.]
The junction of these armies presenting before Montreal a force not to be resisted, the governor offered to capitulate. In the month of September, Montreal, and all other places within the government of Canada, then remaining in the possession of France, were surrendered to his Britannic majesty. The troops were to be transported to France, and the Canadians to be protected in their property, and the full enjoyment of their religion.
[Footnote 176: Minot. Belknap. Belsham. Russel.]
That colossal power, which France had been long erecting in America, with vast labour and expense; which had been the motive for one of the most extensive and desolating wars of modern times; was thus entirely overthrown. The causes of this interesting event are to be found in the superior wealth and population of the colonies of England, and in her immense naval strength; an advantage, in distant war, not to be counterbalanced by the numbers, the discipline, the courage, and the military talents, which may be combined in the armies of an inferior maritime power.
[Illustration: The Death of Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham
From the painting by Benjamin West, in the Capitol at Ottawa, Canada
Surrounded by his devoted officers, General James Wolfe died in the hour of victory over the French General Montcalm, in which the English captured Quebec, September 13, 1759, and decided the destiny of North American civilization. General Wolfe lived to hear the cry "They run!", and expired with the words "Now God be praised, I will die in peace."
In this canvas, painted in 1771, West departed from the venerated custom of clothing pictorial characters in Greek or Roman costume. Sir Joshua Reynolds, who had endeavored to dissuade him, later said, "I retract my objections. I foresee that this picture will not only become one of the most popular, but will occasion a revolution in art."]
The joy diffused throughout the British dominions by this splendid conquest, was mingled with a proud sense of superiority which did not estimate with exact justice, the relative means employed by the belligerents. In no part of those dominions was this joy felt, in a higher degree, or with more reason, than in America. In that region, the wars between France and England had assumed a form, happily unknown to other parts of the civilised world. Not confined, as in Europe, to men in arms; women and children were its common victims. It had been carried by the savage to the fire side of the peaceful peasant, where the tomahawk and scalping knife were applied indiscriminately to every age, and to either sex. The hope was now fondly indulged that these scenes, at least in the northern and middle colonies, were closed for ever.
The colonies of South Carolina and Georgia had been entirely exempted from the sharp conflicts of the north. France having been unable to draw Spain into the war, their neighbours in Florida remained quiet; and the Indians on their immediate frontiers were in the English interest. As the prospect of establishing peace in the north seemed to brighten, this state of repose in the south sustained a short interruption.
When the garrison of fort Du Quesne retired down the Ohio into Louisiana, the French employed their address in the management of Indians, to draw the Cherokees from their alliance with Great Britain. Their negotiations with these savages were favoured by the irritations given to their warriors in Virginia, where they had been employed against the French, and the Indians in the French interest.
Their ill humour began to show itself in 1759. Upon its first appearance, governor Lyttleton prepared to march into their country at the head of a respectable military force. Alarmed at these hostile appearances, they dispatched thirty-two of their chiefs to Charleston, for the purpose of deprecating the vengeance with which their nation was threatened. Their pacific representations did not arrest the expedition. The governor not only persisted in the enterprise, but, under the pretext of securing the safe return of the Indian messengers, took them into the train of his army, where they were, in reality, confined as prisoners. To add to this indignity, they were, when arrived at the place of destination, shut up together in a single hut.
Notwithstanding the irritation excited by this conduct, a treaty was concluded, in which it was agreed that the chiefs detained by the governor should remain with him as hostages, until an equal number of those who had committed murder on the frontiers, should be delivered in exchange for them; and that, in the meantime, the Indians should seize and deliver up every white or red man coming into their country, who should endeavour to excite them to war against the English. After making this accommodation, the governor returned to Charleston, leaving his hostages prisoners in fort Prince George.
Scarcely had the army retired, when the Cherokees began to contrive plans for the relief of their chiefs. In an attempt to execute these plans, they killed the captain of the fort and wounded two officers. Orders were immediately given to put the hostages in irons; an indignity so resented by these fierce savages, that the first persons who attempted to execute the orders were stabbed. The soldiers enraged at this resistance, fell on the hostages and massacred them.
[Sidenote: War with the southern Indians.]
Inflamed to madness by this event, the whole nation flew to arms; and, according to their established mode of warfare, wreaked their fury on the inhabitants of the country in indiscriminate murder.
Mr. Bull, on whom the government of the province had devolved, represented the distresses of South Carolina in such strong terms to general Amherst, that colonel Montgomery was ordered into that colony with a detachment of regular troops. He arrived in April; but, as all the forces would be required in the north, in order to complete the conquest of Canada, he was directed to strike a sudden blow, and to return to New York in time for the expedition against Montreal.
[Sidenote: Battle near Etchoe.]
The utmost exertions were made by the colony in aid of colonel Montgomery, and he entered the Cherokee country with all the forces that could be collected. Their lower towns were destroyed; but, near the village of Etchoe, the first of their middle settlements, in an almost impenetrable wood, he was met by a large body of savages, and a severe action ensued. The English claimed the victory, but without much reason. They were so roughly handled, that colonel Montgomery withdrew his army, and retired to fort Prince George, at which place he prepared to embark for New York.
The consternation of the province was the greater, as serious fears were entertained that the Creeks and Choctaws, might be induced by the French to join the Cherokees. Colonel Montgomery was pressed in the most earnest manner, not to leave the province; and was, with difficulty, prevailed on to permit four companies to remain, while, with the main body of his detachment, he returned to New York.
Mean while, the war continued to rage. The savages surrounded fort Loudoun; and the garrison amounting to four hundred men, was compelled by famine to surrender, on condition of being permitted to march into the settlements. The Indians, who regard conventions no longer than they are useful, attacked the garrison on its march, killed a number, and made the residue prisoners. Carolina again applied to general Amherst for assistance, who having completed the conquest of Canada, had leisure to attend to the southern colonies. Late in May, a strong detachment, commanded by colonel Grant, arrived at fort Prince George; and the colony raised a body of provincials, and of friendly Indians, to join him.
[Sidenote: Indians defeated.]
Early in June, he marched for the Cherokee towns. Near the place where the action had been fought the preceding year by Montgomery, the Indians again assembled in force, and gave battle in defence of their country. The action commenced about eight in the morning, and was maintained with spirit until eleven, when the Cherokees began to give way. They were pursued for two or three hours, after which Grant marched to the adjacent village of Etchoe, which he reduced to ashes. All the towns of the middle settlement shared the same fate. Their houses and corn fields were destroyed, and the whole country laid waste. Reduced to extremity, they sued sincerely for peace; and, in the course of the summer, the war was terminated by a treaty.
[Footnote 177: History of South Carolina and Georgia.]
It was not in America only that the vigour presiding in the councils of Britain shed lustre on the British arms. Splendid conquests were also made in Asia and Africa; and in Europe, her aids of men and money enabled the greatest monarch of his age to surmount difficulties which only Frederick and Mr. Pitt could have dared to encounter.
At length, Spain, alarmed at the increase of British power in America, and apprehensive for the safety of her own dominions, determined to take part against Great Britain; and, early in the year 1762, the two crowns declared war against each other. It was prosecuted, on the part of Great Britain, with signal success; and, in the course of the year, Martinique, Granada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and all the Caribbee Islands were wrested from France; and the very important city of Havanna, which in a great degree commands the gulf of Mexico, was taken from Spain.
This course of conquest, which no force in possession of France and Spain seemed capable of checking, while any of their distant possessions remained to be subdued, was arrested by preliminary articles of peace signed at Paris.
By this treaty, his Christian Majesty ceded to Britain, all the conquests made by that power on the continent of North America, together with the river and port of Mobile; and all the territory to which France was entitled on the left bank of the Mississippi, reserving only the island of New Orleans. And it was agreed that, for the future, the confines between the dominions of the two crowns, in that quarter of the world, should be irrevocably fixed by a line drawn along the middle of the Mississippi, from its source as far as the river Iberville, and thence, by a line drawn along the middle of that river, and of the lakes Maurepas and Pont Chartrain.
The Havanna was exchanged with Spain for the Floridas. By establishing these great natural boundaries to the British empire in North America, all causes of future contest respecting that continent, with any potentate of Europe, were supposed to be removed.
Opinions on the supremacy of parliament, and its right to tax the colonies.... The stamp act.... Congress at New York.... Violence in the towns.... Change of administration.... Stamp act repealed.... Opposition to the mutiny act.... Act imposing duties on tea, &c. resisted in America.... Letters from the assembly of Massachusetts to members of the administration.... Petition to the King.... Circular letter to the colonial assemblies.... Letter from the earl of Hillsborough.... Assembly of Massachusetts dissolved.... Seizure of the Sloop Liberty.... Convention at Fanueil Hall.... Moderation of its proceedings.... Two British regiments arrive at Boston.... Resolutions of the house of Burgesses of Virginia.... Assembly dissolved.... The members form an association.... General measures against importation.... General court convened in Massachusetts.... Its proceedings.... Is prorogued.... Duties, except that on tea, repealed.... Circular letter of the earl of Hillsborough.... New York recedes from the non-importation agreement in part.... Her example followed.... Riot in Boston.... Trial and acquittal of Captain Preston.
The attachment of the colonies to the mother country was never stronger than at the signature of the treaty of Paris. The union of that tract of country which extends from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, and from the gulf of Mexico to the north pole, was deemed a certain guarantee of future peace, and an effectual security against the return of those bloody scenes from which no condition in life could afford an exemption.
[Footnote 178: After the expulsion of the French from Canada, a considerable degree of ill humour was manifested in Massachusetts with respect to the manner in which the laws of trade were executed. A question was agitated in court, in which the colony took a very deep interest. A custom house officer applied for what was termed "a writ of assistance," which was an authority to search any house for dutiable articles suspected to be concealed in it. The right to grant special warrants was not contested; but this grant of a general warrant was deemed contrary to the principles of liberty, and an engine of oppression equally useless and vexatious, which would enable every petty officer of the customs to gratify his resentments by harassing the most respectable men in the province. The ill temper excited on this occasion was shown by a reduction of the salaries of the judges; but no diminution of attachment to the mother country appears to have been produced by it.]
This state of things, long and anxiously wished for by British America, had, at length, been effected by the union of British and American arms. The soldiers of the parent state and her colonies had co-operated in the same service, their blood had mingled in the same plains, and the object pursued was common to both people.
While the British nation was endeared to the Americans by this community of danger, and identity of interest, the brilliant achievements of the war had exalted to enthusiasm their admiration of British valour. They were proud of the land of their ancestors, and gloried in their descent from Englishmen. But this sentiment was not confined to the military character of the nation. While the excellence of the English constitution was a rich theme of declamation, every colonist believed himself entitled to its advantages; nor could he admit that, by crossing the Atlantic, his ancestors had relinquished the essential rights of British subjects.
The degree of authority which might rightfully be exercised by the mother country over her colonies, had never been accurately defined. In Britain, it had always been asserted that Parliament possessed the power of binding them in all cases whatever. In America, at different times, and in different provinces, different opinions had been entertained on this subject.
In New England, originally settled by republicans, habits of independence had nourished the theory that the colonial assemblies possessed every legislative power not surrendered by compact; that the Americans were subjects of the British crown, but not of the nation; and were bound by no laws to which their representatives had not assented. From this high ground they had been compelled reluctantly to recede. The Judges, being generally appointed by the governors with the advice of council, had determined that the colonies were bound by acts of parliament which concerned them, and which were expressly extended to them; and the general court of Massachusetts had, on a late occasion, explicitly recognised the same principle. This had probably become the opinion of many of the best informed men of the province; but the doctrine seems still to have been extensively maintained, that acts of parliament possessed only an external obligation; that they might regulate commerce, but not the internal affairs of the colonies.
In the year 1692, the general court of Massachusetts passed an act, denying the right of any other legislature to impose any tax whatever on the colony; and also asserting those principles of national liberty, which are found in Magna Charta. Not long afterwards, the legislature of New York, probably with a view only to the authority claimed by the governor, passed an act in which its own supremacy, not only in matters of taxation, but of general legislation, is expressly affirmed. Both these acts however were disapproved in England; and the parliament asserted its authority, in 1696, by declaring "that all laws, bye laws, usages, and customs, which shall be in practice in any of the plantations, repugnant to any law made or to be made in this kingdom relative to the said plantations, shall be void and of none effect." And three years afterwards, an act was passed for the trial of pirates in America, in which is to be found the following extraordinary clause: "Be it farther declared that, if any of the governors, or any person or persons in authority there, shall refuse to yield obedience to this act, such refusal is hereby declared to be a forfeiture of all and every [sic] the charters granted for the government and propriety of such plantations."