Boscawen, with twenty-three ships of the line and several smaller vessels, sailed with his convoy of transports on the 19th of February. It had been Pitt’s hope that the siege of Louisburg should have been begun by the 20th of April; but fate was against him, and the Admiral did not reach Halifax until the 9th of May. Amherst, who had sailed with Captain George Rodney in H.M.S. Dublin on the 16th of March, was not less unlucky in his passage; and Boscawen, after waiting for his arrival at Halifax until the 28th of May, at last put to sea without him, but fortunately met the Dublin just outside the harbour. The huge fleet, one hundred and fifty-seven sail in all, with eleven thousand troops on board, then steered eastward, and on the 2nd of June sailed into Gabarus Bay, immediately to westward of the tongue of land whereon stood Louisburg. Here there were three possible landing-places: Freshwater Cove, four miles from the town; Flat Point, which was rather nearer; and White Point, which was within a mile of the ramparts. East of the fortress there was yet another landing-place named Lorambec. It was determined to threaten all these points simultaneously, Lawrence and Whitmore with their respective brigades moving towards White Point and Flat Point, with one regiment detached against Lorambec, while Wolfe’s brigade should make a true attack upon Freshwater Cove. Nothing very clear was known of the French defences erected to cover these landing-places, and it so happened that the point selected for attack was the most strongly defended of all.
For five days all attempts at disembarkation were frustrated by fog and storm; but at two o’clock on the morning of the 8th the troops were got into the boats, and at daybreak the frigates of the fleet stood in and opened a fierce fire upon the French entrenchments at all of the threatened points. A quarter of an hour later the boats shoved off and pulled for the shore. Wolfe’s party consisted of five companies of grenadiers, a body of five hundred and fifty marksmen drawn from the different regiments and known as the Light Infantry, and a body of American Rangers, with Fraser’s Highlanders and eight more companies of grenadiers in support. The beach at Freshwater Cove, for which they were making, was a quarter of a mile long, with rocks at each end; and on the shore above it more than a thousand Frenchmen lay behind entrenchments, which were further covered by abatis. Eight cannon and swivels had been brought into position to sweep every portion of the beach and of its approaches, but were cunningly masked by young evergreen shrubs planted in the ground before them. The French had not been at fault when they selected the point remotest from the town as the most likely to be attacked by an enemy.
The boats were close in-shore before the French made any sign, when they suddenly opened a deadly fire of grape and musketry. Wolfe, seeing that a landing in face of such a tempest of shot would be hopeless, signalled to the boats to sheer off; but three of them, filled with Light Infantry on the extreme right, being little exposed to the fire, pulled on to a craggy point just to eastward of the beach, which was sheltered from the enemy’s cannon by a small projecting spit. There the three officers in charge leaped ashore followed by their men, and Wolfe hastened the rest of his boats to the same spot. Major Scott, who commanded the Light Infantry, was the first to reach the land; and though his boat was stove in against the rocks he scrambled ashore, and with no more than ten men held his own against six times his numbers of French and Indians, till other troops came to his support. The rest of the boats followed close in his wake. Many were stove in and not a few capsized; some of the men too were caught by the surf and drowned; but the greater part made their way ashore wet or dry, Wolfe, who was armed only with a cane, leaping into the surf and scrambling over the crags with the foremost. Arrived at the firm ground beyond, the men formed, attacked the nearest French battery in flank, and quickly carried it with the bayonet. Lawrence’s brigade now rowed up, and finding the French fully occupied with Wolfe, landed at the western end of the beach with little difficulty or loss. Amherst followed him; and the French seeing themselves attacked on right and left, and fearing to be cut off from the town, abandoned all their guns, some three-and-thirty pieces great and small, and fled into the woods in the rear of their entrenchments. The British pursued, until on emerging from the forest they found themselves in a cleared space with the guns of Louisburg opening fire upon them. Then the pursuit was checked, for the first great object had been obtained. The total loss of the British little exceeded one hundred in killed, wounded, and drowned; that of the French was not much greater, but the British had gained a solid success.
Amherst pitched his camp just beyond range of the guns of the fortress, and selected Flat Point Cove as the place for landing his guns and stores. The disembarkation of material was a task of extreme difficulty and danger owing to the surf, so much so that over one hundred boats were stove in during the course of the siege. The General, therefore, had ample leisure to examine the ground before him. The harbour of Louisburg is a land-locked bay with an extreme width from north-east to south-west of about two and a half miles. The entrance is rather more than a mile wide, but is narrowed to less than half of that distance by a chain of rocky islets. The defences of the entrance were a battery on a small island on the west side of the channel and a fort on the eastern shore at the promontory of Lighthouse Point. Within the harbour on the northern shore had stood a battery known as the Grand battery, but this was destroyed by the French on the night of Amherst’s landing; and on the western shore on a triangular peninsula stood Louisburg itself, the Dunkirk of America, the apex of the triangle pointing towards the harbour, the base towards the land where Amherst’s force now lay encamped. The full circuit of its fortifications was about a mile and a half, and the number of cannon and mortars mounted thereon and on the outworks exceeded two hundred. The garrison consisted of five battalions of regular troops, numbering about four thousand men, together with several companies of colonial troops from Canada; the whole being under command of a gallant officer named Drucour. Finally, at anchor in the harbour lay five ships of the line and seven frigates. The strongest front of the fortress was on the side of the land, running from the sea on the south to the harbour on the north: it was made up of four bastions called in succession, from north to south, the Dauphin’s, King’s, Queen’s, and Princess’s bastions. The King’s bastion formed part of the citadel, and before it the glacis sloped down to a marsh which protected it completely; but at both extremities of the line there was high ground favourable for the works of a besieging force. It was towards the northern extremity, from a hillock at the edge of the marsh, that Amherst resolved to push his first attack.
Meanwhile the labour to be accomplished before the guns and stores could be brought to the spot was immense. The distance from the landing-place was a mile and a half, every yard of it consisting of deep mud covered with moss and water-weeds, through which it was necessary to make not only a road but an epaulement also, to protect the road; for a French frigate, the Aréthuse, lay in a lagoon called the Barachois at the extreme western corner of the harbour, and swept all the ground before the ramparts with a flanking fire. While, therefore, this work was going forward Wolfe was ordered with twelve hundred men and artillery to the battery at Lighthouse Point, which had been abandoned by the French, in order to fire upon the Island battery and upon the ships in the harbour. After some days the Island battery was silenced with the help of the fleet, and the men of war were driven under the guns of the main fortress. The entrance to the harbour being thus laid open to the British fleet, the French commander under cover of a foggy night sank six large ships in the channel to bar the passage anew.
On the very day when Wolfe succeeded in silencing the Island battery Amherst’s preparations were at last completed; and the British began to break ground on the appointed hillock. From thence the trenches were carried, despite the fire of the Aréthuse, towards the Barachois; and it was soon evident that the frigate would be repaid for all the mischief that she had wrought. At the same time Wolfe broke ground to the south opposite to the Princess’s bastion, and despite a fierce sortie made by a drunken party of the garrison, pushed his works steadily forward against it. Another three weeks saw the net closing tighter and the fire raining fiercer about the doomed fortress. The Aréthuse, after sticking to her moorings right gallantly under an ever increasing fire, was compelled at last to shift her position. Two days later Wolfe, as busy at the left as at the right attack, made a dash at nightfall upon some rising ground only three hundred yards before the Dauphin’s bastion, drove out the French that occupied it, and would 佛山桑拿一条龙服务 not be forced back by the fiercest fire from the ramparts. On the 21st a lucky shell fell on one of the French line-of-battle ships and set her on fire. The scanty crew left on board of her could not check the flames. She drifted from her moorings upon two of her consorts and kindled them also; and all three were burned to the water’s edge. The two remaining line-of-battle ships survived them but a little time, for a few nights later six hundred sailors rowed silently into the harbour and surprised and captured both of them. One, being aground, was burned, and the other was towed off, in contempt of the fire from the fortress, to a safe anchorage.
By this time Amherst’s batteries had reduced Louisburg almost to defencelessness. The masonry of the fortress had crumbled under the concussion of its own guns and was 佛山桑拿按摩上门 little able to stand the shot of the British. A new battery erected on the hill to the north of the Barachois raked the western front of the French works from end to end, and there was no standing against its fire. On the 26th of July the last gun on that front was silenced and a practicable breach had been made. Drucour then made overtures for a capitulation. Amherst’s reply was short and stern: the garrison must surrender as prisoners of war, and a definite answer must be returned within one hour. Drucour replied at first with defiance, but, before his messenger could reach Amherst he sent a second emissary to accept the terms; and on the following day the British occupied the fortress. The casualties of the besiegers were not heavy, little exceeding five hundred killed and wounded of all ranks. The loss of the French is unknown, but must have been very great, from sickness 南海桑拿按摩论坛 not less than from shot and shell. The number of soldiers and sailors made prisoners amounted to fifty-six hundred, while over two hundred cannon and a large quantity of munitions and stores were surrendered with the fortress. So Cape Breton, and Prince Edward’s Island with it, passed under the dominion of the British for ever.
The siege over, Amherst proposed to Boscawen to proceed to Quebec, but the Admiral did not consider the enterprise to be feasible. Drucour’s gallant defence, indeed, had accomplished one object, in preventing Amherst from co-operating with Abercromby in the attack on Canada; though, could the siege have been begun at the date fixed by Pitt, his efforts would have been of little avail. Amherst therefore left four battalions to garrison Louisburg, and sent Colonel Monckton, Colonel Lord Rollo, and Wolfe, each with a sufficient force, to complete 佛山桑拿哪里最好 the work of subjugation on Prince Edward’s Island, the Bay of Fundy, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Wolfe having accomplished his part of the task went home on sick leave, and Amherst sailed with five
battalions for Boston, where he arrived on the 14th of September and was received with immense though rather inconvenient enthusiasm by the inhabitants. His presence was but too sorely needed to repair the mischief wrought by Abercromby’s incapacity.
The prospects of Abercromby at the opening of the campaign were such as might have encouraged any General. Vaudreuil, the Governor of Canada, a corrupt and incapable man, knowing of the intended advance of the British by Lakes George and Champlain upon Ticonderoga and Crown Point, had proposed to avert it by a counter-raid along the Mohawk upon the Hudson. This plan, being vague, and indeed impracticable, was abandoned; and the defence of the approaches to Montreal was 佛山桑拿论坛 committed to Montcalm, who was stationed at Ticonderoga with an insufficient force of about four thousand men, and without support from the posts higher
up the lake. To Abercromby, with seven thousand regular troops and nine thousand Provincials, the exposure of this weak and isolated force should have been welcome as the solution of all his difficulties. It must now be seen to what end he turned so excellent an opportunity.
The early months of the summer were occupied with the task, always vexatious and troublesome, of collecting the Provincial troops, and of sending supplies up the Mohawk and the Hudson to Fort Edward. The latter work was tedious and harassing, despite the facilities of carriage by water, for there were three portages between Albany and Fort Edward, at each of which all boats had to be unladen, and dragged, together with their stores, for three or even more miles overland before they could be launched again for easier progress. None the less the business went forward with great energy; and notwithstanding
the 佛山夜生活888 danger of convoys from the attack of Indians when passing through the forest, the work of escorting was so perfectly managed that not one was molested. These admirable arrangements were due to Brigadier Lord Howe, the eldest of three brothers, all of whom were destined to leave a mark for good or evil on English history.
Howe had been appointed by Pitt to make good the failings which were suspected in Abercromby. 佛山桑拿论坛 He was now thirty-four years of age, and having arrived in America with his regiment, the Fifty-fifth, in the previous year, had been at pains to learn the art of forest-warfare from the most famous leader of the Provincial irregulars. He threw off all training and prejudices of the barrack-yard, joined the irregulars in their scouting-parties, shared the hardships and adopted the dress of his rough companions and became one of themselves. Having thus schooled himself he began to impart the lessons that he had learned to his men. He made officers and men, alike of regular and of Provincial troops, throw off all useless encumbrances; he cut the skirts off their coats and the hair off their heads, browned the barrels of their muskets, clad their lower limbs in leggings to protect them from briars, and filled the empty space in 佛山桑拿实名登记 their knapsacks with thirty pounds of meal, so as to make them independent for weeks together of convoys of supplies. In a word, he headed a reaction against the stiff unpractical school of Germany so much favoured by Cumberland, and tried to equip men reasonably for the rough work that lay before them. Such ideas had occurred to other men besides him. Colonel Bouquet of the Sixtieth wished to dress his men like Indians, and Brigadier Forbes went cordially with him, for, as he wrote emphatically, “We must learn the art of war from the Indians.” Washington, again, said that if the matter were left to his inclination he would put both men and officers into Indian dress and set the example himself. There was in fact a general revolt of all practical men against powder and pipeclay for bush-fighting, and Howe was fortunately 佛山桑拿夜生活论坛 in a position to turn it to account. Possibly it is to his influence that may be traced the formation in the same year of a regiment which, being designed for purposes of scouting and skirmishing only, was clothed in dark brown skirtless coats without lace of any description. This corps ranked for a time as the eightieth of the Line, and was known as Gage’s Light Infantry. It must not be supposed that these reforms were accepted without demur. Officers were dismayed to find that they were expected to wash their own clothes without the help of the regimental women, and to carry their own knives and forks with them according to Howe’s example; and the German soldiers, of whom there were many in the Sixtieth, sorely resented the cropping of their heads. But Howe was a strict disciplinarian, and not the less, but rather 佛山桑拿按摩休闲中心 the more, on this account was adored by the men.
By the end of June the whole of Abercromby’s force, with all its supplies, was assembled at the head of Lake George. On the 4th of July the stores were shipped, and on the following day the men were embarked. The arrangements were perfect: each corps marched to its appointed place on the beach without the least confusion, and before the sun was well arisen the whole army was afloat. The scene was indescribably beautiful. Overhead the sky was blue and cloudless; the sun had just climbed above the mountain tops, and his rays slanted down over the vast rolling slope of forest to the lake. Not a breath of air was moving to ruffle the still blue water or stir the banks of green leaves around it, as the twelve hundred boats swept over the glassy surface. Robert Rogers, most famous of American partisans and instructor of Howe, with his rangers, and Gage with part of his new Light Infantry led the way. John Bradstreet of New England followed next with the boatmen, himself the best boatman among them; and then in three long parallel columns came the main body of the army. To right and left blue coats showed the presence of the Provincial troops of New England and New York, and in the centre flared the well-known English scarlet. Howe led this centre column with the Fifty-fifth, his own regiment; and after him followed the first and fourth battalions of the Sixtieth, the Twenty-seventh, Forty-fourth, Forty-sixth, and last of all the Forty-second with their sombre tartan, each regiment marked by its flying colours of green or buff or yellow or crimson. Then, unmarked by any flag, for colours they had none, came more of Gage’s brown coats. Two “floating castles” armed with artillery also accompanied this column, towering high above the slender canoes and whale-boats; and in the rear came the bateaux laden with stores and baggage, with a rear-guard made up of red coats and of blue. So the great armament, stretching almost from shore to shore, crept on over the bosom of the lake, the strains of fife and drum mingling with the plashing of ten thousand oars, till the narrows were reached and the broad front dwindled into a slender procession six miles in length, still creeping on like some huge sinuous serpent on its errand of destruction and death.
By five in the afternoon the flotilla had travelled five-and-twenty miles, and a halt was made for the baggage and artillery, which had lagged behind. At eleven o’clock it started again, and at daybreak reached the narrow channel that leads into Lake Champlain by the headland of Ticonderoga. A small advanced post of the French on the shore was driven back, and the work of disembarkation was begun. By noon the whole army had been landed on the western shore of the lake; Rogers with his rangers was sent forward to reconnoitre, and the troops were formed in four columns for the march. The route proposed was to follow the western bank of the channel which connects Lake George with Lake Champlain, since the French had destroyed the bridge over it, and to fall upon Ticonderoga from the rear. The way lay through virgin forest, encumbered with thick undergrowth and strewed with the decaying trunks and limbs of fallen trees. All order became impossible; the men struggled forward as best they could; the columns got mixed together; the guides lost all idea of their direction in the maze; and the army for a time was lost in the forest.
Meanwhile the French advanced party, some three hundred and fifty men, which had fallen back before the British, found its retreat cut off, and had no resource but to take to the woods. They too lost themselves among the trees, and the two hostile bodies were groping their way helplessly on, when the right centre column of the British, with Lord Howe and some rangers at its head, blundered unawares full upon the French party. A sharp skirmish followed, and in the general confusion the main body of the British, hearing volleys but unable to see, became very unsteady. Fortunately the rangers stood firm, and Rogers’ advanced guard, turning back at the sound of shots, caught the French between two fires and virtually annihilated them. The British loss in this affair was trifling in numbers but none the less fatal to the expedition; for Lord Howe lay dead with a bullet through his heart, and with his death the whole soul of the army expired.
Abercromby’s force was for the moment paralysed. Half of his army was lost, nor did he know where to find it. So much of it as he could collect he kept under arms all night, and next morning he fell back to his landing-place, where to his great relief he found the rest of his troops awaiting him. Montcalm meanwhile had been devoured by anxiety. The channel between Lake George and Lake Champlain being impassable by boats owing to rapids, the usual route to Ticonderoga lay across it by some saw-mills at the foot of the rapids, where he had already destroyed the bridge. Nevertheless it was not by these saw-mills but on the western bank of the channel that he had determined to make his stand; nor was it until the evening of the 6th that, yielding to the advice of two of his officers, he decided to retire to Ticonderoga. Accordingly, at noon of the 7th, Abercromby sent Rogers forward with a detachment to occupy the saw-mills. The bridge was rebuilt; and the army, crossing the channel late in the afternoon, occupied the camp deserted by the French. Abercromby was now within two miles of Ticonderoga.
But meanwhile Montcalm had not been idle. The peninsula of Ticonderoga consists of a rocky plateau with low ground on each side, standing at the junction of Lakes George and Champlain. The fort stood near the end of this peninsula; and half a mile to westward of the spot the ground rises and forms a ridge across the plateau. On this ridge Montcalm decided at the last moment to throw up abatis and accept battle. The outline of the works had already been traced, and at the dawn of the 7th every man of his force was at work, cutting down the trees that covered the ground. The tops were cut off and the logs piled into a massive breast-work nine feet high, which was carefully loop-holed. The forest before the breast-work was also felled and left lying with the tops turned outwards, as though, to use the words of an eye-witness, it had been laid low by a hurricane. Between these felled trees and the breast-work the ground was covered with heavy boughs, their points being sharpened and the branches interlaced, so as to present an almost impenetrable obstacle. The French officers themselves were amazed at the work which had been accomplished in one day.
Still the position was no Malplaquet, and there was no occasion for Abercromby to dread it. It was open to him either to attack Montcalm in his flanks, which were unfortified; or to bring up his artillery and batter the breast-work to splinters about his ears; or better still to post his guns on a height, called Mount Defiance, which commanded the position, and to rake the breast-work from end to end; or best of all to mask this improvised stronghold with a part of his force and push on with the rest northward up Lake Champlain and so cut off at once Montcalm’s supplies and his retreat. The French General had but thirty-six hundred men and only eight days’ provisions with him, so that this movement would have ensured his surrender without the firing of a shot. Abercromby’s intelligence, however, told him that the French were six thousand strong and that three thousand more were expected to join them at any hour; and he was nervously anxious to make his attack before this reinforcement, which had in reality no existence, should arrive on the spot. Accordingly, at dawn of the 8th, Abercromby sent his engineers to reconnoitre the enemy’s position from Mount Defiance. The duty was most perfunctorily fulfilled, and the chief engineer, Lieutenant-Colonel Clark, reported that the works could be captured by direct assault. This was enough for Abercromby. Without further inquiry he resolved that the artillery should be left idle at the place where it had been landed, and that the abatis should be carried with the bayonet.
It was high noon, and the French were still busily strengthening their wooden ramparts with earth and sandbags when shots in the forest before them gave warning that the British advanced parties had struck against their picquets. Instantly they fell in behind the breast-work, three deep, eight battalions of regular troops and four hundred and fifty Canadians, numbering in all little more than a fourth of the British force. The advance of the British was covered by the Light Infantry and rangers while the columns of attack were forming under shelter of the forest. Then the skirmishers cleared the front and the scarlet masses came forward, solid and steady; the picquets leading, the grenadiers in support, the battalions of the main body after the grenadiers, and the Fifty-fifth and Forty-second Highlanders in reserve. It was little that they could see through the tangle of fallen trees and dying leaves; possibly they caught a glimpse of the top of the breast-work but of not a white coat of the defenders behind it. On they came in full confidence, knowing nothing of the obstacles before them, when suddenly the breast-work broke into a sheet of flame and a storm of grape and musketry swept the ranks from end to end. Abercromby’s instructions had been that the position should be taken with the bayonet, but all order was lost in the maze of fallen trees, and very soon the men began to return the fire as they advanced, but with little effect, for not an enemy could they see. Nevertheless, though riddled through and through, they scrambled on over the prostrate trunks straight upon the breast-work, when they were stopped by the tangled hedge and sharpened boughs of the inner abatis. Strive as they might they could not force their way through this under the terrible fire that rained on them in front and flank from the angles of the breast-work; and after an hour’s struggle they fell back, exclaiming that the position was impregnable. Reports were sent to Abercromby, who throughout the action had never moved from the saw-mills, two miles away, and for all answer there came back the simple order to attack again.
And then came such a scene as had not been witnessed since Malplaquet nor was to be seen again till Badajoz. The men stormed forward anew, furious with rage and heedless of bullets or grape-shot, through the network of trunks and boughs against their invisible enemy. Behind the breast-work the French were cheering loudly, hoisting their hats occasionally above the parapet and laughing when they were blown to pieces, but pouring in always a deadly and unquenchable fire; while the British struggled on, grimed with sweat and smoke, vowing that they would have that wooden wall at any cost. The Highlanders broke loose from the reserve with claymores drawn and slashed their way through the branches to the breast-work, and the British rushed after them to its foot but could advance no further. They had no ladders, and as fast as they hoisted one another to the top of the breast-work they were shot down. Montcalm, cool and collected, moved to and fro among his men in his shirt-sleeves, always at the point of greatest danger, to cheer them and keep them to the fight. The French fire was appalling in its destruction. Men who had passed through the ordeal of Fontenoy declared that it was child’s play compared with Ticonderoga. Nevertheless not once only, but thrice more, the British and the Americans with them hurled themselves desperately against the French stronghold, only to be beaten back time after time, until the inner abatis was hung with wisps of scarlet, like poppies that grow through a hedge of thorn, some swaying with the contortions that told of living agony, some limp and still in the merciful stillness of death. The fight had endured for five hours, when some officer of more intelligence than his fellows formed two columns and made a fifth attack upon the extreme right of the French position. The men hewed their way to the breast-work, and for a time the fate of this unequal day hung trembling in the balance. Montcalm hurried to the threatened quarter with his reserves, but only by desperate exertion held his own, for the Highlanders fought with a fury that would yield neither to discipline nor to death. Captain John Campbell and a few of his men actually scaled the wooden wall and dropped down within it, but only to be pierced at once by a score of bayonets. Finally at six o’clock a last attack was delivered, as heroic, as hopeless, and as fruitless as the rest; and then the order was given to retreat. The Highlanders were with the greatest difficulty forced away from their fallen comrades, and under cover of the skirmishers’ fire the British withdrew, shattered, exhausted, and demoralised.
And then came one of those strange and dreadful scenes which break an officer’s heart. Hardly was the retreat sounded when the very men who for six hours had faced the mouth of hell without flinching were seized with panic and fled in wild disorder through forest and swamp to the landing-place, leaving their arms, their accoutrements, the very shoes from their feet to mark the track of their flight. Fortunately Bradstreet and his armed boatmen mounted guard over the boats and prevented the fugitives from setting themselves afloat. Abercromby came up, as abject as the worst, despatched orders for the wounded and the heavy artillery to be sent back to New York, and followed himself so speedily with his humiliated troops that he arrived at the head of Lake George before his messenger. There he entrenched himself and sat still, while the reckoning of his ignorance and folly was made up. Of the Provincial troops three hundred and thirty-four had fallen before Ticonderoga; of the seven British battalions no fewer than sixteen hundred. The Forty-second lost close on five hundred men and officers killed and wounded, the Forty-fourth and Forty-sixth each about two hundred, the Fifty-fifth and the fourth battalion of the Sixtieth each about one hundred and fifty, the Twenty-seventh and first battalion of the Sixtieth each about a hundred. The loss of the French was less than three hundred and fifty, and Montcalm might well praise his gallant soldiers and hug himself over his victory, for he had fended off attack on Canada for at least one year.
The French General contented himself with strengthening the defences of Ticonderoga and sending out parties of irregulars to harass Abercromby’s communications with Fort Edward. Abercromby for his part remained throughout July and the first days of August glued to his camp at the head of Lake George, losing many men from dysentery but attempting nothing. At last he made over to Bradstreet a force of twenty-five hundred men, Provincial troops for the most part, and sent him to attack the French post of Fort Frontenac, which guarded the outlet of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence. The project was Bradstreet’s own and had been favourably regarded some time before by Loudoun; but it was only under pressure of a council of war that Abercromby’s assent to it was wrung from him. Bradstreet accordingly dropped down to Albany, and advanced by the Mohawk and Onandaga to the site of Oswego, where he launched out on to the lake on the 22nd of August, and on the 25th landed safely near Fort Frontenac. The French garrison being little over one hundred strong could make small resistance, and on the 27th surrendered as prisoners of war, leaving nine vessels, which constituted the entire naval force of the French on the lake, in Bradstreet’s hands. The fort was dismantled, two of the ships were carried off, the remainder were burned since there was no fort at Oswego to protect them, and Bradstreet returned triumphant to Albany. The service that he had rendered was of vast importance. The command of Lake Ontario was lost to the French, their communications north and south were severed, the alliance of a number of wavering Indian tribes was secured for the British, and Fort Duquêsne, the point against which Pitt had levelled his third blow, was left isolated and alone.
Heartened by this success and by the news of Louisburg, Abercromby began to write vaguely of a second attempt upon Ticonderoga as soon as Amherst should have reinforced him; but it was October before the conqueror of Louisburg reached Lake George, and then both commanders agreed that the season was too far spent for further operations. The troops were accordingly sent into winter quarters, and Canada was saved for another year. It now remains to be seen how matters fared with Brigadier Forbes at Fort Duquêsne.
Forbes himself had arrived at Philadelphia early in April, to find that no army was ready for him. The Provincial troops allotted to him from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina had not even been enlisted; Montgomery’s Highlanders were in the south, and only half of Colonel Bouquet’s battalion of the Sixtieth was within reach. It was the end of June before the various fractions of his force were on march: and meanwhile the General was seized with a dangerous and agonising internal disease, against which he fought with a courage and resolution which was as admirable as it was pathetic. Forbes’s career had been somewhat singular. He hailed from county Fife and had begun life as a medical student, but had entered the Scots Greys as a cornet and had risen to command the regiment. He had served in Flanders and Germany on the staff of Stair, Ligonier, and General Campbell, and finally as Cumberland’s quartermaster-general. But though all his training had been in the old formal school he had recognised, as has been seen, that in America he must learn a new art of war. He had studied Braddock’s failure, and had perceived that even if Braddock had succeeded he must inevitably have retired from Fort Duquêsne from want of supplies. Instead, therefore, of making one long march with an unmanageable train of waggons, he decided to advance by short stages, establishing fortified magazines at every forty miles, and at last, when within reach of his destination, to march upon it with his entire force and with as few encumbrances as possible. This plan he had learned from a French treatise, though he might have gathered it from a study of Monk’s campaign in the Highlands had the opportunity been open to him. Nor was Bouquet, a Swiss by nationality, less assiduous in thinking out new methods. His views as to equipment have already been noticed; but knowing the value of marksmanship in the woods, Bouquet obtained a certain number of rifled carbines for his own battalion, and thus turned a part of the Sixtieth into Riflemen before their time. He also introduced a new system of drill for work in the forest, forming his men into small columns of two abreast which could deploy into line in two minutes. Under such commanders the mistakes of Braddock were not likely to be repeated.
Then came the question whether Braddock’s route should be followed, or a new but shorter line of advance from Pennsylvania. Virginia was furiously jealous lest Pennsylvania should reap the advantage of a direct road to the trading station on the Ohio, and Washington was urgent in recommending the old road; but Forbes had no respect for provincial squabbles and decided for Pennsylvania. He had much difficulty in shaping the Provincials into soldiers, the material delivered to him being of the rawest, and destitute of the remotest idea of discipline. It was not till the beginning of July that Bouquet with an advanced party encamped at Raystown, now the town of Bedford, on the eastern slope of the Alleghanies, and that Forbes was able to move to the frontier village of Carlisle and thence to Shippensburg. There his illness increased, with pain so excruciating that he was unable to advance farther until September. Bouquet meanwhile pushed forward the construction of a road over the Alleghanies with immense labour and under prodigious difficulties. The wildness and desolation of the country seems somewhat to have awed even the stern resolution of Forbes. “It is an immense uninhabited wilderness,” he wrote to Pitt, “overgrown everywhere with trees or brushwood, so that nowhere can one see twenty yards.” Through this with its endless obstacles of jungle, ravine, and swamp Bouquet’s men worked their way. The first fortified magazine had been made at Raystown and named Fort Bedford; the next was to be on the western side of the main river Alleghany at a stream called Loyalhannon Creek. Progress was necessarily slow, but Forbes’s advance was not made so leisurely without an object. The French had collected a certain number of Indians for the defence of Fort Duquêsne; but if the attack were delayed it was tolerably certain that these fickle and unstable allies would grow tired of waiting and disperse to their homes. Forbes meanwhile lost no opportunity of conciliating these natives; and by the efforts of his emissaries the most powerful tribes were persuaded to join the side of the British, and scornfully to reject the rival overtures of the French.
But at this critical time a rash exploit of one of Bouquet’s officers went near to wreck the whole enterprise. Major Grant of the Highlanders entreated permission to go forward with a small party to reconnoitre Fort Duquêsne, capture a few prisoners, and strike some blow which might discourage and weaken the French. Eight hundred men of the Highlanders, Sixtieth, and Provincial troops were accordingly made over to him; so setting out with these from Loyalhannon he arrived before dawn of the 14th of September at a hill, since named Grant’s hill, within half a mile of the fort. With incredible rashness he scattered his force in all directions. Leaving a fourth of his men to guard the baggage, he sent parties out to right and left, took post himself two miles in advance of the baggage with a hundred men, and sent an officer forward with a company of Highlanders into the open plain to draw a map of the fort. Finally, as if to call attention to his own folly, he ordered reveillé to be beaten with all possible parade. The French and Indians at once swarmed out of the fort and drove all the parties back in confusion upon one another. The Highlanders were seized with panic at the yells of the Indians and took to their heels, and but for the firmness of the Virginians of the baggage-guard the whole force would probably have been cut to pieces. As it was, nearly three hundred men were killed, wounded, or taken, and Grant himself was among the prisoners. Forbes, who amid all torments, troubles, and reverses preserved always a keen sense of the ridiculous, declared that he could make nothing of the affair except that his friend Grant had lost his wits; which indeed was a concise and accurate summary of the whole proceeding.
But such paltry success could avail the French little, for Bradstreet’s capture of Fort Frontenac had already decided the fate of Fort Duquêsne. The French commander, his supplies being cut off, was obliged to dismiss the greater number of his men; otherwise Forbes could hardly have penetrated to the Ohio in that year. The elements fought for the French. Heavy rain ruined Bouquet’s new road; the horses being underfed and overworked kept breaking down fast; the magazines at Raystown and Loyalhannon were emptied faster than they could be replenished; and Forbes was in despair. All through October the rain continued until at length it gave place to snow, and the roads became a sea of mud over which retreat and advance were alike impossible. At the beginning of November the General, though now sick unto death, was carried to Loyalhannon, where he decided that no attack could be attempted for that season. Intelligence, however, was brought that the French were so weak in numbers as to be defenceless; and on the 18th, twenty-five hundred picked men marched off without tents or baggage, Forbes himself travelling in a litter at their head. At midnight of the 24th the sentries heard the sound of a distant explosion, and on the next day at dusk the troops reached the blackened ruins of what had been Fort Duquêsne. The fortifications had been blown up; barracks and store-houses were in ashes; there was no sign of anything human except the heads of the Highlanders who had been killed in Grant’s engagement, stuck up on poles with their kilts hung in derision round them. Their Highland comrades went mad with rage at the sight; but the French and their allies were gone, having evacuated and destroyed the fort and retired to the fort of Venango farther up the Alleghany river. Forbes planted a stockade around a cluster of huts that were still undestroyed, and named it Pittsburg in honour of the minister. Arrangements were then made for leaving a garrison of two hundred Provincials to hold the post, for there could be no doubt that the French would collect a force from Venango and Niagara to endeavour to retake it. The garrison indeed was far too small, but there was not food enough for more; so this handful of poor men was left perforce to make the best of its solitude during the dreary days of the winter.
One duty still remained to be done before Forbes’s column turned homeward,—to search for the bones of those who had fallen with Braddock. A party of Pennsylvanians made their way through the forest to the Monongahela, Major Halket of Forbes’s staff accompanying them. Among the multitude of ghastly relics two skeletons were found lying together under one tree. Halket recognised the one by a peculiarity of the teeth as that of his father, Sir Peter Halket of the Forty-fourth; and in the other he thought that he saw his brother, who had fallen by his side. The two were wrapped in a Highlander’s plaid and buried in one grave, under a volley fired by the Pennsylvanians. The rest of the remains were buried together in one deep trench; and then at the beginning of December the troops marched back to Pennsylvania with the dying Forbes in their midst. With great difficulty the General was brought still living to Philadelphia, where he lingered on through the winter and died in the following March. Though no brilliant action marked his advance to the Ohio he had accomplished his work against endless difficulties and in extremity of bodily torture; and that work was the taking from France of half of her Indian allies, the relief of the western border from Pennsylvania to Maryland from Indian raids, and the opening to the British of the vast regions of the West.
So ended the American campaign of 1758. The French had been struck hard on both flanks, at Louisburg in the north and on the Ohio in the south, but in the centre they had held their own. Two parts out of three of Pitt’s design had been accomplished; but the most important success of all was that achieved by Bradstreet in severing the French communications at Fort Frontenac. It may be that Pitt thought best to adhere to the plan of operations mapped out for him by Loudoun, or it may be that he wished to retrieve the reputation lost by Braddock’s defeat; but the fact remains that he meditated no attack on Niagara or Fort Frontenac, the capture of either of which would have entailed that of Fort Duquêsne, and that despite the industry of Bouquet and the tenacity of Forbes the advance to the Ohio would have been impossible but for the brilliant and successful enterprise of Bradstreet.
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MONONGAHELA, July 8th 1755.
FORMATION OF AMHERST’S FLOTILLA JULY 1759.
From a contemporary plan.
THE REGION OF LAKE GEORGE, 1755.
The Country round TICONDEROGA,
From a Sketch by Lieut. Meyer of the 60th Reg.