Estabrooks, Elijah - 1727-1796, Ticonderoga Soldier, Part 1

Elijah Estabrooks (1727-1796)

Elijah Estabrook's served as a Massachusetts provincial soldier in the French and Indian War (1754-1763).  He kept a journal between 1758 and 1760 covering his military service.  One of my ancestors, he was also one of the earliest settlers on the Saint John River, and now lies buried near Jemseg, New Brunswick.  This is a compilation of his stories with additional details oand illustrations of the people and events he wrote about in his Journal, as a tribute from one of his many descendants.

The French and Indian War

The French and Indian War is also known as the Seven Years War.  It began on the 17th of April 1754, and concluded with the Treaty of Paris on the 10th of February 1763. With the signing of this treaty, Canada was ceded to Britain.  One of the major battles in the North American campaign of this war was fought at Fort Carillon, also known as Ticonderoga.  This is the story of Elijah Estabrooks, one of the Massachusetts Provincial soldiers who took part in that battle.

           Elijah and his fellow Massachusetts Provincial soldiers may have looked like this in uniform.  Terry Hawkins, another descendant of Elijah, is the model, and he is part of a group of re-enactors who have recreated Israel Harrack's Company of Colonel Jedediah Prebles' Regiment of Massachusetts Provincials in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The group travels frequently to French and Indian War re-enactment encampments in the US and Canada, including Fort Ticonderoga and Fortress Louisbourg.


         The Journal of Elijah Estabrooks covers about three years of a particularly important period in the history of North America.  The conflict in which he participated shaped the future of the whole area for many years to come.  Had that war not terminated as it did, the movement of great numbers of efficient settlers, including Elijah Estabrooks, from New England to what was then Nova Scotia would not have taken place in the years immediately following 1759.

         On the 11th of January 1759, a proclamation was made by Charles Lawrence, Governor of Nova Scotia, offering grants of land and free liberty of conscience to Protestants dissenting from the Church of England.  This proclamation was printed by John Draper at Boston in the same year.  The defeat of the French forces led to the release of some women and children who had been captured by Indians in Nova Scotia and taken to Quebec, and made it safe for farmers and fishermen to settle over most of the Province.

         When Elijah Estabrooks marched to Cornwallis in June 1760, he would have seen one building which is still standing, namely the blockhouse of Fort Edward in present-day Windsor.  About 50 years ago the old shingles were being replaced on the sides of this building.  I was visiting relatives in the town at the time and went to see the blockhouse when the huge pine timbers were bare.  There were many musket balls embedded about two inches deep in the timbers, mostly near the door and the loopholes.

         Elijah Estabrooks would have seen the newly arrived settlers at work on their farms and buildings as he passed through the Townships of Newport, Falmouth, Horton and Cornwallis, which were all settled by New England planters in that year.  The soldiers seem to have been sent to Cornwallis to protect the newly arrived settlers from Indian raids, which did not take place.  While at that township they would have seen the fruit trees and rich soil as well as the many acres of diked land; exceptionally good land free of rocks, providing pasture and hay for cattle and sheep.  The lifestyle in these settlements would have been more compatible to anyone with puritan values than in the city of Halifax of that day.

         Farmland in the long-settled towns near the coast in New England was nearly all occupied and expensive, while the lands in Nova Scotia were free.  Many who emigrated in response to Lawrence’s proclamation were of Separate Congregationalist, Quaker, and Baptist faith, or leaned toward these groups.  They had suffered religious restriction in Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts, including being taxed to pay the salaries of ministers they disapproved of.  Governor Lawrence’s proclamation stated this would not occur in Nova Scotia.

         Elijah Estabrooks brought his family to Cornwallis where the level land must have reminded him of the interval land on the Saint John River, that had some advantages over the land on the Minas Basin.  Both places were subject to flooding at times, but the river water did no harm to the soil, whereas when the sea broke through the dikes, it was said to take three years for the salt to leach out of the soil, so that grass would grow again.  Both places were accessible to small vessels of that day.  The shores at Cornwallis had extremely high tides and were lined with either high cliffs or very wide mud flats, whereas small vessels could come almost to the doors of the settlers on the Saint John River.  No less than seventeen families beside Elijah Estabrooks removed from Cornwallis and vicinity to the Saint John River before the Revolutionary War.

         Journals exist of other soldiers who traveled the road to Windsor about the same period as Elijah Estabrooks, but they did not return to the area as he did.  Here, he gained considerable influence among the many planters on the Saint John River and religious meetings were regularly held at his house for many years.  At least in his later years he was affiliated with what were then called “Newlight Congregationalists” who built a meetinghouse which some called “Brooksite” because the Estabrooks men were leaders in building it.  When the congregation with their preacher Elijah Estabrooks Junior formed a Baptist Church in 1800, they “inherited the meetinghouse.”

         Major Harold Skaarup has done a fine job, explaining the various campaigns in which Elijah Estabrooks participated and other events of the French and Indian, or Seven Years War.  Not only will the descendants of Estabrooks find this book of great interest, but the public in general will find it fascinating reading if they are interested in history.  The events described are fact not fiction.

         I consider it an honour to have been asked to write this Foreword.

Frederick C. Burnett

26 October 2000


         On the 8th of February 1997 the Queen’s County Historical Society in Jemseg, New Brunswick, invited me to give a presentation on an ancestor of mine named Elijah Estabrooks (1727-1796).  The subject was Elijah’s Military Service as a Colonial soldier during the period from 1758 to 1760, just prior to his settlement on the Saint John River.  The meetinghouse where I spoke to the members of the society stood less than a kilometer from where Elijah lay buried.  His remains lie within eyesight of the new Trans-Canada Highway bridge over the river at Jemseg, in what is known locally as the Old Garrison Graveyard, one of the oldest in that part of New Brunswick.

         One may find as many as 25 or 30 gravesites on this former farmland that was once the property of a pre-Loyalist family named Garrison.  It later went to the family of Jefferson Dykeman and is presently on the property of John Gardner.  The gravesite is in fact, now a cattle pasture with a very impressive (and incredibly old) Burr Oak tree standing watch over it.  The grass has grown long because of the frequent flooding over the site by the Saint John River each spring, as of the spring of 2001.  John’s hand painted marker, however, is still readily visible on the site which lies across from house number 12 on the river road.  The first time I saw the site, I couldn’t help thinking that many of the early settlers on the Saint John River that are interred here like Elijah, must have had interesting histories worth further research.  For those of you who are, like me, descended from these same settlers, that research may prove as rewarding as mine did, and you may well find that you have the grist for a similar history about your ancestors.  Good hunting to you.

         This book is about one of these colonists, some of whom were the earliest settlers in the Queen’s County area, back when the territory was still part of the province of Nova Scotia.  At least two family members of the original contingent of Loyalists who came to this part of New Brunswick are also buried there, including George Ferris, the forebear of the Queen’s County Ferris’s, as well as a number of Pre-Loyalists like Elijah Estabrooks along with his first wife Mary and his second wife Sarah.  Other family names, which would have been familiar to many of those who gathered to hear the presentation, are buried on nearby farms from the same era.  Their names include the Purdeys, Starkeys, Dykemans, Gilberts, Colwells, Hatfields, Hanselpackers, Springers, Currys, Mullens, Camps, Gunters, Carpenters and Thurstons.

         Later on, there were Oakleys, Nevers, Huestis, Gidneys, Porters and Bates families.  The majority of these early settlers were Loyalists except for the Garrisons, Estabrooks and Nevers, who were pre-Loyalists from Massachusetts.  The Gunters were from Hanover, Germany, the Dykemans were Old New York State Dutch, and the Springers were Swedish.

         As I have mentioned, each settler would have had an interesting story to tell.  The particular story I intend to expand on in this book is the military record of a family ancestor of mine named Elijah Estabrooks.  Elijah kept a Journal during his travels and recorded his experiences from the time he grew up in New England and throughout the period when he fought in the Seven Years War as a Massachusetts Provincial soldier.  This war ended in 1763 with the defeat of the French forces in North America, and with the major result being that Canada was ceded to Britain.  Elijah survived his battle experiences, and shortly after his discharge in 1760, he emigrated to this part of the Maritimes which was then known as Nova Scotia.  A brief summary of what happened to Elijah during this period follows.


          As a soldier in the Massachusetts Provincials, Elijah Estabrooks participated in the battle that took place against Montcalm’s French forces at Fort Ticonderoga on the 8th of July 1758.  Elijah kept a daily journal of the events that unfolded as he saw them, and later, when he became one of the earliest settlers on the Saint John River in what is now the province of New Brunswick, his journal was passed on to his descendants. Elijah described the events of the battle as he saw them from an “up close and very personal” point of view.  The following is one example:

          We marched within 30 or 40 rods of the French trenches and set the battle in array.  And we had about as smart a fight for about 4 hours as ever was heard or seen in England, Flanders, or America.  And the French prevailed very much…but it was through deceit…for they acted contrary to the acts of all kings and parliaments…for in the midst of their fight they hoisted an English flag in heir trench only to deceive us, and so it did, for we thought that they had given up.  And drew up and was going to take possession - when all at once they hauled that down and hoisted their own, and with a great hellish shout poured a volley upon us, and killed more at that time than they had before – 2,541 of our men they killed and wounded 1,473.[1]

          The battle clearly left an indelible impression on Elijah and as indicated; his journal makes remarkably interesting reading.  It opens a window onto one man’s view of the French and Indian War in New England, and his subsequent service in the British forces in Halifax during events that would eventually lead to the ceding of Canada to Britain.  In many ways, the observations that he made in his journal are a written heirloom that has been passed on and shared among his many New Brunswick descendants and other interested readers.

         Elijah Estabrooks was the son of Elijah and Hannah (Daniel) Estabrooks, and he was born in 1727 or 1728.  Some of his family had originally immigrated to Boston from Enfield, England in 1660, settling nearby in Boxford, Massachusetts.  His journal provides a rich treasure trove of eyewitness detail covering the English campaign in 1758 against the French and Indian forces as they unfolded during an interesting period of the Seven Years War.  His journal is also a personal record of his experiences in the Massachusetts Provincial Army during the years 1758-1760.[2]  Elijah was a volunteer soldier in a Company commanded by Captain Israel Herrick, an officer under the command of Colonel Jedediah Preble and his Regiment of Massachusetts Provincial soldiers.[3]

         Elijah’s record is a very personal account of the heavy casualties and the defeat that the British forces suffered shortly after the death of Brigadier (and Lord) George Augustus Howe.  Howe had been a highly competent commander and one of British Prime Minister Pitt’s “chosen” young men.  Unfortunately, he was killed in a skirmish that took place just before the battle at Ticonderoga, and tactical command of the assaulting force was assumed by a British General named Abercrombie.  Abercrombie chose to conduct a frontal assault against well dug in troops without using any of his readily available artillery.[4]  The result was a bloodbath for the British forces.  General Louis-Joseph Marquis de Montcalm and his French forces conducted a spirited and successful defence, although the victory was due more to Abercrombie’s poor assessment of the French defences than to the best choice of ground, position, and tactics.

[1] Journal of Elijah Estabrooks, Haverhill, Massachusetts, 1758-1760, p. 7.

[2] A photo of what Elijah and his fellow Massachusetts Provincial soldiers may have looked like in uniform is re-produced on the cover and throughout this book.  Terry Hawkins, another descendant of Elijah, is the model, and he is part of a group of re-enactors who have recreated Isreal Harrack's Company of Colonel Jedediah Preble’s' Regiment of Massachusetts Provincials in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada. The group travels frequently to French and Indian War re-enactment encampments in the US and Canada, including Fort Ticonderoga and Fortress Louisbourg. For anyone interested, they can be contacted by mail at the following address: PO Box 999, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada, BOT 1WO, or by email:

[3] General Jedidiah Preble was born in Wells, Maine in 1707 and began life as a sailor.  In 1746 he became a Captain in a provincial regiment.  He became a very prominent resident of Portland who settled on The Neck about 1748.  In 1755 he held a command as a Lieutenant-Colonel under General John Winslow and assisted in removing the Acadians from Canada.  He became a Colonel on 13 March 1758.  On 17 March 1759  he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General.  He was in charge of a company that served under General Wolfe and he was in the battle on the Plains of Abraham standing near General Wolfe when Wolfe was killed.  Preble, who was wounded twice during the war was in command of a garrison at Fort Pownal at Fort Pownal on the Penobscot River when peace finally came in 1763.  In 1775, General Preble, then 68, was appointed to the rank of Major General and was asked to serve as commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts forces, but he declined citing the infirmities of age.  He served 12 years as Portland’s representative to the legislature, was chosen the first senator from Cumberland County under the constitution of 1780, and was a judge of Common Pleas from 1782-83.  He died in Portland, Maine on 16 March 1784, at age 77.  He had four sons and one daughter by his first wife, Martha (Junkins), of York, and five sons by his second wife, the widow of John Roberts and daughter of Joshua Bangs of Portland.  Internet:; and

[4] According to Francis Parkman, Brigadier Lord Howe was one of the most beloved British officers who ever led provincial troops in America.  Massachusetts-Bay put up a monument to him in Westminster Abbey, where it may still be seen.  He was a younger brother to Admiral Lord Howe and General William “Billy” Howe of the War of Independence.  William had been with Amherst at Louisbourg.  Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, Viking, Markham, Ontario, 1984, p. 441.

According to Robert Leckie, Augustus Howe was an excellent soldier.  He was also one of the few British commanders who respected the colonists.  He had served with the Rangers led by (then) Captain Robert Rogers, and he insisted that the 6,350 regulars as well as the 9,000 colonials whom Abercrombie was to lead against Ticonderoga, learn to live and fight as the Rangers did.  Robert Leckie, The Wars of America, Vol I, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY, 1992, p. 57.

Lord and Brigadier George Augustus Howe (age 34).  It has been reported that George Howe was as capable and as popular a soldier as then served the king in 1758.  He was killed in a French ambush near Lake George on the 5th of July 1758, as he advanced at the head of General Abercrombie’s 15,000-man army just prior to the assault on Fort Ticonderoga.

Maps of the French and Indian War

(Hoodinski Map)

Schematic map of the French and Indian War.

Map of Actions described in Ticonderoga Soldier.  This map outlines the military activities that took place at the North end of Lake George in July 1758, indicating where Lord Howe was killed and where Montcalm laid out his defensive position before Fort Carillon – Fort Ticonderoga.

Map of the town and Fort of Carillon at Ticonderoga.  This map shows the dispositions of the French forces under Montcalm deployed to the West of the fort, and the attacking British forces under General Abercrombie North West of the height of Carillon, as they were assembled on the 8th of July 1758.  (Simplified from a contemporary map by Thomas Jeffreys).  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4162110)

Map showing the movement of General James Abercrombie's army as it approached Fort Carillon in 1758.  William Kingsford.

Map showing Fort Ticonderoga (then known as Fort Carillon) in 1758.  (Thomas Jefferys, Library and Archives of Quebec)

Map showing details of Fort Ticonderoga (then known as Fort Carillon) in 1758.  (Thomas Jefferys, Library and Archives of Quebec)

Topographical drawing of Fort Ticonderoga, drawn in 1759 from the South Bay of Lake Champlain in New York state during the French and Indian War. The tents marking military encampment are penciled in. Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.

Fort Carillon – Ticonderoga

     The fight to come at Fort Ticonderoga would not be the first time a battle had taken place on the site.  On the 29th of July 1609, Samuel de Champlain fought the Iroquois there.  Although he would eventually seek to make himself a friend of the Iroquois, on that date he and his Indian allies encountered a band of 200 Mohawks.  The two opposing forces built barricades and exchanged insults, much as present day belligerents do.  The next day, Champlain and his forces “advanced to contact.”  Champlain then fired his quadruple-shotted arquebus and killed two Mohawk chiefs, while a third was killed by another Frenchman.  The Iroquois armour of wooden slats offered no protection against firearms, and in the ensuing battle some 50 Mohawks were killed.  The Hurons and the Algonquins returned home exalting in their victory over their traditional enemies.[1]

         136 years later during the course of the French and Indian War, a talented French-Canadian military engineer named de Lotbinière proceeded to build a star-shaped fortress of stone, earth and timber on this same site.  It stands on a rocky ridge near the southern end of Lake Champlain where Lake George flows into it.[2]  Construction of ‘Fort Carillon’ was begun in 1755 and the basic outline of the fort was complete by the winter of 1756.  Similar in construction to Fort Duquesne, there were two wooden walls around the main enclosure of Fort Carillon.  The ten feet of space between the walls was filled with earth to absorb cannon shot, and they were tied to each other with cross timbers dovetailed in place.  The wood for the enclosure consisted of heavy oak timbers, 14 or 14 inches square, laid horizontally one on top of the other.  A major weeknes of this kind of construction was the continual rotting of the timbers.  This led to the decision in 1757 to revet the timber walls with a stone veneer which would make the fort much more durable.[3]

         Across the lake the new fortress faced a bluff, and a little to the south Lake George emptied into a channel that flowed through a gorge into Lake Champlain.  As a result, whoever held the fort controlled the only passageway which led southward out of Lake Champlain.  This route in turn led toward the Hudson River by way of Lake George, and on to Albany.  The Frenchman had called his fort Carillon (a chime of bells) because of the loud splash of nearby rapids.  For the same reason, the Indians called the spot Cheonderoga, which meant “Noisy.”  The British called it Ticonderoga, and the Americans later called it Fort Ti.[4]

       For the purpose of this story, whenever the Fort is referred by the French or in the context of their defense activities within it, the site will be called “Fort Carillon.”  Whenever the British or Americans refer to it or describe their attacks on it, the site will be called Fort Ticonderoga, or simply “Ticonderoga.”

[1] John Keegan, Warpaths, Travels of a Military Historian in North America, Key Porter Books, Toronto, Ontario, 1995, p. 105.

[2] Michel Chartier, Sieur de Lotbinière, was born in Québec in 1723 and had been sent to France to study the techniques of military engineering.  Marguerita Z. Herman, Ramparts, Fortification From The Renaissance to West Point, Avery Publishing Group Inc., Garden City Park, New York, 1992, p. 86.

[3] Ibid, p. 86.

[4] A.J. Langguth, Patriots, The Men Who Started the American Revolution, Touchstone, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1988, p. 260.


A schematic representation of the 1758 map by Thomas Jeffrey.  (Map courtesy of Magicpiano)

Map of the Battle of Ticonderoga on 8th July 1758 in the French and Indian War: map by John Fawkes

Map of the Battle of Ticonderoga on 8th July 1758 in the French and Indian War.  Elijah and his fellow Massachusetts Provincial soldiers would have been standing on the south flank near the river.  (Illustration by John Fawkes)

General Abercromby’s force embarking for the attack on Fort Ticonderoga 8th July 1758.

Setting the Stage for the Battle

         In June 1758 a combined force of 15,350 British and Provincial soldiers commanded by General James Abercrombie were gathered at the head of Lake George near Lake Champlain, New York, in preparation for an attack on Fort Ticonderoga.[1]  The commander of the French forces defending the Fort with one quarter of the numbers of troops facing him was Louis-Joseph Marquis de Montcalm-Gozon, Seigneur de Saint-Véran, who served under the Governor General of New France, Pierre de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal.[2]

[1] Francis Parkman, The Seven Years War, A Narrative taken from Montcalm and Wolfe, The Conspiracy of Pontiac, and A Half-Century of Conflict, Harper Torchbooks, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York and Evanston, 1968, p. 184.

[2] Montcalm’s full title is Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, Marquis de Montcalm, Seigneur of Saint- Véran, Candiac, Tournemine, Vestric, Saint-Julien, and Arpaon.  Baron de Gabriac, lieutenant-general.  He was born at Candiac, France, on the 28th of February 1712, son of Louis-Daniel de Montcalm and Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte de Lauris de Castellance.  He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Québec and died shortly afterwards on the 14th of September 1759. The Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition, Grolier Inc, Danbury, Connecticut, 1988, p. 458.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 2895086)

Governor General Pierre François de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal (22 Nov 1698 – 4 Aug 1778), Canadian-born colonial governor of New France.

         In June 1758 a combined force of 15,350 British and Provincial soldiers commanded by General James Abercrombie were gathered at the head of Lake George near Lake Champlain, New York, in preparation for an attack on Fort Ticonderoga.[1]  The commander of the French forces defending the Fort with one quarter of the numbers of troops facing him was Louis-Joseph Marquis de Montcalm-Gozon, Seigneur de Saint-Véran, who served under the Governor General of New France, Pierre de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal.[2]  Following his arrival in Canada in May 1756, Montcalm had already successfully fought and destroyed the British Forts at Oswego and George in August 1757, and demolished Fort William Henry, later made famous in the James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) story (and a number of films), The Last of the Mohicans.[3]  Montcalm prepared to meet the British assault force by deploying his men around the walls of the French stronghold with an army one-fourth the size of Abercrombie’s.[4]

         Essentially these activities had become necessary because of a series of related events and battles. Governor General Vaudreuil had anticipated that there would be a renewed Anglo-American assault on Lake Ontario in February 1756.  He had therefore sent 360 Canadians and Indians under the command of Gaspard-Joseph Chausegros de Léry, to harass communications between Fort Oswego and Schenectady (New York).  They succeeded admirably, successfully assaulting and destroying Fort Bull (on Lake Oneida, New York) along with a vast amount of supplies.  No one in the garrison was spared.  Other Canadian war parties harassed Oswego all spring and early summer, preventing supplies getting through and putting the fear of God into the garrison.  By July, Vaudreuil believed the time had come for the destruction of the fort itself.  He sent Montcalm to Fort Carillon to inspect the new fort there, and to deceive the enemy as to his intentions.  Vaudreuil assembled a force of 3,000 men at Fort Frontenac.[5]

Montcalm joined this force on the 29th of July.  Before leaving Montréal he had expressed grave misgivings about the expedition, but the main problem proved to be nothing more than the building of a road to bring up the siege guns.  After a short bombardment, and with the Canadians and Indians commanded by Vaudreuil’s brother, François-Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, swarming within musket range, the garrison surrendered.  1,700 prisoners were taken, several armed ships, a large number of cannon, munitions and supplies of all sorts, and a war chest containing funds to the value of 18,000 livres.  Montcalm stated the cost of the expedition had been 11,862 livres.  All told, a profitable enterprise, but strategically it was worth far more than that.  French control of Lake Ontario was now assured, the northwestern flank of New York was open to attack, and the danger of an assault on either Fort Frontenac or Niagara (near Youngstown, New York) had been diminished.[6]

[1] Francis Parkman, The Seven Years War, A Narrative taken from Montcalm and Wolfe, The Conspiracy of Pontiac, and A Half-Century of Conflict, Harper Torchbooks, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York and Evanston, 1968, p. 184.

[2] Montcalm’s full title is Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, Marquis de Montcalm, Seigneur of Saint- Véran, Candiac, Tournemine, Vestric, Saint-Julien, and Arpaon.  Baron de Gabriac, lieutenant-general.  He was born at Candiac, France, on the 28th of February 1712, son of Louis-Daniel de Montcalm and Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte de Lauris de Castellance.  He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Québec and died shortly afterwards on the 14th of September 1759. The Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition, Grolier Inc, Danbury, Connecticut, 1988, p. 458.

[3] Ibid, p. 459.

[4] Francis Parkman, The Seven Years War, p. 184.

[5] Remains of this star fort still exist on the site, which is now occupied by the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College (CLFCSC), otherwise known as ‘Foxhole U’ at Kingston, Ontario.

[6] The Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition, Grolier Inc, Danbury, Connecticut, 1988, p. 459.

Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm-Gozon, Seigneur de Saint-Véran, Candiac, Tournemire, Pestric, St. Julien, d’Arpaon, Baron de Gabriac, Lieutenant-Général of the Armies of the King of France, Honorary Commander of the Order of St. Louis and Commander-in-Chief of the French Army in America.  Born at Candiac on the 28th of February 1712, he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Quebec, and died there in Canada shortly afterwards, on the 13th of September 1759.  Sergent-Marçeau, Antoine François, 1751-1847, (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3030069)

Military Tactics in the Seven Years War  

The principal weapon that came to dominate the Seven Years War was the “smooth-bore, flintlock, muzzle-loading musket, mounted with a bayonet, making it both a fire and a shock weapon.”  The weapons range and complicated fire and maneuver procedures meant that it dominated the planning for the tactical deployment of troops on the battlefield of the 18th century.  As would be noted by Bernard Cornwell’s 19th century officer, Major Richard Sharpe, even well-trained soldiers could fire no more than two or three rounds a minute.[1]

[1] Bernard Cornwell, Sharpe, The Legend, Video, Carleton Television, 1998.

          A specific set of commands was developed to ensure the loading and firing of the Brown Bess was conducted in a “militarily correct” sequence.  These orders directed the soldiers to carry out at least 12 key movements at an Officer’s command accompanied by drumbeat.  “At close range, under 80 paces, a musket volley could be murderous, but at that distance there was barely time to reload before the enemy’s charge, if it were not checked, reached the line.”[1]

[1] W.J. Eccles, The French forces in North America during the Seven Years’ War, p. xvi.

          As will be seen later in this story, in 1759, one double-shotted volley fired by British soldiers under General Wolfe’s command on the Plains of Abraham would be sufficient to destroy the French front line under the command of General Montcalm.  The result would change the course of North American history.  In the battle formations of the Seven Years War, two basic formations were employed.  These were called “the line” and “the column.”  The line was a military formation made up of soldiers standing in three ranks, and its effectiveness depended considerably on the coordinated fire-power given by their muskets, and the effective and highly aggressive follow up by a concerted bayonet charge against the shattered foe.  An attack carried out by soldiers deployed in a column depended heavily on the shock effect of an attack against a narrow front.  The object of this assault was to “pierce and shatter the enemy’s line.”  The orderly deployment of troops in a line formation demanded that the supervising officers enforce the most rigorous discipline in order ensure that each and every man in the line stands fast.  This discipline was the only way to ensure that a measured and coordinated volley of fire would be delivered on command against a charging foe.  An attack in column also required considerable discipline to ensure that once the initial volley had been delivered, the men pressed on into the opposing hail of fire.  The key to success in this usually murderous advance, was that the swifter the men assaulted forward to their objective, the fewer the number of enemy volleys they had to endure.  The British army relied on the line; the French, however, at this time still believed in the effectiveness of the column.  Their commanders believed that “the charge with the arme blanche” was better suited to the capabilities and the morale of their poorly trained troops with “their impetuous temperament.”[1]

         Elijah Estabrooks as well as his fellow Massachusetts Provincial soldiers who deployed to Ticonderoga, were equipped with the “Brown Bess” musket.[2]  According to the historian C.P. Stacy, the British musket commonly called the “Brown Bess” underwent some modifications between its introduction in the 1720s and its official replacement in 1794.  The French, for their part, placed a lot of confidence in their 1754 pattern “Charleville” musket.  It would appear, however, that the British felt that the Brown Bess musket was a more effective weapon based on their experience in the Quebec campaign.  In a letter that Brigadier George Townshend wrote to Major-General Jeffery Amherst on the 26th of June 1775, he stated, “I recollect that in our service at Quebec, the superiority of our muskets over the French Arms were generally acknowledged both as to the Distance they carried and the Frequency of the Fire.”[3]

British attack at the Battle of Ticonderoga on 8th July 1758.

[1] It took a lot of drill and training to successfully maneuver troops around and onto a battlefield.  At least 18 months of basic training on the drill ground was required before they could be relied on to attack in a fixed line or a disciplined column.  The constant drill continued until the soldiers became virtual automatons.  Even then, it was felt that a solider would need at least five years of experience before he could become “dependable” in battle.  W.J. Eccles, The French forces in North America during the Seven Years’ War, p. xvi.

[2] The Brown Bess flintlock musket was the standard weapon of the British army from the 1730’s until 1794.  The first model of the Brown Bess or Long-Land Musket (its regulation name), had a 46 inch barrel with a wooden rammer retained by three pipes of equal size and a tail-piece where it entered the stock.  At this point the stock swells out and, generally speaking, the bigger the swell, the older the gun.  One sling swivel is fastened to the front of the trigger guard bow and the other is screwed through the muzzle end of the stock between the first and second pipes.  The lock of the Brown Bess was of a round pattern about seven inches long with a drooping tail.  This bend gets less pronounced in the later models until, towards the end of the century, the bottom edge of the lock is practically straight.  The bayonet which went with the musket had a socket about four inches long and a triangular blade 17 inches long.  Another pattern of which there is increasing mention from 1740 onwards is the Short Land musket, with the same style of lock, stock and furniture as the Long model, but with a 42-inch barrel.  There were soon two standard pattern muskets in production, the Long Land with steel rammers and the Short Land with wood rammers, a curious distinction between the two being that only the short pattern had a brass nose cap.  By the middle of the century, however, an improved pattern noseband, or cap was fitted to both types of muskets.  Internet: British Firearms,, p.1.

[3] C.P. Stacy, The British forces in North America during the Seven Years’ War, p. xxvi.

British Land Pattern Musket commonly referred to as "Brown Bess". The musket was used from 1722 to 1838.  (Photo courtesy of Antique Military Rifles)

French Charleville Musket, 1766.  (Photo courtesy of Antique Military Rifles)

Elijah’s Military Service

          Elijah did two tours of duty with the Massachusetts Provincials, coming out of the army after his first period of service on the 7th of November 1758 and later re-enlisting on the 6th of April 1759.  During his second period of service, he was sent by ship to Halifax where he remained until the 25th of November 1760.  While he was on duty in Halifax, Elijah served in a Company commanded by Captain Josiah Thatcher as part of a Regiment commanded by Colonel Thomas.[1]  Their primary task was the boarding and seizure of French ships re-supplying the soldiers of New France.  Elijah also served alongside other provincial soldiers from New England, most notably members of Roger’s Rangers.  He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.  His family, however, remained in Boxford, Massachusetts, where he returned at the end of his second period of service.

         After completing his military service Elijah Estabrooks eventually came to settle on the Saint John River.  In 1762, the government of Massachusetts sponsored a group of men to participate in early exploration of the area around Maugerville in what is present day New Brunswick, in search of suitable settlements.  Elijah was one of these early explorers.  Early in 1763 he moved his family to Halifax and then on to Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, and later to Maugerville Township.  Maugerville was still part of Sunbury County, Nova Scotia in 1763.

         Elijah eventually settled on a farm near Conway, a small community just north of the present-day city of Saint John, in 1775.  This was before the mass influx (some called it an invasion) of the Loyalists who had to withdraw from New England after the close of the American Revolutionary War of Independence.  It was the Loyalists who renamed the newly created province of New Brunswick (NB) after King George III’s German State of Braunschweig.  The Loyalists in some cases forced the existing English settlers off their land grants, and therefore many of them moved to sites further up the river.  Elijah’s family was one of these, and thus he and his family eventually came to establish themselves on farms located near the village of Jemseg, which is not far from the present day Combat Training Centre (CTC), on Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown in Oromocto.  Elijah later moved to a farm near Swan Creek, NB, where he died about the 11th of August 1796.  Many of Elijah’s descendants are alive and well today, and can be found not only in New Brunswick, but also across Canada and the United States.[2]

[1] A company was a unit of 40 to 100 men, led by 3 commissioned officers (a captain assisted by a lieutenant and an ensign) and 7 noncommissioned officers (3 sergeants and 4 corporals).  Ten companies made up a battalion, the basic tactical unit of the army.  The army’s principal administrative echelon was the regiment, which could consist of from one to 4 battalions.  The regiment was headed by 3 “field officers,” a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, and a major.  There were 30 company officers for the line as well as 6 administrative staff officers.  Staff officers included the adjutant, who supervised personnel matters; the commissary and the quartermaster, who were responsible for the acquisition, storage, and distribution of food and materiél; the chaplain; and the surgeon and surgeon’s mate.  An armorer and armorer’s mate were also attached to the staff, but they were regarded as technicians rather than officers.  A regiment’s total strength could vary in size from 400 to 1,000 men, plus officers.  Virtually all the Massachusetts provincial soldiers were infantrymen (the British regular units had cavalry, grenadiers, dragoons or light infantry).  Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, pp. 48-49.

[2] The original material found in Elijah’s journal was copied from the Estabrooks-Palmer family records, and compiled along with other genealogical records by Florence C. Estabrooks, of Saint John, NB, on the 23rd of February 1948.  Elijah’s original manuscript had passed through many hands and several leaves are missing out of the first portion of the book.  Florence Estabrooks stated the data she compiled had been “copied from the journal kept by Elijah Estabrooks, a non-commissioned officer (Sergeant) in the Colonial Army during the Old French (and Indian) War which terminated in 1760-61.”

Background to the French and Indian War    

          The Seven Years War has been described as a worldwide series of conflicts, which were fought between 1756 and 1763.  The initial object of the war was to gain control over Germany and to achieve supremacy in colonial North America and India.  The war involved most of the major powers of Europe, with Prussia, Great Britain, and Hannover on one side and Austria, Saxony (Sachsen), France, Russia, Sweden, and Spain on the other.  The collective series of battles fought during this war in North America became kno           wn as the French and Indian War.  Essentially the French and Indian war pitted Great Britain and its American colonies against the French forces of New France and their Algonquin Indian allies.[1]

The opening shots of the war in North America were fired in 1754.  A rivalry between the colonies of France and England had gradually developed over the lucrative fur-trading posts and the rich lands west of the Appalachian Mountains, as well as over valuable fishing rights off the coast of Newfoundland.  The French hoped to contain British settlement, particularly in the Ohio Valley, where Virginia planters had established fur-trading posts in 1749 by a strategy of encirclement.  France hoped to unite itself with its Indian allies through a chain of forts, which ran as far south as New Orleans and thus prevent British expansion to the west.[2]

For the first two years of the war, French forces and their and Native Indian allies were largely victorious, winning an important and surprising victory with the defence of Fort Duquesne.  In 1757, however, the British statesman William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, and a pro-Prussian, was placed in charge of Britain’s foreign policy.  One of his first acts was to appoint General James Wolfe to command the British troops in the New World.  The long-term result of Pitt’s bold strategy was the ultimate defeat of the French forces in North America by 1760, and the ceding of all of French Canada to Britain.[3]

[1] “Seven Years’ War,” MicrosoftâEncartaâOnline Encyclopedia 2000, http://encarta.msn.comã1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Major-General James Wolfe (1727-1759).  Wolfe portrait. (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 2894990)


           As for General James Wolfe, he has been described by Horace Walpole as

           a young officer who had contracted a reputation from his intelligence of discipline, and from the perfection to which he had brought his regiment.  The world could not expect more from him than he thought himself capable of performing.  He looked upon danger as the favorable moment that would call forth all his talents.[1]

[1] Oliver Warner, With Wolfe to Québec, The Path to Glory, Collins, Toronto, 1972, p. 28.

           The Seven Years War officially ended on the 10th of February 1763 with the Treaty of Paris, which was signed to settle differences between France, Spain, and Great Britain.[1]  Among the terms was the acquisition of almost the entire French Empire in North America by Great Britain.  The British also acquired Florida from Spain and the French retained their possessions in India only under severe military restrictions.  The continent of Europe remained free from territorial changes.[2]

[1] The Treaty of Paris ceded all of Canada to Britain, leaving France with only the small islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, which permitted her to maintain a tiny foothold in the lucrative fishing region.  Under the Treaty, France also kept part of Louisiana.  The National Post, 10 February 2000.  The Key points of the treaty are as follows:

           Article IV of the Treaty states, “His Most Christian Majesty renounces all pretensions which he as heretofore formed or might have formed to Nova Scotia or Acadia in all its parts and guarantees the whole of it, and with all its dependencies, to the King of Great Britain; Moreover, his Most Christian Majesty cedes and guaranties to his said Britannic Majesty, in full right, Canada, with all its dependencies, as well as the island of Cape Breton, and all the other islands and coasts in the gulf and river of St. Lawrence, and in general, every thing that depends on the said countries, lands, islands, and coasts, with the sovereignty, property, possession, and all rights acquired by treaty, or otherwise, which the Most Christian King and the Crown of France have had till now over the said countries, lands, islands, places, coasts, and their inhabitants, so that the Most Christian King cedes and makes over the whole to said King, and to the Crown of Great Britain, and that in the most ample manner and form, without restriction, and without any liberty to depart from the said cession and guaranty under any pretense, or to disturb Great Britain in the possessions above mentioned.  His Britannic majesty, on his side, agrees to grant the liberty of the Catholic religion to the inhabitants of Canada: he will, in consequence, give the most precise and most effectual orders, that his new Roman Catholic subjects may profess the worship of their religion according to the rites of the Romish church, as far as the laws of Great Britain permit.  His Britannic Majesty further agrees, that the French inhabitants, or others who had been subjects of the Most Christian King in Canada, may retire with all safety and freedom wherever they shall think proper, and may sell their estates, provided it be to the subjects of his Britannic Majesty, and bring away their effects as well as their persons, without being restrained in their emigration, under any pretense whatsoever, except that of debts or of criminal prosecutions: The term limited for this emigration shall be fixed to the space of eighteen months, to be computed from the day of the exchange of the ratification of the present treaty…” The complete text of the Treaty of Paris can be found at:, and in “The History of Nova Scotia,” p. 14.

[2] “Seven Years’ War,” MicrosoftâEncartaâOnline Encyclopedia 2000, http://encarta.msn.comã1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation.

Louisbourg and the Seven Years War

        Four periods of war had dominated life in North America during the late 17th and early part of the 18th centuries.  King William’s War was fought between 1689 and 1697, and followed only five years later by Queen Anne’s War fought between 1702 and 1713.  Less than a dozen years later, Governor Dummer’s War was fought between 1722 and 1725, followed by the fourth conflict, King George’s Wars which took place between 1744 and 1748.  By this time, the people of Massachusetts had contributed more than their share of blood and treasure in support of England’s worldwide conflict with France.  The Seven Years War would see the cost rise even higher for the New England colony.[1]

When France lost Port Royal (in what is present day Nova Scotia) in the Treaty of Utrecht, it proceeded to spend six million in gold building the “impregnable” fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island.[2]

In many ways, the great fortress of Louisbourg was a memorial to the fortress-designing genius of Vauban.  This is because two of his pupils, Verville and Verrier, made extensive use of Vauban’s ideas and designs to make the fortress one of the greatest strongholds of New France.  Louisbourg was built on a narrow headland, with water on three sides.  The sea itself provides a moat, and on nine days out of ten the surf pounds hard on the rock-strewn Nova Scotia shore.  Beyond the shore there is a string of shoals and islands that reduces the harbour entrance to a mere 400 yards, and this in turn offers the defender numerous well-sited positions for gun emplacements that would command the roadway and the only channel entrance into Louisbourg’s harbour.  In its heyday, a marsh lay to the landward side of the fortress, and this would have caused any heavy artillery that the British needed to employ to bog down.  Even then, there are only a few low hillocks that offer would offer a useful position to mount and site the guns that had been dragged into position. Using Vauban’s principles, the fortresses walls were ten feet thick, and faced with fitted masonry that rose thirty feet behind a steep ditch.  This defence in turn was fronted by a wide glacis, with an unobstructed sloping field of fire that could rake a designated killing ground at pointblank range with cannon and musket shot.  The fortress was equipped with 148 cannons, including 24 and 42 pounders, and positioned to allow all-round fire or massive concentrations at selected danger points.  The defenders were also sheltered inside the fortress with “covered ways,” which protected them from bombardment splinters.[3]

In spite of its solid design, however, on the 20th of April 1745 (during King George’s War), the English conducted a successful amphibious landing and siege of the fortress of Louisbourg.  The operation was conceived by Governor William Shirley of Massachusetts and carried out by the New England militia led by William Pepperell, a merchant of Kittery, Maine, and the Royal Navy, which supported him with a blockading squadron under Admiral Sir Peter Warren.  Following a six-week siege, the French commander surrendered the fortress (at a time when it was known as “the Gibraltar of the New World”), on the 16th of June 1745.[4]

         Sometimes an almost ridiculous element of chance had a major role to play in the successful outcome of a siege.  During the first siege of Louisbourg on the 28th of May 1745, the combined forces of William Pepperell and Admiral Warren lacked the heavy cannon needed to reduce the fortifications of the Gabarus island battery blocking access to the harbour defences.  During a reconnaissance by a landing party, a sharp-eyed man looking down into the clear water saw what incredibly appeared to be a whole battery of guns half hidden in the sand below.  This is exactly what it was, ten bronze cannon which had slid from the deck of a French “Man o’ War” years earlier and had been left in the water by the profligate Governor.  The men swiftly raised the guns, scoured them off, hoisted them onto the headland and were soon blasting shot across the half-mile gap onto the French battery.  When one shot finally hit the island’s powder magazine, the French Commander d’Aillebout had to give up.  With this position in hand the siege was then brought to a successful conclusion after 46 days.  After Louisbourg’s surrender, Admiral Warren put the French flag back up.  Thus, French ships kept sailing into Louisbourg’s harbour, including one carrying a cargo of gold and silver bars.  850 guineas were given to every sailor as prize money.[5]

Capturing Louisbourg and holding it were two different matters in the world of European politics.  Diplomacy lost what valour had won, and in the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, which concluded this war with France and Spain, Louisbourg was returned to the French.  This meant that Louisbourg had to be retaken during the Seven Years War.[6]

The Second Siege of Louisbourg took place between the 1st and 26th of July in 1758.  On this occasion, the French forces of Governor Augustin de Droucourt defended the fortress with 3080 men and 219 cannon against the combined forces of Major-General Jeffery Amherst and Admiral Edward Boscawen.  With 25,000 men and 1842 guns afloat, some 200 ships left England in February 1758 with orders to take Canada.  Brigadier General James Wolfe was one of the three brigade commanders onboard.  The force conducted amphibious training in Halifax before sailing to Louisbourg where a 49-day siege was successfully carried out.  The fortress had been bombarded to the point where the defenders were left with only three cannons able to fire, at which point Governor Augustin surrendered.  Shortly afterwards, the task force set off to take Québec, which fell on the 13th of September 1759.  In this case, one successful siege led to the staging of the next, in a domino effect that ultimately resulted in far reaching changes to the nation of Canada.[7]

[1] With the exception of Governor Dummer’s War, these conflicts were all American phases of ongoing European conflicts, which included the War of the League of Augsburg ((1689-1697); the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713); and the War of Jenkins’ Ear – also known as the War of the Austrian Succession (1739-1748).  Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years’ War, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London, 1984, p. 3.

[2] Construction on the fortress was begun by Michel-Philippe on the 7th of March 1719.  The National Post, Toronto, 07 March 2000, History of Nova Scotia. Internet,, p. 6.

[3] Leslie F. Hannon, Forts of Canada, The Conflicts, Sieges, and Battles that Forged a Great Nation, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart Ltd, 1969, p. 30.

[4] Ibid, p. 30.

[5] Leslie F. Hannon, Forts of Canada, p. 30.

           Great Britain reimbursed Massachusetts for the entire cost of the expedition, Á183,649 sterling, which was the largest reimbursement in the history of the province.  The sum was paid in coin, which in 1750 was used to provide a specie base for a reformed provincial currency, the Lawful Money that replaced Massachusetts’ greatly depreciated Old Tenor paper money.  The disbursement of the coins halted the inflation that had plagued the colony for most of the century.  Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, pp. 9-10.

[6] Ibid, p.30.

[7] Ibid, p.30.

William Pitt          

          On the 29th of June 1757 William Pitt (1708-1778, Earl of Chatham in 1766) became secretary of state and Prime Minister.  An able strategist, “Pitt saw that the principal objective for England should be the conquest of Canada and the American West, thus carving out a field for Anglo-American expansion.”[1]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, New York, 1965, p. 165.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708-1778).

          On the 29th of June 1757 William Pitt (1708-1778, Earl of Chatham in 1766) became secretary of state and Prime Minister.  An able strategist, “Pitt saw that the principal objective for England should be the conquest of Canada and the American West, thus carving out a field for Anglo-American expansion.”[1]

A great number of William Pitt’s predecessors had been largely incompetent.  His immediate predecessor for example, had been more interested in the distribution of patronage and the benefits he could gain by them rather than in conducting the affairs of the state.  Bluntly stated, he used and abused the Parliament rather than serving it.  Pitt was not cast from the same mold.  He was an honest, devoted, and able man, but more importantly, he had the great gift of being able to find other men like himself and to inspire them to do great things.  Like Cromwell, he “had his warts.”  He enjoyed “putting on a show.”  He was theatrical, self-assured, and sometimes pompous.  He was also sometimes quite extravagant which in turn often put him in a difficult financial position.  On top of this, he had an “overweening pride.”  It was not his arrogance or the pride, however, that the British people both at home and in the colonies, had come to know and respect.  Pitt had taken action to restore order where there had been serious discord.  One example of this was the fact that the English hated and feared the Scots, due the troubles that had stemmed from the uprisings of the Jacobites.[2]

Not much more than a dozen years had passed since the Scottish clans had threatened the security of England.  Because of this, the general English population wanted restrictions maintained against the Scots and the threat they posed.  Instead of destroying the clans, Pitt responded to this difficult issue by employing Scottish soldiers in the service of Britain.  He raised regiments from among them to serve a common country.  Because of this, Elijah Estabrooks would find himself and his fellow Colonial soldiers at Ticonderoga fighting alongside Scottish regiments such as the famed “Black Watch.”  The highlanders would play a dramatic part in the story of the fight for Canada.  Another bone of contention in the colonies, which Pitt dealt with, was the wiping out of the social snobbery which gave a British regular officer seniority and rank over any position held by their colonial counterparts.[3]

         Pitt made a number of critical decisions, which in turn had an immediate effect in North America.  One of his first acts was to recall an incompetent military commander, the Earl of Loudoun.  For almost the same reasons, he would also have removed General Abercrombie, but this officer apparently had better or more aggressive friends.  Instead of stirring up a hornet’s nest of dissension in a relatively short a space of time, Pitt decided on an alternative course of action.  He sent out Lord Howe to be Abercrombie’s second-in-command.  Pitt seemed certain that Howe would eventually come to “dominate the older man and so assume command in fact, if not in name.”  Wolfe, writing to his father, had called Howe “the noblest Englishman that has appeared in my time and the best soldier in the army.”  Pitt must have been satisfied at Wolfe’s comment, as he also had a great deal of confidence in this young brigadier’s judgment.[4]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, New York, 1965, p. 165.

[2] On the 16th of April 1746, Scottish Jacobites, who were followers of Prince Charles Edward fought against King George the Second’s son, the Duke of Cumberland in the Battle of Culloden Moor.  The Dukes 10,000 men and artillery defeated every Highland charge.  His cavalry then counter-attacked and proceeded to slaughter the Jacobites.

[3] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, The Struggle Between the French and British in Colonial America, Volume Two of the Canadian History Series, Edited by Thomas B. Costain, Doubleday & Company Inc., Garden City, New York, 1956, p. 448.

[4] Ibid, p. 449.

General Jeffrey Amherst (1717-1797) painted in 1765 by Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)

          Pitt selected Jeffery Amherst, (whom Elijah mentions in his diary), to be his “commander in chief in America.”[1]  Amherst apparently was “solid and unemotional, and had the right character to neutralize the impetuosity of Wolfe.”  Amherst, Wolfe, and Admiral Boscawen, in July 1758 recaptured a much more strongly fortified and skillfully defended Louisbourg than what the British had faced in 1745.  That same year a force of New Englanders under the command of Colonel John Bradstreet, (also mentioned by Elijah in his Journal) captured Fort Frontenac, which was strategically sited at a point where the St Lawrence flows out of Lake Ontario.   Shortly after these major battlefield successes, Brigadier John Forbes, with George Washington on his staff, marched across Pennsylvania and captured Fort Duquesne, renaming it Pittsburgh after their esteemed British “war” minister.[2]

         Pitt steadfastly refused to delegate any authority to his subordinates, and equal self-assurance he overrode the intense dislike the British regular officers had of employing large numbers of provincial soldiers.  He was convinced that only vast numbers could decisively defeat the French forces in North America, and therefore insisted that the colonies raise large numbers of provincials every year, in spite of the fact that his regular field commanders regarded them as somewhat of a burden.[3]

         Elijah rejoined the Colonial Army on the 6th of April 1759, the same year that Britain won many of the war’s most famous battles.  A well-conducted amphibious operation in the West Indies had led to the fall of Guadeloupe, for example.  The French power in India had been destroyed.  In addition, a French fleet that had been intended to reinforce Canada had been destroyed at Quiberon Bay by Admiral Sir Edward Hawke.  Fort Niagara, which was the key to the Great Lakes, was captured by the British with the help of Sir William Johnson and his Iroquois braves.  Above and beyond these successes, however, was the campaign that ultimately led to the siege and capture of Québec.[4]

[1] Jeffrey Amherst was only 40 and a Colonel when he was chosen to lead the British forces against Louisbourg and Quebec in 1758.  Although he had never had an independent command, he had impressed the most influential generals in the British Army as an unusually dependable and persistent officer.  He had entered the army at the age of 14; gone with his regiment to the Low Countries, Germany, and Scotland; won praise for his steadiness under fire at Dettingen and Fontenoy; and served as the aide-de-camp to the Duke of Cumberland in the closing campaigns of the War of the Austrian succession and in the opening campaign of the Seven Years War.  He has been described as an officer with the patience, prudence, and persistence to succeed in a war of sieges and maneuver.  Robert A. Doughty et al, Warfare in the Western World, Vol I, Military Operations from 1600 to 1871, Heath and Company, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1996, p. 118.

[2] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, p. 165.

[3] Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 16,

[4] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, p. 165.

Sir William Johnson.

Background to the Estabrooks Family

          Elijah and the Estabrooks family that settled on the Saint John River in what was then part of the Province of Nova Scotia and is now the Canadian Province of New Brunswick have a long and storied tradition.  The Estabrooks name originated in Flanders, (now Belgium) where Estauberg (d’) or Estaubrugge was the name of one of the confederate nobles.  He apparently belonged to the family or clan d’Estambrugge, to which Oliver d’Estambrugge, who was appointed bailiff of Ghent in 1387, belonged.  Heer van Estambrugge may have been a brother of the Count Van Ligne, in which case he later broke away from the confederates, as in the latter part of 1566, he assumed command of 100 Cavalry from the National Militia, for the defense of Brussels.[1]

         In the Middle Ages, several Flemish families by the name of Yandell (or Yendall) lived together long ago in the Low Countries of Europe (Holland or Flanders) in the neighborhood of Ghent or Liege.  They were Dutch-Flemings.  The main body of the family lived on the West Side of a stream; but a considerable number lived on the East Side at the end of a particular bridge (or bridges), and were therefore called the Estenbrugge-Yandells or briefly, the Estenbrugge.

         At the time of the Reformation, (about 1517), these people became Protestants.  During the religious wars that followed (about 1570-80), and the activity of the Spanish Inquisition during the latter half of the sixteenth century, they had to leave the country.  A large group went together and settled in western Devon.  Some used the name Yandell and some the name Estenbrugge, which gradually became Anglicized into various forms of Estabrooks.

         The tradition received by one of Elijah’s descendants, Florence Estabrooks, was that the Estenbrugge family or Yandells lived in Brugges, Liege or Ghent (in present day Belgium).  Another tradition, however, is that they originally lived in Holland, moved into Flanders, and after a brief stay went on to England.  Both branches of the family had members who migrated to America, where they apparently kept some contact.

         Joseph Estabrook of Concord, Massachusetts was born at Enfield, Middlesex County, England in 1640.  His father was also probably born in England, but his grandfather may have been born in Flanders, placing the original emigration sometime between 1590 and 1600.   The family must have done well in England, as Joseph was prepared for college before coming to America and took his four-year course after his arrival.  His brother Thomas also did well, as he bought a large farm near Concord.

         Joseph’s parents were certainly Puritans.  After the death of Cromwell and the Restoration of Charles II, it was the sensible thing for a person wishing to be a clergyman in the Congregationalist Church to come to Boston, Massachusetts.

         Joseph arrived in Boston in 1660 and attended Harvard College from which he graduated in 1664.  In 1667 he was ordained as a colleague of the Reverend Peter Bulkeley at Concord, and on Bulkeley’s death in 1696 became pastor of the Church, continuing in that office until his death on the 16th of September 1711 at the age of 71 years.  He had been made a freeman at Cambridge, Mass on the 3rd of May 1665.  On the 20th of May 1668, he married Mary Mason, daughter of Captain Hugh and Esther Mason, at Watertown, Massachusetts.

         The “Boston News” reported that the Reverend Joseph Estabrook “was eminent for his skill in the Hebrew language, a most orthodox, learned, and worthy divine; of excellent principles in religion, indefatigably laborious in the ministry of holy life and conversation.”

Joseph had married Mary Mason (born on the 18th of December 1640) on the 20th of May 1668 and they had six children.  Joseph died on the 16th of September 1711 at the age of 71.  The children of Joseph and Mary were: Joseph; Benjamin (who attended Harvard in 1690, then became a minister at Lexington, and died in 1697); Mary; Samuel (who also attended Harvard in 1696, and became a minister at Canterbury, Connecticut from 1711 to 1727); Daniel; and Ann.

         Joseph (junior) was born in Concord, Massachusetts on the 6th of May 1669.  He married his first wife, Millicent Woods on the 31st of December 1689, at Cambridge Farms, Massachusetts and they had six children.  Millicent was the daughter of Henry W. Woods of Connecticut, and she died at Concord on the 26th of March 1692.  Joseph later married Hannah Leavitt, daughter of John Leavitt of Hingham.  Hannah was the widow of Joseph Loring and had a daughter by her first husband named Submit.  Submit later married Joseph’s son by Millicent Woods, Joseph junior.

         Joseph bought a farm of two hundred acres of land in Lexington in 1693.  The Concord Road bound it on the southwest.  He was an active and influential member of the Church at Lexington and represented it on many public occasions.  He commanded a military company, and filled the office of town clerk, treasurer, assessor, selectman, and representative to the General Court.  He was a man of more than ordinary education and was engaged to teach the first man’s school in the town.  He died in Lexington on the 23rd of September 1733.

         The children of Joseph and Millicent were: Joseph (the third); John; Solomon; Hannah (who married Joseph Frost of Sherburne); Millicent; and Elijah.

         Elijah, son of Joseph (the second) and Hannah (Leavitt) Loring, was born in Lexington on the 25th of August 1703.  He married Hannah Daniel of Sherburne (born on the 6th of April 1702), in Boston on the 1st of October 1724.  Their place of residence is unknown between 1724 and 1734, and there is a tradition that after their marriage, Elijah and his wife went to England, where their son Elijah (junior) was born.  It is said they returned to America in 1730.

         While in England Elijah probably visited Flemish relatives, for his son Elijah (junior) was very well versed in Flemish traditions, which he told to his grandchildren.  The American tradition is that the Elijah Estabrooks who came to the Saint John River was pro-British.

         A short time after his return, Elijah (senior) was with his wife’s people, the Daniel’s, and his brother-in-law, Joseph Frost in Sherburne.  His daughter Hannah was born in Sherburne in 1734.  Not long afterwards, Elijah (senior) died on the 1st of December 1740 in Sherburne.

         An entry in the Newbury, Massachusetts records states, Joseph Burril of Haverhill married Mrs. Hannah Esterbrook in Newbury on the 9th of February 1743/44.  They lived in East Haverhill (Rocks Village).  This Hannah may have been the widow of Elijah (senior); hence Elijah (junior), Submit and Samuel turn up in Haverhill.

         Elijah senior’s journeys must have depleted his resources, as he died intestate and his estate was small.  Joseph Frost administered it.

         The children of Elijah and Hannah were Mary; Elijah; Deborah; Submit; Hannah; Joseph; Samuel; and Aaron.

         In the Middlesex County Probate Records from Cambridge, Massachusetts, the following entry appears:

         Middlesex.  S.S. Guardianship to Elijah (at his election) a minor in his 19th year of age, son of Elijah Estherbrook (sic) late of Sherburne in said County Dec’d., is committed to Joseph Frost of Sherburne aforesaid.  Gent. who hath given bond of 500 (pounds).  Witness my hand and seal of office.  Dated at Cambridge the 14th of July 1746.  S. Danforth, J. Probt.[2]

         Elijah (junior) was born about 1727, and as a boy before the death of his father, he must have been in Sherburne with his family between 1734 and 1740.  During this time, he acquired a good education for his journal is well written.  After his father’s death, his Uncle Joseph Frost or the Daniels probably looked after him.  The formal guardianship assumed in 1746 was “probably a surety for him going out into the world.”[3]

         Elijah soon found his way to Haverhill, Massachusetts.  His mother was there and there was plenty of work in connection with shipbuilding.  He was admitted to the Second Church (Congregational) at East Salisbury on the 4th of March 1750.  He married Mary Hackett of Salisbury on the 14th of November 1750, with the wedding ceremony being performed at Haverhill, although it is recorded in the Second Church at Salisbury.

         The family apparently lived in East Haverhill from 1750 to about 1757 as the baptisms of their first three children are recorded in the Fourth (Congregational) Church.  These include Hannah, baptized on the 25th of August 1751; Molly, baptized on the 18th of March 1753, and Elijah, baptized on the 23rd of May 1756.  Elijah then appears to have moved to Boxford, close to Bradford, about 1727, as baptisms of two of his children appear in the records of the Second Church (Congregational) in Boxford: Samuel, baptized on the 11th of December 1757, and Ebenezer, baptized on the 9th of September 1759.

         It should be noted that dating went through a radical change in North America in 1752.[4]   Also of interest is a newspaper report that on the 18th of November 1755 at 11:35 UTC (GMC), the largest earthquake in Massachusetts took place.[5]

          Elijah’s wife, Mary Hackett, was born in Salisbury on the 1st of August 1728.  She was the daughter of Ebenezer and Hannah (Ring) Hackett, and her family was known for their shipbuilding.

[1] CF. te Water, Confederacy of the Nobles; D11, p. 386-387.

[2] Middlesex County Probate Records (1st series), v.24, p. 157

[3] Florence C. Estabrooks, Estabrooks Family, Vol 1, Upper Gagetown, New Brunswick, c. 1948, p. 10.

[4] Normally there are 30 days in the month of September, but in 1752 there was a special September with only 19 days.  The eleven days, September 2nd through to the 13th inclusive, were omitted from the calendar.  This applied to Great Britain (except Scotland) and all Colonies.

Mon       Tue        Wed       Thu        Fri         Sat         Sun

1             2             14           15           16           17          

18           19           20           21           22           23           24

25           26           27           28           29           30

              This change was part of the conversion from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, and applied throughout Great Britain (except Scotland) and in all territories and colonies then controlled by Great Britain.  This included the Thirteen Colonies along the eastern coast of North America.  The new calendar did not apply to those territories under the control of France, which included Louisbourg and Québec, because France had converted to the Gregorian calendar centuries earlier.  History of Nova Scotia, Internet,, p. 9.

[5] The “Cape Ann Earthquake,” was reported from Halifax, Nova Scotia, south to Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, and from Lake George, New York, east to a ship 300 kilometres east of Cape Ann.  The location of the ship is thought to be near the epicenter, because the shock was felt so strongly that those on board believed the ship had run aground.  Several aftershocks occurred.  The region around Cape Ann and Boston received the heaviest damage from this earthquake.  Stone fences were thrown down throughout the countryside, particularly on a line extending from Boston to Montréal.  New springs formed, and old springs dried up.  At Scituate (on the coast southeast of Boston), Pembroke (about 15 kilometres southwest of Scituate) and Lancaster (about 40 kilometres west of Boston), cracks opened in the earth.  Water and fine sand issued from some of the ground cracks at Pembroke.  Internet: Largest Earthquake in Massachusetts,, and from the History of Nova Scotia, p. 10.

Founding of Halifax in 1749.  C.W. Jeffreys.

          Elijah’s diary records two periods of service; he completed his first tour of duty (after the battle at Ticonderoga) on the 7th of November 1758 and re-enlisted on the 6th of April 1759.  He went by ship to Halifax and spent his second tour of duty in Nova Scotia, where he became a Sergeant.  His family remained in Boxford.  He left Nova Scotia on the 25th of November 1760 and arrived home on the 15th of December 1760, having completed his military service.  The diary and an account of the events that took place during his tour of duty follows a brief description of the Massachusetts Provincial soldiers.

Massachusetts Provincial Soldiers      

          The British colonies responded to the leadership and financial encouragement of William Pitt by making a greater military effort than ever before to place large forces in the field.  From an early period, the various British provinces in America had militias based on universal service, with every citizen of military age being liable to serve when required.  These militias were called upon in the Seven Years War only in emergency.  The provincial forces employed in the war were usually ad hoc units enlisted by the various colonial governments for the occasion and drawn from what may be called the floating population.  In 1758 the crown furnished the men with their arms, equipment, and provisions; the colonial governments paid and clothed the men.  In the response for the requisitions for troops, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York responded particularly well.  General Abercromby reported the strength of his army that advanced against Ticonderoga in July 1758 as “amounting to 6,367 regulars, officers, light infantry, and Rangers included, and 9024 provincials including officers and bateaux men.”[1]

          The four New England colonies were much alike in their way of raising and equipping men.  Elijah’s unit would have been created when the Assembly or “General Court” of Massachusetts voted the required number of men to be recruited.  The Assembly also chose a committee of war authorized to impress provisions, munitions, stores, clothing, tools, and other necessities, for which fair prices were to be paid within two months.  The Governor issued a proclamation calling for volunteers, and if not enough came forward, the colonels of the militia (including Jedediah Preble) were ordered to muster their regiments, and immediately draft out of them enough to meet the need.  A bounty of six dollars was offered in 1758 to stimulate enlistment, and the pay of a private soldier was fixed at one pound six shillings a month, Massachusetts’s currency.  If he brought a gun, he had an additional bounty of two dollars.  A powder-horn, bullet pouch, blanket, knapsack, and “wooden bottle,” or canteen, were supplied by the province; and if he did not bring a gun that he owned, a musket was given to him, for which, as for the other articles, he was to account at the end of the campaign.  He also received, besides his pay, a “coat and soldier’s hat.”  The coat was of coarse blue cloth, to which breeches of red or blue were added.  Along with his rations, he was promised a gill of rum each day, a privilege of which he was extremely jealous, deeply resenting every abridgment of it.  He was enlisted for the campaign and could not be required to serve above a year at the longest, (which would account for Elijah’s separate periods of service).[2]

         The complement of a regiment was 500, divided into companies of 50; and as the men and officers of each were drawn from the same neighborhood, they generally knew each other.  The officers, though nominally appointed by the Assembly, were for the most part the virtual choice of the soldiers themselves, from whom they were often indistinguishable in character and social standing.  Discipline was weak.  The pay (or as it was called, the wages), of a colonel was 12 pounds 16 shillings, Massachusetts currency, a month; that of a captain, 5 pounds 8 shillings, -an advance on the pay of last year; and that of a chaplain, 6 pounds 8 shillings.  Penalties were enacted against “irreligion, immorality, drunkenness, debauchery, and profaness.”  The ordinary punishments were the wooden horse, irons, or, in more serious cases, flogging.[3]

[1] C.P. Stacy, The British forces in North America during the Seven Years’ War, p. xxvii.

[2] An excellent colour illustration of a typical soldier of a Provincial Massachusetts Regiment in service between 1756 and 1763, (reconstituted by Herbet Knotel) can be found in Canadian Military Heritage, Volume II, 1755-1871, Art Global, Montréal, Québec, 1995, page 27.  This book also carries colour illustrations of most of the other English and French units mentioned by Elijah.  This picture shows however, that one version of their uniform consisted of a long double breasted and double buttoned blue jacket with a red lining, a black English tricorn style hat, long buttoned grey leggings, a single white cross strap worn diagonally across the left shoulder, a white scarf at the throat, and a long-barreled Brown Bess musket.

[3] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, Viking, Markham, Ontario, 1984, p. 224-225.

Massachusetts Contribution to the Seven Years War

         Massachusetts was extremely poor by the standards of the present day in 1758, with most of the inhabitants making a living by fishing and farming and with most of their trade hampered by strict British navigation laws.  “Her contributions of money and men to the welfare of the colony were not ordained by an absolute king but made by the voluntary act of a free people.”  According to an Englishman named Pownall who had succeeded Shirly as royal governor of the province, Massachusetts had been the frontier and advanced guard of all the colonies against the French enemy in Canada and had always taken the lead in military affairs.  In the previous three years, Massachusetts had supported the provincial government, while having maintained a number of forts, and built, equipped, and manned a ship of twenty guns for the service of the King.  In that year, her “war-debt” was “366,698 pounds sterling, and to meet it she imposed on herself taxes amounting, in the town of Boston alone, to thirteen shillings and two pence to every pound of income from real and personal estate.”  In spite of being deep in debt, Massachusetts had also “raised, paid, maintained, and clothed 7,000 soldiers placed under the command of General Abercrombie besides above 2,500 more serving the King by land or sea; amounting in all to about one in four of her able-bodied men.”[1]

[1] Ibid, p. 352.

General Sir James Abercromby, also spelled Abercrombie, ca. 1759-60.

(Allan Ramsay portrait)


         James Abercrombie (also spelled Abercromby) was born in Glassaugh, Banffshire, Scotland in 1706.  He was “a Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Scots early in his military career.”  Abercrombie was promoted to the rank of “Colonel in 1746 and served in the Flemish campaign in the War of the Austrian Succession.”  In 1756 he was “promoted to the rank of Major General” and “ordered to accompany Lord Loudoun to America as his second-in-command.”  Major General Abercrombie’s “first independent command came in December 1757, when William Pitt, at the insistence of King George II, made him commander-in-chief.  His title notwithstanding, his actions were largely determined by the ministry in London.  With Augustus Lord Howe as his second-in-command, Major General Abercrombie was directed to take Fort Ticonderoga in order to prepare for a subsequent assault on Montréal.”[1]

         After Major General Abercrombie had supplanted Lord Loudoun on the 30th of December 1757 and taken command, he proceeded to assemble a force of about 12,000 troops at Lake George on the 1st of July 1758 for the march on Ticonderoga.  Although Montcalm’s force of 3000 troops was greatly outnumbered by Abercrombie, he elected to defend a low ridge outside the fort and threw up breastworks around it.  Abercrombie proceeded to conduct a series of frontal attacks without the aid of his readily available artillery on the 8th of July.  As a result, although Abercrombie’s assaulting forces carried out valiant and repeated attacks, they were routed by the withering fire of the French defenders.  In spite of the fact that Abercrombie still retained a superior force, the British elected to withdraw having suffered a considerable number of casualties (by one account, 464 killed, 29 missing, 1,117 wounded).

         Little is generally said in the history books about the British battle losses at Ticonderoga.  Perhaps it was more politically correct to focus on the numerous successes that British records indicate took place that same year.  Two very famous officers, Major-General Jeffery Amherst (1717-1797) and Brigadier-General James Wolfe (1727-1759), captured the French Fortress of Louisbourg on the 26th of July 1758.  They did this by carrying out a well-planned “combined operation” with a fleet of 40 ships, and a force of 9,000 British regulars and 500 colonials.  As mentioned earlier, the British added to these accomplishments with the capture of Fort Frontenac by Colonel John Bradstreet (1711-1174) on the 27th of August 1758.[2]

         Fort Frontenac had held a central position in the French fur-trade network as well as being an indispensable link in the supply chain for France’s western forts and as the base for French shipping on Lake Ontario.  With the loss of the fort and therefore the lake fleet as well, all the Western forts which included Niagara and Detroit on the Great Lakes, began to suffer shortages.  It quickly became apparent that they would be unable to defend themselves.  So it was that three months after the capture of Fort Frontenac, Brigadier-General John Forbes (1710-1759), marched along a new road he had constructed southwest from Raystown, and forced the French to blow up Fort Duquesne and withdraw without a fight on the 25th of November 1758.[3]

         With the turn of the tide, General Abercrombie was relieved of his command on the 18th of September 1758, and his place was taken by Major-General Jeffery Amherst, the “circumspect,” competent victor of Louisbourg.[4]  In spite of his shortcomings, “Abercrombie was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1759 and General in 1772.  His remaining years were spent in Parliament, where he served as the deputy governor of Stirling Castle, and on his estate at Glassaugh, Banffshire.”[5]

[1], P. 1.

[2] Encyclopedia of American History, Harper & Brothers, New York, NY, 1953, p. 68.

[3] Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 18,

[4] Ibid, p. 18.

[5], p. 1.

Order of Battle of the English Army at Ticonderoga, 8 July 1758

           According to Colonel Louis Antoine de Bougainville, one of Montcalm’s senior officers who kept a Journal from 1756 to 1760, the French were well aware of the size and composition of the British forces that they were facing prior to the battle at Fort Carillon.  The French scouts and intelligence gathering reconnaissance forces collected a wealth of valuable detail about the approaching enemy, which are included in the following Order of Battle (ORBAT).

Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811), portrait of the French explorer and navigator by Jean-Pierre Franque (1774–1860).  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 2874346 )

          Colonel Bougainville described the British Commander, Major General Abercrombie, as a man of more courage than resolution, more of sense than of dash and of objectives; age has lessened in him the fire necessary for the execution of great undertakings.  He reflects sufficiently, operates slowly and with too much precaution.  He expresses himself with difficulty, talks little, writes better than he speaks, and is the Commander in chief.[1]

         Colonel Bougainville listed the British officers and their respective battalions as follows:

Milord Augustus Howe, brigadier general

Milord Thomas Gage, brigadier general

Sieur Spithall, brigade major.  (Unidentified.  Captain Alexander Moneypenny was probably the acting brigade major as General Abercrombie’s aide-de-camp).

Colonel John Bradstreet, commander of barges.


Troops of Old England

         Two battalions of Scots

(The 42nd Regiment of Foot also known as the “Black Watch” and the

46th Regiment of Foot, also known as the “Royal Scots”)

         1st and 4th battalions of the Royal American regiment

         Brigadier James Murray’s regiment

         General Blakeney’s regiment

         Milord Howe’s regiment

         (Inniskillings, 34th, and 44th battalions)

Militia of Different Provinces

         Militia of Connecticut

         Militia of Long Island

         Militia of Massachusetts

Militia of New England

Militia of New York

         Militia of Rhode Island

         Militia of New Jersey


Four companies of Rangers or woods rovers of Major Robert Rogers with Indians incorporated in these companies.

         A body of Colonel John Bradstreet’s soldier-bargemen.

Artillery and Engineers.

         The combined British forces numbered roughly 15,350 troops.[2]

Colonel Bougainville also outlined the French forces deployed at Fort Carillon.

[1] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, The American Journals of Louis Antoine de Bougainville 1756-1760, Norman and London, University of Oklahoma Press, 1969, p. 227.

[2] Robert Leckie, The Wars of America, p. 57; and John Keegan, Warpaths, p. 123.

           Colonel Bougainville also outlined the French forces deployed at Fort Carillon.

Order of Battle of the French Army, Carillon, 8 July 1758

The Marquis de Montcalm, brigadier general

Chevalier de Lévis, brigadier

Sieur de Bourlamaque, colonel

Sieur de Bougainville, chief of staff

Chevalier de Montreuil, brigade major

Brigade of La Reine                   La Reine                365

                                                 Béarn                     410

                                                 Guyenne                470

Brigade of La Sarre                   La Sarre                 470

                                                 Languedoc             426

Brigade of Royal Roussillon      Royal Roussillon   480

                                                 1st Bn. Berry          450

2nd Bn. Berry detached as guard for Fort Carillon

except for a grenadier company which served in

the line                                                                     50

Troops of La Marine                                                150

Canadians                                                                250

Indians                                                                     15

                                                           Total          3526[1]

         Montcalm had “generously estimated” Abercromby’s advancing forces to number at least 25,000 troops.  Montcalm prepared to meet their assault on his fort with six battalions of French veterans.  He was also able to add “two weak battalions of the regiment of Berry that had arrived in Canada in late 1757.”  No additional regiments were provided to reinforce Montcalm in 1758, “because the Marquise de Pompadour was so engrossed with her Prussian war (that) she could spare neither thought nor soldiers for a distant colony.”  If Lévis had arrived with his regulars, the Marines and the Canadians, Montcalm would have had “6,000 bayonets in his battle line, each with a stout heart behind it.”[2]

[1] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 231.  Montcalm’s Journal shows a different total of 345 troops for La Reine, bringing the size of his overall force to 3,506.  The Abbé H.R. Casgrain, Collection des Manuscripts du Maréchal De Lévis, Journal du Marquis de Montcalm Durant Ses Campagnes en Canada de 1756 à 1759, Québec Imprimerie de L.J. Demers & Frère, 1895, pp. 397-398.

[2] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, New York, Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 179.


Brigade of La Reine              

The 24th La Reine Regiment.  Private of Captain M d'Hebecourt's Fusilier Company of the 2nd Battalion in Guard uniform.  With the right wing in the entrenchments under Brigadier Marquis de Lévis, in defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

           The Régiment de la Reine (Queen's Regiment) infantry regiment was active in the 17th and 18th centuries.  During the Seven Years' War, a battalion of the regiment took part in several battles including Fort Saint Frédéric on Lake George (September 1755), and the taking of Fort Bull and Fort William Henry.  Their greatest victory came at Fort Carillon in 1758 against the forces of General Abercromby.  They were then sent to Isle aux Noix in July of that same year, and were absent from the Battle of the Plains of Abraham the following year.  However, they did take part at the Battle of Sainte-Foy in 1760, where the British under General Murray were defeated.

The 72nd Béarn Regiment.  Corporal of Captain M de Trepézec's Company Guarding equipment.  The 2nd Battalion served under Chevalier de Lévis on the extreme right of the entrenched lines in defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

(Charny Photo)

Régiment de Béarn re-enactors in Quebec,

           The regiment was recruited from the Béarn province of France.  The regiment arrived in New France in June 1755 and at the beginning of July was sent to Fort Frontenac.  One year later, the Béarn Regiment participated in the victory at Fort Oswego, in company of other regiments and Indians.  After the defeat of the British at Oswego on 14 August 1755, one company of the regiment was sent to Fort Bull, and the other to Fort William Henry.  In 1758, the regiment participated in the defence of Fort Carillon.  On 31 July 1759, the battalion took part in the victorious Battle of Beauport, where it guarded the extreme left near the cataract of the Montmorency River alongside the grenadiers.  On 13 September 1759, the Regiment was present during the siege of Quebec City, with the exception of 35 soldiers who were sent to Fort Niagara.  After the battle, the regiment followed the French army in its retreat towards the Jacques-Cartier River.  On 28 October 1759, the piquets and grenadiers of the regiment retired from Pointe-aux-Trembles (present day Neuville).  In November, the regiment moved into winter quarters on the island of Montréal.  The regiment took part at the Battle of Sainte-Foy the following year.  In 1760, the 2nd battalion returned to France.

The 68th Guyenne Regiment.  Corporal of the Fusilier Company of the 2nd Battalion with coat and stock removed, ready for the lines.  This battalion was assigned to the right wing of the entreched lines in defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

           The regiment was recruited from the Bordeaux region of France.  They arrived in North America on 23 June 1755 and were sent to Fort Frontenac and then to Fort Niagara.  In February 1756, some of the soldiers participated in the taking of Fort Bull, cutting the British communication lines between Lake George and Fort Oswego.  The regiment participated in many battles, including Fort Oswego in August 1756 and Fort William Henry in 1757.  The regiment fought at the Battle of Carillon in 1758, and spent the rest of the year and winter at Fort Carillon.  In March 1759, part of the regiment was sent to Fort Niagara, some others to Isle aux Noix, and the remainder of the regiment towards Quebec City to defend the city.  They took part at the Battle of Montmorency and at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on 13 September 1759, where they were placed at the center of the attacking lines, and at the Battle of Sainte-Foy in 1760.

Brigade of La Sarre              

The 34th La Sarre Regiment.  Sergeant of Captain M du Prat's Company of the 2nd Battalion under LCol M de Senezergues, in Parade Order.  This battalion held the left flank of the left wing under Col Sieur M de Bourlamaque in defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

         The regiment was recruited in the French region of Lorraine.  After recruitment, most of the regiment sailed to North America from Brest, France aboard a few French ships, such as Le Héros and Le Léopard.   The last of the men would arrive in Quebec City on 31 May 1756.  They took part in the capture of Fort Oswego in August of that same year, and then escorted the British prisoners to Montreal after the battle.  The Régiment de la Sarre played a key role in the victory at Fort Oswego losing 7 men in the process.  In August 1757, many soldiers of the regiment participated in the Battle of Fort William Henry.  The Régiment de la Sarre contributed 800-900 men of the roughly 5000 who fought in that battle.  The fort capitulated before they had a chance to launch a full on assault on it.  The regiment then served under Louis-Joseph de Montcalm in 1758 at the Battle of Carillon. This victory was absolutely decisive for the French, crippling a much larger British force.  The Régiment de la Sarre also played a significant role in this battle.  La Sarre was commanded by de Savournin during the battle, taking up the left flank along with the Languedoc regiment.  The regiment lost a number of captains during the battle and perhaps took the heaviest French losses during the bloodiest and largest French victory of the war in North America.  In 1759, the regiment participated in the battles of Montmorency, Plains of Abraham, Sainte-Foy, and the Battle at Montmorency.  Captain Le Noir who served in the regiment, was reported to have demonstrated exceptional bravery in this battle.  In spite of having been wounded by musket shot and losing half of his men, he managed to survive.

         The next battle La Sarre took part in was the decisive English victory at the Plains of Abraham.  Approximately 50 men from the regiment were either injured or killed during the battle.  The final North American battle which the regiment took part in was the Battle of Sainte-Foy.  This was another victory for the French and La Sarre, although it proved to be inconsequential to the outcome of the war.  The regiment was positioned on the left flank of the French lines.  There were signs of retreat on the left, but the regiment fought bravely and held off the English forces for half an hour until the rest of the French army came to its aid.  Eventually, La Sarre with the help of the rest of the French army, managed to push the enemy off the battlefield.

         After the Battle at Sainte-Foy, La Sarre took part in a halfhearted siege of Quebec City.  On 16 May 1759, the regiment was forced to lift the siege due to the arrival English reinforcements.  In the months following, the army found itself in a constant retreat, with La Sarre taking a number of casualties along the way. In one instance, a stray cannon shot took off a soldiers arm.  The regiment was charged to entrench themselves on Isle de Bourbon, but this was short-lived.  Eventually the regiment met the same fate as the rest of the French presence in Canada.  The Regiment de la Sarre was placed on English ships and returned to France.  On 15 September 1759, the Regiment left Canada for the final time.  Of the 31 officers in the regiment, 11 were killed and the rest were at some point injured.  The Regiment would fight again in 1763, while deployed in various European campaigns.


The 53rd Languedoc Regiment.  Captain of Grenadiers of the 2nd Battalion in Parade uniform.  This battalion served in the left wing of the entrenched lines under the command of Col Sieur de Bourlamaque with the grenadiers in support of the defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

(Charny Illustration)

Soldier of the Régiment de Languedoc.

         The Languedoc Regiment was formed on 20 March 1672, by King Louis XIV.  The regiment was recruited in the Languedoc region of France, and participated in most of the conflicts involving the Kingdom of France, particularly in New France during the Seven Years War.  The regiment arrived in Quebec City on 19 June 1755, and left immediately for Fort Saint Frédéric.  On the orders of General Jean Erdman Dieskau, the regiment was directed to push back the British troops to Lake George.  After the battle, the regiment was sent to Fort Carillon, which was still being constructed.  The regiment was then sent south and participated in the Siege of Fort William Henry.  On 8 July 1758, the second battalion participated at the Battle of Carillon.  In May 1759, the regiment moved to Quebec City where they participated in the defence of the city.  The regiment took part at the battles of Montmorency. Plains of Abraham and Sainte-Foy.

Brigade of Royal Roussillon  

The 37th Royal Roussillon Regiment.  Private of Captain M de Poulharies Grenadier Company in full marching order.  The 2nd Battalion was in the centre in the entrenched lines with the Grenadier company held in the support of the defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.  (54th Royal Roussillon Regiment)

         The Regiment was formed in 1657 during the Ancien Régime as the régiment Mazarin-Catalans, being renamed the régiment Royal Catalan in 1661 then the régiment Royal Roussillon in 1667.  The regiment was recruited in the regions of Perpignan, Roussillon and Catalonia.  The regiment served at the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745 during the War of the Austrian Succession.

         A second battalion of the Royal Roussillon served in Germany (1756–1762).  In 1756, the 54th Infantry Regiment's uniform was white with blue facings, five gilded buttons for the linings and three buttons on each pocket.  Its first battalion fought in Canada during the French and Indian War from 1756 to 1761, under the command of Général Louis-Joseph deSaint-Veran, Marquis de Montcalm, with M. de Sennezergue as its colonel.  The battalion arrived in New France in May 1756, and was originally posted to Montreal, with the exception of a detachment that was sent to Fort Carillon.  It fought at the Battle of Fort William Henry, and then took part in the 1758 Battle of Carillon.  It then went to Quebec City to defend the city.  At the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, it was broken and forced to withdraw due to the steady fire from the British 35th Foot, whose members are traditionally held to have picked up the regiment's plumes and placed them in their own headdress (the Roussillon Plume being formally incorporated into the badge of the 35th Foot in 1881).

The regiment participated in the battles of Montmorency, the Plains of Abraham and Sainte-Foy.

The 71st Berry Regiment.  Private in drill order.  The 2nd Battalion stood in the centre of the entrenched lines directly under the Marquis de Montcalm.  Grenadiers 2nd Battalion, stood in the line in the South Battery. 3rd Battalion detached as guard for Fort Carillon within the fort proper, charged with ammunition and water supply to the lines.  The Grenadier's 3rd Battalion were the Reserve of the centre in defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

         The regiment was recruited from the Berry region of France.  Originaly it was planned that the second and third battalions of the regiment would to be sent to India.  However, at the request of reinforcements asked by Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and New France's Governor Vaudreuil, the regiment was sent to New France instead.  The regiment arrived at the end of July 1757, and two of its battalions were initially posted in Quebec City.  In 1758, the whole regiment was sent to Fort Carillon, and contributed in the victory in the Battle of Carillon.  At the end of August, the regiment, which originally had 908 soldiers, had been reducedto 723 men because of the consecutive battles which ensued with many fatalities.  The regiment was not sent to Quebec for the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, but remained at Fort Carillon in 1759.  They did participate at the Battle of Sainte-Foy in 1760.

The 44th Royal La Marine Regiment.  Ensign (Porte Drapeaux) of the Chevalier de Lévis first regiment.  Detachments from the 40 free companies of Marines raised in Canada covered the deep hollow on the right flank in defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

Canadian Militia.  A Private of the Montreal detachment in full field equipment.  The Canadians were posted to defend the abatis to the east of the right return of the entrenched lines in the defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

         The colonial militias in Canada during the period of New France and Acadia, and Nova Scotia (1605-1763), were made up of Canadiens, aboriginals, British and Acadians.  Traditionally, the Canadian Militia was the name used for the local militia regiments throughout the Canadas.

         Military service has been part of Canadian life since the 17th century in New france, where colonists were required to serve in local militia to support regular units of the French army and navy.  In 1651, Pierre Boucher received a commission of captain from the Governor of New France and was asked to raise militia corps in Trois-Rivières.  Until the arrival of the Carignan-Salières regiment in 1665, militia corps were the only defence of New France.  In the long struggle between the French and British colonies, British and colonial American  troops found the Indian-style tactics/guerrilla warfare of the Canadien militia to be a formidable adversary.  Perhaps the two most famous Canadien attacks against New England were the Siege of Pemaquid (1696) and the Raid on Deerfield (1704).

         The success of the Canadiens was underscored during the French and Indian War by George Washington's defeat at Great Meadows and Edward Braddock's losses at the Monongahela River.  The British response was to create units like Roger"s Rangers, and light infantry units adept at woodland warfare.  When France conceded Canada to Great Britain in 1763, defence of the territory remained a duty shared by Canadien and British colonists, Indian nations, and the regular forces of Britain.  As the colonies advanced to nationhood, its people would be called to their own defence three times in the next 100 years.

         Approximate numbers of militiamen in New France in 1759 included 150 militiamen in the Acadian Militia, 200 cavalrymen in the Canadien Cavalry, 5,640 militiamen in the District of Québec,5,400 militiamen in the District of Montréal: including 4,200 sent to Quebec City, 1,300 militiame in the District of Trois-Rivière: including 1,100 to Quebec City, and 1,800 First Nations.

         Until the establishment of Halifax (1749), the militia units in Acadia (present day Nova Scotia and New Brusnwick) were primarily Mi'kmaq, Maliseet and Acadian militia.  Before the British Conquest of Acadia in 1710, these militias fought the New Englanders in King William's War and Queen Anne's War.  After the conquest, the Mi'kmaq, Acadian and Maliseet militias continued to fight the British through Father Rale's War, King George's War and Father Le Loutre's War.  The latter two wars saw the arrival Gorham's Rangers, the first British militias established in the colony.  The British regulars of the 40th Regiment of Foot was raised in the colony 1720.  The Mi'kmaq and Acadian militias continued to fight in Nova Scotia throughout the French and Indian War.

The 47th Royal Corps of Artillery.  Captain of the Royal Corps.  The guns of Fort Carillon were laid and fired under the direction of Lieutenant de Louvicourt in defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

Officers of the Royal Engineers.  Senior Captain M de Pontleroy and Junior Captain M Desandroins of the Royal Engineers were responsible for the planning and construction of the entrenched lines for the defence of Fort Carillon, 8 Jul 1758.

(Artwork by Col Harry C. Larter Jr)

Major General Louis Joseph Marquis de Montcalm, promoted to Lieutenant General after the successful defence of Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758.

Lieutenant General Louis Joseph Marquis de Montcalm

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 2894528)

Portrait of Louis-Joseph de Montcalm (1712-1759).   Copy by Théophile Hamel (1817-1870) after an Anonymous artist.  Canadian House of Commons Heritage Collection.

          Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm-Gozon de Saint-Véran was born in the south of France, at the Château of Candiac, near Nîmes, on the 29th of February 1712.[1]  As a young man he studied Latin, Greek and history, and he had a great interest in arithmetic, geography and French arts and sciences, fencing and riding.  At the age of 15, Montcalm joined the army as an ensign, serving in the regiment of Hainaut.  After two years of active service, Montcalm’s father purchased him a captaincy, and shortly afterwards he received his baptism of fire at the siege of Philipsbourg.  He married Angélique Louise Talon du Boulay, the daughter of an influential family, who bore him ten children.  Montcalm has been described as being “pious in his soldierly way, and ardently loyal to the church and his king.”[2]

         Montcalm fought in the Bohemian campaign in Continental Europe in 1741.  Within two years he had been made colonel of the regiment of Auxois and succeeded in surviving the campaign of 1744 unharmed.  The following year he took part in the fighting in Italy under Maréchal de Maillebois.  During a disastrous action under the walls of Piacenza 1746, Montcalm twice rallied his regiment.  He was slashed by a sabre on five occasions, two of which were in the head, and was eventually taken prisoner.  The following year Montcalm was returned to France on parole, and at that time he was promoted to the rank of brigadier.  Shortly after he was exchanged, he rejoined the army, and in another battle, he was again wounded by a musket-shot.[3]

          Montcalm was allowed a brief period of rest following the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, but in a letter from minister D’Argenson on the 5th of January 1756, he was advised, “the King has chosen you to command his troops in North America, and will honour you on your departure with the rank of major-general.”[4]

         Montcalm was provided with an able and capable staff, in the persons of the Chevalier de Lévis, (later to become Marshal of France), who was named as his second in command, with the rank of brigadier, and the Chevalier de Bourlamaque who was named as his third, with the rank of colonel.  He was particularly pleased, however, with the appointment of his oldest son to command a regiment in France.  The King also provided him with an award of 25,000 francs a year and an additional 12,000 francs to purchase his equipment.[5]

[1] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 209.

[2] Ibid, p. 208.

[3] Ibid, p. 209.

[4] Oliver Warner, With Wolfe to Québec, p. 72.

[5] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 210.

Chevalier de Lévis François de Gaston (1719 –1787)

           Montcalm’s forces departed for Canada, with the troops onboard “three ships of the line, the Léopard, the Héros and the Illustre, at the end of the month of March.  The General, with Lévis and Bourlamaque, sailed with them on the frigates Licorne, Sauvage and Siréne.  During the preparations, Montcalm became acquainted with new staff, and found that he was well pleased with his deputy, Chevalier de Lévis and his first aide-de-camp, Colonel Louis Antoine de Bougainville.  Bougainville was the son of a notary, and had begun his career “as an advocate in the Parliament of Paris, where his abilities and learning had already made him conspicuous, when he resigned” and joined the army to become “a captain of dragoons.”[1]  He would later become one of France’s most famous navigators.[2]

[1] Bougainville had not quite reached the age of 30 in 1758.  He would later serve Napoleon I in a very different era.  Bougainville was a Parisian who had originally trained for the law.  He had shown talent in diplomacy, however, even before he had taken up what was to prove to be only a brief career in the army.  His mental capacity had been highly demonstrated by a treatise he had written on integral calculus. This treatise won him election in London to the Fellowship of the Royal Society and brought him many English friends.  After his service in Canada he transferred to the Navy.  He commanded a ship of the line under de Grasse in the battle off the Capes of Chesapeake, where French sea power helped to ensure the successful revolt of the American Colonies against Great Britain.   He conducted a circumnavigation of the South Pacific about the same time that Captain Cook was conducting the first of his three voyages there. Bougainville wrote a valuable account of his explorations, and today he is perhaps best remembered for having introduced a popular semi-tropical plant, the Bougainvillea, to other parts of the world.  Oliver Warner, With Wolfe to Québec, pp. 75-76.

[2] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 211.

(Charny Photo)

La Sarre Regiment re-enactors.

          The two battalions that accompanied them were “the regiments of La Sarre, and the Royal Roussillon.”  (Elijah would fight against soldiers from both of these regiments at Ticonderoga).  Louis XV had provided only 1,200 men to reinforce New France.[1]  At this period in their long history, French troops of the lines “wore a white uniform, faced with blue, red, yellow or violet, a black three-cornered hat, and gaiters, generally black, from the foot to the knee.”[2]

         On his arrival in New France, Montcalm immediately proceeded to meet with the governor-general, Pierre François Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil, in Montréal.  Vaudreuil was a Canadian by birth.  He loved the colony and its people, and distrusted Old France and all that came out of it.  He had been bred to the naval service and had hoped to command the troops himself.[3]  The new general was therefore unwelcome.  Vaudreuil has described Montcalm as a man of small stature, with a lively countenance, a keen eye, and, in moments of animation, rapid, vehement utterance, and nervous gesticulation.[4]

         Others have also described Montcalm as being “physically small and rather portly, vivacious, extremely vain, determined to have his way in all things.”  It has been recorded that Montcalm “was critical of everything that did not conform to his preconceived ideas and of anyone who failed to agree with him completely and possessed of a savage tongue that he could not curb.[5]

         Vaudreuil, for his part, has been described as a big man, courteous and affable, lacking self-confidence but not given to intrigue, and obsessed by a need to issue a constant stream of directives to junior officers and officials.  He was anxious to impress his superiors in the ministry of Marine, but always appeared to be motivated by a genuine concern for the people he governed.  To him the French regulars served but one function, and this was the protection of New France from Anglo-American assaults.[6]

          Montcalm had the following observations on Governor Vaudreuil:

          de Vaudreuil overwhelms me with civilities, I think that he is pleased with my conduct towards him, and that it persuades him there are general officers in France who can act under his orders without prejudice or ill-humour. I am on good terms with him, but not in his confidence, which he never gives to anybody from France. His intentions are good, but he is slow and irresolute.[7]

          Francis Parkman said of Governor General Vaudreuil, he

          served the King and the Colony in some respects with ability, always with an unflagging zeal, and he loved the land of his birth with a jealous devotion that goes far towards redeeming his miserable defects.  If he had had more generosity in his nature he could, from his sad fate, have been an appealing person.  As it was, he had few friends, and his warmest admirer was himself.[8]

[1] Ibid, p. 211.

[2] Ibid, p. 214.

[3] The Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition, Grolier Inc, Danbury, Connecticut, 1988, p. 459.

[4] Ibid, p. 459.

[5] The Encyclopedia Americana, 1988, p. 459.

[6] Ibid. p. 459.

[7] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 215.

[8] The Earl of Loudoun, who succeeded Shirley as British Commander in Chief in America, has been described by his predecessor as “a pen and ink man whose greatest energies were put forth in getting ready to begin.”  Oliver Warner, With Wolfe to Québec, p. 71.

(Allan Ramsay Portrat, ca 1747)

John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudon, British Commander in Chief, North America.

          Montcalm had arrived in Canada with his reinforcements on the 11th of May 1756.  At that time he was opposed by John Campbell, Earl of Loudon, who arrived in America on the 23rd of July 1756.[1]  Montcalm took and destroyed Fort Oswego and Fort George in August, and on the 9th of August 1757 took and demolished Fort William Henry.  The outnumbered defender of Fort William Henry, Colonel Monroe, had surrendered to Montcalm’s forces in good faith, but during the withdrawal of the British forces under a flag of truce, they were treacherously attacked by the Indians.  Monroe eventually reached the security of Fort Edward with 1,400 survivors.[2]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, p. 164.

[2] John Spencer Bassett, A Short History of the United States 1492-1929, New York, 1935, p. 126.

(Engraving by J. Walker, Tuttle's Illustrated History of the Dominion, 1877)

In August 1756, French soldiers and native warriors led by Louis-Joseph de Montcalm successfully attacked Fort Oswego.

           Francis Parkman has provided a number of valuable details in the account that follows on the action that took place at Fort William Henry.

Fort William Henry, 9 August 1757

           In 1757 Fort William Henry held 2,200 men under the command of Colonel Munro, against which Montcalm threw 3,000 of his regular soldiers and as many more of a rather uncertain militia, and some 2,000 Indians gathered from fifty different tribes.  The total would amount to roughly 8,000 men.

Plan of Fort William Henry and Camp at Lake George.  W. Eyre. Eng'r, I. Heath. d'r.  Library of Congress.

Detailed Plan of Fort William Henry and Camp at Lake George.  (Mary Ann Rocque, Massachusetts Historical Society)

         Montcalm had to strike fast and hard, and on the 3rd of August 1757, his army moved along the lower reaches of Lake George (known by the French as Lac Saint-Sacrement).  A column led by Lévis, with his Indians leading the way, was making a rough path through the forests to the rear of the fort while Montcalm with his main body was approaching by water after the hard work of portaging the boats and cannon and stores over innumerable obstacles.  Fort William Henry was formed in the shape of an irregular bastioned square.  It was reinforced by gravel embankments and surmounted with a heavy log rampart.  These logs were laid in tiers which crisscrossed over each other, and then the spaces in between were filled with earth.[1]

[1] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 288.

         The fort was also aided by a number of natural defences, including Lake George to the north and an almost impenetrable swamp to the east.  The fort was protected on the south and west by ditches and an intricate barrier of sharpened stakes (chevaux-de-frise).  The fort’s defensive firepower included seventeen cannon, great and small, as well as several swivel-mounted mortars.[2]

[2] Ibid, p. 288.

(Mwanner Photo)

Various bronze and cast iron mortars (8 to 10-inch) on the grounds of present day Fort Ticonderoga.

         The major advantage of the fort however, was the fact that the defending forces were under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Munro, a Scottish veteran of the 35th Regiment who had with him a part of his regiment, plus a Massachusetts regiment, and an assortment of less dependable troops.  Only 14 miles to the south was Fort Edward, defended with 2,000 men under the command of General Webb.  Webb had come to the North American frontier as the second-in-command under General James Abercrombie.  Neither Webb nor Abercrombie would turn out to be capable men in battle, but this had not yet been demonstrated.  Webb “sent up a detachment of 200 regulars under Lieutenant-Colonel Young and 800 Massachusetts men under Colonel Joseph Frye.[1]  This raised the force at the lake to 2,200, including sailors and mechanics, and reduced that of Webb to 1,600.”  Although his ability to help Munro was extremely limited, he could still have sent up desperately needed reinforcements.  He chose not to, thinking that it was unwise to march to the aid of Munro and risk losing his defence forces.[2]

         Montcalm had asked for the surrender of the fort.  Munro replied that his men would defend the fort to the last.  Unfortunately, due to Montcalm’s superior firepower, “the last” came quickly.  Most of Munro’s cannon had been disabled or had burst from overuse.  Some 300 of the fort’s defenders had been killed or wounded.  Even more damaging was the fact that smallpox was raging in the fort and growing more virulent with each passing day in the confined and unsanitary quarters.  The situation was clearly becoming critical, as Montcalm’s engineers methodically excavated their siege trenches under a steady barrage, creeping closer and closer to the forts heavily damaged walls.[3]

         Webb sent a messenger to Munro to tell him reinforcements would not be coming. When the message was located on the scalped body of the emissary who had carried it, Montcalm had it carefully forwarded to Munro.  There was another day of bombardment that grew in intensity, with the fort’s gallant defenders replying as briskly as their few small guns now permitted.  It was however doomed to defeat, and the entire fort knew it.  In the morning, a council of war determined that the garrison had had its fill of valour and was prepared to surrender.  A white flag was raised over the battered fort, and a drum was beaten to sound a call for a “parley.”  One of Monro’s officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Young who had been wounded in the foot, was sent out mounted on horseback to discuss terms with General Montcalm.[4]

         Montcalm proved to be a decent gentleman in the negotiations and conceded all that he could.  He gave the English his word that they could march out with the full honours of war (a very European custom totally alien to the Indians) provided that they agreed not to serve again for eighteen months.  He also guaranteed that the English troops would be safely escorted to Fort Edward.  They were also permitted to take one of their fieldpieces in recognition of their unavailing gallantry.[5]

         Although Montcalm was not yet used to the grim ways of Indian fighting, he did sense that there was a danger to the withdrawing British forces.  Bougainville indicated this foreboding in his journal when he stated, “We shall be but too happy if we can prevent a massacre.”  Unfortunately, this misgiving was all too well founded, and Bougainville would later speak of the events that followed the surrender of the fort as making the “victory itself a sorrow to the victors.”[6]

         Munro had been advised to see that every ounce of rum was poured out in case the Indians should found it and become more inflamed.  It was useful advice, if not wholly effective.  Once the fort was surrendered, the garrison withdrew and went into the nearby entrenched camp.  The Indians swarmed in behind them, looking for rum.  When they didn’t find any, they scoured the remains of the fort and located the hospital where those too sick to be moved were still in their beds.  As the guard of the Canadian militia watched the activities of the Indians with apparent unconcern, their allies butchered and scalped these defenseless victims.[7]

         Fate has a way of intervening to exact a terrible price for acts of terror, and there were consequences for these barbaric, but customary activities.  It became evident in a noticeably short period of time that some of those scalps were taken from men who were already dying of smallpox.  The end result was that this highly infectious disease raced through the Indian villages, exacting a terrible price for every victim from the fort that had been killed in those last bitter days.

         When Montcalm arrived on the seen the camp was swarming with seemingly “crazed men.”  He attempted to restore a sense of order and to bring some authority over the militia.  In spite of this, when the militia were place on guard over the prisoners, they made no effort to keep the rabble out or to restrain them.  Montcalm’s presence on the scene and the Indian recognition of his great prestige, did prevent the reigning confusion and disorder from taking a more critical turn.  Towards nightfall, the worst was over.  Now that the threat of immediate violence was passed, however, Montcalm had to set about accomplishing the difficult task of guarding his charges against a recurrence of the day’s nightmarish events.  The Indian leaders claimed that they were ready and willing to cooperate.  They apparently agreed that two chiefs from each tribe should go with the escort, which was to see that the garrison reached Fort Edward safely, as Montcalm had promised.[8]

         There was a long night ahead; a time to think and prepare but fear rather than wisdom was in command.  The English committed a number of errors, which contributed to the unfortunate events that followed.  Some of them started off long before the hour that had been determined for the departure, and this resulted in the line of march being stretched out over a long and unmanageable distance along the route to Fort Edward.  Some of the soldiers, balancing urgent warnings against the long tramp ahead of them, decided to fill their canteens with rum, thinking that it was a wicked waste to throw away good spirits.  When the Indians demanded rum, they shared it, hoping that by doing so, they would encourage a certain camaraderie.  It was an extremely unwise act, and the Indians were not convinced.  For his part, the owner of the spirit-filled canteen was happy if he lost no more than the rum.[9]

         The long procession had begun to move away from the fort early in the morning.  The French escort of two hundred regular soldiers marched at the head of the column, well out of sight of anything that was happening at the rear.  With a volatile horde of hostile Indians lurking close to the group, it was extremely unlikely that nothing would happen.  The killing began early when 17 wounded men who were too weak to join the march, were discovered by some roving Indians.  According to the records, the initial massacre took place even though a French guard as well as a number of French officers stood within forty feet of these men.  One of these officers was St. Luc del la Corne, an able partisan leader.  The French doctor in charge later stated under oath that when the slaughter of these unfortunates began, not one officer or soldier made the slightest gesture of interfering.  It appeared to one commentator that it was almost as though they felt pleasantly satisfied at being relieved of a troublesome responsibility.[10]

         According to Joseph Rutlege, the English on this long march were allowed to keep their rifles and such possessions as they could manage, but the rifles were not loaded and there were few bayonets.  Perhaps it was as well, for an inadequate show of force might have resulted in a more appalling outcome than that which eventually took place.  As it was, it was bitter enough.  Sometimes an Indian caught a glance at a rifle or some other possession that he coveted.  Perhaps it was the canteen that was seized.  The owner, if he resisted, was quickly killed.  The tomahawk was utilized a great deal that day, settling many an argument of possession.  Men and women were attacked throughout the march, and larger groups of them were driven off by the Indians as captives.  No one knows just how many died.  All that is known is that 2,200 started on the march and 1,400 reached Fort Edward.  The rest were not all casualties, as hundreds of them were taken away as prisoners.  Many would in fact be rescued later or released, particularly after the fall of Quebec.  The nearest estimate of the numbers actually killed has been set at a little more than a hundred, though many authorities put it much higher.  It would definitely have been much higher if Montcalm, Lévis and Bourlamaque and many other French officers had not stepped in to curb the growing slaughter.  It is reported that Montcalm told the Indians to “Kill me but spare the English who are under my protection.”  This may have been the only thing that helped bring this sanguinary action to an end.[11]

[1] On the 17th of October 1759, Colonel Joseph Frye was in command of Fort Frederick, Nova Scotia (now New Brunswick).  The fort was garrisoned by three Massachusetts provincial companies.  Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 252.

[2] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, pp. 288-289.

[3] Ibid, p. 293.

[4] Ibid, p. 208.

[5] Ibid, p. 294.

[6] Ibid, p. 294.

[7] Ibid, p. 294.

[8] Ibid, p. 296.

[9] Ibid, p. 296.

[10] Ibid, p. 297.

[11] Joseph Lister Rutlege, Century of Conflict, Volume Two in the Canadian History Series, edited by Thomas B. Costain, Doubleday and Coy, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1956, p. 440-444.

Louis-Joseph de Montcalm trying to stop Native Americans from attacking British soldiers and civilians as they leave Fort William Henry at the Battle of Fort William Henry.  Wood engraving by Alfred Bobbett, ca. 1824-1888 or 9, engraver, based on a painting by Felix Octavius Carr Darley, 1822-1888.

Fort Carillon, June 1758

          By the end of June 1758, the French battalion of Béarn lay encamped in front of the strong fort of Niagara, and their companion battalions of Guyenne and La Sarre, with a body of Canadians, guarded Fort Frontenac against an English attack.  The regiments of La Reine and Languedoc had been sent to Fort Carillon, while the Governor, with Montcalm and Lévis remained at Montréal watching the events unfold.  Montcalm was advised by the Adjutant-General Montreuil to: “Trust only the French regulars for an expedition but use the Canadians and Indians to harass the enemy.”[1]

         At this time, Elijah Estabrooks and his regiment of Massachusetts Provincials were heading towards the site of the upcoming battle that followed.  It was not long afterwards that the Indians brought word to the French that 10,000 English were coming to attack Carillon.  A French reinforcement of colony regulars was at once dispatched to join the two battalions already there; a third battalion, Royal Roussillon, was sent after them.  The militia were called out and ordered to follow with all speed, while Montcalm and Lévis rushed to the scene.  They embarked in canoes on the Richelieu River, coasted the shore of Lake Champlain, passed Fort Saint-Frédéric (Crown Point, New York) and reached Carillon at the end of June.

[1] Adjutant-General Montreuil was described as a “vain and pragmatic personage, who, having come to Canada with Dieskau the year before, thought it behooved him to give General Montcalm the advantage of his experience.”  Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 219.

(Charny Photo)

Troupes de la Marine re-enactors, Fort de l'Île Sainte-Hélène, Montréal.

          Brigadier Lévis had led a party of 400 regular soldiers of La Marine and 800 Canadian Militia off on an expedition that had been planned by Governor Vaudreuil.  Their mission had been to proceed by Oswego to the Mohawk Valley, “partly to overawe the Iroquois, but also to do as much damage as possible to the English settlements in the region.”  Montcalm had warned Vaudreuil of the possibility of an English move down the Champlain waterway, but Vaudreuil failed to heed the warning until it was almost too late.  He recalled the expedition at a point where it was too late to get most of the troops back in time to assist Montcalm.  In spite of this, Lévis still managed to get 400 regular soldiers to Fort Carillon the night before the battle, proving to be “a very material help to Montcalm.”[1]

(Elijah Estabrooks was by now camped by Lake Champlain from the 28th of June to the 3rd of July).

         Fort Carillon had been worked on all winter by the engineer Lotbiniére, and was well advanced towards completion.[2]  It stood on the crown of a promontory, and was laid out in a square shape with four bastions, a ditch, blown in some parts out of the solid rock, bombproof shelters, barracks of stone, and a system of exterior defences that had only just begun construction.  The fort’s ramparts consisted of two parallel wooden walls spaced 10 feet apart, built using the trunks of trees, and held together by logs that had been laid out transversely and dovetailed at both ends.  The space between the logs was filled with earth and gravel well packed.

[1] Edward Pierce Hamilton, Fort Ticonderoga, Key to a Continent, Toronto, Little, Brown and Company, 1964, p. 81.

[2] Lotbiniére was a relative of Vaudreuil.  Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 355.

Indian Allies of France

           Throughout Elijah’s Journal, he often mentions native Indians.  There are indications that there were a great number and variety of the tribes of Indians that were allied to the French.  The numbers allied with the English were much smaller.  The French considered the Mission Indians to have the most trustworthiness.  Mission Indians lived with or near the settled limits of Canada, and were mainly the Hurons of Lorette, the Abenakis of St. Francis and Batiscan, the Iroquois of Caughnawaga and La Présentation, and the Iroquois and Algonquins at the Two Mountains on the Ottawa river.  In addition to these specific tribes, all the warriors of the west and north from Lake Superior to the Ohio River, and from the Alleghany Mountains to the Mississippi River, also took their instructions and direction from the French.  Although their power and pride had greatly fallen since the days of Champlain, the Iroquois Indians of the “Five Nations” still remained in their ancient seats within the present limits of the state of New York.  The Five Nations found themselves crowded between the English and the French, and they constantly vacillated in their support for the two warring European factions.  Some of the Indians favored one side for a time, and some would lean towards the other, and some would go to each in turn.  As a whole, the best that France could expect from the Indians was neutrality.[1]

         Montcalm described them as “vilains messieurs,” stating:

         you would not believe it, but the men always carry to war, along with their tomahawk and gun, a mirror to daub their faces with various colours, and arrange feathers on their heads and rings in their ears and noses.  They think it a great beauty to cut the rim of the ear and stretch it till it reaches the shoulder.  Often, they wear a laced coat, with no shirt at all.  You would take them for so many masqueraders or devils.  One needs the patience of an angel to get on with them.  Ever since I have been here, I have had nothing but visits, harangues, and deputations of these gentry.  The Iroquois ladies, who always take part in their government, came also, and did me the honour to bring me belts of wampum, which will oblige me to go to their village and sing the war-song.  They make war with astounding cruelty, sparing neither men, women, nor children, and take off your scalp very neatly, an operation that generally kills you.[2]

          With the Indians, the French and a perilous countryside facing them, Elijah and his companions prepared to fight for their king and country.

[1] Ibid, p. 216-217.

[2] Ibid, p. 216-217.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photos, Inventory Nos. C-092421, C-092419, C-092417, and C-092415)

          After the 1701 peace treaty with the French, the Iroquois remained mostly neutral.  During Queen Anne's War (North American part of the War of the Spanish Succession), they were involved in planned attacks against the French.  Peter Schuyler, mayor of Albany, arranged for three Mohawk chiefs and a Mahican chief (known incorrectly as the Four Mohawk Kings) to travel to London in 1710 to meet with Queen Anne in an effort to seal an alliance with the British.  Queen Anne was so impressed by her visitors that she commissioned their portraits by court painter John Verelst.  The portraits are believed to be the earliest surviving oil portraits of Aboriginal peoples taken from life.


        On the 5th of July 1758, the largest cities in North America had populations only a thousand or two greater than the combined force of soldiers who were being assembled for the assault on Fort Ticonderoga.  No other single effort during the Seven Years War involved as many troops.  To control and support these numbers of men required a well-organized administrative force on a level outside the previous experience of most New England leaders, let alone the soldiers.  The British regular forces were already quite thoroughly familiar with regimental drills and procedures, but for the provincials this was an entirely different matter.[1]

         The colonial troops had rarely received formal military training, even though it was apparent that a great deal of it was needed.  Records, Orderly books, and Journals all indicate that the provincial soldiers were frequently ignorant of even the most basic rudimentary maneuvers and, indeed, some of them were barely familiar with the use of their firearms.  On the 16th of June, lest than a month before the expedition to Ticonderoga would set out, Lord Jeffery Amherst ordered “the commanding officers of the provincials’ regiments to examine what number of men they have who are not marksmen; some perhaps may not have fired a musket.  Measures are to be taken immediately so that the whole army may be ordered to fire at a mark.”  The best the regular commander felt that he could hope for was that each provincial soldier would have the opportunity to fire three to five rounds in practice and to gain some experience in firing platoon volleys.  Provincial officers were also instructed “to practice their men (as often as possible) in going through their motions, that they may be more ready when they come on more actual service.”  This sounded all well and good in theory, but the real problem was that these same officers were not to be hindered in “furnishing such men for work as may be ordered,” because the regular commanders leaned heavily on provincial units for work details.  The end result of these conflicting requirements was that in a provincial regiment that could be described as “a bit above average,” in proficiency, they would have received only eight days of basic training between the time they joined the expeditionary forces on the 29th of May 1759, and the 8th of July when the army set out to besiege the French fort at Ticonderoga.[2]

         Training continued when the opportunity presented itself, because so many lacked the basic skills necessary.  On the 3rd of July for example, Colonel Jonathan Bagley’s regiment of Massachusetts provincials was drilled “in the exercise of brush fighting” before General Abercromby and Lord Howe, the leaders of the expedition.  Their performance was not up to standard, and as a result, “the sergeants were all ordered to draw up in a rank by themselves and be exercised by the adjutant, who was ordered thus to teach ‘em twice a day till he had learned them their duty.”  This elementary military training was being conducted only two days before the expedition was scheduled to embark, even though the non-commissioned Massachusetts officers were obviously still uncertain of how to execute basis commands that would be required in the coming battle.  The troops themselves found the instructions difficult to handle.  Private David Perry, a soldier like Elijah in Colonel Jedediah Preble’s regiment wrote of his reactions in their first battle:

         The whistling of the balls and the roar of the musketry terrified me not a little.  At length, our regiment formed among the trees, behind which the ken kept stepping from their ranks for shelter.  Colonel Preble, who, I well remember, was a harsh man, swore he would knock the first man down who should step out of his ranks which greatly surprised me, to think that I must stand still to be shot at.[3]

         It has been recorded that when the time came for Colonel Preble’s regiment to actually storm the French defenses at Fort Ticonderoga, there were no tactical subtleties: “Our orders were to ‘run to the breast-work and get in if we could.’”[4]

         One would begin to wonder what drew Elijah to enlist.  Although a young man contemplating enlistment in a provincial regiment could hardly expect to become rich, he would be regularly paid for steady work from the time of his enlistment until his discharge.  An enlistment typically lasted six to eight months, and a provincial private’s pay was high by 18th century military standards, about twice as high as a British redcoat’s pay, and quite comparable to a civilian laborer.  A provincial private in 1758 received one pound and 16 shillings in provincial currency each month, plus a subsistence allowance officially valued at 8 pence per day.  Massachusetts also paid its volunteers a bounty for enlisting.[5]

         Although military service inevitably brought danger, privation, hard work, and exposure to the elements, only the “danger” would be much different than his “normal;” life as a civilian at that time.  Many soldiers would also have welcomed the opportunity to plunder the French supplies.  Military service also provided an opportunity to travel and see a different part of North America, and to participate in the war against New England’s historic antagonists, the French, and the Indians.  The change alone would have been a major draw for an individual seeking to “broaden his horizons.”[6]

We begin now, with Elijah’s Journal.

[1] Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years’ War, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London, 1984, pp. 74-75.

[2] Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 75.

[3] Ibid, p. 76.

[4] Ibid, p. 77.

[5] Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 38.

[6] Ibid, p. 39.

Journal of Elijah Estabrooks, 1758-1760

May 21st 1758:

          We marched from Haverhill (Massachusetts) as far as Captain Forster’s (8 miles) in Andover and lay there that night, and the 22nd day we marched from there to Citereges about 7 miles and from there to Concord about 9 miles and about 10 o’clock in the morning we marched from there to Captain Curtase’s about 4 miles from Worcester and staid (sic) there until the 24th day, and then marched into Worcester which is 25 miles from Concord, and staid there that night and the 25th day we received our billeting money, and guns and accouterments.

         The 26th day we received our allowances and marched off in the afternoon.  And Colonel Hore drew up our Company and gave us a treat.  And then we marched out of Town as far as Hubbard’s (6 miles) and the 27th day we marched in the morning early as far as Walker’s in Brookfield about 13 miles and lay there that night and we left one of our men sick, Amos Hardy by name, with the fever and ague and one Edmund Cheney to tend him and we marched from there to Cold Spring 18 miles and lay in the Meeting House and the 28th day we marched from there to Simons.  And from there to Devils (Dwight’s) 5 miles from Cold Stream.  And went to dinner (on the) 29th day and from there to Hadly 8 miles and was billeted out in Hadly until the 4th day of June.  And then came orders to march over to Northampton to receive our allowances in order to march through the woods to Pantuck and we marched about 6 miles in the woods and camped that night.  And the 5th day we marched in the morning as far as the Salter-House where was liquors of all sorts and victuals ready dressed (15 miles) and camped there that night and the 6th day we marched to Westfield River and camped.  And from there to Pantuck fort 16 miles and lay there that night.  And the 7th day we marched from there (5 miles) to Fort Connaut and halted about an hour, and then marched off as far as the half-way house on a brook and camped there that night.  And the 8th day we marched from there and got to the half-way house from Canterbruck to Greenbush about 12 o’clock and we heard that Colonel Preble had arrived at Albany which caused us to march to Greenbush.[1]  And came to Greenbush about sunset and camped on a hill.  And the 9th day we marched down to the tavern and received our allowance.  And that night we backed (baked) our flower (flour) for the whole of our company.  And the 10th day we marched the East Side of the river up as far as the flats (4 miles) and from there to Harmony (possibly Halfmoon) 4 miles and lay there that night.  And the 11th day we marched as far as Stillwater, 13 miles, and stayed there until the 18th day for our Captain was Commander of the fort.  And the 18th day there came Captain Burke and took our Captain’s place.[2]  And we marched off to Saratoga and we got to Saratoga about sunset (14 miles) and camped on this side of the river.  And the 17th day we marched off to Fort Edward 7 miles and camped on this side of the River until the 20th day.  And then received our tents and we pitched our tents and lay in them until the 22nd day.  And then we had orders to remove our tents near the river and pitch them and we also did.  And lay there until the 24th day.  And then we had orders to strike our tents in order to march off for the Lake.  And we came to the Lake about 8 o’clock in the evening and we pitched our tents and lay there until the 28th day.

         As Elijah was recording these events, the French sent an emissary.  “On the last day of June, a lieutenant of the French Marine went to Fort Edward under a truce.  He was not permitted to return, for he had seen too much.”[3]

        The officer was Sieur Wolf of the French regulars, and he had been sent to carry letters from the Marquis de Vaudreuil to General Abercrombie, on a matter of an exchange of prisoners.  The English held Sieur Wolf until the 9th of July, (the day after the battle).  They sent him back with the answer that the King of England had declared the capitulation of Fort William Henry .[4]

          Elijah reported “Nothing remarkable from the 28th day to the 3rd day of July 1758.”

          Colonel Louis Antoine de Bougainville, the Marquis de Montcalm’s chief of staff, kept an ongoing record of events similar to Elijah’s Journal.  On the 1st of July he recorded the following activities in the French Camp:

         General assembly this morning at daybreak.  Seven battalions advanced: La Reine, Guyenne and Béarn to occupy the head of the Portage; La Sarre, Royal Roussillon, Languedoc, and the second battalion of Berry to occupy the right and left banks of the Falls of Lake St. Sacrement.  The third battalion of Berry came to place itself in the camp La Reine has left between Fort Carillon and a redoubt which commands the junction of the river from the end of the bay and that from the Falls.[5]

          This movement, doubtless rash, was necessary to give prudence to the enemy, to impose on them, to make them lose the idea which they have of our great weakness and at the same time to prevent them from grabbing the Portage all of a sudden, something they could do by an advance on the lake of only ten or twelve hours.[6]

          The Marquis de Montcalm went this morning with MM. De Pontleroy, Desandrouins, Jacquau, and de Hébécourt to reconnoiter the surroundings of Fort Carillon in order to select a battlefield and the place for an entrenched camp.  We lack manpower, and perhaps time is also lacking.  Our situation is critical.  Action and audacity are our sole resources.[7]

          On the 2nd of July, Colonel Bougainville recorded the following:

         It has been decided to occupy the heights which dominate Carillon with a entrenched camp, with redoubts and abatis, the left resting on the Rivière de la Chute and the right on the one going to St. Frédéric; to build in addition a defensive work in the rear resting at its left on Carillon, and on the right on a great redoubt which will flank an abatis extended up to the river.  But to carry out these works strong arms are needed, as well as the arrival of colony troops and time granted us by the enemy.  All that can be done at the moment, and which is being done, is to lay out the works and get the troops at the Falls and the Portage to make as many fascines and palisades as their camp duties will permit.  The third battalion of Berry, which is in the fort, can furnish only eighty to ninety workers.  How to do it with so few people?[8]

          The Marquis de Montcalm has gone to camp at the falls to be near the head of the Portage and (possible) enemy movements.  One of our advanced guards met an enemy scouting party.  Shooting by both sides.  The Mohawk took to flight.[9]

          The historian George Stanley has also recorded a number of details of the French activities as the British forces assembled on Lake George.  Montcalm with his engineer officers, Pontleroy, Desandrouins and Jacau de Fiedmont, set out at the beginning of July to reconnoiter the region around Fort Carillon.  Together they concluded that they could not rely on the security of Fort Carillon’s stone walls for protection or the conduct of a successful defence against a determined enemy force.  Instead, they decided to build an entrenched camp with redoubts and abatis on the high ground to the west overlooking the fort.  When the fortifications were complete, they then planned to station advance parties at tactically sound positions near the falls and portage on the river that linked Lake St Sacrement and Lake Champlain.  While the construction was being carried out on the forward defensive position, scouting parties and combat reconnaissance patrols were sent out to keep continuous surveillance over the activities of the British forces.  They were assigned to keep watch over all enemy forces “on the land and on the water.”  The scouts reported nothing at first, but on the 5th of July they gave “positive warning” that General Abercrombie was on the move.  On Montcalm’s instructions, an observation party of “some 300 men under Captain Trépézac of the Béarn regiment hurried south to establish contact with the enemy force, and if possible, to prevent it from landing.  Meanwhile, the engineers hurriedly traced a new line of defence west of the entrenched camp and set every man available cutting trees, preparing the abatis and constructing a defensive breastwork of logs and earth.”  When it became obvious that Abercrombie’s intentions were not just a simple “probing attack, but a full-scale invasion, orders were sent to the several advanced groups to withdraw at once to Carillon.”[10]

[1] As a Major, Jedediah Preble had served in Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow’s (Massachusetts, New England) battalion in Nova Scotia during the expulsion of the Acadians.  Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 161.  Preble would later become a brigadier general commanding a regiment with two battalions.  Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 50.

[2] Captain Burke of the Massachusetts regiment fought in the battle at Fort William Henry in 1757.  He had been captured by the Indians who had stripped him after a violent struggle.  He managed to break loose however, and escaped naked into the woods.  After spending the night shivering in a thick grass marsh, he then made his way to Fort Edward the next day.  Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 297.

[3] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, p. 178.

[4] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 240.

[5] Ibid, p. 222.

[6] Ibid, p. 222.

[7] Ibid, p. 222.

[8] Ibid, p. 223.

[9] Ibid, p. 222.

[10] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, 1968, p. 178.

The Big Picture

          Noted Harvard University historian Francis Parkman assembled an impressive amount of detail on the Seven Years War.  Excerpts from his work are inserted here to provide a glimpse of the bigger picture going on around Elijah as he kept his journal of day-to-day events at the time.

           In June 1758, as Montcalm carried out his defensive preparations forward of Fort Carillon, the British amassed a major combat force at the head of Lake George.  Major-General Abercrombie was preparing to lead a combined British and provincial force estimated at 16,000 troops, the largest army yet to serve in North America, against the French stronghold he knew as Ticonderoga.  The French prepared to receive him with an army one-fourth the size of Abercrombie’s.[1]

           Governor Vaudreuil had devised a plan for saving Carillon by sending a diversionary force into the valley of the Mohawk under the command of Lévis, Rigaud, and Longueil.  They were to be supported with 1,600 men and they were expected to be joined by as many Indians.  Vaudreuil directed this force to attack the English forts in that region, and that they were to then threaten Schenectady.  This, he believed, would compel the Indians of the Five Nations to declare their support for France.[2]  The French hoped that this would in turn eventually cause the English to cease their military ventures and “leave Montcalm in peace, thinking only of defending themselves.”[3]

They were wrong.

         A French partisan officer named Langy captured a number of English prisoners (specifically Rangers) on Lake George.  The prisoners made an exaggerated declaration that within two weeks 25 or 30,000 men would attack Fort Carillon.  Vaudreuil realized that he would have to abandon his Mohawk expedition, and he therefore ordered Lévis and his followers to reinforce Montcalm.  There was a long delay in their departure, perhaps owing to a lack of boats, and this put Montcalm in the position of having to defend himself as best he could.[4]

           Montcalm had to decide whether or not to fall back to Crown Point.  Both M. Lotbiniére, his chief engineer and M. Le Mercier opposed the plan.  The choice was difficult for Montcalm, but he opted to remain at Ticonderoga.  He kept Berry’s battalion near the fort, while his main body stayed in its encampment by the sawmill at the Falls.  The rest of his troops under Bourlamaque occupied the head of the portage.  A small advance party was left at the landing-place on Lake George.  Neither position would be easy to defend, and Montcalm’s best hope lay “in the ignorance or blundering of his enemy.”[5]

           Lévis had been assigned the permanent command of Fort Carillon.  It was also the most advanced position of the French, and as Crown Point was second in the line of this outpost, he decided to set off on foot to explore the neighboring woods and mountains.  To conduct his reconnaissance, Lévis slept out several nights before he reappeared at the camp.  Taking note of his pro-active approach to information gathering, Montcalm stated:

           I do not think that many high officers in Europe would have occasion to take such tramps as this.  I cannot speak too well of him.  Without being a man of brilliant parts, he has good experience, good sense, and a quick eye; and, though I had served with him before, I never should have thought that he had such promptness and efficiency.  He has turned his campaigns to good account.[6]

         For his part, Lévis wrote:

            I do not know if the Marquis de Montcalm is pleased with me, but I am sure that I am very much so with him, and shall always be charmed to serve under his orders.  It is not for me, Monseigneur, to speak to you of his merit and his talents.  You know him better than anybody else; but I may have the honour of assuring you that he has pleased everybody in this colony and manages affairs with the Indians extremely well. [7]

            Meanwhile, at the head of Lake George, the raw bands of ever-active New Englanders were mustering for the fray.[8]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, From the Works of Francis Parkman, Little, Brown and Company, Toronto, Canada, 1955, p. 434.

[2] Ibid, p. 434.

[3] Ibid, p. 434.

[4] Ibid, p. 435.

[5] Ibid, p. 435.

[6] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 219-221

[7] Ibid, p. 220.

[8] Ibid, p. 221.

           Orders came to us to load the bateau with artillery and provisions in order to go down the Lake to Ticonderoga.

           Colonel Bougainville also made a report in his Journal this day:

           M. de Raymond, Captain of La Marine, arrived with 118 men, 80 Canadians, the rest soldiers of La Marine. M. Mercier also arrived to take command of the artillery. He brought letters from the Marquis de Vaudreuil, which announced the arrival of powerful reinforcements and of the detachment of the Chevalier de Lévis (which had been) destined for the Schenectady expedition, which the American General called off.  I do not know whether he went so far as to send no one at all to the Five Nations or to the Ohio.  That would be the case of saying that the extremes are touching.  Here they feel certain that M. de Longueuil will go to carry a message to the Five Nations, accompanied by a detachment which at once will go on to the Ohio under orders of M. de St. Ours, lieutenant.  This news appears certain, although M. de Vaudreuil has written nothing about it to our general.[1]

            A convoy of merchant ships and a few warships arrived at Québec.  The latter, destined for Louisbourg, brought to Port Toulouse[2] the battalion of the Cambise regiment which reached Louisbourg overland and did not enter the port because the siege had started.[3]

            The King having judged it proper to employ me in America as “aide-marechal des logis[4] of his troops, under orders to do well.  No letters have been received from M. de Ligneris, which indicate that he fears being attacked.  The Illinois convoy at last reached Fort Duquesne.[5]

[1] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, pp. 223-224.

[2] A small port on Cape Breton Island some forty miles southwest of Louisbourg.

[3] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 224.

[4] A senior French Army staff appointment similar to a present-day Chief-of-Staff (COS).

[5] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 224.

          Elijah did not make an entry for the 4th of July, but Colonel Bougainville including the following in his daily report:

July 4th, Duties, guards, and patrols as usual.  Our position, very risky, obliges us to (take) the greatest precautions.  (The) bridge at the Portage (has been provided with) a little redan (a V-shaped defensive work) to cover its head.  (The) bridge below the Falls (has been built) to allow communication (between) troops camped on the two banks of the river.[1]

            This evening there departed, under orders of Sieur de Langy, a detachment of about 150 men, 104 of them volunteers from our (regular) battalions, 25 Canadians, and a score of Indians.  A fact worth noting and one which does us honour is that in this detachment, a captain and seven lieutenants of our regulars march under the orders of an ensign; M. de Langy has only this rank.  His orders are to go and observe the location, the number, and the movements of the enemy at the end of the Lake St. Sacrement and to make prisoners if it is possible.[2]

            A sad ceremony almost made the detachment fail to depart.  An Iroquois, in cold blood and for no apparent reason, publicly assassinated one of his brothers with a knife.  The murderer at once fled.  The Indians hunted him everywhere to kill him.  He has three other brothers, one of whom came and wishes to avenge the dead man on the assassin.  They do not know how this affair will end.  They pardon murder committed by drunkards.  A drunken man is a sacred person.  According to them it is a state so delicious that it is permitted, even desirable, to arrive at; it is their paradise.  Then one is not responsible for his acts.  But ordinarily, they themselves calmly punish cold-blooded murderers with a speedy death neither proceeded nor followed by any formalities.[3]

            It was necessary to cover the dead man with an “ouapon,” that is to say, a complete outfit given his family.  Six strings of wampum have dried their tears, cleared their throats, and put warriors in shape to go off to war.  Today I commenced the duties of my new position.  (A) detachment of 130 men who took the bateaux to St. Jean returned yesterday.  (I) received advice from St. Frederic that on the 3rd and 4th, M. de Lusignan had indications of enemy parties on the Right Bank of the river (Lake Champlain) opposite St. Frederic, and on the left (bank) in the bay behind the fort.[4]

[1] Ibid, p. 224.

[2] Ibid, p. 224.

[3] Ibid, pp. 224-225.

[4] Ibid, p. 225.

July the 5th day:

           And the 5th day we set off about 8 o’clock in the morning for Ticonderoga with about 16,000 men and we had a calm and pleasant day…and we went as far as Sabbath Day Point, which is about 22 miles from Fort William Henry.  And there we camped until 12 o’clock…and one of our sentries heard a rattle snake which caused him to cry out and aroused the whole camp…which caused our officer to order the whole to embark and haul off to the middle of the lake and lay there until the morning.

Rogers’ Rangers

           Elijah makes many reports in his journal of the activities of the scouts and Rangers that led the British forces into the American wilderness.  He speaks most often about Robert Rogers (1731-1795).  Rogers was a famous American frontiersman and soldier.  He commanded the legendary British-American army unit known as “Rogers’ Rangers.”  Rogers was born in the New England town of Methuen, Massachusetts on the 7th of November 1731.  He apparently spent his childhood in the frontier town of Dunbarton, New Hampshire.  Early in his military career he served as a scout in the third of the French and Indian Wars.  In 1755 he re-enlisted in a New Hampshire regiment.  Rogers quickly proved his abilities as a spy, and as a result he was promoted to rank of captain and placed in charge of an independent company of Rangers.  In time he won appointment as a Major in charge of nine such companies.[1]

[1] The Encyclopedia Americana, International Edition, Grolier Inc, Danbury, Connecticut, 1988, p. 635.

(U.S. Army Center of Military History Illustration)

Painting of Rogers Rangers, "To Range the Woods", New York, 1760.

        Rogers’ Rangers, were developed into a combat corps which consisted of some 600 frontiersmen.  During the French and Indian War the Rangers adapted the best features of Indian Warfare (stealth, self-sufficiency, and camouflage), to their expeditions.  Among Roger’s followers were men who would later become household names, and they included Israel Putman, John Stark, and James Dalyell (Dalzell).  The Rangers were mainly employed to conduct daring raids against French posts and Indian bands and in their most notable record in1760, they participated in the capture of Montréal.  Rogers is known to have traveled as far west as Detroit to accept the surrender of French posts.  Towards the end of the war in 1763, he served with Dalyell during Pontiac’s Rebellion.  In 1765, after questionable dealings left him in serious debt, Rogers went to England, where he published three books, including his Journals (1765), A Concise Account of North America (1765) and Ponteach, or the Savages of America (1766), which was a crude verse drama.[1]

[1] Ibid, p. 635.

(Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection)

Robert Rogers, the founding leader and namesake of Rogers' Rangers, in a 1776 painting, the only known portrait from life of Rogers, by Johann Martin Will.

           To appreciate what was expected of the soldiers of the Seven Years War, and in particular, of Roger’s Rangers, he developed the following Standing Orders.

Standing Orders for Rogers’ Rangers

  1. Don’t forget anything.
  2. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute’s warning.
  3. When you’re on the march, act the way you would if you were sneaking up on a deer.  See the enemy first.
  4. Tell the truth about what you see and what you do.  There is an army depending on us for correct information.  You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but never lie to a Ranger or officer.
  5. Never take a chance you don’t have to.
  6. When we are on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can’t go through two men.
  7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it’s hard to track us.
  8. When we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.
  9. When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.
  10. If we take prisoners, we keep ‘em separate till we have had time to examine them, so they can’t cook up a story between ‘em.
  11. Never march home the same way.  Take a different route so you won’t be ambushed.
  12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, twenty yards on each flank and twenty yards in the rear, so the main body can’t be surprised and wiped out.
  13. Every night you’ll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.
  14. Don’t sit down to eat without posting sentries.
  15. Don’t sleep beyond dawn.  Dawn is when the French and Indians attack.
  16. Don’t cross a river by a regular ford.
  17. If somebody’s trailing you, make a circle, come back into your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.
  18. Don’t stand up when the enemy’s coming against you.  Kneel down.  Hide behind a tree.
  19. Let the enemy come till he’s almost close enough to touch. Then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.[1]
  20. [1], p. 1.

An Army Embarked

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 2836091)

Boats embarked with British troops for the expedition to Ticonderoga, 1758, view from the North Shore of Lake Champlain.  

          As for Elijah and his fellow soldiers, things were about to come to a major crossroads.  Francis Parkman records that, on the evening of the 4th of July, the boats were loaded with baggage, stores and ammunition, and the whole army had been embarked by the morning of the 5th of July.  He described the embarkation and departure scene as follows:

Each corps marched without confusion to its appointed station on the beach, and the sun was scarcely above the ridge of French Mountain when all were afloat.  A spectator watching them from the shore said, when the fleet was three miles on its way, the surface of the lake at that distance was completely hidden from sight.  There were 900 bateaux, 135 whaleboats, and a large number of heavy flatboats carrying the artillery.  The whole (force) advanced in three divisions, with the regulars in the centre and the provincials on the flanks.  Each corps flew its flags and had its music.  The day was fair, and the men were in the highest spirits.[1]

           John R. Cuneo describes the scene is a similar manner, informing us that the first group of men to get underway were the advance guard of Rangers, known as bateaux-men, and light infantry in whaleboats.  He indicates that by 7 A.M. the main body was embarked and “the lake was black as far as an eye could see with 135 whaleboats, 900 bateaux, and two floating batteries, all moving northward under threatening skies.”[2]

          Before 10 o’clock in the morning, “they began to enter the Narrows, and the boats of the three divisions extended themselves into long files as the mountains closed on either side of the contracted lake.  From front to rear the line was six miles long.  The convoy presented quite a spectacle, with “the flash of oars and glitter of weapons; the banners and the varied uniforms, and the notes of bugle, trumpet, bagpipe, and drum.”  A wounded officer would later state, “I never beheld so delightful a prospect.”[3]

         Major Rogers with his Rangers, and Brigadier General Thomas Gage with the light infantry led the way in whaleboats, followed by Colonel John Bradstreet with his corps of boatmen, armed and drilled as soldiers.  The main body followed.  The central column of regulars was commanded by Brigadier Lord Augustus Howe, with his regiment, the 55th, in the van, followed by the Royal Americans, the 27th, 44th, 46th, and 80th Infantry, and the Highlanders of the 42nd, with their commander, Major Duncan Campbell of Inverawe.[4]  Campbell was silent and depressed, because he had been told in Scotland that he would meet his death at a place called “Ticonderoga,” a name he had never heard of until now.[5]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 437-438.

[2] John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, New York, Oxford University Press, 1959, p.83.

[3] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 438.

[4] Ibid, p. 438.

[5] According to Francis Parkman and Edward Hamilton, Duncan Campbell was the Laird of “the ancient Castle of Inverawe” on the banks of the river Awe in the western Highlands of Scotland.  Late one night in the 1740’s Duncan’s cousin Donald Campbell was murdered by a man who afterwards sought shelter in the castle.  Although Duncan did not know of the murder at the time, the fugitive begged him for asylum and made him swear on his dirk to hide him.  Duncan kept his word and helped to hide the killer by not betraying him to the searching authorities.  Late at night, however, in his dreams, Duncan saw the ghost of his murdered cousin standing by his bedside and heard a hollow voice pronounce the words “Inverawe! Inverawe!  Blood has been shed.  Shield not the murderer!”  The same voice of the ghost of his murdered cousin came a second night and after this, Campbell hid the stranger in a cave, from which the murderer later left.  The third night, Campbell had a vision of his ghostly pale cousin, who told him, “Farewell, Inverawe! Farewell, till we meet at Ticonderoga!”  The strange name meant nothing to Duncan at the time, but it stayed in his memory.  He later became a major in the Black Watch, or 42nd Regiment, and went with it to America after the war broke out.  Here, to his horror, he learned that he was to take part in the attack on Ticonderoga.  His story was well known among his brother officers, and they collected themselves together to disarm his fears.  When the regiment reached the fatal spot they told him on the eve of the battle, “This is not Ticonderoga; we are not there yet; this is Fort George.”  But in the morning he came to them with a haggard looks, and told them, “I have seen him!  You have deceived me!  He came to my tent last night!  This is Ticonderoga!  I shall die today!” and his prediction was fulfilled.  That day, Major Duncan Campbell of Inverawe, his arm shattered by a bullet, was carried to Fort Edward, where not long after his arm was amputated, he died and was buried.  His gravestone still exists on the site, and over it is inscribed: “Here lyes the Body of Duncan Campbell of Inverawe, Esquire, Major to the old Highland Regiment, age 55 Years, who died the 17th July, 1758, of Wounds he received in the Attack of the Retrenchment of Ticonderoga or Carillon, on the 8th July, 1758.”  Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, pp. 562-563; and, Edward Pierce Hamilton, Fort Ticonderoga, pp. 83-84.

(Neitz Photo)

Recreated uniform of the 55th Regiment of Foot at the time of its founding.

          An observer has described two “floating castles” which as sailing with the central column.  They were being used to carry gun batteries to cover the landing of the troops.  The provincials were to the right and left, uniformed in blue, and consisting of regiments from the New England colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.  The bateaux loaded with stores and baggage, floated along behind all of them, accompanied by the heavy flatboats that carried the artillery, while a rear-guard composed of provincials and regulars closed the long procession.[1]

          At 5 in the afternoon they reached Sabbath Day Point, approximately twenty-five miles down the lake. Here they stopped until late in the evening and the army went ashore to wait for the rear party of baggage and artillery to catch up.  At this point Lord Howe spent some time questioning a Ranger named John Stark, asking him about the tactical position of Ticonderoga and what the best points of approach would be to take it.  About 10 o’clock in the evening orders were passed to re-embark and by about 11 o’clock that night the expedition set out again and continued their advance northwards, their way lighted by lanterns.[2]

          On the orders of Lord Howe, one of the ranger whaleboats forged ahead to reconnoiter the landing place, and as the grey dawn emerged, they rejoined the van to report that they had seen enemy fires.[3]  At daybreak they entered what was then called the Second Narrows.  (This would be the contracted part of the lake where it approaches its outlet).  Rising up along their left side was the vast bare face of Rogers Rock, from which a French advance party under Langy and an officer named Trépézac watched their movements.  Lord Howe went in whaleboats with Major Rogers and Colonel Bradstreet, to reconnoiter the landing.  At a site the French called the Burnt Camp, where Montcalm had embarked the summer before, they found a detachment of Frenchmen who were too weak to oppose them.  Lord Howe and the reconnaissance party returned and advised General Abercromby of their findings.  Abercromby ordered the landing to proceed as planned.[4]

The Ranger whaleboats pulled into a bay (now known as “Hearts Bay”) and “their occupants leaped ashore at the foot of a mountain on the west shore of Lake George, about a mile and a half south of the principal landing place of the expedition.”  A small French force that they encountered was quickly driven off by the British.  The remaining part of the van rowed on to the designated point of disembarkation without encountering any opposition.  It seemed that the French had been caught by surprise, because they fled in confusion, leaving their posts on the western shore, and retiring across the bridge to the portage road.  The only defense they could offer was to destroy the bridge after they had crossed it.  By noon, the entire army had landed without suffering a single casualty.[5]

          Rogers sent an officer to ask for orders.  He was directed to

          gain the top of a mountain that bore to the north about a mile from the landing-place and, and from thence to steer east to the river that flows into the falls betwixt the landing and the sawmill, to take possession of some rising ground on the enemy’s side, and there to await the army’s coming.[6]

          Rogers was also expected to “flush out” any hostile French party that might be waiting to ambush the advancing British army.  Rogers proceeded to take his Rangers forward, but no enemy was immediately found, and the Rangers were in familiar territory.  They reached their objective quickly and without incident. Additional Ranger patrols probed eastward, with the main body of the French lying about a quarter of a mile away.[7]  Meanwhile, the remaining British began to form up to prepare for the march inland.[8]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 438.

[2] Ibid, pp. 438-439.

[3] John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p.84.

[4] Ibid, p. 84.

[5] Ibid, p. 84.

[6] Ibid, p. 84.

[7] Ibid, p. 85.

[8] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 438-439.

Reconnaissance and Skirmish

          At this point, as the British force prepared to conduct their advance into the forest, John R. Cuneo suggests that Abercromby and Howe committed their first major error.  They had been expecting Brigadier General Thomas Gage’s Light Infantry and special units of the best marksmen from each regiment to arrive.  These units had been issued special “Rifled Barreled Guns,” and the reason for this was that they were to replace the Rangers and to act as guides through the forest.  Unfortunately, they had not arrived.[1]

          By two in the afternoon the British columns prepared to push forward.  Ahead of them lay a plain covered with forest that stretched northwestward from this part of the shore for half a mile or more to the mountains.  Behind them lay the valley of Trout Brook.  The army began its march in four columns on this plain, with the intention of passing around the western bank of the river that stemmed from the outlet, since the bridge over it had been destroyed.  On the extreme left were the Connecticut Provincials, next came the Rhode Island forces, with regular soldiers in the center, then the New York Provincials, Elijah’s Massachusetts Provincials, and the forces from New Hampshire. The left was commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Gage, and the right by Brigadier Lord Augustus Howe.[2]

          Major Robert Rogers led the way, with the provincial regiments of Colonel Fitch and Colonel Phineas Lyman of Connecticut, at some distance ahead of the rest of the advancing force.  The forest was extremely dense and heavy, and so obstructed with undergrowth that it was impossible to see more than a few yards in any direction. To make transit even more difficult, the ground was littered with fallen trees in every stage of decay.  The even ranks of the troops following began to break up, with the men struggling onward as best they could in the dampness and poor light due to the thick canopy of trees overhead.[3]

          General Abercromby described the woods as “being thick, impassable with any Regularity to such a Body of Men, and the Guides unskilled, the Troops were bewildered, and the Columns broke, falling in on one another.”[4]

          It took roughly two hours for the army to cover a mile, at which point the conditions proceeded to deteriorate even further as the troops came upon undulating and broken ground.  They were close now to the upper rapids of the river’s outlet.  Within a short period of time, the guides at the head of the group lost their bearings and stumbled about in the bewildering maze of tree trunks and pine boughs.  Behind them, the marching columns became equally confused, and began to fall in upon each other.  Essentially, Abercrombie’s army was literally “lost in the woods.”[5]

         At this same time, the French officers Langy and Trépézac were leading an advance party with about 350 regulars and Canadians through the same grim patch of forest.  They were aware of the advancing British force and attempted to withdraw.  Unfortunately, before they could do so the whole English army had not only passed them and landed, but it was now placed between them and their countrymen.  They were left with no choice but to move deeper into the woods.  It appears that they climbed the steep gorge at the side of what is now known as “Rogers Rock,” and then followed the Indian path that led to the valley of Trout Brook.  They intended to descend into it and, by circling along the outskirts of the valley of Ticonderoga, reach Montcalm’s camp at the sawmill.  Even though Langy was used to “bush ranging,” his group also became lost in the forest.  Towards the close of the day, he and his men had come out from the valley of Trout Brook and found themselves near the junction of the stream with the river of the outlet.  By now they were well aware of the proximity of the large British force, and were in a state of some anxiety, for they could see nothing but brown trunks and green boughs.  In hindsight, it is possible that they might have discovered where they were if any one of them had climbed a tree, but even then, they would not have had any idea of where the British forces were located.  Not far from them on the right, they may have been able to see a plume of smoke rising from the burning huts of the French camp at the head of the portage, which the French officer Bourlamaque had set on fire and abandoned.  A mile or more in front of them they might have been able to see the sawmill at the Falls, and possibly the tents of the neighboring camp where Montcalm still lay with his main force.  Blind and lost, the two opposing armies proceeded to stumble inadvertently towards each other in the forest.[6]

         Abercrombie’s army continued to advance in four columns.  The Rangers led at the point with the light infantry and marksmen just behind them at the head of the columns.  While they were proceeding, they were kept under observation by an advance party under Sieur de Trepezec, a Captain from the Béarn Regiment.  He and his men had been watching the landing from what the French called Mount Pelee, which is now known as Roger’s Rock.  Purely by accident (or profoundly propitious good fortune), it would seem that as they were trying to return to Fort Carillon, they had stumbled into the advancing column of George Augustus, Viscount Howe.[7]

         Lord Howe was riding his horse at the head of the main column along with Major Israel Putnam and 200 Rangers.  Their position was slightly in advance of the three other columns.  Suddenly, they were challenged by French sentries with a cry of “Qui vive?”  Although the leading Rangers had the presence of mind to answer the French challenge with the response “Française!” Langy’s men were not deceived and they immediately opened fire.  In the fight that followed, Lord Howe was shot through the breast and dropped dead.[8]

         An eyewitness wrote,

          When the firing began on part of the Left Column, Lord Howe thinking it would be of the greatest Consequence, to beat the Enemy with the Light Troops, so as not to stop the march of the main Body, went up with them, and had just gained the Top of the Hill, where the fighting was, when he was killed.  Never a Ball had a more Deadly Direction…I was about six yards from him, he fell on his Back and never moved, only his Hands quivered an instant.[9]

           Another source states, “Howe was leading the light infantry and had just reached the top of a hill, where the firing was, when he was killed.  The ball entered his body on the left side and pierced his lungs and heart and shattered his backbone.”[10]

         From the French reports, it appears that for more than twelve hours Trepezec and his men had been trapped in the tangled woods.  Just as he skirted a thick tangle of cedar swamp, it appears that he saw the British advance party moving at right angles to his path.  The Rangers saw him at the same time, but they recognized Trepezec as an enemy first.  The Rangers, all clad in green and brown immediately opened fire, and Trepezec’s tired soldiers began to fall.  Trepezec was hit as the French were rushing forward to meet the Rangers head on.  It appears that he stumbled, struck the trunk of a tree, and fell.  He was apparently aware of a British officer of very high rank trying to rein in a plunging horse not far from him.  At that moment, one of his men then helped him to his feet and with an arm around his waist, half-carried him off through the woods.  Before Trepezec died, however, he was told that the mounted horseman was General Howe and that he had been shot dead.  It appeared that the British column had melted away in the fray, but of the French reconnaissance force, half the men were missing.[11]

           A general panic ensued except for “the steadiness of the Rangers, who maintained the fight alone until the rest came back to their senses.”  Major Rogers, with his reconnaissance party and the regiments of Fitch and Lyman, were not far from the front line.  They all turned on hearing the musket fire and were thus able to catch the French in a deadly crossfire.  The French fought back hard and about 50 escaped, although 148 were captured and the rest were killed or drowned in trying to cross the rapids.  Although the English losses in this brief skirmish had been small in number, the loss of Howe would prove to be catastrophic.  “The fall of this noble and brave officer,” according to Rogers, “seemed to produce an almost general languor and consternation through the whole army.”  Major Thomas Mante also wrote that, “In Lord Howe, the soul of General Abercrombie’s army seemed to expire.  From the unhappy moment the General was deprived of his advice, neither order nor discipline was observed, and a strange kind of infatuation usurped the place of resolution.”  It would later be said, “the death of one man was the ruin of 15,000.”[12]

          The skirmish had also revealed a number of concerns that did not bode well for the future.  The confusion in the forest appeared to have “drained away the courage of the regular soldiers.  An officer observed uneasily that the comparatively small amount of gunfire had thrown the “Regulars into some kind of a Consternation.”  In the confusion, “part of ye 55th and the 42nd had returned to the Landing place…having lost the rest of the Army during the Skirmish, with a great Number of Provincials.”[13]

          In a document found in Windsor castle, one witness indicated that he believed that there had been nearly “300 of the enemy, which were almost killed and taken prisoners, all regulars,” but that in this first skirmish Lord Howe had been killed on the spot, “greatly lamented (and that with great justice) by the Army.”  He also observed that the firing threw an alarm into the some of the troops, which, even though it ended quickly, left him with a feeling of “uneasiness.”  He found that in the woods, some of the men mistook friendly fire for French fire and that they also mistook their officer’s commands as coming from the French.”  The observer does add, however, that “the Colony Troops behaved extremely well, were in great spirits and were willing to do anything they were desired.”[14]

          Edward Hamilton has pointed out that “Sir William Johnson, His Majesty’s Superintendent of Indian Affairs, had promised to bring a considerable body of Iroquois to assist Abercrombie as guides and scouts.”  Internal dissension among the Five Nations Indians caused considerable delays in the departure of Johnson’s force, and when some 400 of them finally did join Abercrombie at Ticonderoga on the morning of the battle, “they were too late to serve their most useful purpose as scouts during the advance from the landing place, where their presence might well have saved the life of Lord Howe.” With Howe alive, the chances are excellent that the fort would have fallen, and the whole course of the last of the French wars in North America would have been materially changed.  It was not to be.[15]

[1] John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p.85.

[2] Ibid, p. 85.

[3] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 439.

[4] John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p.85.

[5] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 439.

[6] Ibid, p. 440.

[7] p. 1.

[8] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 440-441.

[9] John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p.85.

[10] Internet,  P. 1.

[11] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, p. 180.

[12] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 440-441.

[13] John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p.86.

[14] A.G. Bradley, The Fight With France for North America, New York, Arno Press and The New York Times, 1971, pp. 418-419.

[15] Edward Pierce Hamilton, Fort Ticonderoga, pp. 81-82.

General William Johnson saving the life of Baron Dieskau at the Battle of Lake George, 1755, painted between 1764 and circa 1768 by Benjamin West.

          Although the French losses were severe in the encounter, Colonel Bougainville was not far wrong when he noted in his journal that Howe’s death

stopped the advance.  The disheartened English gave us a 24-hour delay, and this precious time was the saving of us and of the colony.”  During those 24 hours, every man at Fort Carillon was employed in reinforcing and shoring up the defence works and abatis; with only their Grenadiers keeping watch in case Abercrombie attempted to catch the French soldiers digging in with shovels rather than holding their muskets in their hands.[1]

           While he was waiting for the attack to come, Montcalm had positioned himself and most of his regular French infantry close to the small river that joined Lake George and Lake Champlain.  There was a bridge at this point, which was sited roughly two miles below the fort.  This was the most natural approach for an advancing force to take, and it led across the portage, eventually reaching down to the river below the rapids.  Bourlamaque had been stationed here watch for the British approach, and to assess how many of them there were.  He had also sent Langy, the partisan leader, through the deep forests to Lake George with the same mission.  Langy returned with the information that it was quite evident that the numbers of the approaching forces were too great to attempt a delaying action.  Bourlamaque therefore withdrew and when he had re-joined Montcalm, the bridge was burned, and both returned to their hasty defence position.  Langy, of course, had continued to range in the forests until he had the unexpected encounter with the British army, which had resulted in the death of Lord Howe.[2]

           Colonel Bougainville provided the following additional information in his Journal entry for July 5:

          Arrival of three captains of the colony (troops) with about 150 Canadians and soldiers of La Marine.  Formation of two companies of volunteers drawn from our battalions, under orders of Sieur Bernard, captain in the Béarn regiment, and Sieur Duprat, captain in that of La Sarre.  Departure of the Indian murderer with his two brothers.  They go home to mourn the dead man and perhaps to avenge him.  Detachment sent to Pelée Mountain (now known as Roger’s Rock on Lake George), returned without having seen anything.  The first division of the Chevalier de Lévis division should reach St. Jean today.  They assure us that the promised aid will join us.  At 5 o’clock in the evening Sieur de Langy’s detachment returned, having seen on the lake a great (body) of enemy barges which could only be what it was, the advance guard of their army, led by Colonel Bradstreet and Major Rogers.[3]

           Orders (were given) at once to the troops at the Falls that a general call by drum beat, they should spend the night in bivouac and should commence to clear away the (camp) equipment.  The same order sent to the Portage (with additional instructions) to send out detachments to the north and south to observe the landing of the enemy.  Consequently, Sieur de Langy has been detached with 130 volunteers to take post between Mont Pelée and the lake, and Sieur de Trépezac, captain in the Béarn regiment, supports him with three light companies.  One hundred and fifty men under orders of Sieur Germain, captain in La Reine regiment, posted at Contrecoeur’s camp, a patrol of Grenadiers and volunteers on the south side.  Bernard’s volunteers sent to Bernetz River (now known as Trout Brook), which comes through the mountains with which this country is covered to empty itself into the (River) of the Falls, to furnish warning in case the enemy wishes to get in our rear by (going) behind the mountains.[4]

           Sieur de Bourlamaque has not thought it desirable to have his (camp) equipment sent away.  He fears such action would have an appearance of timidity.  However, all the troops, even the veterans who are preparing for battle, are getting rid of their camp equipment.  During the night there was an exchange of shots between Sieur Germain’s patrols and those of the enemy, who have put scouts ashore.[5]

           Robert Rogers also kept a Journal, and his record of the events that took place during this period begins on the 28th of May, when he

          Received positive orders from the General, to order all officers and men, belonging to the Rangers, and the two Indian companies, who were on furlow, or recruiting parties, to join their respective companies as soon as possible, and that every man of the corps under my command should be at his post at or before the 10th of next month.  These orders were obeyed, and parties kept out on various scouts until the 8th of June, when my Lord Howe arrived at Fort Edward with one half of the army.[6]

           His Lordship immediately ordered me out with fifty men in whale-boats, which were carried over in wagons to Lake George, and directed me at all events to take a plan of the landing-place at the north end with all profitable accuracy, and also of the ground from the landing-place to the French fort at Carillon, and of Lake Champlain for three miles beyond it, and to discover the enemy’s number in that quarter.  Agreeable to these orders, on the 12th in the morning, I marched with a party of fifty men, and encamped in the evening at the place where Fort William Henry stood.[7]

           On the 30th we proceeded down the lake in five whaleboats to the first narrows, and so on to the west-end of the lake, where I took the plan his Lordship desired.  Part of my party then proceeded to reconnoiter Ticonderoga, and discovered a large encampment there, and a great number of Indians.  While I was, with two or three others, taking a plan of the fort, encampment, etc., I left the remainder of my party at some considerable distance; when I was returning to them, at the distance of about 300 yards, they were fallen upon by a superior number of the enemy who had got between me and them.  Captain Jacobs with the Mohegan Indians, run off at the first onset, calling to our people to run likewise, but they stood their ground, and discharged their pieces several times, at last broke through the enemy, by whom they were surrounded on all sides except their rear, where a river covered them: they killed three of the enemy, but lost eight of their party in this skirmish.  My party rallied at the boats, where I joined them, and having collected all but the slain together, we returned homewards.  On the 20th at Half Way Brook, we met my Lord Howe, advanced with 3,000 men, to whom I gave an account of my scout, together with a plan of the landing-place, the fort at Carillon, and the situation of the lakes.[8]

           I obtained leave of my Lord to go to Fort Edward, where his Excellency major General Abercrombie was then posted, who ordered me to join my Lord Howe the next day with all the Rangers, being 600, in order to proceed with his Lordship to the lake.[9]

           On the 22nd his Lordship encamped at the lake where formerly stood Fort William-Henry, and ordered the Rangers to advance 400 yards on the west-side, and encamp there; from which place, by his Lordship’s orders, I sent off next morning three small parties of Rangers, viz.: one to the narrows of South Bay, another to the west-side of Lake George, and a third to Ticonderoga Fort, all three parties by land.  Another party, consisting of two Lieutenants and 17 men, proceeded down the lake for discoveries, and were all made prisoners by about 300 French and Indians.  This party embarked in whaleboats.[10]

About the 28th of June his Excellency Major General Abercrombie arrived at the lake with the remainder of the army, where he tarried till the morning of the 5th of July, and then the whole army, consisting of near 16,000, embarked in bateaux for Ticonderoga.[11]

         We return now to Elijah’s Journal.

[1] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, p. 178.

[2] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, p. 451.

[3] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 226.

[4] Ibid, p. 226.

[5] Ibid, p. 226.

[6] Robert Rogers, Journals of Major Robert Rogers, Ann Arbour University, Microfilms Inc., 1966, p. 108.

[7] Ibid, p. 109.

[8] Ibid, pp. 109-110.

[9] Ibid, p. 110.

[10] Ibid, pp. 110-111.

[11] Robert Rogers, Journals of Major Robert Rogers, p. 111.

The Death of Lord Howe

July the 6th day:

          And we started about daylight and 10 o’clock we came in sight of the French camp where lay about 2000 French encamped and we landed half-a-mile from the French.  And the Rangers came on and landed with about 200 men without loss of a man, but Major Rogers killed one Frenchman and recovered their ground and all their tents, and liquors, and some money, with other things, and a party of our men pursued them and overtook them in the woods and battled with them and the Providence of God seemed very wonderfully to smile on us for we killed between 400 and 500 of the enemy, and brought in 150 prisoners and we lost but a very few, about 20 only.  We lost a very worthy officer, my Lord Howe by name, and we camped there that night. [1]

          According to Francis Parkman, the death of Lord Howe became the turning point of the entire campaign against Ticonderoga.  Parkman recorded that on “the afternoon of the 5th of July, the partisan Langy, who had again gone out to reconnoiter the head of Lake George,” returned in a hurry and accurately reported “that the English were embarked in great force.  Montcalm sent a canoe down Lake Champlain to hasten Lévis to his aid, and ordered” Berry’s battalion to begin building a breastwork and laying “abatis on the high ground in front of the fort.”  It would appear that Montcalm was still in some “doubt as to his plan of defence,” since he had not already begun the construction of these fortifications.[2]

         Abercrombie had been almost a month at his camp at the head of Lake George, assembling more than 15,000 men, comprised of 6,397 regular officers and soldiers, and 9,034 provincials, (including Elijah Estabrook).  He was camped on the same ground where Johnson had defeated Dieskau and where Montcalm had previously planted his gun batteries to pound Munro’s vainly defended “wooden ramparts of Fort William Henry.”[3]

         Abercrombie had gained his position through political influence and was not much more than the “nominal” commander.  Wolfe described him as “a heavy man.”  William Parkman, a boy of 17 who like Elijah, served in a Massachusetts regiment, described him as “an aged gentleman, infirm in body and mind.”  Abercrombie was 52.[4]

         William Pitt, Britain’s secretary of state and Prime Minister in 1758, had intended “that the actual command of the army should be in the hands of Brigadier Lord Howe, and he was in fact its real chief.”  Wolfe described Howe as “the noblest Englishman that has appeared in my time, and the best soldier in the British army,” and he elsewhere describes him as “that great man.”  Abercrombie testified to the “universal respect and love with which officers and men regarded him,” and Pitt called him “a character of ancient times; a complete model of military virtue.”[5]

         Howe appears to have deserved this high praise.  He was 34 at that time and “had the qualities of a leader of men.”  The “army felt him, from general to drummer-boy.  He was its soul; and while breathing into it his energy and ardor, and bracing it by stringent discipline, he broke through the traditions of the service and gave it new shapes to suit the time and place.  During the past year he had studied the art of forest warfare and joined Rogers and his Rangers in their scouting parties, sharing all their hardships and making himself one of them.”  He instituted unusual reforms for the period, which were likely “the fruits of this rough self-imposed schooling.”  He made his officers and men get rid of  “all useless encumbrances, cut their hair close, wear leggings to protect them from briers, brown the barrels of their muskets, and carry in their knapsacks thirty pounds of meal, which they cooked for themselves.”  This, “according to an admiring Frenchman,” allowed them to “live a month without their supply-trains.”  “You would laugh to see the droll figure we all make,” wrote one officer.  “Regulars as well as provincials have cut their coats so as scarcely to reach their waists.  No officer or private is allowed to carry more than one blanket and a bearskin.  A small portmanteau is allowed each officer.  No women follow the camp to wash our linen.  Lord Howe has already shown an example by going to the brook and washing his own.”[6]

         Here, as in all things, he shared the lot of the soldier, and required his officers to share it.  A story is told of him that before the army embarked, he invited some of them to dinner in his tent, where they found no seats but logs, and no carpet but bearskins.  A servant presently placed on the ground a large dish of pork and peas, on which his lordship took from his pocket a sheath containing a knife and fork and began to cut the meat.  The guests looked on in some embarrassment; upon which he said, “Is it possible, gentlemen, that you have come on this campaign without providing yourselves with what is necessary?”  And he gave each of them a sheath, with a knife and fork, like his.[7]

         In spite of being called a “Lycurgus of the camp,” by a contemporary, Howe was described as “a man of social accomplishments rare even in his rank.  He made himself greatly beloved by the provincial officers (as would appear to be confirmed by Elijah’s report on his death).  He was apparently on intimate terms with many of these officers and he did what he could to break down the barriers between the colonial soldiers and the British regulars.”  There is a tablet in Westminster Abbey on which Massachusetts pays grateful tribute to his virtues, and which commemorates “the affection her officers and soldiers bore to his command.”[8]

           The following narrative is Major Rogers’ account of the armies activities leading up to the death of Lord Howe, recorded from the time Abercrombie’s army set sail for Ticonderoga on the morning of the 5th of July:

          The order of march was a most agreeable sight; the regular troops in the centre, provincials on each wing, the light infantry on the right of the advanced guard, the Rangers on the left, with Colonel Broadstreet’s bateaux-men in the center.  In this manner we proceeded till dusk, down to Lake George, to Sabbath Day Point, where the army halted and refreshed.  About ten o’clock the army moved again, when my Lord Howe went in front with his whale-boat, Lieutenant Colonel Bradstreet’s and mine, with Lieutenant Holmes, in another, whom he sent forward to go near the landing place, and observe if any enemy was posted there.[9]

           Holmes returned about day-break, met the army near the Blue Mountains within four miles of the landing-place, and reported that there was a party of the enemy at the landing-place, which he discovered by their fires.[10]

           As soon as it was light, his Lordship, with Colonel Bradstreet and myself, went down to observe the landing-place before the army, and when within about a quarter of a mile, plainly discerned that it was but a small detachment of the enemy that was there; whereupon his Lordship said he would return to the General, that the army might land and march to Ticonderoga.  About 12 o’clock the whole army landed the Rangers on the left wing.  I immediately sent an officer to wait upon the General for his orders, and received directions from Captain Abercrombie, one of his Aides-se-Camp, to gain the top of a mountain that bore north about a mile from the landing-place, and from thence to steer east to the river that runs into the falls betwixt the landing and the sawmill, to take possession of some rising ground on the enemy’s side, and there to wait the army’s coming.  I immediately marched, ascended the top of the hill, and from thence marched to the place I was ordered, where I arrived in about an hour, and posted my party to as good advantage as I could, being within one quarter of a mile of where Monseigneur Montcalm was posted with 1,500 men, whom I had discovered by some small reconnoitering parties sent out for that purpose.  About 12 o’clock Colonels Lyman and (unidentified) of the Provincials came to my rear, whom I informed of the enemy’s being so very near, and inquiring concerning the army, they told me they were coming along.  While this conversation passed, a sharp fire began in the rear of Colonel Lyman’s regiment, on which he said he would make his front immediately, and desired me to fall on their left flank, which I accordingly did, having first ordered Captain Burbanks with 150 men to remain at the place where I was posted, to observe the motions of the French at the sawmills, and went with the remainder of the Rangers on the left flank of the enemy, the river being on their right, and killed several.  By this time my Lord Howe, with a detachment from his front, had broke the enemy, and hemmed them in on every side; but advancing himself with great eagerness and intrepidity upon them, was unfortunately shot and died immediately.[11]

           There were taken prisoners of the enemy in this action, five officers, two volunteers, and 160 men, who were sent to the landing place. Nothing more material was done this day.[12]

[1] Some historical records indicate that Abercrombie was a political favorite who had been selected against the wishes of Minister William Pitt.  Apparently it had been hoped that Abercrombie’s inefficiency would be overbalanced by his second in command, George Howe, who was as capable and as popular a soldier as then served the king.  John Spencer Bassett, A Short History of the United States 1492-1929, New York, 1935, p. 126.

[2] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 435-436.

[3] Ibid, p. 436.

[4] Ibid, p. 436.

[5] Ibid, p. 436.

[6] Ibid, pp. 436-437.

[7] Ibid, p. 437.

[8] Ibid, p. 437.

[9] Robert Rogers, Journals of Major Robert Rogers, p. 111.

[10] Ibid, p. 112.

[11] Major Rogers indicated that “this noble and brave officer being universally beloved by both officers and soldiers of the army, his fall was not only most sincerely lamented, but seemed to produce an almost general consternation and languor through the whole.”  Ibid, pp. 113-114.

[12] Ibid, p. 114.

Plans and Deployments

          Brigadier General Thomas Gage was now General Abercrombie’s second in command.  Both seemed to have found themselves in a helpless position in the woods.  The remainder of their army tried to press forward to Major Rogers’ position.  The loss of Lord Howe had caused an immediate panic and confusion and by nightfall much of the army had become separated.  Eventually most of the 15,000 British soldiers, regular and provincials mixed, came to spend the night between the landing-place and Major Rogers’ position.  Their morale had been badly shaken.[1]

          The army was needlessly kept under arms all night in the forest.  On the morning of the 7th of July, General Abercrombie ordered all the forces back to the landing place to regroup. Rogers was sent forward with 400 Rangers to the west bank of the stream he had crossed the previous day, while others were incorporated under the command of Colonel John Bradstreet.  Towards noon Bradstreet took a detachment of regular and provincial soldiers to seize the portage road on the east bank and to rebuild the bridge at its northern end.  Bradstreet’s forces also took possession of the sawmill at the Falls, which Montcalm had abandoned the evening before, and crossed to the northern bank.  When Bradstreet completed the rebuilding of the bridges destroyed by the retiring enemy, he sent back word to General Abercrombie that “the way was open.”  On hearing this, Abercrombie again put his army in motion.  With its morale beginning to rise again, the army reached the Falls in late afternoon under a dark sky and occupied the deserted French camp.[2]

         Montcalm had held his position at the Falls with his main force.  He still had grave doubts as to whether or not he should make his final stand there.  It was Bourlamaque’s opinion that they should stand their ground, but two of Montcalm’s older officers, Bernés and Montguy, pointed out that a serious threat to their position would be posed if the English occupied the neighboring heights that overlooked their position.  Accepting this observation, Montcalm chose to fall back, and the French camp was broken up at 5 o’clock.  Some of his troops embarked in bateaux, while others marched a mile and a half along the forest road, passing the place where Berry was still at work on the breastwork, they had begun constructing that morning.  The breastwork stood on a low hill about a thousand yards from the fort.  They made their bivouac a little farther on, upon the cleared ground that surrounded the fort.[3]

          The peninsula of Ticonderoga consists of a rocky plateau, with low ground on each side, bordering Lake Champlain on the one hand and Lake George on the other.  Fort Carillon stood near the end of the peninsula, which points towards the southeast.  From there, the ground declines westward, then slowly rises until a point about half a mile from the fort where it reaches its greatest elevation and begins to gradually decline again.  A ridge is therefore formed across the plateau between the steep drop-offs that sink to the low ground left and right.  Some weeks before the attack, a French officer named Hugues had suggested that the ridge could be defended by erecting an abatis.  Montcalm had approved his plan, and now decided to make his stand on this site. [4]

          Montcalm fully recognized the importance of the ground and the fact that it was in many ways the key to the interior of New France.  He was therefore determined to ensure that he and his men exerted every effort to see that it was properly defended.  There was very little that he could do other than that, because Vaudreuil would not provide the numbers of men needed to make a full and proper defence, and Bigot would not ensure that the necessary supplies arrived unless they were paid for at an exorbitant cost.  Even beyond these considerations, however, was the fact that Montcalm could well appreciate that an opposing general with an ounce of tactical sense would see the weakness of his position.  Placed as he was, Montcalm was concerned that any British general, good or bad, was bound discover that he could be cut off from his supply base and take action to see that it was.  From Montcalm’s point of view, the siting of Fort Carillon, stretching out as it did into the lake, made it next to impossible for an enterprising man to fail.  Montcalm saw it all too clearly.  Instead of attempting the impossible therefore, he decided to move his force backward to a ridge about half a mile west of the fort.  He then proceeded to build a rough embankment made of tree-trunks piled on one on top of another to a height of nine feet.  In front of this obstacle, the trees were to be leveled out to a distance of five hundred feet and left where they fell with their tangle of branches leaning forward, sharpened, and deadly.  On either side the land fell away in bottomless marshy ground that was almost as effective and would be described in more modern terms as “good killing ground.”  When complete, the defensive position might not look impressive, but it would prove to be relatively effective as Montcalm prepared to defend it.[5]

           Montcalm’s two engineers, Pontleroy and Desandrouin, had already traced the outline of the defensive works, and in fact, even at this early stage the soldiers of the battalion of Berry had made some progress in constructing them.  Fortunately for Montcalm, at dawn on the 7th of July, Abercrombie had begun to withdraw his troops back to the landing place to regroup.  A basic rule in any war is “never let the enemy dig in.”  Given the gift of time to do so, the whole French army vigorously set to the task of reinforcing the defences.  They proceeded to plant their regimental colours along the forward line, and put every available muscle to the task, realizing that every moment counted.  Even the officers stripped down to their shirt, took an axe in hand, and labored with their men.  The men needed no urging.  They continued felling and trimming trees in their thousands and then piled them one on top of another to form a massive breastwork.  The line of this breastwork followed the top of the ridge and then zigzagged in such a manner that the whole front of it became one massive “kill zone” that could be swept by musket fire and grapeshot from the flanks.  After the battle General Abercrombie would describe the wall of logs as between eight and nine feet high, in which case there must have been a rude banquette, or platform to fire from, on the inner side.  It was certainly high enough that nothing could be seen over it but the crown of the soldiers’ hats.  The upper tier was formed of single logs, in which notches were cut to serve as loopholes; and in some places sod and bags of sand were piled along the top, with narrow spaces to fire through.  From the central part of the line the ground sloped away like a natural glacis; while at the sides and particularly on the left, the ground was undulating and broken.  Over this whole space, to the distance of musket shot from the works, the forest was cut down, and the trees left lying where they fell among the stumps, with tops turned outwards, forming one vast abatis.  One Massachusetts officer who observed the obstacle said it, “looked like a forest laid flat by a hurricane.”  The most formidable obstruction however, was sited immediately along the front of the breastwork, where the ground was covered with heavy boughs, overlapping and interlaced, with sharpened points bristling into the face of the assailant like the quills of a porcupine.[6]

         Montcalm had written one of his friends in Québec, Doreil, the commissary of war, the following message,

          We have only eight days’ provisions, I have no Canadians and no Indians.  The British have a very strong army.  From the movements of the British I can see that they are in doubt.  If they are slow enough to let me entrench the heights of Ticonderoga, I shall beat them.[7]

           At this stage of the advance, it would appear that Abercrombie had only one idea in his head, and that was to bring back the advance column now that Howe was dead.  He needed to unite his seemingly leaderless army again and prepare them for a possible attack, although he had no idea where it might come from.  By nightfall, the British troops were again united at the first landing place.  Instead of letting them rest, General Abercrombie then proceeded to keep them there all night on alert and bearing arms.  This meant that a whole day and night was wasted while Montcalm’s forces worked feverishly to make their entrenchments equal to the challenge.  Forgetting their “privilege and dignity” for once, the young French officers continued to dig, cut, and build up the defensive position, working side-by-side with their men.  Their efforts would pay a major dividend.[8]

          It would not be until the following evening that General Abercrombie would have finally moved his army across the portage to a base by the bridge that a short while back had marked Montcalm’s advance observation post.  For some incredibly inexplicable reason, he had decided to leave his artillery behind, even though an enormous effort had been expended to bring it along with them.  This was to be one of the most serious of a number of errors he was about to make.  The next one was the fact that, although he was now within two miles of the entrenched camp where Frenchmen were working their hearts out to prepare for him, he took no further action.  No reconnaissance was conducted, and no immediate plans were made to seize the situation, let alone put a stop to the French defence construction efforts which continued at a frantic pace.  It would appear that since he didn’t know what to do next, General Abercrombie chose to do nothing.[9]

         Abercrombie had several options open to him.  He could attempt to strike the flank and rear of his enemy using the low ground to the right and left of the plateau, a movement which the precautions of Montcalm had made difficult, but not impossible.  He could also have brought his artillery forward and battered the breastworks, which, although impervious to musketry, was worthless against heavy cannon.  He could also have planted a battery of his guns in a position on the heights of Rattlesnake Hill, (now called Mount Defiance) overlooking the French breastwork and scoured the interior “with round shot from end to end.”  While threatening the French front with a part of his army, Abercrombie could also have exercised the option of marching the rest a short distance through the woods on his left to the road which led from Ticonderoga to Crown Point, and which would soon have brought him to the place called Five-Mile Point.  Here, Lake Champlain narrows to the width of an easy rifle-shot, and it would also have been a good location to have placed a battery of field-pieces which would have cut off all of Montcalm’s supplies and closed his only line of retreat.  As the French were only provisioned for eight days their position would have become desperate.  The French plainly saw the danger, and Doreil declared that had this movement been made the French would have been forced to surrender.[10]

          Montcalm had done what he could, but he knew that the danger of his position was inevitable and extreme.  He could only hope that Abercrombie would make a poor decision, and in the end, he had good luck on his side.[11]  Abercrombie answered Montcalm’s’ best hope when he chose the least viable plan.  His prisoners had told him “that Montcalm had 6,000 men” and that another 3,000 were enroute.  He therefore felt that he had to hurry in order to attack before these reinforcements arrived.  One of Abercrombie’s officers wrote “I believe that we were one and all infatuated by a notion of carrying every obstacle by a mere coup de mousqueterie.”  When Howe died, it would appear that his leadership also died with him and “nothing was left but blind, headlong valor.”[12]

         The following morning Abercrombie made up his mind that it was time to find out just how strong the French defences were.  He would not, of course, go to see for himself.  (It may have crossed his mind that “leading from the front” was most likely reason why Howe had gotten himself killed in the first place, and perhaps he had no intention of making the same mistake).  He decided to send his chief engineer, a young man named Clerk, to conduct a reconnaissance instead.  Rutlege suggests that this is “one of the incidents that give to the action at Ticonderoga its bewildering sense of madness.”  It would appear that Clerk was not much more than a boy, having been commissioned as a Lieutenant and Sub-Engineer only six months before.  He had almost no experience of actual warfare, and now he was being sent on a mission that would ultimately decide what action would be taken by an entire army.  Meanwhile, General Abercrombie rested in his tent and stayed out of sight of the activities that were ongoing on his behalf.[13]

         Lieutenant Clerk surveyed the rough fortification from a height across the stream from the army headquarters. This high ground was named Mount Defiance, although the local population referred to it as “Rattlesnake Mountain,” (with good reason, so it would appear from Elijah’s Journal).  Clerk was able to observe and note that the French defences were composed of logs, sod and sandbags, which crowned a rise that fell away on all sides and was overlooked on its front by the guns of Fort Ticonderoga itself.  Apparently, “he was not impressed.”  Unfortunately, what he could not see was that in front, between, and all around that “deadly smother of felled trees” were the deadlier equivalents of modern-day barbed wire entanglements.  These obstacles were called “chevaux-de-frise,” and they made up with sharpened spikes set in wood on four sides, so that any attempt at movement through them would present a major physical challenge.  If the British forces advanced unaware of these devices and did not have engineers or artillery to help clear them, they would find themselves in serious difficulties.  They would certainly incur large numbers of casualties when they found themselves impaled on the prongs of these obstacles.  Clerk could not have seen them, or at least not appreciated their danger, if he reported back that “he was not impressed.”[14]

         As soon as the young Lieutenant returned, he gave General Abercrombie his report.  Based on his untrained observation, he considered that in his opinion the French defences could be taken by a direct frontal assault, and that there would be no need for artillery support.  His incorrect observations and his lack of experience would cost him his life.  The next day his body was found impaled on one of those “cruel spikes” that had not impressed him.[15]

          The real problem here was that General Abercrombie didn’t think his young engineer’s assessment had been wrong.  Clerk’s report apparently had “dovetailed” neatly with Abercrombie’s own interpretation of the situation.  He had received word that there were French reinforcements on the way, which would double Montcalm’s forces.  Abercrombie had already overestimated the size of the force he was up against, so this didn’t ease his concerns on whether to delay or proceed with his attack.  Complicating matters was the fact that the report of these reinforcements gave no indication of which direction they would be coming from.  Regardless of whatever his views were on the situation, Abercrombie felt he had delayed long enough, and he was impatient to have it over and done with.  His courage is not in question, because he was well aware that his choice of a frontal assault was essentially a dangerous course of action, even though it might be the quickest.[16]  

          In modern day battle tactics, the combat team commander usually has three choices when he is preparing to mount his quick attack. He can conduct a left flank attack, a right flank, or a frontal attack.  The frontal is usually chosen to get to and close with the enemy before he has time to dig in.  Abercrombie had lost that advantage with his delays.  There is a modern-day soldier’s quote on a “rule of thumb” for a quick attack that goes something like this: “hi-diddle diddle, strait up the middle, lots of HE (high explosive) and smoke.”  In other words, if you are going to attack the enemy frontally, blind him with smoke and artillery fire (both of which were available to Abercrombie) and force him to keep his head down while you pound his defence works and then rush in on him before he can recover.  Abercrombie had decided that he agreed with young Clerk and didn’t need to bring up his artillery.  It was to prove to be one of his biggest, (but not the only), mistakes.  General Abercrombie was essentially a one-idea man, so, having decided his course, he did not think of or consider any other option, even though, as noted above, there had been many.

          The bottom line to all these considerations is that Abercrombie had put his entire trust in young Clerk’s report that the French defences “might be carried by assault.”  In spite of the great number of other courses and plans that were open to him, the General had selected the one course that was almost guaranteed to fail.  Without waiting to bring up his cannon, Abercrombie prepared to storm the French lines.[17]

         The French finished their breastwork and abatis on the evening of the 7th of July, and then set up camp behind them, slung their kettles, rested, and waited.  The Chevalier de Lévis had not yet appeared, but at twilight one of his officers, Captain Pouchot, arrived with 300 regulars and announced that his commander would be there before morning with 100 more.  Although these reinforcements were small, they were most welcome.  The nearby presence of the Chevalier de Lévis was a boost to French morale in itself.[18]

          Pouchot was told that the army was a half-mile away, and he moved there to make his report to Montcalm.  He was amazed at the prodigious amount of work accomplished in one day.  Lévis himself arrived that night and approved the arrangement of the troops.  They lay behind their lines until daybreak, then the drums beat, and the French forces formed into their battle order.[19]

          The Chevalier de Lévis had arrived as first light streaked through the eastern mountain-tops, being shaken awake by an Indian paddling in the stern of his canoe.  As he came up the river through a wide avenue of trees, he could see Fort Carillon looming ahead on its high hill.  All along the lines he could make out the silhouettes of the soldiers at work on their defences, who quickly spread the word that the Chevalier had arrived.  Shortly afterwards, Lévis learned that he would be in command of the troops on the right hand of General Montcalm, while Bourlamaque, the old dragoon, would command the soldiers on the left flank of the breastwork defences.[20]

           Colonel Bougainville’s Journal carried much of the same information for July 6:

          The troops under arms; enemy barges seen on the move around 4 o’clock in the morning; sending back the (camp) equipment of the battalions at the Falls and their bateaux to Carillon; orders to Sieurs de Pontleroy and Desandrouins to mark out immediately the abatis defences on the heights (as) determined the first of this month; to Sieur de Trécesson to put the third battalion of Berry to work there with their flags.[21]

           Sieur Germain returns to camp after having fired at those barges which passed within range of him.  Bernard’s volunteers fall back also after having fired a few times.  The enemy army started to disembark at Contrecoeur’s camp around 9 o’clock.  Sieur de Bourlamaque retreated in good order and without losing a single man, although in the presence of the enemy.  He joined up with the Marquis de Montcalm, and the five reunited battalions crossed the River of the Falls, destroying the bridge, and with the (battalions) of La Sarre and Languedoc, took up battle position on the heights situated opposite and on the left of this river.[22]

          According to Edward Hamilton, the British attempted to send barges armed with cannon down the river flowing out of Lake George early in the battle.  Their intent was to get around the French flank, but the cannon of Fort Carillon opened fire on them sinking two of the barges and driving the rest of them away.[23]

          Colonel Bougainville continued his report as follows:

           The 350-man detachment which Sieur de Langy led, was abandoned by the few Indians who served it as guides and went astray in the mountains.  After twelve hours marching, the detachment came into contact with an English column which was proceeding toward the Bernetz River.  About 4 o’clock in the evening we heard a great burst of musketry fire and we perceived an hour later the remains of this unfortunate detachment pursued by the English.  A few companies of Grenadiers at once crossed the rapids at the Falls to lessen the pressure of the enemy’s pursuit, and several of our people, favored by their fire, got across by swimming.  We lost out of this detachment, Sieur De Trepezec, dead the next day from his wounds.  Sieur Bonneau, captain in Guyenne, La Rochelle, lieutenant in the same regiment; Bernard, lieutenant in La Reine, Jaubert, lieutenant in Béarn, and 150 soldiers or Canadians killed or taken prisoner.[24]

           The enemy suffered a considerable loss there in the person of Milord Howe, who was killed.  He was a brigadier general and had showed the greatest talents, although still in his youth.  He had above all in the greatest degree those two qualities of heroes, activity, and audacity.  He it was who had projected the enterprise against Canada, and he alone was capable of executing it.  He was marching toward us when Sieur de Trépezec’s detachment ran blindly into his column.  At the first shots he ran up and was killed dead.  His death stopped the advance.  The disheartened English gave us a twenty-four hour’s delay, and this precious time was the saving of us and the colony.[25]

           The body of Milord Howe was taken to Mutton Island (an islet near the outlet of Lake George, now called Prison Island) and embalmed.  He was buried at Albany where they erected a superb tomb.  Most glorious for him is the regret of his compatriots and the esteem of the French.[26]

           Around 6 o’clock in the evening, Sieur Duprat had warned the Marquis de Montcalm that the enemy was pushing toward Bertnez River with sappers and that their plan evidently was to throw up a bridge.  The Marquis de Montcalm ordered him to fall back and not to hesitate to retire himself on the heights of Carillon, the enemy by the route they had taken being able, by going around a few mountains, to get between us and the fort.  The army entered the camp at Carillon toward 8 o’clock in the evening.  The companies of Grenadiers and volunteers formed the rear guard.[27]

           This same evening a party of the enemy’s regular troops and their light troops came to occupy the two banks of the Falls River extending as far as the Bernetz River and took up defensive positions there.  General Abercrombie with all the militia occupied Contrecoeur’s camp, the Portage, and took up positions there.[28]

           At this point, we return to Elijah’s journal.

[1] John R. Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p.85.

[2] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 441.

[3] Ibid, p. 444.

[4] Ibid, pp. 444-445.

[5] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, p. 450.

[6] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 444-445.

[7] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, p. 454.

[8] Ibid, p. 454.

[9] Ibid, p. 454.

[10] Doreil had come to New France as Commissary of the Army with Dieskau.  He made frequent reports directly to the Minister of War.  Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 191.

[11] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 445-446.

[12] Ibid, p. 446.

[13] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, p. 454.

[14] Ibid, pp. 454-455.

[15] Ibid, p. 455.

[16] Ibid, p. 455.

[17] Ibid, p. 446.

[18] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, pp. 178-179.

[19] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 446.

[20] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, p. 181.

[21] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 226.

[22] Ibid, pp. 226-227.

[23] Edward Pierce Hamilton, Fort Ticonderoga, p. 82.

[24] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 228.

[25] Ibid, p. 229.

[26] Ibid, p. 229.

[27] Ibid, p. 229.

[28] Ibid, p. 229.

Into Battle

July the 7th day:

          And the 7th day we marched off to Ticonderoga.  And we marched about 4 miles up to the (river).  And there built a bridge and a breast work.  And I went with a small party of about 25 of our men in order to make what discovery we could of the French at their advance guard.  And three of the party crept up so near that they fired at 8 who were sitting on a log and judged that they killed seven of them.  For they perceived but one to rise and go away, which caused us to retreat as fast as we could, the French and Indians following us with hideous noise, about a-mile-and-a-half.  And after our return we had orders from Colonel Broadstreet for our Provincials to march off for the fort. [1]  And it was reported the French had deserted their fort and were gone away in their bateaux for Crown Point and we also marched off about one mile to the top of a hill, about one mile from the French advance guard.  And built a breastwork and camped there that night.

          Colonel Bougainville recorded the following in his Journal for the 7th of July:

          The army was all busy working on the abatis outlined the previous evening by the third battalion of Berry.  The workforce was covered by the grenadier companies and the volunteers.  Even the officers, ax in hand, set the example, and the flags were planted on the works.[2]

           The line had been, as we have said, traced the evening before on the heights, about 650 toises in advance of Fort Carillon.  The left rested on a steep slope eighty toises from the Falls River, the summit crowned with an abatis.  This abatis flanked a gap behind which we were going to place six cannons to cover it as well as the river.[3]

           The right also rested on a height whose slope was not so steep as that on the left.  The plain, between this height and the St. Frederic River, was flanked by a branch of our entrenchments on the right and should have been covered by a battery of four guns which was finished only after the action of the eighth.  Moreover, the cannon of the fort was directed on this plain as well as on the landing place they could use on our left.  The center followed the sinuousities of the ground holding to the high ground, and all parts gave each other flanking support.  There were, to be sure, several places there, as well as on the right, subject to enemy crossfire; but this was because they did not give us time enough to raise traverses.  These kinds of defensive works were made of tree trunks, lying one on top of the other, and having in front overturned trees whose cut and sharpened branches gave the effect of chevaux-de-frise.  The army worked with such ardor that the line was in a defendable state the same evening.[4]

           Between six and eight in the evening the light companies of our troops who had been detached with the Chevalier de Lévis, reached camp.  They had been most diligent, advancing day and night despite contrary winds to join their comrades, whom they knew were about to be attacked.  They were received by our little army with the same joy as were Caesar’s legions by those Roman cohorts blockaded with Cicero by a multitude of Gauls.  The Chevalier de Lévis arrived in the course of the night.  All day long our volunteers exchanged shots with the enemy’s light troops.[5]

           General Abercrombie himself, with a large party of militia and the rest of the regulars, advanced as far as the Falls; he got over (the portage) several barges and some pontoons, each mounted with two cannon.  His troops in the course of the day raised several defensive works, one in front of the other, and the nearest to us was not a cannon shot from our abatis.  The army slept in the open along the entrenchments.[6]

          On the morning of the 8th of July,

          a single gun boomed from Fort Carillon.  At the signal, every Frenchman laid down his tools and reached for his musket.  The hour had come.  It was almost noon.  Along the bristling barrier that faced the enemy like a zigzag fence for a matter of five hundred yards until it turned on each flank, not a defender could be seen from below.  But they were there, with Montcalm himself in command.  There was a glint of blue where the Royal Roussillon stood in the center, waiting.[7]

          At half-past noon, the British climbed up the hill from the sawmill, and then deployed onto the heights.  From behind their earth-and-log wall the French could see the red-coated regulars as they formed up at the edge of the forest where the trees were thin, and where they had cleared cut the underbrush used to build the abatis.  John Brainerd, a provincial soldier from New Jersey, also kept a Journal in which he mentions that on the morning of the battle, he had laid aside his blue regimental coat, like many other soldiers of his regiment.  In spite of this, he was still sweating as he broke over the rise onto the heights of Ticonderoga.  Colonel Johnston, at the head of the reconstituted Jersey “Blues,” had set a fast pace all the way from the sawmill.  Brainerd wrote that he had been forced to jogtrot the whole way in the hot July sun.[8]

          On the flat ground the always-ill-tempered sergeants of the king’s regulars were shouting and shoving at their men to get them into columns of march.  The king’s officers stood negligently by, talking with each other as they passed around their flasks.  They did not deign to look at the colonial regiment crossing behind them.  The “Blues” passed by the rear of the two columns of regulars, then made a right turn into line.  The officers were shaking the companies into loose lines of skirmishers.  Two more columns of regulars were forming up beyond the gap, now filling with the Jersey men.  At the head of the farthest column, at the left of the battle line, Brainerd could hear the din of the squealing bagpipes, lashing up a fury there.[9]

           They were walking east now, and Brainerd, imitating the man on his left, checked the prime in his musket and seated his bayonet firmly on the muzzle.  In the direction he was going, the bright sunlight of the meadowland showed beyond the trees.  John Brainerd was walking toward the sound of the muskets firing.[10]

           It was not until he was about to leave the woods that John Brainerd of New Jersey (probably much like his counter-part Elijah Estabrooks of Massachusetts), saw the enemy in his lines, which had been said to be no stronger or higher than the partly raised walls of a cattle shed.  Now he saw them as a formidable wall, rising nine or ten feet above the plain.  He saw the stakes and tangle of the abatis.  Straight in front of him, the point of one of the angles shoved out toward him, like the front of a tricorn hat, and, like a hat of olden times, the prow in front of him was edged with a fringe of white-smoke feathers for all its angular length.  Brainerd could see, without comprehending, the heads and shoulders and arms of Frenchman as they rose up from behind the wall to fire at the men, like him (and Elijah), walking across the meadow.[11]

           Men were falling in the meadow now.  They were Rangers and men of General Gage’s light infantry, and New Jersey men too.  Running, John Brainerd saw a big pine log.  There were men behind it, and he ran until he too could throw himself down beside them.  He jostled the arm of a light infantryman, pouring powder into the open pan of his lock, and the man swore vilely at him.  The men behind the log were calmly firing at the enemy, then reloading.  Calm again himself, John Brainerd followed suit and saw that all over the meadow, from behind stumps and bushes and out of little hollows in the ground, men were firing at the hats that showed for a moment above the French lines about 100 yards away.  The man who’s arm he had joggled told him to fire to his right front, where an angle in the wall and a rise in the ground would give him an enfilading shot.  When he rose to shoot, he could glimpse through the smoke the Frenchmen, loading and shooting from behind their barrier.  John Brainerd settled down to work.[12]

          John R Cuneo notes that the advance on Ticonderoga was led by the Rangers, who drove in the French outposts.  Brigadier General Thomas Gage’s Light Infantry was formed on Rogers’ right and Colonel John Bradstreet’s bateaux men fought on his left.  Together the British forces poured a deadly fire on the barricaded enemy that Montcalm later described as “most murdering.”  The heavy red masses of British troops proceeded to advance in full battle array, conducting assault after assault against the “bristling mass” of sharpened branches the French had prepared.  The French poured volley after volley into the exposed attackers, causing appalling numbers of casualties in the British ranks.  Despite repeated assaults, the British regulars could not break through the French defensive works.[13]

          Here, we return to Elijah’s Journal.

[1] Governor Shirley took into pay some 2,000 boatmen, gathered from all parts of the country, including many whalemen from the eastern coasts of New England, divided them into companies of 50, armed each with a gun and hatchet, and placed them under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Bradstreet.  Bradstreet was a New England-born regular officer who had been a Captain in the last war.  He was somewhat dogged and self-opinionated, but brave, energetic, and well fitted for this kind of service.  Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 229.  Bradstreet has also been described as bull-headed and an accomplished egotist who later in the war would organize a force of men (mainly provincials) familiar with river navigation who would lay siege to and capture Fort Frontenac on the 27th of August 1758.  They also captured an immense amount of booty.  The following day they sailed off in a captured brigantine and a schooner laden with furs, after burning seven other ships and destroying the fort.  Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 17.

[2] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 229.

[3] Ibid, p. 230.

[4] Ibid, p. 230.

[5] Ibid, p. 230.

[6] Ibid, pp. 230-231.

[7] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, p. 456.

[8] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, pp. 181-182.

[9] Ibid, p. 182.

[10] Ibid, p. 182.

[11] Ibid, pp. 182-183.

[12] Ibid, p. 183.

[13] John R Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p. 87.

July the 8th day:

          And the 8th day we marched from there up the road within a quarter of a mile of the French advance guard, and drew up a line from Lake Champlain to the great Lake Haricon all our Provincials and Colonel Purdy’s and Major Roger’s Rangers were drawn up in a line about 30 rods within us.  And they crept up and shot down several of their sentries.  And we had orders to keep our lines.  And not to advance, nor fire a gun on pain of death, until the regulars with the Rangers had gone up and set the battle in array.  And if they were too strong for them, they were to retreat in our rear.  And then we were to advance in order to drive them back until they had recruited (regrouped?), but when the general came up with the regulars, he ordered the whole of our Provincials on the right wing.  And the regulars with the Rangers on the left wing.  And we marched within 30 or 40 rods of the French trenches and set the battle in array.  And we had about as smart a fight for about 4 hours as ever was heard or seen in England, Flanders, or America.  And the French prevailed very much, but it was through deceit.  For they acted contrary to the acts of all kings and parliaments.  For in the midst of their fight they hoisted an English flag in their trench only to deceive us, and so it did, for we thought that they had given up.  And drew up and was going to take possession, when all at once they hauled that down and hoisted their own, and with a great hellish shout poured a volley upon us, and killed more at that time than they had before.  2541 of our men they killed and wounded 1473, but through the goodness of God we had not one killed nor wounded in our company.[1]

          Harrison Bird added John Brainerd’s comments as follows

          On the British right, drums began to beat and the two columns the Jersey men had passed moved forward out of the trees.  The firing line in the meadow slowed their rate of fire to watch in awe the tight red ranks, trudging out across the sunlit plain, the haughty little officers walking stiffly beside their men, the little swords they affected shiny at their shoulders.  The men in the meadow turned again to their firing, aiming fast and loading fast, anything to help those proud columns forward to their goal.[2]

           The nearest column was at the abatis, a clawing mass of red-coated men struggling to get through.  Some succeeded and a few men were scrambling to climb the wall of earth and logs and branches beyond.  But they didn’t, they couldn’t, and reluctantly, sadly, the whole column gave way.  When they had gone, their coming and their going was marked by a red ribbon of honored dead.[3]

           John Lister Rutledge records,

          Out of the forest came the light infantry and the Rangers.  They were eager to attack.  There was a score to settle.  They had been with Howe when the bullet from one of Langy’s frightened men had found that brave and generous heart.  Their task was to drive in the pickets that guarded the front of the tangled maze of trees that was Montcalm’s last fortress.  This done, they would stand aside and watch the grand assault sweep over the barrier.  The Black Watch would lead it, and the thousand men of them were itching to be at it.  So were the Grenadiers, who would go with them in a drive that nothing could withstand.  Their bayonets were fixed, for this was to be an assault of cold steel.  There would be no stopping to fire until the work was done.[4]

[1] Another source states, in July 1758, Abercrombie, with 6,367 regulars and 9,034 colonials (including Elijah), made a rash frontal attack against Montcalm at Ticonderoga.  The 3,600 French inflicted 1,944 casualties upon Abercrombie, which seriously undermined the year’s plan by requiring the diversion of replacement troops from Major General Jeffery Amherst’s force and thus prevented him from pursuing the Quebéc phase of the St. Lawrence campaign.  Dictionary of American History, Volume II.  Charles Scribner’s & Sons, New York, 1976, p. 116.

[2] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, p. 183.

[3] Ibid, pp. 183-184.

[4] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, p. 456.

“An Officer & Serjeant [sic] of a Highland Regiment.”  Illustration (p. 164) depicting soldiers of the 42nd (Highland Watch) Regiment of Foot, c. 1790s.[1]

[1] Military Antiquities Respecting a History of The English Army from Conquest to the Present Time. London: T. Egerton & G. Kearsley.  Grose, Francis.  1801.

       But nothing went quite as expected.  The line that broke from the woods was straight enough, but as it reached that maze of timber no one could keep a line.  Men dashed ahead in a cold fury, but now through gaps in the logs, flames were spurting, and men were falling.  Here and there a gun loaded with grape sprayed its contents into the straggling advance.  Time after time they came on, a black fury driving them, a fury that fear could not touch.  But courage had no effect on the cruel chevaux-de-frise.  They broke ranks as men fell screaming on their points, driven forward by the mad fury of those behind.  Human nature can stand just so much.  Gallantry had done its utmost.  Now without thinking, men were falling back in disorder.  They knew now that it couldn’t be done.[1]

           There were casualties among the marksmen too.  John Brainerd saw John Hendrickson of his regiment running wildly to the rear, clutching at his throat with fingers over which the blood seeped.  It had been John who shot the wounded and imploring Frenchman full in the face during the woods fight when Lord Howe was killed.  On the pungent smell of powder-smoke, obscuring fact but bearing rumor, Brainerd heard that Lieutenant Colonel Shaw of Amboy was lying dead, and that further off, the regulars were attacking again.  Rumour had it, too, that the colonials, New Englanders and Yorkers were rushing forward with them, forged by the flame of battle into one will of tempered steel and angry purpose.[2]

           According to Brenton C. Kemmer, there is documentation that the Massachusetts Provincials “were pulled up and drove the right flank, helping to save the advance.”[3]

          On the French right, the Highlanders were attacking to their wild music, with DeLancey’s New Yorkers behind a screen of Roger’s Rangers and Colonel Bradstreet’s boatmen.  The Chevalier de Lévis was there with Béarn and la Reine.  In fine order, Lévis’s soldiers, three deep at the breastwork, stood silently waiting.  Rank by rank they stepped up and fired into the skirted men surging forward to engulf them.  Lévis called up his reserve of Grenadiers and the first attack of the Highlanders fell back.  But they only receded, closed their ranks to fill the many gaps, and came on again, sliding around to the right of the French wall to bring the regiment of Guyenne under attack.  From the center, where Montcalm commanded, Bougainville came running over to inquire if the chevalier held.  By then the Marine, in the low ground on the right, had moved in front of their abatis to fire into the flank of the attacking columns, a mixture now of big Scots, Rangers, bateaux-men, and Yorkers.  When Bougainville returned to his general with word from Lévis that all went well with his men, the aide was hatless and was holding a soiled handkerchief to a deep cut in his head.  As Bougainville gave his report, a surgeon dressed his wound.[4]

           On Montcalm’s front, the Royal Roussillon and the 1st Berry had been attacked, initially by the Royal Americans.  But as the grim afternoon wore on, that column had joined with the Scots to storm the slope where La Guyenne held the right-flank angles of the line.[5]

[1] Ibid, pp. 456-457.

[2] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, p. 184.

[3] E-mail from Brent Kemmer, 25 October 2000.

[4] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, pp. 184-185.

[5] Ibid, p. 185.

A Second Assault

          Abercrombie, down at his headquarters by the sawmill and the bridge, didn’t know or would not believe what was taking place under his command.  His orders were clear enough.  The assault should be made again, and so it was.  There never was any questioning.  Screaming, fighting, and dying, the men drove forward there in that hot July sunlight” on a height overlooking one of the finest views in the world.  There was no time to pause, or to remember the matter of the bayonet alone.  There were limits to their endurance, and theirs had been reached.[1]

          There was a small diversion when Abercrombie did attempt a sensible turning move.  He sent twenty bateaux filled with troops to strike at the left, where Bourlamaque himself was holding his trained marksmen in hand.  In this more open field of fire they did not miss.  Bourlamaque was down, seriously wounded, but he still commanded there.  His men didn’t waver.  Soon plunging shots from the fortress itself were finding the bateaux and discouraging the men who must depend on them.  The attack just ceased to be.[2]

           The reverse quickly decided Abercrombie he had been right in his first main decision.  The ground could be taken, and he would take it, by assault.  5 o’clock came.  Once again, the attack was ordered, the highlanders again and the Grenadiers.  They were to smash at the right of the line, where Lévis and the regiments of Béarn and Guyenne were waiting.  It was an attack to end all attacks, made by men who would not be stayed.  Time and again they almost reached the barricades behind the maze of felled trees behind the chevaux-de-frise.  Major Campbell of Inverawe charged with the black prophecy in his mind.  Years ago, he had heard that he would die at Ticonderoga, a name he had never heard.  Now he knew that name well and knew his fate as it came to meet him that day.  In a black fury some of his highlanders reached the abatis, climbed it, and leaped among their foes.  They died there on French bayonets.[3]

          Major Duncan Campbell is reported to have remarked on the morning of the 8th of July that it was idle attempting to deceive h, because he had seen an apparition the night before which had told him, “This is Ticonderoga.”  “And this day,” he said, “I shall fall.”  Gravely wounded in the attack, Major Campbell was carried to Fort Edward where he died on the 17th of July 1758.[4]

           By 5 o’clock the fury besetting Lévis’s front” began to subside.  “The constant, deadly fire of the marksmen still probed in behind the too-hastily constructed angles of the French lines.  Montcalm counted his casualties and found them heavy in proportion to his small force.  A few Frenchmen went forward into their ditch and the abatis, looking for prisoners.  The rest waited on their arms for the valiant enemy’s last grand charge.  The final attack against the Royal Roussillon came within an hour.  The remaining Highlanders with the Royal Americans were in the van, but the orderly flame of discipline had been extinguished.  It was a searing flash of anger that drove the British up to the abatis in the face of the steady French musket fire.  The strength was gone from the fury.  Fatigue had withered the core of determination.  Imagination took charge of tired minds.  The British regulars fell back.[5]

           The assault by the Black Watch was the last major effort by the British. Over half of that regiment were lost that day, 499 men in all.[6]  As twilight came, the last attack dwindled away.  Brave men withdrew, leaving their dead behind.  Killed, wounded, and missing, (and most of them killed) totaled 1,944 officers and men.  But they had taken their toll.  Out of less than 3,600 men, the French had lost 377 dead and wounded.[7]

[1] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, p. 457.

[2] Ibid, p. 457.

[3] Ibid, p. 457.

[4] A.G. Bradley, The Fight With France for North America, p 256.  Seymour Schwartz quotes the same figures.  Seymour I. Schwartz, The French and Indian War 1754-1763, The Imperial Struggle for North America, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 1994, p. 99.

[5] Harrison Bird, Battle for a Continent, p. 185.

[6] Edward Pierce Hamilton, Fort Ticonderoga, p. 84.

[7] Joseph Lister Rutledge, Century of Conflict, p. 457.

View from the French Position

        Bourlamaque continued to maintain his detailed journal entries throughout the period of conflict.  The following was his Journal entry for the 8th of July:

        They beat to arms at daybreak so that all the soldiers could know their posts for the defence of the works, according to the attached disposition which was nearly the same as that where they had worked.[1]

         At the left of the line were the battalions of La Sarre and Languedoc and two of the light companies (which) arrived the night before.  Bernard’s and Duprat’s volunteers guarded the gap formed by the River of the Falls.  The battalions of Royal Roussillon, the first Berry and the remainder of Chevalier De Lévis’ light companies occupied the center.  La Reine, Béarn, and Guyenne defended the right and in the plain between the escarpment of the right (flank) and the St. Frederick River (Lake Champlain), they had placed the Canadians and the troops of La Marine who were also protected by abatis.[2]

         Along the whole front of the line, each battalion had behind it a company of Grenadiers and a light company in reserve as a support for the battalion as well as (being available) to go where necessary.  The Chevalier de Lévis was charged with the right.  Sieur de Bourlamaque with the left, and the Marquis de Montcalm remained in the center to be within range of all parts.  The disposition determined and understood, the troops immediately went back to work; part were busy perfecting the abatis, the rest at constructing the two batteries mentioned before and a redoubt intended to protect the right.[3]

         This morning Colonel (Sir William) Johnson arrived at the enemy army (camp) with 300 Choctaws, Delawares, and Iroquois, and Captain Jacob with 150 more.  Around 10 o’clock we saw them as well as a few light troops on the mountain, which is opposite Carillon, the other side of the River of the Falls.  They let off a great fusillade, which did not interrupt our work at all; we amused ourselves by not replying.  Half an hour after noon, the English army advanced on us.  The grenadier companies, the volunteers, and the advanced guards fired (a volley), fell back in good order, and re-entered the lines without losing a single man.  At the same moment, at an agreed upon signal, all the troops were under arms at their posts.[4]

         The left was first attacked by two columns, one of which tried to outflank the defences and found itself under fire of La Sarre, the other directed its efforts on a salient between Languedoc and Berry.  The center, where Royal Roussillon was, was attacked at almost the same time by a third column, and a fourth carried its attack toward the right between Béarn and La Reine.  These different columns were intermingled with their light troops and better marksmen, who, protected by the trees, delivered a most murderous fire on us.[5]

         At the start of the affair, a few of the enemy’s barges and pontoons advanced down the River of the Falls.  Bernard’s and Duprat’s volunteers, posted in this area, received them in fine style; Sieur de Poulhariez, at the head of the company of Grenadiers and of a light company of Royal Roussillon also appeared there and the cannon of the fort having smashed two of these barges, they withdrew and did not appear again during the course of the action.  The different attacks, almost all afternoon and almost everywhere, were made with the greatest of vigor.[6]

         As the Canadians and colony troops were not attacked at all, they, from the defences which sheltered them, directed their fire against the column which attacked our right and which a few times came within range.  Chevalier de Lévis in succession sent Sieur D’Herr, captain adjutant, and D’Hainaut, also captain in La Reine, to order the more active of them to make two sorties and to take this column in the flank.  This column, composed of English Grenadiers and Scottish Highlanders, returned unceasingly to the attack, without becoming discouraged or broken, and several got themselves killed within fifteen paces of our abatis.  Chevalier de Lévis twice ordered the Canadians and the troops of La Marine to make sorties and take them in the flank.[7]

         Around 5 o’clock the column which had spiritedly attacked Royal Roussillon, threw itself against the salient defended by the Guyenne regiment and by the left of Béarn.  The column, which had attacked La Reine and Béarn with the greatest fury, threw itself there again with the result that this attack threatened danger.  Chevalier de Lévis went there with a few troops from the right, at which the enemy was only shooting (and not really attacking).  The Marquis de Montcalm also ran there with a few reserve troops and the enemy met a resistance which finally cooled their ardor.[8]

        The left continually withstood the fire of the two columns which tried to penetrate this area, in which their supply depot was (located).  M. de Bourlamaque had been dangerously wounded there around 4 o’clock and Sieurs de Senezerques and de Privat, lieutenant colonels of La Sarre and Languedoc, made up for his absence and continued to give the best of orders.  The Marquis de Montcalm went there several times and was attentive to getting reinforcements there at all moments of crisis.  For, throughout the entire affair, the grenadier and light companies of the reserve always ran to the most threatened places.  Around 6 o’clock the two columns on the right gave up the attack on Guyenne and came to make another attempt at the center against Royal Roussillon and Berry and finally a last effort on the left.[9]

         At 7 o’clock the enemy thought only of retreat, covered by the fire of the light troops, which was kept up until dark.  During the action, our abatis caught fire outside several times, but it was put out at once, the soldiers courageously passing over the back of it to stop the progress (of the flames).  Besides munitions of powder and ball, they constantly sent up casks full of water and Sieur de Trécesson on this occasion has, both himself and his battalion, rendered the greatest service by their activity in getting munitions up to us as well as (the) refreshments so necessary in such a long fight.[10]

         The darkness of the night, the exhaustion, and the small number of our troops, the forces of the enemy which, despite his defeat, were still infinitely superior to us; the nature of these woods in which one could not without Indians involve oneself against an army which had four or five hundred of them; several defensive works the enemy had raised one behind the other from the battlefield (back) to their camp; here were the obstacles which prevented us from following them in their retreat.  We even thought that they would try (again the) next day to take their revenge, and consequently we worked all night to secure defilade against the neighboring heights by traverses, to perfect the abatis of the Canadians and to finish the batteries on the right and left (which were) commenced in the morning.[11]

[1] At this point in his Journal, Bougainville inserted a “List and Composition of the French Army, July 8, 1758.  This list is reported earlier in the Order of Battle of the French Army at Fort Carillon, 8 July 1758. Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 231.

[2] Ibid, pp. 231-232.

[3] Ibid, p. 232.

[4] Ibid, p. 232.

[5] Ibid, p. 232.

[6] Ibid, pp. 232-233.

[7] Ibid, pp. 233.

[8] Ibid, pp. 233.

[9] Ibid, pp. 233-234.

[10] Ibid, p. 234.

[11] Ibid, p. 234.

Other Points of View

               The battle was one of the fiercest and possibly most frightful in British casualties for the whole of the Seven Years War.  Francis Parkman describes the scene in greater detail on the morning of the 8th of July as the French formed up into their lines of battle to the beating of drums.

         The battalions of La Sarre and Languedoc were posted on the left, under Bourlamaque, the first battalion of Berry with that of Royal Roussillon and Lévis’s light companies in the centre, under Montcalm, and those of La Reine, Béarn, and Guyenne on the right, under Lévis.  A detachment of volunteers occupied the low grounds between the breastwork and the outlet of Lake George, while at the foot of the decline on the side towards Lake Champlain, were stationed 450 colony Marine regulars and Canadians, behind an abatis.  In reserve, at the entrenched camp in front of the walls of the fortress, was another battalion of the Berry regiment.  As the cannon of the fort covered these troops, there was some hope that they would check any flank movement, which the English might attempt on that side.  With their posts now assigned, the men again set to work to strengthen their defences.  The total French force (including Lévis men) comprised 3,600 effective soldiers.[1]

          The overall command rested on the shoulders of the Marquis de Montcalm, with Bougainville as his chief of staff and Montreuil as his brigade major. Lévis had command of the troops on the right and Bourlamaque those on the left.[2]

          Soon after 9 o’clock a distant and harmless round of small arms fire began on the slopes of Mount Defiance.  It came from a party of Indians who had just arrived with Sir William Johnson, and who, after amusing themselves in this manner for some time, remained for the rest of the day as safe spectators of the fight.  The soldiers worked undisturbed till noon, when volleys of musketry were heard from the forest in front.  These shots were fired by the light English troops driving in the French pickets.  A cannon was fired as a signal to drop tools and form for battle.  The white uniforms lined the breastwork in a triple row, with the Grenadiers behind them as a reserve, and the second battalion of Berry watching the flanks and rear.[3]

          Abercrombie’s intelligence gathering service was poor, and without Howe to direct his thinking he exhibited a great deal of difficulty in making up his mind as to an appropriate plan of attack.  His Chief Engineer had gained a small glimpse of the French position and gave it as his opinion that the enemy’s works could be carried by “a general storm.”  Abercrombie therefore decided upon a frontal attack without any artillery preparation.  Accordingly, orders were given to attack in line of threes.  Eyre, who commanded the 44th, wanted to attack in column rather than in line, “As we could more easily force Our Way thro’ the fell Trees than by making so large A Front”; but he was told that “this would cause confusion; in short, it was said, we must Attack Any Way, and not be losing time in talking or consulting how.”[4]

         During this period “the English army had moved forward from its camp by the sawmill.  The Rangers came first, followed by the light infantry, and Bradstreet’s armed boatmen,” who opened fire as soon as they emerged into the open space.  “Some of the provincial troops followed, extending from left to right, and opened fire in turn.”  The English regulars, “who had formed in columns of attack under cover of the forest, advanced their solid red masses into the sunlight, and passing through the intervals between the provincial regiments, pushed forward to the assault.  Across the rough ground with its maze of fallen trees, the English troops could see the top of the breastwork but not the men behind it.”  According to a British officer, the French suddenly let fly “a damnable fire” of musket and grapeshot.  The gush of smoke and the deafening sound of exploding firearms obscured the line.[5]

         Edward Hamilton has commented that the initial British attack was “uncoordinated” and conducted by sev4eral regiments in long lines three men deep. In his opinion, “the only hope of a successful assault” on such a strong position would have been a carefully coordinated simultaneous advance of several columns along a narrow front and in great depth.  He admits, however, that “the slaughter would have been great” but that the storming force just might have carried over the log wall in at least one place.  Unfortunately, each regiment attacked in a long thin line without waiting for the units to their flanks.  Thus, the forces on the right began to move forward before the centre brigade had formed up, with the end result that the assault went ahead well before all the troops required to make it work had formed up.  The men were immediately caught up in the tangled trap of the abatis.  The result was a “bloody” disaster.[6]

         The English had been ordered to clear the breastworks “with the bayonet; but their ranks were broken by the obstructions through which they vainly struggled to force their way.”  They soon began to return fire, and the battle proceeded “in full fury for another hour.”  The assailants advanced to positions “close to the breastwork, but there they were stopped by the bristling mass of sharpened branches,” and were pinned down under a murderous crossfire “that swept them from front and flank.”  At length they fell back, having found the works impenetrable.  General Abercrombie, who was at the sawmill, a mile and a half in the rear, sent orders to attack again, and again they repeated the assault.[7]

          The battle scene was frightful, with “masses of infuriated men who could not go forward” and would not fall back.  They strained to close with “an enemy they could not reach,” or even see to fire on.  They were “caught in the entanglement of fallen trees” and debris, constantly sniped at with musket shot “that killed them by the scores.”  The provincials “supported the regulars with spirit, and some of them” managed to force “their way to the foot of the wooden wall.”[8]

         Stanley’s investigations into the battle reveal that,

         “About half an hour after noon the French defenders could see, through the trees, the red coats of the British troops forming up for the attack.  They waited and watched as the assault troops, led by the Grenadiers, deployed into the open area in front of the abatis.  Before the first wave of attackers reached the obstacles, which the French had placed in front of the breastwork, the curtain of skirmishers and sharpshooters broke for cover and engaged the defenders.  The French replied hotly, not in ordered volleys, but at will.  But every man fired with care and deliberation.  Montcalm’s orders, issued on the night of the 7th had stressed the necessity of taking careful aim and of making every bullet tell; and every French soldier held his fire until he could see an enemy uniform in the sight of his musket.  “It was impossible to find more coolness and bravery that was to be seen that day in every soldier,” wrote Desandrouins.[9]

The 42nd at Ticonderoga.

          The Highlanders of the 42nd led the attack on the French right, advancing to the warlike music of the pipes; in the centre the Royal Americans led the charge.  But try as he did, neither Highlander nor American could claw his way through the abatis in face of the rain of bullets from the French lines.  So hot was their fire that the French infantry frequently had to change muskets to allow the barrels to cool.  The Anglo-American attackers shifted the weight of the pressure towards the flanks, but with no greater success.  Why Abercrombie did not blast Montcalm’s ragged log defence work into splinters with a few shots from his heavy artillery, or why he did not by-pass the weak and vulnerable French position and send some of his men marching towards the weak and vulnerable Fort St Frédéric, remains unanswered.  But he did neither.  He merely reformed his men and sent them back into the maelstrom before them.  The Berry regiment, inexperienced in battle and made up of raw recruits, found the British pressure difficult to withstand, and some of the men broke and ran.  But Montcalm’s Grenadiers were behind them and faced with the choice of the bayonets of the French Grenadiers or those of the enemy, they yielded to their officer’s demands and returned to the parapet.[10]

          Edward Hamilton also made note of the fact that “almost three-quarters of the Regiment of Berry were young recruits,” and that their first baptism of fire in battle was more than they could handle.  When their “courage left them,” they apparently withdrew behind the log wall in utter confusion.  Before the British could grasp the initiative, however, the reserve companies of Grenadiers rushed up literally just in time to save the situation.[11]

          Late in the afternoon French hopes were stimulated by the arrival of a reinforcement of 250 Canadians, who were able to bolster the right wing.  Then, about 5 o’clock, Abercrombie ordered another attack.  It was not his last, but it was his supreme effort.  For a few moments even Montcalm wondered if the French line would hold; but Lévis rushed a reinforcement of La Reine to the threatened positions of Guyenne and Béarn, and the day was saved.  The line remained unbroken.  The Highlanders, who had led the last charge, backed away.  They had acquitted themselves nobly and they had few lives left to offer for their cause; no less than 25 officers and half their effective strength had fallen on the bloody field of Carillon.  From this time on the attacks dwindled in intensity, and by 7 o’clock all the fury had gone out of the battle.  Nothing was left but the cries of the wounded and the rattle of desultory musket fire.  The battle was over when the men of Béarn clambered over the wall and put to flight the remaining snipers, who, hiding among the trees, were still taking pot shots at the French defenders.[12]

          The French fought with élan, and the troops could hear their shouts of “Vive le Roi!” and “Vive notre Général!” mingled with the roar of musketry.  Montcalm, with his coat off because of the heat of the day, “directed the defence of the centre, and moved to any part of the line where the danger for the time seemed greatest.”  He was warm in his praise of his English enemy, and recorded the following:

         between one and 7 o’clock they attacked him six successive times.  Early in the action, Abercrombie tried to turn the French left by sending 20 bateaux, filled with troops, down the outlet of Lake George.  They were met by the fire of the volunteers stationed to defend the low ground on that side, and still advancing, came within range of the cannon of the fort, which sank two of them and drove back the rest.[13]

          A curious incident happened during one of the attacks.  De Bassignac, a captain in the battalion of Royal Roussillon, tied his handkerchief to the end of a musket and waved it over the breastwork in defiance.  The English mistook it for a sign of surrender, and came forward with all possible speed, holding their muskets crossed over their heads in both hands, and crying “Quarter.”  The French made the same mistake; and thinking that their enemies were giving themselves up as prisoners, ceased firing, and mounted on the top of the breastwork to receive them.  Captain Pouchot, astonished, as he said, to see them perched there, looked out to learn the cause, and saw that the enemy meant anything but surrender.  He immediately shouted with all his might, “Tirez! Tirez! Ne voyez-vous pas que ces gens-là vont vous enlever?”  (“Fire! Fire! Don’t you see that they are coming to take you prisoner?”).  The soldiers, still standing on the breastwork, instantly gave the English a volley, which killed some of them, and sent the rest back discomfited.[14]

          Putout ensured that the Canadians kept up their fire with all possible speed, and that their shots were aimed and accurate.  He stated, “they alone of the defenders made several sorties” although they were driven back to the shelter of the abatis time and time again.  Each time they went out, great gaps appeared in the English ranks.  Pouchot said, “it was owing to these sorties alone that the enemy did not dare to turn the French position by the extreme right,” which they might easily have done “if they had known the locality and how easily it could be entered.”[15]

         According to Abbé Casgrain’s account, the heat on the battlefield that day was suffocating.  He notes that at the beginning of the engagement, Montcalm took off his uniform and smilingly remarked to his soldiers that “We will have a warm time of it today, my friends.”[16]

         Another battlefield witness felt much the same as Elijah about the French tactics.  He stated,

Another deceit that the enemy put upon us (was that) they raised their hats above the breastwork, which our people fired at; they, having loopholes to fire through, and being covered by the sods, we did them little damage, except shooting their hats to pieces.[17]

          In one of the last assaults a soldier of the Rhode Island regiment, William Smith, managed to get through all obstructions and ensconce himself close under the breastwork, where in the confusion he remained for a time unnoticed, improving his advantages meanwhile by shooting several Frenchmen.  Eventually he was observed, and a French soldier fired vertically down on him wounding him severely, but not enough to prevent his springing up, striking at one of his enemies over the top of the wall, and braining him with his hatchet.  A British officer who saw the feat and was struck by the reckless daring of the man, ordered two regulars to bring him off, which, covered by a brisk fire of musketry, they succeeded in doing.”  Two weeks later, he was well on the way to recovering, “invigorated by his anger against the French, on whom he was swearing to have his revenge.[18]

          As recorded by Parkman, “Towards 5 o’clock two English columns joined in a very determined assault on the extreme right of the French, defended by the battalions of Guyenne and Béarn.”  The situation for a time was serious, and Montcalm rushed to the spot with reserves.  “The assailants hewed their way to the foot of the breastwork; and though again and again repulsed, they repeatedly renewed the attack.  The Highlanders fought with stubborn and unconquerable fury,” and it was difficult pulling them back.  Major Campbell of Inverawe found that the prediction of his doom at Ticonderoga had been true, as he was mortally wounded, and his clansmen carried him from the field.  “25 of their officers were killed or wounded, and half the men fell under the deadly fire that poured from the French loopholes.  Captain John Campbell and a few followers tore their way through the abatis, climbed the breastwork, leaped down among the French and were bayoneted there.”[19]

         According to Abbé Casgrain’s account,

         the scene of carnage was indescribable.  Inside the defenders’ lines, the whole line of the ramparts was strewn with dead and wounded.  Outside, all round the walls, the bodies lay by the hundreds in masses more or less compact according to the fierceness of the fighting.  Some lay across the fallen trees, while others were caught in their branches.  Many still writhed in the pains of their dying agony.  Disordered columns moved to the right and left, seeking a vulnerable point of attack amidst the thunders of the firearms, the whistling of bullets, the sharp commands of the officers, and the imprecations of the soldiers as they advanced or retired amongst the impenetrable mass of leaves and branches.[20]

          Casgrain noted that as the sun was going down, General Abercrombie finally made an appearance on the battlefield, reportedly “furious at his men’s repeated checks.”  He was determined not to admit that he had been defeated without making one more “supreme and final effort.”  He therefore gathered the two columns on his left and proceeded to throw them against the right angle of the entrenchments, while the two columns on his right were “hurled at the foot of the ravine which runs along the Lachute River, and which overlooked the opening guarded by the French volunteers.”  None of the previous attacks had been conducted with such desperation.”[21]

         In spite of the tremendous numbers of casualties they had already suffered, the British continued to press home their attack, struggling to “cross the barrier of lead,” which impeded their advance.  Montcalm himself, bareheaded and “with his face inflamed and fire in his eye, personally superintended the defence of the threatened spot, and exposed himself to the same dangers that his troops had to face.”  Lévis, equally calm and unperturbed, seconded Montcalm’s efforts with good judgment, even though musket balls “had twice pierced his hat.  (He would later repeat this performance at Ste. Foy).[22]

         Brian Connell states, “Montcalm was everywhere that day, encouraging his exhausted men and moving his scanty reserves to the point where the fight was the thickest.  In spite of the hail of bullets, he emerged unscathed.”[23]

         As this last desperate assault continued, Lévis ordered a combat sortie of some 700 newly reinforced troops.  Both Morrison and Casgrain have indicated that the colony troops and Canadians on the low ground had been left undisturbed, which is why Lévis decided to send them out now with a cry of “En avant Canadiens!”  The swarm of woodsmen issued from the fortifications and spread themselves out into the timber and along the fringe of the woods led by their officers.[24]

         They were ordered to attack the left flank of the charging British columns.  They accordingly posted themselves among the trees along the declivity, and fired upwards at the enemy, and at the flank of the column skirting the side of the hill from which they threatened the fort.  As their fire became more telling and murderous, the column proceeded to shift their position somewhat to the right, out of the line of shot, but moving towards the centre.  The assault still continued, but all efforts failed to gain any headway.  As the column was enveloped in front and came under a hail for fire from the right, it finally was forced to withdraw to the edge of the forest.  Casgrain indicates that this colonial “sortie” was decisive.[25]

         Casgrain completes his record by indicating that about six o’clock, one last attack was made.  Morrison and Casgrain both agree that it proved to be equally fruitless.  From this time until half-past seven a lingering fight was kept up by the Rangers and other provincials, firing from the edge of the woods and from behind the stumps, brush and fallen trees in front of the lines.  The reasons the Rangers kept up this sporadic continuing fire were to cover their comrades, who were collecting and bringing off the wounded, and to protect the retreat of the regulars, who fell back in disorder to the Falls.  As twilight came on, the last combatant withdrew, and none were left but the dead. [26]

         Casgrain notes that the French troops slept along the ramparts with their guns by their sides, fearing the enemy’s return.  General Abercrombie had lost 1944 killed and wounded officers and men.  The French losses, not counting those with Langy’s detachment, were 104 killed and 248 wounded for a total of 352 (Morison records 377).  Brigadier Bourlamaque was dangerously wounded; Colonel Bougainville was slightly wounded; and, as noted by Casgrain, Chevalier de Lévis had taken two bullet holes through his hat.[27]

         Stanley Pargellis states, “the brunt of the attack itself was borne by Abercrombie’s eight regular battalions, a total of less than six thousand rank and file.”  According Pargellis, “of the 1945 casualties, 1610 were regulars, and 335 provincials; 1429 of the regular rank and file were killed or wounded, 281 of the provincial.”[28]

         For the 6,000 or so provincials who witnessed the debacle of Abercrombie’s defeat at Ticonderoga the principal lesson was clear enough.  It had been an almost incredibly “injudicious and wanton sacrifice of men, a tragic demonstration of how an arrogant or incompetent commander could destroy hundreds of lives in a few hours.  The provincials at the edge of the battle could not have doubted the discipline or the courage of the regulars who had met their death’s in Montcalm’s abatis, but nothing about the sight could have made them eager to emulate the redcoats example either.[29]

            Although the provincial soldiers had been small in numbers, they undeniably rendered a valuable contribution in 1758 and later years of the war.  Colonel Phineas Lyman’s advance party of Connecticut provincials, for example, “distinguished itself at the landing place at Ticonderoga, where Lord Howe was killed; Colonel John Bradstreet’s tiny force, which took Fort Frontenac in August, was composed largely of provincials accustomed to bateaux.”  Provincials fought at Niagara in 1759, and on Amherst’s voyage down the St. Lawrence in 1760.  For the most part they acted as workmen, repairing and building forts and roads, or as waggoneers and bateaux-men, transporting provisions and supplies.  These were useful and necessary services.[30]

         Major Robert Rogers Journal includes some additional detail on the events that took place between the 7th and 9th of July at Ticonderoga.  The morning of the 7th at 6 o’clock he was

         Ordered to march to the river that runs into the falls, the place where I was the day before, and there to halt on the west-side till further orders, with 400 Rangers, while Captain Stark, with the remainder of the Rangers, marched with Captain Abercrombie and Mr. Clerk the Engineer to observe the position of the enemy at the fort, from whence they returned again that evening.  The whole army lay the ensuing night under arms. By sunrise the nest morning, Sir William Johnson joined the army with 440 Indians.  At 7 o’clock I received orders to march with my Rangers.  A Lieutenant of Captain Stark’s led the advance guard.  I was within about 300 yards of the breastwork when my advance guard was ambushed and fired upon by about 200 Frenchmen.  I immediately formed a front, and marched up to the advanced guard, who maintained their ground, and the enemy immediately retreated; soon after the bateaux-men formed on my left and light infantry on my right.  This fire of the enemy did not kill a single man.  Soon after three regiments of Provincials came up and formed in my rear, at 200 yards distance.  While the army was thus forming, a scattering fire was kept up between our flying parties and those of the enemy without the breastwork.  About half-an-hour past ten, the greatest part of the army being drawn up, a smart fire began on the left wing, where Colonel De Lancey’s, (the New Yorkers), and the bateaux-men were posted, upon which I was ordered forward to endeavor to beat the enemy within the breast-work, and then to fall down, that the pickets and grenadiers might march through.  The enemy soon retired within their works; Major Proby marched through with his pickets within a few yards of the breast-work, where he unhappily fell, and the enemy keeping up a heavy fire, the soldiers hastened to the right about, when Colonel Haldiman came up with the grenadiers to support them, being followed by the battalions in brigades for their support.  Colonel Haldiman advanced near the breastwork, which was at least eight feet high; some of the provincials with the Mohawks came up also.[31]

          We toiled with repeated attacks for four hours, being greatly embarrassed by trees that were felled by the enemy without their breast-work, when the General thought proper to order a retreat, directing me to bring up the rear, which I did in the dusk of the evening.  On the 9th in the evening, we arrived at our encampment at the fourth-end of Lake George, where the army received the thanks of the General for their good behaviour, and were ordered to entrench themselves; the wounded were sent to Fort Edward and Albany.  Our loss both in regular and provincial troops, was somewhat considerable.  The enemy’s loss was about 500, besides those who were taken prisoners.[32]

          As for Abercromby, Edward Hamilton concludes that he “must have lost his wits that day.  The French had placed themselves in a “most precarious” position to begin with, having “their backs to the lake, only five days provisions on hand,” and an army four times their size closing in on them.  Had Abercrombie simply just advanced to the lake shore slightly to the north of the fort and put his artillery to practical use, he would have seized command of the only route that French reinforcements could have come, and cut off Montcalm’s forces from their supply base to the north.  The French would have been starved into surrendering.  Alternatively, Abercrombie could have brought up his artillery and literally pounded the French forces into submission.  The fort could have taken almost in the same manner that Montcalm had taken Fort William Henry, with almost no bloodshed by the British forces.  Instead he chose a frontal assault against a well-defended position (including French artillery) by infantry unsupported by their available artillery.  Hamilton concludes that Abercrombie’s “only possible excuse was fear of an immediate arrival of heavy reinforcements, and hence a belief in the need for speedy action.”[33]

         Edward Hamilton has another possible theory about Abercrombie, stating, “although he was no military genius, Abercrombie had the reputation of being a sound and experienced officer.”  A senior British officer, apparently “expressed sorrow for the defeated general, and wrote that he could not understand how it had happened,” because “it was not at all what he would have expected of Abercrombie.”  Another factor may have been that General Abercrombie was apparently suffering from a chronic stomach disorder that hit him again on the day of the battle.  Hamilton speculates that this illness might have “rendered him incapable of effective thought or action.”[34]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 447.

[2] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, p. 179.

[3] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 446.

[4] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, pp. 179-180.

[5] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 447.

[6] Edward Pierce Hamilton, Fort Ticonderoga, p. 82.

[7] Ibid, p. 447.

[8] Ibid, pp. 447-448.

[9] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, pp. 179.

[10] Ibid, pp. 179-180.

[11] Edward Pierce Hamilton, Fort Ticonderoga, p. 83.

[12] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, p. 180.

[13] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 448.

[14] Ibid, p. 448.

[15] The Abbé H.R. Casgrain,  Collection des Manuscripts du Maréchal De Lévis, Journal du Marquis de Montcalm Durant Ses Campagnes en Canada de 1756 à 1759.  Québec Imprimerie de L.J. Demers & Frère, Pablié sous la direction de L’abbé H.R. Casgrain, 1895.  (Also: University of Toronto Press, 1964), p. 58.

[16] Ibid, p. 58.

[17] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 448.

[18] Ibid, pp. 448-449.

[19] Ibid, p. 449.

[20] The Abbé H.R. Casgrain,  Collection des Manuscripts du Maréchal De Lévis, Journal du Marquis de Montcalm Durant Ses Campagnes en Canada de 1756 à 1759.  Québec Imprimerie de L.J. Demers & Frère, Pablié sous la direction de L’abbé H.R. Casgrain, 1895.  (Also : University of Toronto Press, 1964), pp. 58-59.

[21] Ibid, p. 59.

[22] Ibid, p. 60.

[23] Brian Connell, The Savage Years, Harper Brothers Publishers, New York 1959, p. 159.

[24] The Abbé H.R. Casgrain,  Collection des Manuscripts du Maréchal De Lévis, Journal du Marquis de Montcalm Durant Ses Campagnes en Canada de 1756 à 1759.  Québec Imprimerie de L.J. Demers & Frère, Pablié sous la direction de L’abbé H.R. Casgrain, 1895.  (Also : University of Toronto Press, 1964), p. 60.

[25] Ibid, pp. 60-61; and Samuel Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 449-450.

[26] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, pp. 449-450.

[27] The Abbé H.R. Casgrain,  Collection des Manuscripts du Maréchal De Lévis, p. 61; and Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader p.450.

[28] Stanley McCrory Pargellis, Lord Loudoun in North America, Yale University Press, Archon Books, 1968, p. 355.

[29] Fred Anderson, Crucible of War, The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America 1756-1766, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2000, p. 286.

[30] Ibid, p. 286.

[31] Major Rogers indicates that “this attack was begun before the General intended that it should be, as it were by accident, from the fire of the New Yorkers in the left wing; upon which Colonel Haviland being in or near the center, ordered the troops to advance.”  Ibid, pp. 115-116.

[32] Ibid, p. 116.

[33] Edward Pierce Hamilton, Fort Ticonderoga, p. 81.

[34] Ibid, p. 85.

Montcalm at the French Camp, below Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga), 1758, painting.

Montcalm on Guard

          Abercrombie licked his wounds at the head of Lake George, and paused.  He expected Montcalm to mount an offensive at any moment, and his concerns affected those around him, spreading fear and confusion in the camp.  Montcalm, however, felt that a mighty load had been lifted from his soul.  He passed along the lines of his tired soldier, personally giving them the thanks they so nobly deserved.  He made sure that reasonable quantities of beer, wine and food were served out to them, but they were also directed to remain bivouacked out for the night on the level ground between the breastwork and the fort.  Clearly, the English had suffered a terrible rebuff; but as far as Montcalm was concerned, the danger could not yet be over.  He was well aware that General Abercrombie still had more than 13,000 men, and that the British might recover their military sense of direction and decide to conduct the next round of attack with the appropriate use of their attack with cannon.[1]

          Incredible as is seemed to him at the time, no following attack came.  On the morning of the 9th of July, a band of volunteers that Montcalm had sent out to scout out the activities of the British forces reported back that General Abercrombie’s army was in full.  They reported that the sawmill at the Falls was on fire, and the last English soldier had withdrawn from the landing area.  They had embarked on the morning after the battle, a gallant army sacrificed by the blunders of its chief.[2]

          It was Montcalm’s initial opinion that the British retreat was simply a ruse designed to draw the French forces out from behind their protective abatis.  For this reason, he waited two days after the battle before he sent a battalion “to find what became of the enemy army.”  What the troops found was a mass of wounded soldiers, abandoned equipment and provisions, and a multitude of items such as shoes left in miry places, the remains of barges and burned pontoons.  These discoveries convinced Montcalm that his adversaries had indeed suffered a general collapse.  This decision was reached, even though Montcalm was well aware that at the close of the battle, the British still had more than enough troops, cannon, ammunition and supplies to have successfully carried out a siege that would have destroyed Fort Carillon.[3]

         The historian George F. Stanley indicates the French had waited until the morning of the 9th of July on alert, reasonably expecting that Abercrombie would renew the attack.

          Even if he had lost some 1,950 men, he still had an army strong enough to overwhelm Montcalm, whose losses of 527 killed and wounded were even greater in proportion than those of Abercrombie.  But the British General had withdrawn his troops to Fort William Henry.  When Lévis went to reconnoiter, he found evidence of a retreat, which suggested a flight rather than a withdrawal; abandoned boats, burned pontoons, provisions, baggage, shoes, and arms.  Also on the 9th, Lieutenant Wolff whom Vaudreuil had sent to spy out the land, returned with no more news than Montcalm already knew; and on the 11th, Rigaud de Vaudreuil arrived with a large contingent of Canadians from a force based in Schenectady.[4]

         Colonel Bougainville had only a short note in his Journal for the 9th of July:

          The day was devoted to the same work (shoring up the defences) and to burying our dead and those the enemy left on the field of battle.  Our companies of volunteers went out, and advanced up to the Falls, and reported that the enemy had abandoned the posts at the Falls and even at the Portage.[5]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 450.

[2] Ibid, p. 450.

[3] Fred Anderson, Crucible of War, The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America 1756-1766, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2000, p. 248.

[4] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, p. 181.

[5] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, pp. 234-235.

The Victory of Montcalm's Troops at Carillon. Early 20th century painting by Henry Alexander Ogden (1854 1936).  (Fort Ticonderoga Museum, New York)

           Montcalm announced his victory to his wife in a strain of exaggeration that marks the exaltation of his mind:

           Without Indians, almost without Canadians or colony troops, - I had only 400, - alone with Lévis and Bourlamaque and the troops of the line, 3,100 fighting men, I have beaten an army of at least 25,000.  This glorious day does infinite honoru to the valor of our battalions.  I have no time to write more.  I am well, my dearest, and I embrace you. [1]

[1] Samuel Eliot Morison, The Parkman Reader, p. 450.

           Montcalm also wrote to his friend Doreil:

           The army, the too-small army of the King has beaten the enemy.  What a day for France!  If I had had 200 Indians to send out at the head of a 1,000 picked men under the Chevalier de Lévis, not many would have escaped.  Ah, my dear Doreil, what soldiers are ours!  I never saw the like.  Why were they not at Louisbourg?[1]

[1] Ibid, p. 450.

           On the morning after his victory Montcalm had a great cross planted on the battlefield, inscribed with these lines, composed by the soldier scholar himself:

           Quid dux?  quid miles?  quid strata ingentia ligna?

            En Signum!  en victor!  Deus hîc, Deus ipse triumphat!

           Soldier and chief and rampart’s strength are naught;

           Behold the conquering Cross!  ‘T is God the triumph wrought.


           Parkman indicates that the following lines were also added:

            Chretién! Ce ne fut point Montcalm et sa prudence,

           Ces arbres renversés, ces héros, leurs exploits.

           Qui des Anglais confus ont brisé l’espérance;

           C’est le bras de ton Dieu vainquer sure cette croix.”[1]

[1] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, Da Capo Press, New York, 1995, p.369-370.


          Colonel Bougainville continued his record of the aftermath of the battle on the 10th of July:

          At break of day the Marquis de Montcalm detached the Chevalier de Lévis with the eight grenadier companies, the volunteers, and some fifty Canadians to find out what had become of the enemy army.  The Chevalier de Lévis advances beyond the Portage.  He everywhere found signs of a hurried flight.  The English have since told me that the affair got under way before the dispositions were entirely completed, that hurry had occasioned a sort of disorder, augmented subsequently by the death of a great number of officers; when they withdrew in the evening, they expected that it would only be to take better measures and to return with cannon and (a) better disposition (of troops); that the order to re-embark had greatly surprised all the regular troops; that the militia alone had rejoiced at it.  He moreover said to me that they were only a body without a head since the death of Milord Howe.[1]

           According to Edward P. Hamilton, the British battle losses were 1,610 killed, wounded, and missing, while the French lost 377.  Colonel Bougainville stated,

          If one should believe some of them and (take account of) the speed of their retreat, their loss would (have been) considerably more.  They lost several principal officers, Milord Howe, chief staff officer and colonel of a regiment, the commander of the New York troops, and several others.  The greatest part of their Indians, especially those of the Five Nations, remained as spectators at the tail of the columns.  They doubtless awaited the outcome of a combat which the English believed could not be doubtful.[2]

           The Act of the 24th of March announces the general invasion of Canada, and these same terms are expressed in all the commissions of their militia officers.  Justice is due (to) them that they attacked us with the greatest of determination.  It is not common that defences are attacked for seven hours and almost without any respite.  This victory, which for the moment has saved Canada, is due to the sagacity of the dispositions, to the good maneuvers of our generals before and during the action and to the unbelievable valor of our troops.  All the officers of the army have so conducted themselves that each of them deserves a personal eulogy.[3]

           “We had forty-four officers and nearly four hundred men killed or wounded.”[4]

[1] Edward P. Hamilton, Adventure in the Wilderness, p. 235.

[2] Ibid, p. 235.

[3] Ibid, pp. 235-236.

[4] Ibid, pp. 236.

List of French Officers Killed or Wounded in the 8th of July Battle

Sieur de Bourlamaque, colonel, dangerously wounded.

Sieur de Bougainville, chief of staff, slightly wounded by a shot in the head.

La Reine        

D’Audin, lieutenant, killed; De Hébécourt, captain, Le Comte, captain, Massiac, lieutenant, Filord, wounded.

La Sarre          

Chevalier de Moran, captain, Chevalier de Mesnil, captain, Adam-Champredon, killed; De Beauclair, captain, Fourmet, lieutenant, wounded.

Royal Roussillon  

Ducoin, captain, killed.


De Fréville, captain, Chevalier de Parfournu, lieutenant, killed; De Basserode, captain, Marillac, captain, Douglas, captain, Blanchard, lieutenant, De Courcey, lieutenant, wounded; Chevalier d’Arenne, sub-lieutenant of engineers, an arm cut off.


Patris, killed, St. Vincent, captain, dead of his wound; La Bretèche, captain, De Restauran, lieutenant, wounded.


De La Breme, captain, De Pymeric, lieutenant of engineers, killed; Chateauneuf, captain, Carlan, captain adjutant, Chavimont, lieutenant, wounded.


Pons, lieutenant, Douay, lieutenant, killed; Malartic, major, De Montgay, captain, Kergus, captain, wounded.

La Marine      

De Nigon, lieutenant, De Langy Montegron, ensign, wounded.”[1]

[1] Ibid, pp. 236.

      The French celebrated their victory on the 12th of July 1758 with a Te Deum.  Montcalm and his officers believed that their victory at Carillon had been a miracle of divine intervention.[1]  Colonel Bougainville’s notes on the battle may fall even closer to the truth, in light of Abercrombie’s choice of possibly the only attack option that was virtually guaranteed to fail.  He appears to have been speaking “for both himself and Montcalm when he wrote, “Never has a victory been more especially due to the finger of Providence.”  How the French had won, God only knew.”[2]

         According to Brian Connell, “Montcalm had achieved the impossible.  The heart of Canada was safe from land attack for the rest of the season.”  Unfortunately, Governor-General Vaudreuil demanded that the limited French forces be reinforced with Canadians and Indians and press the advance.  Montcalm had had enough of Vaudreuil’s uninformed interference in his conduct of the campaign and told him bluntly, “It is always astonishing that the Marquis de Vaudreuil considers himself qualified at a distance of fifty leagues to determine operations of war in a country he has never seen and where the best generals, after having seen it, would have been embarrassed.”[3]

         Montcalm requested that he be returned to France.  Vaudreuil supported his request but did ask that Montcalm be promoted to Lieutenant-General, even though Vaudreuil felt that Montcalm’s qualities were “not the qualities necessary to make war in this country.”  Montcalm was well aware that if peace did not come to New France, the British would overwhelm them with more than 50,000 troops.  He had only eight battalions totaling some 3,200 men and another 1,200 “colony” troops in the field.  With these minimal forces, he could not see how he could defend “the area from Ohio to Lake St. Sacrement, not to mention a direct descent on Quebec” which he believed even then was highly possible.  On the 26th of July, Louisbourg was taken.  Clearly, he had to stay and defend Quebec.[4]

[1] George F.G. Stanley, New France, The Last Phase 1744-1760, pp. 181.

[2] Arthur Quinn, A New World, An Epic of Colonial America from the Founding of Jamestown to the Fall of Québec, Beckley Books, New York, 1994, p. 502.

[3] Brian Connell, The Savage Years, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, 1959, p. 160.

[4] Ibid, pp. 160-161.


           Meanwhile, as the battle on the 8th of July drew to a disastrous close, Elijah made a number of careful observations in his Journal:

The evening of the 8th and morning of the 9th day of July 1758:

           We quitted the ground, sun an hour high, and came back to the mills and camped that night, expecting nothing but to return to the advance guard in the morning but it proved otherwise.  For we mustered about an hour before day on the 9th and marched back to the bateaux and stayed there until 9 o’clock and then orders came to embark on board the bateaux in order to return back to camp on Lake George and all of the bateaux arrived at the camp by 6 o’clock and we pitched our tents and lay there until the 15th day of July 1758.  And the 17th day we removed our tents and came back to where the old breast works were last year and pitched them again.

The 20th of July 1758:

           On the 20th day there were a number of our men killed between Lake George and Half Way Brook about 10 o’clock in the morning by the Indians who fled off and left them on the ground, and a party went out from the Lake and came on them before they knew anything and brought them in and buried them at Half Way Brook.

           Major Rogers had sent out a scouting party on the 8th of July.  He returned on the 16th with nothing major to report, except that he discovered “a large party of the enemy, supposed to be near a thousand, on the east-side of the lake.”  On the following day of the 17th,  it appears that this same party “fell on a detachment of Colonel Nicholls’s Regiment at the Half Way Brook, killed three Captains, and upwards of 20 private private men.”[1]

[1] Robert Rogers, Journals of Major Robert Rogers, p. 117.

           On Tuesday the 25th day there was a man hanged two days after he was convicted for stealing four pair of brass buckles.  And two more received 99 lashes for stealing.[1]

[1] A thousand stripes was the standard punishment for desertion, and sentences of as many as 1500 lashes were awarded for theft.  Executions served as a severe example and deterrent.  John Cleveland witnessed a hanging execution on the 25th of July 1758, and described the event as follows:

This forenoon, about nine o’clock, one of the regulars was hanged for thefts.  He confessed on the ladder that gaming, robbery, theft, whoring, bad company-keeping, etc., were [the] sins which brought him to this shameful untimely death, and warned his fellow soldier[s] against such vices.  He desired the prayers of the people standing by for his poor soul, and [was] praying for himself [as he] was hove off the ladder.  The Lord makes this sad spectacle a means of warning effectually all from the sad [sins] that the soldiery are much addicted to.  Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 139.

A soldier named Lemuel Wood described a firing squad execution on the 13th of July 1759 as follows:

              This morning at six o’clock a court martial set for the trial of the deserter that was brought in yesterday.  He was sentenced to be shot today at twelve o’clock in the front of the quarter guard of Forbe’s Regiment.  Accordingly all the picquets of the lines was drawn up for the execution of the above prisoner.  The provost guard brought forth the prisoner and marched him round before all the regulars’ regiments [and] from thence to the place of execution.  There was drawn out of the regiment to which the prisoner belonged [two] platoons of six men each.  The prisoner was brought and set before one of the platoons and kneeled down upon his knees. He clinched his hand.  The platoon of six men each of them fired him through the body.  The other platoon then came up instantly and fired him through the head and blowed his head all to pieces. They then dug a grave by his side and tumbled him in and covered him up, and that was an end of the whole.  Fred Anderson, A People’s Army, p. 140.

The 27th day of July 1758:

           The whole of our army was mustered and the General came to view our breast-work and so dismissed us, and the 28th day the French and the Indians came upon our carters and waggoners and killed 28 men and 20 women and killed 36 oxen and some horses - these were loaded with rum, sugar, chocolate and all sorts of stores and provisions and stole the oats and firkins of butter and rice, and the 30th day Rogers and Putnam went out with 500 men for three days.

           Major Rogers made the following record of this expedition:

           The 27th another party of the enemy fell upon a convoy of waggoners between Fort Edward and Half Way Brook, and killed 116 men, 16 of which were Rangers.  In pursuit of this party, with a design to intercept their retreat, I was ordered to embark the 18th with 700 men; the enemy however escaped me, and in my return home on the 31st, I was met by an express from the General with orders to march with 700 men to the South and East Bay, and return by way of Fort Edward, in the prosecution of which orders nothing very material happened.[1]

[1] Robert Rogers, Journals of Major Robert Rogers, p. 117.

The 21st day of August 1758:

           Orders came for 7 men out of a company to march down to the Half Way Brook, and I was one of them, and to stay there for further orders, and we came down without any interruption, and the second day a party of our men went down to the place where the Indians cut the carts to pieces - also without any discovery.  And on the 4th day we went down there to guard up the carts from Fort Edward to Half Way Brook, and a party of our men went out to bring them in.

The 5th to the 8th day of August 1758:

           The 5th day Colonel Fitch with his regiment with the Royal Americans came down from the Lake to Fort Edward and there to stay until further orders, and the 7th day there came 8 more of Major Roger’s men to Half Way Brook, - on the 8th day there were 950 carts (that) came down from Fort Edward with 9 cannon, a party of our men went down to Fort Edward to guard the carters.  And we met a post who told us that Major Rogers was beset at Fort Ann at the South Bay and that there were 1000 men gone from Fort Edward to help them, and we stayed there that night and in the morning - 9th, they came in and brought in the wounded men to Fort Edward who told that Major Rogers with Major Putnam had a smart fight for two hours and 4 minutes and drove them off and buried their dead, how many it is not known.  And we marched for the Half Way Brook, and met 200 of our men who went from the Half Way Brook and lay in the woods, and came into the pickets at the Half-Way-Brook about 9 o’clock.  And our men brought in two Frenchmen, one Indian and one Dutchman who were taken at Oswego, and Major Putnam and forty of his men are missing as yet, but whether they are killed or taken - or betook himself off as yet is unknown.  We have heard now that Major Putnam is taken.

Major Putnam’s Capture

          Major Israel Putnam had been a private in a Connecticut Regiment, and his name would later become a household word in New England.[1]  Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow described Putnam as “the best “scout” yet made, and that, being a man of strict truth, he may be entirely trusted.”[2]

         Francis Parkman was able to provide details of what happened to Major Putnam after his capture.  Montcalm had been receiving reinforcements, to the point where in might have been possible for him to carry out a forward movement on the British forces.  Instead, he proceeded to strengthen his fort and to reconstruct the defensive position that he had already successfully defended.  At the same time, he sent out frequent war-parties along Wood Creek and South Bay, in a concerted effort to harass Abercrombie’s communications with Fort Edward. [3]

         Some of these parties consisted of several hundred men, and they were generally more or less successful.  One of them, commanded by a gentleman named La Corne, surprised and destroyed a large wagon train that was being escorted by forty soldiers.  The convoy had been composed of slow oxcarts bound for the lake.  The French and Indian war party that intercepted it claimed “110 scalps…84 prisoners…of these, 12 are women or girls…Some baggage and effects belonging to General Abercrombie [sic]; as well as his music, were among the plunder.”[4]

         When Abercrombie heard of this French attack on his supplies, he immediately ordered Rogers to take a strong detachment of provincial soldiers (under the command of Colonel William Haviland), some light infantry, and a company of Rangers, and deal with them.  The raiders were to go down the lake in boats, cross the mountains to the narrow waters of Lake Champlain, and cut off the enemy forces from their line of retreat. [5]

         Perhaps they sensed what was coming, and the French withdrew before Rogers and his assault force could arrive.  On his way back a messenger from the General met Rogers with orders for his group to intercept other French parties which had been reported to be near Fort Edward.  The detachment proceeded with 700 including 80 Rangers, a body of Connecticut men under Major Putnam and a small regular force of 60 men which consisted mainly of light infantry under Captain James Dalyell (also spelled Dalzell).  (Captain Dalyell was later killed by Pontiac’s warriors at Detroit).[6]

         Unfortunately, while they were enroute, 450 French and Indians under the able partisan leader Marin, overheard Rogers and Lieutenant Irwin conducting some badly timed target shooting and prepared an ambush for them.  Shortly afterwards, Putnam, Dalzell, Rogers, and their men were ambushed.  Putnam had been leading the group and was immediately set upon by a Caughnawaga chief, “hatchet in hand.”  One participant reported that “The enemy rose like a cloud and fired a volley upon us…the tomahawks and bullets flying around my ears like hailstones.”[7]

         The Connecticut provincials broke, but the regulars following stood their ground.  Hand to hand fighting ensued.  Putnam had time to cock his gun and snap it at the chest of his assailant; but it miss-fired.  He was quickly seized and dragged off into the forest, along with a lieutenant named Tracy and three privates.  The shooting began in earnest, with the French and Indians, lying across the path in a semi-circle holding the advantage of surprise and position.  The firing lasted some two hours until the attackers broke off and withdrew in small parties to elude pursuit.[8]

         One observer reported that an Indian leaped up on the trunk of a fallen tree, and

          killed two men himself upon which a Regular Officer…Struck at his head with his Fuzee, but could not knock him down though he made his head bleed, and as he was going to kill the officer with his Tomahawk he was Shot by Major Rogers…this Sachem was 6 foot 4 inches high proportional made, in short he was the largest Indian ever Rogers saw.[9]

         Rogers remained on the field and buried 49 of his men, then resumed his march to Fort Edward, carrying the wounded on litters until he met a detachment coming with wagons to his relief.  “A party sent out soon after for the purpose reported that they had found and buried more than a hundred French and Indians.  From this time forward the combat activities of war-parties from Ticonderoga were greatly reduced.[10]

          Putnam was dragged to the rear by the Indians and then tied to a tree and used for hatchet throwing practice, with the hatchet being thrown at his head as close as possible to the mark without hitting it.  He was struck in the head with a rifle butt by a French petty officer.  At one point he was left tied to a tree and exposed to bullets from both sides, but the Indians recovered the ground and stripped him, loaded him with the packs from the wounded and drove him along.  When they camped for the night, they prepared to burn him alive, stripped him naked, tied him to a tree, and gathered dry wood to pile about him.  A sudden shower of rain interrupted their pastime; but when it was over, they began again.  The Canadian partisan, Marin, hearing what was going on, broke through the crowd and put out the fire, untied the prisoner and angrily upbraided his tormentors.  He then restored him to the chief who had captured him, and whose right of property in his prize the others had failed to respect.  The Indians took great pains to ensure that he did not escape, by laying him on his back, stretching his arms and legs in the form of St. Andrew’s cross, and tying his wrists and ankles to the stems of young trees. [11]

         The following night, after a painful march, Putnam arrived at Ticonderoga.  Here he was questioned personally by General Montcalm.  Following the interrogation, Montcalm placed Putnam in the charge of a French officer who treated him decently.  He arrived in a “woefully tattered, bruised, scorched and torn,” condition, but he also came into contact with Colonel Schuler, who was himself a prisoner on parole.  Colonel Schuler helped Major Putnam and in due course, “the future major-general of the Continental Army was included in the next exchange of prisoners.[12]

          We return to Elijah’s Journal in Part II.

[1] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 170.

[2] Ibid, pp. 249-250.

[3] Ibid, p. 374.

[4] John R, Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p. 88.

[5] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 374.

[6] Ibid, pp. 375-376.

[7] John R, Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p. 88.

[8] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, pp. 375-376.

[9] John R, Cuneo, Robert Rogers of the Rangers, p. 89.

[10] Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, p. 377.

[11] Ibid, pp. 377-378.

[12] Ibid, p. 378.

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