History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
The campaign against Canada, of 1758, opened with great apparent spirit. Not only did the hostile incursions of the Canadian Indians continue very annoying to the frontier settlements, 1 but the mother country and the colonies alike felt that they had much to accomplish to repair the losses and disappointments of the two preceding years. Indeed, the repeated failures of Braddock and Webb, and Lord Loudoun, had chagrined and exasperated the nation. The elder Pitt, who had succeeded the silly N.ewcastle, even declared in parliament that there appeared to be a determination on the part of the officers in command, against any vigorous execution of the service of the country; and when, during the same year, the king was remonstrated with on appointing so young and rash a madman as Wolfe to conduct the meditated expedition against Quebec, the sturdy Brunswicker vexedly replied- "If he is mad, I hope he will bite some of my generals." It was under these circumstances that England determined to put forth her whole energies in the three formidable expeditions this year projected ;-against Louisburg under General Amherst; against Fort Du Quesne, on the Ohio; and the third and most formidable division against Ticonderoga and Crown Point, with a view of striking a blow upon Montreal.
1 In March, a party of seven hundred Canadians and Indians fell upon a detachment of two hundred rangers under Captain Rogers, near the narrows of Lake George, and after killing one hundred and forty-six, took three prisoners, and put the rest to flight. In justice, however, to Rogers, it should be stated, that before setting out in this fatal expedition, he asked for four hundred men, which were refused him.-Rogers' Journal.
With the great commoner's entrance into power a new order of things arose in America. Lord Londoun was superseded in March by Abercrombie, and General Webb soon after followed the former to England.1 The same vessel which brought the news of Loudoun's recall, brought also circular letters from the minister to the colonial governors, informing them that the British cabinet had determined to send over a large force for offensive operations against the French both by sea and land; and calling upon them for as large a number of men as they felt able to raise according to their population." Arms, ammunition, tents, provisions and boats, it was declared, would be furnished by the crown; and the Provincial governors, meanwhile, were desired to buy clothes and pay their troops, and appoint the officers of the various regiments."2 All the provincial colonels were to be made brigadier generals, and the lieutenant colonels, while in service in America, were to rank as colonels.3 These tidings were hailed by the colonists with delight; sick, as their hearts had so long been, with hope long deferred. The recall of Loudoun was accepted by them as a desire of the parent government to conciliate; and they all, New England especially, entered into the work of cooperation with alacrity. Massachusetts raised seven thousand men, Connecticut five thousand, and New Hampshire one regiment of eight hundred. Rhode Island and New Jersey were not backward, and the assembly of New York having voted without hesitation, in March, to raise, clothe and pay two thousand six hundred and eighty men, besides providing for the support of every needy soldier's family in his absence, twenty thousand Provincials, were in Albany, and ready to take the field early in May.
1 General Webb's recall was attributed at the time to the representations of Colonel Monro to the ministry. Manuscript letter: Guy Johnson to Sir William Johnson.
3 Manuscript letter: Rev. John Oglevie to Johnson, 28th March, 1758.
On the twenty-eighth of May, Admiral Boscawen, with twenty ships of the line and eighteen frigates freighted with an army of twelve thousand men under Amherst, sailed from Halifax for the reduction of Louisburg, and arrived before that fortress on the second of June. The garrison of this place, under the command of the Chevalier de Drocourt, included besides twenty-live hundred regulars, three hundred militia, and before the close of the siege, they were joined by three hundred and fifty Canadians and sixty Indians-thus increasing their force to about twelve hundred men. The governor, advised of the approach of the English fleet, had taken unusual measures for a vigorous defence, so that upon Boscawen's arrival, the latter found the harbor closed by the sinking of six ships in the channel, while a chain of fortifications along the coast for two and a half leagues, seemed to guard the remote places on the coast against a landing of the English. These precautions, however, did not defeat the resolution and daring of General Wolfe, who, having found a spot which had not been properly secured, landed the troops under a brisk and well-directed fire of the enemy, with but little loss. Having dislodged the enemy from their breastworks of felled trees, Wolfe took possession of the artillery which had been left by the French in their flight, and with his own, advanced under the direction of Amherst, cautiously throwing up entrenchments as he proceeded, until Louisburg itself was invested the same day. On the opposite side of the town, the siege was also pressed with vigor, though at the same time, owing to the known strength of the place and the resolute character of its defenders, with due caution. At length the shipping of the French having been nearly destroyed, and two of their vessels captured, thus placing the harbor in the entire possession of the English, the governor surrendered at discretion on the twenty-sixth of July. During the siege fifteen hundred of the garrison and four hundred of the English were either killed or wounded. It was, however, a victory well worth the cost. Five thousand prisoners including the marines and sailors graced the triumph; and as two years previously the colors taken by the French at Oswego had been sent to adorn the churches of Montreal and Quebec, so the colors taken from Louisburg "were carried in grand procession from Kensington palace to the cathedral of St. Pauls."l
While preparations were making for a formidable and vigorous campaign against Ticonderoga, under General Abercrombie, who had resolved to lead the expedition in person, the French were making corresponding exertions to repel the expected invasion. With a view of creating a diversion, by annoying the colony of New York from another quarter, they were said to be preparing to invade the Mohawk valley, by the way of Oswego and the Oneida carrying-place. A party of their Indians from Swegatchie had made a bold irruption toward the close of April, upon Burnetsfield, on the south bank of the Mohawk, and destroyed the entire settlement-massacring men, women and children-thirty-three in number-being the whole population save two persons. There had likewise been outrages at the German Flats, where several Indians had been killed by the inhabitants. In this exigency the militia were promptly ordered into the field, to rendezvous at Canajoharie, whither Sir William repaired on the fourth of May to lead them against the enemy-reported on the same day to be in force at the Oneida carrying place.
Meantime it was well known that the French had not desisted from their efforts to seduce the five westernmost cantons of the Six rations from their allegiance to the English. Notwithstanding the efforts of the Baronet, they had long had their Jesuit priests among the Oneidas and Onondagas; and a variety of circumstances had occurred to induce the Mohawks to distrust their brethren of the
1 Grahame. Smollett.
other tribes. Under these circumstances, Sir William received the invitation thus noted in his journal.
April 4th. Sir William had an invitation from the Six Nations to attend a grand meeting to be held at Onondaga within a few days hence, where he intends to proceed, in case the last alarm should prove groundless."
The Baronet arrived at Canajoharie in the evening,; and attended a dance of their young warriors, having the scalp of one of the hostile Indians engaged in the recent irruption, who had been killed at the German Flats. He is thus spoken of in the journal-in the handwriting of Peter Wraxall, his private secretary.
"The body of Otqueandaghte, an Onondaga warrior, who lived for some years at Swegatchie, and formerly a mate of Sir William, was found. His name was engraved on the handle of his knife, and how often he had been to war together with this inscription-Otqueandageghte le camera de Jeanson."
Sir William, we have seen, was highly respected by the Six Nations, and by the Mohawks in particular was greatly beloved. His conduct moreover in another difficulty which had occurred in January between the garrison of Fort Hunter and the Mohawks, in which he had taken the part of the Indians and caused the garrison to be removed on account of their conduct, had endeared him more than ever to the latter.1 This affection was not only manifested by their actions, but often in their speeches, at their councils, and in their concern for his welfare when sick, and for his safety when in the field.2 Such being their feelings
1 For a detailed account of the grievances suffered by the Indians from the garrison, see a speech made in reference to this matter to Sir William by one of their chiefs. Appendix No. i. of vol. II
2 To this point, at the close of a small council Sir William says-"When I drank to them at parting, they in return drank my health, and thanked God I had recovered my late illness. They then all said that it was happy I did not die then; for, said they, ' had you died, we and the English would get by the ears very goon, we see ; and we fear it will be the case (Continued)
toward the Baronet, they were reluctant, under existing circumstances, to allow him to place himself in the power of the Indians about to assemble at the great council fire at Onondaga. They were likewise apprehensive that he might incur danger from some of the French scalping parties. These explanations will render the following additional extracts from the diary intelligible:
" May 5th. Sir William having no farther accounts of the enemy's appearance, sent a scout of two Mohawks, two Canajoharies, and a white man, to go as far as Wood creek and the Oneida lake, in order to obtain the certainty of the alarm. About noon all the women of the chief men of their castle met at Sir William's lodging, and brought with them several of the sachems, who acquainted Sir William that they had something to say to him in the name of their chief women."
Old Nicholas (Brant 1) being appointed speaker, opened his discourse with condoling with Sir William for the losses his people had sustained, and then proceeded:
Brother: We understand you intend to go to a meeting to Onondaga; we can't help speaking with this belt of wampum to you, and giving our sentiments on your intended journey. In the first place we think it quite contrary to the customs of any governors or superintendent of Indian affairs being called to Onondaga upon public business, as the council fire which burns there serves only for private consultations of the Confederacy; and when matters are concluded and resolved upon there, the Confederacy are to set out for the great fireplace which is at your house, and there deliver their conclusion. In the next place we are
when you die or leave us' " Again at another council the chiefs commenced their speech.
"Brother, we are extremely glad to see you so well recovered of your late very dangerous illness, and thank the Great Spirit above for it. Had you been taken away from us at that time, our case would have been melancholy, and our situation extremely precarious. It will be so, we fear, whenever we lose you."-Diary, Jan. 14-19, 1758.
1 Father of Joseph.
almost convinced that the invitation is illegal, and not agreed upon as desired by the Confederacy, but only the Oneidas-which gives us the more reason to be uneasy about your going, as it looks very suspicious. Did not they tell you, when they invited you, the road of friendship was clear, and every obstacle removed that was in before ? They scarce uttered it, and the cruelties were committed at the German Flats, where the remainder of our poor brethren were butchered by the enemy's Indians. Is this a clear road of peace and friendship? Would not you be obliged to wade all the way in blood of the poor innocent men, women and children who were murdered after being taken?
"Brother: By this belt of wampum, we, the women, surround and hang about you like little children, who are crying at their parents, going from them, for fear of their never returning again to give them suck; and we earnestly beg you will give ear to our request, and desist from your journey. We flatter ourselves you will look upon this our speech, and take the same notice of it as all our men do, who, when they are addressed by the women, and desired to desist from any rash enterprise, they immediately give way, when, before, every body else tried to dissuade them from it, and could not prevail." Gave the belt.
"Canajoharie, May 7th. This afternoon Sir William had a meeting with the chief women of this castle, and returned them thanks for their condolence of the fifth instant. At the same time he condoled with them for the loss of one of the tribe of the Bear, that belonged to the chief of that tribe, with a stroud blanket, a shirt, and stockings." A string of wampum.
"Sir William told them that he would answer their speech concerning his journey, when the messengers who had gone to Oneida came back. He also made private presents to a few of the head women of each tribe, with a blanket and shirt each."
"May 9th. The messengers that were sent to Oneida to ask the opinion of that nation with regard to Sir William's journey to Onondaga returned, and reported that after the chiefs of the Upper castle were met they delivered their message to them. Whereupon they gave the following reply:
"Brother Waraghiyaghey : "We take your message very kind and are glad you were so ready to attend our meeting to he held at Onondaga, and that you acquainted us of your being on the road." Returned Sir William's message belt.
"Brother : Your desire of having our young men come down to the German flats in order to escort you here, should have been willingly complied with, but as contrary to our expectation the enemy have committed fresh hostilities and spilt blood upon the road you are to pass: besides as we have certain intelligence of three different bodies of the enemy now making preparations at the following places on Lake Ontario, viz: one at Cayahagey or Fish Creek, the other at Oswego, and another at Niagara, which are to rendezvous at the Oneida carrying place, and there make a descent upon your country, we sincerely advise and beg of you to stop where you are and not to proceed any farther. For should anything happen to you on your journey, the loss to us would be very irreparable, and our Brethren, the English, might suspect us of having a hand in it; at the same time we think your presence at home will be very necessary in order to prepare for receiving the enemy.
"Wherefore by this Belt of Wampum we desire you will be easy in your mind, and be assured that as soon as the meeting is over you shall have a genuine and full detail of every matter transacted at Onondaga." Gave a large Belt.
"May 10th. This afternoon Sir "William returned his answer to the speech of the chief women of this castle made to him on the fifth instant, which is as follows:
"Dyattego, your tender and affectionate speech, made some days ago, I have considered, and therefore have dispatched messengers to Oneida, in order to inquire how things stand there after what happened at the German Flats, and whether my presence at the meeting would be still necessary. These messengers are returned, and I find by them that the sachems of Oneida likewise disapprove my proceeding any farther, for sundry reasons they give in their reply. Wherefore I shall comply with your request to return, and heartily thank you for the great tenderness and love expressed for me in your speech." Returned their Belt."
"May 13th. Sir William having ordered a scout to go to Oswego, and settled everything else, dismissed the militia and returned home, and arrived at his house the same day."
On the twenty-sixth of the same month, the Baronet held a meeting with the sachems and warriors of the Mohawks, and informed them that General Abercrombie expected that he would join him in about three weeks at Lake George, and bring with him all the Indians he could muster. The Mohawks assured him that they would attend him to a man, at the same time cheerfully offering to escort his messengers to all the other cantons of the Confederacy. The Baronet also received at this time a letter from the Stockbridge Indians tendering him their services in the proposed campaign against Ticonderoga. This latter offer, however, was not accepted.
For the prosecution of the campaign against Ticonderoga and Crown Point, an army of regular troops and Provincials was assembled, unprecedented for its numbers in the annals thus far of American warfare. General Abercrombie, as before remarked, determined to lead the expedition in person. The rendezvous of the formidable army destined upon this service, was at the head of Lake George, where the charred rums of Fort William Henry yet remained.
The morning of the fifth of July-the day of the embarkation-was clear and beautiful. The spectacle was full of life and animation, and withal very imposing. The forces collected on the occasion numbered seven thousand British troops of the line, and upward of ten thousand Provincials, exclusive of the many hundreds of noncombatants necessarily in the train of such an army. The flotilla for their transportation to Ticonderoga, consisted of nine hundred bateaux, and one hundred and thirty-five whaleboats, together with a sufficient number of rafts to convey the heavy stores and ammunition, and the artillery to cover the landing of the troops, in the neighborhood of the works first to be invested. The utmost confidence of success inspired both officers and men, and all was activity and gayety in getting in motion, from the instant the reveille started the armed host from their repose at the dawn, until the embarkation was complete. So sure were all of an easy victory, that they went forth as to a grand review, or the pageant of a national festival. A part of England's "chivalry was gathered there," of whom was the accomplished Lord Howe, distinguished alike for his generosity, his gallantry and his courage. Many other young noblemen of high bearing and promise, were also there; together with a still greater number of nature's noblemen, in the persons of New England's hardy sons, both in commission and in the ranks. Nor were the spirited colonists of New York unrepresented. Their sons, both of English and Dutch descent, sustained a generous rivalry in their chivalrous bearing, and evinced an equal readiness to "rush to glory or the grave," for the honor of their country. These proud-spirited Americans, with the blood of freemen hotly coursing through their veins, neither knew nor cared whether they were descended from the Talbots, the John of Gaunts, or the Percys; but their hearts beat as high, and their souls were as brave, and their sinewy arms could strike as heavy blows, as those who could trace the longest ancestry, or wore the proudest crest. There, also, was the proud Highland regiment of Lord John Murray, with their bagpipes, their tartan breacan, fringed down their brawny legs, and their black plumes in their bonnets. What an array, and what a splendid armament, for a small and quiet lake, sequestered so deeply in the interior of what was then a woody continent, and embedded in a wild and remote chasm, among a hundred mountains! Yet in this lonely and inhospitable region, "where there were nothing but rocks and solitudes, and bleak mountains to contend for, was to be the theater on which the disputes between the rival courts of St. James and St. Cloud -were to be decided-and on which, the embattled hosts of Europe, at the distance of a thousand leagues from their respective homes, were to be joined in the bloody conflict for empire!"
The morning being perfectly clear, after the light mists which floated gracefully along the sides of the hills had disappeared, the sky glowed brighter and purer than many in that army had ever seen it. Before them, at their feet, lay the crystal waters of the lake like a mirror of molten silver -the green islands tufted with trees, floating as it were in the clear element. In the camp, on the open esplanade by the shore, was the mustering of troops, the hurrying to and fro of the officers, the rattling of armor, the neighing of steeds, with all the inharmonious confusion which such a scene must necessarily present. Beyond, wide spread upon the lake, were the thousand barges, shifting and changing places as convenience required, the banners of the different regiments streaming gaily in the breeze, while the swell of cheerful voices, the rolling of the drums, the prolonged and exhilarating notes of the trumpet, as they resounded among the mountains, combined to throw over the whole wild region an air of enchantment.
Indeed the whole of this memorable passage of Lake George resembled more the pageant of a grand aquatic gala, or a dream of romance, than a chapter of stern history. Stretching down the lake, the scenery partook of the same wild and glorious character, and every mile of their progress disclosed new objects of wonder, or presented fresh sources of delight. It was a day of unmingled pleasure. A fine elastic breeze swept through the gorges of the mountains, serving to brace the nerves, and produce a glow of good feeling, humor and hilarity, which lasted till the setting sun. The animal spirits were often cheered and enlivened by favorite airs from the well appointed regimental bands. Wheeling aloft, with untiring wing, as if moving with, and watching over the armament, were several noble bald-eagles, whose eyries hung on the beetling crags, affording to the soldiers a happy presage of victory! The bagpipes of the Highlanders would thrill every soul in the armada with the pibroch, or an expert bugleman electrify the multitude by causing the hills and the glens to echo with the stirring notes wound from his instrument. The effect of the varying and shifting movements of the barges among the islands, with their different streamers fluttering in the air, now shooting in this direction, and now running in that-was exceedingly fine, animating and romantic. Taking these movements in connexion with the nodding of plumes, the dazzling glitter of polished armor, and the flashing of the oars, as at every stroke they rose from the sparkling waters, the whole prospect, seen at a glance, was of surpassing magnificence. Far different was the scene presented the following day, when amid the lengthening shadows of the mountains, a solitary barge bore back the remains of him who was the soul of the expedition-Lord Howe.
The landing of the troops was effected in good order in a cove on the west side of the lake at noon of the following day. Here the troops formed in four columns and began their march, leaving behind all the artillery and heavy baggage, which could not be transported until the bridges, that the advanced guard of the enemy had burned in their retreat, could be rebuilt. The purpose of Abercrombie was to hasten forward and carry Ticonderoga by storm before the reinforcements which, it-was said, were hastening to the relief of Montcalm under De Levy, could arrive. But the British general could easier maneuver his troops in Hyde Park, than conduct them through dense woods, and over morasses covered with thick and tangled underbrush. He grew confused; the guides became bewildered; and to increase the general perplexity, the advance party fell in with a body of the enemy, under De Trepezee, who had lost their way, and in the skirmish that ensued the gallant Howe fell at the head of his men. The utter route of De Trepezee's party, however, was but a small compensation for the loss which the English had sustained in the death of their young leader. The fate of this officer, who was the life of the men, at once threw a damper and a gloom over the entire army; and from that moment "an almost general consternation and languor" took the place of the previous confidence and buoyancy.1 Utterly discomfited at this untoward occurrence on the very threshold, as it were, of the expedition, Abercrombie uncertain what course to pursue, drew back his army early the next morning to the landing place.
While the British general was yet hesitating, Colonel Bradstreet with Rogers and four hundred rangers, pushed forward, rebuilt the bridges, and took possession of some saw mills which the French had erected at the lower rapids, about two miles from Ticonderoga.2 The indomitable energy of the provincial colonel, reassured Abercrombie, who now advanced with his army to the saw mills, and sent forward Clerk, his chief engineer, together with Stark and a few rangers, to reconnoiter the enemy's works. The party returned at dusk. Clerk reported, that, although to
1 Rogers's Journal.
2 These rapids are caused by the descent of the waters of Lake George into Lake Champlain. The outlet of Lake George is four miles in length, and in that distance falls about 157 feet.
an unpracticed eye, the defences of the French appeared strong, yet in reality they would offer but a feeble resistance to the charge of the British bayonet. The cool Stark, however, was of a different opinion. Without doubt recollecting the successful resistance which the rude and hastily constructed breastworks of Johnson, three years before, had opposed to the flower of the French regulars, he rightly judged that the defences of Montcalm were capable of withstanding a powerful attack, and so informed Abercrombie. His advice, however, was rejected by that commander, as worthy only of an ignorant Provincial unacquainted with British prowess; and the army having rested on their arms that night, the English commander, early on the morning of the eighth, gave orders to advance without artillery, and to carry the enemy's works at the point of the bayonet.
Just as the army were leaving their encampment, they were overtaken by Sir William Johnson with three hundred Indians. The Baronet had fully intended to join Abercrombie at the rendezvous at the head of Lake George. Why he did not, will appear from the following letter written by him to that general.
" Camp in the woods within ten miles of Fort Edward, July
5th, 1758-6 in the morning.
"I arrived here last night with near two hundred Indians
of the Five Nations and others. Mr. Croghan and some of the Indian officers
are within a day's march of me with about one hundred more, as I hear by letters
from him. I hope they will be with me at Fort Edward this afternoon, and with
you at the lake tomorrow. I set off from my house last Thursday with as many
as I could then get Sober to move with me, which were but very few, for liquor
was as plenty among them as ditch water, being brought up from Schenectady
by their and other squaws as well as whites, and sold to them at night in
spite of all I could do. These have since joined me by small parties. I assure
your excellency, no man ever had more trouble than I have had to get them
away from the liquor; and if the fate of the whole country depended upon my
moving a day sooner, I could not do it without leaving them behind, and disgusting
all the nations. When I have the honor of seeing your excellency, I shall
be able to let you know the many difficulties I had to surmount, since I received
" I am with all due respect,
"Your Excellency's most obedient
" and most humble servant,
" WM. JOHNSON.
"Major General Abercrombie."1
For the defence of Ticonderoga against the formidable preparations of the English, Montcalm had but thirty-six hundred and fifty men. Instead, however, of despairing, he caused a heavy breastwork of logs to be constructed within six hundred paces of the main works; while at the game time, trees were felled, and laid with their branches outward, for a distance of a hundred yards in front of the log breastwork. Then throwing off his coat in the trenches, and forbidding his men to fire a musket until he should give the word, he calmly awaited the approach of the British.
At one o'clock, the English, preceded by Captain Rogers and his sharp shooters, advanced gallantly in four columns to the attack. At the first onset, the ranks of the English were thrown into confusion by the branches of the trees, and at the same time, at a signal from Montcalm, a terrific fire was opened upon them from swivels and small arms. In vain was it, that the English rallied and endeavored
1 Manuscript letter: In the text, I have stated that Abercrombie was joined by Johnson with three hundred Indians. Rogers, it is true, says in his journal, four hundred and forty, but as it appears from this letter written on the 6th, that his whole available force was only three hundred, and as he must have started immediately to join Abercrombie, Rogers, I think, is mistaken.
again and again to penetrate through the trees to the entrenchments beyond. The more they struggled the more they became entangled in the branches, while rank after rank was mowed down by the well directed and galling fire of the enemy. Driven from the left, they attempted the center, then the right, till at length after sustaining without flinching, the enemy's fire for over five hours, they retreated in the utmost disorder, having lost in killed and wounded, nineteen hundred and sixty-seven men.
The British were still more than twelve thousand strong, with plenty of artillery, with which the enemy might easily have been driven from their entrenchments. Abercrombie, however, instead of bringing up his artillery and rallying his men, had retreated, upon the first news of the defeat, from the mills (where he had remained during the fight) leaving orders for the army to follow him to the landing; and while the entire night was spent by Montcalm in strengthening his defences and encouraging his men, the English were retreating in the footsteps of their valorous commander. Reaching the landing early on the morning of the ninth, the army in wild affright would have rushed into the bateaux and sunk the greater portion of them, had not Colonel Bradstreet by his coolness convinced them that there was no immediate danger, and prevailed upon them to embark quietly and in good order. Nor did Abercrombie breathe freely until Lake George was between himself and the French, and his artillery and ammunition fairly on their way to Albany.
Great was the consternation among the colonists, at the unexpected repulse of the gallant army that had so recently gone forth from among them, as they supposed, to a sure victory. A panic seized the inhabitants along the whole of the Hudson and Mohawk valleys. Every rumor, no matter how wild or absurd, was quickly spread, and eagerly believed.l A small party of Indians, who had attacked a
1 My mother and Katy keep up their spirits as well as can be expected considering the frequent shocks they get from the reports that fly through the country about the army. Our ears have been filled with nothing these several days but the report of death, blood and slaughter. We heard that Lord Howe was killed, and five thousand of our men blown up with a mine at Ticonderoga, and that the York and Jersey forces made three thousand of that unhappy number, which filled us with the greatest concern."-Manuscript Letter to Lt. Col. Clinton from his son-in-law J. McClaghey.
convoy of wagoners at Halfway Brook between Fort Edward and Lake George, was magnified by the excited citizens of Albany into a large army following the retreating footsteps of the English; and when, a few days afterward, the same party waylaid and defeated a body of rangers under Rogers and Putnam who had been sent out to intercept them, the rumor reached the settlements that the French army was on its march to Albany and had advanced as far as Fort Edward. In Schenectady and Albany, the militia, by order of the Baronet, were called out, and the guards doubled; while for additional protection, large numbers of men, stationed in the block houses, kept a sharp watch by day and by night.1
Colonel Bradstreet burned to retrieve the disgrace which the shameful retreat of the army had brought upon British arms. Early in the spring he had asked permission to lead an expedition against Fort Frontinac, but had been put off by Abercrombie with frivolous excuses. Now however he renewed his importunities, and with so much success, that a council of war by a small majority granted him the required permission; and the first of August found him at the Oneida carrying place in close consultation with General Stanwix, who by the orders of Abercrombie through the representation of Sir William Johnson, was erecting there a strong fort. Having received from Stanwix a force of twenty-seven hundred Provincials, eleven hundred of whom were New Yorkers, and having been joined by Red Head with forty-two of his warriors, the colonel embarked at Oswego in open boats upon Lake Ontario. The success which rewarded his resolution, will be seen from the following
1 Manuscripts of Sir William Johnson.
letter to Sir William from Captain Thomas Butler, whom the former had dispatched with the expedition in charge of the Indian warriors :
CADARACQUI, 28th Aug., 1758.
"I am to acquaint you that upon the 25th instant we landed without any opposition within one mile of the French Fort where we encamped. Early in the morning of the 26th, we landed our cannon, drew them near the fort upon which we fired and they at us, which lasted the whole day, and not one of our people hurt. In the night we got two entrenchments made within two hundred yards of the enemy's fort. The enemy fired away briskly with cannon and small arms at us all this night, with but little fire from us, only once in a while a bomb. On the twenty-seventh our cannon played on the fort very briskly, which the monsieurs finding too hot, came out to capitulate, and about twelve o'clock we took possession. The remainder of the day was spent in destroying the fort, shipping, &c., the latter of which were nine, and not one escaped. In the evening the French, being about one hundred and fifty men, went to Canada according to agreement, but are to return the like number of our prisoners, among whom is to be Colonel Schuyler.1 It's undescribable the quantity of store's we found here. We have a brig and a schooner which we keep to carry plunder to Oswego. In the whole of this action we have not lost a man, and only two or three slightly wounded. One of the enemy had his thigh shot off whom Red Head scalped. They lost some by the bursting of their cannon, and some few wounded by our shot. "We are making ready to set off this day, but the wind is pretty hard ahead. This will go by some Onondagas whom Col. Bradstreet sends express.
"I am Sir,
" With all respect,
" THOMAS BUTLER.
1 Col. Schuyler was taken by Montcalm at the
surrender of Oswego.
"P. S. The enemy have not one vessel left in this lake. " Sir Wm. Johnson, Bart."1
The single brief postscript in the above letter, reveals perhaps, more than anything else, the importance of this victory of Bradstreet-a victory that more than compensated for the defeat of Abercrombie. By it, the possession of the entire lake was wrested from the French, and the communication between Canada and her posts in the Ohio valley completely cut off. These advantages were at once seen by the English, who now felt as much elated and encouraged, as the French were correspondingly depressed. "I am not discouraged," wrote Montcalm, admitting by this very remark his deep chagrin, "nor are my troops. We are resolved to find our graves under the ruins of the colony." By no one was the capture of Frontinac appreciated more than by Secretary Pitt. Understanding thoroughly the topography of America, his comprehensive mind at once perceived that it was but one more step to the possession of Fort Du Quesne; and while the minister was yet hoping for that result, the deed had already been accomplished.
The command of the forces destined against Fort Du Quesne, was given to Brigadier General Forbes, who set out from Philadelphia with the main body of the army in the early part of July. Serious delays, however, retarded the advance of the army, some of which were due to the conduct of Forbes himself, while for others he was not responsible. Before advancing upon Du Quesne, Forbes wished to hold a conference with the Delawares and the Six Nations.2 This project was strenuously opposed by Sir William Johnson, who perceived that if such a council was held, its effect would be to seriously diminish the number of those Indians whom he proposed to take with him, to join the expedition against Ticonderoga. Finally,
1 Manuscript letter : Red Head and his braves received $2500 from Sir William, for their services on this occasion.
2 Manuscript letter; Governor Denny to Johnson, 30th Aug., 1758
Forbes consented to postpone the council until autumn, though not until a lengthy correspondence had been held upon the subject between Governor Denny, Sir William and Abercrombie, and the latter had imperatively commanded him to relinquish his design.l Scarcely, however, had tills matter been settled, when Forbes insisted, against the advice of Colonel "Washington and other Provincial officers, upon sending forward fifteen hundred men to open a new road to the Ohio which, it was insisted, would make the route to Port Du Quesne sixty miles nearer than by the old Braddock road.2 General Forbes, also, was taken ill, and the contractors were remiss in furnishing the requisite number of wagons for the transportation of the stores 3- so that it was not until the middle of September that the main army reached Raystown. Instead, however, of advancing, immediately with the entire force at his command, Forbes sent forward Bouquet to occupy Loyal Hanna with two thousand men. "This is the advance party," wrote George Croghan from Easton to Sir William Johnson, "and I dread every day to hear that the enemy have given them a thrashing."4 His apprehensions were indeed well founded, for even while he was writing the above sentence, a party of Highlanders that Bouquet had sent out on his own responsibility to reconnoiter the fort, fell into an ambuscade of French and Indians, and were completely routed. Three hundred men were either killed or wounded; and Major Grant, the leader of the party, and nineteen officers, were carried prisoners into Canada.
1 Manuscript correspondence between General Abercrombie and Sir William Johnson.
2 General Forbes wrote to me the 26th, that he had been ill, but, was so well recovered as to propose to join the army at the camp at Rays Town. Fifteen hundred of the Provincials are sent forward to complete the new road on the other side of Laurel Hill, which is a shorter cut to Fort Du Quesne than Mr. Braddock's road by at least sixty miles, and falls on the Ohio above the French fort.-Manuscript letter: Governor Denny to Johnson, 30th August, 1758.
3 Manuscript letter: George Croghan to Johnson, Sept. 1758.
On the fifth of November, Forbes with his army readied. Loyal Hanna. The season was far advanced, and the army were yet more than forty miles, from their destination A council of war decided that the army should go into winter quarters, and buildings for that purpose were already erecting at Raystown.1 Washington could scarcely cintain his displeasure at such a determination, and upon its being ascertained on the the twelfth from three prisoners, that the garrison of Fort Du Quesne was in no condition to resist an attack, he obtained permission to push forward with his Virginians, while the main army should follow in his rear. Such was the energy which the young hero infused into the army, that on the twenty-third, the advance were within a day's march of the fort; and on the approach of the English, the next day, the garrison, numbering scarcely five hundred men and poorly supplied with provisions, fired their fort, and in wild terror fled down the Ohio; and the next morning, the red man, as he timorously approached the smoldering ruins, beheld the cross of Saint George, where for so long had floated the lilies of France.
As the struggle for the possession of the Ohio valley had begun the contest, with the reoccupation of that valley was the war in America virtually brought to a close; and as Du Quesne, who had been most active in expelling the English from the Ohio, had given his name to the fort, So was it just, that the statesman, through whose energy the fort at length fell, should be ever remembered by the name of PITTSBURG.
The Delawares and the Shawanese of the Alleghany and Ohio were yet upon the war path, and although the horrors: of the border warfare were somewhat mitigated by the peace with Teedyuscung, they were by no means at an end. More especially were the frontiers of Virginia exposed to the invasions of the Shawnese. Efforts for a
1 Manuscript letter; Croghan to Johnson, Sept., 1758.
more general pacification were therefore continued, under the auspices of the Quakers. But the French were strongly posted in the beginning of this year at Venango and Fort Du Quesue; and they were assiduous and plausible in cultivating the friendship of the Indians, and lavish in their presents. It was consequently a difficult matter to obtain access to the Indian towns thickly studding the more western rivers, or induce the tribes to open their ears to any body but the French.
A most fitting and worthy agent to bear a message of peace to those Indians, was, however, found in the person of Christian Frederick Post. He was a plain, honest German, of the Moravian sect, who had resided seventeen years with the Indians, a part of which period had been passed in the valley of Wyoming, and he had twice married among them. He was therefore well acquainted with the Indian character, and was intimately known to many, both Shawanese and Delawares, who had also resided at Wyoming. The service required of him was alike severe and arduous. A dreary wilderness was to be traversed, ravines threaded and mountains scaled; and when these obstacles were surmounted, even if he did not meet with a stealthy enemy before, with his life in his hand he was to throw himself into the heart of an enemy's country-and that enemy as treacherous and cruel, when in a state of exasperation, as ever civilized man has been doomed to encounter. But Christian Frederick Post entered upon the perilous mission with the courage and spirit of a Christian. Accompanied by two or three Indian guides, he crossed the rivers and mountains twice in the summer and autumn of this year, visited many of the Indian towns, passed and repassed the French Fort at Venango, and held a council with the Indians almost under the guns of Fort Du Quesne. Far the greater part of the Indians received him with friendship, and his message of peace with gladness. They had such perfect confidence in his integrity and truth, that every effort of the French to circumvent him was unavailing. They kept a captain and more than fifteen soldiers hanging about him for several days, watching his every movement, and listening to all that was said; and various schemes were devised at first to make him prisoner, and ultimately to take his life; but although one of his guides had a forked tongue, and was seduced from him at Fort Du Quesne, yet the Indians upon whom he had thrown himself, with so much confidence and moral courage, interposed for his counsel and protection in every case of danger, and would not allow a hair of his head to be injured. He was charged with messages both from Teedyuscung and Governor Denny. To the former they would not listen for a moment. Indeed that chieftain seemed to be the object of their strong dislike, if not of their positive hate. They would, therefore, recognize nothing that he had done at Easton; but they received the messages of the governor with the best possible feeling. It was evident from all their conversation with Christian Post, whose journal is as artless as it is interesting, that they had been deceived by the representations of the French, and deluded into a belief that, while it was the intention of the English to plunder them of all their lands, the French were themselves actuated solely by the benevolent motive of driving the English back across the water, and restoring the Indians to all the possessions which the Great Spirit had given them. Convinced by Post of the fraud that had been practiced upon their understandings, their yearnings for peace gathered intensity every day. Several times, during his conversations with the chiefs of different towns, as he undeceived them in regard to the real designs of the French, their minds seemed filled with melancholy perplexity, a conviction of what was not wide of the truth flashed upon them, and once at least, the apprehension was uttered, that it was but a struggle between the English and French, which should possess their whole country, after the Indians had been exterminated between them. "Why do not the great kings of England and France," they inquired, "do their fighting in their own country, and not come over the great waters to fight on our hunting grounds?" The question "was too deep for honest Christian Frederick Post to answer. However, the inclination of the Indians was decidedly toward the English, and the result of his second embassy, in the autumn of this year, after encountering fresh difficulties and dangers, was a reconciliation with the Indians of the Ohio country, in consequence of which, the French were obliged to abandon the whole of that territory, as we have seen, to General Forbes, after destroying with their own hands the strong fortress of Du Quesne.
Great, however, as was the influence of Christian Frederick Post with the western Delawares and Shawanese, he is by no means entitled to the entire credit of bringing about a peace. The efforts of Sir William Johnson were incessantly directed to the same end, and the many councils which he held at his own house this year with the Delawares, Shawanese, Cherokees and Catawbas, were not without their effect. The fact was, the French were omitting no exertions to win the Six Nations from their alliance with the English. In this design they were partially successful, and the British Indian superintendent, great as was his influence with the red men, had his hands full to prevent the mass of the Six Nations from deserting him, during the years 1756 and 1757, and joining the French. True, the Mohawks, Oneidas, and Tuscaroras, as has been seen, maintained their allegiance to the British crown, and were not backward upon the warpath; but the Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas, against the strongest remonstrances of Sir William, had declared themselves neutral; while large numbers of the Senecas and Cayugas actually took up the hatchet with the Western Indians, in alliance with the French.1
The defection probably would have been greater, but for circumstances that occurred at Fort Du Quesne, late in
1 Manuscripts of Sir William Johnson.
the year 1757, and in the beginning of the present year. These circumstances, which will be presently explained, while they evinced the absence, for a time, of the usual tact and sagacity of the French, had admirably opened the way for Christian Post's mission, while they had the effect of at once relieving Sir William from his embarrassing position in regard to the equivocal attitude of three of the Six Nations. It has been seen that the Baronet had interposed, not only directly but through the means of some of his Indians, in producing the partial peace with the Delawares and Teedyuscung. Sir William had also succeeded in forming an alliance with the Cherokees, some of whom had gone upon the warpath in the neighborhood of Fort Du Quesne. They were likewise exerting themselves to detach the Western Indians, as far as might be, from the French.1
It was in this posture of affairs, that late in the year 1757, a war-party of the Twightwees, (Miamies,) in a frolic close by the fortress of Du Quesne, killed a number of cattle belonging to the French in the fort. In a moment of exasperation, without pausing to reflect upon the consequences, the French fired upon the aggressors, and killed some ten or twelve of their number. The Twightwees were deeply incensed at this outrage, and the Western Indians sympathized at the loss of their braves. It was not long, probably, before their resolution was taken not only to withdraw from the French service, but to avenge the untimely fall of their warriors.1
While the Twightwees were thus brooding over this wrong, the Delawares intercepted a French dispatch, in which the project was proposed and discussed, of cutting off and utterly exterminating the Six Nations-forming, as they did, so strong a barrier between the French and English colonies. The Indians found some one among them to read the document, and they no sooner understood
1 Manuscripts of Sir William Johnson.
its full purport, than they repaired to the fortress in a body, and charged the project home upon the commander. That officer was either confused, or he attempted to dissemble. He likewise tried, but without success, to obtain the document from them. They kept it, and its contents were the occasion of widespread consternation among the Indians. But this is not all. In March, of this year, a deputation of the Senecas waited upon Sir William, with a message from the Delawares, the purport of which was that the French had recently convened a great council of the Northwestern Indians at Detroit, at which the same project of exterminating the Six Nations was proposed and discussed. The pretext urged, upon them by the French was, that the Six Nations were wrongfully claiming the territory of their western brethren, and were they to be crushed and extinguished, there would be no more difficulty upon the subject. The Western Indians would come into the full enjoyment of their own again, without question as to jurisdiction. They therefore proposed that all the Indians should join them "in cutting off the Six Nations from the face of the earth." This proposition startled the Delawares, who, after the council, determined to apprise the Senecas of the plot, and send to them the hatchet which they had received from the French to use against the English. They desired the Senecas to keep the hatchet for them, as they were determined not to use it again, unless by direction of their cousins. Having received the message and the hatchet, the Senecas called a council to deliberate upon the subject. The hatchet they had resolved to throw into deep water, where it could not be found for three centuries, and they now came to Sir William with the information, and for counsel. It so happened that the information was in full confirmation of the predictions which Sir William had many times uttered to the Indians, in his efforts to prevent any friendly intercourse between them and the French. These predictions the Senecas, in their present troubles, remembered with lively impressions of the Baronet's sagacity; and the result of the interview, was an entire alienation of the Senecas and Cayugas from the French.
On the nineteenth of April following, the Shawanese and Delawares of Ohio, sent a message of peace to Sir William. A council of the Mohawks was immediately convened, at the suggestion of the Superintendent, and it was determined, in the event of war, that the Shawanese and Delawares should find an asylum from the French at Venango and Fort Du Quesne, once more in the valley of Wyoming. But the evacuation, by the French, of the Ohio country soon afterward, as already mentioned, rendered no such formal removal necessary.1 Meantime another and much larger council was holden at Easton, in October, at which all the Six Nations, and most of the Delaware tribes, the Shawanese, the Miamies, and some of the Mohickanders were represented. The number of Indians assembled was about five hundred. Sir William was present in his Deputy, George Croghan, and the governments of Pennsylvania and New Jersey were likewise represented. Teedyuscung assumed a conspicuous position as a conductor of the discussions, at which the Six Nations were disposed for a time to be offended- reviving again their claim to superiority. But the Delaware chief was not in a humor to yield the distinction he had already acquired, and he sustained himself throughout with eloquence and dignity.2
The object of this treaty was chiefly the adjustment of boundaries, and to extend and brighten the chain of friendship, not only between the Indians themselves, but between their nations collectively and the whites. It was a convention of much harmony toward the close, and after nineteen days sittings, every difficulty being adjusted, they separated with great cordiality and good will.
1 Manuscripts of Sir William Johnson.
to James F. Morrison for loaning his book for the purpose of putting it on
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