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The Passing of New France by William Wood

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CHRONICLES OF CANADA
Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton
In thirty-two volumes

Volume 10

THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE
A Chronicle of Montcalm

By WILLIAM WOOD

TORONTO, 1915

CHAPTER I

MONTCALM IN FRANCE
1712-1756

'War is the grave of the Montcalms.' No one can tell how
old this famous saying is. Perhaps it is as old as France
herself. Certainly there never was a time when the men
of the great family of Montcalm-Gozon were not ready to
fight for their king and country; and so Montcalm, like
Wolfe, was a soldier born.

Even in the Crusades his ancestors were famous all over
Europe. When the Christians of those brave days were
trying to drive the unbelievers out of Palestine they
gladly followed leaders whom they thought saintly and
heroic enough to be their champions against the dragons
of sultan, satan, and hell; for people then believed that
dragons fought on the devil's side, and that only Christian
knights, like St George, fighting on God's side, could
kill them. The Christians banded themselves together in
many ways, among others in the Order of the Knights of
St John of Jerusalem, taking an oath to be faithful unto
death. They chose the best man among them to be their
Grand Master; and so it could have been only after much
devoted service that Deodat de Gozon became Grand Master,
more than five hundred years ago, and was granted the
right of bearing the conquered Dragon of Rhodes on the
family coat of arms, where it is still to be seen. How
often this glorious badge of victory reminded our own
Montcalm of noble deeds and noble men! How often it nerved
him to uphold the family tradition!

There are centuries of change between Crusaders and
Canadians. Yet the Montcalms can bridge them with their
honour. And, among all the Montcalms who made their name
mean soldier's honour in Eastern or European war, none
have given it so high a place in the world's history as
the hero whose life and death in Canada made it immortal.
He won the supreme glory for his name, a glory so bright
that it shone even through the dust of death which shrouded
the France of the Revolution. In 1790, when the National
Assembly was suppressing pensions granted by the Crown,
it made a special exception in favour of Montcalm's
children. As kings, marquises, heirs, and pensions were
among the things the Revolution hated most, it is a
notable tribute to our Marquis of Montcalm that the
revolutionary parliament should have paid to his heirs
the pension granted by a king. Nor has another century
of change in France blotted out his name and fame. The
Montcalm was the French flagship at the naval review held
in honour of the coronation of King Edward VII. The
Montcalm took the President of France to greet his ally
the Czar of Russia. And, but for a call of duty elsewhere
at the time, the Montcalm would have flown the French
admiral's flag in 1908, at the celebration of the
Tercentenary of the founding of Quebec, when King George
V led the French- and English-speaking peoples of the
world in doing honour to the twin renown of Wolfe and
Montcalm on the field where they won equal glory, though
unequal fortune.

Montcalm was a leap-year baby, having been born on February
29, 1712, in the family castle of Candiac, near Nimes,
a very old city of the south of France, a city with many
forts built by the Romans two thousand years ago. He came
by almost as much good soldier blood on his mother's side
as on his father's, for she was one of the Castellanes,
with numbers of heroic ancestors, extending back to the
First Crusade.

The Montcalms had never been rich. They had many heroes
but no millionaires. Yet they were well known and well
loved for their kindness to all the people on their
estates; and so generous to every one in trouble, and so
ready to spend their money as well as their lives for
the sake of king and country, that they never could have
made great fortunes, even had their estate been ten times
as large as it was. Accordingly, while they were famous
and honoured all over France, they had to be very careful
about spending money on themselves. They all--and our
own Montcalm in particular--spent much more in serving
their country than their country ever spent in paying
them to serve it.

Montcalm was a delicate little boy of six when he first
went to school. He had many schoolboy faults. He found
it hard to keep quiet or to pay attention to his teacher;
he was backward in French grammar; and he wrote a very
bad hand. Many a letter of complaint was sent to his
father. 'It seems to me,' writes the teacher, 'that his
handwriting is getting worse than ever. I show him, again
and again, how to hold his pen; but he will not do it
properly. I think he ought to try to make up for his want
of cleverness by being more docile, taking more pains,
and listening to my advice.' And then poor old Dumas
would end with an exclamation of despair--'What will
become of him!'

Dumas had another pupil who was much more to his taste.
This was Montcalm's younger brother, Jean, who knew his
letters before he was three, read Latin when he was five,
and Greek and Hebrew when he was six. Dumas was so proud
of this infant prodigy that he took him to Paris and
showed him off to the learned men of the day, who were
dumbfounded at so much knowledge in so young a boy. All
this, however, was too much for a youthful brain; and
poor Jean died at the age of seven.

Dumas then turned sadly to the elder boy, who was in no
danger of being killed by too much study, and soon renewed
his complaints. At last Montcalm, now sixteen and already
an officer, could bear it no longer, and wrote to his
father telling him that in spite of his supposed stupidity
he had serious aims. 'I want to be, first, a man of
honour, brave, and a good Christian. Secondly, I want to
read moderately; to know as much Greek and Latin as other
men; also arithmetic, history, geography, literature,
and some art and science. Thirdly, I want to be obedient
to you and my dear mother; and listen to Mr Dumas's
advice. Lastly, I want to manage a horse and handle a
sword as well as ever I can.' The result of it all was
that Montcalm became a good Latin scholar, a very well
read man, an excellent horseman and swordsman, and--to
dominie Dumas's eternal confusion--such a master of French
that he might have been as great an author as he was a
soldier. His letters and dispatches from the seat of war
remind one of Caesar's. He wrote like a man who sees into
the heart of things and goes straight to the point with
the fewest words which will express exactly what he wishes
to say. In this he was like Wolfe, and like many another
great soldier whose quick eye, cool head and warm heart,
all working together in the service of his country, give
him a command over words which often equals his command
over men.

In 1727, the year Wolfe was born, Montcalm joined his
father's regiment as an ensign. Presently, in 1733, the
French and Germans fell out over the naming of a king
for Poland. Montcalm went to the front and had what French
soldiers call his 'baptism of fire.' This war gave him
little chance of learning how great battles should be
fought. But he saw two sieges; he kept his eyes open to
everything that happened; and, even in camp, he did not
forget his studies. 'I am learning German,' he wrote
home, 'and I am reading more Greek than I have read for
three or four years.'

The death of his father in 1735 made him the head of the
family of Montcalm. The next year he married Angelique
Talon du Boulay, a member of a military family, and
grand-daughter of Denis Talon; a kinsman of Jean Talon,
the best intendant who ever served New France. For the
next twenty years, from 1736 to 1756, he spent in his
ancestral castle of Candiac as much of his time as he
could spare from the army. There he had been born, and
there he always hoped he could live and die among his
own people after his wars were over. How often he was to
sigh for one look at his pleasant olive groves when he
was far away, upholding the honour of France against
great British odds and, far worse, against secret enemies
on the French side in the dying colony across the sea!
But for the present all this was far off. Meanwhile,
Candiac was a very happy home; and Montcalm's wife and
his mother made it the happier by living together under
the same roof. In course of time ten children were born,
all in the family chateau.

Montcalm's second war was the War of the Austrian
Succession, a war in which his younger opponent Wolfe
saw active service for the first time. The two future
opponents in Canada never met, however, on the same
battlefields in Europe. In 1741, the year in which Wolfe
received his first commission, Montcalm fought so well
in Bohemia that he was made a Knight of St Louis. Two
years later, at the age of thirty-one, he was promoted
to the command of a regiment which he led through three
severe campaigns in Italy. During the third campaign, in
1746, there was a terrific fight against the Austrians
under the walls of Placentia. So furious was the Austrian
attack that the French army was almost destroyed. Twice
was Montcalm's regiment broken by sheer weight of numbers.
But twice he rallied it and turned to face the enemy
again. The third attack was the worst of all. Montcalm
still fought on, though already he had three bullet
wounds, when the Austrian cavalry made a dashing charge
and swept the French off the field altogether. He met
them, sword in hand, as dauntless as ever; but he was
caught in a whirlwind of sabre-cuts and was felled to
the ground with two great gashes in his head. He was
taken prisoner; but was soon allowed to go home, on giving
his word of honour, or 'parole,' that he would take no
further part in the war until some Austrian prisoner, of
the same rank as his own, was given back by the French
in exchange. While still on parole he was promoted to be
a brigadier, so that he could command more than a single
regiment. In due time, when proper exchange of prisoners
was made, Montcalm went back to Italy, again fought
splendidly, and again was badly wounded. The year 1748
closed with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; and seven
years of peace followed before the renewed tumult of the
Seven Years' War.

Life went very well with Montcalm at Candiac. He was
there as much as possible, and spent his time between
his castle and his olive groves, his study and his family
circle. His eldest son was a young man of much promise,
growing immensely tall, devoted to the army, and engaged
to be married. His wife and her mother-in-law were as
happy as ever with him and with each other. Nothing seemed
more peaceful than that quiet corner in the pleasant land
of southern France.

But the age-long rivalry of French and British could not
long be stilled. Even in 1754 there were rumours of war
from the Far East in India and from the Far West in
Canada. Next year, though peace was outwardly kept in
Europe, both the great rivals sent fleets and armies to
America, where the clash of arms had already been heard.
There were losses on both sides. And, when the French
general, Baron Dieskau, was made prisoner, the minister of
War, knowing the worth of Montcalm, asked him to think over
the proposal that he should take command in New France.

On January 26, 1756, the formal offer came in a letter
approved by the king. '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. But what will
please you still more is that His Majesty will put your
son in your place at the head of your present regiment.
The applause of the public will add to your satisfaction.'

On the very day Montcalm received this letter he made up
his mind, accepted the command, bade good-bye to Candiac,
and set out for Paris. From Lyons he wrote to his mother:
'I am reading with much pleasure the History of New France
by Father Charlevoix. He gives a pleasant description of
Quebec.' From Paris he wrote to his wife: 'Do not expect
any long letter before the 1st of March. All my pressing
work will then be finished, and I shall be able to breathe
once more. Last night I came from Versailles and I am
going back to-morrow. My outfit will cost me a thousand
crowns more than the amount I am paid to cover it. But
I cannot stop for that.' On March 15 he wrote home:
'Yesterday I presented my son, with whom I am very well
pleased, to all the royal family.' Three days later he
wrote to his wife: 'I shall be at Brest on the twenty-first.
My son has been here since yesterday, for me to coach
him and also in order to get his uniform properly made.
He will thank the king for his promotion at the same time
that I make my adieux in my embroidered coat. Perhaps I
shall leave some debts behind me. I wait impatiently for
the accounts. You have my will. I wish you would have it
copied, and would send me the duplicate before I sail.'

On April 3 Montcalm left Brest in the Licorne, a ship of
the little fleet which the French were hurrying out to
Canada before war should be declared in Europe. The
passage proved long and stormy. But Montcalm was lucky
in being a much better sailor than his great opponent
Wolfe. Impatient to reach the capital at the earliest
possible moment he rowed ashore from below the island of
Orleans, where the Licorne met a contrary wind, and drove
up to Quebec, a distance of twenty-five miles. It was
May 13 when he first passed along the Beauport shore
between Montmorency and Quebec. Three years and nine days
later he was to come back to that very point, there to
make his last heroic stand.

On the evening of his arrival Bigot the intendant gave
a magnificent dinner-party for him. Forty guests sat down
to the banquet. Montcalm had not expected that the poor
struggling colony could boast such a scene as this. In
a letter home he said: 'Even a Parisian would have been
astonished at the profusion of good things on the table.
Such splendour and good cheer show how much the intendant's
place is worth.' We shall soon hear more of Bigot the
intendant.

On the 26th Montcalm arrived at Montreal to see the
Marquis of Vaudreuil the governor. The meeting went off
very well. The governor was as full of airs and graces
as the intendant, and said that nothing else in the world
could have given him so much pleasure as to greet the
general sent out to take command of the troops from
France. We shall soon hear more of Vaudreuil the governor.

CHAPTER II

MONTCALM IN CANADA
1756

The French colonies in North America consisted of nothing
more than two very long and very thin lines of scattered
posts and settlements, running up the St Lawrence and
the Mississippi to meet, in the far interior, at the
Great Lakes. Along the whole of these four thousand miles
there were not one hundred thousand people. Only two
parts of the country were really settled at all: one
Acadia, the other the shores of the St Lawrence between
Bic and Montreal; and both regions together covered not
more than four hundred of the whole four thousand miles.
There were but three considerable towns--Louisbourg,
Quebec, and Montreal--and Quebec, which was much the
largest, had only twelve thousand inhabitants.

The territory bordering on the Mississippi was called
Louisiana. That in the St Lawrence region was called New
France along the river and Acadia down by the Gulf; though
Canada is much the best word to cover both. Now, Canada
had ten times as many people as Louisiana; and Louisiana
by itself seemed helplessly weak. This very weakness made
the French particularly anxious about the country south
of the Lakes, where Canada and Louisiana met. For, so
long as they held it, they held the gateways of the West,
kept the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi quite
securely, shut up the British colonies between the
Alleghany Mountains and the Atlantic and prevented them
from expanding westward. One other thing was even more
vital than this to the French in America: it was that
they should continue to hold the mouth of the St Lawrence.
Canada could live only by getting help from France; and
as this help could not come up the Mississippi it had to
come up the St Lawrence.

The general position of the French may be summed up
briefly. First, and most important of all, they had to
hold the line of the St Lawrence for a thousand miles in
from the sea. Here were their three chief positions:
Louisbourg, Quebec, and Lake Champlain.

Secondly, they had to hold another thousand miles westward,
to and across the Lakes; but especially the country south
of Lakes Ontario and Erie, into the valley of the Ohio.
Here there were a few forts, but no settlements worth
speaking of.

Thirdly, they had to hold the valley of the Mississippi,
two thousand miles from north to south. Here there were
very few forts, very few men, and no settlements of any
kind. In fact, they held the Mississippi only by the
merest thread, and chiefly because the British colonies
had not yet grown out in that direction. The Mississippi
did not come into the war, though it might have done so.
If Montcalm had survived the battle of the Plains, and
if in 1760 the defence of Canada on the St Lawrence had
seemed to him utterly hopeless, his plan would probably
then have been to take his best soldiers from Canada into
the interior, and in the end to New Orleans, there to
make a last desperate stand for France among the swamps.
But this plan died with him; and we may leave the valley
of the Mississippi out of our reckoning altogether.

Not so the valley of the Ohio, which, as we have seen,
was the meeting-place of Canada and Louisiana, and the
chief gateway to the West; and which the French and
British rivals were both most fiercely set on possessing.
It was here that the world-wide Seven Years' War first
broke out; here that George Washington first appeared as
an American commander; here that Braddock led the first
westbound British army; and here that Montcalm struck
his first blow for French America.

But, as we have also seen, even the valley of the Ohio
was less important than the line of the St Lawrence. The
Ohio region was certainly the right arm of French America.
But the St Lawrence was the body, of which the lungs were
Louisbourg, and the head and heart Quebec. Montcalm saw
this at once; and he made no single mistake in choosing
the proper kind of attack and defence during the whole
of his four campaigns.

The British colonies were different in every way from
the French. The French held a long, thin line of four
thousand miles, forming an inland loop from the Gulf of
St Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, with only one hundred
thousand people sparsely settled in certain spots; the
British filled up the solid inside of this loop with over
twelve hundred thousand people, who had an open seaboard
on the Atlantic for two thousand miles, from Nova Scotia
down to Florida.

Now, what could have made such a great difference in
growth between the French and the British colonies, when
France had begun with all the odds of European force and
numbers in her favour? The answer is two-fold: France
had no adequate fleets and her colonies had no adequate
freedom.

First, as to fleets. The mere fact that the Old and New
Worlds had a sea between them meant that the power with
the best navy would have a great advantage. The Portuguese,
Spaniards, Dutch, and French all tried to build empires
across the sea. But they all failed whenever they came
to blows with Britain, simply because no empire can live
cut up into separate parts. The sea divided the other
empires, while, strange as it may appear, this same sea
united the British. The French were a nation of landsmen;
for one very good reason that they had two land frontiers
to defend. Their kings and statesmen understood armies
better than navies, and the French people themselves liked
soldiers better than sailors. The British, on the other
hand, since they lived on an island, had no land frontiers
to defend. The people liked sailors better than soldiers.
And their rulers understood navies better than armies,
for the sea had always been the people's second home.

At this period, whenever war broke out, the British navy
was soon able to win 'the command of the sea'; that is,
its squadrons soon made the sea a safe road for British
ships and a very unsafe road for the ships of an enemy.
In America, at that time, everything used in war, from
the regular fleets and armies themselves down to the
powder and shot, cannon and muskets, swords and bayonets,
tools, tents, and so on--all had to be brought across
the Atlantic. While this was well enough for the British,
for the French it was always very hard and risky work. In
time of war their ships were watched, chased and taken
whenever they appeared on the sea. Even during peace they
had much the worse of it, for they had to spend great sums
and much effort in building vessels to make up for the
men of-war and the merchant ships which they had lost and
the British had won. Thus they never quite succeeded in
beginning again on even terms with their triumphant rival.

We must remember, too, that every sort of trade and
money-making depended on the command of the sea, which
itself depended on the stronger navy. Even the trade with
Indians in America, two thousand miles inland, depended
on defeat or victory at sea. The French might send out
ships full of things to exchange for valuable furs. But
if they lost their ships they lost their goods, and in
consequence the trade and even the friendship of the
Indians. In the same way the navy helped or hindered the
return trade from America to Europe. The furs and food
from the British colonies crossed over in safety, and
the money or other goods in exchange came safely back.
But the French ships were not safe, and French merchants
were often ruined by the capture of their ships or by
having the sea closed to them.

To follow out all the causes and effects of the command
of the sea would be far too long a story even to begin
here. But the gist of it is quite short and quite plain:
no Navy, no Empire. That is what it meant then, and that
is what it means now.

Secondly, as to freedom in the French colonies. Of course,
freedom itself, no matter how good it is and how much we
love it, would have been nothing without the protection
of fleets. All the freedom in the world cannot hold two
countries on opposite sides of the sea together without
the link of strong fleets. But even the strongest fleet
would not have helped New France to grow as fast and as
well as New England grew. The French people were not free
in the motherland. They were not free as colonists in
Canada. All kinds of laws and rules were made for the
Canadians by persons thousands of miles away. This
interference came from men who knew scarcely anything
about Canada. They had crude notions as to what should
be done, and sometimes they ordered the men on the spot
to do impossible things. The result was that the men on
the spot, if they were bad enough and clever enough, just
hoodwinked the government in France, and did in Canada
what they liked and what made for their own profit.

Now, Bigot the intendant, the man of affairs in the
colony, was on the spot; and he was one of the cleverest
knaves ever known, with a feeble colony in his power. He
had nothing to fear from the people, the poor, helpless
French Canadians. He had nothing to fear from their
governor, the vain, incompetent Vaudreuil. He was,
moreover, three thousand miles away from the French court,
which was itself full of parasites. He had been given
great power in Canada. As intendant he was the head of
everything except the army, the navy, and the church. He
had charge of all the public money and all the public
works and whatever else might be called public business.
Of course, he was supposed to look after the interests
of France and of Canada, not after his own; and earlier
intendants like Talon had done this with perfect honesty.
But Bigot soon organized a gang of men like himself, and
gathered into his grasping hands the control of the
private as well as of the public business.

One example will show how he worked. Whenever food became
dangerously scarce in Canada the intendant's duty was to
buy it up, to put it into the king's stores, and to sell
out only enough for the people to live on till the danger
was over. There was a reason for this, as Canada, cut
off from France, was like a besieged fortress, and it
was proper to treat the people as a garrison would be
treated, and to make provision for the good of the whole.
But when Bigot had formed his gang, and had, in some way,
silenced Vaudreuil, he declared Canada in danger when it
was not, seized all the food he could lay hands on, and
sent it over to France; sent it, too, in the king's ships,
that it might be carried free. Then he made Vaudreuil
send word to the king that Canada was starving. In the
meantime, his friends in France had stored the food, and
had then assured the king that there was plenty of grain
in hand which they could ship to Canada at once. The next
step was to get an order from the king to buy this food
to be shipped to Canada. This order was secured through
influential friends in Paris, and, of course, the price
paid by the king was high. The food was then sent back
to Canada, again in the king's ships. Then Bigot and his
friends in Canada put it not into the king's but into
their own stores in Quebec, sold it to the king's stores
once more, as they had sold it in France, and then effected
a third sale, this time to the wretched French Canadians
from whom they had bought it for next to nothing at first.
Thus both the king and the French Canadians were each
robbed twice over, thanks to Vaudreuil's complaisance and
Bigot's official position as also representing the king.

Bigot had been some time in Canada before Vaudreuil
arrived as governor in 1755. He had already cheated a
good deal. But it was only when he found out what sort
of man Vaudreuil was that he set to work to do his worst.
Bigot was a knave, Vaudreuil a fool. Vaudreuil was a
French Canadian born and very jealous of any one from
France, unless the Frenchman flattered him as Bigot did.
He loved all sorts of pomp and show, and thought himself
the greatest man in America. Bigot played on this weakness
with ease and could persuade him to sign any orders, no
matter how bad they were.

Now, when an owl like Vaudreuil and a fox like Bigot were
ruining Canada between them, they were anything but
pleased to see a lion like Montcalm come out with an army
from France. Vaudreuil, indeed, had done all he could to
prevent the sending out of Montcalm. He wrote to France
several times, saying that no French general was needed,
that separate regiments under their own colonels would
suffice, and that he himself could command the regulars
from France, just as he did the Canadians.

But how did he command the Canadians? By law every Canadian
had to serve as a soldier, without pay, whenever the
country was in danger. By law every man needed for carrying
supplies to the far-off outposts could also be taken;
but, in this case, he had to be paid. Now, all the supplies
and the carriage of them were under Bigot's care. So when
the Canadians were called out as soldiers, without pay,
Bigot's gang would ask them if they would rather go and
be shot for nothing or carry supplies in safety for pay.
Of course, they chose the carrier's work and the pay,
though half the pay was stolen from them. At the same
time their names were still kept on the muster rolls as
soldiers. This was the reason why Montcalm often had only
half the militia called out for him: the other half were
absent as carriers, and the half which remained for
Montcalm was made up of those men whom Bigot's friends
did not think good enough for carriers.

But there were more troubles still for Montcalm and his
army. As governor, Vaudreuil was, of course, the head of
everything in the country, including the army. This was
right enough, if he had been fit for his post, because
a country must have a supreme head, and the army is only
a part, though the most important part, in war. A soldier
may be also a statesman and at the head of everything,
as were Cromwell, Napoleon, and Frederick the Great. But
a statesman who is not a soldier only ruins an army if
he tries to command it himself. And this was precisely
what Vaudreuil did. Indeed, he did worse, for, while he
did not go into the field himself, he continued to give
orders to Montcalm at every turn. Besides, instead of
making all the various forces on the French side into
one army he kept them as separate as he could--five parts
and no whole.

It should be made clear what these five parts were. First,
there were the French regulars, the best of all, commanded
by Montcalm, who was himself under Vaudreuil. Next, there
were the Canadian regulars and the Canadian militia, both
directly under Vaudreuil. Then there were the French
sailors, under their own officers, but subject to Vaudreuil.
Montcalm had to report to the minister of War in Paris
about the French regulars, and to the minister of Marine
about the Canadians of both kinds. Vaudreuil reported to
both ministers, usually against Montcalm; and the French
naval commander reported to his own minister on his own
account. So there was abundant opportunity to make trouble
among the four French forces. But there was more trouble
still with the fifth force, the Indians, who were under
their own chiefs. These men admired Montcalm; but they
had to make treaties with Vaudreuil. They were cheated
by Bigot and were offered presents by the British. As
they very naturally desired to keep their own country
for themselves in their own way they always wished to
side with the stronger of the two white rivals, if they
could not get rid of both.

Such was the Canada of 1756, a country in quite as much
danger from French parasites as from British patriots.
It might have lasted for some years longer if there had
been no general war. The American colonists, though more
than twelve to one, could not have conquered it alone,
because they had no fleet and no regular army. But the
war came, and it was a great one. In a great war a country
of parasites has no chance against a country of patriots.
All the sins of sloth and wilful weakness, of demagogues
and courtiers, and whatever else is rotten in the state,
are soon found out and punished by war. Canada under
Vaudreuil and Bigot was no match for an empire under
Pitt. For one's own parasites are always the worst of
one's enemies. So the last great fight for Canada was
not a fight of three against three; but of one against
five. Montcalm the lion stood utterly alone, with two
secret foes behind him and three open foes in front--
Vaudreuil the owl, and Bigot the fox, behind; Pitt,
Saunders and Wolfe, three lions like himself, in front.

CHAPTER III

OSWEGO
1756

In 1753 the governor of Virginia had sent Washington,
then a young major of only twenty-one, to see what the
French were doing in the valley of the Ohio, where they
had been busy building forts to shut the gateway of the
West against the British and to keep it open for themselves.
The French officers at a post which they called Venango
received Washington very politely and asked him to supper.
Washington wrote in his diary that, after they had drunk
a good deal of wine, 'they told me that it was their
absolute design to take possession of the Ohio, and by
God they would do it.' When Washington had returned home
and reported, the Virginians soon sent him back with a
small force to turn the French out. But meanwhile the
French had been making themselves much stronger, and on
July 4, 1754, when Washington advanced into the disputed
territory, he was overcome and obliged to surrender--a
strange Fourth of July for him to look back upon!

Exciting events followed rapidly. In 1755 Braddock came
out from England with a small army of regulars to take
command of the British forces in America and drive the
French from the Ohio valley. But there were many
difficulties. The governments of the thirteen British
colonies were jealous of each other and of the government
in Britain; their militia were jealous of the British
regulars, who in turn looked down on them. In the end,
with only a few Virginians to assist him, Braddock marched
into a country perfectly new to him and his men. The
French and Indians, quite at home in the dense forest,
laid an ambush for the British regulars. These stood
bravely, but they could not see a single enemy to fire
at. They were badly defeated, and Braddock was killed.
The British had a compensating success a few weeks later
when, in the centre of Canada, beside Lake George, the
French general, Baron Dieskau, was defeated almost as
badly as Braddock had been. Following this, down by the
Gulf the French Acadians were rooted out of Nova Scotia,
for fear that they might join the other French in the
coming war. Their lot was a hard one, but as they had
been British subjects for forty years and had always
refused to take the oath of allegiance to the British
crown, and as they were being constantly stirred up
against British rule, it was decided that they could not
be safely left inside the British frontier.

At sea the French had also suffered loss. Admiral Boscawen
had seized two ships with four hundred seasoned French
regulars on board destined for Canada. The French then
sent out another four hundred to replace them. But no
veteran soldiers could be spared. So the second four
hundred, raised from all sorts of men, were of poor
quality, and spoiled the discipline of the regiments they
joined in Canada. One of the regiments, which had the
worst of these recruits, proved to be the least trust.
worthy in the final struggle before Quebec in 1759. Thus
the power of the British navy in the Gulf of St Lawrence
in 1755 made itself felt four years later, and a long
distance away, at the very crisis of the war on land.

Strange as it seems to us now, all this fighting had
taken place in a time of nominal peace. But in 1756 the
Seven Years' War broke out in Europe, and then many plans
were made, especially in the English colonies in America,
for the conquest of Canada. The British forces were
greater than the French, all told on both sides, both
then and throughout the war. But the thirteen colonies
could not agree. Some of them were hot, others lukewarm,
others, such as the Quakers of Pennsylvania, cold.
Moreover, the British generals were of little use, and
the colonial ones squabbled as the colonies themselves
squabbled. Pitt had not yet taken charge of the war,
and the British in America were either doing nothing
or doing harm.

There was only one trained and competent general on the
whole continent; and that general was Montcalm. Though
new to warfare in the wilds he soon understood it as well
as those who had waged it all their lives; and he saw at
a glance that an attack on Oswego was the key to the
whole campaign. Louisbourg was, as yet, safe enough; and
the British movements against Lake Champlain were so slow
and foolish that he turned them to good account for his
own purposes.

At the end of June, 1756, Montcalm arrived at Ticonderoga,
where he had already posted his second-in-command, the
Chevalier de Levis, with 3,000 men. He walked all over
the country thereabouts and seized the lie of the land
so well that he knew it thoroughly when he came back,
two years later, and won his greatest victory. He kept
his men busy too. He moved them forward so boldly and so
cleverly that the British who had been planning the
capture of the fort never thought of attacking him, but
made sure only of defending themselves. All this was but
a feint to put the British off their guard elsewhere.
Suddenly, while Levis kept up the show of force, Montcalm
himself left secretly for Montreal, saw Vaudreuil, who,
like Bigot, was still all bows and smiles, and left again,
with equal suddenness, for Fort Frontenac (now Kingston)
on July 21. From this point he intended to attack Oswego.

At the entrance to the Thousand Islands there was a point,
called by the voyageurs Point Baptism, where every
new-comer into the 'Upper Countries' had to pay the old
hands to drink his health. The French regulars, 1,300
strong, were all new to the West, and, as they formed
nearly half of Montcalm's little army, the 'baptism' of
so many newcomers caused a great deal of jollity in camp
that night. Serious work was, however, ahead. Fort
Frontenac was reached on the 29th; and here the report
that Villiers, with the advance guard, had already taken
from the British 200 canoes and 300 prisoners soon flew
round and raised the men's spirits to the highest pitch.

Montcalm at once sent out two armed ships, with
twenty-eight cannon between them, to cut off Oswego
by water, while he sent a picked body of Canadians and
Indians into the woods on the south shore to cut the
place off by land. There was no time to lose, since the
British were, on the whole, much stronger, and might make
up their slow minds to send an army to the rescue. Montcalm
lost not a moment. He sailed across the lake with his
3,000 men and all his guns and stores, and landed at
Sackett's Harbour, which his advance guard had already
seized and prepared. Then, hiding in the mouths of rivers
by day and marching and rowing by night, his army arrived
safely within cannon-shot of Oswego under cover of the
dark on August 10.

There were three forts at the mouth of the Oswego. The
first was Fort Ontario; then, across the river, stood
Fort Oswego; and, beyond that again, little Fort George.
These forts were held by about 1,800 British, mostly
American colonists, with 123 guns of all kinds.

While it was still dark Montcalm gave out his orders. At
the first streak of dawn the Indians and Canadians were
in position to protect the engineers and working parties.
Only one accident marred the success of the opening day.
One of the French engineers was returning to camp through
the woods at dusk, when an Indian, mistaking him for an
enemy, shot him dead. It is said that this Indian felt
so sorry for what he had done that he vowed to avenge
the engineer's loss on the British, and did not stop
scalp-hunting during the rest of the war; but went on
until he had lifted as many as thirty scalps from the
hated British heads. In the meantime, other engineers
had traced out the road from the bay to the battery. Led
by their officers the French regulars set to work with
such goodwill that the road was ready next day for the
siege train of twenty-two cannon, now landed in the nick
of time.

Every part of the siege was made to fit in perfectly with
every other part. While the guns were being landed, the
British, who had only just taken alarm, sent round two
armed vessels to stop this work. But Montcalm had placed
a battery all ready to beat off an attack, and the landing
went on like clock-work. The next day, again, the soldiers
were as busy as bees round the doomed British forts.
Canadians and Indians filled the woods. Canadians and
French hauled the cannon up to the battery commanding
Fort Ontario, but left them hidden near by till after
dark. The engineers made the first parallel. French troops
raised the battery; and at daylight the next morning it
was ready. Fort Ontario kept up an active fire, at a
distance of only a musket shot, two hundred yards; but
the French fire was so furious that the British guns were
silenced the same afternoon.

Colonel Mercer, the British commander, called in the
garrison, who abandoned Fort Ontario and crossed the
river after spiking the guns. Without a moment's delay
Montcalm seized the fort and kept his working parties
hauling guns all night long. In the morning Fort Oswego
on the other side of the river was commanded by a heavier
battery than the one that had taken Fort Ontario the day
before. More than this, the Canadians and Indians had
crossed the river and had cut off the little Fort George,
half a mile beyond. There was a stiff fight for it, but
Mercer's men were driven off into the other fort with
considerable loss.

Montcalm's new battery beside the river was on higher
ground than Fort Oswego, which was only five hundred
yards away. At six o'clock it opened fire and ploughed
up the whole area of the fort with terrible effect. Hardly
a spot was left which the French shells did not search
out. The British reply, fired uphill, soon began to
falter. The French fire was redoubled. Colonel Mercer
was killed by a cannon ball, and this, of course, weakened
the British defence, The second-in-command kept up the
unequal fight for another couple of hours. Then, finding
that he could not induce his men to face the murderous
fire any longer, and seeing his fort cut off by land and
water, he ran up the white flag.

Montcalm gave him an hour to surrender both fort and
garrison. Again there was no time to lose, and again
Montcalm lost none. That morning a letter found on a
British messenger showed that Colonel Webb, with 2,000
men, was somewhere up the river Oswego waiting for news.
So, while Montcalm was attacking the fort with his
batteries, he was also preparing his army to attack Webb.
He did not intend to wait; but to march out and meet the
new enemy, so as not to be caught between two fires.

At eleven the fort surrendered with 1,600 prisoners, 123
cannon, powder, shot, stores and provisions of all kinds;
5 armed ships and 200 boats. There was also a large
quantity of wine and rum, which Montcalm at once spilt
into the lake, lest the Indians should get hold of it
and in their drunken frenzy begin a massacre. As it was,
they were anything but pleased to find that he was
conducting the war on European principles, and that he
would not let them scalp the sick and wounded British.
Some of them sneaked in and, in the first confusion, took
a few scalps. But Montcalm was among them at once and
stopped them short. He had been warned not to offend
them; and so he promised them rich presents if they would
behave properly. In his dispatch to the minister of War
he said: 'I am afraid my promises will cost ten thousand
francs; but the keeping of them will attach the Indians
more to our side. In any case, there is nothing I would
not have done to prevent any breach of faith with the
enemy.'

In a single week every part of all three forts was
levelled with the ground. This delighted the Indians more
than anything else, for they rightly feared that any
British advance in this direction would be sure to end
in their being driven out of their own country. By August
21, ten days from the time the first shot was fired,
Montcalm was leading his victorious army back to Montreal.

The news spread like wildfire. No such sudden, complete,
and surprising victory had ever before been won in the
West. The name and fame of Montcalm ran along the war-paths
of the endless forest and passed from mouth to mouth over
ten thousand leagues of inland waters. In one short summer
the magic of that single word, Montcalm, became as great
in America as it had been for centuries in France. The
whole face of the war was changed. At the beginning of
the year the British had thought of nothing but attack.
Then, when Montcalm had shown them so bold a front at
Ticonderoga, they had paused to make sure. Now, after
Oswego, they thought of nothing but defence.

People could hardly believe that one and the same man
had in July checked the threatened British invasion at
Lake Champlain and in August had taken the stronghold of
British power on Lake Ontario. Every step of the way had
to be covered by force of the men's own legs and arms,
marching, paddling, hauling, carrying. In short, Montcalm
had moved a whole army, siege train and all, as fast
through the wilderness without horses as another army
would have been moved over good roads in Europe with
them. The wonder grew when the numbers became known. With
3,000 men and 22 guns Montcalm had taken three forts with
a garrison of 1,800 men and 123 guns; and had done this
in face of five armed British vessels against his own
two, and in spite of the fact that 2,000 more British
soldiers were close behind him in the forest.

Canada burst into great rejoicings. All the churches sang
Te Deum. The five captured flags were carried in triumph
through Montreal, Three Rivers, and Quebec. In France
the news was received with great jubilation, and many of
Montcalm's officers gained promotion. In the midst of
all this glory Montcalm was busy looking after the health
and comfort of his men, seeing that the Canadians were
sent home as soon as possible to gather in their harvest,
and engaging the Indians to join him for a still greater
war next year. Nor did he forget any one who had done
him faithful service. He asked, as a special favour, that
an old sergeant, Marcel, who had come out as his orderly
and clerk, should be made a captain. Marcel had thus good
reason never to forget Montcalm. It was his hand that
wrote the last letter which Montcalm ever dictated and
signed, the one to the British commander after the battle
of the Plains, the one which admitted the ultimate failure
of all Montcalm's heroic work.

Another man whom Montcalm specially praised was
Bougainville, his aide-de-camp, of whom we shall hear
again very often. Bougainville, though still under thirty,
was already a well-known man of science who had been made
a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. 'You could hardly
believe how full of resource he is,' wrote the admiring
Montcalm, who then added modestly: 'As the account of
this expedition may be printed I have asked him to correct
it carefully, because he writes much better than I do.'

Only one thing spoiled the triumph; and that was the
jealousy of Vaudreuil, who tried to claim all the credit
of making the plan for himself and the credit of carrying
it out for the Canadians. Certainly he had been saying
for some time before Montcalm arrived that Oswego ought
to be taken. Everybody on both sides knew perfectly well,
however, that Oswego was the gateway of the West; so
Vaudreuil was not a bit wiser than many others. In a way
he did make the plan. But Montcalm was the one who really
worked it out. Vaudreuil pressed the button that launched
the ship. It was Montcalm who took her into action and
brought her out victorious.

Montcalm's crew worked well together. But this did not
suit Vaudreuil at all. He wrote both to the minister of
War and to the minister of Marine in France, praising
the Canadians and Indians and making as little as possible
of the work of the French. 'The French regulars showed
their wonted zeal; but the enemy did not give them a
chance to do much work.' 'Our troops, the Canadians and
Indians, fought with courage. They have all done very
well.' True enough. But, all the same, the regulars were,
from first to last, the backbone of the defence of Canada.
'The measures I took made our victory certain. If I had
been less firm, Oswego would still have been in the hands
of the British. I cannot sufficiently congratulate myself
on the zeal which my brother [an officer in the Canadian
service] and the Canadians and Indians showed. Without
them my orders would have been given in vain.' And so
on, and so on.

Montcalm saw the real strength and weakness of the
Canadians and wrote his own opinion to the minister of
War. 'Our French regulars did all I required with splendid
zeal. ... I made good use of the militia, but not at the
works exposed to the enemy's fire. These militiamen have
no discipline. In six months I could make grenadiers of
them. But at present I would not rely on them, nor believe
what they say about themselves; for they think themselves
quite the finest fellows in the world. The governor is
a native of Canada, was married here, and is surrounded
by his relatives on all sides.'

The fact is that the war was no longer an affair of little
raids, first on one side and then on the other, but was
becoming, more and more, a war on a great scale, with
long campaigns, larger numbers of men, trains of artillery,
fortifications, and all the other things that require
well-drilled troops who have thoroughly learned the
soldier's duty, and are ready to do it at any time and
in any place. War is like everything else in the world.
The men whose regular business it is will wage it better
than the men who only do it as an odd job. Of course, if
the best men are chosen for the militia, and the worst
are turned into regulars, the militia may beat the
regulars, even on equal terms. If, too, regulars are set
down in a strange country, quite unlike the one in which
they have been trained to fight, naturally they will begin
by making a good many mistakes. But, for all-round work,
the same men, as regulars, are worth much more than twice
what they are worth as militia, everywhere and always.

CHAPTER IV

FORT WILLIAM HENRY
1757

In January Montcalm paid a visit to Quebec, and there
began to see how Bigot and his fellow-vampires were
sucking away the life-blood of Canada. 'The intendant
lives in grandeur, and has given two splendid balls,
where I have seen over eighty very charming and
well-dressed ladies. I think Quebec is a town of very
good style, and I do not believe we have a dozen cities
in France that could rank before it as a social centre.'
This was well enough; though not when armies were only
half-fed. But here is the real crime: 'The intendant's
strong taste for gambling, and the governor's weakness
in letting him have his own way, are causing a great deal
of play for very high stakes. Many officers will repent
it soon and bitterly.' Montcalm was placed in a most
awkward position. He wished to stop the ruinous gambling.
But he was under Vaudreuil, had no power over the intendant,
and, as he said himself, 'felt obliged not to oppose
either of them in public, because they were invested with
the king's authority.'

Vaudreuil nearly did Canada a very good turn this winter,
by falling ill on his way to Montreal. But, luckily for
the British and unluckily for the French, he recovered.
On February 14 he began hatching more mischief. The
British, having been stopped in the West at Oswego, were
certain to try another advance, in greater force, by the
centre, up Lake Champlain. The French, with fewer men
and very much less provisions and stores of all kinds,
could hope to win only by giving the British another
sudden, smashing blow and then keeping them in check for
the rest of the summer. The whole strength of Canada was
needed to give this blow, and every pound of food was
precious. Vaudreuil, however, was planning to take separate
action on his own account. He organized a raid under his
brother, Rigaud, without telling Montcalm a word about
it till the whole plan was made, even though the raid
required the use of some of the French regulars, who
were, in an especial degree, under Montcalm's command.
Montcalm told Vaudreuil that it was a pity not to keep
their whole strength for one decisive dash, and that, if
this raid was to take place at all, Levis or some other
regular French officer high in rank should be in command.

Vaudreuil, however, adhered to his own plan. This time
there was to be no question of credit for anyone but
Canadians, Indians, Vaudreuil himself, and his brother.
As for making sure of victory by taking, as Montcalm
advised, a really strong force: well, Vaudreuil would
trust to luck, hit or miss, as he always had trusted
before. And a strange stroke of luck very nearly did
serve his unworthy turn. For, on March 17, when the 1,600
raiders were drawing quite close to Fort William Henry,
most of the little British garrison of 400 men were
drinking so much New England rum in honour of St Patrick's
Day that their muskets would have hurt friends more than
foes if an attack had been made that night. Next evening
the French crept up, hoping to surprise the place. But
the sentries were once more alert. Through the silence
they heard a tapping noise on the lake, which turned out
to be made by a Canadian who was trying the strength of
the ice with the back of his axe to see if it would bear.
This led to a brisk defence. When the French advanced
over the ice the British gunners sent such a hail of
grape-shot crashing along this precarious foothold that
the enemy were glad to scamper off as hard as their legs
would take them.

The French did not abandon their attempt, however, and
two days later Vaudreuil's brother arrayed his 1,600 men
against the fort and summoned it to surrender. As he had
no guns the garrison would not listen to him. Rigaud then
proceeded to burn what he could outside the fort. He
certainly made a splendid bonfire; the wild, red flames
leaped into the sky from the open, snow-white clearings
beside the fort, with the long, white reaches of Lake
George in front and the dark, densely wooded hills all
round. A great deal was burnt: four small ships, 350
boats, a sawmill, sheds, magazines, immense piles of
firewood, and a large supply of provisions. But the
British could afford this loss much better than the French
could afford the cost of the raid. And the cost, of
course, was five times as great as it ought to have been.
Bigot's gang took care of that.

Then the raiders, unable to take the fort, set out for
home on snow-shoes. There had been a very heavy snowstorm
before they started, and the spring sun was now shining
full on the glaring white snow. Many of them, even among
the Canadians and Indians, were struck snowblind so badly
that they had to be led by the hand--no easy thing on
snow-shoes. At the end of March they were safely back in
Montreal, where Vaudreuil and his brother went strutting
about like a pair of turkey-cocks.

Montcalm's first Canadian winter wore away. Vaudreuil
and Bigot still kept up an outward politeness in all
their relations with him. But they were beginning to fear
that he was far too wise and honest for them. He was,
however, under Vaudreuil's foolish orders and he had no
power to check Bigot's knaveries. Much against his will
he was already getting into debt, and was thus rendered
even more helpless. Vaudreuil, as governor, had plenty
of money. Bigot stole as much as he wished. But Montcalm
was not well paid. Yet, as the commander-in-chief, he
had to be asking people to dinners and receptions almost
every day, while becoming less and less able to meet the
expense. The Bigot gang made provisions so scarce and so
dear that only the thieves themselves could pay for them.
Well might the sorely tried general write home: 'What a
country, where knaves grow rich and honest men are ruined!'

In June there was such a sight in Montreal as Canada had
never seen before, and never saw again. During the autumn,
the winter, and the spring, messengers had been going
along every warpath and waterway, east and west for
thousands of miles, to summon the tribes to meet Onontio;
as they called the French governor, at Montreal. The ice
had hardly gone in April when the first of the braves
began to arrive in flotillas of bark canoes. The surrender
of Washington at Fort Necessity and the capture and
rebuilding of Fort Duquesne in 1754, the bloody defeat
of Braddock in 1755, and Montcalm's sudden, smashing blow
against Oswego in 1756, all had led the western Indians
to think that the French were everything and the British
nothing. In Canada itself the Indians were equally sure
that the French were going to be the victors there; while
in the east, in far Acadia, the Abnakis were as bitter
as the Acadians themselves against the British. So now,
whether eager for more victories or thirsting for revenge,
the warriors came to Montreal from far and near.

Fifty-one of the tribes were ready for the warpath. Their
chiefs had sat in grave debate round the council fires.
Their medicine men had made charms in secret wigwams and
seen visions of countless British scalps and piles of
British booty. Accordingly, when the braves of these
fifty-one tribes met at Montreal, there was war in every
heart among them. No town in the world had ever shown
more startling contrasts in its streets. Here, side by
side, were outward signs of the highest civilization and
of the lowest barbarism. Here were the most refined of
ladies, dressed in the latest Paris fashions, mincing
about in silks and satins and high-heeled, golden-buckled
shoes. Here were the most courtly gentlemen of Europe,
in the same embroidered and beruffled uniforms that they
would have worn before the king of France. Yet in and
out of this gay throng of polite society went hundreds
of copper-coloured braves; some of them more than
half-naked; most of them ready, after a victory, to be
cannibals who revelled in stews of white man's flesh;
all of them decked in waving plumes, all of them grotesquely
painted, like demons in a nightmare, and all of them
armed to the teeth.

Much to Vaudreuil's disgust the man whom the Indians
wished most to see was not himself, the 'Great Onontio,'
much less Bigot, prince of thieves, but the warrior chief,
Montcalm. They had the good sense to prefer the lion to
the owl or the fox. Three hundred of the wildest Ottawas
came striding in one day, each man a model of agility
and strength, a living bronze, a sculptor's dream, the
whole making a picture for the brush of the greatest
painter. 'We want to see the chief who tramples the
British to death and sweeps their forts off the face of
the earth.' Montcalm, though every inch a soldier, was
rather short than tall; and at first the Ottawa chief
looked surprised. 'We thought your head would be lost in
the clouds,' he said. But then, as he caught Montcalm's
piercing glance, he added: 'Yet when we look into your
eyes, we see the height of the pine and the wings of the
eagle.'

Meanwhile, prisoners, scouts, and spies had been coming
in; so too had confidential dispatches from France
confirming the rumours that the greater part of the
British army was to attack Louisbourg, and that the French
were well able to defend it. With the British concentrating
their strength on Louisbourg a chance offered for another
Oswego-like blow against the British forts at the southern
end of Lake George if it could be made by July. But
Vaudreuil's raid in March, and Bigot's bill for it, had
eaten up so much of the supplies and money, that nothing
like a large force could be made ready to strike before
August; and the month's delay might give the militia of
the British colonies, slow as they were, time to be
brought up to the help of the forts.

Montcalm was now eager to strike the blow. Once clear of
Montreal and its gang of parasites, he soon had his motley
army in hand, in spite of all kinds of difficulties. In
May Bourlamaque had begun rebuilding Ticonderoga. In July
Lake Champlain began to swarm with boats, canoes, and
sailing vessels, all moving south towards the doomed fort
on Lake George. Montcalm's whole force numbered 8,000.
Of these 3,000 were regulars, 3,000 were militia, and
2,000 were Indians from the fifty-one different tribes,
very few of whom knew anything of war, except war as it
was carried on by savages. By the end of the month these
8,000 men were camped along the four miles of valley
between Lakes Champlain and George. Meanwhile the British
were at the other end of Lake George, little more than
thirty miles away. Their first post was Fort William
Henry, where they had 2,200 men under Colonel Monro.
Fourteen miles inland beyond that was Fort Edward, where
Webb commanded 3,600 men. There were goo more British
troops still farther on, but well within call, and it
was known that a large force of militia were being
assembled somewhere near Albany. Thus Montcalm knew that
the British already had nearly as many men as his own
regulars and militia put together, and that further levies
of militia might come on at any time and in any numbers.
He therefore had to strike as hard and fast as he could,
and then retire on Ticonderoga. He knew the Indians would
go home at once after the fight and also that he must
send the Canadians home in August to save their harvest.
Then he would be left with only 3,000 regulars, who could
not be fed for the rest of the summer so far from
headquarters. With this 3,000 he could not advance, in
any case, because of lack of food and because of the
presence of Webb's 4,500, increased by an unknown number
of American militia.

The first skirmish on Lake George was fought while the
main bodies of both armies were still at opposite ends.
A party of 400 Indians and 50 Canadians were paddling
south when they saw advancing on the lake a number of
British boats with 300 men, mostly raw militia from New
Jersey. The Indians went ashore and hid. The doomed
militiamen rowed on in careless, straggling disorder.
Suddenly, as they passed a wooded point, the calm air
was rent with blood-curdling war-whoops, and the lake
seemed alive with red-skinned fiends, who paddled in
among the British boats in one bewildering moment. The
militiamen were seized with a panic and tried to escape.
But they could not get away from the finest paddlers in
the world, who cut them off, upset their boats, tomahawked
some, and speared a good many others like fish in the
water. Only two boats, out of twenty-three, escaped to
tell the tale. That night the forest resounded with savage
yells of triumph as the prisoners, out of reach of all
help from either army, were killed and scalped to the
last man.

On August 1 Montcalm advanced by land and water. He sent
Levis by land with 3,000 men to cut Fort William Henry
off from Fort Edward, while he went himself, with the
rest of his army, by water in boats and canoes. The next
day they met at a little bay quite close to the fort. On
the 3rd the final advance was made. The French canoes
formed lines stretching right across the lake. While
the artillery was being landed in a cove out of reach of
the guns of the fort Levis was having a lively skirmish
with the British, who were trying to drive in their cattle
and save their tents. About 500 of them held the fort,
and 1,700 were in the entrenched camp some way beyond.

Montcalm sent in a summons to surrender. But old Colonel
Monro replied that he was ready to fight. On the 4th and
5th the French batteries rose as if by magic. But the
Indians, not used to the delay and the careful preparation
which a siege involves, soon grew angry and impatient,
and swarmed all over the French lines, asking why they
were ordered here and there and treated like slaves, why
their advice had not been sought, and why the big guns
were not being fired. Montcalm had been counselled to
humour them as much as possible and on no account whatever
to offend them. Their help was needed, and the British
were quite ready to win them over to their own side if
possible. Accordingly, on the afternoon of the 5th,
Montcalm held a grand 'pow-wow' with the savages. He told
them that the French had to be slow at first, but that
the very next day the big guns would begin to fire, and
that they would all be in the fight together. The fort
was timbered and made a good target. The Indians greeted
the first roar of the siege guns with yells of delight;
and when they saw shells bursting and scattering earth
and timbers in all directions they shrieked and whooped
so loudly that their savage voices woke almost as many
wild echoes along those beautiful shores as the thunder
of the guns themselves.

Presently a man came in to the French camp with a letter
addressed to Monro, which the Indians had found concealed
in a hollow bullet on a British messenger whom they had
killed. This letter was from Monro's superior officer,
General Webb, fourteen miles distant at Fort Edward. He
advised Monro to make the best terms possible with
Montcalm, as he did not feel strong enough to relieve
Fort William Henry. Montcalm stopped his batteries and
sent the letter in to Monro by Bougainville, with his
compliments. But Monro, while thanking him for his
courtesy, still said he should hold out to the last.

Montcalm now decided to bring matters to a head at once.
As yet his batteries were too far off to be effective,
and between them and the fort lay first a marsh and then
a little hill. By sheer hard work the French made a road
for their cannon across the marsh; and Monro saw, to his
horror, that Montcalm's new batteries were rising, in
spite of the British fire, right opposite the fort, on
top of the little hill, and only two hundred and fifty
yards away.

Monro knew he was lost. Smallpox was raging in the fort.
Webb would not move. Montcalm was able to knock the whole
place to pieces and destroy the garrison. On the 9th the
white flag went up. Montcalm granted the honours of war.
The British were to march off the next morning to Fort
Edward, carrying their arms, and under escort of a body
of French regulars. Every precaution was taken to keep
the Indians from committing any outrage. Montcalm assembled
them, told them the terms, and persuaded them to promise
obedience. He took care to keep all strong drink out of
their way, and asked Monro to destroy all the liquor in
the British fort and camp.

In spite of these precautions a dire tragedy followed.
While the garrison were marching out of the fort towards
their own camp, some Indians climbed in without being
seen and began to scalp the sick and wounded who were
left behind in charge of the French. The French guard,
hearing cries, rushed in and stopped the savages by force.
The British were partly to blame for this first outrage:
they had not poured out the rum, and the Indians had
stolen enough to make them drunk. Montcalm came down
himself, at the first alarm, and did his utmost. He seized
and destroyed all the liquor; and he arranged with two
chiefs from each tribe to be ready to start in the morning
with the armed British and their armed escort. He went
back to his tent only at nine o'clock, when everything
was quiet.

Much worse things happened the next morning. The British,
who had some women and children with them, and who still
kept a good deal of rum in their canteens, began to stir
much earlier than had been arranged. The French escort
had not arrived when the British column began to straggle
out on the road to Fort Edward. When the march began the
scattered column was two or three times as long as it
ought to have been. Meanwhile a savage enemy was on the
alert. Before daylight the Abnakis of Acadia, who hated
the British most of all, had slunk off unseen to prepare
an ambush for the first stragglers they could find. Other
Indians, who had appeared later, had begged for rum from
the British, who had given it in the hope that, in this
way, they might be got rid of. Suddenly, a war-whoop was
raised, a wild rush on the British followed, and a savage
massacre began. The British column, long and straggling
already, broke up, and the French escort could defend
only those who kept together. At the first news Montcalm
ordered out another guard, and himself rushed with all
his staff officers to the scene of outrage. They ran
every risk to save their prisoners from massacre. Several
French officers and soldiers were wounded by the savages,
and all did their best. The Canadians, on the other hand,
more hardened to Indian ways, simply looked on at the
wild scene. Most of the British were rescued and were
taken safely to Fort Edward. The French fired cannon from
Fort William Henry to guide fugitives back. Those not
massacred at once, but made prisoners by the Indians in
the woods, were in nearly all cases ransomed by Vaudreuil,
who afterwards sent them to Halifax in a French ship.

Such was the 'massacre of Fort William Henry,' about
which people took opposite views at the time, as they do
still. It is quite clear that, in the first instance,
Montcalm did almost everything that any man in his place
could possibly do to protect his captives from the Indians.
It is also clear that he did everything possible during
and after the massacre, even to risking his life and the
lives of his officers and men. He might, indeed, have
turned out all his French regulars to guard the captive
column from the first. But there were only 2,500 of these
regulars, not many more than the British, who were armed,
who ought to have poured out every drop of rum the night
before, and who ought to have started only at the proper
time and in proper order. There were faults on both sides,
as there usually are. But, except for not having the
whole of his regulars ready at the spot, which did not
seem necessary the night before, Montcalm stands quite
clear of all blame as a general. His efforts to stop the
bloody work--and they were successful efforts involving
danger to himself--clear him of all blame as a man.

The number of persons massacred has been given by some
few British and American writers as amounting to 1,500.
Most people know now that this is nonsense. All but about
a hundred of the losses on the British side are accounted
for otherwise, under the heading of those who were either
killed in battle, or died of sickness, or were given up
at Fort Edward, or were sent back by way of Halifax. It
is simply impossible that more than a hundred were
massacred.

Still, a massacre is a massacre; all sorts of evil are
sure to come of it; and this one was no exception to the
rule. It blackened unjustly the good name of Montcalm.
It led to an intensely bitter hate of the British against
the Canadians, many of whom were given no quarter
afterwards. It caused the British to break the terms of
surrender, which required the prisoners not to fight
again for the next eighteen months. Most of all, the
massacre hurt the Indians, guilty and innocent alike.
Many of them took scalps from men who had smallpox; and
so they carried this dread disease throughout the
wilderness, where it killed fifty times as many of their
own people as they had killed on the British side.

The massacre at Fort William Henry raises the whole vexed
question of the rights of the savages and of their means
of defence. The Indians naturally wished to live in their
own country in their own way--as other people do. They
did not like the whites to push them aside--who does like
being pushed aside? But, if they had to choose between
different nations of whites, they naturally chose the
ones who changed their country the least. Now, the British
colonists were aggressive and numerous; and they were
always taking more and more land from the Indians, in
one way or another. The French, on the other hand, were
few, they wanted less of the land, for they were more
inclined to trade than to farm, and in general they
managed to get on with the Indians better. Therefore most
of the Indians took sides with the French; and therefore
most of the scalps lifted were British scalps. The question
of the barbarity of Indian warfare remains. The Indians
were in fact living the same sort of barbarous life that
the ancestors of the French and British had lived two or
three thousand years earlier. So the Indians did, of
course, just what the French and the British would have
done at a corresponding age. Peoples take centuries to
grow into civilized nations; and it is absurd to expect
savages to change more in a hundred years than Europeans
changed in a thousand.

We need hardly inquire which side was the more right and
which the more wrong in respect to these barbarities.
The fact is, there were plenty of rights and wrongs all
round. Each side excused itself and accused the other.
The pot has always called the kettle black. Both the
French and the British made use of Indians when the
savages themselves would gladly have remained neutral.
In contrast with the colonial levies the French and
British regulars, trained in European discipline, were
less inclined to 'act the Indian'; but both did so on
occasion. The French regulars did a little scalping on
their own account now and then; the Canadian regulars
did more than a little; while the Canadian militiamen,
roughened by their many raids, did a great deal. The
first thing Wolfe's regulars did at Louisbourg was to
scalp an Indian chief. The American rangers were scalpers
when their blood was up and when nobody stopped them.
They scalped under Wolfe at Quebec. They scalped whites
as well as Indians at Baie St Paul, at St Joachim, and
elsewhere. Even Washington was a party to such practices.
When sending in a batch of Indian scalps for the usual
reward offered by Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia he asked
that an extra one might be paid for at the usual rate,
'although it is not an Indian's.' It is thus clear that
the barbarities were in effect a normal feature of warfare
in the wilderness.

A week after its surrender Fort William Henry had been
wiped off the face of the earth, as Oswego had been the
year before, and Montcalm's army had set out homeward
bound. But he was sick at heart. Vaudreuil had been
behaving worse than ever. He had written and ordered
Montcalm to push on and take Fort Edward at once. Yet,
as we have seen, the Indians had melted away, the Canadians
had gone home for the harvest, only 3,000 regulars were
left, and these could not be kept a month longer in the
field for lack of food. In spite of this, Vaudreuil
thought Montcalm ought to advance into British territory,
besiege a larger army than his own, and beat it in spite
of all the British militia that were coming to its aid.

Even before leaving for the front Montcalm had written
to France asking to be recalled from Canada. In this
letter to the minister of Marine he spoke very freely.
He pointed out that if Vaudreuil had died in the winter
the new governor would have been Rigaud, Vaudreuil's
brother. What this would have meant every one knew only
too well; for Rigaud was a still bigger fool than Vaudreuil
himself. Montcalm gave the Canadians their due. 'What a
people, when called upon! They have talent and courage
enough, but nobody has called these qualities forth.' In
fact, the wretched Canadian was bullied and also flattered
by Vaudreuil, robbed by Bigot, bothered on his farm by
all kinds of foolish regulations, and then expected to
he a model subject and soldier. How could he be considered
a soldier when he had never been anything but a mere
raider, not properly trained, not properly armed, not
properly fed, and not paid at all?

While Montcalm was writing the truth Vaudreuil was writing
lie after lie about Montcalm, in order to do him all the
harm he could. Busy tell-tales repeated and twisted every
impatient word Montcalm spoke, and altogether Canada was
at sixes and sevens. Vaudreuil, sitting comfortably at
his desk and eating three good meals a day, had written
to Montcalm saying that there would be no trouble about
provisions if Fort Edward was attacked. Yet, at this very
time, he had given orders that, because of scarcity, the
Canadians at home should not have more than a quarter of
a pound of bread a day. Canada was drawing very near a
famine, though its soil could grow some of the finest
crops in the world. But what can any country do under
knaves and fools, especially when it is gagged as well
as robbed? Montcalm's complaints did not always reach
the minister of Marine, who was the special person in
France to look after Canada; for the minister's own
right-hand man was one of the Bigot gang and knew how to
steal a letter as well as a shipload of stores.

To outward view, and especially in the eyes of the British
Americans, 1757 was a year of nothing but triumph for
the French in America. They had made Louisbourg safer
than ever; the British fleet and army had not even dared
to attack it. French power had never been so widespread.
The fleurs-de-lis floated over the whole of the valleys
of the St Lawrence, Ohio, and Mississippi, as well as
over the Great Lakes, where these three valleys meet.
But this great show of strength depended on the army of
Montcalm--that motley host behind whose dauntless front
everything was hollow and rotten to the last degree. The
time was soon to come when even the bravest of armies
could no longer stand against lions in front and jackals
behind.

CHAPTER V

TICONDEROGA
1758

Montcalm's second winter in Canada was worse than his
first. Vaudreuil, Bigot, and all the men in the upper
circles of what would nowadays be the business, the
political, and the official world, lived on the fat of
the land; but the rest only on what fragments were left.
In our meaning of the word 'business' there was in reality
no business at all. There were then no real merchants in
Canada, no real tradesmen, no bankers, no shippers, no
honest men of affairs at all. Everything was done by or
under the government, and the government was controlled
by or under the Bigot gang. This gang stole a great deal
of what was found in Canada, and most of what came out
from France as well. In consequence, supplies became
scarcer and scarcer and dearer and dearer; and the worst
of it was that the gang wished things to be scarce and
dear, so that more stores and money might be sent out
from France and stolen on arrival. For France, in spite
of all her faults in governing, helped Canada, and helped
her generously. It seems too terrible for belief, but it
is true that the parasites in Canada did their best on
this account to keep the people half starved. Montcalm
saw through the scheme, but complaint was almost useless,
for many of his letters were stopped before they reached
the head men in France. To cap all, the wretched army
was no longer paid in gold, which always has its own
fixed value, but in paper bills which had no real money
to back them, as bank-notes have to-day. The result was
that this money was accepted at much less than its face
value, and that every officer who had to support himself,
as he must when not campaigning, fell into debt, Montcalm,
of course, more than the others. 'What a country,' to
repeat his words, 'where knaves grow rich and honest men
are ruined!'

As the winter wore away food grew scarcer--except for
those who belonged to the gang. Soldiers were allowed
about a pound of meat a day. This would have been luxury
if the meat had been good, and if they had had anything
else to eat with it. But a pound of bad beef, or of
scraggy horse-flesh, or some times even of flabby salt
cod-fish, with a quarter of a pound of bread, and nothing
else but a little Indian corn, is not a good ration for
an army. The Canadians were worse off still. In the spring
the bread ration was halved again, and became only a
couple of ounces. Two thousand Acadians had escaped from
the British efforts to deport them, and had reached the
St Lawrence region. Their needs increased the misery,
for they could not yet grow as much as they ate, even if
they had had a fair chance.

At last the poor, patient, down-trodden Canadians began
to grumble. One day a crowd of angry women threw their
horse-flesh at Vaudreuil's door. Another day even the
grenadiers refused to eat their rations. Then Montcalm's
second-in-command, Levis, who ate horse-flesh himself,
for the sake of example, told them that Canada was now
like a besieged fortress and that the garrison would have
to put up with hardships. At once the pride of the soldier
came out. Next day they brought him some roast horse,
better cooked and served than his own. He gave each
grenadier a gold coin to drink the king's health; and
the trouble ended.

The Canadians and Indians made two successful raids. One
was against a place near Schenectady, where they destroyed
many stores and provisions. The other ended in a fight
with the British guerilla leader Rogers and his rangers,
who were badly cut up near Ticonderoga. The Canadians
were at their best in making raids. Yet now raids hardly
counted any longer, for the war had outgrown them. Larger
and larger armies were taking the field, and these armies
had artillery, engineers, and transport on a greater
scale. The mere raider, or odd-job soldier, though always
good in his own place and in his own kind of country,
was becoming less and less important compared with the
regular. The larger an army the more the difference of
value widens between regulars and militia. In great wars
men must be trained to act together at any time, in any
place, and in any numbers; and this is only possible with
those all-the-year-round soldiers who are either regulars
already or who, though militia to start with, become by
practice the same as regulars.

When Montcalm looked forward to the campaign of 1758, he
saw in what a desperate plight he was. The wild, unstable
Indians were the weakest element. Gladly would he have
done without them altogether. But some were always needed
as scouts and guides; and, in any case, it was a good
thing to employ them so as to keep them from joining the
enemy. The trouble was that they were already beginning
to fail him. Some of the ships with goods for the Indians
were captured by the British fleet. Those that arrived
were in as real a sense captured, for they were stolen
by the Bigot gang, and did not fulfil the purpose of
holding the Indian allies. 'If,' said Montcalm, in one
of his despairing letters to the minister, 'if all the
presents that the king sends out to the Indians were
really given to them, we should have every tribe in
America on our own side.'

The Canadians were robbed even more; and they and the
Canadian regulars were set against Montcalm and the French
by every lie that Vaudreuil could speak in Canada or
write to France. The wonder is, not that the French
Canadians of those dreadful days did badly now and then,
but that they did so well on the whole; that they were
so brave, so loyal, so patient, so hopeful, so true to
many of the best traditions of their race. One other
feature of their system must be noted--the influence of
their priests. Protestants would think them too much
under the thumb of the priests. But, however this may
have been, it can be said with truth that the church and
the native soldiers, with all their faults, were the
glory of Canada, while the government was nothing but
its shame. The priests stood by their people like men,
suffered hardship with them, and helped them to face
every trial of fortune against false friends and open
foes alike.

The mainstay of the defence of Canada was, however, the
disciplined strength of the French regulars. There were
eight battalions, belonging to seven regiments whose
names deserve to be held in honour wherever the fight
for Canada is known: La Reine, Guienne, Bearn, Languedoc,
La Sarre, Royal Roussillon, and Berry. Each battalion
had about 500 fighting men, making about 4,000 in all.
About 2,000 more men were sent out to Quebec to fill up
gaps at different times; so that, one way and another,
at least 6,000 French soldiers reached Canada between
1755 and 1759. Yet, when Levis laid down the arms of
France in Canada for ever in 1760, only 2,000 of all
these remained. About 1,000 had been taken prisoner on
sea or land. A few had deserted. But almost 3,000 had
been lost by sickness or in battle. How many armies have
a record of sacrifices greater than these, and against
foes behind as well as in front?

From the very first these gallant men showed their mettle.
They were not forced to go to Canada. They went willingly.
When the first four battalions went, the general who had
to arrange their departure was afraid he might have
trouble in filling the gaps by getting men to volunteer
from the other battalions of the same regiments. But no.
He could have filled every gap ten times over. It was
the same with the officers. Every one was eager to fight
for the honour of France in Canada. One officer actually
offered his whole fortune to another, in hopes of getting
this other's place for service in Canada. But in vain.
France had parasites at court, plenty of them. But the
French troops who went out were patriots almost to a man.
The only exception was in the case we have noticed before,
when 400 riff-raff were sent out to take the places of
the 400 good men whom Boscawen had captured in the Gulf
during the summer of 1755.

The year 1758 saw the tide turn against France. Pitt was
now at the head of the war in Britain; throughout the
British Empire the patriots had gained the upper hand
over the parasites. Canada could no longer attack; indeed,
she was hard pressed for defence. Pitt's plan was to send
one army against the west, a fleet and an army against
the east at Louisbourg, and a third army straight at the
centre, along the line of Lake Champlain. This third, or
central, army was the one which Montcalm had to meet. It
was the largest yet seen in the New World. There were
6,000 British regulars and 9,000 American militia, with
plenty of guns and all the other arms and stores required.
Its general, Abercromby, was its chief weakness. He was
a muddle-headed man, whom Pitt had not yet been able to
replace by a better. But Lord Howe, whom Wolfe and Pitt
both thought 'a perfect model of military virtue,' was
second-in-command and the real head. He was young, as
full of calm wisdom as of fiery courage, and the idol of
Americans and of British regulars alike.

This year the campaign took place not in August but in
July. By the middle of June it was known that Abercromby
was coming. Even then Montcalm and his regulars were
ready, but nothing else was. Every one knew that Ticonderoga
was the key to the south of Canada; yet the fort was not
ready, though the Canadian engineers had been tinkering
at it for two whole summers. These engineers were, in
fact, friends of Bigot, and had found that they could
make money by spinning the work out as long as possible,
charging for good material and putting in bad, and letting
the gang plunder the stores on the way to the fort.
Montcalm had arranged everything in 1756, and there was
no good reason why Ticonderoga should not have been in
perfect order in 1758, when the fate of Canada was hanging
on its strength. But it was not. It had not even been
rightly planned. The engineers were fools as well as
knaves. When the proper French army engineers arrived,
having been sent out at the last moment, they were
horrified at the mess that had been made of the work.
But it was too late then. Montcalm and Abercromby were
both advancing; and Montcalm would have to make up with
the lives of his men for all that the knaves and fools
had done against him.

Bad as this was, there was a still worse trouble. Vaudreuil
now thought he saw a chance for another raid which would
please the Canadians and hurt Montcalm. So he actually
took away 1,600 men in June and sent them off to the
Mohawk valley, farther west, under Levis, who ought to
have known better than to have allowed himself to be
flattered into taking command. This came near to wrecking
the whole defence. But the owls did not see, and the
foxes did not care.

Meanwhile, Montcalm was hurrying his little handful of
regulars to the front. He was to leave on June 24. On
the night of the 23rd Vaudreuil sent a long string of
foolish orders, worded in such a way by some of his foxy
parasites that the credit for any victory would come to
himself, while the blame for any failure would rest on
Montcalm. This was more than flesh and blood could endure.
Once before Montcalm had tried to open Vaudreuil's eyes
to the mischief that was going on. Now he spoke out again,
and proved his case so plainly that, for very shame,
Vaudreuil had to change the orders. Montcalm arrived at
Ticonderoga with his new engineers on the 30th. Here he
found 3,000 men and one bad fort. And the British were
closing in with 15,000 men and good artillery.

The two armies lay only the length of Lake George apart,
a little over thirty miles; in positions the same as last
year, except that Montcalm was now on the defensive with
less than half as many men, and the British were on the
offensive with more than twice as many. Montcalm's great
object was to gain time. Every minute was precious. He
sent messenger after messenger, begging Vaudreuil to
hurry forward the Canadians and to call back the Mohawk
valley raiding party of 1,600 men. His 3,000 harassed
regulars were working almost night and day. The fort was
patched up until nothing more could be done without
pulling it down and building a new fort; and an entrenched
camp was dug in front of it. Meanwhile Montcalm's little
army, though engaged in all this work, was actually making
such a show of force about the valley between the lakes
that it checked the British, who now gave up their plan
of seizing a forward position in the valley as a cover
for the advance of the main body later on. Montcalm, with
3,000 toil-worn soldiers, had out-generalled Abercromby
and Howe with 15,000 fresh ones. He had also gained four
priceless days.

But on July 5 the British advanced in force. It had been
a great sight the year before, when Montcalm had gone
south along Lake George with 5,000 men; but how much more
magnificent now, when Abercromby came north with 15,00
men, all eager for this Armageddon of the West. Perhaps
there never has been any other occasion on which the
pride and pomp of glorious war have been set in a scene
of such wonderful peace and beauty. The midsummer day
was perfectly calm. Not a cloud was in the sky. The lovely
lake shone like a burnished mirror. The forest-clad
mountains never looked greener or cooler; nor did their
few bare crags or pinnacles ever stand out more clearly
against the endless blue sky than when those thousand
boats rowed on to what 15,000 men thought certain victory.
The procession of boats was wide enough to stretch from
shore to shore; yet it was much longer than its width.
On each side went the Americans, 9,000 men in blue and
buff. In the centre came 6,000 British regulars in scarlet
and gold, among them a thousand kilted Highlanders of
the splendid 'Black Watch,' led by their major, Duncan
Campbell of Inverawe, whose weird had told him a year
before that he should fight and fall at a place with what
was then to him an unknown name--Ticonderoga. The larger
boats were in the rear, lashed together, two by two, with
platforms laid across them for artillery.

And so the brave array advanced. The colours fluttered
gallantly with the motion of the boats. The thousands of
brilliant scarlet uniforms showed gaily between the masses
of more sober blue. The drums were beating, the bugles
blowing, the bagpipes screaming defiance to the foe; and
every echo in the surrounding hills was roused to send
its own defiance back.

The British halted for the night a few miles short of
the north end of the lake. Next morning; the 6th, they
set out again in time to land about noon within four
miles of Ticonderoga in a straight line. There were two
routes by which an army could march from Lake George to
Lake Champlain. The first, the short way, was to go
eastward across the four-mile valley. The second was
twice as far, north and then east, all the way round
through the woods. Since the valley road led to a bridge
which Montcalm had blown up, Lord Howe went round through
the woods with a party of rangers to see if that way
would do. While he was pushing ahead the French
reconnoitring party, which, from under cover, had been
following the British movements the day before, was trying
to find its own way back to Montcalm through the same
woods. Its Indian guides had run away in the night,
scared out of their wits by the size of the British army.
It was soon lost and, circling round, came between Howe
and Abercromby. Suddenly the rangers and the French met
in the dense forest. 'Who goes there?' shouted a Frenchman.
'Friends!' answered a British soldier in perfect French.
But the uniforms told another tale and both sides fired.
The French were soon overpowered by numbers, and the
fifty or so survivors were glad to scurry off into the
bush. But they had dealt one mortal blow. Lord Howe had
fallen, and, with him, the head and heart of the whole
British force.

Abercromby, a helpless leader, pottered about all the
next day, not knowing what to do. Meanwhile Montcalm kept
his men hard at work, and by night he was ready and
hopeful. He had just written to his friend Doreil, the
commissary of war at Quebec: 'We have only eight days'
provisions. I have no Canadians and no Indians. The
British have a very strong army. But I do not despair.
My soldiers are good. From the movements of the British
I can see they are in doubt. If they are slow enough to
let me entrench the heights of Ticonderoga, I shall beat
them.' He had ended his dispatch to Vaudreuil with similar
words: 'If they only let me entrench the heights I shall
beat them.' And now, on the night of the 7th, he actually
was holding the heights with his 3,000 French regulars
against the total British force of 15,000. Could he win
on the 8th?

Late in the evening 300 regulars arrived under an excellent
officer, Pouchot. At five the next morning, the fateful
July 8, Levis came in with 100 more. These were all,
except 400 Canadians who arrived in driblets, some while
the battle was actually going on. Vaudreuil had changed
his mind again, and had decided to recall the Mohawk
valley raiders. But too late. Levis, Pouchot, and the
Canadians had managed to get through only after a terrible
forced march, spurred on by the hope of reaching their
beloved Montcalm in time. The other men from the raid,
and five times as many more from Canada, came in afterwards.
But again too late.

The odds in numbers were four to one against Montcalm.
Even in the matter of position he was anything but safe.
The British could have forced him out of it by taking
10,000 men through the woods towards Crown Point, to cut
off his retreat to the north, while leaving 5,000 in
front of him to protect their march and harass his own
embarkation. And even if they had chosen to attack him
where he was they could have used their cannon with great
effect from Rattlesnake Hill, overlooking his left flank,
only a mile away, or from the bush straight in front of
him, at much less than half that distance, or from both
places together. Always on the alert he was ready for
anything, retreat included, though he preferred fighting
where he was, especially if the British were foolish
enough to attack without their guns--the very thing they
seemed about to do. After Howe's death they made mistakes
that worked both ways against them. They waited long
enough to let Montcalm get ready to meet their infantry;
but not long enough to get their guns ready to meet him.

Now, too, blundering Abercromby believed a stupid engineer
who said the trenches could be rushed with the bayonet
--precisely what could not be done. The peninsula of
Ticonderoga was strong towards Lake Champlain, the narrows
of which it entirely commanded. But, against infantry,
it was even stronger towards the land, where trenches
had been dug. The peninsula was almost a square. It
jutted out into the lake about three-quarters of a mile,
and its neck was of nearly the same width. Facing landward,
the direction from which the British came, the left half
of the peninsula was high, the right low. Montcalm
entrenched the left half and put his French regulars
there. He made a small trench in the middle of the right
half for the Canadian regulars and militia, and cut down
the trees everywhere, all round. The position of the
Canadians was not strong in itself; but if the British
rushed it they would be taken in flank by the French and
in front by the fort, which was half a mile in rear of
the trenches and could fire in any direction; while if
they turned to rush the French right, they would have to
charge uphill with the fire of the fort on their left.

Montcalm's men were already at work at five o'clock in
the morning of the 8th when Levis marched in; and they
went on working like ants till the battle began, though
all day the heat was terrific. Some of the trees cut down
were piled up like the wall of a log-cabin, only not
straight but zigzag, like a 'snake' fence, so that the
enemy should be caught between two fires at every angle.
This zigzag wooden wall was, of course, well loopholed.
In front of it was its zigzag ditch; and in front of the
ditch were fallen trees, with their branches carefully
trimmed and sharpened, and pointing outwards against the
enemy. To make sure that his men should know their places
in battle Montcalm held a short rehearsal. Then all fell
to work again with shovel, pick, and axe.

Presently five hundred British Indians under Sir William
Johnson appeared on Rattlesnake Hill and began to amuse
themselves by firing off their muskets, which, of course,
were perfectly useless at a distance of a mile. In the
meantime Abercromby had drawn back his men from the woods
and had made up his mind to take the short cut through
the valley and rebuild the bridge which Montcalm had
destroyed. This took up the whole morning; and it was
not till noon that the British advance guard began to
drive in the French outposts.

A few shots were heard. The outposts came back to the
trenches. French officers on the look-out spied the blue
rangers coming towards the far side of the clearings and
spreading out cautiously to right and left. Then, in the
centre, a mass of moving red and the fitful glitter of
steel told Montcalm that his supreme moment had come at
last. He raised his hand above his head. An officer,
posted in the rear, made a signal to the fort half a mile
farther back. A single cannon fired one shot; and every
soldier laid down his tools and took up his musket. In
five minutes a line three-deep had been formed behind
the zigzag stockade, which looked almost like the front
half of a square. The face towards the enemy was about
five hundred yards long. The left face was about two
hundred yards, and the right, overlooking the low ground,
ran back quite three hundred. Levis had charge of the
right, Bourlamaque of the left. Montcalm himself took
the centre, straight in the enemy's way. As he looked
round, for the last time, and saw how steadily that long,
white, three-deep, zigzag line was standing at its post
of danger, with the blue Royal Roussillon in the middle,
and the grenadiers drawn up in handy bodies just behind,
ready to rush to the first weak spot, he thrilled with
the pride of the soldier born who has an army fit to
follow him.

All round the far side of the clearing the blue rangers
were running, stooping, slinking forward, and increasing
in numbers every second. In a few minutes not a stump
near the edge of the bush but had a muzzle pointing out
from beside it. Soon not one but four great, solid masses
of redcoats were showing through the trees, less than a
quarter of a mile away. Presently they all formed up
correctly, and stood quite still for an anxious minute
or two. Then, as if each red column was a single being,
with heart and nerves of its own, the whole four stirred
with that short, tense quiver which runs through every
mass of men when they prepare to meet death face to face.
Behind the loopholed wall there was a murmur from three
thousand lips--'Here they come!'--and the answering quiver
ran through the zigzag, white ranks of the French,
Montcalm's officers immediately repeated his last caution:
'Steady, boys. Don't fire till the red-coats reach the

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