Part 6 out of 11
It was March when La Salle set out on his tremendous walk of a
thousand miles. With him he took a faithful Indians guide and four
Frenchmen. And seldom have men endured a journey more terrible.
The spring sun was just beginning to thaw the ice and snow
of winter, so that the prairies were turned to marshes into which
the travelers sank knee deep. The forests were pathless thickets
through which they had to force a way with axe and hatchet. As a
pathway the rivers were useless to them, for the ice was so thin
that it would not bear their weight. And later when it thawed and
broke up they still could not use their canoes lest they should be
shattered by the floating masses of ice.
All day long they toiled knee deep in mud and half-melted snow,
laden with baggage, guns and ammunition. At night they lay down
without shelter of any kind. They were often hungry, they suffered
constantly both from cold and heat. For at noon the sun beat down
upon them fiercely, and at night the frost was so bitter that the
blankets in which they lay wrapped were frozen stiff.
The hardships of the journey were so tremendous that the marvel
is that any one lived to tell of them. Indeed, one by one the men
fell ill, and when at length after three months of pain and peril
they arrived at their journey's end only La Salle had strength or
Here more bad news greeted La Salle, for he now heard that a ship
sent out from France laden with supplies for him had been wrecked.
But even this cruel stroke of fortune could not break his spirit.
Once more he set about gathering supplies, and made ready to return
to Fort Heart-break.
But worse was yet to come. La Salle was about to start when he received
a letter from Tonty. From this he learned that soon after he had
left nearly all his men had mutinied. They had rifled the stores
and demolished the fort; then, throwing into the river everything
they could not carry, had made off. Only three or four had remained
faithful. With these Tony was now alone in the wilderness.
This staggering news only made La Salle more eager to set out, for
he could not leave his brave friend thus helpless. So once more
the toilsome journey was begun. But when Heart-break was reached,
La Salle found no friend to welcome him. All around there was
nothing but silence and desolation, and ghastly ash-strewn ruins.
The unfinished ship, like some vast skeleton, huge and gaunt, alone
bore witness that white men had once been there.
Still La Salle would not despair. He spent the winter making friends
with the Indians and searching earnestly for some trace of Tonty.
The winter was unusually severe, the whole land was covered with
snow and both La Salle and some of his men became snow-blind for
days. But at last with the melting of the snows light and joy came
to him. The blindness passed, Tonty was found.
Once again the friends met. Each had a tale to tell, a tale of
bitter disappointments and defeats. Yet in spite of all the blows
of fortune Le Salle would not give in. Once more he set about making
preparations for the expedition. But now he gave up the idea of
building a ship, and decided to trust to canoes alone.
It was mid-winter when all was ready. The rivers were frozen hard.
So, placing their canoes on sledges, the men dragged them over the
ice. As they went southward and spring came on, the ice melted and
would no longer bear them. The stream was soon filled with floating
masses of broken ice, so they were obliged to land and wait until
it had melted.
Then once more they set out. Every day now they drifted farther
and farther into the heat of summer. The sun shone softly through
the overhanging trees, the river banks were gay with flowers,
and bright plumaged birds flashed through the sunlight. After the
tortures of the past winters this green and fertile land seemed a
very paradise. So on the adventurers passed where never white man
had passed before; and at length they reached the mouth of the
mighty river and stood upon the shore of the Gulf of Mexico.
And here, in 1682, while wondering savages looked on, this
mere handful of white men claimed all the land through which they
had passed for their King. The long silence of the wilderness was
awakened for the first time by the sound of Latin chants. Guns were
fired, and to the shouts of "God save the King," a pillar was set
Chapter 46 - King William's War and Queen Anne's War
At this time in Europe France and Britain were at war. When King
William came to take possession of Britain, James II ran away to
France. The King of France received him kindly, and soon declared
war upon William. The war was fought not only in Europe but in
America also, and it is known in America as King William's War,
because William was King of Great Britain at the time. It was
the beginning of a fierce struggle between British and French for
possession of the vast continent of America - a struggle which was
to last for seventy years; a struggle in which not only the white
people but the Indians also took part, some fighting for the British,
some for the French.
King William's War, 1690-1697 At this time Frontenac was Governor
of Canada. He was one of the greatest nobles of France and lived
surrounded with state and splendour. Proud and haughty and of a
fiery temper, with white men he quarreled often, but he knew better
than any other how to manage the Indians, and they feared him as
they feared no white ruler who came before or after him. He would
not allow the chiefs to call him brother as other governors had
done. They were his children; to them he was the Great Father. Yet
if need be he would paint his face, dress himself in Indian clothes,
and, tomahawk in his hand, lead the war dance, yelling and leaping
with the best of them.
King Louis now gave Frontenac orders to seize New York so that the
French might have access to the Hudson River, and a port open all
the year round and not frozen up for months at a time like Quebec.
So Frontenac made ready his forces. He gathered three armies and
sent them by different ways to attack the British. But few of these
forces were regular soldiers. Many of them were Indians, still more
were coureurs de bois, wild bush-rangers who dressed and lived more
like Indians than white men, and were as fearless, and lawless,
and learned in the secrets of the forest as the Indians.
These armies set out in the depth of winter. French and Indian
alike were smeared with war-paint and decked with feathers. Shod
with snow shoes they sped over the snow, dragging light sledges
behind them laden with food. For twenty-two days they journeyed
over plains, through forest, across rivers, but at length one of
the armies reached the village of Schenectady, the very farthest
outpost of New York.
The people had been warned of their danger, but they paid no heed.
They did not believe that the danger was real. So secure indeed did
they feel that the gates were left wide open, and on either side
for sentinels stood two snow men.
In all the village there was no sound, no light. Every one was
sleeping peacefully. Then suddenly through the stillness there rang
the awful Indian war whoop.
In terror the villagers leaped from their beds, but before they
could seize their weapons they were struck down. Neither man, woman
nor child was spared, and before the sun was high Schenectady was
a smoking, blood-stained ruin.
The other parties which Frontenac had sent out also caused terrible
havoc. They surprised and burned many villages and farms, slaughtering
and carrying prisoner the inhabitants. Thus all New England was
filled with bloodshed and terror.
But these horrors instead of making the British give in made them
determined to attack Canada. New York and the colonies of New
England joined together and decided to make an attack by land and
by sea. The British determined to attack Canada
But what, with mismanagement, sickness, and bickerings among the
various colonies, the land attack came to nothing. It was left for
the fleet to conquer Canada.
The little New England fleet was commanded by Sir William Phips,
a bluff, short-tempered sailor. He sailed up the St. Lawrence and
anchored a little below Quebec.
Then the watching Frenchmen saw a small boat put off, flying a white
flag. As it neared the shore some canoes went out to meet it and
found that it was bringing a young British officer with a letter
for Count Frontenac.
The officer was allowed to land, but first his eyes were blindfolded.
Then as he stepped on shore a sailor seized each arm, and thus he
was led through the streets.
Quebec is built on a height, and the streets are steep and narrow,
sometimes being nothing more than flights of steps. And now,
instead of being taken directly to the Governor, the young officer
was dragged up and down these steep and stony streets. Now here,
now there, he was led, stumbling blindly over stones and steps, and
followed by a laughing, jeering crowd, who told him it was a game
of blind man's bluff.
At last, thoroughly bewildered and exhausted, he was led into the
castle, and the bandage was suddenly taken from his eyes. Confused
and dazzled by the bright light he stood for a moment gazing stupidly
Before him, haughty and defiant, stood Frontenac surrounded by his
officers. Their splendid uniforms glittered with gold and silver
lace, their wigs were curled and powdered, their hats were decked
with feathers, as if for a ball rather than for war.
For a moment the young Englishman stood abashed before them. Then,
recovering himself, he handed his commander's letters to Frontenac.
The letter was written in English, but an interpreter read it
aloud, translating it into French. In haughty language it demanded
the surrender of Quebec, in the name of William and Mary, within
When the reading was finished the officer pulled his watch out of
his pocket, and held it towards Frontenac.
"I cannot see the time," said he.
"It is ten o'clock," replied the Englishman. "By eleven I must have
Frontenac's brow grew dark with anger. Hitherto he had held himself
in check, but now his wrath burst forth.
"By heaven," he cried, "I will not keep you waiting so long. Tell
your General that I do not acknowledge King William. The Prince
of Orange who calls himself so is a usurper. I know of no king of
England save King James."
The Englishman was quite taken aback by Frontenac's vehemence. He
felt he could not go back to his leader with such an answer.
"Will you give me your answer in writing?" he said.
"No," thundered Frontenac, "I will answer your general with the
mouths of my cannon only. Let him do his best, and I will do mine."
And with this answer the Englishman was forced to be content.
Once more his eyes were blindfolded, and again he was jostled and
hustled through the streets until he reached his boat.
When Phips received Frontenac's proud answer he prepared to attack.
But he was no match for the fierce old lion of a Frenchman. The
New Englanders were brave enough, but they had little discipline,
and, worse still, they had no leader worthy of the name. They spent
shot and shell uselessly battering the solid rock upon which Quebec
is built. Their aim was bad, and their guns so small that even when
the balls hit the mark they did little damage.
At length, having wasted most of their ammunition in a useless
cannonade, the British sailed away. The men were dejected and gloomy
at their failure. Many of their ships had been sorely disabled by
the French guns, and on the way home several were wrecked. As the
others struggled homeward with their tale of disaster, New England
was filled with sadness and dismay.
The attack on Canada had been an utter failure. Yet, had Phips but
known it, Quebec was almost in his grasp. For although there were
men enough within the fortress there was little food. And even
before he sailed away the pangs of hunger had made themselves felt.
For seven years more the war lingered on, but now it chiefly
consisted of border raids and skirmishes, and the New Englanders
formed no more designs of conquering Canada. And at length in 1697,
with the Treaty of Ryswick, King William's War came to an end.
In 1701 James, the exiled King of Britain, died; and Louis of
France recognised his son James as the rightful King of Britain.
This made King William angry. Louis also placed his grandson, the
Duke of Anjou, on the throne of Spain. This made King William and
the British people still more angry. For with a French King on the
throne of Spain they thought it very likely that France and Spain
might one day be joined together and become too powerful. So King
William again declared war on France, but before the war began he
Queen Mary's sister Anne now became Queen; she carried on the war
already declared. This war brought fighting in America as well as
in Europe. In America it is called Queen Anne's War, and in Europe
the War of the Spanish Succession.
Queen Anne's War, 1702-1713 This war was carried on in much the same
manner as the last. There were Indian massacres, sudden sallies,
attacks by land and sea. But this time the British were more
determined. And although another attack on Quebec failed, just as
the attack made by Phips had failed, one on Nova Scotia succeeded.
In the South, too, the Spaniards were defeated at Charleston. Taken
altogether the British had the best of the fighting. And when at
length peace was made by the Treaty of Utrect in 1713 Nova Scotia,
Newfoundland, and the Hudson Bay Territory were given up to the
British. Thus both in west and north the British enclosed the French
Chapter 47 - The Mississippi Bubble
Being thus encroached upon by the British the French became more
determined to shut them out from the south. Already twelve years
after La Salle's death another attempt had been made to found
a town at the mouth of the Mississippi, and this time the attempt
This time the expedition was led by Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville.
In 1698 with two ships he sailed out from France and, after some
trouble, found the mouth of the Mississippi. He did not, however,
build his fort here, but on the coast of what is now the State of
Mississippi. Then, leaving one of his officers and his brother in
command, he sailed home again to France.
While d'Iberville was away, his brother Bienville started on an
expedition to explore the Mississippi. And he soon discovered that
the French had taken possession none too soon, for not far from
where New Orleans now stands, he fell in with a British ship. On
board were a lot of French Huguenot families who had come to found
a settlement on the Mississippi. Bienville talked to the captain,
who told him that this was one of three ships sent out from England
by a company formed of Huguenots and Englishmen who intended to
found a colony on the Mississippi. They were not sure, however,
whether they were on the Mississippi or not.
Bienville at once assured them that they were not, but were instead
on a river which belonged to Louis of France, where already the
French had several settlements. The British captain believed what
he was told and, much to the Frenchmen's delight, turned back.
Just at the spot where this took place the river makes a bed, and
because of this it was given the name of English Bend, by which
name it is known to this day.
D'Iberville only stayed long enough in France to gather more
colonists and returned at once to Louisiana, where he founded two
more towns along the coast. But the colonists sent out by Louis
were of the lowest. Many of them were little more than rogues and
vagabonds. The mere off-scourings of the towns, they were idle and
extravagant, and the colony did not prosper.
Instead of putting gold into Louis' pockets, as he had hoped, he
had constantly to pour it out to maintain the colony. Of that Louis
soon grew tired. Besides this he wanted all the money he could
gather to carry on the war (Queen Anne's War), which was still
raging. So, in 1712, he handed Louisiana over to a wealthy merchant
named Crozat to make what he could out of it.
Such great power was given to this merchant that he was little less
than a king. He had every monopoly. Nobody in the colony could buy
or sell the smallest thing without his permission, and every one
had to work for him and not for themselves. But the people were
by no means willing workers. They were, said one of their priests,
"nearly all drunkards, gamblers, blasphemers and foes of everything
that was good," and when they found that they are expected to work
merely to put money into the proprietor's pocket they would not
work at all.
So very soon Crozat found he could make nothing out of the colony.
And after some vain efforts to make it pay he gave up his charter,
and Louisiana once more became a royal possession.
Meanwhile France itself was in sore straits for money. Louis XIV,
that magnificent and extravagant monarch, had died and left his
country beggared and in want. The Duke of Orleans now ruled as
Regent for little Louis XV. He was at his wit's end to know where
to find money, when a clever Scots adventurer names John Law came
to him with a new and splendid idea. this was to use paper money
instead of gold and silver. The Regent was greatly taken with the
idea, and he gave Law leave to issue the paper money. It was quite
a good idea had it been kept within bounds. But it was not kept
within bounds. All France went mad with eagerness to get some of
the paper money which was, they thought, going to make them rich
Besides issuing paper money, Law started what was known as the
Mississippi Scheme or Company of the Indies in 1717. Louisiana,
which had been received back from Crozat, was handed over to John
Law, who undertook to settle the country, and work the gold and
silver mines which were supposed to be there.
Law began at once to fill all France with stories of Louisiana and
its delights. Gold and silver mines, he said, had been discovered
there which were so rich that they could never be used up. Lumps of
gold lay about everywhere, and one might have them for the picking
up. As for silver, it was so common that it had little value except
to be used for paving the streets. In proof of these stories lumps
of gold said to have come from Louisiana were shown in the shops
As to the climate, it was the most perfect on earth. It was never
too hot, and never too cold, but always warm and sunny. The soil
was so fertile that one had but to scratch it to produce the finest
crops. Delicious fruits grew everywhere, and might be gathered all
the year round. The meadows were made beautiful, and the air scented,
with the loveliest of flowers. In fact Louisiana was painted as an
earthly paradise, where nothing the heart could desire was lacking.
People believed these stories. And, believing them, it was not
wonderful that they desired to possess for themselves some of these
delights. So, rich and poor, high and low, rushed to buy shares in
the Company. The street in Paris where the offices of the Company
were was choked from end to end with a struggling crowd. The rich
brought their hundreds, the poor their scanty savings. Great lords
and ladies sold their lands and houses in order to have money to
buy more shares. The poor went ragged and hungry in order to scrape
together a few pence. Peers and merchants, soldiers, priests, fine
ladies, servants, statesmen, labourers, all jostled together, and
fought to buy the magic paper which would make them rich and happy
beyond belief. Fortunes were made and lost in a day. Some who had
been rich found themselves penniless; others who had always lived
in poverty found themselves suddenly rolling in wealth which they
did not know how to use. And John Law was the wizard whose magic
wand had created all these riches. He was flattered and courted
by every one. The greatest princes in the land came to beg favours
of him. They came to him to beg, and he treated them haughtily as
beggars, and bade them wait.
Day by day, and month by month, the madness increased, and the
gigantic bubble grew larger and larger. Bienville, meanwhile, who
had been deprived of his governorship, was once more made Governor
of Louisiana. With a company of settlers, he returned again to the
colony in 1718, and he at once set about building a capital, which,
in honour of the Regent, he called New Orleans. The place he chose
for a capital was covered with forest. So before any building could
be done fifty men were set to fell the trees and clear a space.
And then the first foundations of the new great city of New Orleans
But still the colony did not prosper. For the colonists were for
the most part rogues and vagabonds, sent there by force, and kept
there equally by force. They looked upon Louisiana as a prison,
and tried constantly to escape from it.
Meanwhile no ships laden with gold and gems reached France, for no
gold mines had ever been discovered. Then people began to grow tired
of waiting. Some of them began to suspect that all the stories of
the splendours of Louisiana were not true, and they tried to sell
their paper money and paper shares, and get back the gold which
they had given for them. Soon every one wanted to sell, and no one
wanted to buy. The value of the paper money fell and fell, until
it was worth less than nothing. People who had thought themselves
millionaires found themselves beggars. Law, who had been flattered
and courted, was now hated and cursed. And in terror of his life
he fled from France in 1790 to die miserably in Italy a few years
As to Louisiana, a new set of stories were told of it. Now it was
no longer described as a sort of earthly paradise, but as a place
of horror and misery. It was a land of noisome marsh and gloomy
forest, where prowled every imaginable evil beast. At certain times
of the year the river flooded the whole land, so that the people
were obliged to take refuge in the trees. There they lived more
like monkeys than men, springing from tree to tree in search of
food. The sun was so hot that it could strike a man dead as if with
a pistol. This was called sunstroke. Luscious fruits indeed grew
around, but they were all poisonous and those who ate of them died
in agonies. In fact Louisiana was now pictured as a place to be
shunned, as a place of punishment. "Be good or I will send you to
the Mississippi" was a threat terrible enough to make the naughtiest
The Mississippi bubble burst, - but still France clung to Louisiana.
Once again it became a royal province, and at length after long
years of struggle it began to prosper. The French had thus two
great centres of power in America, one at Quebec amid the pine
trees and snows of the North, and one at New Orleans amid the palm
trees and sunshine of the South. And between the two fort after
fort was built, until gradually north and south were united. Thus
La Salle's dream came true.
It was during the time of peace after the end of Queen Anne's War
that the French had thus strengthened their hold on America and
joined Canada and Louisiana. They had also built a strong fortress
on the Island of Cape Breton which commanded the mouth of the St.
Lawrence. This fortress was called Louisburg in honour of King
Louis, and it was the strongest and best fortified in the whole of
New France. The walls were solid and high, and bristled with more
than a hundred cannon. The moat was both wide and deep. Indeed the
French believe that this fort was so strong that no power on earth
could take it.
But the days of peace sped fast. Soon once more Europe was ablaze
with war, France and Britain again taking opposite sides. In Europe
this war is called the War of the Austrian Succession, because it
was brought on by a quarrel among the nations of Europe as to who
should succeed to the throne of Austria. In America it is called
King George's War, as King George II was King of Britain at the
Like the other wars before it, it was fought in America as well as
in Europe. The chief event in America was the capture of Louisburg
in 1745. That redoubtable fortress which it was thought would hold
off any attack, yielded after six weeks to an army chiefly composed
of New England farmers and fishermen, and led by Maine merchant
who had no knowledge of war.
When the news that Louisburg was taken reached New England the
people rejoiced. Bells were rung, cannons were fired and bonfires
blazed in all the chief towns. In England itself the news was received
with surprise and delight, and Pepperell, the merchant-soldier,
was made a baronet and could henceforth call himself Sir William
But when the French heard that they had lost their splendid American
fortress they were filled with dismay. One after another, three
expeditions were sent to recapture it, but one after another they
miscarried. And when at length, in 1748, peace was agreed upon,
Louisburg was still in the hands of the New Englanders. The peace
which was now signed is called the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. By it,
it was agreed that each side should give back all its conquests,
so that after all the terrible loss and bloodshed neither side was
one whit the better.
The New Englanders had been greatly delighted at their conquest
of Louisburg. The French, on the other hand, were greatly grieved,
and when terms of peace were discussed Louis XV insisted that
Louisburg should be restored. "That cannot be," said King George.
"It is not mine to give, for it was taken by the people of Boston."
The French, however, were firm. So King George gave way, and Louisburg
was restored to France, and Madras in India, which the French had
taken, was in exchange restored to Britain. When the New Englanders
heard of it, they were very angry. Madras was nothing to them; it
was but a "petty factory" on the other side of the globe; while
Louisburg was at their very doors, and of vast importance to their
security. They had to obey and give it back. But they did so with
bitterness in their hearts against a King who cared so little for
Chapter 48 - How a Terrible Disaster Befell the British Army
We have now seen something of the great struggle between French
and British for the continent of America. War after war broke out,
peace after peace was signed. But each peace was no more than a
truce, and even when the noise of cannon ceased there was nearly
always war with the Redman, for he took sides and fought for French
or British. And as years went past the struggle grew ever more and
more bitter. If the French had their way, the British would have
been hemmed in between the Alleghenies and the sea. If the British
had had their way the French would have been confined to a little
strip of land north of the St. Lawrence. It became plain at length
to every one that in all the wide continent there was no room for
both. One must go. But which?
The Peace at Aix-la-Chapelle was not a year old before the last,
great struggle began. Both French and British had now cast their
eyes on the valley of the Ohio, and the spot where Pittsburgh now
stands became known as the Gateway of the West. The British determined
to possess that gateway, but the French were just as determined to
prevent them ever getting through it. So the French began to build
a line of forts from Lake Erie southward to the gate of the west.
Now, Virginia claimed all this land, and when two French forts had
been built the Governor of Virginia began to be both alarmed and
angry. He decided, therefore, to send a messenger to the French
to tell them that they were on British ground, and bid them to be
It was not an easy task, and one which had to be done with courtesy
and firmness. Therefore Dinwiddie resolved to send a "person of
distinction." So as his messenger he chose a young man named George
Washington. He was a straightforward, tall young man, well used to
a woodland life, but withal a gentleman, the descendant of one of
the old Royalist families who had come to Virginia in the time of
Cromwell, and just the very man for the Governor's purpose.
It was a long and toilsome journey through pathless forest, over
hills, deep snows and frozen rivers, a journey which none but one
skilled in forest lore could endure.
But at length after weeks of weary marching Washington arrived at Fort
le Boeuf. The Frenchmen greeted him courteously, and entertained
him in the most friendly fashion during the three days which
the commander took to make up his answer. The answer was not very
satisfactory. The commander promised to send Dinwiddie's letter
to the Governor of Canada. "But meanwhile," he added, "my men and
I will stay where we are. I have been commanded to take possession
of the country, and I mean to do it to the best of my ability."
With this answer Washington set out again, and after many adventures
and dangers arrived safely once more at Williamsburg.
In the spring the Frenchmen marched south to the Gateway of the
West. Here they found a party of British, who had begun to build a
fort. The French, who were in far greater numbers, surrounded them
and bade them surrender. This the British did, being utterly unable
to defend themselves. The French then seized the fort, leveled
it to the ground, and began to build one of their own, which they
called Fort Duquesne.
Upon this, Dinwiddie resolved to dislodge the French, and he sent
a small force and when its leader died he took command. But he
was not able to dislodge the French. So after some fighting he was
obliged to make terms with the enemy and march home discomfited.
Up to this time the war was purely an American one. France and
Britain were at peace, and neither country sent soldiers to help
their colonies. It was the settlers, the farmers, fishermen and
fur traders of New England and New France who fought each other.
And in this the French had one great advantage over the British.
The French were united, the British were not. New France was like
one great colony in which every man was ready to answer the call
The British were divided into thirteen colonies. Each one of the
thirteen colonies was jealous of all the others; each was selfishly
concerned with its own welfare and quite careless of the welfare of
the others. But already the feelings of patriotism had been born.
Among the many who cared nothing for union there were a few who
did. There were some who were neither Virginians nor New Englanders,
neither Georgians nor Carolinians, but Americans. These now felt
that if they were not to become the vassals of France they must
stand shoulder to shoulder.
A Congress of all the Northern Colonies was now called at Albany
to discuss some means of defense. And at this Congress Benjamin
Franklin proposed a plan of union. But the colonies would have nothing
to say to it. Some took no notice of it at all, others treated it
with scorn, or said it put too much power into the hands of the
King. As to the King, when he heard of it he rejected it also, for,
said he, it gave too much power to the colonies. So for the time
being nothing came of it. Meanwhile the Governors of the various
colonies wrote home to England, and, seeing how serious the matter
was becoming, the British Government sent out two regiments of
soldiers to help the colonies. They were about a thousand men in
all, and were under the leadership of Major-General Edward Braddock.
As so as the French heard this they, too, sent soldiers to Canada.
It was just like a game of "Catch who catch can." For as soon as
the British knew that French troops were sailing to America they
sent a squadron to stop them. But the French had got a start, and
most of them got away. The British ships, however, overtook some
which had lagged behind the others.
As soon as they were within hailing distance a red flag was suddenly
run up to the masthead of the British flagship.
"Is this peace or war?" shouted the French captain.
"I don't know," answered the British, "But you had better prepare
for war." He, however, gave the Frenchman little time to prepare,
for the words were hardly out of his mouth before the thunder of
cannon was heard.
The Frenchmen fought pluckily. But they were far outnumbered, and
were soon forced to surrender.
Thus both on land and sea fighting had begun. Yet war had not been
declared and King George and King Louis were still calling each
other "dear cousin" or "dear brother," and making believe that
there was no thought of war.
But the little success on sea was followed up by a bitter disaster
General Braddock now commanded the whole army both home and colonial.
He was a brave and honest man, but obstinate, fiery-tempered and
narrow. He had a tremendous idea of what his own soldiers could
do, and he was very scornful of the colonials. He was still more
scornful of the Indians. "These savages," he said to Franklin, "may
indeed be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia. But upon
the King's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible
that they should make any impression."
The haughty savages were quick to see that he looked down upon them.
"He looks upon us as dogs," they said, and drawing their ragged
blankets about them they stalked off deeply offended. With the same
narrow pride Braddock turned away another useful ally.
This was Captain Jack, the Black Hunter. He was a white man, but
he roamed the woods dressed like an Indian, followed be a band of
men as reckless and lawless as himself. The Black Hunter, however,
although he dressed like an Indian, was the white man's friend,
the Redman's deadly foe.
He had been at one time, it was said, a peaceful settler living
happily with his wife and children. But one day he returned from
hunting to find his cottage in ashes, and his wife and children dead
among the ruins. In his grief and rage he vowed eternal vengeance
on the Indians who had done the evil deed, robbing him for ever
of home and happiness. Henceforth he roamed the woods a terror to
the Redmen. For his aim was unerring, he could steal through the
forest as silently and swiftly as they, and was as learned in all
the woodland lore. His very name indeed struck terror to the hearts
of all his foes.
Black Hunter now with his wild band of followers offered his help
to Braddock. They were well armed, they cared neither for heat nor
cold. they required no tents nor shelter for the night; not did
they ask for any pay.
General Braddock looked at the gaunt weather-beaten man of the
woods, clad in hunting shirt and moccasins, painted and bedecked
with feathers like an Indian. Truly a strange ally, he thought. "I
have experienced troops," he said, "on whom I can depend."
And finding that he could get no other answer Black Hunter and his
men drew off, and disappeared into the woods whence they had come.
On the other hand Braddock had much to put up with. The whole
success of the expedition depended on swiftness. The British must
strike a blow before the French had time to arm. But when Braddock
landed nothing was ready; there were no stores, no horses, no
wagons. And it seemed impossible to gather them. Nobody seemed to
care greatly whether the expedition set out or not. So, goaded to
fury Braddock stamped and swore, and declared that nearly every
one he had to do with was stupid or dishonest.
But at length the preparations were complete, and in June the
expedition set out.
From the first things went wrong. Had Braddock gone through
Pennsylvania he would have found a great part of his road cleared
for him. But he went through Virginia, and had to hew his way
through pathless forest.
In front of the army went three hundred axemen to cut down trees and
clear a passage. Behind them the long baggage train jolted slowly
onwards, now floundering axle deep through mud, now rocking
perilously over stumps or stones. On either side threading in and
out among the trees marched the soldiers. So day after day the
many-coloured cavalcade wound along, bugle call and sound of drum
awakening the forest silences.
The march was toilsome, and many of the men, unused to the hardships
of the wilderness, fell ill, and the slow progress became slower
still. At length Braddock decided to divide his force, and leaving
the sick men and the heaviest baggage behind, press on more rapidly
with the others. It was George Washington who went with him as an
aide-de-camp who advised this.
So the sick and all baggage that could be done without were left
behind with Colonel Dunbar. But even after this the progress was
Meanwhile news of the coming of the British army had been carried
to the French at Fort Duquesne. And when they heard how great the
force was, they were much alarmed. But a gallant Frenchman named
Beaujeu offered to go out and meet the British, lie in wait for
them and take them unawares. But to do this he had need of Indian
help. So council fires were lit and Beaujeu flung down the war
hatchet. But the Indians refused it, for they were afraid of the
great British force.
"Do you want to die, our father?" they asked, "and sacrifice us
"I am determined to go," said Beaujeu. "What! Will you let your
father go alone? I know we shall win."
Seeing him so confident the Indians forgot their fears, and the
war dance was danced. Then, smeared with paint and led by Beaujeu
himself dressed like a savage, they marched to meet the British.
There were about six hundred Indians and half as many Frenchmen.
Stealthily they crept through the forest, flitting like shadows
from tree to tree, closing ever nearer and nearer upon the British.
They, meanwhile, had reached the river Monongahela. They crossed
it gaily, for they knew now that Fort Duquesne was near; their
toilsome march was at an end, and victory was sure.
It was a glorious summer morning; the bands played, the men laughed
and shouted joyously. The long line swept onward, a glittering
pageant of scarlet and blue, of shining steel and fluttering banners.
Then suddenly out of the forest darted a man dressed like an Indian.
When he saw the advancing column he stopped. Then turning, he waved
to some one behind him. It was Beaujeu, and at his signal the air
was rent with the terrible Indian war cry, and a hail of bullets
swept the British ranks.
Shouting "God save the King" the British returned to fire. But it
availed little, for they could not see the enemy. From the shelter
of the forest, hidden behind trees, the French and Indians fired
upon the British. They were an easy mark, for they stood solidly,
shoulder to shoulder, their scarlet coats showing clearly against
the green background. Still the British stood their ground firing
volley after volley. It was quite useless, for they could see no
enemy. The puffs of smoke were their only guides. To aim at the
points where the smoke came from was all they could do. But for
the most part their bullets crashed through the branches, or were
buried in tree trunks, while the pitiless rain of lead mowed down
The American soldiers fared better. For as soon as they were attacked
they scattered, and from behind the shelter of trees fought the
Indians in their own fashion. Some of the British tried to do the
same. But Braddock had no knowledge of savage warfare. To fight in
such a manner seemed to him shocking. It was unsoldierly; it was
cowardly. So he swore savagely at his men, calling them cowards,
and beat them back into line with the flat of his sword. And thus
huddled together they stood a brilliant, living target for the
bullets of the savages.
Braddock himself fought with fury. He dashed here and there, swearing,
commanding, threatening. Four horses were shot under him, and at
last he himself fell wounded to death.
Washington too fought with fearless bravery, trying to carry out
Braddock's frenzied orders. And although he escaped unhurt his
clothes were riddled with holes, and twice his horse was shot under
For nearly three hours the terrible carnage lasted. Then flesh
and blood could stand no more, and the men broke rank and fled.
All night they fled in utter rout, bearing with them their wounded
At length they reached Dunbar's camp. But even them they did not
pause. For the news of the disaster had thrown the whole camp into
confusion. Frantic orders were given, and obeyed with frenzied
haste. Wagon loads of stores were burned, barrels of gunpowder
were staved in, and the contents poured into the river; shells and
bullets were buried. The, the work of destruction complete, the
whole army moved on again in utter rout.
And now Braddock's dark, last hour had come. Brooding and silent
he lay in his litter. This awful defeat was something he could not
grasp. "Who would have thought it?" he murmured. "Who would have
thought it?" But his stubborn spirit was yet unbroken. "We will
know better how to do it another time," he sighed. A few minutes
later he died.
His men buried him in the middle of the road, Washington reading
over him the prayers for the dead. Then lest the Indians should
find and desecrate his last resting-place the whole army passed
over his grave.
Chapter 49 - The End of the French Rule in America
Braddock's campaign was a complete disaster. The French had
triumphed, and even those Indians who up till now had been willing
to side with the British were anxious to make friends with the
French. For were they not the stronger? Surely it seemed to them
the White Father of the St. Lawrence was more powerful than the
White Father of the Hudson.
"If the English will not suffer the branches of the Great Tree of
Peace to hide us from the French," they said, "we will go farther
off. We will lie down and warm ourselves by the war fires of the
French. We love to hear the sound of the war whoop. We delight
in the war yell. It flies from hill to hill, from heart to heart.
It makes the old heart young, it makes the young heart dance. Our
young braves run to battle with the swiftness of the fawn. If you
will not fight, the French will drive us from our hunting grounds.
The English King does not aid us, we must join the strong. Who is
strong? Who is strong? The French! The English have become weak."
War was now really declared between France and Britain and fighting
took place in Europe as well as in America. And in America things
went ill for the British. Defeats and disasters followed each other,
things were muddled and went wrong continually. For truth to tell
the British had no great leader either in England or in America,
while the French had the Marquess Montcalm, one of the best soldiers
in the French army, as their commander-in-chief.
At length, however, a great man came to power in England. This
was William Pitt, known as the Great Commoner. He was, it has been
said, the first Englishman of his time, and he made England the
first country in the world. He was a great judge of men, and he
had a happy way of choosing the right man for the right place. So
now instead of defeats came victories, not only in America, but all
over the world. "We are forced to ask every morning," said a witty
man of the time, "what victory there has been for fear of missing
In America Louisburg fell once more into the hands of the British.
Fort Duquesne too was taken, and the misery of Braddock's disaster
was wiped out. Then in honour of the great statesman the name of
the fort was changed to Pittsburg. It is still called by that name
and is now one of the world's greatest manufacturing cities; and
where Braddock fought and fell stretches a network of streets.
But although the British had many successes the key of Canada
defied all efforts to take it. Quebec still frowned upon her rock,
invulnerable as in the days of old lion-hearted Frontenac.
Among the men Pitt had chosen to lead the armies in America
was Major-General James Wolfe. He was a long-legged, red-haired
Englishman. There was nothing of the hero about his appearance
except his bright and flashing eyes. It was this man who was sent
to capture Quebec. Many people were astonished at Pitt's choice.
"He is mad," said one stupid old man.
"Mad is he?" said King George. "Then I wish he would bite some
others of my generals."
Led by a daring old sea captain the British war ships passed safely
up the St. Lawrence and anchored off the Isle of Orleans a little
Once more British guns thundered against the high rock fortress. The
town was laid in ruins, the country round was but a barren waste.
Yet the fortress of Quebec was no nearer being taken than before.
Weeks and months went past, the fleet rocked idly at anchor, the
troops lay almost as idle in their tents. Only the gunners had
work to do. And although they shattered the walls of Quebec the
Frenchmen were undaunted.
"You may ruin the town," they said, "but you will never get inside."
"I will have Quebec if I stay here till the end of November,"
But Montcalm smiled grimly. Winter, he knew, would be his ally. For
then the St. Lawrence would be frozen from bank to bank and before
that the British must sail away or be caught fast in its icy jaws.
Wolfe, who was frail and sickly by nature, now broke down beneath
the strain and the constant disappointments. Helpless and in agony
he lay on his sickbed, his mind still busy with plans of how to
"Doctor," he said, "I know you can't cure me but patch me up till
I see this business through."
Soon he was about again, and making plans for his last desperate
attempt to take Quebec.
Seeking to find a means of reaching the fortress he had himself
examined all the north shores of the St. Lawrence. And just a little
above the town he had found one spot where a narrow pathway led up
the steep cliffs. It was so steep and narrow that the French never
dreamed of any one making an attack that way, and it was carelessly
guarded. But dangerous though it was it seemed to Wolfe the only
way, and he determined to attempt it.
Soon his preparations were made, and one dark moonless night
in September a long procession of boats floated silently down the
river. In one of the boats sat Wolfe, and as they drifted slowly
along in the starlight in a low voice he repeated Gray's poem called
an Elegy in a Country Churchyard:
"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty,
all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits alike th' inevitable hour, The
paths of glory lead but to the grave."
"Gentlemen," said Wolfe when he finished, "I would rather have
written those lines than take Quebec."
In dead silence now the boats drifted on. Then suddenly out of the
darkness rang a sharp challenge.
"Who goes there?" was asked in French.
"France," replied a Highland officer who spoke good French.
"What regiment?" shouted the sentry.
"The Queen's," answered the officer glibly, for luckily he had learned
from French prisoners that boats with provisions were expected by
the enemy, and that very likely the Queen's regiment would convoy
The sentry was satisfied and let the boats pass. But they were not
safe yet. A little further on they were challenged again.
The same officer replied.
"Speak louder!" cried the sentry.
"Hush!" replied the Highlander, "provision boats, I say. Do not
make a noise; the British will hear us."
The sentry was quite deceived. He let the boats pass, and very soon
the men were safely landed.
Then the climb began. Like wild mountain cats the men dashed at it.
They swung themselves up by branches of trees, gripping projecting
stones and roots with hand and knee. It was hot, breathless work,
but soon they were near the top. But they had been heard. Once more
the challenge rang out, "Who goes there?"
"France," panted a voice from below. But this time the sentry was
not deceived. He could see nothing, but he fired at a venture down
into the darkness.
It was too late. The first men had reached the top, and the guard
was overpowered. So hour by hour up the steep cliff the red coats
swarmed unhindered. When morning dawned four thousand British stood
upon the plains of Abraham.
"This is a very serious business," said Montcalm when he heard of
it, "but it can only be a small party."
Soon, however, more news was brought to him. It was no small party.
"Then we must crush them," he said, and with pale set face he rode
forth to battle.
It was ten o'clock when the fight began. The French attacked first.
The British awaited them calmly as they dashed on over the plain.
On they came nearer and nearer. Then suddenly the order was given,
and , cheering wildly, the British charged.
A shot struck Wolfe in the wrist. Without pausing he tied a
handkerchief about it. Again he was hit. Still he went on. Then a
third shot struck his breast, and he fell. Hastily he was carried
to the rear, and laid upon the ground.
"It is all over with me," he sighed. Then he lay still in a sort
Suddenly one of the officers beside him cried out, "They run! They
"Who run?" said Wolfe, rousing himself.
"The enemy, sir," answered the officer, "they give way everywhere."
"Now God be praised," murmured Wolfe. "I die happy." Then turning
on his side he died.
Everywhere the French fled, and in their mad rush they carried along
with them their gallant leader, Montcalm. He was sorely wounded,
but still sat his horse as he rode within the gates of Quebec. Here
an excited, eager crowd was gathered, waiting for news. And when
they saw Montcalm's well-known figure on his black horse they were
seized with dismay. For his face was white and drawn and blood
flowed from his breast.
"Alas! Alas!" cried a woman in a piercing voice of despair, "the
Marquess is killed!"
"It is nothing, it is nothing, good friends," he replied. "Do not
trouble about me." So saying he fell from his horse into the arms
of one of his officers.
That night he died.
He was glad to go. "It is better for me," he said, "for I shall
not live to see Quebec surrender."
With him died the last hope of New France. The story of New France
was done. The Story of Canada was about to begin as well as that of
her mighty neighbour. For as a great English historian has said,
"With the triumph of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham began the
history of the United States."
Meanwhile, however, the war still dragged on for another year.
Then the following summer Montreal surrendered to the British, and
French rule in America was completely at an end.
Fighting in America was over. But the war still went on in other
parts of the world. Spain had also joined in the struggle, and
from them the British took Cuba and the Philippine Islands. But at
length in 1763 peace was made by the Treaty of Paris.
By this treaty Britain was confirmed in her claim to nearly the
whole of French possessions in America. So that from the Atlantic
to the Mississippi and from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson Bay was
now declared British except the peninsula forming Florida. That
the Spaniards claimed. So in exchange for it the British gave back
Cuba and the Philippines. And to make up to Spain for the loss
of Florida France gave them New Orleans and resigned to Spain all
claims to the land which La Salle had called Louisiana.
Thus nothing remained to France of all her great possessions
in America, and the vast continent was divided between Spain and
Britain. Never in all known history had a single treaty transferred
such enormous tracts of land from one nation to another.
Chapter 50 - The Rebellion of Pontiac
"Do you not know the difference between the King of France and the
King of Britain?" a Frenchman once asked an Indian. "Go, look at
the forts which our King has built, you will see that you can still
hunt under their very walls. They have been built for your good
in the places where you go. The British on the other hand are no
sooner in possession of a place than they drive the game away, the
trees fall before them, the earth is laid bare, so that you can
scarcely find a few branches with which to make a shelter for the
The Frenchman spoke truth. The British settlers were, for the most
part, grave and earnest men who had come to seek new homes. They
felled trees and built their houses, and ploughed the land, turning
wilderness into cornfields and meadow.
The Frenchmen came for the sake of religion or for adventure, they
set up crosses and claimed the land for God and the King. They
scattered churches and hamlets far in the wilderness, but left
the wilderness and the forest still the Redman's hunting ground.
The Frenchmen treated the Indians with an easy, careless sort of
friendliness, while most of the British looked down upon them as
So very soon after the British took possession of Canada the Indians
became very discontented. For now they got no more presents, they
were no longer treated as brothers, and they were hurt both in their
pockets and their pride. "The English mean to make slaves of us,"
they said, in haughty indignation, and soon a plot to murder all
the British was formed.
The French who still lived in Canada encouraged the Indians in
their discontent, telling them that the English meant thoroughly
to root them out. Then a great Medicine Man arose among them who
"The Great Spirit himself appeared unto me," he said. "Thus he
spake. 'I am the Lord of Life. It is I who made all men. I work for
their safety, therefore I give you warning. Suffer not the English
to dwell in your midst, lest their poisons and their sickness
destroy you utterly.'"
When they heard the Medicine Man speak thus, the Indians were greatly
stirred. "The Lord of Life himself," they said, "moves our hearts
to war." They became ever more and more eager to fight. They only
wanted a leader, and found one in Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas.
He was subtle and fierce, haughty and ambitious, and by far the
most clever and powerful chief who ever took up arms against the
Now he sent messengers to all the Indian villages both far and near.
With them these messengers carried a hatchet, stained with blood,
and a war belt of scarlet wampum. When they came to a village they
called the braves together. Then in their midst their spokesman
flung down the blood stained hatchet, and holding the belt in his
hand he made a passionate speech, reminding the Redmen of their
wrongs, and calling upon them to be avenged upon their foes. And
wherever the messengers went the blood stained hatchet was seized,
and the war dance danced.
At length all was arranged and upon a certain day in May the Indians
were to rise in a body, and slay the British to a man. Only the
French were to be spared.
Pontiac himself was to attack Fort Detroit, and so quietly and
secretly were the preparations made that no one had the slightest
suspicion of what was going forward. But the day before the attack
a farmer's wife rowed across the river, and went to the Indian
village to buy some maple sugar. While she was there she was much
astonished to see some of the Indian braves filing off the barrels
of their guns. The sight made her uneasy. "I wonder what they are
up to?" she said.
When she got home she told her friends what she had seen.
"I believe they are up to some mischief," she repeated.
"I think so too," said a blacksmith, "they have been asking me to
lend them files and saws."
As the settlers talked the matter over they became at length so
uneasy that they sent to tell Major Gladwin, the commander of the
fort, of what they had seen. He, however, thought nothing of it.
But later in the day a young Indian girl came to see him, to bring
him a pair of moccasins which he had asked her to make. She seemed
very sad and downcast, and after she had given the Major the
moccasins she still loitered about.
"What's the matter?" asked a young officer.
The Indian girl did not answer, she only looked at him gravely with
sorrowful brown eyes.
Still she lingered about, it was nearly dark, time almost to close
the gates. At last the young officer watching her, became certain
that something was the matter, and he urged his commander to see
the girl again.
Major Gladwin at once called the girl to him. "What is the matter?"
he asked. "Why are you so sad?"
Still she would not speak. Then the Major talked to her kindly,
promising that whatever her secret was, it would be safe with him,
and that he would never betray her. So at length the Indian girl
"The Indians mean to kill you all," she whispered; "the braves
have filed off the ends of their gun barrels so that the guns can
be hidden beneath their blankets. Tomorrow Pontiac will come with
many warriors, and will ask to hold a Council within the fort. He
will make a speech, and offer you a peace belt of wampum. At the
end of the speech he will turn the belt round - that will be the
signal. The chiefs will then spring up, draw the guns from their
hiding places, and kill you all. Indians outside will kill all your
soldiers. Not one of you will escape."
So saying the girl went sadly away.
Gladwin at once called his officers and told them what he had
heard. They were convinced now that evil was afoot, and all night
they kept watch lest the Indians should change their minds, and
make their attack during the night.
But the night passed peacefully. When morning came a great many
Indians were seen to be gathered about the fort, and at ten o'clock
Pontiac, followed by his chiefs, entered the gateway.
They stalked in proudly, garbed in all the glory of savage
splendours. They were cloaked in bright coloured blankets, and hung
about with beads and hawk-bells. Their heads were decorated with
eagle feathers, and their faces hideously painted.
Pontiac came first, and as he passed beneath the gateway, he started,
and drew a sharp, deep breath. For both sides of the narrow street
were lined with soldiers gun in hand. He had been betrayed! Yet
the haughty chiefs made no sign. In silence they stalked on, not
a muscle of their faces moving. Here and there as they passed on
they saw traders standing about in groups, every man fully armed.
Not a woman or child was to be seen.
At length the Indians reached the Council Hall. Here they found the
commander seated awaiting them, surrounded by his officers. They,
too, were armed, for every man of them wore a sword by his side
and a brace of pistols in his belt.
Ill at ease now, the Indians gazed at each other in doubt what to
Then Pontiac spoke, "why," he asked, "do I see so many of my father's
braves standing in the street with their guns?"
"Because I exercise my soldiers," replied Gladwin calmly, "for the
good of their health, and also to keep discipline."
This answer made the Indians still more uneasy, but after some
hesitation they all sat down on the floor. Then with due ceremony
Pontiac rose, and holding the belt of peace in his hand began
to speak. His words were fair. They had come, he said, to tell of
their love for the English, "to smoke the pipe of peace, and make
the bonds of friendship closer."
As he spoke his false and cunning words, the officers kept a watchful
eye upon him. Would he give the signal or not, they asked themselves.
He raised the belt. At that moment Gladwin made a quick, slight
signal. Immediately from the passage with out came the sound of
grounding arms, and the rat-tat of a drum. Pontiac stood rigid, as
one turned to stone. Then after a moment's deathly silence he sat
In the silence Gladwin sat looking steadily and fearlessly at the
Indians. Then he replied shortly to Pontiac's fine speech, "The
friendship of the British should be theirs," he said, "so long as
they deserved it."
The Council was at an end. The gates of the fort which had been
closed were now thrown open again, and the savages, balked in their
treachery, stalked back to their wigwams.
But Pontiac was not yet beaten, and again he tried to master the
fort by treachery. And when he found the gates of the fort shut
against him, his rage was terrible. Then seeing they could not win
Fort Detroit by treachery, the Indians attacked it in force. But
in spite of all his horde of warriors, in spite of all his wiles,
Pontiac could not take the fort although he besieged it for a whole
Meanwhile the savages over-ran the whole country, and every other
fort, save Fort Pitt and Fort Niagara, fell into their hands. More
often than not, they won their way into the forts by treachery,
and having entered they slew, without mercy, men, women and children.
At Michilimackinac the Redskins invited the officers and soldiers
to watch a game of ball. The invitation was accepted, and nearly all
the soldiers stood about watching while the Indians with piercing
yells dashed madly hither and thither after the ball. Crowds of
Indians also looked on, among them many squaws wrapped in coloured
blankets. The game was played just outside the fort, the gates
stood open, and most of the soldiers had strolled out without their
weapons to watch.
Suddenly the ball flew through the air and landed close to the
gate of the fort. There was a mad rush after it. As they ran the
Indians snatched the hatchets and knives which till now the squaws
had hidden beneath their blankets. Screams of delight were changed
to war cries. The two officers who stood by the gate were seized
and carried away prisoner, while the rabble stormed into the fort
slaying and robbing at will. Every one of the British was either
killed or taken prisoner, but the French were left alone.
Thus all the land was filled with bloodshed and horror. There was
no safety anywhere. In every bush an Indian might lurk, and night
was made terrible with bloodcurdling war cries.
For nearly three years the war lasted. But by degrees Pontiac saw
that his cause was lost. The French did not help him as he had
expected they would. Some of his followers deserted, and other
tribes refused to join him, and at last he saw himself forced to
make peace. So there were flowery speeches, and the exchange of
wampum belts, and peace was made.
Then Pontiac's army melted away like snow in summer, and the great
Chief himself retired to the forest to live among his children and
his squaws. A few years later he was traitorously slain by one of
his own people.
PART VI: STORIES OF THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERTY
Chapter 51 - The Boston Tea party
All these wars which had been fought on American soil had cost a
great deal of money and many lives. Now it seemed to the British
Government that the best way to be sure of peace in the future
was to keep an army in America. They decided to do this. They also
decided that America should pay for the army. And in order to raise
the money a stamp tax was to be introduced. Newspapers, marriage
licenses, wills, and all sorts of legal papers were henceforth to
be printed on stamped paper, the price of stamps varying according
to the importance of the paper from a few pence to as many pounds.
But when the Americans heard that this Act had been passed without
their consent they were angry.
"No," they said to the British Government, "you cannot tax us without
our consent. It is one of the foundations of British freedom that
those who pay the tax must also consent to it. We are not represented
in the British Parliament, our consent has not been asked, and we
deny your right to tax us."
The whole country was filled with clamour. In every colony young
men banded themselves together, calling themselves Sons of Liberty,
and determined to resist the tax. "No taxation without representation"
was the cry.
When the first boxes of stamps arrived they were seized and destroyed.
Newspapers appeared with a skull and crossbones printed where the
stamp should have been. There were riots and mass meetings everywhere.
The Americans did not merely resist, they resisted in a body.
Nothing but the idea that their liberty was in danger made them act
together. Over everything else they had been divided. Over that
they were united. "There ought to be no New England men, no New
Yorkers, known on the continent," said one man; "but all of us
Even in Britain there were people who thought this Stamp Act was a
mistake. The great Pitt had been ill when it was passed into law,
but when he returned to Parliament he spoke strongly against it.
"I was ill in bed," he said, "but if I could have been carried here
in my bed I would have asked some kind friend to lay my on this
floor, so that I might have spoken against it. It is a subject of
greater importance than ever engaged the attention of this House;
that subject always excepted, when nearly a century ago it was the
question whether you yourselves were to be bond or free."
Pitt was thinking of the time when Englishmen strove with Charles
I. He gloried in British liberty, and he could not bear to think
of Britons oppressing Britons. "Who that has an English heart," he
once said, "can ever be weary of asserting liberty?"
"I rejoice that America has resisted," he said later.
There were many against Pitt, but he won the day, and the Stamp
Act was repealed.
There was great rejoicing in America, and the matter seemed at an
end. But the very next year a new bill for taxing the Americans was
brought into Parliament. This time the tax was to be paid on tea,
glass, lead and a few other things brought into the country.
Once again the colonies were ablaze, and they refused to pay this
duty just as they had refused to pay the Stamp Tax. Everywhere
there were indignation meetings. But Boston seemed to be the heart
of the storm, and to Boston British troops were sent to keep order.
The soldiers had nothing to do, but the very sight of their red
coats made the colonists angry. They taunted the soldiers, and
worried them every way they knew, and the soldiers were not slow
to reply. So at last after eighteen months of bickering one March
evening it came to blows. Two or three exasperated soldiers fired
upon the crowd of citizens, five of whom were killed and several
This was afterwards known as the Boston Massacre. It made the people
terribly angry, and next day a great meeting was held in Old South
Church. At this meeting the people demanded that the troops should
be at once removed from the town. And seeing the temper of the
people the Lieutenant Governor withdrew them that same day to a
little island in the harbour.
And now finding how useless it was to try to force taxes on unwilling
subjects, the Government removed all the taxes except one. King
George wanted to show his power. He wanted to prove to the Americans
that he had the right to tax them if he liked. So he insisted that
there should still be a tax on tea.
"The King will have it so, he means to try the question with
America," said Lord North, the easy-going, stupid minister who was
now in power.
But to prove that neither the King nor any one else had the right
to tax them, without their consent, was exactly for what the Americans
were fighting. To them, one tax was as bad as a dozen. It was not
a question of money, but a question of right or wrong, of freedom
or slavery. So they refused to pay the tax on tea. They refused to
buy tea from Britain at all, and smuggled it from Holland. Ships
laden with tea came to port, and it was landed. But no one would
buy it, and it rotted and mouldered in the cellars. In Boston,
however, the people determined that it should not even land. And
when three ships laden with tea came into Boston harbour, the people
refused to allow them to unload.
"Take your tea back again to England," they said to the captain.
But the captain could not do that, for the customs officers would
not allow him to leave until he had landed his cargo. The people
were greatly excited. Large meetings were held, and every possible
manner of getting rid of the tea was discussed. But at length
some of the younger men grew tired of talk. Time was passing. If
something were not done, the tea would be landed by force.
That, these bold young men determined, should not be. So about
fifty of them dressed themselves as Red Indians, staining their
faces brown and painting them hideously. Then, tomahawk in hand,
they stole silently down to the ships, and uttering wild war cries
sprang on board. They seized the tea chests and with their hatchets
burst them open, and poured the tea into the harbour.
There were nearly three hundred and fifty chests, and soon the harbour
was black with tea. It was terrible waste, but no one stopped it.
From the shore people looked on quietly. And when the work was done
the "Red Indians" vanished away as silently as they had come. This
was afterwards called the Boston Tea Party. Certainly no greater
brewing of tea has ever been known.
When George III heard of the Boston Tea Party he was very angry, and
he resolved to punish the people of Boston. "They will be lions,"
he said, "as long as we are lambs, but if we show them that we mean
to be firm they will soon prove very meek."
So he closed the port and forbade any ships to go there, thus
cutting off Boston from the trade of the world. He also said that
Boston should no longer be the capital of Massachusetts, and made
Salem the capital instead.
Boston, of course, was well-nigh ruined by these acts. But instead
of looking coldly on her misfortunes, the other colonies rallied
to her aid. And grain, cattle and all sorts of merchandise poured
into Boston from them.
Boston could not be starved, neither could it be frightened into
Chapter 52 - Paul Revere's Ride - The Unsheathing of the Sword
All the colonies now felt that they must unite in truth, and that
they must have some centre to which all could appeal. So a Congress
of all the colonies was called at Philadelphia. This is called
the first Continental Congress, and to it all the colonies except
Georgia sent delegates.
This Congress drew up a Declaration of Rights. They also sent an
address to the King in which they declared that they had no wish
to separate from Britain.
But the King called the Congress an unlawful and seditious gathering,
and would not listen to anything it had to say. Still, far-seeing
statesmen with Pitt at their head struggled to bring about a
"I contend, not for indulgence, but for justice to America," he said.
"The Americans are a brave, generous and united people, with arms
in their hands, and courage in their hearts. It is not repealing
this act of Parliament, it is not repealing a piece of parchment,
that can restore America to our bosom. You must repeal her fears and
her resentments. And you may then hope for her love and gratitude."
But few people listened to Pitt, the bill which he brought into
Parliament was rejected with scorn, and the great struggle which
was to last for eight years began.
Already in America, men's minds had begun to turn to war, and on
every village green the farmers might be seen drilling every evening.
Bands of minute men, that is, men who would be ready at a minute's
notice, were organised. All sorts of war stores were gathered.
Two of the leaders of the people in all these matters were Samuel
Adams and John Hancock. These men Governor Gage, who was also
commander of the troops, was ordered to arrest and send to England
to be tried as traitors. Gage having heard that both men were
staying at the village of Lexington decided to arrest them together.
For this he carefully laid his plans. Eight hundred men were to
leave Boston in secret at dead of night. First they were to go to
Lexington, and having arrested the "traitors" they were next to
march on to Concord to seize the large war stores which were known
to be gathered there.
All the preparations were made as silently and as secretly as possible.
But the colonists were on the alert. They knew that something was
afoot, and guessed what it was.
On the 18th of April Gage gave strict orders that no one was to
be allowed to leave Boston that night. But no orders could stop
And as the moon was rising a little boat was rowed across the Charles
river almost under the shadow of the British man-of-war. The boat
reached the farther shore and a man booted and spurred, and if ready
for a long ride, leaped out upon the bank. This man was Paul Revere.
At ten o'clock the troops also were silently rowed across the
Charles River, and in the darkness set out for Lexington. But not
far off on the bank of the same river, a man stood waiting beside
a saddled horse. Quietly he waited, looking always towards the
tower of the Old North Church. It was Paul Revere, and he waited
for a signal to tell him which way the red coats were going.
Suddenly about eleven o'clock two twinkling lights appeared upon
the tower, and without a moment's loss Paul Revere leaped into
the saddle and dashed away. Swiftly he rode, urging his good horse
onward with voice and hand.
Near the lonely spot where stood the gallows he passed. Here under
a tree, two horsemen waited, and as Revere came nearer he saw that
they were British soldiers. Swiftly they darted at him. One tried
to seize his bridle, the other to head him off. But Revere was
a fearless rider, and knew the countryside by heart. He swerved
suddenly, doubled, and was soon clear of his pursuers.
Then on through the darkness he galloped unhindered till he reached
Medford. Here he stayed but to rouse the captain of the minute men,
and onward he sped once more. Now at the door of every cottage or
farmhouse which he passed he loudly knocked, shouting his news "the
soldiers are coming," and thundered off again in the darkness.
A little after midnight he reached Lexington and stopped before the
house where Adams and Hancock were sleeping. He found it guarded
by minute men, and as he excitedly shouted his news, they bade him
"Don't make such a noise," said the sergeant, "you will waken the
people in the house."
"Noise," cried Revere, "you will soon have noise enough - the
regulars are coming."
Hancock was awake, and hearing Revere's voice he threw up his
window, shouting to the guard to let him in. So Revere went into
the house and told all he knew. When they heard the news, Hancock
wanted to stay and fight, if fighting there was to be. But the
others would not hear of it, so as day dawned the two men quietly
walked away, and were soon on the road to Philadelphia.
Meanwhile the British troops were steadily marching nearer and nearer.
At first all was silent: save the clatter and jingle of their arms
and the tramp of their feet, there was no sound. No light was to
be seen far or near. Then suddenly a bell rang, a shout was heard,
lights twinkled here and there. The night was no longer silent and
dark. The country was no longer asleep.
The colonel in command of the troops grew anxious. He had expected
to take the people completely by surprise, and he had done so.
Somehow the secret had leaked out. The whole countryside was up
and awake, and fearing lest with his small company of soldiers, he
would not be able to do what he had set out to do, he sent back to
Boston for more men.
And sure enough, his fears were well founded, for when in the cold
grey of early dawn the advance party reached Lexington, they found
a little guard of sixty or seventy armed men drawn up to receive
"Disperse, ye rebels, disperse," shouted the commander as he rode
towards them. But the men stood motionless and silent.
"Why don't you disperse, you villains?" he cried again.
Then seeing words had no effect, he gave the order to fire. The
soldiers obeyed, and eight minute men fell dead, and several more
were wounded. The minute men returned the fire, but just then more
British soldiers appeared in sight. And seeing that it was useless
to try to resist so great a force the Americans dispersed.
Thus the terrible war, which was almost a civil war, began. The
British now marched on to Concord. They had failed to arrest the
men they had been sent to arrest at Lexington. So there was all
the more reason to hurry on to Concord, and seize the war stores
before there was time to spirit them away. But when about seven
o'clock in the morning the troops arrived at Concord the stores for
the most part had been already safely hidden. A gun or two they
found, and a few barrels of flour. The guns were spiked, the barrels
staved in, the court house set on fire.
But meanwhile the minute men had been gathering, and now a force
four hundred strong appeared on the further side of a bridge known
as the North Bridge. The bridge was held by two hundred British,
and when they saw the minute men approach they began to destroy
There was a sharp exchange of fire. Then the minute men charged
across the narrow bridge, sweeping all before them. The British
fled back to the village, and the minute men, hardly knowing what
they had done, retired again across the bridge and waited.
The British leader now decided to return to Boston. He had done
nothing which he had set out to do. But he saw this his position
was one of great danger. Everywhere he was surrounded with enemies.
His men were hungry and worn out, so about twelve o'clock the march
back to Boston began.
But the return was not easy, for all the way the troops were harassed
by the Americans. Every bush, every wall concealed an armed farmer,
whose aim was deadly and sure. Man after man fell, and beneath the
constant and galling fire coming, it seemed from everywhere and
nowhere, the nerves of the wearied, hungry men gave way. Faster and
faster the long red line swept along in every growing confusion.
There was no thought now of anything but safety, and the march
was almost a rout when at length the reinforcements from Boston
appeared. These were a thousand strong, and their leader, Lord
Percy, seeing the confusion and distress of the British formed
his men into a hollow square. Into this refuge the fugitives fled,
throwing themselves upon the ground in utter exhaustion, with their
tongues hanging out of their mouths "like those of dogs after a
Lord Percy had brought cannons with him, so with these he swept the
field, and for a time forced the colonists to retire. But they did
not disperse; they still hovered near, and as soon as the retreat
again began, there began with it the constant galling fire from
every tree or bush, before, behind, on either side. To return the
fire was useless, as the enemy were hidden. It was a sort of warfare
not unlike that which Braddock had had to meet, a sort of warfare
in which the American farmer was skilled, but of which the British
soldier knew nothing. So when, at length, as day darkened the British
troops reached Boston they were utterly spent and weary. And in a
huddled, disorganised crowd, they hurried into shelter.
Chapter 53 - The First Thrust-The Battle of Bunker Hill
The sword was at length unsheathed. There was no more doubt about it.
There was to be a war between the Mother Country and her daughter
states. And now far and wide throughout the colonies the call to
arms was heard and answered. Farmers left their ploughs and seized
their rifles, trappers forsook their hunting grounds, traders left
their business, and hastened to join the army.
John Stark, a bold trapper learned in Indian ways and famous in
Indian warfare, marched from New Hampshire at the head of several
hundred men. Israel Putnam, more famous still for his deeds of daring
in the Indian wars, came too. He was busy on his farm at Pomfret,
Connecticut, when the news of the fight at Lexington reached him.
He was already a man of fifty-seven but there and then he left
his work and hastened round the neighbouring farms calling out
the militia. Then, commanding them to follow him with all speed,
he mounted his horse, and turned its head towards Cambridge. Hour
after hour throughout the night he rode onward, and as day dawned
on the 21st of April he galloped into Cambridge, having ridden a
hundred miles in eighteen hours without a change of horse. Handsome
young Captain Benedict Arnold, half sailor, half merchant, gathered
his men on New Haven green. And when the general of militia bade him
wait for regular orders and refused to supply him with ammunition
for his men, he threatened to break open the magazine if the
ammunition was not forthcoming at once. So, seeing that nothing
would restrain him, the general yielded, and Arnold, gallant and
gay, with sixty men behind him marched for Cambridge.
Thus day by day men of all classes, and of all ages, poured in from
the countryside, until an army of sixteen thousand was gathered
Meetings, too, were held throughout the country, when patriots
urged the need of arming and fighting. In the Virginian Convention,
Patrick Henry, the great orator, thrilled his hearers with his
fiery eloquence. "We must fight," he cried, "I repeat it, we must
fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is
left us." Brilliantly, convincingly he spoke, and ended with the
unforgettable words:-- "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be
purchased at the price of chains and slavery! Forbid it, Almighty
God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give
me liberty or give me death!"
"His last exclamation," said one who heard him, "was like the shout
of the leader who turns back the rout of battle."
But even yet the leaders of the country hoped to avoid a war. The
second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia on the 10th of
May and the members talked anxiously of ways and means to restore
peace. But it was already too late. For the gathered army was no
longer to be restrained, and the very day upon which Congress met
a British fortress had been seized by the colonists.
The chain of lakes and rivers connecting the Hudson with the St.
Lawrence was felt to be of great importance to the colonists. For
if Britain had control of it it would cut the colonies in two, and
stop intercourse between New England and the south. It would also
give the British an easy route by which to bring troops and supplies
Among those who felt the importance of this route was Benedict Arnold,
and the day after he arrived at Cambridge he laid his ideas before
the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, and asked to be allowed to
attack the forts guarding this waterway. His request was granted.
He was given the rank of colonel, and authority to raise a company
of four hundred men for the purpose.
Arnold set out at once, but he soon found that he was not first in
the field. For the people of Connecticut, too, had felt the value
of this waterway and Ethan Allen with a hundred and fifty volunteers
who went by the name of Green Mountain Boys had set out for the
same purpose. These Green Mountain Boys took their name from the
district of Vermont which means Green Mountain. That district,
under the name of New Hampshire Grants, had been claimed by New
York colony. But the Green Mountain Boys had resisted the claim,
and by force of arms proved their right to be considered a separate
colony. Thus having settled their own little revolution they were
now ready to take part in the great one.
At Castleton, Vermont, Arnold met Ethan Allen and his men, and
claimed the leadership of the expedition. But the Green Mountain
Boys scouted the idea. They would fight under their own leader or
not fight at all, they said, and as Arnold had gathered very few
of his four hundred men he had to give way. So instead of leading
the expedition he joined it as a volunteer.
This matter settled the little company marched on to Lake Champlain,
and in the middle of the night they arrived at the southern
end, opposite Fort Ticonderoga. Here the lake is hardly more than
a quarter of a mile wide and the men began at once to row across.
But they had only two or three boats and when day began to dawn
only about eighty men had got over. With these Allen decided to
attack, for he feared if he waited till daylight that the garrison
would be awake and would no doubt resist stubbornly. So placing
himself at the head of his men with Arnold beside him, he marched
quickly and silently up the hill to the gateway of the fort. When
the astonished sentinel saw this body of men creeping out of the
morning dusk he fired at their leader. But his gun missed fire and
he fled into the fort.
After him dashed the colonists uttering a loud, blood-curdling,
Indian yell as they reached the parade ground within the fort. The
garrison which consisted of about forty men was completely taken
by surprise, and yielded with little resistance. They Allen marched
to the door of the commandment's quarters, and striking three
blows upon it with his sword hilt, commanded him to come forth and
As Allen struck, the door was flung open, and half dressed and half
awake the commandment appeared.
"In whose name," he demanded, "do you order me to surrender!"
"In the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress,"
Really the Continental Congress had nothing to do with the matter.
The commandment could not know that. But he had only to look about
him to see that the fort was already in the hands of the enemy. So
seeing no help for it he yielded; and all his great stores of cannon
and ammunition were sent to supply the needs of the New England
Two days after this Crown Point, further down the lake, was also
seized, for it was only guarded by twelve men. Here a small ship
was found and Arnold's chance to lead came. For he was a sailor,
and going on board with his own men he made a dash for St. John's
at the northern end of the lake. When he was about thirty miles
from the fort the wind dropped, and his ship lay rocking idly on
the water. Arnold, however, was not the man to be easily beaten.
He had boats enough to carry thirty men, and with these he set off
to row to the fort. All night the men bent to the oars, and at six
o'clock in the morning they reached St. John's.
Once more the fort was easily taken. For here too, there were no
more than twelve men. Arnold, however, was only just in time, for
he learned from his prisoners that troops were expected from Canada.
He felt therefore that St. John's was no safe place for him and
his little band of thirty. So he seized a small ship which lay in
the harbour, sank everything else in the shape of a boat, and made
off. And when the Canadian troops arrived next day they found the
fort deserted alike by friend and foe, and the boats which should
have carried them on their way to Ticonderoga at the bottom of the
By these quick bold attacks the control of the great waterway was
for a time at least in the hands of the colonists. It was, moreover,
rendered useless to the British, for their boats being destroyed
they had no means of transporting soldiers southwards until new
boats could be built. This caused a long delay, a delay very useful
to the colonists.
In the meantime Allen was appointed commandment of Ticonderoga, and
Arnold, with a little soreness at his heart returned to Cambridge.
He had been appointed leader of the expedition, but had been forced
to join it as a volunteer under another leader. His knowledge and
dash had crowned the expedition with success, but another received
the rewards and praise.
When however the Continental Congress heard what had been done it
was rather taken aback. It was not at all sure at first whether
it was a case for rewards or reprimands, for it was still vainly
hoping for peace. So it ordered that an exact list of all cannon
and supplies which had been captured should be made, in order that
they might be given back to the Mother Country, "when the restoration
of the former harmony between Great Britain and these colonies
shall render it prudent and consistent."
Meanwhile the new army grew daily larger. It was still almost entirely
made up of New Englanders, but it was now called the Continental
Army, and the Continental Congress appointed George Washington to
Washington was now a tall, handsome man, little over forty. He was
as modest as he was brave, and he accepted the great honour and
heavy duties laid upon him with something of dread.
"Since the Congress desire it," he said, "I will enter upon this
momentous duty, and exert every power I possess in their service.
But I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in this room
that I this day declare, with the utmost sincerity, I do not think
myself equal to the command I am honoured with,"
Meantime things had not been standing still; while Congress had
been choosing a commander-in-chief the army had been fighting. By
this time, too, new troops had come out from England, and the British
force was now ten thousand strong. Feeling sure that the Americans
would not stand against such a force, Governor Gage issued a
proclamation offering pardon to all who would lay down their arms,
except Samuel Adams and John Hancock. These two, he said, were too
bad to be forgiven. Instead they prepared to take possession of
the hills commanding Boston.
It was at Bunker Hill that the first real battle of the war was
fought. For Lexington had after all been a mere skirmish, only of
importance because it was the first in this long and deadly war.
The forts on Lake Champlain had been taken without the shedding of
The battle is called Bunker Hill although it was really fought on
Breed's Hill which is quite close. The mistake of the name was made
because the Americans had been sent to take possession of Bunker
Hill, but instead took possession of Breed's Hill.
It was during the night that the Americans took up their position
on the hill. And when day dawned and the British saw them there,
they determined to dislodge them, and the battle began.
Up the hill the British charged with splendid courage, only to be
met and driven back by a withering fire from the American rifles.
Their front riles were mowed down, and the hillside was strewn
with dead and dying. But again and yet again they came on. At the
third charge they reached the top, for the Americans had used up all
their ammunition, and could fire no longer. Still they would not
yield, and there was a fierce hand to hand fight before the Americans
were driven from their trenches and the hill was in possession of
For the British, it was a hard won victory, for they lost nearly
three times as many men as the Americans, among them some gallant
officers. As to the Americans in spite of their defeat they rejoiced;
for they knew now what they could do. They knew they could stand
up to the famous British regulars.
And now as Washington rode towards Charleston to take command of
the army, news of this battle was brought to him.
"Did our men fight?" asked Washington. And when he was told how
well, his grave face lighted up.
"Then the liberties of the country are safe," he cried.
So with hope in his heart Washington rode on, and at length after
a journey of eleven days reached Cambridge, the headquarters of
The next day, the 3rd of July, the whole army was drawn up upon
the plain. And mounted on a splendid white horse Washington rode
to the head of it. Under a great elm tree he wheeled his horse, and
drawing his sword solemnly took command of the army of the United
Colonies. And as the blade glittered in the sunshine, a great shout
went up from the soldiers. They were New Englanders, for the most
part, but they welcomed their Virginian commander whole heartedly.
For were they not all Americans? Were they not all ready to stand
shoulder to shoulder for the one great cause?
But the army of which Washington had taken command was, perhaps,
the rawest, worst equipped army which ever marched into the field.
The men had neither uniforms, tents, stores nor ammunition, many of
them had no arms. There was no organisation, and little discipline.
Even the exact numbers composing this army were not known. They
were, in fact, as one of Washington's own officers said, "only a
gathering of brave, enthusiastic, undisciplined country lads."
But out of this crowd of brave enthusiastic men, Washington set
himself to make an army fit to do great deeds. So he worked, and
rode, and wrote, unceasingly and unwearyingly. For he had not only
to deal with the army but with Congress also. He had to awaken
them to the fact that the country had to do great deeds, and that
to do them well money, and a great deal of money, was needed.
Meanwhile George III also was making free at preparations. More
soldiers he saw were needed to subdue these rebel farmers. And as
it was difficult to persuade Britons to go to fight their brothers
he hired a lot of Germans, and sent them out to fight the Americans.
Nothing hurt the Americans more than this; more than anything else
this act made them long to be independent. After this there was no
more talk of making friends.
Chapter 54 - The War In Canada
After Bunker Hill there was a pause in the fighting round Boston
which gave Washington time to get his raw recruits in hand a little.
Then during the summer news came that Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor
of Canada, was making plans to retake Ticonderoga, and the colonists
determined to invade Canada. General Philip Schuyler was given
command of the expedition, and with two thousand men he set out for
St. John's, which Arnold had taken, but had been unable to hold,
earlier in the year.
This time the colonists found St. John's better guarded, and only at
the end of a two months' siege did it yield. By this time Schuyler
had become ill, and the command was given to General Richard
Montgomery who crossed the St. Lawrence, and entered Montreal in
Almost at the same time Benedict Arnold set out with twelve hundred
men to attack Quebec. He marched through the forest of Maine, then
an almost unknown country and uninhabited save by Indians. It was
a tremendous march, and one that needed all the grit and endurance
of brave, determined men. They climbed hills, struggled through
swamps, paddled across lakes and down unknown streams. Sometimes
they waded up to their knees in icy waters pushing their canoes
before them against the rapid current, or again they carried them
over long portages, shouldering their way through forest so dense
that they could scarcely advance a mile an hour. At night soaked
with rain and sleet they slept upon the snowy ground. Their food
gave out, and the pangs of hunger were added to their other miseries.
Many died by the way; others, losing heart, turned back. But sick
and giddy, starving and exhausted the rest stumbled onward, and at
length little more than five hundred ragged half armed, more than
half famished men, reached the shores of the St. Lawrence.
They were a sorry little company with which to invade a vast
province. But their courage was superb, their hope sublime, and
without delay they set out to take the great fortress which had
withstood so many sieges, and had only fallen at last before the
genius and daring of Wolfe.
Across the St. Lawrence this little company of intrepid colonists
paddled, up the path where Wolfe had led his men they climbed, and
stood at length where they had stood upon the heights of Abraham.
They had no cannon, and half their muskets were useless. Yet Arnold
at the head of his spectral little company boldly summoned the town