Canadian History The Consequences Of Canadian Autonomy
A change so informally achieved, and yet so decisive, as the ...
Battle Of Ticonderoga
In 1758, the English commanders, incensed at the loss of Fo...
The Birth Of Montreal
We come now to an enterprise as singular in its character a...
Massachusetts Attacks Quebec
Like Montreal, Quebec transformed itself in time lost much ...
Siege And Massacre Of Fort William Henry
Having failed to take Fort William Henry by surprise, the F...
British Opinion And Canadian Autonomy
While these great modifications were being made in the form a...
A Military Mission
Quebec was without a governor. Who should succeed Champlain...
The Governors-general: Lord Metcalfe
A surrender of the official Imperial position so unexpected a...
There are antinomies in politics as in philosophy, problems w...
Discovery Of Lake George
It was thirty-three years since Champlain had first attacke...
Infancy Of Quebec
Champlain was the founder of this old capital of French Can...
Battle Of Lake George
For more than a century after the death of Jogues, Lakes Ge...
A Legend Of Ticonderoga
Mention has been made of the death of Major Duncan Campbell...
The Governors-general: Lord Sydenham
Between 1839 and 1854, four governors-general exercised autho...
A Winter Raid
While Johnson was building Fort William Henry at one end of...
Discovery Of Lake Champlain
This beautiful lake owes its name to Samuel de Champlain, t...
Siege Of Fort Niagara
The River Niagara was known to the Jesuits as early as 1640...
The Governors-general: Lord Elgin
The year which intervened between Metcalfe's departure and th...
The Heights Of Abraham
The early part of the Seven Years' War was disastrous to En...
The Canadian Community
To understand the political evolution of Canada it is essenti...
Battle Of Lake George
For more than a century after the death of Jogues, Lakes George and
Champlain were the great route of war parties between Canada and the
British Colonies. Courcelles came this way in 1666 to lay waste the
Mohawk towns; and Mantet and Sainte-Helene, in 1690, to destroy
Schenectady in the dead of winter; while, in the next year, Major
Schuyler took the same course as he advanced into Canada to retort the
blow. Whenever there was war between France and England, these two lakes
became the scene of partisan conflicts, in which the red men took part
with the white, some as allies of the English, and some as allies of the
French. When at length the final contest took place for the possession
of the continent, the rival nations fiercely disputed the mastery of
this great wilderness thoroughfare, and the borders of Lake George
became the scene of noteworthy conflicts. The first of these was in
1755, the year of Braddock's defeat, when Shirley, governor of
Massachusetts, set on foot an expedition for the capture of Crown Point,
a fort which the French had built on Lake Champlain more than twenty
In January, Shirley had proposed an attack on it to the Ministry; and in
February, without waiting their reply, he laid the plan before his
Assembly. They accepted it, and voted money for the pay and maintenance
of twelve hundred men, provided the adjacent colonies would contribute
in due proportion. Massachusetts showed a military activity worthy of
the reputation she had won. Forty-five hundred of her men, or one in
eight of her adult males, volunteered to fight the French, and enlisted
for the various expeditions, some in the pay of the province, and some
in that of the King. It remained to name a commander for the Crown Point
enterprise. Nobody had power to do so, for Braddock, the
commander-in-chief, was not yet come; but that time might not be lost,
Shirley, at the request of his Assembly, took the responsibility on
himself. If he had named a Massachusetts officer, it would have roused
the jealousy of the other New England colonies; and he therefore
appointed William Johnson, of New York, thus gratifying that important
province and pleasing the Five Nations, who at this time looked on
Johnson with even more than usual favor. Hereupon, in reply to his
request, Connecticut voted twelve hundred men, New Hampshire five
hundred, and Rhode Island four hundred, all at their own charge; while
New York, a little later, promised eight hundred more. When, in April,
Braddock and the Council at Alexandria approved the plan and the
commander, Shirley gave Johnson the commission of major-general of the
levies of Massachusetts; and the governors of the other provinces
contributing to the expedition gave him similar commissions for their
respective contingents. Never did general take the field with authority
He had never seen service, and knew nothing of war. By birth he was
Irish, of good family, being nephew of Admiral Sir Peter Warren, who,
owning extensive wild lands on the Mohawk, had placed the young man in
charge of them nearly twenty years before. Johnson was born to prosper.
He had ambition, energy, an active mind, a tall, strong person, a rough,
jovial temper, and a quick adaptation to his surroundings. He could
drink flip with Dutch boors, or Madeira with royal governors. He liked
the society of the great, would intrigue and flatter when he had an end
to gain, and foil a rival without looking too closely at the means; but
compared with the Indian traders who infested the border, he was a model
of uprightness. He lived by the Mohawk in a fortified house which was a
stronghold against foes and a scene of hospitality to friends, both
white and red. Here--for his tastes were not fastidious--presided for
many years a Dutch or German wench whom he finally married; and after
her death a young Mohawk squaw took her place. Over his neighbors, the
Indians of the Five Nations, and all others of their race with whom he
had to deal, he acquired a remarkable influence. He liked them, adopted
their ways, and treated them kindly or sternly as the case required, but
always with a justice and honesty in strong contrast with the
rascalities of the commission of Albany traders who had lately managed
their affairs, and whom they so detested that one of their chiefs called
them "not men, but devils." Hence, when Johnson was made Indian
superintendent there was joy through all the Iroquois confederacy. When,
in addition, he was made a general, he assembled the warriors in council
to engage them to aid the expedition.
This meeting took place at his own house, known as Fort Johnson; and as
more than eleven hundred Indians appeared at his call, his larder was
sorely taxed to entertain them. The speeches were interminable. Johnson,
a master of Indian rhetoric, knew his audience too well not to contest
with them the palm of insufferable prolixity. The climax was reached on
the fourth day, and he threw down the war-belt. An Oneida chief took it
up; Stevens, the interpreter, began the war-dance, and the assembled
warriors howled in chorus. Then a tub of punch was brought in, and they
all drank the King's health. They showed less alacrity, however, to
fight his battles, and scarcely three hundred of them would take the
war-path. Too many of their friends and relatives were enlisted for the
While the British colonists were preparing to attack Crown Point, the
French of Canada were preparing to defend it. Duquesne, recalled from
his post, had resigned the government to the Marquis de Vaudreuil, who
had at his disposal the battalions of regulars that had sailed in the
spring from Brest under Baron Dieskau. His first thought was to use them
for the capture of Oswego; but letters of Braddock, found on the
battle-field of the Monongahela, warned him of the design against Crown
Point; while a reconnoitring party which had gone as far as the Hudson
brought back news that Johnson's forces were already in the field.
Therefore the plan was changed, and Dieskau was ordered to lead the main
body of his troops, not to Lake Ontario, but to Lake Champlain. He
passed up the Richelieu, and embarked in boats and canoes for Crown
Point. The veteran knew that the foes with whom he had to deal were but
a mob of countrymen. He doubted not of putting them to rout, and meant
never to hold his hand till he had chased them back to Albany. "Make all
haste," Vaudreuil wrote to him; "for when you return we shall send you
to Oswego to execute our first design."
Johnson on his part was preparing to advance. In July about three
thousand provincials were encamped near Albany, some on the "Flats"
above the town, and some on the meadows below. Hither, too, came a swarm
of Johnson's Mohawks,--warriors, squaws, and children. They adorned the
General's face with war-paint, and he danced the war-dance; then with
his sword he cut the first slice from the ox that had been roasted whole
for their entertainment. "I shall be glad," wrote the surgeon of a New
England regiment, "if they fight as eagerly as they ate their ox and