Battle Of Ticonderoga

In 1758, the English commanders, incensed at the loss of Fort William

Henry, resolved to retaliate by a strong effort to seize Ticonderoga. In

June, the combined British and provincial force destined for the

expedition was gathered at the head of Lake George under General

Abercromby, while the Marquis de Montcalm lay around the walls of the

French stronghold with an army not one fourth so numerous.

m hesitated whether he should not fall back to Crown Point. It

was but a choice of difficulties, and he stayed at Ticonderoga. His

troops were disposed as they had been in the summer before; one

battalion, that of Berry, being left near the fort, while the main body,

under Montcalm himself, was encamped by the saw-mill at the Falls, and

the rest, under Bourlamaque, occupied the head of the portage, with a

small advanced force at the landing-place on Lake George. It remained to

determine at which of these points he should concentrate them and make

his stand against the English. Ruin threatened him in any case; each

position had its fatal weakness or its peculiar danger, and his best

hope was in the ignorance or blundering of his enemy. He seems to have

been several days in a state of indecision.

In the afternoon of the fifth of July the partisan Langy, who had gone

out to reconnoitre towards the head of Lake George, came back in haste

with the report that the English were embarked in great force. Montcalm

sent a canoe down Lake Champlain to hasten Levis to his aid, and ordered

the battalion of Berry to begin a breastwork and abatis on the high

ground in front of the fort. That they were not begun before shows that

he was in doubt as to his plan of defence; and that his whole army was

not now set to work at them shows that his doubt was still unsolved.

It was nearly a month since Abercromby had begun his camp at the head of

Lake George. Here, on the ground where Johnson had beaten Dieskau, where

Montcalm had planted his batteries, and Monro vainly defended the wooden

ramparts of Fort William Henry, were now assembled more than fifteen

thousand men; and the shores, the foot of the mountains, and the broken

plains between them were studded thick with tents. Of regulars there

were six thousand three hundred and sixty-seven, officers and soldiers,

and of provincials nine thousand and thirty-four. To the New England

levies, or at least to their chaplains, the expedition seemed a crusade

against the abomination of Babylon; and they discoursed in their sermons

of Moses sending forth Joshua against Amalek. Abercromby, raised to his

place by political influence, was little but the nominal commander. "A

heavy man," said Wolfe in a letter to his father; "an aged gentleman,

infirm in body and mind," wrote William Parkman, a boy of seventeen, who

carried a musket in a Massachusetts regiment, and kept in his knapsack a

dingy little note-book, in which he jotted down what passed each day.

The age of the aged gentleman was fifty-two.

Pitt meant that the actual command of the army should be in the hands of

Brigadier Lord Howe, and he was in fact its real chief; "the noblest

Englishman that has appeared in my time, and the best soldier in the

British army," says Wolfe. And he elsewhere speaks of him as "that great

man." Abercromby testifies to the universal respect and love with which

officers and men regarded him, and Pitt calls him "a character of

ancient times; a complete model of military virtue." High as this praise

is, it seems to have been deserved. The young nobleman, who was then in

his thirty-fourth year, had the qualities of a leader of men. The army

felt him, from general to drummer boy. He was its soul; and while

breathing into it his own energy and ardor, and bracing it by stringent

discipline, he broke through the traditions of the service and gave it

new shapes to suit the time and place. During the past year he had

studied the art of forest warfare, and joined Rogers and his rangers in

their scouting-parties, sharing all their hardships and making himself

one of them. Perhaps the reforms that he introduced were fruits of this

rough self-imposed schooling. He made officers and men throw off all

useless incumbrances, cut their hair close, wear leggings to protect

them from briers, brown the barrels of their muskets, and carry in their

knapsacks thirty pounds of meal, which they cooked for themselves; so

that, according to an admiring Frenchman, they could live a month

without their supply-trains. "You would laugh to see the droll figure we

all make," writes an officer. "Regulars as well as provincials have cut

their coats so as scarcely to reach their waists. No officer or private

is allowed to carry more than one blanket and a bearskin. A small

portmanteau is allowed each officer. No women follow the camp to wash

our linen. Lord Howe has already shown an example by going to the brook

and washing his own."

Here, as in all things, he shared the lot of the soldier, and required

his officers to share it. A story is told of him that before the army

embarked he invited some of them to dinner in his tent, where they found

no seats but logs, and no carpet but bearskins. A servant presently

placed on the ground a large dish of pork and peas, on which his

lordship took from his pocket a sheath containing a knife and fork and

began to cut the meat. The guests looked on in some embarrassment; upon

which he said: "Is it possible, gentlemen, that you have come on this

campaign without providing yourselves with what is necessary?" And he

gave each of them a sheath, with a knife and fork, like his own.

Yet this Lycurgus of the camp, as a contemporary calls him, is described

as a man of social accomplishments rare even in his rank. He made

himself greatly beloved by the provincial officers, with many of whom he

was on terms of intimacy, and he did what he could to break down the

barriers between the colonial soldiers and the British regulars. When he

was at Albany, sharing with other high officers the kindly hospitalities

of Mrs. Schuyler, he so won the heart of that excellent matron that she

loved him like a son; and, though not given to such effusion, embraced

him with tears on the morning when he left her to lead his division to

the lake. In Westminster Abbey may be seen the tablet on which

Massachusetts pays grateful tribute to his virtues, and commemorates

"the affection her officers and soldiers bore to his command."

On the evening of the fourth of July, baggage, stores, and ammunition

were all on board the boats, and the whole army embarked on the morning

of the fifth. The arrangements were perfect. Each corps marched without

confusion to its appointed station on the beach, and the sun was

scarcely above the ridge of French Mountain when all were afloat. A

spectator watching them from the shore says that when the fleet was

three miles on its way, the surface of the lake at that distance was

completely hidden from sight. There were nine hundred bateaux, a hundred

and thirty-five whaleboats, and a large number of heavy flat boats

carrying the artillery. The whole advanced in three divisions, the

regulars in the centre, and the provincials on the flanks. Each corps

had its flags and its music. The day was fair, and men and officers were

in the highest spirits.

Before ten o'clock they began to enter the Narrows; and the boats of the

three divisions extended themselves into long files as the mountains

closed on either hand upon the contracted lake. From front to rear the

line was six miles long. The spectacle was superb: the brightness of the

summer day; the romantic beauty of the scenery; the sheen and sparkle of

those crystal waters; the countless islets, tufted with pine, birch, and

fir; the bordering mountains, with their green summits and sunny crags;

the flash of oars and glitter of weapons; the banners, the varied

uniforms, and the notes of bugle, trumpet, bagpipe, and drum, answered

and prolonged by a hundred woodland echoes. "I never beheld so

delightful a prospect," wrote a wounded officer at Albany a fortnight


Rogers with the rangers, and Gage with the light infantry, led the way

in whaleboats, followed by Bradstreet with his corps of boatmen, armed

and drilled as soldiers. Then came the main body. The central column of

regulars was commanded by Lord Howe, his own regiment, the fifty-fifth,

in the van, followed by the Royal Americans, the twenty-seventh,

forty-fourth, forty-sixth, and eightieth infantry, and the Highlanders

of the forty-second, with their major, Duncan Campbell of Inverawe,

silent and gloomy amid the general cheer, for his soul was dark with

foreshadowings of death. With this central column came what are

described as two floating castles, which were no doubt batteries to

cover the landing of the troops. On the right hand and the left were the

provincials, uniformed in blue, regiment after regiment, from

Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

Behind them all came the bateaux, loaded with stores and baggage, and

the heavy flat boats that carried the artillery, while a rear-guard of

provincials and regulars closed the long procession.

At five in the afternoon they reached Sabbath-Day Point, twenty-five

miles down the lake, where they stopped till late in the evening,

waiting for the baggage and artillery, which had lagged behind; and here

Lord Howe, lying on a bearskin by the side of the ranger, John Stark,

questioned him as to the position of Ticonderoga and its best points of

approach. At about eleven o'clock they set out again, and at daybreak

entered what was then called the Second Narrows; that is to say, the

contraction of the lake where it approaches its outlet. Close on their

left, ruddy in the warm sunrise, rose the vast bare face of Rogers Rock,

whence a French advanced party, under Langy and an officer named

Trepezec, was watching their movements. Lord Howe, with Rogers and

Bradstreet, went in whaleboats to reconnoitre the landing. At the place

which the French called the Burned Camp, where Montcalm had embarked the

summer before, they saw a detachment of the enemy too weak to oppose

them. Their men landed and drove them off. At noon the whole army was on

shore. Rogers, with a party of rangers, was ordered forward to

reconnoitre, and the troops were formed for the march.

From this part of the shore[4] a plain covered with forest stretched

northwestward half a mile or more to the mountains behind which lay the

valley of Trout Brook. On this plain the army began its march in four

columns, with the intention of passing round the western bank of the

river of the outlet, since the bridge over it had been destroyed.

Rogers, with the provincial regiments of Fitch and Lyman, led the way,

at some distance before the rest. The forest was extremely dense and

heavy, and so obstructed with undergrowth that it was impossible to see

more than a few yards in any direction, while the ground was encumbered

with fallen trees in every stage of decay. The ranks were broken, and

the men struggled on as they could in dampness and shade, under a canopy

of boughs that the sun could scarcely pierce. The difficulty increased

when, after advancing about a mile, they came upon undulating and broken

ground. They were now not far from the upper rapids of the outlet. The

guides became bewildered in the maze of trunks and boughs; the marching

columns were confused, and fell in one upon the other. They were in the

strange situation of an army lost in the woods.

The advanced party of French under Langy and Trepezec, about three

hundred and fifty in all, regulars and Canadians, had tried to retreat;

but before they could do so, the whole English army had passed them,

landed, and placed itself between them and their countrymen. They had no

resource but to take to the woods. They seem to have climbed the steep

gorge at the side of Rogers Rock and followed the Indian path that led

to the valley of Trout Brook, thinking to descend it, and, by circling

along the outskirts of the valley of Ticonderoga, reach Montcalm's camp

at the saw-mill. Langy was used to bushranging; but he too became

perplexed in the blind intricacies of the forest. Towards the close of

the day he and his men had come out from the valley of Trout Brook, and

were near the junction of that stream with the river of the outlet, in a

state of some anxiety, for they could see nothing but brown trunks and

green boughs. Could any of them have climbed one of the great pines that

here and there reared their shaggy spires high above the surrounding

forest, they would have discovered where they were, but would have

gained not the faintest knowledge of the enemy. Out of the woods on the

right they would have seen a smoke rising from the burning huts of the

French camp at the head of the portage, which Bourlamaque had set on

fire and abandoned. At a mile or more in front, the saw-mill at the

Falls might perhaps have been descried, and, by glimpses between the

trees, the tents of the neighboring camp where Montcalm still lay with

his main force. All the rest seemed lonely as the grave; mountain and

valley lay wrapped in primeval woods, and none could have dreamed that,

not far distant, an army was groping its way, buried in foliage; no

rumbling of wagons and artillery trains, for none were there; all silent

but the cawing of some crow flapping his black wings over the sea of


Lord Howe, with Major Israel Putnam and two hundred rangers, was at the

head of the principal column, which was a little in advance of the three

others. Suddenly the challenge, Qui vive! rang sharply from the

thickets in front. Francais! was the reply. Langy's men were not

deceived; they fired out of the bushes. The shots were returned; a hot

skirmish followed; and Lord Howe dropped dead, shot through the breast.

All was confusion. The dull, vicious reports of musketry in thick

woods, at first few and scattering, then in fierce and rapid volleys,

reached the troops behind. They could hear, but see nothing. Already

harassed and perplexed, they became perturbed. For all they knew,

Montcalm's whole army was upon them. Nothing prevented a panic but the

steadiness of the rangers, who maintained the fight alone till the rest

came back to their senses. Rogers, with his reconnoitring party, and the

regiments of Fitch and Lyman, were at no great distance in front. They

all turned on hearing the musketry, and thus the French were caught

between two fires. They fought with desperation. About fifty of them at

length escaped; a hundred and forty-eight were captured, and the rest

killed or drowned in trying to cross the rapids. The loss of the English

was small in numbers, but immeasurable in the death of Howe. "The fall

of this noble and brave officer," says Rogers, "seemed to produce an

almost general languor and consternation through the whole army." "In

Lord Howe," writes another contemporary, Major Thomas Mante, "the soul

of General Abercromby's army seemed to expire. From the unhappy moment

the General was deprived of his advice, neither order nor discipline was

observed, and a strange kind of infatuation usurped the place of

resolution." The death of one man was the ruin of fifteen thousand.

The evil news was despatched to Albany, and in two or three days the

messenger who bore it passed the house of Mrs. Schuyler on the meadows

above the town. "In the afternoon," says her biographer, "a man was seen

coming from the north galloping violently without his hat. Pedrom, as he

was familiarly called, Colonel Schuyler's only surviving brother, was

with her, and ran instantly to inquire, well knowing that he rode

express. The man galloped on, crying out that Lord Howe was killed. The

mind of our good aunt had been so engrossed by her anxiety and fears for

the event impending, and so impressed with the merit and magnanimity of

her favorite hero, that her wonted firmness sank under the stroke, and

she broke out into bitter lamentations. This had such an effect on her

friends and domestics that shrieks and sobs of anguish echoed through

every part of the house."

The effect of the loss was seen at once. The army was needlessly kept

under arms all night in the forest, and in the morning was ordered back

to the landing whence it came. Towards noon, however, Bradstreet was

sent with a detachment of regulars and provincials to take possession of

the saw-mill at the Falls, which Montcalm had abandoned the evening

before. Bradstreet rebuilt the bridges destroyed by the retiring enemy,

and sent word to his commander that the way was open; on which

Abercromby again put his army in motion, reached the Falls late in the

afternoon, and occupied the deserted encampment of the French.

Montcalm with his main force had held this position at the Falls through

most of the preceding day, doubtful, it seems, to the last whether he

should not make his final stand there. Bourlamaque was for doing so; but

two old officers, Bernes and Montguy, pointed out the danger that the

English would occupy the neighboring heights; whereupon Montcalm at

length resolved to fall back. The camp was broken up at five o'clock.

Some of the troops embarked in bateaux, while others marched a mile and

a half along the forest road, passed the place where the battalion of

Berry was still at work on the breastwork begun in the morning, and made

their bivouac a little farther on, upon the cleared ground that

surrounded the fort.

The peninsula of Ticonderoga consists of a rocky plateau, with low

grounds on each side, bordering Lake Champlain on the one hand, and the

outlet of Lake George on the other. The fort stood near the end of the

peninsula, which points towards the southeast. Thence, as one goes

westward, the ground declines a little, and then slowly rises, till,

about half a mile from the fort, it reaches its greatest elevation, and

begins still more gradually to decline again. Thus a ridge is formed

across the plateau between the steep declivities that sink to the low

grounds on right and left. Some weeks before, a French officer named

Hugues had suggested the defence of this ridge by means of an abatis.

Montcalm approved his plan; and now, at the eleventh hour, he resolved

to make his stand here. The two engineers, Pontleroy and Desandrouin,

had already traced the outline of the works, and the soldiers of the

battalion of Berry had made some progress in constructing them. At dawn

of the seventh, while Abercromby, fortunately for his enemy, was drawing

his troops back to the landing-place, the whole French army fell to

their task. The regimental colors were planted along the line, and the

officers, stripped to the shirt, took axe in hand and labored with their

men. The trees that covered the ground were hewn down by thousands, the

tops lopped off, and the trunks piled one upon another to form a massive

breastwork. The line followed the top of the ridge, along which it

zigzagged in such a manner that the whole front could be swept by flank

fires of musketry and grape. Abercromby describes the wall of logs as

between eight and nine feet high; in which case there must have been a

rude banquette, or platform to fire from, on the inner side. It was

certainly so high that nothing could be seen over it but the crowns of

the soldiers' hats. The upper tier was formed of single logs, in which

notches were cut to serve as loopholes; and in some places sods and bags

of sand were piled along the top, with narrow spaces to fire through.

From the central part of the line the ground sloped away like a natural

glacis; while at the sides, and especially on the left, it was

undulating and broken. Over this whole space, to the distance of a

musket-shot from the works, the forest was cut down, and the trees left

lying where they fell among the stumps, with tops turned outwards,

forming one vast abatis, which, as a Massachusetts officer says, looked

like a forest laid flat by a hurricane. But the most formidable

obstruction was immediately along the front of the breastwork, where the

ground was covered with heavy boughs, overlapping and interlaced, with

sharpened points bristling into the face of the assailant like the

quills of a porcupine. As these works were all of wood, no vestige of

them remains. The earthworks now shown to tourists as the lines of

Montcalm are of later construction; and though on the same ground, are

not on the same plan.

Here, then, was a position which, if attacked in front with musketry

alone, might be called impregnable. But would Abercromby so attack it?

He had several alternatives. He might attempt the flank and rear of his

enemy by way of the low grounds on the right and left of the plateau, a

movement which the precautions of Montcalm had made difficult, but not

impossible. Or, instead of leaving his artillery idle on the strand of

Lake George, he might bring it to the front and batter the breastwork,

which, though impervious to musketry, was worthless against heavy

cannon. Or he might do what Burgoyne did with success a score of years

later, and plant a battery on the heights of Rattlesnake Hill, now

called Mount Defiance, which commanded the position of the French, and

whence the inside of their breastwork could be scoured with round-shot

from end to end. Or, while threatening the French front with a part of

his army, he could march the rest a short distance through the woods on

his left to the road which led from Ticonderoga to Crown Point, and

which would soon have brought him to the place called Five-Mile Point,

where Lake Champlain narrows to the width of an easy rifle-shot, and

where a battery of field-pieces would have cut off all Montcalm's

supplies and closed his only way of retreat. As the French were

provisioned for but eight days, their position would thus have been

desperate. They plainly saw the danger; and Doreil declares that had the

movement been made, their whole army must have surrendered. Montcalm had

done what he could; but the danger of his position was inevitable and

extreme. His hope lay in Abercromby; and it was a hope well founded. The

action of the English general answered the utmost wishes of his enemy.

Abercromby had been told by his prisoners that Montcalm had six thousand

men, and that three thousand more were expected every hour. Therefore he

was in haste to attack before these succors could arrive. As was the

general, so was the army. "I believe," writes an officer, "we were one

and all infatuated by a notion of carrying every obstacle by a mere

coup de mousqueterie." Leadership perished with Lord Howe, and nothing

was left but blind, headlong valor.

Clerk, chief engineer, was sent to reconnoitre the French works from

Mount Defiance; and came back with the report that, to judge from what

he could see, they might be carried by assault. Then, without waiting

to bring up his cannon, Abercromby prepared to storm the lines.

The French finished their breastwork and abatis on the evening of the

seventh, encamped behind them, slung their kettles, and rested after

their heavy toil. Levis had not yet appeared; but at twilight one of his

officers, Captain Pouchot, arrived with three hundred regulars, and

announced that his commander would come before morning with a hundred

more. The reinforcement, though small, was welcome, and Levis was a host

in himself. Pouchot was told that the army was half a mile off. Thither

he repaired, made his report to Montcalm, and looked with amazement at

the prodigious amount of work accomplished in one day. Levis himself

arrived in the course of the night, and approved the arrangement of the

troops. They lay behind their lines till daybreak; then the drums beat,

and they formed in order of battle. The battalions of La Sarre and

Languedoc were posted on the left, under Bourlamaque, the first

battalion of Berry with that of Royal Roussillon in the centre, under

Montcalm, and those of La Reine, Bearn, and Guienne on the right, under

Levis. A detachment of volunteers occupied the low grounds between the

breastwork and the outlet of Lake George; while, at the foot of the

declivity on the side towards Lake Champlain, were stationed four

hundred and fifty colony regulars and Canadians, behind an abatis which

they had made for themselves; and as they were covered by the cannon of

the fort, there was some hope that they would check any flank movement

which the English might attempt on that side. Their posts being thus

assigned, the men fell to work again to strengthen their defences.

Including those who came with Levis, the total force of effective

soldiers was now thirty-six hundred.

Soon after nine o'clock a distant and harmless fire of small-arms began

on the slopes of Mount Defiance. It came from a party of Indians who had

just arrived with Sir William Johnson, and who, after amusing themselves

in this manner for a time, remained for the rest of the day safe

spectators of the fight. The soldiers worked undisturbed till noon, when

volleys of musketry were heard from the forest in front. It was the

English light troops driving in the French pickets. A cannon was fired

as a signal to drop tools and form for battle. The white uniforms lined

the breastwork in a triple row, with the grenadiers behind them as a

reserve, and the second battalion of Berry watching the flanks and rear.

Meanwhile the English army had moved forward from its camp by the

saw-mill. First came the rangers, the light infantry, and Bradstreet's

armed boatmen, who, emerging into the open space, began a spattering

fire. Some of the provincial troops followed, extending from left to

right, and opening fire in turn; then the regulars, who had formed in

columns of attack under cover of the forest, advanced their solid red

masses into the sunlight, and passing through the intervals between the

provincial regiments, pushed forward to the assault. Across the rough

ground, with its maze of fallen trees whose leaves hung withering in the

July sun, they could see the top of the breastwork, but not the men

behind it; when, in an instant, all the line was obscured by a gush of

smoke, a crash of exploding firearms tore the air, and grapeshot and

musket-balls swept the whole space like a tempest; "a damnable fire,"

says an officer who heard them screaming about his ears. The English had

been ordered to carry the works with the bayonet; but their ranks were

broken by the obstructions through which they struggled in vain to force

their way, and they soon began to fire in turn. The storm raged in full

fury for an hour. The assailants pushed close to the breastwork; but

there they were stopped by the bristling mass of sharpened branches,

which they could not pass under the murderous crossfires that swept them

from front and flank. At length they fell back, exclaiming that the

works were impregnable. Abercromby, who was at the saw-mill, a mile and

a half in the rear, sent orders to attack again, and again they came on

as before.

The scene was frightful: masses of infuriated men who could not go

forward and would not go back; straining for an enemy they could not

reach, and firing on an enemy they could not see; caught in the

entanglement of fallen trees; tripped by briers, stumbling over logs,

tearing through boughs; shouting, yelling, cursing, and pelted all the

while with bullets that killed them by scores, stretched them on the

ground, or hung them on jagged branches in strange attitudes of death.

The provincials supported the regulars with spirit, and some of them

forced their way to the foot of the wooden wall.

The French fought with the intrepid gayety of their nation, and shouts

of Vive le Roi! and Vive notre General! mingled with the din of

musketry. Montcalm, with his coat off, for the day was hot, directed the

defence of the centre, and repaired to any part of the line where the

danger for the time seemed greatest. He is warm in praise of his enemy,

and declares that between one and seven o'clock they attacked him six

successive times. Early in the action Abercromby tried to turn the

French left by sending twenty bateaux, filled with troops, down the

outlet of Lake George. They were met by the fire of the volunteers

stationed to defend the low grounds on that side, and, still advancing,

came within range of the cannon of the fort, which sank two of them and

drove back the rest.

A curious incident happened during one of the attacks. De Bassignac, a

captain in the battalion of Royal Roussillon, tied his handkerchief to

the end of a musket and waved it over the breastwork in defiance. The

English mistook it for a sign of surrender, and came forward with all

possible speed, holding their muskets crossed over their heads in both

hands, and crying Quarter. The French made the same mistake; and

thinking that their enemies were giving themselves up as prisoners,

ceased firing, and mounted on the top of the breastwork to receive them.

Captain Pouchot, astonished, as he says, to see them perched there,

looked out to learn the cause, and saw that the enemy meant anything but

surrender. Whereupon he shouted with all his might: "Tirez! Tirez! Ne

voyez-vous pas que ces gens-la vont vous enlever?" The soldiers, still

standing on the breastwork, instantly gave the English a volley, which

killed some of them, and sent back the rest discomfited.

This was set to the account of Gallic treachery. "Another deceit the

enemy put upon us," says a military letter-writer: "they raised their

hats above the breastwork, which our people fired at; they having

loopholes to fire through, and being covered by the sods, we did them

little damage, except shooting their hats to pieces." In one of the last

assaults a soldier of the Rhode Island regiment, William Smith, managed

to get through all obstructions and ensconce himself close under the

breastwork, where in the confusion he remained for a time unnoticed,

improving his advantages meanwhile by shooting several Frenchmen. Being

at length observed, a soldier fired vertically down upon him and

wounded him severely, but not enough to prevent his springing up,

striking at one of his enemies over the top of the wall, and braining

him with his hatchet. A British officer who saw the feat, and was struck

by the reckless daring of the man, ordered two regulars to bring him

off; which, covered by a brisk fire of musketry, they succeeded in

doing. A letter from the camp two or three weeks later reports him as in

a fair way to recover, being, says the writer, much braced and

invigorated by his anger against the French, on whom he was swearing to

have his revenge.

Toward five o'clock two English columns joined in a most determined

assault on the extreme right of the French, defended by the battalions

of Guienne and Bearn. The danger for a time was imminent. Montcalm

hastened to the spot with the reserves. The assailants hewed their way

to the foot of the breastwork; and though again and again repulsed, they

again and again renewed the attack. The Highlanders fought with stubborn

and unconquerable fury. "Even those who were mortally wounded," writes

one of their lieutenants, "cried to their companions not to lose a

thought upon them, but to follow their officers and mind the honor of

their country. Their ardor was such that it was difficult to bring them

off." Their major, Campbell of Inverawe, found his foreboding true. He

received a mortal shot, and his clansmen bore him from the field.

Twenty-five of their officers were killed or wounded, and half the men

fell under the deadly fire that poured from the loopholes. Captain John

Campbell and a few followers tore their way through the abatis, climbed

the breastwork, leaped down among the French, and were bayoneted there.

As the colony troops and Canadians on the low ground were left

undisturbed, Levis sent them an order to make a sortie and attack the

left flank of the charging columns. They accordingly posted themselves

among the trees along the declivity, and fired upwards at the enemy, who

presently shifted their position to the right, out of the line of shot.

The assault still continued, but in vain; and at six there was another

effort, equally fruitless. From this time till half-past seven a

lingering fight was kept up by the rangers and other provincials, firing

from the edge of the woods and from behind the stumps, bushes, and

fallen trees in front of the lines. Its only objects were to cover their

comrades, who were collecting and bringing off the wounded, and to

protect the retreat of the regulars, who fell back in disorder to the

Falls. As twilight came on, the last combatant withdrew, and none were

left but the dead. Abercromby had lost in killed, wounded, and missing,

nineteen hundred and forty-four officers and men. The loss of the

French, not counting that of Langy's detachment, was three hundred and

seventy-seven. Bourlamaque was dangerously wounded; Bougainville

slightly; and the hat of Levis was twice shot through.

Montcalm, with a mighty load lifted from his soul, passed along the

lines, and gave the tired soldiers the thanks they nobly deserved. Beer,

wine, and food were served out to them, and they bivouacked for the

night on the level ground between the breastwork and the fort. The enemy

had met a terrible rebuff; yet the danger was not over. Abercromby still

had more than thirteen thousand men, and he might renew the attack with

cannon. But, on the morning of the ninth, a band of volunteers who had

gone out to watch him brought back the report that he was in full

retreat. The saw-mill at the Falls was on fire, and the last English

soldier was gone. On the morning of the tenth, Levis, with a strong

detachment, followed the road to the landing-place, and found signs that

a panic had overtaken the defeated troops. They had left behind several

hundred barrels of provisions and a large quantity of baggage; while in

a marshy place that they had crossed was found a considerable number of

their shoes, which had stuck in the mud, and which they had not stopped

to recover. They had embarked on the morning after the battle, and

retreated to the head of the lake in a disorder and dejection wofully

contrasted with the pomp of their advance. A gallant army was sacrificed

by the blunders of its chief.

Montcalm announced his victory to his wife in a strain of exaggeration

that marks the exaltation of his mind. "Without Indians, almost without

Canadians or colony troops,--I had only four hundred,--alone with Levis

and Bourlamaque and the troops of the line, thirty-one hundred fighting

men, I have beaten an army of twenty-five thousand. They repassed the

lake precipitately, with a loss of at least five thousand. This glorious

day does infinite honor to the valor of our battalions. I have no time

to write more. I am well, my dearest, and I embrace you." And he wrote

to his friend Doreil: "The army, the too-small army of the King, has

beaten the enemy. What a day for France! If I had had two hundred

Indians to send out at the head of a thousand picked men under the

Chevalier de Levis, not many would have escaped. Ah, my dear Doreil,

what soldiers are ours! I never saw the like. Why were they not at


On the morrow of his victory he caused a great cross to be planted on

the battle-field, inscribed with these lines, composed by the

soldier-scholar himself,--

"Quid dux? quid miles? quid strata ingentia ligna?

En Signum! en victor! Deus hic, Deus ipse triumphat."

"Soldier and chief and rampart's strength are nought;

Behold the conquering Cross! 'Tis God the triumph wrought."

[Footnote 4: Between the old and new steamboat-landings, and parts