The French war.--Treaty of Aix La Chapelle.--Failure to negotiate as to boundary betwixt the British and French possessions in America.--Both governments prepare for war.--The "Six Nations" join the British.--The French take the field.--Invest fort of Ohio Company.--Its surrender.--Lieut. Col. Washington sent to assist the English.--Takes Jumonville's party,--Builds Fort Necessity.--Its surrender.--Indian attack at Stevenstown.--The Calls.--Enos Bishop.--Capt. Goffe sent to Stevenstown.--Attack at Number Four.--Expedition against Fort du Quesne.--Niagara, and Crown Point.--Braddock's defeat.--Shirley's ill success.--Johnson's success.--Troops from New Hampshire.--Rangers.--Salisbury Fort.--Fort at Coos.--Fort Lyman.--Name changed.--Fort in charge of New Hampshire troops.--Baron Dieskau.--Attacks Johnson.--Battle of Lake George.--Capt. Folsom.--Attacks the French on their retreat.--Capt. Rogers and his Rangers.--Mainly from Amoskeag--Expedition to Oswego under Col. Bradstreet.--Montcalm's arrival.--Surrender of Oswego.--Garrison massacred.--Attack on Fort William Henry.--Second attack upon the Fort.--Its surrender.--Massacre of its garrison.--John Pollard.--John Dinsmore.--Samuel Blodgett,--Ezekiel Stevens.--John McKeen.--Augmentation of the Rangers.--Unfortunate encountre at Lake George.--Expeditions against Louisburg, Crown Point, and Fort du Quesne.
The strife betwixt France and England upon this continent, cost the latter the best blood of the colonists. A declaration of war betwixt France and England, was a signal for an onslaught upon our whole frontier, by hordes of savages. Divided into small parties, they spread along our entire northern borders, and with the stealth and ferocity of beasts of prey, made their attacks upon the defenceless inhabitants,--sure, and deadly as sure. This mode of attack suggested and carried out by the French, was most harassing and effective. The colonists were distracted. They knew not where to anticipate an attack, but it usually came where and when least expected. To meet such a mode of warfare, every borderer's house had to be fortified or abandoned, and forts had to be built and garrisoned in all the towns upon or near the frontiers. But these precautions did not preserve the lives or property the lives or property of the colonists. They were forced to labor in the fields, to fish, and hunt, to support themselves and families, and there was safety in neither pursuit. The ambush or the open attack of individuals or parties engaged in these pursuits, were of almost daily occurrence. There was no safety for property or life, at home or abroad. The position of the colonists was desperate. The province, the towns, individuals, were becoming impoverished, and this not the worst, lives or captives were taken almost every day along our whole frontier. The provinces were not only becoming impoverished, but depopulated. This continued state of alarm and warfare, produced a readiness, a determination on the part of the colonists, for active and energetic measures against the French. There was no peace or quiet for them, as long as the French held any political power upon the continent, and they were for British supremacy. Hence the readiness with which our Provincial assemblies ever met the demands of the mother country for supplies and troops, and the alacrity with which our people volunteered for active service against the common enemy.
Such considerations had little to do with the policy of the British government. With them national pride was the motive power--supremacy of the British power upon this continent the object. France was their ancient enemy, and America was but a new field in which each power was striving for the mastery. This strife had progressed with varied success for years, sometimes by negotiation, and anon with the edge of the knife and hatchet, or at the cannon's mouth.
In 1748, both parties wanted respite, and the treaty of Aix La Chapelle was concluded, by which it was stipulated that all things should be restored as before the last war. Louisburg, of course passed again into the hands of the French, much to the chagrin of the colonists, by whose valor this stronghold had been acquired. However they consoled themselves by the prospect of peace, and as Governor Shirley had received an important appointment contingent upon the treaty, which took him out of the colony, there was no restless, ambitious, leading spirit to talk about our wounded honor, in giving up a fortress of such vast importance, the acquisition of which had cost so much of toil, blood and treasure.
Governor Shirley had been appointed one of the Commissioners on the part of the British Government in conjunction with Mr. Mildmay, to settle the limits of the French and English territories in America, under this treaty. The Commissioners met at Paris in 1752. It was soon apparent that the French Government wanted nothing by the treaty, but rest, time to prepare for holding all she claimed,--Louisiana, the Canadas, and these to be connected by a cordon of military posts, from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi, that should effectually limit the English settlements to the shores of the Atlantic, and thus place the control of the continent in the hands of the French. After much of finesse and delay, the conference was broken up, by Messrs. Shirley and Mildmay. It now became evident that war was inevitable. The British Cabinet determined to be early in the field, and circulars were addressed to the Provincial Governors in America, recommending them to adopt some plan of union for their mutual defence. Acting upon this suggestion, a Congress, which met at Albany, June, 19th, 1754, composed of Delegates from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Maryland, with the Governor and Council of New York, to confer with the Indians belonging to the Six Nations, formed a place of union. But the plan was rejected by the British Cabinet, which determined to prosecute the war, mainly with regular troops. The main object of the Congress however was attained, as the Indians were conciliated. And well they might be, for the presents made them and the cost of their entertainment, were somewhat of a draft upon the Provincial treasuries, judging from the amount paid by New Hampshire. Theodore Atkinson, Richard Wibird, Meshech Weare, and Henry Sherburne, Jr., were the delegates from this Province. Their bill for extraordinary expenses allowed by the Assembly was as follows:
"The account of the Honble Theodore Atkinson, Richard Wibird, Meshech Weare, & Henry Sherburn, for a present made to ye Six Nations of Indians, Proportion to publick charges & Extraordinary expense.
1754. Cash pd for, York money.
June & 9 ps Stroud, £9 £81- 0-0
July, 17 lb Vermillion 15s £12-15-0
for a present to ye Indians.
pd our proportions to a publick Dinner
and support of Indians 3 days. 9-14-0
Ditto pd towards Secretary, & Door
Ditto for printing Mr. Peters, his
Do Col. Johnston for Belts, 0-15-0
Do for cow gave ye Indians, 4-15-0
Do for extraordinary expence
in treating the Commiss., Indians,
Interpreter, &c. 34-15-0
York money, £150-0-07
Which at 80 pr ct Discount, is equal to £83-7-0 Sterling, Equal to £1000-4-0 old tenor, Equal to £250-1-0 new Tenor.
Portsmouth, December ye 26, 1754.
HENRY SHERBURNE, JR."
Meantime the French had already taken the field, and in 1753, had sent several detachments down the Ohio, to take possession of the country, build forts, and secure the friendship of the Indians. The Ohio Company were at this time building a fort at the junction of the Monongahela and Allegahny rivers, for the protection of their fur traders. This fort, but partly finished was invested on the 17th of May, 1754, by a large force of French troops under the command of Monsieur Contrecoeur. The garrison consisted of but forty one men all told, under the command of Ensign Ward. Capt. Trent the commander being absent, Ensign Ward asked for delay until the return of Capt., Trent, but he was told, that he must give an immediate decision, or possession of the fort would be taken by force. A capitulation was then agreed upon, and the next day Ward and his men left the fort and proceeded up the Monongahela, on their way to the settlements. This was the first overt act of hostility in the "Seven Years War" as it was usually called. Contrecoeur finished the fort and gave it the name of Fort du Quesne.
A battalion of militia from Virginia, under Col. Fry, was on its way to assist the English, and on the 27th of April a detachment of the same under the command of Lieut. Col. George Washington met Ward and his party at Wills' Creek, afterwards the site of Fort Cumberland. A Council of war was held, and it was determined to advance to the mouth of Red-Stone Creek on the Monongahela, erect a fortification, and there wait for orders and reinforcements.
On their way, Col. Washington fell in with a French party near the Great Meadows, consisting of thirty four men, under the command of M. Jumonville. This party had been sent from Fort du Quesne, to gain intelligence of the advancing Virginians. Jumonville and his party on the fifth of May though proceeding with the utmost caution, and encamped in secrecy, and fancied security, were surprised by Col. Washington, and destroyed or captured with the exception of a single man. The victors leaving soon after, entrenched themselves at the Great Meadows, and gave to their fortification the name of Fort Necessity. Here they determined to wait for reinforcements.
The French Commandant at Fort du Quesne, hearing of the misfortune of Jumonville, sent a strong force under M. de Villiers against Washington, who was awaiting his approach at Fort Necessity. On the 3d day of July, the French forces invested the fort and assailed it so warmly, that in the evening Col. Washington agreed upon a surrender, stipulating that the little army should march out with the honors of war. The French perfidiously permitted the savages to break the stipulations of the capitulation, and the soldiers, and officers even, were plundered at will. Col. Washington retired with his little army to Wills' Creek, leaving the French masters of the Valley of the Ohio.
Thus the French had commenced active hostilities, and had occupied various posts upon the Lakes and the Ohio, while the Colonial Congress was in session at Albany, deliberating upon a plan of union, and defence, and the English Government were at home leisurely, and with accustomed delay, planning the subjugation of the French power in America!
And on the very day that Washington and his little army left the valley of the Ohio in the power of the French, the 4th of July, 1754, the Congress at Albany, agreed to a plan of union among the colonies.
The news of the commencement of hostilities at the South soon spread along the northern frontiers, and the savages in the interests of the French, at once commenced their attacks upon the defenceless settlers.
On the 15th day of August, they made a successful attack on our frontier, on the house of Mr. Phillip Call, in Stevenstown. This town was subsequently known as Salisbury and the attack was made in that part of Salisbury, west of, and upon the Merrimack, now included in the town of, Franklin. Mrs. Call, her daughter-in-law, wife of Phillip Call, Jr. and an infant of the latter, were alone in the house, while the Calls, father and son, and Timothy Cook their hired man, were at work in the field. Upon the approach of the Indians, Mrs. Call the elder, met them at the door, and was immediately killed with a blow from a tomahawk, her body falling near the door, and her blood drenching her own threashold!
The younger Mrs. Call, with her infant in her arms, crawled into a hole behind the chimney, where she succeeded in keeping her child quiet, and thus escaped from sure destruction.
The Calls, father and son, and Cook, saw the Indians, and attempted to get into the house before them, but could not succeed. They were so near the house, as to hear the blow with which Mrs. Call was killed. Seeing however the number of the Indians, they fled to the woods and the Calls escaped. Cook ran to the river and plunged in, but was pursued, shot in the water, and his scalp taken. The Indians, some thirty in number, rifled the house, took Mrs. Call's scalp, and then retreated up the river. The Calls soon notified the garrison at Contoocook of the attack, and a party of eight men followed in pursuit. The Indians waited in ambush for them, but showed themselves too soon, and the English party taking to the woods escaped, with the exception of Enos Bishop, who after firing upon the Indians several times was at length taken and carried to Canada as a captive. An account of this affair was forthwith despatched to Portsmouth, Andrew McClary of Epson, being the messenger. His account of the affair is thus noticed in the "Council Minutes."
"PORTSMOUTH, August, 18, 1754.
The said Andrew being examined, declared that Eph'm Foster, and Stephen Moor acquainted the declarant that they were at Stevenstown the day after the mischief was done by the Indians and found the body of Mrs. Call lying dead near the door of her house, scalped and her head almost cut off, and upon further search, found the body of a man named Cook, dead and scalped. That the Indians were supposed to be about thirty in number according to the account of eight men, that upon hearing the news, went immediately from Contoocook to Stevenstown and in that way passed by the enemy, who soon followed them and seeing the Indians too many in number to engaged, they parted and endeavored to escape. One of the company, one Bishop, stood sometime and fired at the Indians, but was soon obliged to run. Cook was found dead by the river's side. Bishop supposed to be killed and sun in the river, he being still missing,--that there were two men belonging to the plantation at a distance working in a meadow that as yet were not come in.1 And it was feared they had fallen into the hands of the enemy,--that as the declarant had understood, all the inhabitants, consisting of about eight families were come down into the lower towns and had left their improvements, corn, hay, and cattle."
Upon this information the council resolved,
"That his Excellency be desired to give immediate orders for enlisting or impressing such a number of men, as he may thing proper in this immergency, and dispose of the men, to encourage the settlers to return to their habitations and secure their cattle and harvest and to encourage the other frontiers in that quarter."
Under this advice, Governor Wentworth issued the following order to Col. Joseph Blanchard of Dunstable.
Province of New Hampshire.
To Col. JOSEPH BLANCHARD.
Upon the mischief done by the Indians last week at Stevenstown, I have ordered a detachment from Capt. Odlin's Troop of twenty-four horse and an officer to command, also the like detachment from Capt Steven's Troop, to guard the inhabitants in that frontier until I can relieve them by a sufficient number of foot,--and as your regiment lies contiguous to the frontier where this mischief was done; I have thought proper to order and direct that you forthwith enlist or impress fifty men or more if you think that number is not sufficient, and put them under an officer that you can confide in and order them forthwith to march to Contoocook and Stevenstown to relieve the detachment of horse posted there. The troops you send on this order are to remain until I have seen the members of the General Assembly who I have given orders to be convened on this occasion, that the troops may be sure both of pay and subsistence. Given at Portsmouth, Aug., 19 1754.
Col. Blanchard detailed Captain John Goffe of Amoskeag for this duty, who marched to the scene of action and scouted for some days in that vicinity, but without discovering the Indians. Among his men from Amoskeag, were Caleb Paige, Joshua Martin, Wm. Morse, John Harwood, Josiah Parker, Archibald Stark, Lemuel Hogg, Thomas Grear, John Barrett, James McNeil, and Robert Rogers, all men of note in the annals of Amoskeag.
The promptness of Governor Wentworth in this emergency and the effective force detailed, preserved the inhabitants of the Merrimack Valley from any farther molestation.
Bishop was carried to Canada, where he arrived after a tedious journey of thirteen days. After tarrying in captivity a year, he effected his escape, and after a journey of eighteen days through the wilderness, suffering intensely from hunger and fatigue, he arrived at Number Four, now Charleston, from whence he returned to his family at Contoocook.2
On the twenty ninth day of the same month they made an attack upon the house of James Johnson at Number Four, and succeeded in capturing the whole household, Johnson, his wife, three children, Miriam Willard, Mrs. Johnson's sister, Peter Laboree, and Ebenezer Farnsworth. These were sold into captivity among the French in Canada. The usual sufferings of Indian captivity were relieved in their case by unusual good treatment, but among the French, they met with great difficulties, and experienced more than usual suffering. Mrs. Johnson, her sister, and two daughters, returned home after a lapse of two years, by way of England; but Mr. Johnson was not so fortunate, as he was in prison in Canada for three years. At length, he and his son returned to Boston, leaving the eldest daughter in a nunnery in Canada.
Meantime the British Government had determined to render more effective aid to the colonies, and in 1755 Gen. Braddock arrived with two regiments of regular troops to operate against the French. He took command of all the British forces in America, and had orders from home to move forthwith upon Fort du Quesne. Summoning the Governors of the colonies to a conference; it was determined that while he should carry out his positive orders and prosecute the expedition against Fort du Quesne, Gen. Shirley of Massachusetts should lead an expedition against Niagara, and Gen. Johnson of New York should lead third, destined for the reduction of Crown Point. The expedition against Fort du Quesne, was planned by those having no knowledge of the country, and the difficulties to be encountered; was commanded by a man unacquainted with the enemy he was to meet, who knew nothing of war out of the rules of European warfare, and was too proud to learn of the provincials. Under such circumatances its probable failure was readily foreseen; but the total defeat of the British troops was anticipated. However it was brought about. For the British army having advanced after unnecessary delays, to within seven miles of Fort du Quesne, on the 4th of July, were ambushed by the French and Indians, and after a severe but unequal contest, were completely routed, and forced to make a precipitate retreat, leaving nine hundred and sixty men killed, wounded and missing, out of an army of thirteen hundred!
The expedition under Gen. Shirley proved quite as unsuccessful, though not so disastrous. The news of Braddock's defeat, caused the desertion of many of his men, and a coolness on the part of the Five Nations, upon whose aid he depended. They were altogether too politick to join waning fortunes, and not only refused the promised aid, but were unwilling that the English troops should pass through their territory! Shirley however pushed on his forces, and reached Oswego on the 18th of August. His entire forces did not arrive however till the first of September, when from want of supplies, and the lateness of the season, the attempt upon Niagara was abandoned, and Shirley on the 24th of October left Lake Ontario for Albany, leaving Col. Mercer with 700 men to complete the Fort at Oswego. Thus the second expedition was a failure.
The third under the lead of Col. Johnson, was more successful, not in the main object, but in a brilliant defence in pursuit of it. By the end of June, Johnson's force rendezvoused at Albany, amounted to full 6000 men. Of these the most effective troops were from New England, under the command of Maj. Gen. Phineas Lyman. New Hampshire furnished for this expedition a regiment consisting of 500 men under the command of Col. Joseph Blanchard of Dunstable, (now Nashua.) Of these, three companies were raised in this neighborhood, two commanded by Captains Goffe and Moore of Derryfield, and the other by Capt. Robert Rogers of Starkstown, (now Dunbarton.) Noah Johnson of Dunstable and John Stark of Derryfield, were Lieutenants in Rogers company, which as it was principally employed in "scouting" and ranging the woods, was called "the Rangers." This was the nucleus of the afterwards celebrated battalion known as "Rogers' Rangers."
The Roll of Capt. Goffe was as follow;
John Goffe, Captain.; Samuel Moor, Lieutenant.; Nathan'l Martain, Ensign.; Jonathan Corlis, Serg't.; Jonas Hastings, Serg't.; John Goffe Jr., Serg't.; Thomas Merrill, Clerk.; Samuel Martain, Corp.; John Moor, Corp.; Joshua Martain, Corp; Benj'a. Eastman, Corp.; Ben'a Kidder, Drummer.; Joseph George, John Bedell, Benj'a. Hadley, Thomas George, Israel Young, Josiah Rowell, William Kelley, Joseph Merrill, Daniel Corlis, Ebenezer Coston, Daniel Martain, Jacob Sillaway, Stephen George, David Nutt, Robert Nutt, Obadiah Hawes, David Willson, William Ford, Aaron Quinby, Nathan Howard, Thomas McLaughlin, John Littell, William McDugal, Robert Holmes, John Wortly, Benja. Vickery, William Barron, Nathaniel Smith, William Walker, David Welch, Caleb Daulton, James Petters, Aaron Copps, Jacob Jewell, Ebenezer Martain, John Harwood, Amaziah Hildreth, John Kidder, John Rowell Thomas Wortly.
Captain Moor's roll was as follows;
John Moor, Captain; Antony Emary, Lieut; Alexander Todd Ens'g; Matthew Read, Sergt.; Thomas Read Sergt.; James Moor, Sergt.; William Spear, Sergt.; Ezekiel Steel, Corp.; Samuel McDuffy, Corp.; John Rickey, Corp.; John Spear, Cor.; Robt. Cochran, Theophalas Harvey, Barber Lesly, William Campble, James Onail, Robt. Tawddle, John McCordy, Thomas Gregg, Joshua Rowlings, Thomas Hutchings, Robt. Edwards, Edward Carns, Alex. McClary, Robt. Smith, David Vance, Robt. Kennade, Robt. McKeen, James Bean, John Cunninham, Samuel Boyde, John Crage, James Oughterson, Michael Johnson, John Logan, Robt. Morrel, John McNight, John Welch, James Ligget, John Mitchel, Daniel Toword, Esa Stevens, Mark Care, (or Kary,) Samuel Miller, Edward Bean, William Kenniston, James Baley, Nathaniel McKary.
The regiment had its rendezvous at Stevenstown, subsequently Salisbury, and in that part of the town next the Merrimack, now constituting a part of Franklin.There was a fort at this place for the protection of the inhabitants against the Indians, it being the extreme outpost on our northern frontier. It was subsequently known and designated as "The old Salisbury Fort." Its location is thus minutely described by the Hon. Daniel Webster, in a letter to the writer, bearing date, November 3, 1851;
"The Salisbury Fort stood in my field, on an eminence or ridge of land, a little south of the burying ground; parts of its foundations are still occasionally ploughed up."
So little was known of the country between the Merrimack and Lake Champlain at that time, that it was supposed that the Coos Meadows were upon the direct route from the "Salisbury Fort" to Crown Point, and Governor Wentworth had directed Col. Blanchard to build a fort on his march, upon the Connecticut at these Meadows. The regiment spent some weeks at the Salisbury Fort in building batteaux for the transportation of their stores along the navigable waters; and Capt. Rogers with his company of Rangers and a detachment from the other companies was sent foward to Coos, to build the Fort. It was located on the east bank of the Connecticut, south of the mouth of the Upper Amonoosuck in what is now the town of Northumberland, and was called Fort Wentworth, in honor of the Governor. Meantime the Governor had discovered the error as to the course of the march, and messengers were sent to Blanchard, and Rogers, to march directly to Number Four, and thence to Albany. Accordingly leaving their employment, the troops repaired to Number Four, and thence by a fatiguing march through the wilderness to Albany. Soon after their arrival the army was sent forward under Gen. Lyman some six miles in advance, to the carrying place, where was a fortress, built the previous summer by Gen. Lyman, and called Fort Lyman, in honor of that officer. This was subsequently called Fort Edward. On the 26th of August, Capt. Rogers with his company of Rangers was detailed to escort the provision wagons from Albany to Fort Edward, and about the same time Gen. Johnson joined his command at the same place, when the army was immediately set in motion, and marched to the south end of Lake George, a distance of about fifteen miles. Col. Blanchard with the regiment from New Hampshire, was left in charge of Fort Edward.
While Gen. Johnson was thus encamped in supposed security, making preparations to pass down the lake to Crown Point, his scouts brought in word of the approach of a French force against Fort Edward.
This force was under the command of Baron Dieskau, who was on his way to reduce Oswego, on Lake Ontario; but having heard of the expedition of Johnson against Crown Point, he had been diverted from his original intention, and had turned his course up Lakes Champlain and George in search of the English, and had landed his army, consisting of 3000 Canadians and Indians at the head of South Bay, in which is now the town of Whitehall, only some 25 miles north east from Johnson's encampment. From hence he pushed on against Fort Edward, but upon approaching this fortress, his army became panic struck, and refused to attack it, his raw militia and the Indians having the greatest dread of cannon.
However they expressed their willingness to go against Johnson's army on the Lake, as that as they had learned, was without cannon or fortifications. Dieskau had no alternative but to accede to their proposition, or retreat upon South Bay, and he forthwith commenced his march towards Johnson's position.
Meantime, on the night of the 7th of September, Gen. Johnson learned from a scout, that Dieskau had advanced four miles on the road from Fort Edward to Lake George, and the next morning he sent a force of 1200 men under Col. Williams of Massachusetts to meet him.
Dieskau having knowledge of the approach of this force placed his men in ambush by forming a half moon across a valley covered with dense wood, and through which Col. Williams was to pass. the place of ambush was only about four miles from Johnson's encampment, so wary had the French been in their march, and so remiss had the English been in keeping out scouts.
The English marched on without fear or watchfulness, until they were almost completely enclosed by the ambuscade, when the French and Indians rose from their covert, and threw a most murderous fire upon the centre and flanks of the astonished English. Col. Williams the commander of the force, and Hendrick the noted Mohawk Chief, who with 200 of his warriors formed a part of the English force, were killed at the first fire, together with many of their soldiers. Lieut. Col. Whiting took command of the discomfited troops, and by tact and skill alone, in conducting an immediate retreat, saved them from almost sure extermination.
Dieskau had calculated upon driving the shattered force upon their main encampment, and amid the alarm and confusion, to carry Johnson's position. But in this he was frustrated. For hearing the firing, and judging that Williams' detachment was retreating, Johnson had the good judgment to send out another detachment to cover their retreat, and commenced forming some sort of a breast work for the protection of his troops, by felling trees and placing them with the provision wagons in front. This hasty structure formed a very good protection for the New England sharp shooters and kept from view a few pieces of cannon, which they had dragged in haste from the Lake side, and which proved the salvation of the army.
Soon the retreating troops came in sight and in tolerable order. They had somewhat recovered from their panic and took their place behind the breastworks to assist their comrades. Soon after eleven o'clock, A. M. Dieskau advanced with his force in admirable order. He had sent a body of Indians to attack the rear of the right flank of the English, and a part of the Canadians to attack the rear of the left at the same time that he should attack their front with his regular troops. When within some one hundred and forty yards of the breastworks, he halted some moments for the flanking parties to gain their positions. Dieskau had no knowledge that the English had any cannon, and a discharge of grape and shell upon the Indians who first came up in the rear, not only scattered them and filled the Canadians with panic, but convinced Dieskau and his regular troops, that they were to meet a severe resistance. The Baron however led his troops upon the centre with the utmost coolness, but with little effect, as they fired volley after volley at so great a distance as to do little or no execution. Soon however they advanced and the action became general.
Col. Johnson was wounded at the commencement of the action, and retired to his tent. The command devolved upon Gen. Lyman, who proved himself every way worthy the position and greatly contributed to the successful issue of the battle.
The French kept their ground in front for some time, but the fire from the artillery and well aimed musketry made sad havoc in their ranks, and they soon retired from that position and formed for an attack upon the right of the English. But here again they failed, for after a severe fire for an hour, the English and Indians, leaped the breast works, and using their bayonets, or clubbing their guns, drove the enemy in the utmost confusion. The pursuit was continued for a short time, and many of the French were slain, and a few taken prisoners. Among the latter was Baron Dieskau. He was found wounded, and leaning upon a stump, his officers and soldiers having left him to his fate. Seeing a soldier approach, he felt for his watch to give to him, but the soldier suspecting that he was about to draw a pistol, immediately fired upon him, wounding him severely in the hips. He was carried into the camp and cared for, and soon after removed to Albany. Carried to England as a prisoner, he died of his wounds soon after his arrival. Col. Blanchard having learned from a scout, that wagons were seen burning in the direction of the Lake, detached Capt. Folsom of his regiment with 80 men and Capt., McGennis of New York with 40 men, to look into the matter. Hearing the report of guns in the direction of the Lake, they pressed forward, and when within about two miles of it, fell in with the baggage of the French army protected by a guard, which they immediately attacked and dispersed. About four o'clock in the afternoon, some 300 of the French army appeared in sight. They had rallied, and retreating in tolerable order. Capt. Folsom posted his men among the trees, and as the enemy approached, they poured in upon them a well directed and galling fire. He continued the attack in this manner till prevented by darkness, killing many of the enemy, taking some of them prisoners, and finally driving them from the field. He then collected his own wounded, and securing them with many of the enemy's packs, he brought his prisoners and booty safe into camp. The next day the rest of the baggage was brought in, thus securing the entire baggage and ammunition of the French army. In this brilliant affair, Folsom lost only six men, but McGennis was mortally wounded, and died soon after. The loss of the French was very considerable.
Thus ended the battle of Lake George, one of much moment at the time, as it raised the flagging hopes of the country, and furnished the British nation one topic of rejoicing, connected with a campaign that had covered the British arms with anything but honor.
After the battle,Col. Johnson proceeded to erect a fort near Lake George, which was called Fort William Henry. In this occupation he whiled away the autumn. Reinforcements having been called for, a regiment marched to Fort Edward from New Hampshire, under the command of Peter Gilman, of Exeter. Attached to this regiment, was a company from this neighborhood, under the command of Capt. James Todd of Londonderry. The roll of this company was as follows;--
James Todd, Captain; Thomas Hazelton, Lieutenant; William Read, Ensign; Samuel Thompson, James Archibald, Jonas Clay, Alexa. Miller, Thomas Hillands, John Loggan, Joseph Farmer, John Moor, John Wilson, William Aken, Robert Weatherspoon, Wm. Wilson, David Wilson, Daniel Clyde, Hugh Dunlap, Thomas Lewis, William Thompson, James Akin, Nathaniel Aken James Adison, Edward Logan, Timothy Ingalls, Benj. Bachelder, John Gage, Jona. Worth, James Hamilton, Rob't Morrell, Robert McCormick, Samuel Gilmore, Alexander Parker, Epha. Butterfield, James, Blotchet, Jer. Hill, John Foster, John Carkin, Robert Cunnicum, Charles Butterfield, John Brown, Aaron Wiman, Alex. Todd, James Wilson, David Blair, James Brodick, Jona. Malloon, Joseph Ordway, James Harwood, Samuel Peris, Thomas Gregg, Eben Richardson.
Upon the approach of winter, Johnson dismissed his army, retaining but six hundred men under Col. Jonathan Bagley, to garrison Forts Edward and William Henry. Connected with this force, was retained a company of Rangers, under the command of the intrepid Rogers who rendered most essential service during the winter, in scouting and keeping up a communication between the forts. This company was mostly from this neighborhood and consisted of the following men;
Robert Rogers, Captain; Richard Rogers, Lieutenant; Noah Johnson, Ensign; James Archibald, Sergt.; John McCurdy, Sergt.; James McNeal, Corp.; Nathaniel Johnson Corp.;
John Michel, Isaac Colton, James Henry, James Clark, Timothy Hodscase, John Wadleigh, Stephen Young, Joshua Titwood, James Adison, Jonathan Silaway, John Brown, Elisha Bennett, Rowling Foster, James Grise, James Morgan, James Welch, Matthew Christopher, James Simonds, Charles Dudley, John Kiser, John Hartman, John Frost, James Mars, Samuel Letch, David Nutt, William McKeen, Nathaniel Smith, Philip Wills, Wm. Cunningham, Wm. Aker, John Leiton, William Wheeler, Simon Toby, Benj. Squanton, Pileh Simpson, Piller Mahanter.
These operations of the English at Lake George, while they failed of their object, incited the French to great exertions and exasperated their allies, the Indians. These made repeated inroads upon our frontiers killed several persons and took a number of prisoners in the valleys of the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers.
In 1756, another expedition was set on foot by Gen. Shirley against Crown Point. A regiment was raised for this expedition in New Hampshire, under the command of Col. Meserve. Attached to this regiment was a company from this neighborhood, under the command of John Goffe, Esq., who was also Major of the regiment. The soldiers in the regiment were
Nathaniel Martin, Lieut.; Thomas Merrel, 2d Lieut.; John Goffe Junior, Ensign.; Samuel Martain, Sergt.; Joseph Eastman, Sergt.; Ebenezer Martain, Sergt.; Thomas McLaughlin, Sergt.; John Wortly, Corp.; John Straw, Corp.; Jacob Jewell, Corp.; Josiah Canfield, Corp.; Benjamin Kidder, Drummer.; Joseph Ordway, Joseph George, Benjamin Hadly, Thomas George, William Keneston, Ebenezer Coaston, John McClellen, Jona. Fifield, James Blanchard, Paul Fowler, Plumer Hadley, John Fowler, Peter Moose, Joel Mannuel, George Sheppard, Samuel Sheppard, James McCaughlin, Ebenezer Ordway, Isaac Walker, James Peters, Jacob Sawyer, Daniel Flanders, Daniel Emerson, William Barron, Timothy Barron, Andrew Stone, Caleb Emary [Emery?] Zebediah Farnum, Luther Morgan, Joseph Pudney, John McLaughlin, John Kedder, Caleb Daulton.
Col. Meserve joined the army with his regiment and was put in charge of Fort Edward. Soon Shirley was superseded by the Earl of Loudon, and the army was suffered to remain in inactivity, being employed in erecting fortifications, and building batteaux.
Capt. Rogers and his Rangers, who had remained at Fort Edward during the winter, had been actively employed. In April, by authority of Gen. Shirley, he had recruited an independent corps of Rangers, and passed the summer and fall in prosecuting various and important expeditions. This new company was officered principally from Amoskeag, and being enlisted from the New Hampshire regiment, most of the men were from this neighborhood.
The Earl of Loudon, not being able to leave England immediately, Maj. General Abercrombie was ordered to precede him and to take command of the English forces until his arrival. Gen. Abercrombie reached Albany the 25th of June, with two regiments of regular troops, and considering the force inadequate to carry out the plans of the campaign, he sent the Provincial troops, under General Winslow to Fort William Henry and determined to await the arrival of the Comander-in-Chief. However he wisely sent a detachment with provisions to strengthen Fort Oswego. The detachment consisted of 300 boatmen under the gallant Colonel Bradstreet, who accomplished his object. On the return of the expedition up the Onondaga, it was ambushed by the French and Indians and a severe engagement ensued. The enemy were repulsed again, and again.
A third time they rallied with desperation, and fighting from tree to tree, seemed determined upon victory; but the gallant Bradstreet and his stout boatmen met them with equal determination and after a severe and bloody fight, put them to flight. Many were killed in the woods and still more were driven into the river, and perished by the unerring bullet, or were drowned in the turmoil of crossing.
While at Albany, at the recommendation of Capt. Robert Rogers, Gen. Abercrombie had the good sense to order the organization of another company of Rangers. It was raised in 28 days and ready for duty. The officers were all from this neighborhood, Richard Rogers, of Starkstown, being Captain, Noah Johnson, of Dunstable, 1st. Lieutenant; Nathaniel Abbott of Pennacook, 2d. Lieutenant; and Caleb Paige, of Starkstown, Ensign. The privates were mainly from the Valley of the Merrimack. To show the nature of the service performed by the Rangers, the following extracts are given from "Rogers' Journal."
Oct. 22. The greater part of the army now lay at Fort Edward under General Abercrombie, and Lord Loudon arriving at this time, it was supposed that notwithstanding the season was so far advanced, an attempt would be made upon the French Fortresses. But his Lordship supposing that the Lakes would freeze, (as they generally do in December,) and that no communication could be kept up with William Henry, contented himself with keeping the field until Mons. Montcalm retired to winter quarters.
This morning we embarked in two whale boats, with a party of 20 men, being ordered to bring a prisoner from Ticonderoga. We passed the narrows twenty miles from our embarkation, when Capt. Shepherd, (who had been taken August last) hailed our boat. I knew his voice, and took him on board with three men, one of whom was taken with him. He left Canada fifteen days before. We continued on our course, landed on the night of the 27 on the west shore, concealed our boats, and travelled by land, within a mile of the Fort. The next day we discovered two videttes to the piquet guard of the French Army, one of whom, was posted on the road leading into the woods. I marched directly down the road in the middle of the day, with five of my party, until we were challenged by the sentry. I answered in French signifying friends; he was thereby deceived, till we came close to him, when perceiving his mistake, in great surprise he called out "Qui etes vous?" I answered "Rogers," led him from his post in great haste and with our party reached William Henry, Oct., 31st.
From this time we were constantly patrolling the woods about Fort Edward, until November, 19, 1756, when we made an excursion down the Lake. Capt. Abercrombie, aid-de-camp and nephew to the General, had the curiosity to accompany the expedition; and although nothing was effected excepting to obtain a view of the French garrison, he was delighted with the novelties of a scout; and with the romantic and noble scenery through which we conducted him. He treated us handsomely on our return to quarters at Fort Edward, on the evening of the 25th.
About this time, his Lordship drew off the main body of his troops from Fort Edward, to be quartered at Albany and New York. Both armies now retired to winter quarters. The Rangers were stationed at Forts William Henry and Edward; and were augmented by two new companies under Captains Hobbs and Spikeman. These two companies were posted at Fort William Henry--and our two at Fort Edward.
Capt. Richard Rogers was sent to New England for recruits. He waited upon the Boston Government to obtain pay for our services in the winter of 1755, but could obtain none, though Lord Loudon generously supported the justice of the claim.
January 15, 1757. Marched with Mr. Stark my Lieutenant, Ensign Paige, of Richard Roger's company and fifty privates to Fort Wm. Henry, where we were employed in providing provisions, snow shoes, &c.. until the 17th, when being joined by Capt. Spikeman with Lieut. Kennedy, Ensign Brewer and 14 men of his corps, together with Ensign James Rogers with 20 men of Hobb's company, and Mr. Baker a volunteer of 44th Regiment of the line, we proceeded down Lake George on the ice, and at night, encamped on the east side of the first narrows. Next morning some of our party who had become lame in consequence of the exertions of yesterday, were sent back. This reduced our numbers to seventy four men officers included.
|back to the house,dog|