Or The Winning of a Continent

BY G. A. HENTY [1894]

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Chapter 17
Louisbourg And Ticonderoga

1.  All eyes in the fleet were directed towards the rocky shore of Gabarus Bay, a flat indentation some three miles across, its eastern extremity, White Point, being a mile to the west of Louisbourg. The sea was rough, and the white masses of surf were thrown high up upon the face of the rock, along the coast, as far as the eye could reach.

2.  A more difficult coast on which to effect a landing could not have been selected. There were but three points where boats could, even in fine weather, get to shore--namely, White Point, Flat Point, and Fresh Water Cove. To cover these, the French had erected several batteries, and, as soon as the English fleet was in sight, they made vigorous preparations to repel a landing.

3.  Boats were at once lowered, in order to make a reconnaissance of the shore. Generals Amherst, Lawrence, and Wolfe all took part in it, and a number of naval officers, in their boats, daringly approached the shore to almost within musket shot. When they returned, in the afternoon, they made their reports to the admiral, and these reports all agreed with his own opinion--namely, that there was but little chance of
success. One naval captain alone, an old officer named Fergusson, advised the admiral to hold no council of war, but to take the responsibility on himself, and to make the attempt at all risks.

4.  "Why, admiral," he said, "the very children at home would laugh at us, if, for a second time, we sailed here with an army, and then sailed away again without landing a man."

5.  "So they would, Fergusson, so they would," the admiral said. "If I have to stop here till winter, I won't go till I have carried out my orders, and put the troops ashore."

6.  In addition to the three possible landing places already named, was one to the east of the town named Lorambec, and it was determined to send a regiment to threaten a landing at this place, while the army, formed into three divisions, were to threaten the other points, and effect a landing at one or all of them, if it should be found possible.

7.  On the next day, however, the 3rd of June, the surf was so high that nothing could be attempted. On the 4th there was a thick fog and a gale, and the frigate Trent struck on a rock, and some of the transports were nearly blown on shore. The sea was very heavy, and the vessels rolled tremendously at their anchors. Most of the troops suffered terribly from seasickness.

8.  The next day, the weather continued thick and stormy. On the 6th there was fog, but towards noon the wind went down, whereupon the signal was made, the boats were lowered, and the troops took their places in them.  Scarcely had they done so, when the wind rose again, and the sea got up so rapidly that the landing was postponed.

9.  The next day the fog and heavy surf continued, but in the evening the sea grew calmer, and orders were issued for the troops to take to the boats, at two o'clock next morning. This was done, and the frigates got under sail, and steered for the four points at which the real or pretended attacks were to be made, and, anchoring within easy range, opened fire soon after daylight; while the boats, in three divisions, rowed towards the shore.

10.  The division under Wolfe consisted of twelve companies of Grenadiers, with the Light infantry, Fraser's Highlanders, and the New England Rangers. Fresh Water Cove was a crescent-shaped beach a quarter of a mile long, with rocks at each end. On the shore above lay 1000 Frenchmen under Lieutenant Colonel de Saint Julien, with eight cannons, on swivels, planted to sweep every part of the beach. The entrenchments, behind which the troops were lying, were covered in front by spruce and fir trees, felled and laid on the ground with the tops outward.

11.  Not a shot was fired until the English boats approached the beach, then, from behind the leafy screen, a deadly storm of grape and musketry was poured upon them. It was clear at once that to advance would be destruction, and Wolfe waved his hand as a signal to the boats to sheer off.

12.  On the right of the line, and but little exposed to the fire, were three boats of the Light Infantry under Lieutenants Hopkins and Brown, and Ensign Grant, who, mistaking the signal, or willfully misinterpreting it, dashed for the shore directly before them. It was a hundred yards or so east of the beach--a craggy coast, lashed by the breakers, but sheltered from the cannon by a small projecting point.

13.  The three young officers leapt ashore, followed by their men. Major Scott, who commanded the Light Infantry and Rangers, was in the next boat, and at once followed the others, putting his boat's head straight to the shore. The boat was crushed to pieces against the rocks. Some of the men were drowned, but the rest scrambled up the rocks, and joined those who had first landed. They were instantly attacked by the French, and half of the little party were killed or wounded before the rest of the division could come to their assistance.

14.  Some of the boats were upset, and others stove in, but most of the men scrambled ashore, and, as soon as he landed, Wolfe led them up the rocks, where they formed in compact order and carried, with the bayonet, the nearest French battery.

15.  The other divisions, seeing that Wolfe had effected a landing, came rapidly up, and, as the French attention was now distracted by Wolfe's attack on the left, Amherst and Lawrence were able to land at the other end of the beach, and, with their divisions, attacked the French on the right.

16.  These, assaulted on both sides, and fearing to be cut off from the town, abandoned their cannon and fled into the woods. Some seventy of them were taken prisoners, and fifty killed. The rest made their way through the woods and marshes to Louisbourg, and the French in the other batteries commanding the landing places, seeing that the English were now firmly established on the shore, also abandoned the positions, and retreated to the town.

17.  General Amherst established the English camp just beyond the range of the cannon on the ramparts, and the fleet set to work to land guns and stores at Flat Point Cove. For some days this work went on; but so violent was the surf, that more than a hundred boats were stove in in accomplishing it, and none of the siege guns could be landed till the 18th. While the sailors were so engaged, the troops were busy making roads and throwing up redoubts to protect their position.

18.  Wolfe, with 1200 men, made his way right round the harbour, and took possession of the battery at Lighthouse Point which the French had abandoned; planted guns and mortars there, and opened fire on the battery on the islet which guarded the entrance to the harbour; while other batteries were raised, at different points along the shore, and opened fire upon the French ships. These replied, and the artillery duel went on night and day, until, on the 25th, the battery on the islet was silenced. Leaving a portion of his force in the batteries he had erected, Wolfe returned to the main army in front of the town.

19.  In the meantime, Amherst had not been idle. Day and night a thousand men had been employed, making a covered road across a swamp to a hillock less than half a mile from the ramparts. The labour was immense, and the troops worked knee deep in mud and water.

20.  When Wolfe had silenced the battery on the islet, the way was open for the English fleet to enter and engage the ships and town from the harbour, but the French took advantage of a dark and foggy night, and sank six ships across the entrance.

21.  On the 25th, the troops had made the road to the hillock, and began to fortify themselves there, under a heavy fire from the French; while on the left, towards the sea, about a third of a mile from the Princess's Bastion, Wolfe, with a strong detachment, began to throw up a redoubt.

22.  On the night of the 9th of July, 600 French troops sallied out and attacked this work. The English, though fighting desperately, were for a time driven back; but, being reinforced, they drove the French back into the town.

1.  The three points to land were:  White Point, Flat Point and ____________________

2.  How many companies of Grenadiers did Wolfe have?  _____________________

3.  With how many men did Wolfe attack Lighthouse Point?  ____________________

4.  On July 9, how many French attacked?  ____________________

Vocabulary 2:  Arethuse, Celebre, Drucour, Massachusetts

23.  Each day the English lines drew closer to the town. The French frigate Echo, under cover of a fog, had been sent to Quebec for aid, but she was chased and captured. The frigate Arethuse, on the night of the 14th of July, was towed through the obstructions at the mouth of the harbour, and, passing through the English ships in a fog, succeeded in
getting away. Only five vessels of the French fleet now remained in the harbour, and these were but feebly manned, as 2000 of the officers and seamen had landed, and were encamped in the town.

24.  On the afternoon of the 16th a party of English, led by Wolfe, suddenly dashed forward, and, driving back a company of French, seized some rising ground within three hundred yards of the ramparts, and began to entrench themselves there. All night, the French kept up a furious fire at the spot, but, by morning, the English had completed their entrenchment, and from this point pushed on, until they had reached the
foot of the glacis.

25.  On the 21st, the French man of war Celebre was set on fire by the explosion of a shell. The wind blew the flames into the rigging of two of her consorts, and these also caught fire, and the three ships burned to the water's edge. Several fires were occasioned in the town, and the English guns, of which a great number were now in position, kept up a storm of fire night and day.

26.  On the night of the 23rd, six hundred English sailors silently rowed into the harbour, cut the cables of the two remaining French men of war, and tried to tow them out. One, however, was aground, for the tide was low. The sailors therefore set her on fire, and then towed her consort out of the harbour, amidst a storm of shot and shell from the
French batteries.

27.  The French position was now desperate. Only four cannon, on the side facing the English batteries, were fit for service. The masonry of the ramparts was shaken, and the breaches were almost complete. A fourth of the garrison were in hospital, and the rest were worn out by toil.  Every house in the place was shattered by the English artillery, and there was no shelter either for the troops or the inhabitants.

28.  On the 26th, the last French cannon was silenced, and a breach effected in the wall; and the French, unable longer to resist, hung out the white flag. They attempted to obtain favourable conditions, but Boscawen and Amherst insisted upon absolute surrender, and the French, wholly unable to resist further, accepted the terms.

29.  Thus fell the great French stronghold on Cape Breton. The defense had been a most gallant one; and Drucour, the governor, although he could not save the fortress, had yet delayed the English so long before the walls, that it was too late in the season, now, to attempt an attack on Canada itself.

30. Wolfe, indeed, urged that an expedition should at once be sent against Quebec, but Boscawen was opposed to this, owing to the lateness of the season, and Amherst was too slow and deliberate, by nature, to determine suddenly on the enterprise. He, however, sailed with six regiments for Boston, to reinforce Abercromby at Lake George.

31.  Wolfe carried out the orders of the general, to destroy the French settlements on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence--a task most repugnant to his humane nature. After this had been accomplished, he sailed for England.

32.  When Amherst had sailed with his expedition to the attack of Louisbourg, he had not left the colonists in so unprotected a state as they had been in the preceding year. They, on their part, responded nobly to the call, from England, that a large force should be put in the field. The home government had promised to supply arms, ammunition,
tents, and provisions, and to make a grant towards the pay and clothing of the soldiers.

33.  Massachusetts, as usual, responded most freely and loyally to the demand. She had already incurred a very heavy debt by her efforts in the war, and had supplied 2500 men--a portion of whom had gone with Amherst--but she now raised 7000 more, whom she paid, maintained, and clothed out of her own resources, thus placing in the field one-fourth of her able-bodied men. Connecticut made equal sacrifices, although less exposed to danger of invasion; while New Hampshire sent out one-third of her able-bodied men.

34.  In June the combined British and provincial force, under Abercromby, gathered on the site of Fort William Henry. The force consisted of 6367 officers and soldiers of the regular army, and 9054 colonial troops.

35.  Abercromby himself was an infirm and incapable man, who owed his position to political influence. The real command was in the hands of Brigadier General Lord Howe--a most energetic and able officer, who had, during the past year, thoroughly studied forest warfare, and had made several expeditions with the scouting parties of Rogers and other frontier leaders. He was a strict disciplinarian, but threw aside all
the trammels of the traditions of the service. He made both officers and men dress in accordance with the work they had before them. All had to cut their hair close, to wear leggings to protect them from the briars, and to carry in their knapsacks thirty pounds of meal, which each man had to cook for himself. The coats, of both the Regulars and
Provincials, were cut short at the waist, and no officer or private was allowed to carry more than one blanket and a bear skin.

36.  Howe himself lived as simply and roughly as his men. The soldiers were devoted to their young commander, and were ready to follow him to the death.

37.  "That's something like a man for a general," Nat said enthusiastically, as he marched, with the Royal Scouts, past the spot where Lord Howe was sitting on the ground, eating his dinner with a pocket knife.

38.  "I have never had much hope of doing anything, before, with the regulars in the forest, but I do think, this time, we have got a chance of licking the French. What do you say, captain?"

39.  "It looks more hopeful, Nat, certainly. Under Loudon and Webb things did not look very bright, but this is a different sort of general altogether."

40.  On the evening of the 4th of July baggage, stores, and ammunition were all on board the boats, and the whole army embarked at daybreak on the 5th. It was indeed a magnificent sight, as the flotilla started. It consisted of 900 troop boats, 135 whale boats, and a large number of heavy flatboats carrying the artillery. They were in three divisions, the regulars in the centre, the provincial troops on either flank.

41.  Each corps had its flags and its music, the day was fair and bright, and, as the flotilla swept on past the verdure-clad hills, with the sun shining brilliantly down on the bright uniforms and bright flags, on the flash of oars and the glitter of weapons, a fairer sight was seldom witnessed.

42.  At five in the afternoon, they reached Sabbath Day Point, twenty-five miles down the lake, where they halted some time for the baggage and artillery. At eleven o'clock they started again, and by daybreak were nearing the outlet of the lake.

43.  An advanced party of the French were watching their movements, and a detachment was seen, near the shore, at the spot where the French had embarked on the previous year. The companies of Rogers and James Walsham landed, and drove them off, and by noon the whole army was on shore.

44.  The troops started in four columns, but so dense was the forest, so obstructed with undergrowth, that they could scarcely make their way, and, after a time, even the guides became confused in the labyrinth of trunks and boughs, and the four columns insensibly drew near to each other.

45.  Curiously, the French advanced party, 350 strong, who had tried to retreat, also became lost in the wood, and, not knowing where the English were, in their wanderings again approached them. As they did so Lord Howe, who, with Major Putnam, and 200 rangers and scouts, was at the head of the principal column, suddenly came upon them. A skirmish followed. Scarcely had it begun when Lord Howe dropped dead, shot through the breast. For a moment, something like a panic seized the army, who believed that they had fallen into an ambush, and that Montcalm's whole force was upon them. The rangers, however, fought steadily, until Rogers' Rangers and the Royal Scouts, who were out in front, came back and took the French in the rear. Only about 50 of these escaped, 148 were captured, and the rest killed or drowned in endeavouring to cross the rapids.

5.  How many English sailors tried to two the two French warships?  ______________

6.  On what date did the French surrender?  ____________________

7.  Which General did Nat like?  _____________________

8.  How many were in the French advanced party?  _______________________

Vocabulary 3:  abattis, Bourlamaque, Guienne, infatuation, La Reine, La Sarre, Languedoc

46.  The loss of the English was small in numbers, but the death of Howe inflicted an irreparable blow upon the army. As Major Mante, who was present, wrote:

47.  "In Lord Howe, the soul of General Abercromby's army seemed to expire.  From the unhappy moment that the general was deprived of his advice, neither order nor discipline was observed, and a strange kind of infatuation usurped the place of resolution."

48.  The loss of its gallant young general was, indeed, the destruction of an army of 15,000 men. Abercromby seemed paralysed by the stroke, and could do nothing, and the soldiers were needlessly kept under arms all night in the forest, and, in the morning, were ordered back to the landing place.

49.  At noon, however, Bradstreet was sent out to take possession of the sawmill, at the falls which Montcalm had abandoned the evening before.  Bradstreet rebuilt the two bridges, which had been destroyed by the enemy, and the army then advanced, and in the evening occupied the deserted encampment of the French.

50.  Montcalm had, for some days, been indecisive as to his course. His force was little more than a fourth of that of the advancing foe. He had, for some time, been aware of the storm which was preparing against him. Vaudreuil, the governor, had at first intended to send a body of Canadians and Indians, under General Levis, down the valley of the Mohawk to create a diversion, but this scheme had been abandoned, and,
instead of sending Levis, with his command, to the assistance of Montcalm, he had kept them doing nothing at Montreal.

51.  Just about the hour Lord Howe was killed, Montcalm fell back with his force from his position by the falls, and resolved to make a stand at the base of the peninsula on which Ticonderoga stands. The outline of the works had already been traced, and the soldiers of the battalion of Berry had made some progress in constructing them. At daybreak, just as Abercromby was drawing his troops back to the landing place, Montcalm's whole army set to work. Thousands of trees were hewn down, and the trunks piled one upon another, so as to form a massive breastwork. The line followed the top of the ridge, with many zigzags, so that the whole front could be swept by a fire of musketry and grape. The log wall was eight or nine feet high, and the upper tier was formed of single logs, in which notches were cut to serve as loopholes. The whole space in front was cleared of trees, for the distance of a musket shot, the trees being felled so that their tops turned outwards, forming an almost impenetrable obstacle, while, immediately in front of the log wall, the ground was covered with heavy boughs, overlapping and interlaced, their points being sharpened. This position was, in fact, absolutely impregnable against an attack, in front, by infantry.

52.  It was true that Abercromby might have brought up his artillery, and battered down the breastwork, or he might have planted a battery on the heights which commanded the position, or he might have marched a portion of his army through the woods, and placed them on the road between Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and so have cut off the whole French army, and forced them to surrender, for they had but eight days' provisions. But Howe was dead, there was no longer leading or generalship, and Abercromby, leaving his cannon behind him, marched his army to make a direct attack on the French entrenchment.

53.  In the course of the night Levis, with 400 of his men, arrived, and the French were in readiness for the attack. The battalions of La Sarre and Languedoc were posted on the left under Bourlamaque, Berry and Royal Roussillon in the centre under Montcalm, La Reine, Beam, and Guienne on the right under Levis. A detachment of volunteers occupied the low ground between the breastwork and the outlet of Lake George, while 450 Canadian troops held an abattis on the side towards Lake Champlain, where they were covered by the guns of the fort.

54.  Until noon, the French worked unceasingly to strengthen their position, then a heavy fire broke out in front, as the rangers and light infantry drove in their pickets. As soon as the English issued from the wood, they opened fire, and then the regulars, formed in columns of attack, pushed forward across the rough ground with its maze of fallen trees.  They could see the top of the breastwork, but not the men behind it, and as soon as they were fairly entangled in the trees, a terrific fire opened upon them. The English pushed up close to the breastwork, but they could not pass the bristling mass of sharpened branches, which were swept by a terrific crossfire from the intrenchment. After striving for an hour, they fell back. Abercromby, who had remained at the mill a mile and a half in the rear, sent orders for them to attack again.

55.  Never did the English fight with greater bravery. Six times did they advance to the attack, but the task set them was impossible. At five in the afternoon, two English columns made an assault on the extreme right of the French, and, although Montcalm hastened to the spot with his reserves, they nearly succeeded in breaking through, hewing their way right to the very foot of the breastwork, and renewing the attack over
and over again, the Highland regiment, which led the column, fighting with desperate valour, and not retiring until its major and twenty-five of the officers were killed or wounded, and half the men had fallen under the deadly fire.

56.  At six o'clock another desperate attempt was made, but in vain; then the regulars fell back in disorder, but, for an hour and a half, the provincials and rangers kept up a fire, while their comrades removed the wounded. Abercromby had lost in killed, wounded, and missing 1944 officers and men, while the loss of the French was 377.

57.  Even now, Abercromby might have retrieved his repulse, for, with 13,000 men still remaining, against 3300 unwounded Frenchmen, he could still have easily forced them to surrender, by planting cannons on the heights, or by cutting off their communication and food.

58.  He did neither, but, at daybreak, re-embarked his army, and retired with all speed down the lake. Montcalm soon received large reinforcements, and sent out scouting parties. One of these caught a party commanded by Captain Rogers in an ambush, but were finally driven back, with such heavy loss that, from that time, few scouting parties
were sent out from Ticonderoga.

59.  In October, Montcalm, with the main portion of his army, retired for the winter to Montreal; while the English fell back to Albany.

60.  While Abercromby was lying inactive at the head of Lake George, Brigadier General Forbes had advanced from Virginia against Fort Duquesne, and, after immense labour and hardships, succeeded in arriving at the fort, which the French evacuated at his approach, having burnt the barracks and storehouses, and blown up the fortifications. A stockade was formed, and a fort afterwards built there. This was called Fort Pitt, and the place itself, Pittsburg. A small garrison was left there, and the army, after having collected and buried the bones of Braddock's men, retired to Virginia. The general, who, though suffering terribly from disease, had steadfastly carried out the enterprise in the face of enormous difficulties, died shortly after the force returned to the settlements.

61.  Another successful enterprise, during the autumn, had been the capture of Fort Frontenac, and the gaining of a foothold by the English on Lake Ontario.

62.  Thus, the campaign of 1758 was, on the whole, disastrous to the French.  They had held their own triumphantly at Ticonderoga, but they had lost their great fortress of Louisbourg, their right had been forced back by the capture of Fort Duquesne, and their line of communication cut by the destruction of Fort Frontenac.

9.  Where did Montcalm decide to make his stand?  __________________________

10.  How many days’ provisions did the French have?  _______________________

11.  How many times did the English try to advance?  __________________

12.  Where did Montcalm go for the winter?  _______________________

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