Two Years of Successes
Great was the discouragement in England. The duke of newcastle and his associates in the government were obliged to resign. A new ministry was formed, at the head of which was placed that remarkable man, William Pitt, called the Great Commoner. The imbecile Lord Loudoun was deposed from the American army. General Abercrombie was appointed to succeed him; but the main reliance for success was placed, not so much on the commander-in-chief, as on an efficient corps of subordinate officers whom the wisdom of Pitt now directed to America. Admiral Boscawen was put in command of the fleet, consisting of twenty-two ships of the line and fifteen frigates. The able general Amherst was to lead a division. Young Lord Howe, brave and amiable, was next in rank to Abercrombie. The gallant James Wolfe led a brigade. General Forbes held an important command; and Colonel Richard Montgomery was at the head of a regiment.
Three campaigns were planned for 1758. Amherst, acting in conjunction with the fleet, was to capture Louisburg. Lord Howe, under the direction of the commander-in-chief, was to reduce Crown Point and Ticonderoga. The recovery of the Ohio valley was intrusted to General Forbes. On the 28th of May, Amherst, at the head of ten thousand effective men, reached Halifax. Wolfe put his division into boats, rowed through the surf under fire of the French batteries, and gained the shore without serious loss. the French dismantled their battery and retreated. Wolfe next gained possession of the northeast harbor and planted heavy guns on the cape near the lighthouse. From this position the island battery of the French was soon silenced. Louisburg was fairly invested, and the siege was pressed with great vigor. On the 21st of July three French vessels were burned in the harbor. Two days later, the Prudent, a seventy-four gun ship, was fired and destroyed by the English boats. The town was already a heap of ruins, and the walls of the fortress began to crumble. For a whole week the French soldiers had no place where they could rest in safety; of their fifty-two cannon only twelve remained in position. Further resistance was hopeless. On the 28th of July Louisburg capitulated. Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island were surrendered to Great Britain. The garrison, together with the marines, in all nearly six thousand men, became prisoners of war and were sent to England. Amherst after his great success abandoned Louisburg, and the fleet took station at Halifax.
Meanwhile, General Abercrombie had not been idle. On the 5th of July an army of fifteen thousand men, led by Lord Howe, reached Lake George and embarked for Ticonderoga. With heavy guns and abundant stores the expedition proceeded to the northern extremity of the lake and landed on the western shore. The country about the French fortress was very unfavorable for military operations. The English proceeded with great difficulty, leaving their artillery behind. Lord Howe led the advance in person. On the morning of the 6th, when the English were nearing the fort, they fell in with the picket line of the French, numbering no more than three hundred. A severe skirmish ensued; the French were overwhelmed, but not until they had inflicted on the English a terrible loss in the death of Lord Howe. The soldiers were stricken with grief, and began a retreat to the landing. Abercrombie was in the rear, but the soul of the expedition had departed.
On the morning of the 8th the English engineer reported falsely that the fortifications of Ticonderoga were flimsy and trifling. Again the army was put in motion; and when just beyond the reach of the French guns, the divisions were arranged to carry the place by assault. For more than four hours column after column dashed with great bravery against the breastworks of the enemy, which were found to be strong and well constructed. The defense was made by nearly four thousand French under Montcalm, who, with coat off in the hot July afternoon, was everywhere present encouraging his men. At six o'clock in the evening the English were finally repulsed. The carnage was dreadful, the loss on the side of the assailants amounting in killed and wounded to nineteen hundred and sixteen. In no battle of the Revolution did the British have so large a force engaged or meet so terrible a loss.
The English still outnumbered the French three to one; and they might have easily returned with their artillery and captured the fort. But Abercrombie was not the man to do it. He returned to Fort George, at the head of the lake, and contented himself with sending a force of three thousand men under Colonel Bradstreet against Fort Frontenac. This fortress was situated on the presnet site of Kingston, at the outlet of Lake Ontario. The place was feebly defended, and a siege of two days compelled a capitulation. The fortress, so important to the French, was demolished. Forty-six cannon, nine vessels of war, and a vast quantity of stores were the fruits of the victory. Except in the waste of life, Bradstreet's success more than outbalanced the failure of the English at Ticonderoga. The French were everywhere weakened and despairing. In Canada the crops had failed, and there was almost a famine. "Peace, peace, no matter with what boundaries," was the message which the brave Montcalm sent to the French ministry.
Late in the summer, Forbes, at the head of nine thousand men, advanced from Philadelphia against Fort du Quesne. Washington led the Virginian provincials, and Armstrong, who had so distinguished himself at Kittaning, the Pennsylvanians. The main body moved slowly, clearing a borad road and bridging the streams. Washington and the provincials were impatient. Major Grant, more rash than wise, pressed on to within a few miles of Du Quesne. Attempting to lead the French and Indians into an ambuscade, he was himself ambuscaded, and lost a third of his forces. Slowly the main division approached the fort, which was defended by no more than five hundred men. On the 24th of November, Washington with the advance was within ten miles of Du Quesne. During that night the garrison took the alarm, burned the fortress, and floated down the Ohio. On the 25th the victorious army marched over the ruined bastions, raised the English flag, and named the place Pittsburg. The name of the great British minister was justly written over "the gateway of the West."
General Amherst was now promoted to teh chief command of the American forces. Parliament cheerfully voted twelve million pounds sterling to carry on the war. The colonies exerted themselves to the utmost. By the beginning of summer, 1759, the British and colonial forces numbered nearly fifty thousand men. The whole population of Canada was only eighty-two thousand; and the entire French army scarcely exceeded seven thousand. Nothing less than the conquest of all Canada would satisfy Pitt's ambition. Three campaigns were planned for the year. General Prideaux was to conduct an expedition against Niagara, capture the fortress, and descend the lake to Montreal. Amherst was to lead the main division against Ticonderoga and Crown Point. General Wolfe was to proceed up the St. Lawrence and finish the work by capturing Quebec.
By way of Schenectady and Oswego, Prideaux led his forces to Niagara. On the 10th of July the place was invested. The French general, D'Aubry, collected a body of twelve hundted men, and marched to the relief of the fort. On the 15th, by the accidental bursting of a mortar, General Prideaux was killed. Sir William Johnson, succeeding to the command, disposed his forces so as to intercept the approaching French. On the morning of the 24th, D'Aubry's army came in sight. A bloody engagement ensued, in which the French were completely routed, leaving their un-numbered dead scattered for miles through the forest. On the next day Niagara capitulated and received an English garrison. The French forces in the town, to the number of six hundted, became prisoners of war. Communication between Canada and Louisiana was forever broken.
At the same time Amherst was conquering on Lake Champlain. With an army of more than eleven thousand men he proceeded against Ticonderoga. The French did not dare to stand against them. There was a slight skirmish, and then the trenches were deserted. On the 26th the French garrison, having partly destroyed the fortifications, abandoned Ticonderoga and retreated to Crown Point. Five days afterward they deserted this place also. The whole country of Lake Champlain had been recovered without a battle.
It remained for General Wolfe to achieve the final victory. As soon as a tardy spring had cleared the St. Lawrence of ice, he began the ascent of the river. His force consisted of nearly eight thousand men, assisted by a fleet of forty-four vessels. On the 27th of June the armament arrived at the Isle of Orleans, four miles below Quebec. The English camp was pitched at the upper end of the island. Wolfe's vessels gave him immediate command of the river, and the southern bank was undefended. On the night of the 29th, General Monckton was sent with four battalions to seize Point Levi. The movement was successful, and an English battery was planted opposite the city. From this position the Lower Town was soon reduced to ruins, and the Upper Town much injured; but the fortress seemed impregnable. The French, knowing that it would be impossible to storm the city from the river side, had drawn their line of intrenchment from the northern bank of the St. Lawrence, reaching for five miles from the Montmorenci to the St. Charles. Here Montcalm with ten or twelve thousand French and Canadians awaited the movements of his antagonist.
Wolfe was restless and anxious for battle. On the 9th of July he crossed the north channel, and encamped with his army on the east bank of the Montmorenci. it was determined in a council of war to hazard an engagement. The Montmorenci was fordable when the tide ran out. The attack was planned for July 31st, at the hour of low water. Generals Townshend and Murray were ordered to ford the stream with their two brigades, and at the same time Monckton's regiments of regulars were to cross the St. Lawrence from Point Levi and aid in the assault. The signal was given, and the grenadiers of Murray and Townshend dashed across the Montmorenci; but the boats of Monckton ran aground, and there was considerable delay. The impatient grenadiers without waiting for orders or support, rushed forward against the French intrenchments, and were driven back with great loss. Before the regulars could be formed in line the battle was decided. Night was approaching; the tide rising; a storm portended; and Wolfe, after losing nearly five hundred men, withdrew to his camp.
Disappointment, exposure, and fatigue threw the English general into a violent fever, and for many days he was confined to his tent. A council ofofficers was called, and the indomitable leader proposed a second assault on the French lines. But the proposition was overruled, and it was decided to ascend the St. Lawrence, and if possible gain possession of the Plains of Abraham, in the rear of the city. The camp on the Montmorenci was accordingly broken up, and on the 6th of September the troops and artillery were conveyed to Point Levi. Keeping the French excited with appearances of activity, Wolfe again transferred his army to a point several miles up the river. He then busied himself with a careful examination of the northern bank, in the hope of finding some path among the precipitous cliffs by which to gain the plains. On the 11th he discovered the place called Wolfe's Cove, and decided that here it was possible to make the ascent. Montcalm, deceived by the movements of the fleet, was still in the trenches below the city.
On the night of the 12th of September everything was in readiness. The English silently entered their transports and dropped down the river to the cove. With great difficulty the soldiers clambered up the rocky steeps; the feeble Canadian guard on the summit was dispersed; and in the gray dawn of morning Wolfe marshaled his army for battle. Montcalm was in amazement when he heard the news. "They are now on the weak side of this unfortunate town," said he; "and we must crush them before mid-day." With great haste the French were brought from the trenches and thrown between Quebec and the advancing English. The battle began with an hour's cannonade; then Montcalm attempted to turn the English flank, but was beaten back. The Canadians and Indians were routed. Then came the weakened battalions of the French; but they were poorly disciplined; the ground was uneven, and Montcalm's lines advanced brokenly. The English reserved their fire until the advancing columns were within forty yards, and then discharged volley after volley. The French wavered and were in confusion. Wolfe, leading the charge, was wounded in the wrist. Again he was struck, but pressed on at the head of his grenadiers. Just at the moment of victory a third ball pierced his breast, and he sank quivering to the earth. "They run, they run!" said the attendant who bent over him. "Who run?" was the feeble response. "The French are flying everywhere," replied the officer. "Do they run already? Then I die happy," said the expiring hero; and his spirit passed away amid the smoke of battle. Monckton was dangerously wounded and borne from the field. Montcalm, still attempting to rally his broken regiments, was struck with a ball, and fell. "Shall I survive?" said he to his surgeon. "But a few hours at most," replied the attendant. "So much the better," replied the heroic Frenchman. "I shall not live to witness the surrender of Quebec."
Further defense of the Canadian stronghold was useless. Five days after the battle the French authorities surrendered to General Townshend, and an English garrison took possession of the citidel. The year 1759 closed with the complete triumph of the English arms. In the following spring France made a great effort to recover her losses. A severe battle was fought a few miles west of Quebec, and the English were driven into the city. But re-enforcements came, and the French were beaten back. On the 8th of September, in the same year, Montreal, the last important post of Frence in the valley of the St. Lawrence, surrendered to General Amherst. Canada had passed under the dominion of England.
For three years the war between France and England continued on the ocean. The English fleets were everywhere victorious. On the 10th of February, 1763, a treaty of peace was made at Paris. All the French possessions in North America eastward of the Mississippi from its source to the river Iberville, and thence through Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain to the Gulf of Mexico, were surrendered to Great Britain. At the same time Spain, with whom England had been at war, ceded East and West Florida to the English Crown. Thus closed the French and Indian War, one of the most important in the history of mankind. by this conflilct it was decided that the decaying institutions of the Middle Ages should not prevail in the West; and that the powerful language, laws, and liberties of the English race should be planted forever in the vast domains of the New World.
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