One of the greatest military leaders who ever operated in Canada was undoubtedly the Marquis de Montcalm, who was killed in Wolfe’s attack on Quebec. He was sent to command French forces in Canada in 1756 and at once found himself in a difficult situation.
The governor at that time was the Marquis de Vaudreuil, the Canadian-born son of a former governor. Vaudreuil and his friends did not approve of strict French military discipline, or the superior airs of the French officers. The French, however, were shocked by the barbarities of the Indians who were allies of the Canadians. French “regulars” did not want to be associated with men who enjoyed cutting up human bodies to be made into soup, or drinking another Indian gourmet delight, “bouillon,” a cup of hot blood!
Despite these handicaps, Montcalm went ahead with his plans to crush the British campaign to capture Canada. War was declared soon after Montcalm arrived at Quebec and he immediately went on the offensive. He worked day and night to prepare his forces. In order to attack the British fort at Oswego, New York, he had to move his troops and supplies up the St. Lawrence, a back-breaking task. Oswego fell in twelve days. Montcalm took 1,600 prisoners, whom he managed to transport to Montreal.
In 1758 came Montcalm’s most remarkable victory. After destroying Fort William Henry, he held Fort Ticonderoga at the other end of Lake George. The British attacked it on July 5, with a force of 16,000 troops, 9,000 of whom were “colonial.” Montcalm defended Ticonderoga with 3,000 men. His position seemed hopeless against such odds, but he remained undaunted. He had his men build a breastwork of logs around the fort; the branches, with their full-grown leaves, were left lying on the ground where the trees were cut to retard the British advance. The French could easily see the red coats in the green foliage and fired shattering volleys into them. General Abercromby had to retreat, leaving 2,000 dead or wounded. One of those killed was a brilliant young soldier, Lord Howe, brother of the famous admiral who drove Washington from New York in the American Revolutionary War.
Montcalm became a national hero. He went back to prepare the defense of Quebec after Louisburg fell, knowing in his heart that defeat was inevitable as long as Britain had command of the sea.
To learn more about these events, I suggest going to British Battles.com. A website I just found, which covers today’s topic, is e-Notes (an educational resource used by millions of teachers and students;however, they charge). And then you can go to History.com for a good coverage. The last two sites I suggest are Fortt Ticonderoga.org and Lonely Gamers (an interesting blog about games, but has reproduced the battle with miniatures!)
- Fort William Henry close to adding a distillery (timesunion.com)
- Conrad Black: High Noon at the Plains of Abraham (huffingtonpost.com)
- Montcalm in Lake George is closed, months earlier than announced (timesunion.com)
- Powder horn donated to Fort Ticonderoga (wwlp.com)
- Rare 1750s powder horn donated to Fort Ticonderoga (cbs6albany.com)
- Day 4: Forts William Henry and Ticonderoga (gemgoesbackintime.wordpress.com)