History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
The winter wore away in gloomy inactivity; its repose being unbroken, save by occasional skirmishing with the enemy in the vicinity of Crown Point, by Rogers and his rangers. The expedition against Ticonderoga, owing to the unusual mildness of the season, was given up; and the French were again left to mature their plans of conquest unmolested.
On the seventeenth of March, De Levy, at the head of three hundred men, left Montreal, and gliding swiftly over the ice reached La Presentation. Here, exchanging their skates for snow shoes, they left the "ocean river," and passing lightly over the winter snows, through dense forests, and along paths known only to Indian hunters, suddenly appeared at the Oneida portage, and summoned Fort Bull to surrender. The garrison were not, however, taken wholly by surprise. Sir William Johnson, apprised of the approach of the enemy through Indian runners had given the commander timely notice of his danger and, at the same time, supplied him with a quantity of hand grenades and ammunition. The summons of De Levy was therefore answered by a shower of bullets. This so exasperated that officer, that lie forthwith ordered a charge and breaking down the gate, put all but thirty of the garrison to the sword. The French officer then burned the fort, and having destroyed forty thousand pounds of powder, returned with his prisoners into Canada with the loss of only three men.1
While the French were thus penetrating into the very heart of the province, the savages had resumed their depredations along the frontier. The counties of Orange and Ulster especially, felt the ravages of the foe, but so tardy was the assembly, in taking measures for their protection, that it was severely censured in an article which appeared in one of the newspapers on the fifteenth of March. This seeming indifference of the assembly to the sufferings of the border, arose from no want of energy on the part of Governor Hardy. He had repeatedly, by special messages, implored the house for a force sufficient to protect the frontier, and had as often been put off with frivolous excuses.2
The explanation of this singular conduct is, that the assembly had sent up on the thirty-first of January two bills-one for the payment of the arrears due the officers of government, and another for meeting their own salaries during the ensuing year-in direct opposition to the demand of the crown. The latter bill, as might be foreseen, the governor refused to pass. Previous, however, to the sending up of these bills, Sir Charles had requested the levy of one thousand men for the expedition against Crown Point, and the house had even voted to raise that number; but now it refused to proceed farther until the governor had given his decision upon the two bills then in his hands. Sir Charles delaying his assent, the assembly artfully adjourned from week to week, until his pleasure should be known. The attack, however, upon it in the public print, hastened its action; and on the twentieth of March, it sent up a bill for raising for the Crown Point expedition and for the defense of the western frontier, seventeen hundred and fifteen men.3 This bill,
1 Journal from Oct. 1756 to June 1756. Paris
Doc. Also Quebec His. Col.
after lying for eleven days with the council was passed- Mr. Kennedy alone dissenting, on the ground that it encroached upon the royal prerogative, inasmuch as the particular services of the troops were specified, whereas they should of right he left to the disposition of the governor.1 Meanwhile the money bill, which had passed the council under the protest of Mr. Colden and Mr. Smith, was still in the governor's hands. In this posture of affairs, Mr. De Lancey intimated to the executive that provided the money hill was passed, the one for the quota might be so altered as to meet the objections of the council. By this course an assurance having been obtained from Sir Charles that the bill for the payment of the public debts should be passed, the house privately took back the quota bill and so amended it, that the council passed it on the thirty-first of March; and the next day, the governor yielding to the exigency of affairs on the frontier, passed both bills.2
Thus was again achieved a victory of the people over the crown on privilege; and one also which was lasting. Henceforward the ministry gave up insisting upon an indefinite support; and in the fall session the assembly had the satisfaction of hearing from the governor himself that the crown had virtually repealed its instructions to Sir Danvers Osborn, which had caused such intense indignation. 3
Although hostilities upon land and sea had been carried on between England and France for the last two years, yet the vacillating and imbecile Newcastle administration had continued to cling, with a tenacity that is really astonishing, to the hope that peace might be established on an amicable footing. On the other hand, the French ministry, scarcely believing that England would dare to hasten a rupture that
1 Manuscript council minutes.
2 Letter to a Nobleman.
would, go endanger her Hanoverian possessions, continued to substantiate by force of arms, the claims of France in America. At length even the English ministry, perceiving that nothing hut the sword would unravel the complications -which had arisen, issued upon the seventeenth of May, a formal declaration of war, which was responded to by France in a counter declaration in June.
As a precursor to avowed hostilities, the Earl of London was appointed commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America, in place of Governor Shirley, who was recalled. At the same time the governorship of Virginia was given to the earl with full power to promote a union of the colonies. The same want of vigor, however, still characterized all the plans of the ministry ; and notwithstanding they had been informed of the plan of this year's campaign, and of the necessity of an early beginning, if it would be successful, yet it was not until late in April that Major General Abercrombie, who was placed second in command, sailed from England with General Webb and two battalions. London, also, infected with the same spirit of procrastination, continued to busy himself about nothing, until the transports, artillery and other munitions of war should be in readiness; finally sailing the latter part of May, leaving them behind.
In the meantime, although it was known in April that Shirley had been superseded in the command of the forces, yet that governor, clinging tenaciously to the semblance of power, arrived in Albany on the seventh of May, and in his usual bustling manner continued his preparations for the ensuing campaign. Having called a council of war on the twenty-fifth, he laid before it the minutes of the council of December last, and proceeded to give his views respecting the manner in which the approaching campaign should be conducted.. Although Shirley was deficient in execution, yet in theory he was generally correct; and the plan which he marked out, and the suggestions which he made, was, it must be confessed, eminently judicious. It was of the greatest importance, he thought that the portages between Schenectady and Oswego, by way of Wood creek, should be protected by forts; and that four companies should be raised to act as scouts along the portages, and thus keep the communication open between Albany and the fort on Lake Ontario. Sir Charles Hardy also laid before his privy council information of the strength of the enemy, lately obtained from a French prisoner taken by Captain Rogers.1 From this, it was deemed impracticable, with the troops at their command, to carry on the expedition against Crown Point and Niagara simultaneously ; and the council therefore recommended that a junction of the troops, destined for each expedition, should be effected, and that all the available force should at once be concentrated upon Crown Point. The council moreover approved of the governor's plan for fortifying the portages between Schenectady and Oswego, and also declared in favor of a fort which, by being located at South Bay, would protect Fort Edward.2
The command of the expedition against Crown Point was entrusted to General Winslow; but that general, upon reviewing all his available troops, found them to he only seven thousand-a force which he declared wholly inadequate to the success of the undertaking. The expedition being thus brought to a stand, until the expected reinforcements from England should enable the troops to march with a prospect of success, Governor Shirley improved this interval by throwing into Schenectady and the different magazines between that place and Oswego, large quantities of provisions; hoping that upon the arrival of reinforcements, he might be able to prevail on his successor to undertake the western expedition. The arrival however, on the twenty-fifth of June, of General Abercrombie with the troops, while it supplied the deficiency of men, soon dissipated any hopes which might have been
1 Manuscript letter: Captain Rogers to Sir William Johnson.
2 Letter to a Nobleman.
raised respecting a vigorous prosecution of the war. Instead of improving the opportunity presented by the preparations of Shirley and the anxiety of the troops to push forward, the newly arrived general, vain of his authority, and anxious to show his contempt for the Provincials, began his American career by sowing discord among the troops. His first act was to announce that all the regular officers were to be over those in the provincial service of the same rank. Nothing could have been better calculated to mar that harmony which was so essential to the success of the enterprise, than such an announcement. Its effects were soon seen. Animosities arose in the army; many of the men deserted; and some of the officers were on the point of throwing up their commissions and retiring from the service. Finally, on being told by General Winslow that any attempt to enforce such an obnoxious rule would be productive of the most disastrous consequences, the general yielded the point; it being agreed that the regulars should remain and do garrison duty in the forts, while the Provincials under their own officers should advance against the enemy.
But it was no part of the general's purpose to advance The little brief authority, with which he had been invested, was too dear to be relinquished so soon. Scarcely-were the difficulties between the regular and provincial officers adjusted, when instead of yielding to the judicious counsel of Shirley, and hastening to Oswego in the boats which the latter had prepared, he ordered his troops to be quartered upon the citizens of Albany. This order at once excited intense disgust. The inhabitants repenting like the doves in the fable, of their ever having sought the protection of the hawk, begged that they might be delivered from such protectors. "Go back again," said the mayor of Albany, in behalf of the citizens, to the troops; " go back, for we can defend our frontiers ourselves." But Abercrombie was not to be shaken from his purpose. The troops, numbering ten thousand men, were billeted upon the inhabitants; and the general, in busy inactivity, frittered away the summer in digging ditches, and building a useless stockade around the city.
Meanwhile an important council was holding at Onondaga between Sir William Johnson and the Confederate and Delaware Indians. Although one of the objects, which the Baronet had in view in calling the council at this time, was to induce as many Indians as possible to join the expedition against the French posts on Lake Ontario, yet his chief one was, to induce the Delawares to lay down the hatchet, which they had taken up against the whites in Pennsylvania.
It has been already seen that the Delawares had begun to waver under the smarting of ancient grievances, and the artful appliances and appeals of the French; and with the fall of General Braddock and the destruction of his army, had revolted in a body and gone over to the common enemy. They were immediately induced to change their relations, by the strong assurances of the latter, that the war was in fact undertaken for the purpose of driving away the English, and restoring the red man once more to the full and entire possession of the country of which he had been robbed.1
The sanguinary war, upon the borders both of Pennsylvania and Virginia, which immediately followed the secession of the Delawares still continued; and if they were "women," in the popular Indian acceptation, before, they wielded no feminine arms in the new attitude, they had so suddenly assumed. Their blows fell thick and fast; their hatchets were red; and their devastations of the frontier settlements were frequent and cruel. The storm was as fearful as it was unexpected to the Pennsylvanians;
1 Chapman. See also an interesting journal of Christian Frederick Post, while on a pacific mission to the Delawares and Shawnees, which has been preserved in the appendix to Proud. Also manuscript letter of Sir William Johnson.
for however much familiarized Virginia and most of the other colonies had become to savage warfare, Pennsylvania, until now, had been comparatively and happily exempt. For more than seventy years a strict amity had existed between the early English settlers and their successors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the breaking forth of the war created the greater consternation on that account.1
It appears that the Quakers,-a people who have at all times manifested a deep solicitude for the welfare of the Indians, and whose benevolent principles and gentle manners have, in all critical emergencies, more than anything else won the red man's confidence-had previously discovered some uneasiness among the Indians, connected with certain land questions, in respect of which they were not quite clear that injustice had not been done their red brethren of the forest. While, therefore, the government was making such preparations as it could for the common defense, great and persevering efforts were made, under the urgent advisement of the Quakers, to win back the friendship of the Delawares, and also that of the Shawnese. It was the opinion of these good people, as has already been intimated, that in their revolt the Delawares had been moved by wrongs, either real or fancied-and if the latter, not the less wrongs to their clouded apprehensions,-in regard to some of their lands. A pacific mission to the Delawares and Shawnese was therefore recommended and strongly urged by them, and the project was acceded to by Governor Morris. Difficulties meantime increased, and the ravages of the frontiers were continued, until the war path flowed with blood. The influence of Sir William Johnson and the Six Nations with the Delawares, was invoked by the Pennsylvanians, and Governor Morris with the governor of New York, added his solicitations to the same purpose.2 The parent government also urged the representatives of the Proprietaries to renew their
2 Governor Hardy to the lords of trade, 10th May, 1756.
Indian negotiations, and if possible arrive at a better understanding with them, by defining explicitly the lands that had been actually purchased.1
It was with a view of influencing the Six Nations to interpose with their dependents, the Delawares, that in the early part of February, the Baronet summoned the Six Nations to a conference at Mount Johnson. The Confederates were at first indisposed to interfere with the affairs of the southern Indians. Their deliberations were, also, according to Indian ceremonial, slow. It was not, therefore, until the end of February, that the influence of the Baronet prevailed; the Six Nations through Red Head, their speaker, solemnly promising to use their utmost endeavors " to put an end" as they expressed it- "to the unhappy proceedings of their nephews and dependents."2
The result was, that several chiefs of the Confederacy, at the urgent solicitation of the Baronet, went as delegates from their people to the Delawares early in the spring. This mission was successful. The Delawares repented, of their conduct, and with the most solemn asseverations promised "never again to hurt the hair of any Englishman ;" proposing at the same time a conference at Onondaga, naming even the day. Fearing, however, that the southern Indians might be dilatory, the Baronet, before setting out, sent a messenger to the Onondaga castle to ascertain if they had been punctual to their engagement. The messenger reported on his return, that a full delegation from the south had not yet arrived, hut brought at the same time such pressing solicitations from the Onondaga sachems to come up and meet them, that Sir William, although in poor health-the consequence of his wound received at Lake George, from which he had not yet recovered-resolved at once to undertake the journey.
Just as the Baronet was upon the point of setting out,
2 Minutes of the council at Mount Johnson, Feb. 1756.
and after he had, as he supposed, arranged everything for an amicable adjustment of all difficulties, he received intelligence that the governor of Pennsylvania had issued a formal declaration of war against the Delawares and Shawnese, and had offered a reward for their scalps. Simultaneously with this news, the Half King and several other chiefs of the Confederates, who had lately visited Philadelphia, accompanied by Colonel Claus and Andrew Montour, at this time Sir William's secretary and interpreter, for the purpose of an amicable settlement with the Delawares, returned to Mount Johnson.l They reported that Governor Morris had acquainted them with his declaration of war, and had given them a war belt to present to the Six Nations in his name, at the same time allowing the Quakers to offer them a peace belt to be also given to their people. These contradictory measures, together with these opposite belts, the Half King reported to Sir William, at a small conference of the Six Nations held at Mount Johnson, expressing his surprise that the same province should authorize such contradictions.2 .
When the Indian relations were in such a critical state, this declaration of war was, on the part of Governor Morris, decidedly ill-advised. The Baronet not having been consulted, and having arranged his plans predicated on an amicable adjustment of difficulties, was at a loss what I course to adopt. The embarrassing situation in which he was placed, is evident from the following extract of a letter written by him, on the receipt of this intelligence, to Governor Shirley:
" Sir Charles Hardy writes me that Governor Morris, by the public prints had declared war against the Delaware and Shawnese Indians. I am surprised that Mr. Morris,
1 Memorial of the Quakers already cited.
2 Johnson to the lords of trade, 28th May, 1756.
whose province was so much interested in the result of the Six Nations' embassy to those Indians, who was a principal in it and to whom I sent a copy of my late proceedings, would not wait to hear the effects of this embassy, before he entered into this consequential measure.
"What will the Delawares and Shawnese think of such opposition and contradiction in our conduct ? How shall I behave at the approaching meeting at Onondaga, not only to those Indians, but to the Six Nations ? These hostile measures which Governor Morris has entered into, is throwing all our schemes into confusion, and must materially give the Six Nations such impressions, and the French such advantages to work against us, that I tremble for the consequences. I think without consulting your excellency, without the concurrence of the other neighboring provinces, without my receiving previous notice of it, this is a very unadvised and unaccountable proceeding of Governor Morris. I cannot but be of opinion that if terms of good accommodation can be brought about, that in the present critical situation of affairs, it will be far more eligible than to enter into hostilities against these Indians, especially as a few days will determine what part we have to choose. I hope your excellency will take this interesting affair into your consideration, and make use of such interposition as you shall judge necessary thereupon."1
On the receipt of this letter, Governor Shirley wrote to the Governor of Pennsylvania, enclosing the letter from which the above extract is taken; and though he was unsuccessful in effecting a withdrawal of the declaration, yet it was so far modified as to include only those "implacable and obstinate enemies, and not against any that now are or hereafter may be disposed to hearken to the Six Nations in our favor."2
In the face of these untoward circumstances, the Baronet
1 Manuscript letter: Johnson to Shirley, 24th April, 1766.
2 Manuscript letter: Richard Peters, by order of the council, to Shirley, 6th May, 1756.
set out on the third of June for the congress at Onondaga, arriving there upon the fifteenth. His arrival was none too early to defeat the machinations of the French. Early in the spring there were indications of a growing disaffection among the Six Nations, arising from the want of vigor which had so characterized the military operations of the English. The wretched condition of the important garrison at Oswego; the thinly garrisoned forts at the great carrying place and Lake George ; and the regiments lying idle at Albany and Schenectady, were all pointed out by the Confederates as indicative of weakness and had management. 1 These manifestations of ill-feeling, the French did not fail to take advantage of; and on the Baronet's arrival at Onondaga, he found his suspicions-that the Confederates were yielding to the arts of the French- fully confirmed. To such an extent had the. disaffection spread, that it required a variety of arguments, and his utmost influence "to expel the French poison and reanimate them to the English interest."2 His efforts, however, were so far successful, that the Six Nations expressed themselves as sincerely disposed to second any vigorous attempts which might, be made against the French. They also engaged to set on foot negotiations among their allies to prevail upon them to unite in favor of the English interest.3 But far the most important result-considering the jealousy which the Indians ever entertained towards any movement tending to a permanent occupation of their land-was their permission to lay out a road to Oswego through their country, and to build a fort at Oswego Falls. The condition, however, upon which the latter favor was obtained was, that in case an accommodation with France should ensue, the fort should either be utterly destroyed or delivered over into the hands of the Six Nations. 4
These important points being gained, the attention of
1 Johnson to the lords of trade, 28th May, 1756.
2 Johnson to the lords of trade, 17th July, 1756.
3 Johnson to the lords of trade last cited.
the Baronet was next turned to effecting a treaty of peace with the Delawares and Shawnese. Owing to his continued ill health, the congress was adjourned on the fifth of July to Mount Johnson ; and on the seventh he again met the chiefs of the Six Nations, together with the kings of the Delaware and Shawnese Indians. During this treaty the Shawnese chieftain denied that either himself or his followers had ever warred upon the Southern provinces though he admitted that some of his nation on the Ohio had been seduced from their allegiance by the French- to which breach of faith, however, he protested that his influence and that of his chief men, had always been opposed. The Delaware king was still more frank in his admissions. He confessed that many of his people had been deceived and caught by the snares of the French, but said that a message which he had sent to them the last winter in consequence of the delegation from the Six Nations, had opened their eyes. He then in the most solemn manner renewed the covenant chain of peace and friendship, and with the Shawnese king accepted the war belt, at the same time singing and dancing the, war song. The treaty was then concluded by Sir William "taking off from the Delawares the petticoat"-or in other words, declaring that, in consideration of the solemn promises which they had made, they were to be henceforward considered by all their English brethren as men and no longer as women. The Baronet having then decorated the necks of the Delaware and Shawnese kings with a medal the council was broken up on the twelfth of July with the favorite, war dance, which lasted the greater portion of the night.1
These pacific dispositions on the part of the Baronet were so far attended with success, that through his influence two Indian councils were held at Easton, in the summer and autumn of this year. The first, however, was so small, that it broke up without proceeding to business. The
1 Minutes of council at Mount Johnson, July 1756.
second, which was holden in November, was more successful, although it appears to have been confined to the Delawares of the Susquehanna-those of that nation who had previously emigrated to the Ohio, and the Shawnese, not being represented. The council was conducted by Governor Denny on the part of the colony, and by Teedyuscung, the Delaware king, on behalf of the Indians; and he appears to have managed his cause with the energy of a man sad the ability of a statesman. If his people had cowered like cravens before the rebukes of the Six Nations, in the council of 1742, their demeanor was far otherwise upon this occasion.1 Having been relieved of the petticoat by Sir William, they had no intention of again resuming it. By joining the Shawnese and the drench, moreover, they had thrown off the vassalage of the Six Nations, and had become an independent as well as a belligerent power, and they now met the pale faces, and a deputation of the Six Nations who were present, with the port and bearing of men.
On being requested by the governor to state the causes of their uneasiness and subsequent hostilities, Teedyuscung enumerated several. Among them were the abuses committed upon the Indians in the prosecution of their trade, being unjustly deprived of portions of their lands; and the execution, long before, in New Jersey, of a Delaware chief, named Wakahelah, for as the Indians alleged, accidentally killing a white man-a transaction which they said they could not forget. When the governor desired
1 At this council, Teedyuscung insisted upon having a secretary of his own selection appointed, to take down the proceedings in behalf of the Indians. The demand was considered extraordinary, and was opposed by Governor Denny. The Delaware chief, however, persisted in his demand, and it was finally acceded to. Teedyuscung therefore appointed Charles Thompson, master of the Free Quaker School in Philadelphia, as the secretary for the Indians. This was the same Charles Thompson who was afterwards secretary to the old congress of the revolution-who was so long continued in that station-and who died in the year 1824, aged 94 years- full of years and honors. The Indians adopted him and gave him a name signifying-" The Man of Truth."
specifications of the alleged wrongs in regard to their lands, Teedyuscung replied:-" I have not far to go for an instance. This very ground that is under me, (striking it with his foot,) was my land and inheritance; and is taken from me by fraud. When I say this ground, I mean all the land lying between Tohiccon creek and Wyoming, on the river Susquehanna. I have not only been served so in this government, but the same thing has been done to me as to several tracts in New Jersey, over the river." When asked what he meant by fraud, Teedyuscung gave him instances of forged deeds, under which lands were claimed which the Indians had never sold. "This," said he, "is fraud." " Also, when one chief has land beyond the river, and another chief has land on this side, both bounded by rivers, mountains and springs, which cannot be moved, and the Proprietaries, ready to purchase lands, buy of one chief what belongs to another. This likewise is fraud." He said the Delawares had never been satisfied with the conduct of the latter since the treaties of 1737, when their fathers sold them the lands on the Delaware. He said that although the land sold was to have gone only "as far as a man could go in a day and a half from Nashamony creek," yet the person who measured the ground did not walk but ran. He was, moreover, as they supposed, to follow the winding bank of the river, whereas he went in a straight line. And because the Indians had been unwilling to give up the land as far as the walk extended, the governor then having the command of the English, sent for their cousins the Six Nations, who had always been hard masters to them, to come down and drive them from their land. When the Six Nations came down, the Delawares met them at a great treaty held at the governor's house in Philadelphia, for the purpose of explaining why they did not give up the land; but the English made so many presents to the Six Nations, that their ears were stopped. They would listen to no explanation; and Canasateego had moreover abused them, and called them women. The Six Nations had, however, given to them and the Shawnese, the lands upon the Susquehanna and Juniata for hunting grounds, and had so informed the governor; but notwithstanding this, the whites were allowed to go and settle upon those lands. Two years ago, moreover, the governor had been to Albany to buy some land of the Six Nations,1 and had described their purchase by points of compass, which the Indians did not understand, including lands both upon the Juniata and the Susquehanna, which they did not intend to sell. "When all these things were known to the Indians, they declared they would no longer be friends to the English, who were trying to get all their country away from them. He however assured the council that they were nevertheless glad to meet their old friends the English again, and to smoke the pipe of peace with them. He also hoped that justice would be done to them for all the injuries they had received.2
The council continued nine days, and Governor Denny appears to have conducted himself with so much tact and judgment, as greatly to conciliate the good will of the Indians. By his candid and ingenuous treatment of them, as some of the Mohawks afterwards expressed it, "he put his hand into Teedyuscung's bosom, and was so successful as to draw out the secret, which neither Sir William Johnson nor the Six Nations could do."3 The result was a reconciliation of the Delawares of the Susquehanna with the English and a treaty of peace, upon the basis that Teedyuscung and his people were to be allowed to remain upon the Wyoming lands, and that houses were to be built for them by the Proprietaries.4 Teedyuscung and a deputation
1 Alluding to the grand congress of 1754.
2 Manuscript minutes of the council certified to by Richard Peters, in the author's possession. Chapman has also been followed, who has given the most particular account of this council with which I have met. He, however, mistook in supposing it to be a general council, and that the Ohio Indians were included in the peace.
3 Memorial of the Quakers to Governor Denny.
4 Journal of Christian Frederick Post-note by Proud.
of his chief men, were moreover to attend Sir William's council fire and communicate everything in order "to obtain confirmation and take advice as to their future conduct." There were, however several matters left unadjusted, although the governor desired that every difficulty should then be discussed, and every cause of complaint, as far as he possessed the power, be removed. But Teedyuscung replied that he was not empowered, at the present time, to adjust several of the questions of grievance that had been raised, nor were all the parties interested, properly represented in the council. He therefore proposed the holding of another council in the following spring at Lancaster. This proposition was acceded to; and many Indians collected at the time and place appointed. Sir William Johnson dispatched a deputation of the Six Nations thither, under the charge of Colonel Croghan, the Deputy Superintendent of the Indians ; but for some reason unexplained, neither Teedyuscung nor the Delawares from Wyoming attended the council, though of his own appointment. Colonel Croghan wrote to Sir William, however, that the meeting was productive of great good in checking the war upon the frontier; and in a speech to the latter delivered by the Senecas in June following, they claimed the credit, by their mediation, of the partial peace that had been obtained. The conduct of Teedyuscnng on that occasion was severely censured by Sir William in a speech to the Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas ; and the latter were charged by the Baronet to take the subject in hand, and "talk to him," and should they find him in fault, "make him sensible of it."'
While Abercrombie was loitering in shameful idleness at Albany, a brilliant exploit had been performed by Colonel Bradstreet. The latter, weary of the inactivity which characterized every department of military operations, set out at the end of spring with forty companies of bateaumen
1 Manuscripts of Sir William Johnson.
and two hundred provincial troops, for the relief of Oswego. Appreciating fully the importance of that post, the French, under De Villiers, had encamped, near the end of May, at the mouth of Sandy creek, on the shore of Lake Ontario, whence detachments could be sent out to infest the portages and water passes leading to the fort. In the face, however, of all these obstacles, Bradstreet with his men penetrated amid innumerable hardships the wilderness, and safely passing down Oneida lake and Oswego river, threw into the fort six months provision for five thousand men. Hearing that an ambush had been prepared for him on his return, with the cautiousness which was to him a second nature, he divided his forces into three companies, and ordered them to keep together as near as practicable. The result proved the wisdom of these precautions ; for scarcely had he advanced up the Oswego river nine miles, when on the third of July he was attacked at the head of the first division of three hundred men, by the enemy nine hundred strong, who suddenly rising from their cover, poured their fire into his front. Although the attack was as unexpected at the moment as it was well-concerted, yet Colonel Bradstreet's presence of mind did not desert him. Hastening with six men to an island near at hand to prevent his being galled by a cross fire, he not only maintained his ground against four times his number, but being reinforced shortly after by six more, compelled an additional force of forty of the enemy to retire in great disorder. A third party of seventy men were also forced to retreat, gnashing their teeth in impotent fury at being thus baffled by such a handful of men. In this manner the colonel kept the enemy at bay for more than an hour, until the boatmen, who were in the rear, had landed in good order, without the loss of a man. Four hundred French and Indians were now seen attempting to ford the river a mile above, with the intention of surrounding the party. Anticipating this movement, the colonel leaving the island, marched up the river and ordering two of his captains to protect the bateau men in the rear, attacked the French with such fury, as to compel them to leave a thick pine swamp, in which they had ambushed, and fly in the greatest confusion. The victory was complete; those of the enemy who did not escape to the forest, being either drowned or slain by the sword.
Having learned from some of his prisoners that a large force was already on its way to invest Oswego, Colonel Bradstreet lost no time in hastening to Albany, where he reported himself to General Abercrombie on the thirteenth of July. It was in vain, however, that he informed the latter of the contemplated attack upon Oswego, and represented, in view of the weak condition of its garrison, the importance of its immediate reinforcement. To no purpose was it that Sir William Johnson told him that even his influence with the Confederates would be of no avail, should the army remain inactive and Oswego be lost. The general contented himself with merely ordering General Webb to hold himself in readiness to march with one regiment ; and dismissing four hundred of the bateau men to their homes, refused to move until the arrival of Lord Loudoun.
While a council of war was sitting at the great carrying place to answer an important question propounded by General Abercrombie,-" what effect a junction of the king's troops, in the campaign against Crown Point, would have upon his majesty's service," 1 Captain Rogers had performed a splendid feat upon Lake Champlain-a feat which if not as brilliant as Colonel Bradstreet's, fully equals it in romantic and daring courage.
On the twenty-eighth of June, that renowned, ranger embarked, with fifty men in five whaleboats, from the head of Lake George, and lauded on one of the picturesque.
1 Manuscript letter; Surgeon Williams to his wife; dated at Fort Edward. "It appears to me that the settling ranks among ourselves may (if gone into according to some gentlemen's minds) be campaign enough for one year"- Manuscript letter just cited.
islands that adorn that lake. The next day his men landed their boats some five miles distant from the island, and carrying them six miles over a mountain, reembarked on Lake Champlain in South bay. Passing down the lake, reconnoitering as they went, rowing by night and lying concealed by day, they successively passed Ticonderoga and Crown Point-sailing down some thirty miles below the latter fort. While hiding during the day, many boats -sometimes a hundred at a time-and two large schooners passed their concealment, some of the boats sailing so near that they could distinctly hear the orders given by the officers in command.
On the evening of the seventh of July, the scouts whom Captain Rogers had sent out for a reconnoisance, reported that a schooner was lying at anchor a mile below their place of ambush. The rangers immediately lightened their boats and were preparing to board her, when two lighters manned by twelve men, were descried coming up the lake. "Waiting until they had approached sufficiently near to the shore, the rangers suddenly showed themselves and fired, at the same time hailing the crews and offering quarter. Without responding to this offer, the boatmen, hastily turning their prows toward the opposite shore, attempted to escape. In this movement, however, the rangers anticipated them; for leaping into their light whale-boats, they gave chase, and soon captured the vessels, killing three of the crew and wounding two, one of whom shortly after died of his wounds. Not one escaped to carry tidings. The vessels with their cargoes were then sunk, the latter consisting chiefly of grain, wine and brandy. By this daring achievement in the very heart of the enemy's country, the garrison of Crown Point were deprived of eight hundred bushels of flour, and a large quantity of money. The destruction of the cargoes being completed, the brave ranger and his equally gallant band, drew up their whale-boats on the shore, and concealing them in the brush-wood, marched through the woods on the west side of the lake, reaching Fort William Henry with their prisoners on the fifteenth of July.
The arrival of the viceroy on the twenty-ninth of July at Albany, caused the blood in many a provincial heart to course more rapidly with high expectation ; for now surely their "wearisome uncertainty" was at an end? Not so. The narrow mind of Loudoun refused to grasp the exigencies of the occasion. What mattered it to him that the frontiers of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York were desolated by the tomahawk, or that Oswego was lost or saved, if the rules of military punctilio had been violated? "While, therefore, the garrison in the lone fortress on the wilderness shore "was straining its vision inland for the expected succor, or in despair, saw the sails of the enemy approaching nearer and nearer, Loudoun had called the New England officers into his presence, and gravely demanded if they and their men were willing to act with the regulars, and to submit to the king's commander-in-chief, as his majesty had directed.l To this ill-timed question, the New England officers, with a noble appreciation of the critical state of affairs, answered that they would cheerfully obey his lordship, and act in harmony with his majesty's forces; at the same time, as their men had enlisted under the express stipulation of being commanded solely by their own officers, they begged that he would allow them to act separately " so far," at least, "might be consistent with his majesty's service."2 To this, the viceroy acceded, and harmony was again restored. Preparations were accordingly begun-certainly to reinforce Oswego ? By no means, but for a descent upon Ticonderoga and Grown Point! General Winslow was therefore sent on with a large body of Provincials to occupy Forts Edward and William Henry as a preparatory step;
1 Rogers's journal: Manuscript letters of Surgeon
Williams to his wife.
and the heavy artillery was already on its way to the carrying-place, when suddenly intelligence was received disconcerting all of these plans.
On the tenth of August the Marquis de Montcalm, who had succeeded Baron Dieskau in the command of the French forces in America, invested Oswego. Having closed the harbor with two large vessels of war, and cut off by means of a large body of Canadians, all communication with Albany, the general opened his trenches upon Fort Ontario, at midnight of the twelfth. The fire was returned by the garrison with spirit until evening of the following day, when having exhausted their shells and ammunition, they spiked their guns and retreated across o the river into the old fort. Notwithstanding the deserted fort was reported to he mined, yet such was the enthusiasm of the French, soldiers, that they immediately rushed into it and turned the guns that were yet serviceable against Fort Oswego, on the opposite bank of the river. Colonel Mercer, the commander, a man of courage and experience, was killed on the thirteenth, by a cannon ball, and shortly after, under the well-directed fire of the French, a breach was effected in the wall. The commander being now killed, and the fort without a cover, the garrison, who had become greatly demoralized, refused to fight longer,l and having demanded terms of capitulation, surrendered themselves prisoners of war just as Montcalm was on the point of storming the entrenchments.
Hardly had the garrison surrendered, when the French
Indians, exasperated by the loss of some of their braves, uttered terrific yells, and with the tomahawk and knife were about to fall upon the unarmed prisoners. The horrible butchery that would have ensued was, however, happily prevented by the prompt action of Montcalm, who, to his honor be it written, ordered out a file of his men, and commanded
1 Manuscript deposition-taken before Sir William Johnson-of John Walker and Samuel Lamb, both of whom succeeded in making their escape from Canada.
them to fire upon his red allies. Six of the savages fell dead on the spot, and the remainder, muttering threats of vengeance, sulkily put up their knives, and skulked hack to their quarters.1 The garrison, composed of Shirley's and Pepperell's regiments, and numbering sixteen hundred men-Were, according to the terms of the surrender, conveyed safely to Montreal, together with the large stores of provisions and ammunition that had fallen into the hands of the victors.
With consummate policy, the French general, to conciliate the Six Nations, by whom the erection of these forts had been always regarded with jealousy, leveled both fortresses to the ground, and "left Oswego a solitude," unbroken, save by the hooting of the owl or the scream of the panther.
Sir William Johnson was in Albany when the news arrived on the twentieth of August of the investment of Oswego. On the receipt of this intelligence, he was immediately sent by Loudoun with two battalions of militia and three hundred Indians, to the German Flats,2 to support General Webb, who had started from Albany for the relief of the garrison two days before its surrender. It was too late, however, to render any assistance. The rumor of the capture reached Webb at the Oneida carrying place; and such was the terror which it excited in that poltroon, that fancying he already beheld his own scalp dangling from the waist of some brawny savage, he caused some trees to be hastily felled and thrown into Wood creek, and, with his regiment, fled in the wildest consternation to the German Flats3-at the same time that the enemy, anticipating
1 Manuscript deposition of John Viele, of Schenectady, who was present at the capture-taken before Sir William Johnson at Mt. Johnson 13th October, 1756. This seems to sustain the view taken by Lord Loudoun in his letter to J. Osborne, 18th September, 1756, in which the writer considers the rumor of the massacre at Oswego without foundation.
2 Manuscript letter: Loudoun to Johnson, 26th August, 1756.
3 Manuscript letter: Loudoun to Johnson, 2d September, 1756.
a similar visitation from him, were taking the same precautions to prevent his advance.
The fall of Oswego, instead of rousing Loudoun to a vigorous prosecution of the campaign-especially, as with the force at his command, he could easily have penetrated into the very heart of Canada-caused him to abandon any offensive operations which he might have contemplated. He therefore contented himself with visiting Forts Edward and William Henry; and after giving General Winslow strict ordera to act only on the defensive, he left Webb with fourteen hundred men at the carrying-place, and returned to Albany, to dismiss the Provincials to their firesides and the regulars into winter quarters.
But if Lord Loudoun was not to win laurels upon the battlefield, he was destined to an unenviable distinction in New York. On his arrival in that city in December, he insisted that his officers should have free quarters upon the city. The citizens, who saw in this an attempt to burden them with a standing army, became excited, and warmly pleaded their rights as Englishmen. The viceroy was not to be moved. Six men were billeted upon Oliver De Lancey. The latter threatened, if they were not removed, to leave the country. "I shall be glad of it," replied his lordship, at the same time quartering half a dozen more upon him, " for then the troops will have the whole house."1 The corporation insisted that free quarters
l "Sir William Johnson.
Sir Am just now informed that 2400 men are arrived at New York. My lord set a billeting them and sent only six to his old acquaintance Mr. Ol. De Lancey ; he zounzed and blood and ounz'd at the soldiers, this was told my lord, he sent Mr. Ol. half a dozen more; he sent my lord word if matters were to go so he would leave the country : My lord sent him word he would be glad of it, then the troops would have the whole house. I really thought this so extraordinary, I must communicate it to you:
" I am
"Your most obed't
"January 15th 1757." - Manuscript letter.
were against the common law, and the petition of rights "God damn my blood," exclaimed Loudoun to Mayor Cruger, who presented the opinion of the corporation, " if you do not billet my officers upon free quarters this day, I'll order all the troops in North America under my command, and billet them myself upon this city." All argument being thus at an end, a subscription was raised for the quartering of the officers ; and Loudoun having rendered himself an object of detestation, went to Boston to breathe the same threats, and to talk of the vigor which was to characterize the next year's campaign.
to James F. Morrison for loaning his book for the purpose of putting it on
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