1757 - French expedition against Fort William Henry

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1757 - French expedition against Fort William Henry

The campaign lasted from July to August 1757


The French expedition of the previous winter against Fort William Henry had deprived the British from all the flotilla which they intended to use to invade Canada. The French could now consider an offensive action in the area of Lake Saint-Sacrement (present-day Lake George) at the beginning of the Spring.

In March, during the French raid, a relief force (1 coy of the 35th Otway's Foot, 1 coy of the 42nd Highlanders, 2 coys of the 44th Abercromby's Foot and two coys of the 48th Dunbar's Foot) had been sent in the direction of Fort William Henry. However, it had turned back when the French raid was driven off.

On March 27, Lieutenant-Colonel George Monro arrived at Fort William Henry with a force consisting of 5 coys of the 35th Otway's Foot. This new contingent replaced the former garrison (5 or 6 coys of the 44th Abercromby's Foot).


French preparations

On April 25, 10 Iroquois, and some Odawa and Potawatomi warriors left Montréal to raid the region of Fort William Henry.

On May 5, a few Potawatomi warriors, who had wintered at Montréal, left for Détroit.

On May 8, M. de Bourlamaque left Montréal for Saint-Jean.

On May 9, II./Royal Roussillon set off from its winter-quarters for Saint-Jean where Bourlamaque was assembling his force to go to Fort Carillon (present-day Ticonderoga).

On May 10, Bourlamaque with the II./Royal Roussillon embarked at Saint-Jean for Fort Carillon.

On May 12, the II./La Sarre left for Saint-Jean to put this fort in condition for defence.

On May 13, Bourlamaque reached Fort Carillon where he was informed by prisoners captured near Fort Edward that British troops were idle on Lake George while troops destined for an amphibious expedition were assembling at New York. The same day, the II./Guyenne Infanterie left Québec to camp at Sainte-Thérèse. The II./La Reine replace it at Québec. The II./Languedoc was still posted at Montréal.

On May 14, II./Royal Roussillon arrived at Fort Carillon.

On May 15, 400 Canadiens arrived at Montréal, on their way to the Ohio.

On May 16, Bourlamaque put his troops to work to improve the entrenchments around Carillon. The same day, 8 coys of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine joined Bourlamaque's forces.

On May 17, a British party of 24 men reconnoitred towards Carillon and captured a carpenter. Bourlamaque sent three detachments in pursuit and the British abandoned their prisoner and fled.

On May 18, Oneida warriors, who had been sent as ambassadors to the Iroquois Confederacy, returned and met with representatives of the Iroquois of Canada, begging not to carry war in their territories.

On May 20, II./ Béarn Infanterie arrived at Fort Carillon. Bourlamaque was now at the head of 1,400 men with enough provisions for three months. He also had provisions at Saint-Jean for 1,000 men for three months. The same day at Montréal, Vaudreuil exhorted the Oneida people to join the French alliance mentioning that he could not guarantee that war would not spread to their territories.

On May 22, 30 Mississauga warriors led by Chief Minabonjou arrived at Montréal.

By June, the best British and colonial troops had been drawn from the frontier to take part to Loudoun's expedition against Louisbourg. Nevertheless, Webb still commanded some 2,400 British regulars and about 4,600 Provincials in the Province of New York.

However, unknown to the British, a huge expedition was being prepared by the French against Fort William Henry. Despite the food shortage in Nouvelle-France, the French had gathered enough provisions in Montréal and along the Richelieu River to feed 8,000 men for 40 days. Nearly 1,000 Native American warriors were already encamped in Montréal. About 800 Iroquois of Canada from Deux-Montagnes and Sault-Saint-Louis were also being mustered.

At the beginning of June, the inhabitants of Québec were on a bread ration, eagerly waiting for the arrival of supply ships from France.

On June 7, alarm was given in Bourlamaque's camp and 12 barges were seen leaving the shore.

By June 10, there were three merchant ships (the David and the Jason from Bordeaux, and another ship from the West Indies) in the Saint-Laurent River, heading for Québec. They transported 160 recruits from the Volontaires Étrangers, 1,000 quarters of flour and 1,000 quarter of salt pork.

On June 12, many Mississauga and Odawa warriors arrived at Montréal.

On June 13, 300 Native American warriors arrived at Montréal from Michilimackinac. A fourth merchant ship was reported near Québec. A reinforcement of 3,000 men was also on its way from France. It consisted of 10 additional coys, each of 65 men, for the Compagnies Franches de la Marine, along with recruits to complete the other coys; 8 coys to replace those captured at sea in 1756 (for II./La Reine and II./Languedoc), and enough recruits to bring all coys of the 6 regular bns to a strength of 50 to 55 men.

On June 14, some Odawa warriors from Saginaw and some Chippewa and Mississauga warriors arrived at Montréal. The same day, the Saint-Antoine arrived in the harbour of Québec.

By June 16, the David and the Jason had reached Québec with their 160 recruits, while three others ships were in the Saint-Laurent River. Furthermore, a vessel transporting 120 Acadiens arrived at Québec from Miramichi.

On June 19, the Marquis de Montcalm set off from Montréal to inspect the camps at Chambly, Sainte-Thérèse and Saint-Jean. The same day, 50 Odawa warriors arrived at Montréal.

On June 21, 200 men of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine arrived at Carillon.

On June 24, II./Languedoc left Montréal for a camp located between La Prairie and Saint-Jean.

At the beginning of July, two vessels arrived at Québec with 400 recruits, 6 officers and 20 men of the Corps Royal de l'Artillerie.

On July 1, II./La Reine Infanterie left Saint-Jean for Carillon.

On July 2, II./La Sarre Infanterie left Saint-Jean for Carillon.

On July 3, the Chevalier de Lévis left Montréal for Saint-Jean on the Richelieu where the French army was assembling. Meanwhile, Canadiens and Native American warriors were moving by detachments up Lake Champlain. Daily, fleets of bateaux and canoes brought these forces to Fort Carillon.

On July 4, Lévis left Saint-Jean for Carillon with II./Languedoc Infanterie.

On July 6, II./La Reine Infanterie and II./La Sarre Infanterie arrived at Carillon. The same day, II./Guyenne Infanterie left Saint-Jean for Carillon.

On July 7, Lévis arrived at Carillon with the grenadiers of II./Languedoc Infanterie. He immediately assumed command.

On July 8, II./Languedoc Infanterie arrived at Carillon. Lévis's force (4 bns) encamped at the fall near Carillon while Bourlamaque's Corps (2 bns) remained at Carillon.

On July 9, Lévis's 4 battalions opened a portage road for the passage of artillery and bateaux between the fall and Lake Saint-Sacrement.

On July 10, Lévis sent a party of 100 Canadiens and Native American warriors under Langy to reconnoitre the north shore of Lake Saint-Sacrement. The same day, 200 Canadiens arrived at Carillon.

On July 11, M. De Vergon arrived at Carillon at the head of 176 men of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine and M. De Bailleul with 299 Canadiens.

Since the Canadiens had to return home for the harvests and Native Americans of the West had to return to their villages before winter, the entire expedition had to be completed by the end of August. Therefore, preparations of the French army were urged on with the utmost energy.

On July 12, the portage road was completed. Provisions, camp equipage, ammunition, cannon, and bateaux were dragged by gangs of men up the road from the camp of Lévis to the head of the rapids. Troops were transferred to Lake Saint-Sacrement at night so that the portage road could be used freely during the day for the transportation of material and equipment. The same day, M. Marin arrived with 400 Native American warriors and M. de Cabanac with 111 Canadiens.

On July 13, M. de Laparguère arrived at Carillon with 400 men of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine.

By mid-July, there was a shortage of bread in Québec and the provisions brought by ships had already been consumed.

On July 15, Lévis sent out Marin with his 400 Native American warriors, 150 Canadiens and 300 other men to reconnoitre Fort Edward and to screen the French manoeuvres at the portage to Lake Saint-Sacrement. The same day, 900 men (Canadiens and soldiers of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine) arrived at Carillon.

On July 18, the Marquis de Montcalm and Rigaud de Vaudreuil (a brother of Governor Vaudreuil) arrived at Carillon with 300 Native American warriors and the rest of the Compagnies Franches de la Marine. The latter were converged into a single battalion for the purpose of this campaign. Militia were also organised into brigades. Additional war-parties were sent out to screen the French army. II./Royal Roussillon Infanterie and II./Béarn Infanterie were encamped below Fort Carillon under Bourlamaque. Lévis occupied the Falls with II./La Reine Infanterie, II./La Sarre Infanterie, II./Guyenne Infanterie and II./Languedoc Infanterie. Rigaud commanded the Compagnies Franches de la Marine and the Canadiens at the portage road and at the outposts.

On July 19 at 4:00 p.m., approx. 350 men of the Milice du district de Montréal and a few hundred Native American warriors (including 80 Potawatomis) arrived at Carillon. By that date, 160 bateaux had already been transported to Lake Saint-Sacrement.

On July 20, Dumas formed the militia into brigades and organised one battalion of Compagnies Franches de la Marine.

By July 20, the whole French force was gathered at Carillon. It totalled about 8,000 men and consisted of:

  • Regular Troops
  • Artillery (6 officers and 120 canoneers and bombardiers and 60 workmen) under Le Mercier
  • Engineers (M. de Fontbrune and M. de Lotbinière)
  • Militia under Rigaud de Vaudreuil
    • La Corne (1 bn for a total of 411 men)
    • Vassan (1 bn for a total of 445 men)
    • Repentigny (1 bn for a total of 432 men)
    • Courtemanche (1 bn for a total of 473 men)
    • Saint-Ours (1 bn for a total of 461 men)
    • Gaspé (1 bn for a total of 424 men)
    • Volontaires de Villiers (about 300 men)
  • Native American Allies (1,796 men) under Saint-Luc de la Corne assisted by French or Canadien officers
    • Laplante's Brigade
      • Second in command: Lorimier
      • Interprets: Saint-Jean and Guillory
      • Sauteux aka Chippewas from Lake Superior (166 men)
      • Mississaugas from the region of Lakes Erie and Huron (157 men)
    • Marin's Brigade
      • Second in command: Levreau-Langy
      • Interprets: Réaume and Detailly
      • Renards aka Fox from Wisconsin (20 men)
      • Sakis aka Sauks from Wisconsin (33 men)
      • Puants aka Winnebagos from Wisconsin (44 men)
      • Ayowois aka Iowas from the banks of the Des Moines River (10 men)
      • Folles-Avoines aka Menominees from Lake Michigan (129 men)
      • Potawatomis from Lake Michigan (90 men)
    • Langlade's Brigade
      • Second in command: Florimond and Herbin
      • Interprets: Farly and La Déroute
      • Odawas of 7 distinct bands (283 men) under Chief Pennahouel
    • Longueuil's Brigade
      • Second in command: Sabrevoix
      • Interprets: Perthuis
      • Hurons of Lorette (26 men)
      • Hurons of Détroit (26 men)
      • Iroquois from Sault-Saint-Louis (258 men)
      • Iroquois from Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes (81 men)
    • Chevalier de Niverville's Brigade
      • Second in command: n/a
      • Interprets: Chatavieux
      • Abenakis of Saint-François, Bécancour and Missisiquoi (245 men)
      • Malecite from Acadia (56 men)
    • Langy de Montégron's Brigade (93 men)
      • Second in command: n/a
      • Interprets: Joson Saint-Germain
      • Nipisings of Lake Nipissing under Chief Kikensick
      • Algonquins of Trois-Rivières and Deux-Montagnes
    • Belaitre's Brigade

On July 22, part of Marin's detachment returned from it reconnaissance, reporting that there had been a skirmish and that Marin had continued his advance towards the British forts. The same day around 11:00 M. de Niverville and Father Roubaud arrived at Carillon with 156 Abenakis; and M. de Saint-Luc with 46 Algonquins, 53 Nipisings, 50 Iroquois and 8 Chippewas.

Skirmishes between scouting parties

On July 23 around 8:00 a.m., Marin with 150 men arrived in the vicinity of Fort Edward where he bumped into a patrol of 10 men about 1 km from, who were killed. Marin then advanced up to Fort Edward, where he drove back the pickets who had tried to come to the rescue of the patrol and fusilladed for half an hour before retiring to his bateaux on the Chicot River (present-day Wood Creek). In this action, the British lost 11 men killed and 4 wounded; the French, 1 Canadien killed and 5 Native American warriors wounded.

Still the same day (July 23), 15 grenadiers of Guyenne Infanterie were surprised at the fall near Carillon by a party of Native American warriors allied to the British. Two grenadiers were killed and scalped and 2 wounded. Lévis ordered M. de Rigaud to send out 2 parties to try to cut the retreat to the enemies. One of these parties was under the command of M. de Villiers, the other under M. de Corbières (assisted by Langlade and Hertel de Saint-François). At nightfall, the latter party spotted several whale boats on Lake Saint-Sacrement. Seeing this, Corbières sent Native American messengers to the camp at the portage. Some 500 Allied Native American warriors and 50 Canadiens immediately left the camp and joined Corbières on the shores of Lake Saint-Sacrement. The same day, a detachment of the Corps Royal de l'Artillerie (6 officers and 20 gunners and bombardiers), who had sailed from France in May, arrived at Carillon.

In the night of July 23 to 24, Corbières hid the canoes on the shore and prepared an ambush.

On July 24

  • Engagement near Sabbath Day Point
    • A daybreak, the British party (a detachment of 5 captains, 4 lieutenants and 350 Provincials, chiefly New Jersey Provincials under command of Colonel Parker) reembarked aboard its 22 barges and resumed its advance to reconnoitre the French position at the fall, totally unaware of the concentration of French troops at the camp near this same fall. The British reached Sabbath Day Point on the western shore of Lac Saint-Sacrement. Parker had divided his force and three of his boats fell into the snare and were captured without a shot. Three others followed and shared the fate of the first. When the rest drew near, they were greeted by a deadly volley from the thickets, and a swarm of canoes darted out upon them. The men were seized with such a panic that some of them jumped into the water to escape, while the Native American warriors leaped after them and speared them with their lances. The Native American warriors captured or drowned most of them. Parker along with the 70 men in the three trailing whale boats escaped the ambush. He had lost nearly 100 men killed and 160 taken prisoners. The French had only 3 Native American warriors and a cadet wounded.
  • French
    • M. Perthuis arrived at Carillon with 277 Mission Iroquois, 4 Oneidas, 5 Delawares, 52 Hurons of Lorette, 58 Amalecites and 11 Abenakis.
    • Marin returned to Carillon, reporting that the end of the bay was unoccupied and that there were some 4,500 militia at Fort Edward.

On July 25

  • French
  • British
    • General Webb, who had his headquarters at Fort Edward some 22 km further south, made a visit to Fort William Henry, examined the place, gave some orders.

On July 26, Montcalm sent the prisoners captured by Native American warriors near Sabbath Day Point to Montréal under escort.

On July 27, Montcalm held a great council and gave a necklace of 6,000 beads to seal his alliance with all Native American nations who agreed not to separate nor to leave the expedition before the end of it.

The French expedition begins

On July 29

  • French
    • Some 200 Mississaugas and Odawas deserted from the French camp near Carillon.
    • The division destined to the land expedition was assembled at the old camp of M. de Contrecoeur. This division (about 2,070 men) was placed under the command of Lévis seconded by M. de Sénézergue, lieutenant-colonel of La Sarre Infanterie, and consisted of:
      • French regulars
        • Grenadiers (6 coys of 45 men each for a total of 270 men)
        • Piquets (6 piquets for a total of 300 men)
      • Troupes de la Marine (2 piquets for a total of 100 men)
      • Milices Canadiennes (3 brigades)
        • La Corne’s Brigade (311 men)
        • Vassan’s Brigade (345 men)
        • Repentigny’s Brigade (332 men)
      • Volontaires de Villiers (300 men)
      • Native American warriors (800 men)
  • British
    • General Webb returned to Fort Edward where he had some 2,600 men, mostly Provincials.

On July 30

  • French
    • At 4:00 a.m., the Chevalier de Lévis left without tents or baggage with his corps for Ganaouské Bay (near present-day Hague) which is located at some 22 km from Fort William Henry. The corps marched southward by the side of Lake Champlain, guided by the Iroquois Kanectagon, the most famous hunter of this nation. Lévis sent the Native American warriors and Villiers's volunteers in the vanguard. They were followed by his grenadiers and piquets. The 3 Canadien brigades formed the rearguard.
    • At 10:00 a.m., Lévis halted after crossing the steep gorge of Montagne Pelée (present-day Rogers Rock). The country being now more opened, he reformed his detachment into 3 columns always preceded by the Native American warriors and Villiers's volunteers. The right column consisted of the piquets and 2 Canadien brigades, the central column of the grenadiers and the leftmost of 2 Canadien brigades. Lévis then resumed his march until 4:00 p.m. and encamped by a stream after advancing some 18 km during the day.

On July 31

  • French
    • Lévis’s column
      • Lévis sent M. Wolf (a Canadien partisan, not to be confused with the British General James Wolfe) with 19 Canadiens to inform Montcalm of his movements.
      • At 4:00 a.m., Lévis resumed his advance in the same order as the previous day.
      • At 3:00 p.m., Lévis reached his assigned post after a march of 18 km that excessive heat, mountainous country, fallen trees and the necessity to carry everything, had made tiresome even for the Native American warriors.
      • Lévis's Corps then encamped by a stream flowing into Ganaouské Bay while Lévis sent scouts to reconnoitre the way for the next day.
    • Montcalm’s column
      • 2 milita brigades and 4 light coys passed over the portage.
      • Meanwhile, 245 bateaux were assigned and provisions distributed to the unit's of Montcalm's column:
        • 115 bateaux for the artillery, Royal Roussillon and Béarn
        • 32 bateaux for provisions and Gaspé's militia brigade
        • 3 bateaux for the field hospital
        • 7 bateaux for the headquarters and staff
        • 42 bateaux for La Reine, Languedoc and the Compagnies Franches de la Marine
        • 30 bateaux for La Sarre and Guyenne
        • 16 bateaux fro Courtemanche's militia brigade

During the night of July 31 to August 1, the artillery along with 250 small boats and 200 canoes were portaged from Carillon to Lake Saint-Sacrement. The Native American warriors went ahead on Lake Saint-Sacrement in 150 canoes, accompanied by 300 Canadiens belonging to the 3 militia brigade who had been attached to Lévis' column. They reached a location 12 km ahead on Lake Saint-Sacrement where they waited for Montcalm.

On August 1

  • French
    • Lévis’s column
      • Lévis's detachment departed at 4:00 a.m. as usual, first fording the stream then climbing two mountains before arriving on the shores of Ganaouské Bay at 10:00 a.m. where it halted.
      • March resumed at noon until 2:00 p.m. when the whole detachment encamped at the entry of the bay, its assigned point of rendezvous some 15 km from Fort William Henry.
      • At 10:00 p.m., Lévis ordered to kindle 3 fires on the bank of the river as a signal to Montcalm.
    • Montcalm’s column
      • At 2:00 p.m., leaving a detachment of about 400 men to hold Fort Carillon, Montcalm embarked on Lake Saint-Sacrement at the Burned Camp with all his remaining force.
      • At 5:00 p.m., they reached their rendezvous with the Native American warriors who embarked in their canoes and joined the French flotilla. A multitude of canoes led the way while 250 bateaux followed with the II./La Reine and II./Languedoc first, then the Compagnies Franches de la Marine, then II./La Sarre and II./Guyenne, then the Canadien brigade of Courtemanche, then the guns and mortars escorted by the militia of Saint-Ours, then II./Béarn and II./Royal Roussillon, then the Canadiens of Gaspé with the provision-bateaux and the field-hospital, and a rear guard of regulars. They passed the Narrows in mist and darkness.
  • British
    • Webb wrote to the governor of New York, telling him that the French were certainly coming and begging him to send up the militia. He then sent up a detachment of 200 regulars under Lieutenant-Colonel Young and 800 Massachusetts Provincials under Colonel Fyre with 6 additional guns (including 2 brass 12-pdrs) to reinforce Fort William Henry. This raised the force at the lake to 2,200 men, including sailors and mechanics, and reduced that of Webb to 1,600, besides 3,000 men distributed at Albany and other forts across New York and southern New England.

On August 2

  • French
    • Montcalm’s column
      • At 0:30 a.m., Montcalm's flotilla rounded the high promontory of Tongue Mountain. They saw, the fires kindled by Lévis far on the right at Ganaouské Bay. Montcalm’s army immediately started disembarkation at Lévis's camp, Montcalm himself arriving at 3:00 a.m.
      • At noon, Montcalm’s Army re-embarked and the flotilla coasted the western shore, remaining at the height of Lévis's detachment.
    • Lévis’s column
      • Lévis supplied his detachment for 4 days and left the camp at 11:00 a.m. His detachment marched along the shore of Lake Saint-Sacrement.
      • Lévis marched till 5:00 p.m. before encamping in a good position 4 km from the fort. Lévis then reconnoitred the fort, the British positions and the landings that could be used for the artillery; and informed Montcalm that he could safely disembark his force. Towards 11:00 p.m., Montcalm arrived at this same bay with the army. Canoes and bateaux were drawn up on the beach and the united forces bivouacked together.
  • British
    • About 10:00 p.m., two boats set out from the British fort to reconnoitre.

On August 3

  • Engagement near Fort William Henry
    • Shortly after midnight, the two British boats spotted the bateaux carrying Roubaud and his brother missionaries. The rash British oarsmen immediately turned and pulled for their lives. A large party of Native American warriors immediately embarked into their canoes and pursued these boats.
    • The British managed to reach the eastern shore but the Native American warriors were now upon them. Several oarsmen were killed, three were taken and the rest escaped in the woods. During this skirmish, one Nipissing warrior was killed and 2 wounded.
    • The British prisoners were brought before Montcalm. They informed him that the British had spotted the French flotilla and that a reinforcement of 1,000 men, 4 guns and 50 supply wagons had arrived at the fort at 6:00 p.m. the previous day, bringing the British force to some 3,000 men of which 500 men (including 1 coy of the 35th Foot, 30 sailors and 25 men of the Royal Regiment of Artillery) were in the fort and the rest (including 5 coys of the 35th Foot) in the entrenched camp located on the heights about 350 m. from the fort and within reach to refresh its garrison daily. They also told him that an attack was planned on the French camp at daybreak.
  • French
    • Montcalm ordered his troops to be under arms at daybreak. Lévis's column along with all the Native American warriors formed the vanguard, followed by Montcalm's force in columns. A guard of 500 regulars along with the Saint-Ours Brigade were left behind for the artillery and bateaux. Montcalm's plan was to advance against this presumed British force and, if not encountering any opposition, to resume his advance and to lay siege to Fort William Henry.

Siege of Fort William Henry

On August 3

  • French
    • At dawn, the French camp was all astir. The column of Lévis, with all Native American warriors and part of the Canadiens to lead the way, moved through the forest towards the fort and Montcalm followed with the main body in three columns: Rigaud on the right, Bourlamaque on the left and Montcalm in the centre. Then, the artillery boats preceded by Native American canoes rounded the point that had hid them from the sight of the British.
    • In the morning, the light companies previously attached to Lévis' column returned to their battalions.
    • Lévis's vanguard only met a few outpost which were soon abandoned. It then took position on the road to Fort Edward. By noon, the investment of the fort was entirely formed.
    • The French flotilla of bateaux landed just north and west of Fort William Henry.
  • British
    • At 9:00 a.m., Monro, who was in command at the fort, sent Webb a hasty note, telling him that the French were in sight on the lake.
    • Skirmishes broke out between Lévis's Native American warriors and British parties sent out to save the cattle roaming in the neighbourhood and to burn some out-buildings that would have favoured the besiegers. Meanwhile, other British detachments were taking down the tents that stood on a plateau to the south-west of the fort and moving them to the entrenchment on the hill. To support these detachments, the garrison sallied from the fort.

During the night of August 4 to 5, the French opened the trenches at more than 600 m. from the fort. The siege of Fort William Henry lasted from August 4 to August 9 when the unsupported British garrison finally surrendered with the honours of war. The French captured 23 guns (fit and unfit), 3 mortars (fit and unfit), 17 pierriers, 1 howitzer, a large quantity of powder and 4 months supplies.

During the siege, the British had lost 100 men killed and 150 wounded; the French, 20 killed and 40 wounded.

On August 6, British regulars from outlying posts arrived at Fort Edward. Furthermore, William Johnson appeared at Fort Edward with 500 militia and 150 Mohawk Allies. With militia arrived on the previous day, Webb was now at the head of 4,500 men, including 2,500 regulars.

Native American warriors attack on the retiring British column

On August 9, a guard of French troops were sent to the entrenchment as required by the British and Montcalm ordered the officers and interpreters attached to the Native American warriors to remain there till the departure of the British. Despite all these precautions, Native American warriors immediately began to plunder the fort. They killed the sick men remaining in the fort. They then turned their attention to the entrenched camp guarded by French regulars. Those could not or would not keep out the Native American warriors. They roamed among the tents. The confusion in the camp lasted through the afternoon. Montcalm ran to the entrenched camp and tried to restore order and discipline. At last, around 9:00 p.m., order seemed restored. Montcalm made arrangements for two chiefs of each nation to accompany British troops to Fort Edward. At 10:00 p.m., Bougainville left for Montréal to carry news of the victory.

On August 10, in their haste to be gone, the British got together at daybreak before the escort of 300 regulars had arrived. They had their muskets, but no ammunition, and few or none of the provincials had bayonets. Early as it was, the Native American warriors were on the alert. At about 5:00 a.m., the Native American warriors entered a hut where 17 wounded men were attended to. They dragged out the inmates and tomahawked and scalped them all, in presence of La Corne and other Canadien officers, as well as of a French guard stationed within 12 meters of the spot. Plundering of the entrenched camp now began. The escort had by this time arrived and Monro complained to the officers that the capitulation was broken. However, they advised him to give up the baggage to the Native American warriors in order to appease them. The British then gave their baggage and even rum to the Native American warriors. After much difficulty, the column at last got out of the camp and began to move along the road that crossed the rough plain between the entrenchment and the forest. The Native American warriors constantly harassed the column, tomahawking those that resisted. Some 80 New Hampshire Provincials at the rear of the column were killed or dragged away. Montcalm, Lévis, Bourlamaque, and many other French officers, who had hastened from their camp on the first news of disturbance, threw themselves among the Native American warriors, and by promises and threats tried to allay their frenzy. The broken British column straggled forward in wild disorder and the killing continued. Some 50 persons were killed while about 700 were carried off. Montcalm succeeded in recovering more than 400 of them in the course of the day. All the refugees and redeemed prisoners were afterwards conducted to the entrenched camp where food and shelter were provided for them and a strong guard set for their protection.

Demolition of Fort William Henry

On the morning of August 11, the Native American warriors decamped in a body and set out for Montréal, carrying with them their plunder and some 200 prisoners. Meanwhile, 1,500 workers were set to the work of demolishing and burning the British fort.

When the news of the capture of Fort William Henry spread, militia came pouring in from the neighbouring provinces.

By August 12, 4,239 militia were bivouacked on the fields about Fort Edward. Webb was now at the head of 6,700 men.

On August 14, Webb wrote that most of the New York militia had deserted.

On August 15, the British kept in the entrenched camp were finally sent under escort to Fort Edward. The same day, the French filled the ditch of Fort William Henry.

On August 16, part of the French army (II./Royal Roussillon and II./ Béarn Infanterie) re-embarked.

On August 17, learning that the French were retiring, Webb sent the militia back to their homes.

On August 18, the rest of the French regulars and Canadien militia left Fort William Henry to return home for the harvest. When Montcalm quit Fort William Henry a few days later, Lévis assumed command of the remaining troops charged with the transportation of material through the portage near Carillon.

Loudoun was still at sea, off the coast of Nova Scotia on his way back from Halifax, when a despatch-boat from Governor Pownall of Massachusetts informed him that Fort William Henry was attacked. A few days later, he learned by another boat that the fort had been taken.

On August 19, II./ Béarn Infanterie reached its old camp at Fort Carillon.

On August 20, Loudoun ordered Webb to hold his position without risking a battle till he should himself arrive.

On August 31, Loudoun reached New York and heard that the French had withdrawn. He nevertheless sent his troops up the Hudson. Meanwhile, obeying orders, Webb had remained at Fort Edward. The same day, II./Royal Roussillon, II./La Reine Infanterie and the converged battalion of Compagnies Franches de la Marine encamped at Fort Carillon.

Two weeks after their arrival at Montréal most British detained by Native American warriors had been bought back. But Native American warriors killed one prisoner and forced his countrymen to eat him.

On September 1, II./La Reine Infanterie, II./La Sarre Infanterie, II./Languedoc Infanterie, II./Guyenne Infanterie and the converged battalion of Compagnies Franches de la Marine embarked at Fort Carillon for Fort Saint-Frédéric (present-day Crown Point). Lévis reconnoitred the bay with 6 grenadier coys, 6 piquets and 100 Canadiens.

By that date (September 1), Lévis had completed the transportation of all captured material to Carillon. Meanwhile, he had sent a detachment under M. de Contrecoeur at the head of Lake Saint-Sacrement. He also sent a second party of grenadiers and piquets to the mouth of the Chicot River some 46 km from his position. This second party discovered an abandoned British camp near the fall of the Chicot River and destroyed it.

The French army returns to Canada

On September 3, Lévis was back to Carillon with his corps.

On September 4, Lévis marched from Carillon towards Saint-Jean with II./La Reine, II./La Sarre, II./Languedoc and II./Guyenne along with 300 Troupes de la Marine. Bourlamaque remained at Carillon with II./Royal Roussillon and II./Béarn along with 300 Troupes de la Marine to continue work on the fort.

On September 7, Lévis arrived at Saint-Jean where he left II./La Reine, II./La Sarre, and II./Languedoc, and M. de Désandrouin to continue the fortification of this fort. Meanwhile, II./Guyenne was assigned to the works on the portage road at Chambly and the Troupes de la Marine were sent back to their garrisons at Montréal and Québec.

On September 8, Lévis was asked to take command in Montréal while Montcalm would travel to Québec to review the newly arrived two battalions of Berry Infanterie.

Early in September, the ship Saint-Patrice arrived at Québec with 4,000 quarters of flour.

On September 12, Montcalm left for Québec, where he arrived on September 14.

On September 19, the Bizarre (64) and Célèbre (64) sailed from Québec towards Louisbourg.

On September 20, Montcalm reviewed the 2 battalions of Berry Infanterie, which had already lost nearly 200 men to sickness.

On September 27, the ship Bristol, loaded with wine, brandy and dry goods, arrived at Québec.

Famine in Canada

On September 28, the Marquis de Vaudreuil ordered Lévis to reduce the rations of the 4 French battalions stationed at Saint-Jean and Chambly. The order to be effective October 1.

At the end of September, I./Berry Infanterie left Québec to take up its winter-quarters in Beaupr/ and Beauport.

In October similar supply restrictions were imposed to the garrisons of Québec and Montréal.

On October 6, Vaudreuil left Montréal for Québec, ordering Lévis to send a piquet from each of the 4 battalions (La Reine, La Sarre, Languedoc and Guyenne) posted at Saint-Jean and Chambly to garrison Fort Carillon.

On October 12, Lévis sent out from Saint-Jean the 4 aforementioned piquets under the command of M. D'Hébecourt.

On October 15, the 4 aforementioned piquets arrived at Carillon. The same day, a brigantine arrived at Québec, loded with 200,000 pounds of powder and 250 quarters of salt beef. She was also transporting M. de Pontleroy, who had been appointed chief engineer for Nouvelle France.

On October 20, Bourlamaque sent back from Carillon the men of the Milice du district de Montréal, Milice du district de Québec and Milice du district de Trois-Rivières.

On October 22, Bourlamaque lifted his camp at Carillon and retired towards Montréal with II./Royal Roussillon and II./Béarn along with 300 Troupes de la Marine to take his winter-quarters. However, Bourlamaque left behind one piquet of each of his battalion along with 50 Troupes de la Marine to reinforce the garrison of Carillon. The same day, Vaudreuil assembled a detachment at Lachine under the command of M. de Bellêtre, a lieutenant of the Troupes de la Marine. This detachment consisted of 100 Canadiens, cadets or Troupes de la Marine, 10 officers and 200 Native American warriors. Its mission was to raid the British and Mohawk settlements on the Mohawk River.

On October 24, Bellêtre’s detachment left La Présentation (present-day Ogdensburg, New York) where it had been reinforced by Native American warriors of this village. The detachment operated on the Mohawk River in November and made a raid on German Flats.

On October 26, II./Languedoc left Saint-Jean for its winter-quarters in Pointe-aux-Trembles (or Trois-Rivières according to Malartic).

On October 27, Bourlamaque arrived at Saint-Jean with his troops. II./Royal Roussillon took its winter-quarters at Boucherville, Laprairie and Varennes. The same day, Lévis sent II./La Reine to Québec to garrison the town.

On October 28, II./La Sarre left Saint-Jean for its winter-quarters on Ile-Jésus, Terrebonne and L'Assomption. The same day, II./Béarn disembarked at Pointe Saint-Charles. Six of its companies marched to Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne and Sainte-Geneviève while the rest of the battalion entered into Montréal to form its garrison.

On October 29, II./Guyenne took its winter-quarters at Chambly, Saint-Charles, Saint-Antoine, Saint-Denis, Saint-Ours, Sorel and Contrecoeur.

On November 1, Lévis was instructed to further reduce the rations of the troops cantoned in the Government of Montréal. The same measures had already been applied without difficulty in the Government of Québec. Lévis adressed personally the soldiers of II./Béarn who accepted these measures. However, the Troupes de la Marine initially refused to comply and Lévis had to intervene to persuade them to obey.

On November 6, the Sauvage (32) and Diamant sailed from Québec for La Rochelle.

On November 7 at daybreak, the ship Deux Frères sailed from Québec for France.

On November 8, 150 Acadians arrived at Québec from Isle Saint-Jean (present-day Prince Edward Island), the harvest having failed in their country.

On November 10, Vaudreuil arrived at Montréal from Québec.

On November 20, in the evening Lévis was informed that some soldiers from II./Béarn and Troupes de la Marine were preparing to refuse their assigned rations. He met 4 grenadiers of Béarn Infanterie to discuss the situation with them and, once more, circumvented a potential mutiny.

On December 1, supplies distributed to the population were once more reduced and horse meat was introduce in the daily rations. In the afternoon, women started a riot in Montréal and 4 of them made representations to the Marquis de Vaudreuil. The latter tried to convince them and threatened to imprison and even hang some of them if another riot occurred.

On December 4, Vaudreuil ordered to introduce horse meat in the rations of the garrisons of Montréal and Québec.

On December 9, II./Béarn accepted its first rations of horse meat after some argumentation with the Chevalier de Lévis.

Moving into the Winter of 1757/1758, Loudoun was forced to scatter his assembled army to winter-quarters much further south.

Contemporary Accounts

Relation of the campaign by Louis Antoine de Bougainville aide-de-camp to Montcalm


This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Bougainville, Louis Antoine de: Relation de l'expédition et de la prise du fort Guillaume Henry le 9 août 1757, Pièce A2-32s - Collection de pièces relatives à l'histoire de la guerre commencée entre la France et l'Angleterre en 1756, Service historique de la Défense
  • Bougainville, Louis Antoine: Adventure in the Wilderness. The American Journals of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, 1756-1760. Translated and Edited by Edward P. Hamilton. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 1964, pp. 102-121, 130-160, 181-194
  • Brodhead, John Romeyn: Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York: Procured in Holland, England and France. Vol. X, Weed Parsons and Company, Printers, Albany. 1858.
  • Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 305-306
  • Lévis, Chevalier de: Journal des campagnes du chevalier de Lévis en Canada de 1756 à 1760, Montréal, Beauchemin, 1889, pp. 81-112
  • Malartic, Comte de Maurès de: Journal des Campagnes au Canada de 1755 à 1760, Dijon: Damidot, 1890, pp. 103-161
  • Parkman, Francis: Montcalm and Wolfe, Collier Books, New York, 1884, pp. 276-306

Other sources

Dunne, Kenneth P.: The 35th Regiment of Foot and the British Artillery at the Siege of Fort William Henry and the Role of Lord Loudoun, James Campbell, August 1757, pp. 4-46


Kenneth P. Dunne for his kind authorisation to use his research paper to improve our article