The History of New York State
Book XI, Chapter I
Part VIII

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam

 

Bradley finds that "there is absolutely nothing to be said in defense of the French in this affair." Two years earlier, Sir William Johnson had been situated as Montcalm now was. In the same region the "Frontier Baron' had found it very hard to turn his furious Mohawks from their wish to burn and eat the wounded French commander, Dieskau, whom Johnson had had taken to his own quarters for better protection. But Johnson had fearlessly stood his ground, to protect his fallen enemy. Indeed, not one French prisoner had fallen victim to the murderous Mohawks. Still, Johnson might not have done as much to save the life of his own superior officer, the craven General Webb, who had hugged the defenses of Fort Edward while Monroe was battling for his life. In a letter to Captain Philip Schuyler regarding the massacre, Johnson writes: "Webb enjoys a solitary and unique distinction. He is the only British general--in short, I may say the only British officer of any rank--I ever knew or heard of who was personally a coward."

Montcalm demolished Fort William Henry and retired to his stronghold, On Lake Champlain. But this year of unenviable record for him was to show on more blot. In November, a party of French and Indians swooped down upon the inoffensive Palatines of the Mohawk Valley. While they slept forty were killed. One hundred and fifty were carried into captivity, notwithstanding that they were noncombatants.

At that time New York "was naked on every side"; indeed ever since the catastrophe at fort William Henry the frontier settlements had been unguarded. The new British commander, Lord Howe, had dismissed the militia, and later an appear by Sir William Johnson to General Abercrombie for permission to send a force of rangers into the field to guard the settlements in the Mohawk Valley, was unheeded. But the colonists were soon to have a chance. Pitt was not unaware of the American situation. As he remarked: :Every door is open to France." Fortunately he was not the type of man that would cease his efforts until every door was again closed, and well guarded by a force strong enough to defy all the attempts of the marauders to again open them. Still, he clearly saw that American operations must be borne mainly by Americans, for although the European situation has opened promisingly, with some astounding victories by Frederick of Prussia, the latter was soon in desperate straits again.

Frederick fought heroically, and brilliantly, battling for his life and realm; but, unaided, he would have succumbed. The British and Hanoverians came to his aid; they held the French at bay, while Frederick drove the Russians back on Poland, but the relief was only temporary. Ere the year was over a severe reverse came to the Prussian, the Austrians at Hochkirch canceling much of his gains, and beginning the series of misfortunes, which almost laid Berlin open to the invader in 1759. Therefore, Pitt, who with subsidies and troops was the mainstay of Frederick, the only man who could furnish the means--in men and munitions--to keep the heroic Prussian battling on, had to endure days and weeks, months and, indeed, years, of tense excitement while the fate of the world was being decided. Britain did well in India, Clive at Plassey winning such a victory as to surely begin "the empire of England in the East," and Americans were showing an encouraging readiness to stabilitate England's western empire; but in Europe the future was dark. Recognizing how vital to the success of his plans was the full cooperation of the colonies, Pitt asked New England, New York and New Jersey to raise 20,000 men for an invasion of Canada. Pennsylvania was to raise more men, to defend its own frontiers and clear the French out of the Ohio Valley. Pitt was willing that England should bear the cost of the operations. The provincial governments were asked to clothe and feed their armies, but England would refund the whole of the expenditure. She would also supply the colonial troops with arms, and send to America a regular force of about equal size. The hitherto unrecognized requisite of success--that American officers would not be outranked by regular officers of lower grade--having been conceded by Pitt, the colonial government entered enthusiastically into the agreements, and had little difficulty in raising the colonial army on this basis. They could and would have done so, indeed, had been eager to do so, in the earlier years of peril, but no English statesman before Pitt had been courageous enough to demand that the colonial soldier who was sharing the dangers of empire should be placed on an equal footing with the soldier from England. America might well agree with Frederick of Prussia that although England had been a long time in labor, and had almost lost America in her prenatal pains of empire, she had at last brought forth a man.

The year 1758 loomed ominously for the French in Canada. Montcalm repeatedly called for reinforcements, but none came. France was too busy changing ministries, at the behest of Madame de Pompadour. Ministers fell "one after another, like the figures of a magic lantern," said Voltaire. Between 1755 and 1763 twenty-five ministers were called to office or removed; and with each new ministry came some change in war plans. But no minister held power long enough to carry through his plans. Confusion tied the hands of official France, and the British Navy was beginning to shut up her ports. Duruy writes "The English blockaded the French ports; not a ship said which did not fall into their hands; thirty-seven ships of the line and fifty-six frigates were thus taken, burned, or wrecked." Little chance was there of relief for Montcalm. He may not have known the home situation, but he was probably quite well informed of the stupendous British movements that were impending in America. M. Doreil, the war commissioner, wrote to Paris in 1758: "England has at the present moment more troops in motion on this continent than Canada contains inhabitants, including old men, women and children." #6

Amherst and Wolfe, for the attack on Louisbourg, has 12,000 men, and was also to be assisted by the fleet of Admiral Boscawen, who had under his command twenty-three ships of the line and seventeen frigates. General Abercrombie was gathering at Albany and on Lake George the largest army yet seen in American for an operation against Ticonderoga. Another army, under General Forbes, was to advance on Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh), and a very capable New Yorker was hoping to lead another expedition against the French on Lake Ontario. To meet these armies Montcalm had only his own slender force--an unpaid ill-fed army that was steadily dwindling. The money that should have supplied him with ships and men was frittered away in court frivolities, staged by the entertaining Marchioness. Montcalm was to be left to his own resources. "We keep on fighting, nevertheless," he wrote to the Minister of War: "and we will bury ourselves, if necessary, under the ruins of the colony."

However, his despondency was not evident in the preparations he made for defense. He could hardly have been blamed had he abandoned his outlying posts in the Ohio Valley, and in New York. Had he been less desperately placed, he might have drawn in his forces upon his stronger Canadian bases and there awaited the always-hoped-for reinforcements. But his desperation gave his audacity. He continued to show a vigorous front, and fro a long time his efforts were effective. He decided to hold tenaciously to Fort Carillon and the Lake Champlain posts, notwithstanding that his garrison had been dangerously depleted to meet the movement against Fort Duquesne and Louisbourg. For the Ticonderoga defense Montcalm could muster only 4,000 men. The attacking force, under Abercrombie, was expected to number four times as many, but the French commander did not value very highly the ability of Abercrombie, the English commander.

Abercrombie, in truth, was not a capable soldier. He was not the quick-witted tactician that Montcalm proved to be. Hart, in his "Fall of New France," asserts that both Loudoun and Abercrombie were "notorious for previous incompetency." But Montcalm seems to have made no allowance for Lord Howe, second in command to Abercrombie. According to Wolfe, Howe was "the best officer in the English army." He was also one of the most liked--at least among colonial officers. Americans, in general, had great confidence in Lord Howe, and the confidence was returned. Howe was broad-minded enough to see that Americans of campaigning experience were likely to know American ways of fighting better than British officers who had learned the art of warfare on the unobstructed battlefield of Europe. American was to all intents a vast forest, pierced by waterways, and battle formations were necessarily different to those of the open field of Europe. Indians had shown Americans the effective way of fighting under American condition, and colonial had been quick to learn. Lord Howe, in turn, was ready to benefit by the experience of colonials.

Undoubtedly Montcalm's scouts saw the ominous signs of military preparation that were taking formidable shape on Lake George in June and July of 1758. On the fourth of July a vast flotilla was assembled on the lake, On the 6th the "largest army that had ever gather at Lake George embarked on a floor of more then a thousand boats at dawn, Bradley, is hi "The Fight With France for North America," describes the occasion thus:

Ten thousand oars with measured beat caught the sunlight and the banks of the various regiments with their martial much woke the echoes of the mountains which, as the lake narrowed, lifted high above it n either side, their leafy side and crests. Many a man went proudly down Lake George that day beneath the flag of England who, twenty years later, was upon this very spot to be found turning his sword against his mother country and his King. Lee was there, a hot-tempered British captain and, curiously enough, of marked unpopularity among the provincials. Stark and Israel Putnam, too, were present, hardy and conspicuous riflemen from New England frontier farms, and Philip Schuyler, Dutch gentleman and patroon,. Now leading a New York company, and some day to be Washington's favorite general, and Alexander Hamilton's father-in-law.

A great movement was developing. The expedition embraced 9,000 provincial troops and 7,000 British regulars, all heading for the northern end of the lake, to cross arms with Montcalm's 4.000. "The spectacle was superb," says Parkman, of the moving of the flotilla across the lake; "the brightness of the summer day, the romantic beauty of the scenery, the sheen and sparkle of the crystal waters, the countless islets tufted with pine, birch and fir, the bordering mountains with their green summits and sunny crags, the flash of oars and glitter of weapons, the banners, the varied uniforms and the notes of the bugle, trumpet, bagpipe and drum answered and prolonged by a hundred woodland echoes."

No attempt at secrecy of movement was made. Abercrombie apparently deemed his 16,000 would meet no element of surprise to give them victory over the 4,000 defenders of Ticonderoga; but he hurried his movement upon hearing that Montcalm was expecting a reinforcement of 3,000 men. As the British troops debarked, they took up the march, and were soon lost to sight in the dense woods. Putnam was in command of the vanguard, but the whole army followed closely, in four columns.

They soon encountered the enemy, a part of Frenchmen, led by a commander experienced in forest fighting, attempting to surprise them while they were proceeding, somewhat disorderly, through the dense vegetation. Disaster might have resulted had not the main body of the Brutish forces been close at hand. The French commander quickly realized he must retreat. He tried to reach Ticonderoga by a circuitous route, but failed to extricate himself from the maze of woodland, or to throw off his pursuers. The rangers of Stark, Putnam and Rogers were as experienced in forest fighting as he was. Finally the surrounded French battalion surrendered. They had lost about 300 of a total force of about 450.

The British loss in this initial encounter had not been heavy, but on casualty was of major importance. A spent bullet found a billet in the body of Lord Howe, who was leading the first column. With his death confidence left the British forced. The element of success had been snatched from them. Lord Howe had been the inspiration of the colonial forced, the one English general in whom they had full confidence; and with his death :the soul went out of the army." How might have prevented Abercrombie from committing the blunder in tactics that was to cost the British the day--and hundreds of lives. The alert, capable Howe might have seen what another quiet-witted British general of Burgoyne's time was to see--he might have seen that Montcalm's Ticonderago defenses would be of no avail if a few guns were mounted on Mount Defiance.

But it not to be. Howe was dead, Abercrombie decided upon a frontal attack. His 16,000 soldiers would storm the breastworks that Montcalm had built across the promontory. It was an intricate obstruction--a barricade of threes nine feet tall and twenty feet thick, fronted by a deep and wide trench. Beyond the trench, the ground for a hundred yards was covered with a maze of fallen trees. This in itself was an obstruction difficult enough to make a cautious commander pause before ordering a frontal attack through it, upon a breastwork which bristled with heavy artillery. Moreover, snipers could find ideal cover among those newly-felled trees. If a frontal attack must be made, however, one would have thought that Abercrombie would have preceded by storming by at least some degree of artillery preparation. It seems, however, that he feared the arrival of French reinforcements. In waiting for artillery valuable time would be lost. So the task was entrusted wholly to the men with the bayonet. As a State publication, the "First Report of the New York Lake Champlain Tercentenary Commission," describes the battle, Abercrombie, "misled by a report of the most difficult and perilous form, a solid bayonet charge--a form of attack obviously impossible. But Abercrombie, like some other commanders of that the later periods, took no account of condition and accepted no advice from colonists and sent his troops to death in a hopeless task. Caught in the tangle of boughs, swept by grape and shot, the English and the colonists flung themselves through the hot July afternoon with desperate valor against the deadly network in front of the barricades only to driven back shattered and broken. When night fell 2,000 men, dead or wounded, had paid the terrible price of Abercrombie's dullness. When the story of this disastrous battle was told, with accounts of the hasty retreat to Fort William Henry, the colonists revenged themselves by calling the incompetent commander "Mrs. Nabbycrombie."

Ticonderoga was glorious in the courage manifested by the rank and file, but shameful in the stupidity of the English commander upon whom, of course, the whole movement pivoted. Fiske says: "Our accounts agree in representing the general's conduct as disgraceful. He seems to have lost his dead and though only of escaping as from a superior foe. By the time he had returned to the head of the lake Abercrombie found himself a laughing stock." Had not colonial officers preserved "a semblance of order among the demoralized troops," Abercrombie's return may have turned into as disastrous a panic as that of Braddock's. Nevertheless, the triumph at Ticonderoga was the only ray that was to come to Montcalm and save New France from total eclipse in that year. the expedition against Louisbourg succeeded, after a siege of fifty days. Wolfe would have gone on to Quebec also in that year. in the Ohio Valley the French had lost their principal post, Fort Duquesne was abandoned to General Forbes in November, and the building of Fort Pitt at that point ushered in "the British empire on the Ohio" as the "Pennsylvania Gaette " termed it. The French rejoiced over Ticonderoga, but the rejoicing was not long sustained. Bradstreet, by his brilliant success at Fort Frontenac, balanced the account. Montcalm held precarious control of Lake Champlain, but Bradstreet had swept Lake Ontario and rendered all French posts westward of it of little value.

Colonel Bradstreet, an especially alert New Yorker, had asked for permission to lead a mobile column against Fort Frontenac long before Abercrombie went to disaster at Ticonderoga. But the English commander then had his thoughts concentrated upon Lake Champlain and would be diverted. The Ticonderoga disaster had created a situation less favorable for Bradstreet's plan. Nevertheless, as Abercrombie was not willing that he should proceed, Bradstreet quickly organized his force and pushed forward. On August 10 he conferred with General Bradstreet, who was then building the fort which was to bear his name. Bradstreet went on at the head of 1,100 New York troops, under Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Clinton of Ulster and Isaac Corse, of Queens, and 1,900 other colonials, with a couple a hundred regulars and forty-two Indians. On August 22 he began to cross Lake Ontario from Oswego. Four days later he was within a couple of hundred yards of Fort Frontenac. As he had surmised, the fort was commanded by only skeleton force. On the 27th the garrison of 150 surrendered. Bradstreet had outwitted Montcalm. He has burned Fort Frontenac, has captured the entire Lake Ontario feet-nine armed vessels--of the French, and had departed before the relief force of 3,000 men sent by Montcalm could arrived. This victory by a New Yorker was most decisive. It gave England the supremacy on lake Ontario, thus cutting the communications of the French forts beyond it, to the westward. Thanks especially to the colonial effort, the end was not far off. By "the audacity of genius and the splendor of courage" Montcalm had almost snatched victory from the much more numerous foe, but, just in time, British colonials had been given the reins and had shown themselves worthy of Pitt's confidence in them. The outcome in America was therefore no longer in doubt, unless--unless the fortunes of war in Europe should favor France. This crucial element of doubt was ever-present. Indeed, the military situation in the age-worn battle areas of Europe at the end of 1758 pointed as certainly to ultimate victory for France in Europe as American operations favored Britain in America.

Frederick's position was especially precarious, and neither he nor Pitt saw what Napoleon, many years later in the clearer perspective of completed events, was to see: That the "cabinet-generals" who were at the head of the victorious armies of France were incapable of using those magnificent armies to full advantage. Men without leaders could not g on to final victory.

In America, France's position was just the opposite. She had furnished the province with a brilliant leader--in Montcalm--but had denied him the men necessary to bring victory. The warfare in the New World was almost at an end. The British, in 1759, had merely to follow up the victories won in 1758 by Amherst, Bradstreet and Forbes. General Abercrombie was to have no part, having been superseded by Amherst. Still, had Amherst shown generalship like that of his predecessor, one more victory might have been added to Montcalm's New York record. Fortunately, Amherst was of different type. He planned with thoroughness and skill. Moreover, Montcalm was hampered by an interfering Governor. De Vaudreuil dictated defensive plans which Montcalm was forced to follow, though denouncing them as "visionary and impractical." Montcalm was required to draw in all the French forces from the back country, assembling them at Fort Machault (Venanago); he was to make the Presqua' Isle an "observation post," strengthen Fort Niagara, and hold the Lake Champlain posts. AS late as June, a reinforcement of 800 soldiers left Niagara for Presqu' Isle; but it very soon became obvious that the weakened Niagara stood more in need of troops. The commandant at that point heard of the approach of a British army. Having been left with a garrison of only 600 men, he immediately hurried an appeal to Presqu' Isle for reinforcement. His call was met, but the relief column was destined never to reach Niagara. The English expedition against Niagara consisted of 2,200 men under General John Prideaux and 600 to 700 Indians under Sir William Johnson. The attitude of the Iroquois was now very different. In the previous year, when France seemed to have the upper hand. Bradstreet could gather only forty-two Indians to fight for the English against Fort Frontenac. Now the Iroquois as a whole rallied to the English. With bright prospects, therefore, Prideaux and Johnson left Oswego on July 1. After disposing of Fort Niagara, they were to pass along the route of the French to the Ohio Valley and there cooperate with General John Stanwix in that seat of trouble. On July 6 Prideaux's army was at the mouth of the Niagara. On May 11, they were before Fort Niagara. The siege began immediately. On the 20th General Prideaux was killed; but this disaster did not spread consternation like that which had followed the death of Lord Howe hear Ticonderoga. Fortunately, New York could carry on and win its own battles. One of its greatest soldiers, the redoubtable "Frontier Baron," Sir William Johnson, the took command. Four days later he ambushed a relief column which had come from the Ohio Valley. Of this relieving force of 700 Frenchmen and perhaps twice as many Indians, fully 500 were left on the field, the others scattered in the wilderness utterly routed. Hope of succor having passed, the commandant of Fort Niagara surrendered next day. As prisoners, his soldiers were sent down the lake, but in perfect safety. There was no massacre, Johnson being well able to curb savage impulses in his Mohawks. After demolishing the fortress at the "gateway of the Lakes" Johnson closed his campaign, and with it his military career, which had been marked by humanity as well as vigor. He has honored place in New York history.

During the same period Amherst had moved deliberately, like an easy-running but slow-grinding machine. At the end of June, he had at Lake George an army of 11,000, half of whom were British regular. Three weeks later his army embarked. They slowly but surely approached Ticonderoga. The British general took no unnecessary chances, for he knew the ability of his adversary, Montcalm, to take quick advantage of any weakness that might develop. Moreover, the French force of 2,300 should not be belittled. But no flaws develop din Amherst's enveloping movement, and Montcalm did not permit it to be completed. When the British were within 600 yards of his Ticonderoga works he blew up one bastion, and tried to destroy all the fortification before retiring to Crown Point. Amherst did not follow the retiring enemy at once. Instead, he set to work to build a strong fortress at Ticonderago. When he was quite ready, however, he advanced upon Crown Point. The French did not wait for him. Crown point, which during the period of French occupation had become a settlement of about 1,500 Canadians, was deemed to be no longer tenable, therefore the settlers regretfully prepared to abandon their homes in that beautiful spot, and move back into Canada. When the vanguard of Amherst's column hove into sight "a long line of barges carrying more then 2,000 French solders and their portable possessions, passed down the lake." The slow-moving Briton would not be tempted. For the present Amherst was content. He erected a very strong fortress at Crown Point, one that cost an incredible sum was later of little use. When this was finished, Amherst, with such strong bases, might have ventured northward. Indeed, it had been planned that he should cooperate with Wolfe in the investment of Quebec. But the season was now to far spent, so Amherst had to be content in going into winter quarters. Methodically and surely he had laid the ground well for success in the next year; nevertheless, if it were not for a wonderful and most daring feat of arms by Wolfe before Quebec, the most important operation of that year might have failed.

Wolfe's was the most glorious and dramatic campaign of that year, in America, also the most decisive. The Quebec operations which brought him victory as well as death on the Heights of Abraham are so widely known that little need here, in this New York history, be written of them. Wolfe, with 3,000 desperate British soldiers, scaled an almost unclimbable cliff, and at daybreak on the 13th of September, 1759, took up battle formation on the Heights of Abraham. The French were dumbfounded, the Indians mystified. To the latter it seemed as though Wolfe had dropped from the clouds. But the say was not yet won. Montcalm now could marshal four men to every one that was with Wolfe. But the latter was so placed that retreat was impossible. Their fighting spirit was therefore stronger. The French attacked with Vehemence, but Wolfe's men, at bay, fought savagely. The attack was beaten back. The English General then himself headed a counter attack which broke the French line. In the moment of victory, however, Wolfe fell. He did "with the sounds of victory ringing in his ear."

The curtain also fell upon the life of another hero of that decisive battle before Quebec. Montcalm, fatally wounded, was born through the gates of Quebec. "He is killed! The Marquis is killed!" was the cry, "do not weep for me, my children, he said calmly; "it is nothing." Next day he died.

Quebec was surrendered on September 18. However, during the winter, De. Levis, who succeeded Montcalm gathered what Canadian forced he could at Montreal, determined to regain the capital of New France if possible. In the spring he descended upon Quebec, and for a time penned the British within its defenses. "all Europe, says Raynol, "supposed that the capture of the capital was an end of the great quarrel in North America. Nobody supposed that a handful of Frenchmen, who lacked everything, who seemed forbidden by fortune itself to harbor any hope, would dare to dream of retarding inevitable fate." But De Levis held on grimly, hoping that a French fleet would come to his aid. It was a British frigate, however, that ascended the river on May 9. Others followed, so De Levis was forced to raise the siege and return to Montreal for a last stand.

The last scene of a drama that had taken 150 years to unfold was about to be staged. The armies of Generals Murray, Amherst and Haviland steadily converged on Montreal. On September 6, 1760, the city was invested, and two days later, at the governor's command, the remnant of the gallant army of New France laid down their arms. The continent was won.

The European warfare continued for several more years, England and her allies gradually gaining the upper hand, mainly through her naval victories. One by one almost all of the colonies of France were forced to dip the French flag, and hoist the British. Frederick of Prussia was not doing so well on land, but no defeat could rob him of his unconquerable spirit of resistance. Again, the political situation was constantly shifting. There were many deaths among the reigning monarchs, and with each death came some change in political policy. The death of Charles II, of England, in 1760, brought a peace party to the fore. With the death of Charles III, of Spain, came the offer of Spanish aid to France against England. With the death of Elizabeth, of Russia, came the thought of allying Russia with Prussia. The only two European monarchs who fought on to stalemates were Frederick, of Prussia, and Maria Theresa, of Austria, the two reigning heads primarily responsible for the beginning of the Seven Years' War. In the end, they agreed "to a mutual exchange of conquests." For them the war ended as it had began, and Frederick the Great regretfully summed up the results of the seven years of war in the following terse words: "the war began for two or three wretched villages (which Marie Theresa coveted and Frederick held). The English gained 2,000 leagues of territory and humanity lost a million men."

The outcome was not quite s one-sided, Frederick might have found satisfaction in the fact that in his desperate struggle with death he had regenerated Germany, which was to become a might Protestant empire. Nevertheless, England was, indeed, the only immediate and direct gainer by the war. Preliminaries of peace between France and England were signed in November, 1762, and the Treaty of Paris was concluded on February 10, 1763. At the beginning of the war, France had possessed the finest army in Europe, and had good place among the navies. She ended that war with a decadent army and no navy. She lost Canada, Grenada, St. Vincent. Dominca, Tobago, and some other colonies, her dreams of mighty empires in the East and the West were ended, and she was weighed down by a stupendous debt and a worthless King. Spain recovered Cuba and Manila, but lost Florida to England. Out of compassion, it seems, for her unfortunate ally, France later ceded Louisiana to Spain.

Thus, for all except the English the was ended miserably. It seemed as though the whole world had been placed in England's lap. Certainly, she had left all the great European nations behind. Her great gains had lifted her so high, indeed, that her little island home seemed but a mere fragment of her vast empire. No longer was she chained to the war chariot of Europe, to be drawn into the shambles every tine that warlike passions agitated to continent. By her victories overseas, "Britain towered high above nations whose position in a single continent doomed them to comparative insignificance in the after-history of the world," writes Green. He declared that "with the victory of Frederick at Rossbach began the recreation of Germany." This was epochal; yet Frederick was still confined to Europe. The balance of power in Europe was still the peace-destroying factor that all save England must continue to watch, with bated breath and be governed by. Britain, now mistress of the seas, had world-wide vision. The azure lanes of the seven seas were her secure paths to prosperous colonies in East and West. She could grow rich and powerful, regardless of what happened in Europe.

Still it was to be the lot of her branching descendants in America to show to the struggling people of the Old World a brotherhood that has no place for balance of power, a democracy that thins of man as the army of industry, not as the rack for arms, a human brotherhood so genuine as to make it possible for nations ten times as powerful as its neighbor to pass a whole century without once raising the sword against its weaker neighbor-nation. Not one bristling fortress can now be found t mar the peaceful line of an international frontier three thousand miles long, whereas, under the old order, fortresses had dotted, indeed blotted, the landscape. Such a destiny was well worth the century and a half of strife.

Green , the English historian, says: "With the triumph of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham began the history of the Untied States." Our own historian, Francis Parkman, asserted that the European Seven Years' War "supplied to the United States the indispensable condition of her greatness, if not of her national existence." Undoubtedly, the motherland aided the colonies to gain dominance for Anglo-Saxon peoples in America; but it is just as clear that England could not have overcome the French in America without the aid of colonial troops.

New York's part in the struggle for supremacy was as intense in the last years as in the first. She had had to bear the perils of war throughout almost the whole period, and the most desperate fighting had occurred within her borders; indeed, the whole struggle had pivoted from New York. During the American period of the Seven Years' War, New York province kept in the field an armed force of 2,680 men, notwithstanding that the total white population of the province in 1756 was only 83,233. During the dark days, when the British soldiery were impotent to guard frontier settlements, New York's intrepid rangers performed valorous deeds that make glorious history. Again, the two most decisive victories gained on New York soil by British forces were won by New York generals--Bradstreet at Fort Frontenac and Johnson before Niagara. As this review shows, New York emerged from the struggle for supremacy--the cause of all the French and Indian wars--with honor. And she set herself courageously to meet her share of the burdens of war; in 1762, it was found that her war debt as £300,000. This she resolutely determined to liquidate at the rate of £40,000 a year. In these evidences of responsible government, New York, subconsciously perhaps, was preparing herself for statehood. He readiness to defend her own frontiers, her determination to meet her liability, and the leadership which she had naturally assumed, in military and political exigencies of the great struggle, augured well for her dependability in the future.

 

The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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