The expedition followed the same route that Courcelles had taken the previous winter, and by the end of October the whole force was assembled at Fort Ste. Anne on Lake Champlain. The advance into the Mohawk country from this point proved extremely trying, the transportation of supplies and the two light pieces of artillery being particularly difficult. The pro-visions carried were reduced to a minimum; as a result the force was threatened with starvation, the situation being relieved only by the discovery of a district which provided an abundance of chestnuts.
The Mohawks, in view of the strength of the expedition, deemed it unwise to make a stand, and, as their first villages were reached, they abandoned them to the invaders, retiring through the forest and taunting the French to attack them in their hiding places. Four Mohawk villages were thus abandoned by their inhabitants and occupied by Tracy. They had all been roughly fortified, and contained ample stores of provisions, including water, which had been stored in bark cisterns. Some of the cabins were constructed of timber and in some cases finished with planks, showing carpentering work which would have done credit to white men. On reaching the fourth of the Mohawk villages, Tracy called a council of war to consider whether the expedition should proceed to the villages of the Oneidas; in view of the distance and the lateness of the season, it was decided that this would not be prudent. The four Indian villages, with all their contents not required for the return march, were burned, and Tracy and the main portion of his army arrived back in Quebec early in November. No French lives were lost in battle, but on the return trip eight officers and men were drowned in a storm on Lake Champlain.
Deprived of their shelters and supplies, 400 of the Mohawks perished of starvation and exposure, and pestilence succeeded the famine. In their extremity, the cowed tribe sent emissaries to Quebec to sue for peace. Hostages were given, and several Frenchmen