Previous Index Next

 

74   MILITARY HISTORY OF CANADA

Montreal, that, whatever the odds against the French might be, the passage by the enemy of the narrows at Ticonderoga and Crown Point should be vigorously disputed. On July 5th a skirmish occurred, in which Howe, the ablest of the British leaders, was killed. "In Lord Howe, the soul of General Abercromby's army seemed to expire."1 Late on the 7th, the main body arrived near the French intrenched position of Ticonderoga, and established itself on ground near-by, chosen by Colonel Bradstreet, who led the vanguard.

The position at Ticonderoga had been rendered as difficult of access as possible. A formidable abattis or breastwork had been thrown up in front of the fort, behind which Montcalm marshalled his regulars and militia in divisions, commanded by such experienced officers as Levis, Bourlamaque, and Senezergues. At points of advantage, batteries of cannon were stationed. Abercromby, who apparently had failed to have the enemy's position thoroughly reconnoitred, or possibly had been misled by incapable scouts, seems to have relied upon his superior numbers and the quality of his troops to force the position at Ticonderoga without cannon. By means of simple flank movements he could have compelled the French to retire, or, if he had waited for his artillery, could have demolished the temporary breast-work. Ignorant of the strength of the position held by his enemy, impressed with the importance of acting before expected reinforcements could reach Montcalm, and throwing caution to the winds, he precipitated his soldiers in four strong columns upon the protected front of the French. But Montcalm repelled all attacks. It was a battle in which superiority in numbers, the utmost valour and obstinacy, and persevering efforts during about five hard hours of gruelling fighting proved unavailing to dis-

1 Viscount Howe was a worthy member of a distinguished family, and the elder brother of Admiral Lord Howe, of "The Battle of the Nile." A far abler soldier than Abercromby, his loss was irreparable. To his memory there stands in Westminster Abbey, a monument erected by the Province of Massachusetts Bay.


Previous Index Next