Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

kau, near the southern part of Lake George, an effort was made, in October following, to reinforce the English army and to proceed against Ticonderoga and Crown Point. On the advice of Governor Shirley, Massachusetts, oppressed as it was by the expenses of the season already incurred, voted to assist; and sent commissioners to Albany, to meet those from other colonies, for uniting in furthering the design. But it was there concluded that the men under General Johnson should be discharged; leaving six hundred, however, to man the fortress erected by General Lyman, on the Hudson, and a fort still nearer Lake George. Of this number, Massachusetts furnished nearly two hundred. When Governor Shirley returned from Oswego, he gave directions, that the place should be more strongly fortified; and seven hundred men were left for that purpose.

The fifth earthquake in New England, which excited alarm or notice, from its first settlement by the English, occurred in November, 1755. Its power and extent were very similar to the memorable one of 1727. It continued for the space of four minutes, and walls and chimnies were thrown down.

The British government, instead of abandoning the object, the conquest of Canada, for which the great military preparations had been made, resolved to prosecute the war with vigor, and to retrieve the disasters of the last campaign. Nor did the colonies lack a laudable zeal of aiding in the danger. None were more for ward and prompt than Massachusetts. At that critical period, it had the just praise, from eminent characters in other colonies, "of being always foremost in measures of defence."

When the death of General Braddock was known in England, Governor Shirley was appointed. commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in North America; and he immediately summoned a council of war, to consist of the governors of the several colonies, to meet at New York. At this meeting, it was proposed to prepare for military expeditions the ensuing year, against the fort Du Quesne, and against Crown Point and Niagara; and that troops should also be sent up the river Kennebec, to attack the Indians in Canada. For all these enterprises, it was recommended to raise 12,000 men.

There was less zeal manifested for an expedition against Crown Point, both because it was believed that it would require great expense, and because it might be better to make an attack on Quebec, the strong hold of Canada, which would not make much greater expense necessary, and if taken, by aid of a British fleet, it would decide the contest. It was not therefore without some delay and some objections, that Massa

chusetts consented to engage in this and other expeditions proposed. Nor is it a matter of surprise, that they should have proceeded with caution in ordering three or four thousand men to be raised, whose wages and bounties, with other unavoidable expenses attending the expedition, would add greatly to the debt and the taxes of the province, already extremely burdensome to the people. And it was in the expectation, they said, that a sum would be advanced by the governor, who had funds in his hands belonging to the British government, for the wages of the past year, and a bounty for those to be raised the approaching season. £30,000 were soon after loaned to the province by the governor.

The popularity of Governor Shirley, at this time, was not so great as it had before been. The failure of most of the expeditions of the past year, was by some, though most unjustly, charged on him. And it was believed that he was ready, at the command of the British ministry, to call for men and supplies from Massachusetts, when she was heavily pressed by debt incurred for the common welfare. His measures were criticised and censured in the public papers; and some of the writers were incorrect in their statements, and severe in their accusations. The governor was so displeased with these free remarks, that he referred to them, in a communication to the general court. They expressed their opinion of the good character of the governor, and bore witness to his zeal and activity for the public welfare; but wisely declined to punish the printer, or to interfere in the case.

Early in the spring of 1756, the proper measures were adopted for enlisting men and preparing for the expedition to Crown Point. This was the most important object, and great efforts were made to raise the quota of men allotted to the province of Massachusetts, which was 3,500, for the expedition to that place, and Major General John Winslow was appointed to command them. He had then been some time in Nova Scotia, where he conducted with that prudence and firmness which added much to his character as an able military chief. But enlistments were not easily made. The people had become tired of military life, when their pay was long delayed, and their exposure to disease was deemed very great. In the expeditions, for several succeeding years, far more died by sickness, than were slain in battle. To this should be added, that the British ships of war were in the constant practice of impressing fishermen; and that a battalion from Massachusetts was detained in Nova Scotia, although the time of their enlistment had expired. From all these causes it resulted, that on

the last of May there were only 2,600 enlisted; and so late as August, the whole number ready for the enterprise did not exceed 3,000.

Governor Shirley, in the mean time, though in the expectation of being superseded as commander-in-chief of the military forces, continued to give his attention to hasten and perfect the preparations for the intended campaign. Soon as his cares, as chief magistrate of Massachusetts, would permit, he proceeded to Albany, and remained in discharge of his official duty, till the arrival of General Abercrombie, in June, who was appointed to succeed him. Governor Shirley, soon after, sailed for England, having been informed, that his majesty's service required his personal presence there. He was not summoned to answer to any specific charges of misconduct, nor did he receive any public censure; but was soon after appointed governor of the Bahama Islands, in the West Indies. And yet it is not improbable, that the representations made by the lieutenant governor of New York, and General Johnson, who were envious of his superior station, had an influence in his being superseded. The want of success in his plans of 1755, however vigilant he was, and the want of confidence which these and other officers had in him, might also furnish motives for his recall. He did not relax in his efforts for the honor of the British arms, and the security of the colonies, to the day of his departure; and he carried with him the respect and gratitude of the people of Massachusetts, for his long and faithful services. After holding the office of governor of the Bahamas, he returned to Massachusetts, where he resided till his death, in 1771.

The military plans of Governor Shirley, for the year 1756, were generally approved by General Abercrombie, and by Lord Loudon, who succeeded him in a few months, except that it was concluded to make the most vigorous attack on Crown Point, rather than to maintain Oswego, and weaken the power of the enemy at Lake Ontario; which Shirley had deemed of the greatest importance. His opinion was, that it was necessary to carry the war nearer Canada, and that by securing Oswego, enterprises might be made against the forts Niagara and Frontenac, or, at least, the enemy be prevented from passing from Quebec to Ohio, and Illinois. By having a force at Oswego, he also believed the French would be prevented from sending large supplies to Crown Point. The latter was not out of his plan, but a part of it was to seize that place also.

The departure from this extensive plan, and the delay

which was occasioned by a new destination of part of the men first intended for Oswego, was one cause of the failure of success in the expeditions proposed in 1756. The French had early information of the movements and designs of the English troops, by their Indian spies; and they ordered a large force on Lake Ontario, and captured the forts at Oswego. They were so powerful also at Crown Point, that General Winslow made no attack on that post. His chief object was to maintain his position at the south margin of Lake George, and to act on the defensive; such were his orders from Lord Loudon. The British forces under General Webb did not advance farther than Fort Edward, several leagues south of the lake, and on the bank of Hudson river. The small pox attacked the provincial troops, and proved extensively mortal. A difficulty also arose, as to placing the men raised in the province under the command of British officers, and the close union of them with regular British troops. This difficulty had occurred before; so that the men sometimes would not enlist, but on condition of being under the immediate command of their own officers. The question arose before Lord Loudon arrived; and again, soon after he took the command of the army. On representation of General Winslow, by request of his officers, the British commander consented, that the provincials should be kept distinct, and be commanded by officers under whom they had enlisted; with the reservation, that they should be subject to his orders and directions.

Ön the news of the fall of Oswego, a great alarm spread through the troops at and near Lake George, and even through New England. The enemy were represented to be numerous, and to be aided by a great number of Indians, ready for the work of cruelty and slaughter. On this occasion, the general court of Massachusetts ordered a draft of 1000 men, from the western part of the province, in addition to the numerous forces then in the service.

The autumn having far advanced, Lord Loudon permitted the provincial troops to be discharged, excepting one regiment belonging to New York; and ordered the posts which they had held to be garrisoned by the British regulars.

At the beginning of the year, on application to the British ministry, with a statement of the great expenses incurred the the year before, in military preparations and services, advances were again made to the colonies of £115,000; of which Massachusetts received £54,000. But the expenses so far exceeded all calculation at the opening of the campaign, that

the general court of Massachusetts applied to Lord Loudon for a loan. But he was not able to accommodate them.

A corps of rangers, under Major Rogers, of New Hampshire, rendered much service, at this period, by alarming the enemy, and giving information of their forces and movements. A scouting party was also sent up the Kennebec River, as Governor Shirley had proposed, but not so large as was intended, nor with much benefit to the province, except to prevent the attacks of the enemy on the settlements in that part of the country.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »