« PreviousContinue »
they brought a young man in, whose white face and haggard eyes he at once recognized. “Jean Baptiste De Barre!” cried the captain, at sight of him. “Is it you?” “Yes, monsieur. I thought perhaps she had returned. I came to find her.” Noah's whole sympathies were with the unfortunate young Acadian, and, without thinking of him as a prisoner, he invited him to share his tent with him. The rumor of the capture of a Frenchman within the English lines reached the ears of the earl, and Loudon sent for the prisoner. Noah answered that he had no prisoner. Loudon, however, who longed for some opportunity to do something desperate told the captain that he was informed a spy had been captured in their lines the night before and that he should share a spy's fate. Noah was alarmed for the young Acadian, who, with proudly flashing eyes, exclaimed: “Thank God, I have come back to die on Acadian soil!” A body of troops was sent to bring back the spy, who, in irons, was made to parade the camp, until he was almost ready to faint with exhaustion. Then a court-martial was ordered to try him. The court fortunately was composed of reasonable men, and, on the evidence of Noah and others who had seen Jean in New York, the Acadian was acquitted,
much to the chagrin of the Earl of Loudon, and set off on his search for his lost Adrianne.
During the delay at Halifax, Louisburg had been reinforced, and, soon after the trial and acquittal of Jean for a spy, a reconnoitring vessel brought word to the earl that the enemy at Louisburg had one more ship than he; so his lordship abandoned the expedition and sailed for New York. The army was amazed and thoroughly disgusted. On the 10th of August, when the fleet had only been two and a half days under sail, it was met by an express sloop. A messenger from the sloop was dispatched to Lord Loudon with the alarming intelligence that the French and Indians, in large numbers, had closely invested Fort William Henry, on Lake George. The earl immediately sent orders back for the troops he had left behind, to follow him to New York. When he arrived there, on the last of August, the first intelligence that greeted his ears was that Fort William Henry had fallen into the hands of the enemy. The whole province was trembling with alarm. That alarm was inten. sified fourfold when the stupid and stubborn earl proposed to encamp his forces on Long Island for the defence of the continent.
The English and Americans under Loudon had acted so much “like women” that their Indian allies were disgusted.
They admired the different spirit of the French, and warriors from more than thirty “nations” were at Montreal at the beginning of the summer of 1757. Governor Vaudreuil told them of glory and plunder surely won by an alliance with the French. Montcalm still danced their wild wardances with them; he still sang their fiercest war songs, until their affection for him and enthusiasm for the cause of the French became intense and they were ready to follow wherever he might lead. He ordered them to meet his regulars and Canadians at St. John's on the Sorel for a voyage over the lake. Their march to Montreal was wild and tumultuous. They were accompanied by priests who chanted hymns and anthems. In canoes and bateaux, the motley army, led by Montcalm, went up Lake Champlain and landed at Ticonderoga one hot July day. Under a wide-spreading oak, high mass was celebrated, and voices chanting sacred hymns were mingled with the martial music of French instruments. Scouts went out and returned with fresh scalps. When Marin, who had destroyed the hamlet of Saratoga a dozen years before, came back from the hills near Fort Edward, and pointed to his canoe moored at the shore, in which lay a solitary prisoner and more than forty scalps, the savages set up a yell of exultation that awakened the echoes of Mount Defiance and Mount Independence, then bearing Algonquin names. Very soon the whole body of Montcalm's force moved to the foot of Lake George, for their des. tination was Fort William Henry, at the head of the lake. During the winter previous, an attempt had been made by the French against the fort and, but for the prompt action of Putnam, Stark, and other provincials, would have been successful. On July 31st, the garrison at Fort William Henry was composed of less than five hundred men under the brave Colonel Monro. A short distance from the fort, on a rocky eminence, seventeen hundred men lay entrenched. A little more than a dozen miles distant was Fort Edward, where lay the timid General Webb, with about four thousand troops. At the same time, Montcalm was at the foot of Lake George with six thousand French and Canadians and about seventeen hundred Indians. After holding a grand council, he moved over the waters along the western shore of Lake George. In a skirmish on the lake, a great Indian warrior was killed and his body was carried away by his companions. Montcalm, who had passed up the lake with the main army in bateaux, on the 2d of August, landed with a heavy train of artillery, not far from the village of Caldwell, and at once constructed siege batteries. La Corne, with Canadians, had landed on the east side of the lake and taken position across the road leading to Fort Edward, and De Levi, with French and Canadians, formed a camp northwest of La Corne. While Montcalm was lying in camp, preparing for the attack on Fort William Henry, one evening some Indian scouts brought in a prisoner. “Are you an Englishman?" Montcalm asked. “No, monsieur, I am an Acadian.” “What is your name and what part of Acadia are you from?" asked the French commander. “My name is Jean Baptiste De Barre,” the wildeyed, haggard Jean answered. “I once lived at Grand Pre and was to wed Adrianne Blanc; but the accursed English under Winslow came and drove me away. When I would have resisted, one struck me a blow with the butt of his gun, and ever since I have been wrong in my head.” Here the speaker paused and pressed his hand on his temple and stared about him in strange bewilderment. “Yes, we were to be wed,” he added after a few moments' silence; “but when the day came I was torn away and carried to New York. Since then I have searched for her.” “Isave you never found her?” “No; her mother died next day, and she, frightened at Captain Winslow, fled.”