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“Whither?” “Alas, I know not,” the wanderer answered. “I have sought her in the far north and farther south, among the hills and in the valleys, where the pine trees rustle in the breeze and where the deer reposes on the soft, green grass of the valley. I have searched and searched for her, but, alas, in vain. I am weary and can do naught but die.” Like most brave men, Montcalm had a warm, sympathetic heart in his body, and the story of the unfortunate Acadian moved him. “Alas, poor fellow, we sympathize with you and shall avenge your wrongs. Go whithersoever you will; but do not fall into the hands of the enemy, or you may be hung for a spy.” Jean remembered now how nearly he had come to being hung for a spy while at Halifax, and he stole away into the forest and was seen no more by Montcalm for several months. The sudden appearance of so large a force before Fort William Henry was a surprise to the commander of the garrison. General Webb had come up from Fort Edward a day or two before, under an escort of rangers led by Major Israel Putnam. He examined the fort and the entrenched camp, and sent Putnam on a scout down the lake, who discovered a large force of French and Indians preparing to move on the fort. This fact Webb concealed from Colonel Monro, and immediately returned to Fort Edward with the same scout. Not doubting the intention of his superior to give him all the aid in his power, the veteran, when, on the 4th of August, Montcalm demanded an instantaneous surrender of the fort, in a defiant tone refused compliance. The siege was at once commenced and prosecuted with the utmost vigor; but Monro held out, in continual expectation of aid from General Webb. Express after express was sent through by-ways to Fort Edward, imploring aid; but Webb, fearing an attack on that post, would not spare a man. Finally, when Sir William Johnston was allowed to march with Putnam, his rangers and some provincials to the relief of Monro, the whole force was recalled when within two or three miles of Fort William Henry. Instead of forwarding relief to the beleaguered garrison, Webb sent a letter to their commander, in which he gave an exaggerated estimate of the numbers of the French and Indians and advised him to surrender to prevent a massacre. Montcalm was on the point of raising the siege, when some of his scouts intercepted the letter. His ammunition and provisions were running short, and he was on the point of returning to Ticonderoga.” The letter once more revived hope in his
breast, and he sent the letter to Monro, with a summons for him to surrender. The commander of Fort William Henry at once saw the hopelessmess of his situation. His own means of defence were almost exhausted, and he could expect no aid from Fort Edward. Very reluctantly, he yielded to the honorable terms which were agreed upon. The terms on which the surrender was to be made were that the garrison were to march out with the honors of war, carrying arms and one cannon in recognition of their gallant defence of the fort, Monro agreeing that his men should not bear arms against France for the term of eighteen months; also to deliver at Ticonderoga, all the French and Indian prisoners in the hands of the English. Montcalm pledged himself to furnish a strong escort. half-way to Fort Edward. All this had been arranged at a council in which the Indians were not represented, and there was some murmuring from the first by them against the terms of the capitulation. On the evening of the 9th of August, the French entered the fort and the English left it. “I have kept intoxicating liquors from the Indians,” said Montcalm to the Americans, “ and wish to earnestly impress on you the necessity of doing the same. As you value your lives, do not under any circumstances give or sell any liquors to them.” Had the Americans obeyed the wise injunctions of Montcalm, the massacre which followed might have been averted; but some of the looser characters among the Americans dealt out liquor unsparingly to the savages. Before midnight, the hoots and yells and singing and dancing of the savages bore evidence that they were under the effects of the liquor. After a night's carousal, the Indians were ready for mischief. At dawn they gathered about in groups near the English, murmuring their discontent at not being consulted as to the terms of surrender, and threatening to break the terms of capitulation. When the Americans began their march toward Fort Edward, the infuriated Indians fell upon them, plundered nearly all of them, murdered a large number of the soldiers and women, and made many prisoners. Montcalm's attention was attracted to the awful scene by the continuous yells and hoots of the savages. Calling to De Levi to follow him, he dashed over the walls of the fort sword in hand, determined, at the risk of his own life, to put a stop to the massacre. An Indian had seized an infant, which he threatened to slay with his knife. The mother was struggling on her knees in the grasp of a second savage, who had raised his tomahawk to brain her, just as Montcalm reached the scene.
“Hold, monsters!” roared the Frenchman and, with the back of his sword, he felled one savage, while his fist shot out, striking and blinding the other. Montcalm and De Levi endangered their lives and were assailed by the Indians; but, after a stubborn fight, the Indians were humbled and the massacre finally stayed. The survivors were sent to Canada under a strong escort, and the prisoners were afterward ransomed in Canada.
Fort William Henry was totally destroyed, and to-day only an irregular line of low mounds marks the place where once it stood.
The cowardly General Webb at Fort Edward, with almost six thousand men, expecting to be attacked at any moment, sent off his private baggage to a place of safety called the Hudson Highlands; but Montcalm, having accomplished the chief object of the expedition, returned to Lake Champlain to rest on his laurels. So ended the campaigns of 1757. Through Loudon's incompetency, the French had advanced, and the English-American colonists found themselves in jeopardy from a cunning foe in the forest, a powerful enemy on the north and west, and the home government, which seemed to threaten them with perpetual slavery. The bird of freedom only slumbered. The Americans were learning a valuable but bitter lesson by experience. Their rough