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Old 10-14-2020
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For some half-hour it was impossible in the din and the smoke from the firing, added to the fact that both armies were magnificently entrenched, to tell which side was doing the more deadly work, but for more than two hours the rattle of musketry, of Rexer machine guns, of Maxims, and three and four inch guns told one that the death-roll must be tremendous. Such incessant rattle was not known even in the Russo-Japanese War. Suddenly the fleet moved upwards. No one seemed to take notice of the move or to attach great importance to it. A small village below the Japanese Bund was as peaceful as if battle was removed a thousand miles from it, and the villagers, preparing their morning rice, paid but little heed to the gradually nearing musketry. To myself there came a fear that from my temporary resting-place I should soon have to shift. Down behind the stones at the Kilometre Ten station I could then see the Revolutionary troops beginning to rise and prepare for a withdrawal. Simultaneously, from the railway away to the north, three companies of regular troops, well in command and meaning business, came down, orderly enough, marched out into the open field, knelt, and prepared for fire. But what at? Eyes had been taken from the {70} gun-boats, which were now within such distance that their operations could easily be seen with the naked eye. They were evidently preparing to sweep the decks of the cruisers with rifle-shot if they came within firing distance. Field-guns appeared to be all forward with the main fighting line, and this batch of infantry was all that was available.

The Revolutionary army was drawn up over a very wide area, stretching from the river bank above Kilometre Ten to a point far over away from the other side of the railway, the whole forming a right angle with three main fortified points, and in between were companies of infantry entrenched. The shells from the Loyalists, put in from several guns over the whole of the enemy's right angle, were tearing the ranks to pieces. This could be seen through the glasses. But gradually the fighting came nearer. The men who were fighting for the establishment of their Republic were being slowly driven back. First one company would move a little back, kneel again, and whole-heartedly recommence musketry fire. But the moment came, not much after 9.30 a.m., when it became apparent that the ships were going to add their quota—and all too deadly a quota as it transpired—to rout the Revolutionists. First came a terrific boom, which rent the air, even though all the firing round about ceased not for a moment. There seemed then in the air to be for a single moment a silence boding terrible evil. There was another bang; the shell burst right in the railway—just in the station which had been the pride of the Revolutionary forces as their formidable base—a flame was seen to go up from one of the buildings in the front, and the Admiral saw that he had got his range.


THE EFFECT OF A NAVAL BOMBARDMENT. This populous village was burned to the ground in the first engagement of Admiral Sah's fleet with revolutionary army.
THE EFFECT OF A NAVAL BOMBARDMENT.
This populous village was burned to the ground in the first
engagement of Admiral Sah's fleet with revolutionary army.

For an army well trained in the arts of war, old veterans of modern warfare, it would be a brave thing, perhaps foolhardy, to endeavour to stand before an army equal to itself and a naval force whose strength was unknown. Much more would it be to expect it of {71} an army, a great percentage made up of raw recruits, who had hardly handled a rifle before this Revolution broke out. At the time of which I am writing this was the position of the Revolutionary Army. From the land forces they could expect as much as they could tackle with the forces they had then at their base. It had been a good fight, and they had held their ground well, feeling the need of trained troops. In addition to that, many of the trained troops were shot down by their own men—recruits who had been placed in the rear lines and had shot down the regulars at the front—a most regrettable feature for the Revolutionists during the whole campaign.

Now that warships began to pelt shells into the Revolutionary camp with alarming precision, it seemed hopeless for them. The great majority, however, with marked coolness stuck to their guns.

Over the land came the whistle of Admiral Sah's shells—their effect was terrific. Soon it was seen that the Revolutionists would have to evacuate. To stay in their present situation would have meant only utter disaster, and they saw it was a hopeless task. Many of them came slowly from the ranks, all muddy and disordered, tired and forlorn, and made their way back through the sympathetic villages and along the railway line towards Hankow native city. Then they came away pellmell, and the Imperialists pelted them with shells as they fled. Peking men crept up through the trenches with capital skill, being officered splendidly, and showing by all that they did—gunners and infantry—that they were a modern army, and to be reckoned with. They then came away to the Racecourse; were temporarily beaten back by a ragtail and bobtail crowd of Revolutionists, more ardent than skilful, who had taken up a fresh stand. Firing was recommenced, and the Imperialists, despite the fact that Maxims were turned on them with terrific force, came up through the trenches. Their bravery was one of the wonderful {72} features of the day, and will be handed down in history. Hopelessly were they mown down, brutally were they knocked out by Maxim fire, but they stuck to it and came along in a style British regiments would not look down upon.

"Brothers!" they would exclaim in their ignorance, "we are fighting a pack of robbers and hooligans. We must fight to save our country from unworthy men."

Towards two o'clock, after scouting parties had been working from both sides, they again came to close quarters by the side of the Japanese Concession, and it was feared that the Foreign Concessions would be rushed on the first day's fight. These settlements, however were guarded splendidly—American, Austrian, British, French, German, and Japanese naval contingents being stationed all over the place, with the roads all barricaded, and every measure taken to preserve peace and order.

The number of dead in this battle, as in most of the others, was not known.

Following on the Imperial success earlier in the day, Admiral Sah then sent official intimation to British Rear-Admiral Winsloe, who was nominally in charge of the foreign defences, that he would commence to bombard Wuchang on the morrow at three p.m. A consular circular was sent round to that effect, strongly advising that all women and children should leave. It further said that the foreign gunboats might drop down river, but that full guards would be landed and kept in the Concessions for defence. The volunteers also would remain on duty.
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In addition to that, many of the trained troops were shot down by their own men—recruits who had been placed in the rear lines and had shot down the regulars at the front—a most regrettable feature for the Revolutionists during the whole campaign.
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It was during these days that Admiral Sah played a remarkable game of bluff. The promised bombardment did not come off, and it was afterwards learned that it had never been intended. On board the cruisers there was a shortage of ammunition, among the crew the greatest dissatisfaction was openly expressed; the Admiral was not quite sure that if he bombarded {73} Wuchang he would cause a surrender; he also entertained the feeling that this was a squabble of the land forces, and told the Imperial leaders he thought they should be strong enough to end the affair themselves—and so the days passed by without any serious interference in Wuchang of General Li Yuan Hung's policy of sitting tight. The added moral effect of his holding Wuchang to the Revolution was tremendous: each day brought news of either provincial capitals or "fu" cities throwing in their lot with the Revolution, and Li, far-seeing and tremendously capable, held back the attack the Wuchang garrison was anxious to commence, and concentrated his army on the Hankow side.

Here fighting was being carried on with a pluck which astounded all beholders. The Imperial Army was for the first time since the Chinese Model Army had been organised plunged into real warfare. The Revolutionists—a teeming multitude, it is true—were for the most part raw recruits, men who had never stood before gun-fire, whom one could reasonably have expected to be "gun-shy." But their bravery, because they believed their fight was one for emancipation, from what very few of the raw recruit element knew probably, would have made many an Occidental regiment blush with envy.

Truly were those first days of the war a season of intense excitement and surprise.

By November 1st the Imperialists, already in possession of Kilometre Ten and the whole line from Peking, by persevering and undaunted behaviour, excellent discipline, and military common sense, had won their way to the Tachimen, the railway station behind the French Concession. That morning I was in the camp at the station. Foreigners had been looked upon with suspicion, and as I entered the station some of the officers looked askance at me. No other army would have allowed me to pass the barrier without having seen a pass. But pass I had none. As I sat chatting {74} to a crowd of well-knit northern fellows, who seemed perfectly at ease and to have all they wished for—except cigarettes, for which they were constantly making inquiries—it was difficult to believe that one was in the very centre of the topical world. The eyes of every one were turned towards this great struggle between Chinese and Chinese. Every newspaper in London and New York was concentrating upon the war. China's Revolution was on the far political horizon, for what affected China just then affected the world. And as those Imperial fellows at their military base congratulated each other that at least they had the chance of being actually in war, they had but little idea of the importance attaching to the conflict. Shells that dropped around me, however, were bringing messages of a China that was to be.

Not a hundred yards from where I sat were four field-guns—deadly four-inchers, the modern Krupp—sending shells into Hanyang as fast as the gunners were able to work. The booming shook the whole city, sending frightened children to their mothers, themselves at their wits' ends with fear. Revolutionary batteries at Hanyang, not yet silenced or showing any signs of giving up the fight, dropped its shells sometimes nearer, sometimes farther, never into the battery here on the railroad.

As an interested spectator, I sat on a few sleepers and watched where the shells dropped from both sets of guns. It was a casual pastime, and no one seemed to mind my being there. The gunners would, with highest glee, explain how the four-inchers were worked, would point away towards Hanyang Hill and tell you they were trying to pot the temple overlooking the Yangtze, and when a shell from the enemy dropped anywhere near there was a shout of enthusiastic mirth. They would look at one astutely, smile, inquire into one's family associations in characteristic Chinese style, and {75} were highly delighted if relevantly one could carry on conversation with them in Chinese. The average military observer would probably have declared the Imperial Army to be a peculiar military force. Into the daily routine the extravagant Chinese etiquette was worked in conjunction with a discipline quite strange to Chinese, and on the face of things it would not seem, viewed from camp life, that China's army was in any way a modern army. But that this Model Army of China is as much of a myth as some would have us believe, I, now in it all, could not for a moment endorse. The foreigner has always looked upon the Chinese as a man who would not fight him with the weapons of war; his main attack would be the weapons of commerce, of boycott, or of trust. But the Chinese Army to-day is certainly no myth. It is strong enough to preserve peace with other countries, if not to enter into any external strife with the idea of winning.

That the Revolutionists had the numbers I would have been the first to admit, but the trained fighter is the man who wins in battle. Not one-fifth of their troops were trained soldiers; they have been seen to come out into the fighting line, wearing the uniform of the military it is true, to put the butts of their pieces upon their hips and let fly, until they saw their own men falling dead in front of them, shot from behind. But with the Northern Army it needed only a stroll round their camp to convince the most casual of observers that the Revolutionary's enemy was an army, doing things as an army should. The army defending the Throne was the product of twelve years of strenuous work by a great genius. The Northern Army was founded upon principles set down by Yuan Shih K'ai, the genius of things military in China, and that genius, using his brains but seeing nothing of the fight, was just then directing the operations as they proceeded.

Whether the Imperialists were getting to know more about that for which they were fighting, whether a {76} great many in the rank and file were anxious to throw up the sponge and go back to their homes, whether a certain section of them were anxious to change coats and go over to the other ranks and shoot down those by whose side they had been trained did not affect the general position. The Imperialists were the cogs of the machine, and for their life they could not stop fighting. They might have been half-hearted, as many said they were, but their organisation was almost perfect.
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As I sat on the railway sleepers a crowd of soldiers soon gathered. Some held their rice-bowls up to me, and with their chopsticks as they ate asked me to chi-fan, and when I took a hard piece of bread from one of the infantry and began to munch at it to show that there was not the slightest ill-feeling they all screamed with laughter, and each swore that I was a good all-round sort of fellow. And then we fell to talking. "Ah!" indignantly yelled the officer, when I asked him why Chinese were fighting Chinese, "these men are rebels—ding kuai, ding kuai tih ren![1] They are making it nasty for the foreign Concessions, and our Government are going to put it down. They are not real soldiers. They are only robbers and wicked men; they can't fight. We [and the man stroked himself down] are the fighters." And then he invited me to go a little way with him, until we came in sight of the guns then sending out the shells. "We have guns here that would blow those fellows into that great river, and if they don't give up soon that's what we are going to do. We are not going to leave a house standing; it is Yuan Shih K'ai's orders, and in a few days it will all be over, and we shall all go back to Peking and have a holiday. Yuan Shih K'ai," he softly said, "is down at Kilometre Ten,[2] and {77} he will not come up farther. He is a wonderful fellow. He has his fingers on the situation, and is merely waiting his time. The Revolutionists think that he is afraid because our men are not fighting to-day, but you wait; presently you will see all the people in this city killed. We are killing anybody we can see, and shall kill many, many more yet."

"But don't you think that that's a funny sort of tao li for Chinese to kill Chinese?" Then the man turned his head away and did a half-hearted smile. "Ah! that's altogether another question. That was the old style. We are a new army, and we are told to fight for a New China. We don't want our country to fall into the control of all those wicked men."

"Yes, I can see that right enough. But these poor fellows that your crack shooting is knocking over are good fellows, and are all fighting for the good of their country too——"

But he interrupted me. He would have none of it. He thought that I was myself a Revolutionist, and ceased talking. "That's what they tell you," he finally remarked. "If they get into power, it will be totally different."

Again I approached him as he walked from me. "I'm afraid that you have not got the truth of the story. These men think that they are in the right. They are not the robbers you think them, surely. Probably you have been misinformed, and——"

"We're not misinformed. Our officers are all good men, and our men are the best that could be sent. We are the best in the army, and that is the reason we were sent...."

* * * * *

It soon became evident that a threat of the {78} Imperialists would be carried out. Their first threat was that they would get Hankow the first day, Hanyang the second, Wuchang the third. Hankow would soon be taken. Everybody knew that. Whether Yuan Shih K'ai would allow his army to burn it to the ground, as was stated was his intention, was, however, another matter. None believed that such savagery would be allowed; but that was the threat, and, after all, fires are common in wartime.


TACHIMEN, WITH IMPERIALISTS IN OCCUPATION. This was the Imperialist headquarters till the withdrawal of the Northern Army from the Wuhan centre.
TACHIMEN, WITH IMPERIALISTS IN OCCUPATION.
This was the Imperialist headquarters till the withdrawal
of the Northern Army from the Wuhan centre.


The Rev. A. J. McFarlane, Headmaster of the Griffith John College, who remained some distance from Hankow during most of the heavy fighting, gave me the following account of a somewhat dangerous ride he had along the road at the back of the city. It will serve to show the conditions around the country during the time the fusillading was hardest:—

"On Sunday, October 29th, the Imperial troops had fought their way all along the railway line from the Sing Seng Road to the River Han at Ch'iaokow, and from the College we heard the bark of the Maxims for the first time on Sunday evening, and that night there were fires in nine places around the railway line. But by Monday evening a counter-attack of Hunan troops seemed to have carried the tide of battle back again to the Tachimen Station; and local rumours said that the Imperialists were all cut to pieces, or had surrendered. Certainly it was evident from the firing that they had fallen back a long way, and as we had had no news from Hankow for four days, and were in need of silver for salaries, and for the scholars' food, I decided on Tuesday to try and get through to the Concessions. (We had continued a few classes regularly till Saturday, but on Sunday the last two Chinese masters left.)

"The three-mile ride to the beginning of the native city was marked by the signs of recent fighting, and I had to make a detour where some Imperialists were said to be concealed in a hut, and sniping was going {79} on. I got to the Ma-loo, on the old city wall, and found the whole place deserted; even the mud huts of the beggars were empty and half-burnt; and in place of the usual crowd of foot-passengers, bearers, and rickshaws there was not a human being, not even a stray dog in sight. Hankow native city seemed like a city of the dead—it was not burned till the next day, Wednesday—and there must have been still thousands hidden away in the houses. After about a mile of the road, where signs of the stern resistance—shell holes in houses and strewn cartridge-cases—were on every side, I came to five or six Hunan soldiers, lying in the shelter of the parapet by the roadside, waiting for snipe-shots at Imperial soldiers, who were in possession of the railway bank, running parallel to the Ma-loo, about half a mile away. They waved me forward in a friendly way, evidently not wishing to reveal their presence to the enemy. So I continued the lonely ride, and passed the mangled body of a black-coat, covered with flies, and a heap of unused shells, telling their tale of defeat and hasty retreat. The silent air was heavy with the smell of death, and the odour of burned flesh and wood was everywhere. Suddenly a flash and the bang of a rifle from the railway bank, and as I did not know whether it was meant for me I dismounted and walked forward a little to show myself as a foreigner, but as nothing more followed I cycled on again, and soon passed another ten black-coats, lying by the roadside, waiting for pot-shots at the railway bank, and a few more in the shelter of a house, firing through the ruined windows. There were one or two more dead Revolutionists, and a half-burned pony or cow among some ruined huts, and farther on a dead woman by the roadside, evidently of the beggar class, lying half-naked in a pool of blood. As I neared the Water Tower there were two or three small stalls open, and a few people about; and I caught the first glimpse of a squad of {80} grey-coats, moving, some way off, among the huts. The Marines, at the end of the Ma-loo, helped my bicycle over the barrier of sacks and bricks there, and the report of a cannon firing close by just at that moment emphasised the heavenly sense of safety and relief as one trod once more on Concession soil, where all was peace and quiet.

"At 3 p.m. as the conditions seemed much the same, and I had done my business and secured the needed dollars, I rode back again the same way without any adventures, save for a jumpy, tightening feeling round the heart as a few sniping shots passed backwards and forwards again, till I got beyond the city to the comparative safety of the deserted countryside, and to a hearty welcome from the School."
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oh sweet mute, oh that sweet mute button
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COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY
MARY COCHRANE ROGERS



[1]

Rogers’ Rock Lake George
March 13, 1758


A Battle Fought
on Snow Shoes



By MARY COCHRANE ROGERS

Great-Great-Granddaughter of
Major Robert Rogers



Lake George was frozen and the snow four feet deep in the woods, when on March 10, 1758, Colonel Haviland, commanding at Fort Edward, sent Major Rogers with one hundred and eighty men to reconnoitre the French position at Carillon, or Ticonderoga.

Rogers and his Rangers marched from Fort Edward in snow shoes to the half-way brook, in the road leading to Lake George, and there encamped the first night.

On the 11th they proceeded as far as the First Narrows on Lake George and encamped that evening on the east side of the lake.

At sunrise of the 12th they marched from their encampment. When they had gone some three miles, the Major saw a dog running across the lake. Thinking that the Indians might be lying in ambush, he sent a detachment to reconnoitre the island. None, however, could be seen.[2] To prevent the enemy from discovering his force, Rogers halted at Sabbath-Day Point, on the west side of the lake. From the hills he looked northward over the lake with his perspective glass, but could see no signs of French or Indians. As soon as it was dark the party advanced down the lake. Lieutenant Phillips and fifteen men, laying aside their snow shoes and putting on skates, glided down the lake, as an advanced guard. The main body, flanked on the left by Ensign Ross, marched under the west shore. It was a very dark night and the band of rugged foresters kept close together to prevent separation. In this manner they continued their silent march close to the mountains fringing the lake until within eight miles of the French advanced guards, when they were informed by Lieutenant Phillips, who had hastened back, that a fire had been discovered in the woods on the east shore.

The Rangers, after hiding their sleighs and packs in a thicket, marched to attack the enemy’s encampment, but when they reached the place no fires were to be seen. They did not know that the French had discovered their advanced guard and, putting out their fire, had carried the intelligence to Ticonderoga. The Rangers then returned to their packs and there lay the remainder of the night without fire, so that no column of blue smoke would reveal their hiding place.

At sunrise of the 13th the Rangers left the lake and on snow shoes struck into the woods on the west side, keeping on the back of the [3]mountains that overlooked the French advanced guards.

They halted at noon at a point nearly west of the mountain—that from that day was to bear the name of Rogers—and some two miles from the French lines. Little did they know what that tragic afternoon held in store for them. Here they refreshed themselves until 3 o’clock, that the day scout from the fort might return before they advanced, since the Major intended at night to ambuscade some of the roads in order to trap the enemy in the morning.

Once more they began their toilsome march, one division headed by Major Rogers, the other by Captain Buckley; a rivulet at a small distance was on their left, and a steep mountain on their right. They kept well to the mountain, for the Major thought that the enemy would travel on the ice of the rivulet since it was very bad travelling on snow shoes. When they had gone a mile and a half a scout from the front told Rogers that the enemy was approaching on the bed of the frozen stream,—ninety-six of them—chiefly savages. The Rangers, concealed by the bank of the rivulet, immediately laid an ambush, gave the first fire and killed above forty Indians whom they scalped on the spot. The rest retreated, followed by about one-half of the Rangers, who were exulting over their victory, only to be suddenly confronted by more than six hundred Canadians and Indians fresh from Fort Ticonderoga, under Durantaye and De Langry, French officers of reputation, who were fully prepared to meet four hundred Rangers, of[4] whose movements they had been apprized both by the prisoner taken and by the deserter from Putnam’s men. Rogers ordered a retreat, which he gained at the expense of fifty men killed; the remainder he rallied and drew up in good order. They fought with such intrepidity and bravery that they obliged the enemy “tho seven to one in number,” to retreat a second time, but Rogers had not sufficient numbers to follow up the advantage. The enemy then rallied and, recovering their ground, fought with great tenacity and determination, but were so warmly received that they were put to rout the third time. Finding the Rogers party so much inferior to themselves in number, the enemy again rallied and renewed the fight with vigor for some time. A body of two hundred Indians were now discovered going up the mountain on the right in order to gain the rear of the Rangers. Lieutenant Phillips with eighteen men gained the first possession and beat them back. Lieutenant Crafton with fifteen men stopped the French on the left from gaining the other part of the mountain. Two gentlemen volunteers hastened up and supported him with great bravery. The enemy now pushed so closely on the front that the combatants were often not twenty yards apart, and sometimes were mixed together. Lieutenant Phillips, surrounded by three hundred Indians, surrendered under promise of good quarter, but a few minutes later he and his whole party were tied to trees and hacked to death in a most barbarous manner. The savages maddened, it is said, by the sight[5] of a scalp they found in the breast of a man’s hunting frock, revenged themselves on their victims by holding up their scalps. The Rangers were now broken and put to flight, each man for himself, while the Indians, closely pursuing, took several prisoners.
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My great-great-grandfather in his modest narrative does not mention his own hairbreadth escape. The Rangers, when put to flight, retreated in the best manner possible. Rogers was singled out by the French; the Indians, closely pursuing, ran him up the steep mountain then known as Bald Mountain, since Rogers Rock, to its face, and there on the brow of the precipice he threw away his knapsack and clothes together with his commission. There was but one chance for his life, and death was preferable to capture and torture by the savages.

Slowly the sun is setting over the mountain tops, gilding the lake below, as down the face of the precipitous rock for more than a thousand feet he slides in his snow shoes to the frozen lake below, and there, quickly changing his snow shoes for skates, glides over the vast white desert. Scarcely had he disappeared from sight when the foremost warrior reached the cliff sure of his prey—“No Roger!” There were his tracks! Other warriors came running up to the cliff sure of the prize—Rogers’ scalp—for the enemy dreaded him, and with reason—and gazed upon his tracks.

Soon a rapidly receding form on the ice below attracted their notice, and the baffled savages, seeing that the famous Ranger had safely [6]effected the perilous descent, gave up the chase fully persuaded that Rogers was under the protection of the Great Spirit. The Indians have a superstition, that the witches or evil spirits haunt this place, and seizing upon the spirits of bad Indians, on their way to the happy hunting grounds, slide down the precipitous cliff with them into the lake where they are drowned. Atalapose is their word for a sliding place.

During the one and one-half hours of battle the Rangers lost eight officers and more than one hundred privates killed on the spot. The enemy lost one hundred and fifty killed and some one hundred and fifty wounded, mostly Indians.

Was Colonel Haviland so indifferent and shortsighted as to send Robert Rogers with his brave Rangers to meet this impossible situation at such a great loss of life, or was he influenced by improper motives? Evidently Rogers’s suspicions were awakened, for the clause, “but my commander doubtless had his reasons, and is able to vindicate his own conduct,” is italicized in his journal.

This is what Major General John Stark, the friend and companion of Rogers says, though not in the engagement, of Colonel Haviland’s act: “This officer was the same who sent him (Rogers) out in March, 1758, with a small force, when he knew a superior one lay in wait for him. He was one of those sort of men who manage to escape public censure, let them do what they will. He ought to have been cashiered for his conduct on that occasion. He was one of the many British officers who were meanly jealous[7] of the daring achievements of their brave American comrades, but for whose intrepidity and arduous services, all the British armies, sent to America during the seven years’ war would have effected little toward the conquest of Canada.”—Memoir of Gen. John Stark, page 454.

Rogers was saved by a miracle and by his own daring. Thus ended his brave but unfortunate battle on snow shoes.

General Montcalm in a letter dated less than a month after the encounter, says: “Our Indians would give no quarter; they have brought back one hundred and forty-six scalps.”

We can not with certainty say what Rogers, at this time twenty-six years of age, might have done had he had four hundred strong—but there is every probability that he would have put the enemy to rout.

When I visited this beautiful and romantic region, where one hundred and fifty years ago, and something more, the famous action took place, my mind passed in swift review through that notable afternoon when the Rangers fought one of their most desperate and unequal battles in the “Old French and Indian War.”

In fancy I saw this picturesque body of Rangers, clad in skin and gray duffle hunting frocks; each man well armed with firelock, hatchet, and scalping knife, a bullock’s horn full of powder hanging under his right arm by a belt from the left shoulder, and a leathern or seal skin bag, buckled around his waist, hanging down in front full of bullets and smaller shot, the size of full grown peas, and in the bottom of[8] my great-great-grandfather’s powder horn a small compass, while the French officers were clad in bright uniforms and the Indians in true Indian fashion gaily decorated with war paint.

I seemed to hear this peaceful solitude made hideous with the yells of the savages.

Behind this bank the Rangers lay in ambush for the Indians and killed and scalped about forty of them. Here they were confronted by more than six hundred Canadians and Indians well versed in forest warfare.
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A Gentleman of the army, who was a volunteer on this party, and who with another fell into the hands of the French, wrote the following letter, some time after, to the officer commanding the regiment they belonged to at Fort Edward.


Carillon, March 28, 1758.

“Dear Sir,


“As a flag of truce is daily expected here with an answer to Monsieur Vaudreuil, I sit down to write the moment I am able, in order to have a letter ready, as no doubt you and our friends at Fort Edward are anxious to be informed about Mr. —— and me, whom probably you have reckoned amongst the slain in our unfortunate rencontre[10] of the 13th, concerning which at present I shall not be particular; only to do this justice to those who lost their lives there, and to those who have escaped, to assure you, Sir, that such dispositions were formed by the enemy (who discovered us long before), it was impossible for a party so weak as ours to hope for even a retreat. Towards the conclusion of the affair, it was cried from a rising ground on our right, to retire there; where, after scrambling with difficulty, as I was unaccustomed to snow-shoes, I found Capt. Rogers, and told him that I saw to retire further was impossible, therefore earnestly begged we might collect all the men left, and make a stand there. Mr. ——, who was with him, was of my opinion, and Capt. Rogers also; who therefore desired me to maintain one side of the hill, whilst he defended the other. Our parties did not exceed above ten or twelve in each, and mine was shifting towards the mountain, leaving me unable to defend my post, or to labour with them up the hill. In the meantime, Capt. Rogers with his party came to me, and said (as did those with him) that a large body of Indians had ascended to our right; he likewise added, what was true, that the combat was very unequal, that I must retire, and he would give Mr. —— and me a Serjeant to conduct us thro’ the mountain. No doubt prudence required us to accept his offer; but, besides one of my snow-shoes being untied, I knew myself unable to march as fast as was requisite to avoid becoming a sacrifice to an enemy we could no longer oppose; I therefore begged of him to proceed, and then leaned against a rock in the path, determined to submit to a fate I thought unavoidable. Unfortunately for Mr. —— his snow-shoes were loosened likewise, which obliged him to determine with me, not to labour in a flight we were both unequal to. Every instant we expected the savages; but what induced[11] them to quit this path, in which we actually saw them, we are ignorant of, unless they changed it for a shorter, to intercept those who had just left us. By their noise, and making a fire, we imagined they had got the rum in the Rangers’ packs. This thought, with the approach of night, gave us the first hopes of retiring; and when the moon arose, we marched to the southward along the mountains about three hours, which brought us to ice, and gave us reason to hope our difficulties were almost past; but we knew not we had enemies yet to combat with, more cruel than the savages we had escaped. We marched all night, and on the morning of the 14th found ourselves entirely unacquainted with the ice. Here we saw a man, who came towards us; he was the servant of Capt. Rogers, with whom he had been often times all over the country, and, without the least hesitation whatsoever, he informed us we were upon South-Bay; that Wood-Creek was just before us; that he knew the way to Fort Anne extremely well, and would take us to Fort Edward the next day. Notwithstanding we were disappointed in our hopes of being upon Lake George, we thought ourselves fortunate in meeting such a guide, to whom we gave entire confidence, and which he in fact confirmed, by bringing us to a creek, where he shewed the tracks of Indians, and the path he said they had taken to Fort Anne. After struggling thro’ the snow some hours, we were obliged to halt to make snow-shoes, as Mr. —— and the guide had left theirs at arriving upon the ice. Here we remained all night, without any blankets, no coat, and but a single waistcoat each, for I gave one of mine to Mr. ——, who had laid aside his green jacket in the field, as I did likewise my furred cap, which became a mark to the enemy, and probably was the cause of a slight wound in my face; so that I had but a silk handkerchief on my head,[12] and our fire could not be large, as we had nothing to cut wood with. Before morning we contrived, with forked sticks and strings of leather, a sort of snow-shoes, to prevent sinking entirely; and, on the 15th, followed our guide west all day, but he did not fulfil his promise; however the next day it was impossible to fail: but even then, the 16th, he was unsuccessful; yet still we were patient, because he seemed well acquainted with the way, for he gave every mountain a name, and shewed us several places, where he said his master had either killed deer or encamped. The ground, or rather the want of sunshine, made us incline to the southward, from whence by accident we saw ice, at several miles distance, to the south-east. I was very certain, that, after marching two days west of South Bay, Lake George could not lie south-east from us, and therefore concluded this to be the upper end of the bay we had left. For this reason, together with the assurances of our guide, I advised continuing our course to the west, which must shortly strike Fort Anne, or some other place that we knew. But Mr. —— wished to be upon ice at any rate; he was unable to continue in the snow, for the difficulties of our march had overcome him. And really, Sir, was I to be minute in those we had experienced already and afterwards, they would almost be as tiresome to you to read, as they were to us to suffer.
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“Our snow-shoes breaking, and sinking to our middle every fifty paces, the scrambling up mountains, and across fallen timber, our nights without sleep or covering, and but little fire, gathered with great fatigue, our sustenance mostly water, and the bark and berries of trees; for all our provisions from the beginning was only a small Bologna sausage, and a little ginger, I happened to have, and which even now was very much decreased; so that I knew not how to oppose Mr. ——’s intreaties; but[13] as our guide still persisted Fort Anne was near, we concluded to search a little longer, and if we made no discovery to proceed next day towards the ice; but we sought in vain, as did our guide the next morning, tho’ he returned, confidently asserting he had discoverd fresh proofs, that the fort could not be far off. I confess I was still inclined to follow him, for I was almost certain the best we could hope from descending upon this ice to our left, was to throw ourselves into the hands of the French, and perhaps not be able to effect even that; but, from the circumstances I have mentioned, it was a point I must yield to, which I did with great reluctancy. The whole day of the 17th we marched a dreadful road, between the mountains, with but one good snow-shoe each, the other of our own making being almost useless. The 18th brought us to the ice, which tho’ we longed to arrive at, yet I still dreaded the consequence, and with reason, for the first sight informed us, it was the very place we had left five days before. Here I must own my resolution almost failed me; when fatigue, cold, hunger, and even the prospect of perishing in the woods attended us, I still had hopes, and still gave encouragement, but now I wanted it myself; we had no resource but to throw ourselves into the enemy’s hands, or perish. We had nothing to eat, our slender stock had been equally shared amongst us three, and we were not so fortunate as even to see either bird or beast to shoot at. When our first thoughts were a little calmed, we conceived hopes, that, if we appeared before the French fort, with a white flag, the commanding officer would relieve and return us to Fort Edward. This served to palliate our nearest approach to despair, and determined a resolution, where, in fact, we had no choice. I knew Carillon had an extensive view up South Bay, therefore we concluded to halt during the evening, and[14] march in the night, that we might approach it in the morning, besides the wind pierced us like a sword; but instead of its abating it increased, together with a freezing rain, that incrusted us entirely with ice, and obliged us to remain until morning, the 19th, when we fortunately got some juniper berries, which revived, gave us spirits, and I thought strength. We were both so firmly of that opinion, that we proposed taking the advantage of its being a dark snowy day, to approach Carillon, to pass it in the night, and get upon Lake George. With difficulty we persuaded the guide to be of our opinion, we promised large rewards in vain, until I assured him of provisions hid upon the lake; but we little considered how much nature was exhausted, and how unequal we were to the task; however, a few miles convinced us; we were soon midway up our legs in the newfallen snow; it drove full in our faces, and was as dark as the fogs upon the banks of Newfoundland. Our strength and our hopes sunk together, nay, even those of reaching Carillon were doubtful, but we must proceed or perish. As it cleared up a little, we laboured to see the fort, which at every turn we expected, until we came to where the ice was gone, and the water narrow. This did not agree with my idea of South Bay, but it was no time for reflection; we quitted the ice to the left, and after marching two miles, our guide assured us we ought to be on the other side of the water. This was a very distressing circumstance, yet we returned to the ice and passed to the right, where, after struggling through the snow, about four miles, and breaking in every second step, as we had no snow-shoes, we were stopped by a large water-fall. Here I was again astonished with appearances, but nothing now was to be thought of only reaching the fort before night; yet to pass this place seemed impracticable; however, I attempted to ford it a[15] little higher, and had almost gained the opposite shore, where the depth of the water, which was up to my breast and the rapidity of the stream, hurried me off the slippery rocks, and plunged me entirely in the waters. I was obliged to quit my fuzee, and with great difficulty escaped being carried down the fall.
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Mr. ——, who followed me, and the guide, though they held by one another, suffered the same fate; but the hopes of soon reaching a fire made us think lightly of this: as night approached, we laboured excessively through the snow; we were certain the fort was not far from us, but our guide confessed, for the first time, that he was at a loss. Here we plainly observed that his brain was affected: he saw Indians all around him, and though we have since learned we had every thing to fear from them, yet it was a danger we did not now attend to; nay, we shouted aloud several times to give information we were there; but we could neither hear nor see any body to lead us right, or more likely to destroy us, and if we halted a minute we became pillars of ice; so that we resolved, as it froze so hard, to make a fire, although the danger was apparent. Accidentally we had one dry cartridge, and in trying with my pistol if it would flash a little of the powder, Mr. —— unfortunately held the cartridge too near, by which it took fire, blew up in our faces, almost blinded him, and gave excessive pain. This indeed promised to be the last stroke of fortune, as our hopes of a fire were now no more; but although we were not anxious about life, we knew it was more becoming to oppose than yield to this last misfortune. We made a path round a tree, and there exercised all the night, though scarcely able to stand, or prevent each other from sleeping. Our guide, notwithstanding repeated cautions, straggled from us, where he sat down and died immediately. On the morning of the 20th, we saw[16] the fort, which we approached with a white flag: the officers run violently towards us, and saved us from a danger we did not then apprehend; for we are informed, that if the Indians, who were close after them, had seized us first, it would not have been in the power of the French to have prevented our being hurried to their camp, and perhaps to Montreal the next day, or killed for not being able to march. Mons. Debecourt[1] and all his officers treat us with humanity and politeness, and are solicitous in our recovery, which returns slowly, as you may imagine, from all these difficulties; and though I have omitted many, yet I am afraid you will think me too prolix; but we wish, Sir, to persuade you of a truth, that nothing but the situation I have faithfully described could determine us in a resolution which appeared only one degree preferable to perishing in the woods.

“I shall make no comments upon these distresses; the malicious perhaps will say, which is very true, we brought them upon ourselves; but let them not wantonly add, we deserved them because we were unsuccessful. They must allow we could not be led abroad, at such a season of snow and ice, for amusement, or by an idle curiosity. I gave you, Sir, my reasons for asking leave, which you were pleased to approve, and I hope will defend them; and the fame would make me again, as a volunteer, experience the chance of war to-morrow, had I an opportunity. These are Mr. ——’s sentiments as well as mine; and we both know you, Sir, too well, to harbour the least doubt of receiving justice with regard to our conduct in this affair, or our promotion in the regiment; the prospect of not joining that so soon as we flattered ourselves has depressed our spirits to the lowest degree, so that we earnestly beg you will be solicitous with the General to have[17] us restored as soon as possible, or at least to prevent our being sent to France, and separated from you, perhaps, during the war.
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