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Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Richelieu River
HISTORY TIMELINE
By James P. Millard

PART I (c)-New France and New England:
The French and Indian War Part I
TIME SPAN 1754-1756

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1754
The French and Indian War

Once again, conflict erupts between the French and English in the Lake region. The French renew their assaults on Fort Number 4 in New Hampshire, while far to the South in Pennsylvania George Washington and his army of Virginians is defeated at the Battle of Great Meadows. The great conflagration known as The French and Indian War (or Seven Years War) begins.

1755

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1755

April 14, 1755
Governors of the British Provinces meet in Virginia to determine a strategy to force the French from North America. It is determined that three separate campaigns will be undertaken against the enemy. One, under Sir William Johnson, will move against French interests in the Lake George/ Lake Champlain corridor.

April 16
"The date of Sir William Johnson's commission reciting that the troops are placed under his command "to be employed in an attempt to erect a strong Fortress before an eminence near the French Fort at Crown Point, and removing the encroachments of the French on His Majesty's land there."**

July 9, 1755
Phineas Lyman begins construction of a fort at a sharp bend on Hudson's River known as "The Great Carrying Place." Ft. Lyman, later renamed Ft. Edward by William Johnson, is to become the major British staging area in the Northeast theatre of operations. Ft. Edward will also become (in 1757) the headquarters of an innovative group of Colonials known as Roger's Rangers. At several times during the late 1750's Ft. Edward will quarter upwards of 15,000 British regulars and provincials.

August 1, 1755
"Arrival at Crown Point of Baron Dieskau, recently come from France with several veteran Regiments under orders for Lake Ontario, but hearing of the advance of the English towards Lake George, he changed his course."

August 14
"Sir William Johnson reached the camp (Fort Edward) and found the army increased to 2,850 men fit for duty."**

August 28
Sir William Johnson, together with his force of 1,500 troops and Indians reaches the Southern shore of Lake Saint Sacrement. He promptly renames the lake for his Sovereign, King George II. Johnson starts work on another fortress, which he names William Henry after the son of George II.

August 31
"New recruits continuing to arrive, General Lyman found himself at the head of 3,100 provincials and 250 Indians."**

August
The French learn of Johnson's planned attack on their outpost, and they quickly assemble an army of 3,500 led by Baron de Dieskau, to march south to meet this threat. The army composed largely of regulars and militia, nonetheless consists of some 700 Indians.

September, 1755
The French begin construction of a new fortress south of St. Frédéric. Located on a point of land at the mouth of the stream from Lake George, the fort is named Carillon.

September 3
"While Johnson with the main army was at the portage at the head of Lake George, planning his advance on Fort St. Frederic, Dieskau had left that post and was hastening towards South Bay."**

September 8
Battle of Lake George. The series of skirmishes and engagements known collectively as The Battle of Lake George, ends in the first significant win against the French forces by British provincials.

"Dieskau with a force of 1,200 Indians and Canadians defeats 1,000 Provincials under Col. Ephraim Williams, who is killed, while his faithful ally, Hendrick, the Mohawk sachem, is mortally wounded. Later, Dieskau himself is wounded, defeated and taken prisoner by the Provincials under Lyman, the successor to the wounded Johnson. Johnson wasted the rest of the season building Fort William Henry, a pile of  wooden barracks."**

September 17
" 'At evening,' Rogers ' discovered the wheatfields, and four houses, about two miles south of Crown Point Fort.' He went into the intrenchments [sic] where he remained concealed until morning, when he climbed the mountain, a mile west of the fort, from which he could see the fort and everything connected with it, among other sights, a windmill and tents; also the exercising of about 600 soldiers."**

September 24
"...I embarked with four men upon Lake George, to reconnoitre the strength of the enemy, and proceeding down the lake twenty-five miles, I landed on the west-side, leaving two men in charge of the boat, while I marched with the other two till the 29th..." Rogers

September 29
"...I had a fair view of the fort at Crown Point, and discovered a large body of Indians round the fort, and, from their repeated irregular firing, supposed that they were shooting at marks, (a diversion much in use among the savages). At night I crept through the enemy's guards into a small village lying south of the fort, and passed their centries [sic] to an eminence south-west of it, from whence I discovered they were building a battery, and had already thrown up an entrenchment on that side of the fort..."Rogers

September 30
"...from an eminence at a small distance from the former, I discovered an encampment, which extended from the fort south-east to a wind-mill, at about thirty yards distance; as near as I could judge, their number amounted to about 500 men..."Rogers

October 1, 1755
"...finding no opportunity to procure a captive, and that our small party was discovered, I judged it proper to begin a retreat homeward. I took my route within two miles of Ticonderoga, from whence I observed a large smoak [sic] to arise, and heard the explosion of a number of small arms; but our provisions being expended, we could not tarry to ascertain the number of the enemy there." Rogers

October 2
"...we arrived at the place where we left our boat in the charge of the two men, but to our great mortification found they were gone, and no provisions left. This circumstance hastened us to the encampment with all possible speed..." Rogers  †

October 4
"...we arrived..., not a little fatigued and distressed with hunger and cold." Rogers

October 7
"...received orders of this date from General Johnson, to embark with five men under my command to reconnoitre the French troops at Ticonderoga. Accordingly I proceeded at night to a point of land on the west-side of the lake, where we landed, hid our canoe, and left two men in charge of it." Rogers

October 8
"...with the other three, I marched to the point of Ticonderoga, where we arrived about noon. I here observed a body of men, which I judged to be about 2000 in number, who had thrown up an entrenchment, and prepared large quantities of hewn timber in the adjacent woods..."Rogers  †

October 9
"...saw them lay the foundation of a fort, on the point which commands the pass from Lake George to Lake Champlain, and the entrance of South Bay, or Wood Creek...we began our return, in which we found that the enemy had a large advanced guard at the north-end of Lake George, where the river issues out of it into Lake Champlain. While we were viewing there, I observed a bark-canoe, with nine Indians and a Frenchman in it, going up the lake. We kept sight of them till they passed the point of land, where our canoe and men were left, where, when we arrived, we had information from our people that the above Indians and Frenchman had landed on an island six miles to the south of us, near the middle of the lake. In a short time after, we saw them put off from the island, and steer directly towards us; upon which we put ourselves in readiness to receive them in the best manner we could, and gave them a salute at about 100 yards distance, which reduced their number to four. We then took boat and pursued them down the lake, till they were relieved by canoes, which obliged us to retreat towards our encampment at Lake George where we arrived the 10th of October." Rogers  †

October 15
"...I embarked with forty men in five boats. Our design was to discover the strength of the enemy's advanced guard, and, if possible, to decoy the whole, or part of them, into an ambush; but tho' we were indefatigable in our endeavours for several days, yet all our attempts of this kind proved abortive." Rogers

October 19
"We returned safe to our encampment at Lake George..." Rogers

October 21
"...I had orders...to embark for Crown Point, with a party of four men, in quest of a prisoner [a valuable source of information]. At night we landed on the west-side of Lake George, twenty-five miles from the English camp." Rogers

October 26
"...came in sight of the fort. In the evening we approached nearer, and next morning found ourselves within about 300 yards of it. My men lay concealed in a thicket of willows, while I crept something nearer, to a large pine log, where I concealed myself by holding bushes in my hand. Soon after sun-rise the soldiers issued out in such numbers, that my men and I could not possibly join each other without a discovery. About 10 o'clock a single man marched out directly towards our ambush. When I perceived him within ten yards of me, I sprung over the log, and met him, and offered him quarters, which he refused and made a pass at me with a dirk, which I avoided, and presented my fusee to his breast; but notwithstanding, he still pushed on with resolution, and obliged me to dispatch him. This gave an alarm to the enemy, and made it necessary for us to hasten to the mountain." Rogers

October 30
"...I arrived safe at our camp [Fort William Henry]...with all my party." Rogers

November 1755
Work is completed on Fort William Henry. This log and earthen fort with four bastions, is built upon soil the French consider to be truly part of New France. With this British encroachment upon the Lake, the stage is set for a long and bloody war.

November 4
"Agreeable to orders from General Johnson this day, I embarked for the enemy's advanced guard before mentioned, with a party of thirty men, in four battoes, mounted with two wall-pieces each. " Rogers

November 5
"...a little before daylight we arrived within a half mile of them [the French advanced guard], where we landed, and concealed our boats; I then sent out four men as spies who returned the next evening... " Rogers

November 6
"...[the spies] informed me, that the enemy had no works round them, but lay entirely open to an assault; which advice I dispatched immediately to the General, desiring a sufficient force to attack them, which, notwithstanding the General's earnestness and activity in the affair, did not arrive until we were obliged to retreat." Rogers

November 7
"On our return...we were met by a reinforcement, sent by the General, whereupon I returned again towards the enemy, and...sent two men to see if the enemy's centries [sic] were alert, who approached so near as to be discovered and fired at by them, and were so closely pursued in their retreat, that unhappily our whole party was discovered. The first notice I had of this being the case, was from two canoes with thirty men in them, which I concluded came out with another party by land, in order to force us between two fires; to prevent which, I, with Lieutenant McCurdy, and fourteen men, embarked in two boats, leaving the remainder of the party on shore, under the command of Captain Putnam.— In order to decoy the enemy within the reach of our wall-pieces, we steered as if we intended to pass by them, which luckily answered our expectations; for they boldly headed us till within about an hundred yards, when we discharged the before mentioned pieces, which killed several of them, and put the rest to flight, in which we drove them so near where our land-party lay, that they were again galled by them; several of the enemy were tumbled into the water, and their canoes rendered very leaky. At this time I discovered their party by land, and gave our people notice of it, who thereupon embarked likewise, without receiving any considerable injury from the enemy's fire, notwithstanding it was for some time very brisk upon them. We warmly pursued the enemy, and again got an opportunity to discharge our wall-pieces upon them, which confused them much, and obliged them to disperse.— We pursued them down the lake to their landing, where they were received and covered by 100 men, upon whom we again discharged our wall-pieces, and obliged them to retire; but finding their numbers vastly superior to our's [sic], we judged it most prudent to return to our encampment at Lake George..." Rogers

November 8
"...we safely arrived [encampment at Lake George]." Rogers

November 12
"...Pursuant to orders received... from Gen. Johnson, in order to discover the enemy's strength and situation at Ticonderoga, I proceeded on the scout with a party of ten men..." Rogers

November 14
"...arrived within view of the fort...and found they had erected three new barracks and four store-houses in the fort, between which and the water they had eighty battoes hauled up on the beach, and about fifty tents near the fort; they appeared to be very busy at work." Rogers

November 19
"...Having by these discoveries answered the design of our march, we returned, and arrived at our encampment..." Rogers

November 27
"Gen. Johnson, having dismissed the New England militia, left 600 men to garrison the new Fort William Henry and went into winter quarters."**

December 19, 1755
"Having had a month's repose, I proceeded...with two men, once more to reconnoitre [sic] the French at Ticonderoga. In our way we discovered a fire upon an island adjacent to the route we took, which, as we supposed, had been kindled by some of the enemy who were there. This obliged us to lie by and act like fishermen, the better to deceive them, till night came on, when we proceeded and retired to the west-side of the lake, fifteen miles north of our fort." Rogers

December 20
"...concealing our boat, we pursued our march by land..." Rogers

December 21
"....at noon, were in sight of the French fort, where we found their people still deeply engaged at work, and discovered four pieces of cannon mounted on the south-east bastion, two at the north-west towards the woods, and two on the fourth. By what I judged, the number of their troops were about 500. I made several attempts to take a prisoner, by way-laying their paths; but they always passed in numbers vastly superior to mine, and thereby disappointed me. We approached very near their fort by night, and were driven by the cold which now was very severe to take shelter in one of their evacuated huts; before day, there was a fall of snow, which obliged us will all possible speed to march homeward, lest the enemy should perceive our tracks and pursue us." Rogers

December 22
"We found our boat in safety, and had the good fortune (after being almost exhausted with hunger, cold, and fatigue) to kill two deer..." Rogers

December 24
"....we returned to Fort William Henry (a fortress erected in his year's campaign) at the south-end of Lake George. About this time General Johnson retired to Albany, to which place commissioners were sent from the several governments whose troops had been under his command (New Hampshire only excepted). These commissioners were empowered by their respective constituents, with the assent of a council of war, to garrison Fort William Henry and Fort Edward, for that winter, with part of the troops that had served the preceding year. Accordingly a regiment was formed, to which Boston government furnished a Colonel—Connecticut a Lieutenant-Colonel—and New York a Major: after which it was adjudged, both by Gen. Johnson and these Commissioners, that it would be of great use to leave one company of woodsmen or rangers under my command, to make excursions towards the enemy's forts during the winter; I accordingly remained, and did duty the whole winter, until called by General Shirley." Rogers

1756

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1756

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1756

Relative quiet settles on the lakes as far as military engagements are concerned. The exploits of Robert Rogers and his Rangers are the notable exception. They continue their scouts north from Fort William Henry all through the long winter. Both sides are feverishly preparing for the inevitable confrontation that lies ahead. The French continue their construction of the massive new works at Fort Carillon, while the British continue fortifying the head of Lake George. At Lake George a massive fleet of Bateaus is constructed, along with two small sloops. There are skirmishes between Roger's Rangers and the French, on the lake and on shore.

January 14, 1756
"I this day marched with a party of seventeen men, to reconnoitre the French forts; we proceeded down the lake, on the ice, upon skaits [sic], and halted for refreshment near the fall of Lake George into Lake Champlain.— At night we renewed our march..." Rogers

January 16
"...by day-break, formed an ambush on a point of land on the east-shore of Lake Champlain, within gun-shot of the path in which the enemy passed from one fort to the other." Rogers

January 17
"About sun-rise, two sledges laden with fresh beef were presented to our view, we intercepted the drivers, destroyed their loading, and afterwards returned to Fort William Henry, where I arrived with my prisoners and party in good health..." Rogers

January 26, 1756
"Pursuant to orders of this date from Colonel Glasier, I marched from Lake George with a party of fifty men, with a design to discover the strength and works of the enemy at Crown Point." Rogers

February 2, 1756
"...we arrived within a mile of that fortress [Fort St. Frederic at Crown Point], where we climbed a very steep mountain, from which we had a clear and full prospect of hte fort, and an opportunity of taking a plan of the enemy's works there. In the evening we retired to a small village, half a mile from the fort, and formed an ambuscade on each side of the road leading from the fort to the village." Rogers

February 3
"...a Frenchman fell into our hands; soon after we discovered two more, but they unluckily got sight of us before they were in our power, and hastily retired to the fort. Finding ourselves discovered by the enemy by this accident, we employed ourselves while we dared stay in setting fire to the houses and barns of the village, with which were consumed large quantities of wheat, and other grain; we also killed about fifty cattle, and then retired, leaving the whole village in flames..." Rogers

February 6
"...arrived safe at our fort, with our prisoner..." Rogers

February 29
"Agreeable to orders from Colonel Glasier, I this day marched with a party of fifty-six men down the west-side of Lake George..."  Rogers

March 5, 1756
"... continued our route northward...steered east to Lake Champlain, about six miles north of Crown Point, where, by the intelligence we had from the Indians, we expected to find some inhabited villages.— We then attempted to cross the lake, but found the ice too weak." Rogers

March 14
"...we returned safe to Fort William Henry." Rogers

March 17
"... we returned and marched round the bay to the west of Crown Point, and at night got into the cleared land among their houses and barns; here we formed an ambush, expecting their labourers out to tend the cattle, and clean their grain, of which there were several barns full; we continued there that night..." Rogers

March 18
"...discovering none of the enemy, we set fire to the houses and barns, and marched off. In our return I took a fresh view of Ticonderoga, and reconnoitered the ground between that fort and the advanced guard on Lake George, approaching so near as to see their centries [sic] on the ramparts, and obtained all the knowledge of their works, strength, and situation, that I desired." Rogers
July
3, 1756
"Rogers the Ranger arrived at South Bay."**
July
4
"Rogers and his fifty men in five whale boats passed by Ticonderoga and Crown Point undiscovered and concealed their boats about ten miles distant from the latter place."**
July
7
"In the morning Capt. Rogers, out on a scout with 50 men and 5 whale boats (for 2,000 French had been employed all the season in building the fort afterwards called Carillon), secreted his party on the east side of the lake about 25 miles north of Crown Point. They had drawn their boats over the mountain and passed Ticonderoga in the night. While lying there Rogers counted 30 boats passing towards Canada."**
July
8
"'Two lighters, manned by twelve men and loaded with wheat, flour, rice, wine and brandy for the French forts, were captured and sunk, and four of the men killed' by Rogers and his men."**
September
12, 1756
" ' We have learned that a party of English Indians, having been discovered at Point Sque8onton (Cumberland Head), in Lake Champlain, was pursued; two Englishmen had been taken and conveyed to Carillon; the others escaped.'--Paris Documents"**
September
15
" 'Our 6 regiments are at present arrived at Carillon with our 1,000 to 1,200 Colonial troops, 300 Canadians and nearly 700 Indians, and should the enemy set out to attack us, 2,000 Regulars and Canadians will, on the first signal, be commanded to repair to St. John, where bateaux will be in readiness to transport them. ** From Fort Chambly the portage is made with carts about 30 arpents, and thence in bateaux to St. John--** Fort Carillon is completed; it is represented as a great affair and capable of being rendered bomb-proof; 'tis provided with 30 pieces of cannon and a year's provisions for a garrison of 1,000 men.'--Paris Doc."**

Sources/Notes:

Robert Rogers. Journals of Major Robert Rogers: Containing An Account of Several Excursions he made under the Generals who commanded upon the Continent of North America, during the late War. 1765. London: J. Millan, Whitehall. Reprinted numerous times by various publishers.
** THREE CENTURIES IN THE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY: A COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL FACTS AND INCIDENTS- TERCENTENARY EDITION. 1909: Compiled and Edited by Mrs. George Fuller Tuttle. Saranac Chapter, D.A.R. Plattsburgh, NY.

 
The TIMELINE continues HERE

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