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The Battle of  Fort William Henry

Lake George, New York
August 1757

by James P. Millard

NOTE: This material is provided as a public service. America's Historic Lakes is not affiliated with Fort William Henry. 
Contact the Fort for additional information.

In the novel "Last of the Mohicans" and in the motion pictures based on the book by James Fenimore Cooper, a dramatic battle is waged at Fort William Henry between the French under the Marquis de Montcalm and the English in the fortress under the command of Lt. Colonel George Monro. The battle did indeed take place and it was quite dramatic. Rather than a battle it would perhaps be more accurate to describe this contest as a siege, for the attack on Fort William Henry went on for days.
(Click here for map)
  It is important that this much better known battle not be confused with the
Battle of Lake George, which occurred two years earlier, on September 8, 1755.

   In late July, 1757 the French under the Marquis de Montcalm assembled a force of 3,081 regular troops, 2,946 Canadian militia, 188 artillery men and 1,806 Indians for an attack on Fort William Henry. This massive force entrenched itself on the heights to the Northwest of the fortress and began digging steadily South, moving their batteries with them. While the heavy guns to the northwest pounded the log and earthen walls of the fort, another French force under the command of Brigadier Levis took up positions to the south and southwest of the main body of British, who contrary to popular belief, were encamped outside the walls of the fort.
Click here to see a larger photo of a recreated bastion at Fort William HenrySteadily each day, the  French guns came closer to the fort. Each day the damage was greater. Over 800 troops worked day and night on the trenches- by daybreak on August 7, the French were close enough to bring their powerful mortars to bear- lobbing explosive rounds directly into the fort. Montcalm sent his emissary Bougainville under a flag of truce with seemingly generous terms of surrender... the rest is history.

    Please read our Open Letter to Lake George Visitors...

 

Plan of Montcalm's Investment of Fort William Henry*

A) Artillery Cove
B) Road to trenches
C) First Battery, length 70 yds; breadth, 20 ft; height, 7 ft; embrasures, 9 ft.
C D) Line of trenches, 578 yards
D) Second Battery, length, 74 yds; breadth, 26 ft; height, 8 ft; embrasures, 10 ft.
E-G) Line of approach, 320 yds.
H) Line up the hill and at the crest of the Garden
I) Garden
K) Fort William Henry
L) Morass
M) La Corne and Canadians
N) Fort George
O) Johnson's Encampment, Sept. 8, 1755
P) Docks

Fort William Henry & Lake George Battlefield Park Images
Click on the thumbnails to see a full-size image. Note: If javascript is disabled, photos will not appear


Recreated North Bastion, Fort William Henry


Above and below:
Fort William Henry


View from Shore


Memorial Cemetery


Hospital Site
Battlefield Park


Native Peoples Monument
Lake George Battlefield Park

 

Above and right, Memorial Cemetery

 


Plan of Fort William Henry and camp at Lake George. W. Eyre, engr. I. Heath dt.


Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA
This map, digitized by the Library of Congress, is available HERE

Photo credit: Library of Congress
  

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Sources/Notes:

*Map derived from "PLAN OF MONTCALM'S INVESTMENT OF FORT WILLIAM HENRY (From Butler)" Warwick Stevens Carpenter. The Summer Paradise in History. Albany: General Passenger Department, The Delaware and Hudson Company. 1914. Courtesy of John and Barbara Gallagher.

Last modified: 11/10/2012

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The historical information on this web site is provided as a public service by James P. Millard. I  have attempted to be as accurate as possible in my presentation of this historical material. However, I make no claims, guarantees or promises about the accuracy, currency, or completeness of the information provided. In no event shall the publisher; James P. Millard, be liable for any errors or omissions with respect to any information on this site. Material submitted by guest contributors and published on the site is the property of the contributor and may be removed at any time at my discretion or upon request of the contributor. This website occasionally provides links to sites of other organizations maintained by third parties. These links do not constitute an endorsement of the content, viewpoint, accuracy, opinions, policies, products, services, or accessibility of that website. Links to third-party websites are provided as a public service and convenience to users of our site; James P. Millard/America’s Historic Lakes does not control, endorse or recommend the content on sites we may link to. Once connected to another website, you are subject to the terms and conditions of that website.