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The Battle of Lake George, September 8, 1755

The Battle of Lake George, September 8, 1755

IN the year 1754 a comprehensive plan was formulated by the English to drive the French from America. The first move in this general plan, that of General Braddock, Commander-in-Chief, against Fort Duquesne, was a sanguinary failure, even as mitigated by the bravery and skill of the then young Colonel Washington. Braddock's defeat so discouraged General Shirley that his expedition against Fort Niagara was abandoned. In pursuance of the next move, late in the summer of 1755, Major-General Johnson gathered at Albany from the vicinity Colonies the force which he was to lead against Crown Point and Canada. Early in August he sent his advance up the Hudson under General Lyman, who began the construction of Fort Lyman, afterward named Fort Edward. Later in the month General Johnson and his gathered force reached Lac St. Sacrement, which name he at once changed to Lake George, in honor of his king.

General Johnson's force consisted of about 3,000 Colonists and some 300 Indians, the latter under King Hendrick the famous Mohawk satchem, and friend of Johnson. Among his officers, some of them afterward becoming notable, were General Phineas Lyman, Colonels Ephraim Williams, Timothy Ruggles and Moses Titcomb; Lieutenant-Colonels Nathan Whiting and Seth Pomeroy; Captains Philip Schuyler and Israel Putnam.

In the meantime. Baron Dieskau, a distinguished German officer, commanding the French forces in Canada, arrived at Crown Point with 3,000 men, quite one-third veteran regulars from French battlefields. Dieskau was brave, experienced and enterprising, and exemplifying his motto, "Boldness Wins," not only proceeded to fortify Ticonderoga, but, believing that the new Fort Lyman was incomplete and feebly garrisoned, decided to march against it. With a flying corps of about 300 regulars, 800 Canadians and as many Indians, he moved up Lake Champlain and South Bay. Reaching the Hudson near the present site of Glens Falls on September 7, his Indians hesitated, or refused, to farther proceed against Fort Lyman and its "big guns." Learning that General Johnson was already at Lake George, and with contempt for his "provincial farmers." Dieskau promptly decided to make a sudden attack upon Johnson's camp the next morning. Johnson, learning of the French invasion and proposed attack on Fort Lyman, sent out a relieving force on the morning of September 8, of 1,000 Colonials and 200 Indians, under Colonel Williams and old King Hendrick. This force fell into ambush, planned by Dieskau, a few miles from Lake George, resulting in severe loss, the killed inducing Colonel Williams and King Hendrick. This engagement has passed into history and story as "The Bloody Morning Scout." Lieutenant-Colonel Whiting conducted a hurried retreat, but with the aid of 300 men sent to his support from Johnson's camp, gave some check to Dieskau's furious pursuit.


Lake George Battle Monument

The noise of this engagement gave warning to Johnson's camp, where breastworks were hastily improvised from logs, fallen trees, wagons, etc., and such cannons as they had were placed in advantageous position under Captain Eyre. Dieskau followed closely upon the heels of the retreating provincials, with the intention of entering Johnson's camp, which he promptly and fiercely attacked, but was checked by the artillery and by the firm stand of the Colonists. The battle raged with varying promise during the afternoon. At last the Colonials and their Indian allies, confident of victory, charged from their breastworks against the French and forced them to a precipitate retreat, leaving most of their regulars dead on the field. General Johnson was wounded early in the action and General Lyman, the Yale tutor and lawyer, commanded with much spirit and bravery. Baron Dieskau was three times severely wounded, and left on the field a prisoner. Chevalier Montreuil commanded after Dieskau was disabled, The illustration is from the painting by Mr. Yohn, owned by the Glens Falls insurance Co., and represents the spirited inception of the final victorious charge of the provincials.

Some 300 Canadians and Indians fell back to the field of "The Bloody Morning Scout" to scalp and plunder the dead. While resting with their plunder on the margin of a stagnant forest pool (seven miles from Glens Falls), they were surprised by some 200 men sent out from Fort, Lyman under Captain Maginnes, resulting in the killing of most of this contingent. The bodies of the slain were thrown into the pool and the water was so tinged with blood as to give this pool the name of "Bloody Pond," by which name it is still known to residents and tourists.

Captain Maginnes died from wounds received in this engagement. These three engagements morning, afternoon, and night - comprise the Battle of Lake George. General Johnson estimated the French loss at more than 500, their, dead including La Gardeur de St. Pierre, who defeated Washington on the Ohio the year before. The Colonials lost over 260, not counting Indian allies, and their dead included Colonel Williams, King Hendrick, Colonel Titcomb, Major Ashley, Captains Maginnes, Keyes, Porter," lngersoll and twelve other officers.

This sketch is but mere mention of this "day of battles," memorable as the first considerable success against the French in America, as the then most important battle fought on New York soil, and as the first encounter of the yeomanry of the New World with the disciplined troops and experienced officers of the Old. It was the test which developed that .confidence, which led the Colonists to dare the great struggle of the Revolution.

On September 8, 1903, a monument, erected by the Society of the Colonial Wars in the State of New York, was unveiled and dedicated with elaborate and appropriate public ceremonies. The vicinity of this monument, the battlefield itself, is now a State Park. secured by the influence of the New York State Historical Society.

Bloddy Pond, About Seven Miles North of Glens Falls
Bloody Pond, About Seven Miles North of Glens Falls

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