Thursday, July 23, 2009

Live-blogging the siege of Quebec +250 #22

[The siege continues, but the blogger takes long weekends. Here are a few days of the siege live-blogged in advance, so to speak. Have a cold one.]

Tuesday July 24, 1759. The French plan for 1759 includes a return to Fort Pitt, the former Fort Duquesne (the site of Pittsburgh), taken by the British late in 1758 after three hard years of failure. If the French can retake Pitt and threaten Virginia and all the expansion-minded American colonies, they will force the British to divert substantial forces back into the west -- and maybe convince some of the First Nations they are still a good bet as allies.

But the lynchpin of French movement in the west is Fort Niagara, and the British, with new assistance from the Six Nations, suddenly laid siege to Fort Niagara back on July 6. Pouchot, the commander there, sent runners to recall the veteran frontier fighter Captain Marchand de Lignery post-haste back from Lake Erie to relieve Fort Niagara.

Lignery and his force, perhaps 1600 men, have crossed back across Lake Erie and paddled down the Niagara River, "like a floating island, so black was the river with boats and canoes.” At Belle-Famille, Lignery’s force begins the portage around Niagara Falls today – and is ambushed by the British.

Most of Lignery’s native allies (the largest part of his force) have withdrawn. They are unwilling to fight their Six Nations relatives, who have abandoned the French. Lignery and his troops make a desperate charge on the British breastwork. They are slaughtered. New France’s most experienced frontier fighters die in droves. Only about a hundred survive to be taken prisoner, including Lignery, who will soon die of his wounds. There is no French force left for an Ohio campaign.
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