Thursday, April 16, 2009

CAMPAIGNE OF 1755 to rid Colonies of French & Indians

At a meeting 14 April 1755 in New York City these three men were selected to rid the Colonies of the French and Indian raids on the English colonies
Maj Gen Edward Braddock, on left was to move against Fort Duquesne with British regulars and about 200 Indians, a very headstrong man would not take advise from the Indians, instead marched with drums, fife, and flags in full formation through the forest. Small party of French set up ambush and annihilated his army killing 65 of 84 officers including Braddock, only the leadership of a young Colonel George Washington Saved the remnants of the army. Unfortunately Braddocks plans and letters fell in the hands of the French. They knew Shirley and Johnson were planning to move against
Fort Niagara and Crown Point.
Gen Shirley was at Oneida, were he picked up some
Indian allies, received the word about Gen Braddock defeat, next day he
reached Oswego were he stopped- had a palisade area built on both sides
of the Mohawk and with his staff made a hastily retreat to Albany, N. Y.

William Johnson at the meeting in New York was made commissioner of Indian Affairs , and a Major General in charge of the Provincial troops. Assigned the task of taking Crown Point He had always had a good relation with the Indians was know to paint his face and body and dance at the councils held at his home in Johnstown N. Y.were he embarked in trade with the Indians, whom he always treated with honesty and justice. He became master of there language, habits, beliefs and customs. The Mohawks adopted him, chose him a Sachem and named him "Wariaghejaghe" meaning "he who has charge of affairs" Gen Johnson
gathered his troops at Albany. some 40 Indian and about 3000 Provincial soldiers, He marched
to Fort Lyman [Fort Edward] were he left some men and went from there to Lake Sacrament arriving August 28th 1755 at south shore of Lake Sacrament. by now another 200 plus Indians joined him bringing his army to about 1500 troops.
But the French commanded by Jean Erdman Dieskau, Baron Major General of French Troops, with Braddocks letters in hand, knowing Braddock was defeated and Shirley had run for cover left only Johnson in the field. Dieskau with 600 savages, 600 Canadians and 200 Regulars headed for Fort Lyman a days march from the fort the Indians determined the fort was reinforced with 1000 troops and they had cannon. They knew that Johnson was at Lake Sacrament and agreed to attack him. Dieskau had no choice, he started for the lake when a scout informed him Johnson was trying to overtake him. On the road to the lake Dieskau set up a ambush with the 600 Indians on the north side, the regulars on the road and the 600 Canadians on the South, Col Williams at the head of some 1000 men was coming into the trap, one of the Indians saw king Hendrick and jumpedto his feet and announced "he would not kill Hendrick" the head of the Iroquois Nation, this sprung the trap and the French fired killing about 300 English including Col Williams. The survivors fell back and for about hour and half, retreated to the Lake were Johnson was quickly constructing a barricade of wagons, barges and trees. When the French came in viewer they fired there four cannons and the Indians took flight, with some of the Canadians, all Dieskau had was the regulars and they were soon over taken . He was wounded and so was Johnson during the battle.

As a result of this William Johnson renamed the lake calling it Lake George, he built a fort on the spot and called it Fort William Henry to honor King George's two sons. Being the only successful engagement the British had he was made a hereditary Baron, he and his direct descendant retain the title and 5,000 pound yearly.

My ancestors were there at the battle of Lake George with Sir William, I also had ancestors that were with Dieskau. The portrait shown of Sir William was mentioned in his papers, J F. Cooper the author bought it in London while researching for last of the Mohican's, at his death Mr Klien of the Amsterdam Dispatch Newspaper bought it and I purchased it from him. notice the lower right corner British officer holding a horse depicted on the easel Sir William at the battle of Lake George had his favorite horse tied at camp and rode another in battle. [the horse he rode was unharmed his favorite was shot and killed]

Sir William Johnson Major General was not a ancestor but his life has influenced my life and many of my ancestors. I lived very near Johnson home in Johnstown, The Portrait has hung in my home since the late 1950's, I had the greatest opportunity of my life to be the Curator and manager of Fort William Henry from the 1957 to 1960 period. In 1960 his direct descendant Sir John and Lady Johnson were house guest for a week at which time I was able to visit all the historic sites that Sir William was a part of in the mid 1700's

In some future post will go into more detail about these Colonial leaders and my Ancestors roll, fighting on both sides.

1 comment:

Rosebud Collection said...

What an interesting story..and what a wonderful time for you. You are really doing a wonderful job in your research and it is such a treasure for your family.
How have you been? I have been a sloppy visitor, but I always return. Sounds a little like MacArthur,don't you think? Hope I spelled his name right, did meet him once. Have a good week.