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The New International Encyclopædia/Fort William Henry

< The New International Encyclopædia

FORT WILLIAM HENRY. A fort erected in 1755 by Sir William Johnson (q.v.) on the site of the present Caldwell, N. Y., at the head of Lake George. During the early part of the French and Indian War it was an important strategic position, and was the starting-point for many minor expeditions against the French and Indians. Rigaud, at the head of a considerable French force, made a half-hearted and unsuccessful attack upon it in the spring of 1757 (March 18-23), and later in the year Montcalm marched against it at the head of a force of about 8000, including 2000 Indians. On August 2d he demanded the surrender of the fort, then garrisoned by about 2200 men, and on the refusal of Colonel Munro, the commanding officer, began a vigorous attack. Although Colonel Webb was stationed at Fort Edward, only fifteen miles away, with an English and colonial force of 1600, Colonel Munro was not reinforced, and on the 9th was compelled to surrender, Montcalm agreeing that the garrison should march out with the honors of war, and should be escorted to Fort Edward by a detachment of French regulars. Early on the 10th the survivors began their march, but were soon set upon by the Indians, and a general massacre ensued, an unknown number of the troops being killed outright, and many more being carried into captivity. Though this attack was not instigated by the French, contemporary evidence seems to show that no earnest effort was made by them to force the Indians to observe the treaty stipulations. Cooper used this incident in his Last of the Mohicans. Consult Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe (Boston, 1884).