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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 47: 1758 — Ticonderoga and Fort Frontenac.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 604-608 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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1758 — Sir William Johnson in command of Indians joins Abercrombie's attack on French Fort Ticonderoga — Disastrous defeat of attacking party — Colonel Bradstreet's expedition against French Fort Frontenac through the Mohawk Valley — Fort Frontenac captured August 27th — British-American armies capture Louisburg and Fort Duquesne, which is renamed Fort Pitt.

William Pitt, premier of England, asked the American Colonists to raise 20,000 soldiers for the campaign of 1758. The British government was to supply the soldiers with everything but clothing which the Colonies were requested to furnish, besides raising and paying the armies. Lord Loudoun had been removed and things looked brighter. The Colonies had spent huge sums of money for three years in a fruitless war, but they still carried on. Large armies were raised and, in New Hampshire, every third man of military age was a soldier, and in Massachusetts, one in every four.

The great blow of the year was to be struck by an army under General Abercrombie against French Fort Ticonderoga. Sir William Johnson spent the early part of the year in councils with the Indians preparing their minds favorably for this expedition. From May 4th to 13th, Johnson was in council with the Mohawks at Canajoharie Castle with this object in view. On June 29th, he left Fort Johnson for Fort Edward with a body of Indians. He reached Fort Edward on July 6th and the battlefield of Ticonderoga on July 8th, with 440 Indians. Lord Howe, second in command of the great English-American army, was slain in the ambuscade of the first day's fighting and General Abercrombie seemed utterly incompetent without his brilliant young lieutenant. The American-British force was disastrously repulsed in a bloody assault upon Fort Ticonderoga, although, the French-Canadian army numbered but one-fourth that of the attacking force. Without leadership, the British-American army left the gory field and wandered back through the woods to Lake George and from there went to the head of that water and then on to Albany. Another grand army expedition had fizzled out.

Sir William Johnson was back at Fort Johnson on July 22nd, when he framed a treaty between the Six Nations and the Southern Indians.

Johnson's part in the Ticonderoga expedition is described in the journal of Colonel Marinus Willett who was a lieutenant in Abercrombie's army, and who later bore such an important part in the Mohawk Valley during the Revolution.

The day following the ambuscade, in which Lord Howe was killed, Sir William Johnson arrived with a war party of Mohawks, other Iroquois, and Indians of various tribes. The object of bringing these Indians into the field was two-fold — first, to keep them from joining the enemy, and secondly, to take the warriors away from the frontier at a time of great excitement when French intrigue and Albany rum might lead some Iroquois warriors to commit some savage crime against some of the settlers. These facts must be remembered when Johnson is criticised for the lack of aid lent to various military movements by his Indian war party. Willett says: "Early the following morning the army was increased by the arrival of about six hundred Indians under the command of Sir William Johnson. These Indians crossed the river, and went on the hill opposite the Fort, where they made a great yelling and firing, which appears to have been a needless manoeuver, for they could hardly hope, by this course to intimidate the enemy, as they were perfectly familiar with the Indian yell and war whoops."

Mohawk Valley militia doubtless joined the Fort Ticonderoga expedition although we have no record of their part in this military fiasco. The Valley militia formed part of that of Albany County until the formation of Tryon County in 1772.

The ridiculous failure at Ticonderoga was somewhat offset by the capture of Louisburg by General Amherst and that of Fort Frontenac (at present Kingston, Ontario) by Lieutenant-Colonel Bradstreet, both of which happened in the latter part of August, 1758. These two British-American successes spelled the beginning of the end of New France. Bradstreet had long planned his coup. The timid Abercrombie was finally persuaded to give his consent to this expedition and gave Colonel Bradstreet 3,000 men, nearly all of whom were Provincial militiamen. New York furnished 1,112 of Bradstreet's 3,035 men, more than the quota of any other province.

Colonel Bradstreet went up the Mohawk with his army, sending his supplies over that stream in batteaux. He stopped at Fort Herkimer to arrange for the final plunge into the wilderness, as that had been the frontier post since the capture of Oswego and Fort Bull and the burning of Fort Williams. Bradstreet's army made the portage to Wood Creek and went down that tortuous stream to Oneida Lake and Oswego River and on to the ruined spot where Fort Oswego once stood. With Bradstreet was young Lieutenant Willett, who later was to take such an active part in the defense of the Revolutionary Fort Stanwix and of the Mohawk Valley. Willett's journal of Bradstreet's expedition is its most interesting document.

A few Oneidas joined Bradstreet's army, although, like most of the Six Nations, their English allegiance had become much shaken by the ridiculous campaign conducted by Abercrombie against Fort Ticonderoga. On August 22nd, the Provincial army set out across Lake Ontario and landed near the French fort on August 25th. Bradstreet took it on the 27th, it then being garrisoned by only 110 men including the laborers. The fort was destroyed together with a great quantity of stores, while the entire French fleet of Lake Ontario was captured.

Bradstreet had not lost a man in action but, on the return trip, many of his troops sickened and died of camp dysentery. He retraced his former steps and passed on down the Mohawk, leaving a thousand of his men to assist in the building of Fort Stanwix, which Brigadier-General John Stanwix was then erecting at the portage on the present site of Rome. The fall of Fort Frontenac, the capture of Louisburg and of Fort Duquesne, in 1758, greatly heartened the British-Colonial forces, after the dismal failures of numerous utterly incompetent English commanders.

Colonel Bradstreet's expedition was the first of three military forces to march through the Mohawk Valley to victories over the French in the last three years of the war — 1758, 1759, 1760. Although Wolfe's victory on the Plains of Abraham has been given great publicity as the victory which ended French power in America, yet the success at Quebec would have been incomplete and ineffective in crushing Canada, had not these three expeditions passed on up the Mohawk to successfully subdue vital points of defense in New France. Bradstreet's conquest of Fort Frontenac in 1758 broke France's hold of eastern Lake Ontario. Johnson's capture of Fort Niagara and victory over a French army at that point, in 1759, shut off New France from its empire on the Great Lakes and in the Mississippi River region. The third and greatest conquering army to pass up the Mohawk in the French and Indian war was that of General Amherst, whose main army of 10,000 soldiers passed over this route to the conquest of Montreal and New France in 1760, thus ending French empire in America.

The construction, in 1758, of Fort Stanwix at the Mohawk-Wood Creek portage was of as much importance to the Colonists of New York as the victories of Fort Frontenac and Louisburg, and was so considered by them. After this strong post was built, the exposed Mohawk frontier was no longer left entirely open to attack. Brigadier-General John Stanwix was delegated to supervise its erection and from this gallant Irish soldier the fort took its name. Fort Stanwix was 300 feet square and was built by order of General Abercrombie after a design by Captain Bull. The fortification cost 60,000 pounds and was considered one of the strongest British forts in the Colonies. It was garrisoned by 400 men. Other forts were also erected along the Wood Creek-Oneida Lake waterway, as follows: The Royal Blockhouse at the eastern end of the lake, garrisoned by 15 men; Fort Brewerton at the western end; garrisoned by 100 men; a fort at the little falls of the Onondaga River, with 100 men.

A wagon road was cut for eighteen miles through the forest from Fort Stanwix to the Royal Blockhouse to connect these two fortifications of the eastern and western end of the Wood Creek water route. This chain of forts added greatly to the strength of the British-American military establishment in the Province of New York and facilitated army operations along this famous military route, notably that of General Amherst in 1760.

Fort Schuyler was built in 1758 at the ford of the Mohawk River, the site of which is now in the limits of the City of Utica at the junction of Park Avenue and Main Street, where a monument locates the fortification. Park Avenue follows an Indian path which led from the river ford to its junction with the Indian trail, which then followed the general line of present Genesee Street. Fort Schuyler was an earthwork surmounted by a stockade. Its name is credited to two soldiers of the day, Colonel Peter Schuyler, uncle of General Philip Schuyler of the Revolution, and Colonel Peter Schuyler of New Jersey, who commanded the Jersey Blues (a Newark regiment) at Oswego. Its erection marked the first occupation of the present site of Utica by white men. Fort Schuyler was abandoned after General Amherst's conquest of Canada in 1760 and was not again used as a fort. When, in 1776, Fort Stanwix was repaired and strengthened by order of General Philip Schuyler, commander of the American Army of the North, the name of Fort Stanwix was changed to that of Fort Schuyler in army orders, although this famous fort was generally referred to as Fort Stanwix throughout the Revolution, and was so termed by the Continental Congress. Then the settlers of the Mohawk Valley referred to Fort Schuyler at present Utica as Old Fort Schuyler to differentiate it from the Fort Schuyler of army dispatches, at present Rome. The use of the same or similar names for two forts has been the cause of great historical confusion. The Rome fort resumed the name of Fort Stanwix after the Revolution and the Utica fort continued to be called Fort Schuyler, or Old Fort Schuyler, and this is the situation at the present time. This history uses the name of Fort Stanwix throughout in order to avoid the confusion with Fort Schuyler as previously mentioned.

[Photo: Site Of Fort Schuyler, 1758]

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