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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 49: 1760, General Amherst Conquers Canada by Way of the Mohawk Valley.

[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 615-625 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Defeat of the British before Quebec April 27, 1760 — Amherst's plan to conquer Montreal, by way of the Mohawk, Champlain, and St. Lawrence Valleys — May 9, relief of Quebec by British fleet — Captain Fonda sent to rouse the Six Nations — June 22, General Amherst's American and British army of 10,000 moves west through the Mohawk Valley to Oswego — August 10, Amherst's army sails from Oswego — September 8, 1760, Montreal capitulates and Canada becomes the British province of Quebec — Journal of Captain Jelles Fonda, covering the Amherst expedition — Johnson's letter to Pitt — Johnson commended by King George and Sir William Pitt, premier of Great Britain.

The year 1760, opened with the brightest prospects of final English success over the French and of British ascendancy in North America, east of the Mississippi River. The fate of a continent was in the hands of a strong man and a capable general — Jeffrey Amherst — and his well-laid plans caused Colonial military affairs to move forward, in orderly fashion, to a victorious conclusion. Early September saw Montreal and Quebec and all the eastern French forts in English hands and the union jack finally floated from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the head of the Great Lakes. Amherst and Johnson were to play important roles in the military drama of the year and the Mohawk Valley was to be the scene of the march of the main British-American army under Amherst, on its way to Lake Ontario and the final French surrender at Montreal.

Sir William Johnson opened the eventful year with a council with deputies from the Six Nations at Fort Johnson. On March 20th, he met the Mohawks of the Lower Castle and on May 3rd, he was at Canajoharie Castle. At this time General Amherst was mobilizing his main army at Albany and Schenectady.

Although Wolfe had taken Quebec as a result of his victory on the Plains of Abraham, his successor, General Murray had a hard job to hold it. The valiant French, undismayed by their reverses of 1759, now made a bold attempt to recapture the city by a movement from Montreal. The scurvy was making havoc of Murray's army and he was said to have had only 2,000 men able to bear arms, in the Spring of 1760. Levis, the French commander, with 7,000 men now moved down the St. Lawrence in an attempt to reconquer Quebec.

On April 27th, Murray marched out of Quebec and gave battle to the French. In a bitter two hour conflict, the French drove the English back into the town, to which they then laid siege. The city was saved for the English by the timely arrival of the British fleet on May 9th, 1760. It had been a close call for the British garrison but they were now secure. The French were compelled to retire to Montreal and the carefully laid plans of Amherst were now put into effect. Amherst was at Albany and Johnson was at Fort Johnson when news came of Murray's danger. Their anxiety is reflected in their mutual correspondence of the time. The report had spread that the French had taken Quebec and the fickle Indians were showing signs of disaffection. Captain Butler and Captain Jelles Fonda, "Indian officers," had been sent to the Six Nations to get them to join General Johnson's Indian contingent of the army of General Amherst, which was to concentrate at Oswego and then proceed to the conquest of Montreal. Because of the rumors of French success at Quebec, these two militia officers at first had a difficult time to enlist the Iroquois in Amherst's army, but they finally succeeded. This mission is detailed in Fonda's diary, which is printed later, and which is one of the Mohawk Valley's most interesting historical documents.

General Amherst mobilized his army of 10,000 — 6,000 Provincials and 4,000 British troops — on "the Camp" at Scotia opposite Schenectady for his march up the Mohawk Valley, en route to Oswego and Montreal.

While Amherst and Johnson were anxiously awaiting news from Quebec, troops and supplies of the army were passing westward up the Mohawk Valley and over its roads. All the forts bore a part in this great epoch-making military movement, which was to finally conquer New France and eventually make North America an English-speaking continent. Amherst wrote Johnson that he would leave not even a guard at Fort Hunter and Fort Hendrick and suggested that Sir William do the same with Fort Johnson. All possible strength was now to be brought to bear against the French and this probably included a great part of the militia, including that of the Mohawk Valley.

[Map: New France (Canada) Conquered Through the Mohawk Valley — 1760 and over the Mohawk-St. Lawrence-Champlain Triangle]

Amherst's plan of a concentration of British forces upon Montreal was an admirable one and, with Quebec safe, it seemed certain of success. Parkman describes the British commander's plan of campaign as follows:

"Amherst had resolved to enter the colony by all its three gates at once and, advancing from east, west, north and south, unite at Montreal and crush it as in the jaws of a vise. Murray was to ascend the St. Lawrence from Quebec, while Brigadier Haviland forced an entrance by way of Lake Champlain, and Amherst himself led the main army down the St. Lawrence from Lake Ontario. This last route was long, circuitous, difficult and full of danger from the rapids that obstructed the river. His choice of it for his chief line of operation, instead of the shorter and easier way of Lake Champlain, was meant, no doubt, to prevent the French army from escaping up the Lakes to Detroit and the other wilderness posts, where it might have protracted the war for an indefinite time; while the plan adopted, if successful, would make its capture certain."

On July 2nd, Murray sailed from Quebec with 2,500 men in thirty-two vessels. Lord Rollo followed with 1,300 men from Louisbourg. Haviland set out from Crown Point, with 3,400 regulars, provincials and Indians.

The troops of the main army had been going westward for several months when General Amherst left his base at Schenectady on June 22nd, 1760, and rode, with members of his staff, westward along the Mohawk, and stopped at Fort Johnson to see Sir William. Not until the previous day, did Amherst know of the French failure at Quebec. The main army covered the hundred miles of the Mohawk Valley, which lay between Schenectady and Wood Creek, while the supplies and ordnance went over the Mohawk in innumerable boats. From Wood Creek the batteaux men made the difficult passage into Oneida Lake, while the soldiers marched overland to Oswego. Here the army made ready for the long and difficult water trip to Montreal, while the Indians, who were to form Johnson's command were coming in. On August 10th, 1760, Amherst's army left Oswego in 400 boats and headed for Montreal. It numbered 10,142 men and about 600 Indians, of whom 402 were of the Six Nations, 111 being Mohawks.

About August 15th, Amherst captured Oswegatchie (also called Fort Presentation and La Galette) where Ogdensburg is now located. Fort Levis, below Oswegatchie on a rocky islet, was bombarded and captured. When it surrendered and the Indians were not allowed to massacre its garrison, three-fourths of them left Johnson and wandered back home. The army passed the St. Lawrence rapids with the loss of forty-six boats wrecked and eighty-four men drowned. On September 6th, Amherst's force landed on the island of Montreal. The other armies now came up and the total British-American force amounted to 17,000 men. Montreal surrendered on September 8th, 1760, and all Canada passed under the sway of England.

The main army of the American and British forces which conquered Canada in 1760 went through the Mohawk Valley on their route to Montreal, the capital of New France. From the beginning of King William's war, in 1689, to the end of the second war with Great Britain in 1815 — a period of 126 years — many expeditions were directed toward the conquest of New York and New France, in the Colonial wars, and toward the subjugation of New York or Canada, in the first and second wars between America and England. Most of these movements were sent out along the Lake Champlain route. All of them failed ingloriously, with the exception of Amherst's American-British army movement of 1760 through the Mohawk Valley. It was the Mohawk Valley — Gateway to the West — that enabled the American and British armies to conquer the French Canadian empire and make all North America eventually an English-speaking continent.

Although Canada was conquered through the Mohawk Valley in one of the great epoch-making campaigns of world history, yet there is scarcely a reference to this hundred miles of Amherst's route in the histories of America. In the Johnson Papers (University of the State of New York, 1921) there is a letter from Amherst to Johnson, under date of June 21, 1760, which is worthy of being reprinted here, as it speaks of the beginning of the commander's march from Schenectady. Captain Jelles Fonda kept a journal of his connection with the movement of Amherst's army, from the time he left Fort Johnson on his mission to the Six Nations until his return to Caughnawaga (Fonda). This journal, in manuscript form, is now in the library of the New York Historical Society. That portion of it, relative to the expedition from Oswego to Montreal and from there back to the Mohawk Valley, is here given in full, as a most valuable document concerning one of America's most important military campaigns.

Amherst's letter to Johnson, under date of June 21, 1760 (Johnson Papers, Vol. III, p. 259), follows:

Schenectady, June 21, 1760.

Dear Sir:

I Have this morning received a Confirmation of the Enemy having Raised the Siege of Quebec, and left all their Cannon behind, marching off in a very great hurry.

Monsr. de Vaudreuil has sent me all the Officers and Men who were taken Prisoners on the 28th of April (Except Colo. Young) and some others who have been taken at different times, to the Number of 123 in the Whole, among which the Eldest Captain Jacobs of the Indians is Included.

Lieuts. Goddard & Sherriffe, who left Montreal the 14th Instant, paint the Distresses and Dispair of the French in the Strongest Colours; that they lost on the 28th of April, above an hundred Officers and Men in proportion, and their Failure in the Attempt of the Siege after the Success of that day, which cost them such Numbers, with seeing Provision Ships taken, and our Fleet at Quebec, which effectually puts a stop to any Stores, Ammunition or Succours, Joining them, has thrown the Whole Colony into the utmost Dejection.

Colonel Haviland sends me some Intelligence which I transmit to you; Major Rogers is doing very well on the farther End of Lake Champlain, keeps the Enemy in constant Alarm, for the more We can force them to Assemble, by which they must Consume their Provision, is hastening them so much sooner to their Fall.

I am getting every thing on as fast as the Arrival of the Provincial Troops would let me; I should have been glad to be Earlier, but I doubt not in the least but We shall have time Enough to Compleat the Intended Work of this Campaign.

I think I shall be able to get forward to Fort Hunter tomorrow, and I Intend to Pay Respects to You to Settle the time of the Indians our Friends Assembling, who, under Your Direction, I am confident of the greatest Success from their Assistance, and I shall be glad to Seize every Occasion that may offer, that I may Convince you that I am, with great Truth & Esteem,

Dear Sir,
&ca,
Jeff. Amherst.

Sir Wm. Johnson, Bart.

The hitherto unpublished journal of Captain Jelles Fonda of Caughnawaga, is here printed in part. The sections covering the movement of Amherst's army to Montreal and Fonda's return to his home in the Mohawk Valley are given in full. These portions of Fonda's journal, follow:

Sir Wm. Johnson Set of the 10 of agust 1760 in Compeny with Genl. Amhost [Amherst] and the Most of army whent with them. Jenral gage Set of at None (noon) and Retorned the Same Day for fear of hard wind and

the 11 Early in the Morning he set of a gane with Coll. Potman and fitch with there Redgments a wile after the Indians was Sober where we was left for to Bring them we Set of with all we Could get and as we was in the lake we found the winde so hard that we Turned Back to oswego at none. Set of from oswego and Lodged this night Below Caiahago.

the 12 Set of at Break a Day and Came of with Sir Wm. at none By the Stone Rever the Same Day whent on ontil we overtook Jeneral amhost and most of the army. nothing material this day.

the 13 Set of with Jeneral amhost and most all the army. this night Lodged opon an Ey land neare Caderochque. in the morning I heard from our Indians that the Indians who was gone to Swegatia [Oswegatchie, Fort La Presentation, now Ogdensburg] was Returned and Said whould Cep them selves Nuteral when we would Come there. theay futher Said that one of the french vessels who had Bene parsued By our Vessels was Stove and after Burned. now the french have only one Vessel more this is

the 14 of agust this night Lodged on an Ey land. nothing Material.

the 15 in the Morning set of and about nine o Clock paced our two Vessels and there we met Thomas an Indian who had Bene opon Business to Swegata. nothing material this Day. we laid ware the Rever was Narrow.

the 16 in the Morning, we sent two Indians to Swegatia with Some of the Light Inventry. this night laid Just as we landed we was fired on By the french vessel who laid at ancer ware we was to Land.

the 17 we Sent out four Row galles [row galleys] to take the french Vessel wich theay Did in about 3 our thime. then we marced on to Swegatia ware w e landed at the Indian Town Some Indians Ron of for fear of ous and them that Stayed at home Receved ous Cindely. laid this night. Capt. Lotteredge and I was ordered to go to the french post and Reconiter the fort with two Ingenes at Both Sides of the Rever wich we Did to our Sadisfachtion.

the 18 Retorned to Swegatea and the same Day Came of Below Ele gallow ware we Incamped.

the 19 Layed Still in our Incampment and Sent Mr. Hare on a Scout. Saw noting. our pepile is a Recting Bateryes on both sides of the Rever, the one on the Eyland & ye other on the mane shore.

the 20 Sent Mr. Nelles on a Scout with 10 Indians. this day about 12 aClock I was Sent with 2 weale Bots [whaleboats] & 20 Indians Down the Reaver to See How the pasadge was By water. I found it Verry passebile and Returned the Same Day. noting Material this Day. laid in Camp.

the 21 Sent Mr. Wemp. on a Scout with Seven Indians. Saw noting. our 3 Bateryes was fyring on the fort Like men.

the 24 the Fort Serendered to ous and we toock prosession of the fort this Day & Toock Monsure Puscho with all his men preseners and

the 26 Sent him and all his men to Albany or futher.

Septr 8th day in the morning as we Laid Before Morcial (Montreal) ye french Sent a flag of Truse to Jenral amhost That theay would Capetelate and give op all the Contry to ous. agreed opon and the graneders Marched in Montereial this Day and placed centrys Round the Cetty.

Septr. 26th. Set of from Moreial for oswego. Lodged this night at Cachnewago [Caughnawaga, above Montreal].

the 27. Remaned Still at Caihewago for the Bad weather.

the 28. Set of this night & laid at ye Seders. Sunday.

the 29. Set of in ye morning and this night laid nere ochquesasne on an Eyland.

the 30. Reaned and Stayed at ochquasasne.

the 1 of October. Set of from ochquasasne & layed at Tarunque.

the 2. Set of & layed at Euerraghquandaera.

the 3. Set of in ye morning and laid at Swegatia [Ogdensburg] where I found Most of all the Indian houses Destroyed, and theay where Still Cotting and Dustroying the houses for fire woud. Lieut. Erwill Commander there he said would hinder them as he had the command only yesterday. he Said that Liet. Rede of the Royl. Hilanders had had the Command Before Him. I spoke to the commanding offeser and thould Him that it might Be a thing of Bad Conseques and Said thougt would Be more than theay Could answer for. he Said he would hinder it now. I wrote this to Coll. Schuyler after I had wrote it to Coll. Schuyler I thought Best to go my Self & Did go back from Swegatia to fort Wim. augustus to let Coll. Schuyler now the huts was almost Destryed and would all Be Destryed if there was no other orders given to them. he thould me yt Jenral amhurst read it; futher I thould him that the Sick Men was in the Indian Huts and that the Indians belonging to Swegatia would Be here this Day or tomoro at furthest and would have no Houses to go in when thay Came here. he then thould me that he would See and get them out of the Indian huts. this is

the 4 of this Instent. this Day at None Set of from Swegatia and layed this night about 10 mile above Swegatea.

the 5. in the Morning Set of and Had a feare winde and Sealed with a fare winde ontil none and layed about 40 miles from Swegatia.

the 6. in Morning Sat of and over took Mr. Gilland the Sutter and a wile after over took Caoechiago an Indian and this night laid here Caiahaso.

the 7. The wind Bluw and Was forsed to stay ontil none and then Set of and went all night And at Break a Day came to oswego.

the 8. Stayed at oswego.

the 9. Set of from Oswego and Layed half way the fales [Oswego Falls].

the 10. Came to the fales.

the 11. Stayed at the fales.

the 12. Still Stayed at the fales.

the 13. Still wated at the fales for the provision Batows. Stayed at the fales ontil

the 16 and Set of with the provision Batowe. this night Laid above the Rever and

the 17 Set of and at none Came to the oneida Lake and onloaded the Batows in the Vessel and Laid on Board with all the goods. the was no winde.

the 18. in the Morning the wind Bluwe Right a head and about one a Clock the winde turned and Came fare and got over Just at Dusk at the Est End of the lake. this night laid on Bord of the Vessel.

the 19. Set of and laid this night in would [Wood] Creek.

the 20. Came to Fort Stanwix.

the 21. Early in the Morning I got the goods Read over and laid this night Nere fort Schuyler [present Utica].

the 22. Set of Before Day light. this night laid at Caneiore at Mr. Temererman.

the 23. Set of Just at Day Break and the Same Day Came home.

Lodged this night in Mr. Dagbous Demupaur Mrs. Darevere Demupaur, Mrs. Demaysue Demupaur.

this is 27 Day of Septr. 1760. this day Saw a Childe Belonging to one pellenger [Bellinger] a Forener [foreigner] from the flats [German Flats] and one from Hendrick Frank a gerl about 15 years.

Captain Jelles Fonda was in the Indian service, under Sir William Johnson. The mission he was entrusted with, by Johnson, to make the final arrangements for the upper Six Nations joining the Amherst expedition, shows that Fonda was a man of power, capability and influence with the Iroquois — and this despite his lack of knowledge of spelling and English. Fonda was also a close personal friend of Sir William. Captain Fonda made a census of the Indians with the American-British army. The statement that this Indian contingent numbered 1,600 warriors is erroneous. The number, who left Oswego with the army was probably about 600. Two days after the capture of Fort Levis, Fonda made a "Memorandom of how N. Y. Indians now heare 1760 agust 28th Day", which appears at the end of his journal. This was probably before the Indians left in large numbers because they were not allowed to murder the captured French garrison "in cold blood". The list is as follows:

"Mohoks, 37; Canieore (Canajoharie Castle Mohawk Indians), 74; Tuscororas, 16; Canuseragos, 18; Ondagos (Onondagas), 146; Cayugos, 50; Tutraderighrenes, 21; Senneces, 79; Squores (Schoharies), 9; River Indian, 20. Totel, 470. Suseshana (Susquehanna) Indians, 34. Totel all, 504".

Of the foregoing 504 Indians, 402 were of the Six Nations, and 111 were Mohawks. After General Amherst forbade the Indians the bloody pleasure of killing defenseless men, the Indians left for their homes in a much disgusted frame of mind. On the 4th of September, 1760, Fonda made another census of the Indian party, showing that only 185 had remained. Of these, 136 were Iroquois from the Six Nations. The Mohawks showed their allegiance to Sir William Johnson, as 88 of the party were Mohawks, showing that few of them had left. Like Sir William Johnson, Captain Fonda differentiates between the Mohawks of the Upper Canajoharie Castle (at present Indian Castle, Herkimer County), and those of the Lower Castle (at Fort Hunter, Montgomery County). The Mohawks of the Lower Castle, are listed as "Mohoks," while those of the Upper Castle are down as "Canieore", meaning "Canajoharies". Fonda's spelling of Indian names is not to be taken as in any way correct, judged by his general orthography.

Of the Indians, 163 made the full journey to Montreal. 111 of these were Six Nations Indians and 76 of them were Mohawks.

It is probable that as many of the Mohawk Valley militia as could be safely spared were joined to the conquering army which finally subdued Canada. This Valley militia force may have numbered 500 or more soldiers. Although there is no way of ascertaining the exact number of these Valley soldiers, Amherst's order to strip the Valley forts of even their guards, in order to swell his strength as much as possible, would indicate that as many of the 800 or more Valley militia would have been taken as could have been done and, at the same time, have left a few to safeguard their homes and settlements. Several of the Mohawk Valley militia officers are mentioned in Fonda's diary.

On October 24th, 1760, Sir William Johnson addressed a letter to Sir William Pitt, Prime Minister of England, detailing his major activities, during the war just brought to a close by the capture of Montreal. Much of the matter covered in this important letter, deals with the Seven Years War, as it concerned the Mohawks, the Mohawk Valley and the Mohawk Valley militia, as well as the great military movements through the Valley. Johnson also says that he had not received any salary as Major General or Indian Superintendent. This letter appears in the "Sir William Johnson Papers", Vol. III, pages 269-275. That General Sir William Johnson's services had received favorable attention from the English government is shown by Johnson's letter to General Amherst, under date of January 18th, 1761, in which he says: "The notice his Majesty was pleased to take of my small Service, (as Signified to you by Mr. Pitt) does me great Honour, and at the same time that it demands my most grateful acknowledgments, it lays me under the greatest obligations to your Excellency, from whose favourable representations it must proceed, of which I shall ever retain a due Sense." Pitt's commendation of Johnson's great services, during the war, appear in Pitt's letter to Amherst, under date of October 24th, 1760, the same day on which Johnson wrote Pitt the aforementioned letter.

On November 8th, 1760, Amherst wrote Johnson that a reduction of the military forces was necessary and instructed Sir William to drop the following Indian Officers from the rolls: Captains John Butler and Jelles Fonda and Lieutenants William Hair and Henry Nellus (Nellis). Indian officers were military messengers and deputies, who had a general supervision or command of Indian forces on military expeditions, as we have seen in the case of Captain Fonda, as detailed in his journal, here published.

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