CHAPTER 1: The Conquest
French Victory at Ticonderoga
A Costly Assault
Aerial photograph of Fort Carillon / Fort Ticonderoga in 1927
(Click image to enlarge)
As Amherst was laying siege to Louisbourg, General Abercromby was gathering his troops to the south of Lake Champlain. This was the largest army ever in North America - approximately 15,000 men, with no fewer than 6,000 regular British infantrymen. In July the army boarded some 1,500 barges and launches and went up Lake George close to Fort Carillon.
As for the French, Montcalm decided to post his eight French battalions on a hill near Fort Carillon, in the shelter of a long barricade of tree trunks. The colonial troops, the militiamen and the allied Amerindians were spread throughout the adjacent woods. Abercromby could, of course, have circumvented this position and placed his artillery on the neighbouring hills, but this would have taken several weeks and what the Anglo-Americans wanted was a clear and rapid victory. Informed by the engineers that the French barricades could be taken in an assault, Abercromby decided on a general frontal attack set for July 8. The 3,000 French soldiers had dug in and placed their regimental flags on the barricades and remained at the ready.
At noon, they could see three columns of several thousand men slowly coming up the hillside towards them, but they opened fire only when the British were close to their position: a first terrible salvo decimated the enemy ranks. The British and American troops launched one assault after another, but were unable to make any headway in spite of their best efforts. At the end of the day some 2,000 dead and wounded covered the hillside, and the French continued to resist in spite of 527 dead and wounded. Abercromby eventually had to beat a retreat, the British attack proving to be a disaster.