Montcalm and the massacre

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Posted by Bill R on March 04, 1998 at 12:42:40:

As a way of apology and to calm things down....I had noticed several times that there was debate about Montcalms part in the massacre. Whether he approved, knew of it, tacitly gave permission, or shrugged and let it happen. I happened to see on our library bookshelf the book by Allan Eckert "Wilderness Empire" and thought I would refresh my memory of the period.

In Eckerts book he states that after the surrender, the English and their allies were ordered outside the fort and into an encampment some hundreds of yards from the fort. Left outside the fort in several huts were perhaps 17 seriously wounded. The bush lopers and indians rushed into the fort to plunder and found nothing much left. This angered them greatly and they fell upon the seriously wounded killing them all. This of course caused a great stir in the English encampment and Montcalm and his officers rushed in amongst the canadians and indians and verbally beat them up unmercifully and sent them packing. On the road march to Ft Edward, Montcalm assigned a rear guard of Canadian provincials and a front guard of Marines to escort the English to Fort Edward. On the road march the bush lopers and indians fell on the column and plundered hats, coats, muskets, canteens whatever they could. If anyone resisted, they were shot or tomahawked. Finally, (as in the movie) a wild call was heard which clearly was a signal, and indians attacked all sides of the rear most part of the column. This part of the column was, as has been said elsewhere on this board, mostly composed of New Hampshire men who were
particularly hated by the Huron and Abnaki warriors. A wild melee occured and perhaps 80 were killed or taken away. It lasted only minutes however, because according to Eckert, Montcalm, his staff, and subordinate officers fortuitously arrived at the scene and all of them, Montcalm included, waded into the wild melee and pulled indans and Canadians away from their victims. At risk to themselves they went right in amongst the havoc and did what they could to stop it, all the while cursing and yelling at the offenders in terrible anger.
Eckert quotes Montcalm as yelling "for God and King this must stop at once." Clearly, Montcalm knew what might happen, feared what might happen, and did not wish it to happen. He did all he could to prevent it, and once it occurred, risked his own life to stop maddened and inflamed warriors from their carnage. He then arranged further escort for the remaining column, but at the outset of the massacre many of those up front ran pell mell to the front guard and were told to fend for themselves so scattered into the woods and made their own way back to Fort Edward as best they could.

I believe Montcalm did not wish the massacre to happen and did what he could to prevent and stop it. Montcalm was an honorable man.

Bill R

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