Posted by Elaine/Mohican Press on March 04, 1998 at 14:42:37:
In Reply to: Montcalm and the massacre posted by Bill R on March 04, 1998 at 12:42:40:
I agree that Montcalm was honorable and I also agree that he was most likely not responsible for the massacre at Fort William Henry.
As Eckert said in his book, Montcalm did intercede quickly when the melee first broke out. One can make an argument either way as to whether or not Montcalm allowed the massacre to take place as an act of appeasement (to unpaid Indian allies) or that it was a fear of his materialized much to his horror. However, when all the evidence is weighed, it appears to have been unlikely that there was any culpability whatsoever on his, or the French officers' part. On the other hand, a suspicious eye can be cast upon the Canadians, particularly St. Luc de la Corne. They were on the scene at the "hospital" and did nothing. They had sent away the guard that Montcalm had posted. They were the advance guard to whom the fleeing English ran for help, and from whom the panicked English were ill advised to make a run for it. They were the commanders of the Indian parties. And so on...
Another interesting theory to consider; was the massacre a spontaneous result of a harassment and pay retrieval mission gone awry? Or was it a planned act of vengeance against the New Hampshire regiment, for whom the Abenaki held a particular hatred. There was a bitter relationship and a century old conflict between them. The wounded in the hospital were primarily New Hampshire men. The rear of the English column was a New Hampshire regiment. The *war cry* signal was reportedly given by an Abenaki. It's certainly worth looking at.
The Last of the Mohicans (Mann's version) does subtly indict Montcalm with his *woe is me, I will have to fight them again* speech to Magua, as well as the downward glance at Magua's hatchet. That is an accurate representation of Cooper's point of view, though I think Cooper was unduly harsh and accusatory in regards to Montcalm. He was born in 1789, only 32 years after the infamous massacre and was most likely influenced by the anti-French sentiments and exxageration that enshrined the events.
If anyone would like to read more on Le Marquis de Montcalm, you can find him in our History section. For more on the Abenaki connection and bits on the massacre, go to the Mohican Musings Index: http://www.mohicanpress.com/mo06022.html
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