Posted by Seamus on July 11, 2000 at 16:12:28:
In Reply to: Re: ...with its tail between its legs... posted by Pvt. Chauncey Goodrich on July 11, 2000 at 12:19:01:
Chauncey, my lad,
The horrors of war and combat are something that one never gets used to, only hardened to...so that the things that occur do not seem to affect those who witness it. The veterans do not wish to get close to the new guys, they do not even want to know who they are for fear of having another hurt, should something happen. The faces have no meaning, the feelings have no meaning, only that the job gets done is important. It is quite common for those who have survived to be drawn much closer to each other, though. The bond that is formed is an unbreakable one. A quiet, mournful camp is common, too. In time, the spirit will return. Each succeeding battle will toughen the resolve and battle will become easier for you. The killing becomes second nature, and although not enjoyable, it is your job. In order to survive you must be a master of your craft...and all too often it is "kill or be killed." This does not justify killing just to kill...if there is another way to settle the difference, then by all means, take it. But, if you are going to carry the musket and the knife, then you had better be prepared to use them, and use them well. If you are to be a Ranger or a soldier, then you accept the consequences...good and bad.
Tactics as we witnessed them on our side of the abatis were very ill-advised. General Abercromby must be held accountable for the loss of so many gallant men's lives. Such an assault was doomed to failure from the start...and had he been on the field to see for himself,instead of at the rear, perhaps it would not have been so bad. There will always be loss in a frontal assault, no matter the odds in your favor. However, to ignore reports and continue to order such repeated attacks against such a strong defensive position as he did is nothing short of criminal. The name Abercromby will forever stick in the throats of everyone who was there, especially the survivors of the Black Watch and the Royal American Regiments, like a chicken bone.
Take solice, lad, in the fact that you were spared that day...for who knows what reason, but someday you will know why. Make the most of your life each day, and pay strict attention to what the veterans say and do. Listen to Major Rogers and take his Rules of Ranging to heart. If you are fortunate to survive this entire war, for however long it takes, you must then make the decision as to what you are going to do to be worth that gift. I am sure, my friend, that you will make the right decision.
: Seamus, my dear sir,
: It is comforting to me that you are here to help me get over the dreadful battle we were part of, just a few days ago. You are a seasoned veteran but being new to war, I was shocked and amazed. As you know, we Rangers were not nearby when Lord Howe died, having been ordered up the hill and to maintain high ground nearby. I believe that order saved many of us Rangers from the initial attack. And even when we advanced upon the enemy, they seemed unable to kill a man of us, no matter how smartly they fired. But all that changed when they retreated to behind the breast-works. You must tell me if that is common for a force so outnumbered, as reports say there's was, as you know I am learning the tactics as I go. But to the point -- four hours we hurled our men at the French and one brave soldier after another attempted to break through. How could we have spent so many men for nothing? The order to retreat at dusk came, to my mind, much too late.
: It seems quiet here at the camp, our numbers are diminished and there is a general hush of mourning. Is this how it will always be?
: : Cpl. Malcolm MacWilliam July ye 9, 1758
: : Pvt. Davey Gunn
: : 77th Highlanders, Mon tgomery’s
: : Ft. Lyttleton
: : Cousins,
: : I do not know where or how to begin this missive. There are so many emotions running through me that I am bewildered. I guess I had best start at the beginning, with our landing on the 6th inst.
: : Early that morning we landed in a cove in the northernmost part of Lake George and advanced the army in three columns. The forest was extremely dense and covered everywhere...there were no cleared areas... and we were immediately lost and confused. An advance party of French, who had been spying on us from a large rock and were now headed back to Carillon, was also foundering in these same woods, and neither of us knew the other was there. A Frenchman called out inquiring who we were, and was answered by Major Putnam in French that we were their countrymen. However, they opened fire upon our column and at the first fire, Lord Howe was struck by a musket ball which crashed through him, piercing his heart and lungs and shattering his backbone, knocking him onto his back. He never moved again, except for a slight quivering of his hands for an instant. Timothy, Chauncey, and I witnessed this tragic moment, Malcolm, from about 10 feet. We could not believe what we had just seen. It all seemed to be happening very slowly, and we were powerless to do anything about it. IT WAS SUDDEN AND INSTANT.
: : When Lord Howe died, the spirit went out of the army. He was the very heart and soul of us all. Later that day, when his lifeless form was brought into the camp back at the landing there was hardly a dry eye. We were able to beat back the French party, inflicting tremendous casualties on them. According to prisoners, few of them made it back to the fort.
: : On the 7th we advanced again on the fort, but by a different route, over the small stream which connects Lake George to Lake Champlain, and lay on our arms all night. The next morning, the 8th , we once again advanced in three columns.
: : The French had constructed an earthwork across the whole of the peninsula of Ticonderoga, nearly 3/4 of a mile from the fort, itself. What a formidable work it was! It was built of a great wall of logs and an abatis of trees with their branches sharpened and facing us about 100 feet from their trenches. At first sight it was obvious that no man could penetrate it.
: : Oh, Dear Cousins! It was suicide! Wave after wave of the 42nd Highlanders, the proud Black Watch assaulted this abatis....and time after time they were thrown back, meanwhile suffering horrendous losses. The sight of those countrymen of yours impaled on the branches, shot through, and mangled so horribly makes my heart ache so. Even with the losses and difficulty in getting through the abatis, some succeeded in reaching the wall, only to be shot or die from the bayonet. Our losses also included a similar count from the Royal American Regiment.
: : Malcolm, Davey...I witnessed something I thought I never would see....a British army as powerful as we were yesterday was forced to retreat, leaving the field in the control of a much smaller enemy. It is said that our losses, both British and Provincial forces, was nearly as great as the entire force of French defending Carillon.
: : And now, dear cousins, it is my solemn and unpleasant duty to inform you that your gallant countryman and kinsman, Sgt. Alisdair Robison, 42nd Highlanders, the Black Watch, was killed making the final assault on the earthworks. He had, somehow, made his way through the abatis and had turned to encourage his troops to follow him, and while standing there waving his backsword and bellowing, “Onward, lads! I have gotten here, you can, too!!” when a volley of musketry was sent in his direction by a squad of Frenchmen. I don’t believe there was an inch of his 6 foot 5 inch frame that wasn’t pierced, cousins. He died instantly and the assault failed....and the army retreated to the safety of our cove.
: : We are all...those of us who were not left dead or dying on the field...are now back in our boats, heading back to the head of Lake George, only this time there are no pipers playing, nor drummers beating. The is only the silence, interrupted by the sounds of the Lake upon the whaleboat and the occassional cries and moans of the wounded. Except for some torn clothes and cuts and bruises, Timothy, Chauncey and I are not injured. The Good Lord had us under His protection today, for sure, and we have been on our knees, giving thanks to Him for that. I have not seen Flags or Tales all day, since we made the advance this morning. The smoke was so thick you could hardly see, and they may have drifted to another area away from us. This was quite common today. I pray they are alright, too, but my stomach has a knot in it. We are earnestly hoping and praying that they are in another boat. Organization was sadly lacking at the landing as we departed. Tons of equipment and supplies...and even some wounded...were left there.
: : Tonight, I am sure that a victorious French force is celebrating...and while they are celebrating, the once-proud British Lion is skulking off with its tail between its legs.....
: : Seamus
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