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GIF? 



VJBRARr 

OF THE 
UNIVERSrrT 

Paufor^ 





COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 



TME REGION OF 

tfm •nrvwjr* mmim ia 
1762 




Colonel Ephraim Williams 

An Appreciation 



BY 

WILLIAM A. PEW 

lATB IIAJOB, U. a. A., tolfBTIiai COLONEL, SIB IfABS. IM7. V. B. ▼., AMD 
KAJOB OKNBRAL BliTIBBD, IIABB. NATIONAL OVABD 



V 



WITH A FOREWORD BT 

GENERAL LEONARD WOOD 



WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. 
PRINTED FOR WILLIAMS COLLEGE 

MDCCCCXIX 



n» umTiurrr pbim, oAmBioaB, a.8.4. 



GIFT 






FOREWORD 



GENERAL PEW, in his "Appreciation" of 
Colonel Ephraim Williams of the Massachu- 
setts Colonial Forces, has effectively removed an 
oft-repeated charge of carelessness and want of 
military skill and precaution from the record of a 
brave soldier who f dl in a well conducted and, so 
far as he was concerned, bravely fought action. 

In doing this he has gathered and arranged in a 
convincing manner much information concerning 
a generally misunderstood action, and has added 
materially to our fimd of information concerning 
the struggles of our arms during the Colonial 
period. 

Greneral Few has done this with the same thor- 
oughness and efficiency which he displayed in the 
operations of the Spanish- American War and in 
the conduct of the National Guard of his State 
since that war. 

The " Appreciation " is an act of tardy justice to 
one who well and gallantly played his part in the 
bitter struggle between British and French for 
control in North America. 

LEONARD WOOD, 

Maj. Gerd., U. 8. A. 
Chicago, III., 

June 10, 1919. 



M641488 



COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

An Appreciation 

BY 

WILLIAM A. PEW 

Late Maj. U. S. A.^ Sometime G>lonel 8th Mass. Inf. U. S. V.^ and 
Major General retired^ Mass. National Guard 

WHAT do we know of Colonel Ephraim 
Williams? Is it possible to form a truer 
estimate of his worth as a soldier than history has 
allowed him? 

In regard to his private life, the story comes 
down to us, that he left his small fortune as a 
foundation for learning, not so much from a desire 
to serve his fellow men, as because his cousin Eliza- 
beth had refused his hand and all his worldly goods. 
Investigation discloses two cousins Elizabeth. At 
the time of the supposed rejection one had long 
since married and for some years had been dead. 
The other was a girl who, in Williams' lifetime, 
never used more than one digit to tell her age. To 
the latter he left his silver service and one hundred 
dollars. It is hardly to be supposed he offered 
his heart either to a lady in the grave or to one in 
the cradle. 

May there not be some discrepancies in the other 



8 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

tradition^ that he was a soldier of little capacity, 
fell into an ambush and was killed as a result of 
his own stupidity in not sending out scouts ? 

There is not much to guide us as we read con- 
temporary records except common sense. We 
must remember Colonel Williams was not only a 
tried soldier, but also a man of superior intelli- 
gence, the friend of men in high places of his day 
and generation. There may have been a touch of 
irony in the man who caUed the WiUiams' family 
the '' River Gods," but it showed them as outstand- 
ing figures among their fellows. 

The fighting between the English and the French 
colonists was a primitive warfare. The country 
through which they passed was in itself an ambush. 
There were no railways, no telegraph or telephone 
connections, no air service, only paths through the 
forest, few and rough. Some chances had to be 
taken, and caution was associated with boldness 
but never with temerity. The commanding officer 
marched at the head of his troops armed with a 
musket. He wore his sword only on state occa- 
sions or when he had his portrait painted. In the 
forest forays an advance guard and scouting were 
the only protection. It is no more to be thought 
that Colonel Williams neglected his scouts, than 
that he left his musket hanging over the mantel 
shelf. 

On September 8, 1755, Colonel Williams fell 



AN APPRECIATION 9 

in the battle kno^vTi as "The Bloody Morning 
Scout." Major Ashley, Captains Porter, Inger- 
soU, and Hawley of his regiment were killed. 
General Johnson reported that all the chiefs of the 
Indians in the detachment were slain. None of the 
survivors who gathered around the camp fires knew 
what Williams and his staff had in mind. Most 
of them had been caught in a panic and had run 
away without firing their pieces. 

No one on our side who was actually in the en- 
gagement has left a narrative. We have three 
sources of information, — the camp stories current 
at Fort William Henry, the official report of Dies- 
kau, and the tales told by the Mohawk Indians on 
their way home. The accepted version has been 
largely based upon the report of deserters too 
frightened to know what had happened and eager 
to cover their own faint-heartedness. 

Dr. Thomas Williams, writing to his wife under 
date of September 11, said, "The certainty is not 
yet known because those brave men, who stood 
fighting for our dear country, perished in the field 
of battle." It was easy to start the report of no 
service of security or information and therefore a 
surprise. Such stories shifted the blame and tended 
to cover up " the awful retreat of a certain gentle- 
man in the army who brought up the rear. Not- 
withstanding express orders of our dear friend. 
Colonel Williams, that no man retreat upon pain 



10 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

of death, this gentleman upon first fire of the 
enemy gave express command * retreat, retreat,' 
left their friends (who fought valiantly while they 
lived) to fall a prey into the hands of an enemy 
whose orders were most shocking that ever you 
heard, neither to give or take any quarters." 

Most of our troops were ill clothed, ill fed, dis- 
contented, insubordinate, and sickly. Many of the 
officers were unfit to command. It was a hastily 
organized force, recently assembled at Albany, 
which after several reviews before Governor Shirley 
and General Johnson had started for Crown Point, 
and reached the southern end of Lake George, 
where they had remained inactive for over two 
weeks. 

Reverend Charles Chauncy speaking of our sol- 
diers said, "Many of our young men were here 
who never before had heard a gun fired in anger." 
Seth Pomroy wrote in his journal, "A number of 
our men who were in the van returned the fire and 
fought bravely, but many of our men in the rear 
fled." 

In a letter to Colonel Israel Williams, dated 
September 9, Pomroy said: " There was not above 
one himdred of our men that fired at all. But 
they did with imdaimted bravery and well, and 
answered the character of English." 

Perez Marsh was surgeon's mate in the Third 
Bay State Regiment and great was his admiration 



AN APPRECIATION 11 

for Ephraim Williams. He thought of him as a 
rich man qualified to pass all tests likely to be im- 
posed at the gates of heaven. He took pride in 
hearing him called one of the " River Grods," and 
in telling how the Governor and magnates at Bos- 
ton listened to his advice and thought it wise, or 
how he persuaded with sweet reasonableness the 
General Court to incline his way. 

Marsh wrote to his wife September 26. The 
story of a surprise had now become well crystal- 
lized by retelling, and Marsh had heard many 
explanations of the disaster. The Indians who 
constituted Williams' advance guard had left for 
their homes in central New York two days after 
the battle. No survivor of the advance guard re- 
mained at Fort William Henry to tell what actu- 
ally took place at the beginning of the fight. 
Marsh said in his letter: ''The most astonishing 
thing that happened was that Colonel Williams 
should go three miles from the camp with twelve 
hundred men, expecting an attack every minute, 
or at least that it was quite probable, and yet keep 
no scouts out. I have often heard him speak of 
the very thing and the danger of marching without 
it. That Colonel Williams should neglect this and 
give the enemy the best advantage you can con- 
ceive of is very remarkable." 

The above quotation is interesting as showing 
the beginning of a tradition. The writer was swept 



12 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

into a belief in Williams' incompetency by an 
unconscious sympathy with his surroundings. 
Marsh was right. It was remarkable if it hap- 
pened that way. 

The story of the Battle of Lake George is usu- 
ally told somewhat as follows: The command of 
the expedition against Crown Point in the year 
1755 was given to General William Johnson. 
Johnson was no soldier, but had great influence 
with the Indians. During the late simmier he as- 
sembled a force of New England militia at Albany. 
They were mostly farmers, except a few Indian 
fighters who had served imder Colonel Williams 
on the Massachusetts border. These were joined 
by a party of a few hundred Mohawks. A part 
of Johnson's force was encamped at Lake George, 
where it was engaged in building boats. The 
remainder was at Fort Edwards on the Hudson, 
forwarding supplies. While the English prepara- 
tions were proceeding tardily Dieskau, commander 
of the French force, was not inactive. He was 
a brilliant soldier, a pupil of Marshal Saxe, and 
endowed with great energy. With a picked force 
he came down Lake Champlain and advanced be- 
tween the two English forces. On the morning of 
September 8 General Johnson ordered a recon- 
naissance in force under Colonel Williams and the 
Indian chief Hendrick. They fell into an ambush 
prepared by Dieskau. Both were killed and their 



AN APPRECIATION 18 

command defeated. The French followed up their 
advantage and closely pursued, hoping to enter 
Fort William Henry with the fugitives. They met 
a hot reception at the fort, where, after fighting 
several hours, they withdrew, leaving their general 
severely wounded and a prisoner of the English. 
As the French retreated they fell in with a party 
coming from Fort Edwards, whereby they suf- 
fered farther losses. The victory at Lake George 
inspired the Colonists with a new confidence. In 
this battle Lyman, Putnam, and Stark, names to 
become illustrious, received their first baptism of 
fire. General Johnson was made a baronet and 
received a grant of five thousand pounds. 

Fort William Henry was situated at the south- 
em end of Lake George. It was connected by a 
wagon road with Fort Edwards on the upper 
reaches of the Hudson. On the evening of Sep- 
tember 7 General Johnson knew that a large body 
of French and Indians had landed at South Bay 
on Lake Champlain, and proceeded to the wood 
road connecting Forts Edwards and William 
Henry. Their mission was evidently an attack on 
one of the two forts. There was nothing else to do. 

General Johnson supposed that the enemy 
would make an attack upon Fort Edwards. Ac- 
cordingly he detailed Colonel Williams with about 
one thousand soldiers and two hundred Indians 
to march, as he said, " in order to catch the enemy 



14 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLLA3iS 

in their retreat from the other camp, either as 
victors, or defeated in their design." 

Williams marched in the morning with a division 
of five hundred men. His Indians were not ready. 
As an eyewitness described it, " The Indians some 
afore, some in the middle, and some in the rear, 
and so on throughout as they got ready to march." 
After marching a couple of miles, Williams halted, 
threw out march outposts and waited until he was 
joined by the remainder of his detachment. He 
was ready to resume his march about ten o'clock. 
His advance guard then consisted of all the In- 
dians under the command of Chief Hendrick. His 
main body consisted of about one thousand men. 

The weather was pleasant and the wind from 
the south. No musketry fire had been heard from 
the direction of Fort Edwards. 

Hoyt in his "Antiquarian Researches" reports 
the following story by a survivor: " During this halt 
flankers were thrown out on the right and left, in 
the thick woods, and while in this position a drove 
of deer rushed down the valley and passed between 
the men, indicating great fright. No suspicions, 
however, were entertained that they were frightened 
by the enemy." 

At Chancellorsville, when Jackson turned our 
right flank and was bearing down on the 11th 
Corps, his advance was preceded by a flight of 
wild animals which had been startled by his de- 



AN APPRECIATION 15 

ployed line. I have seen the same thing in a 
manoeuvre througrh the thickets of Chickamauffa. 
A drove of frighted deer rushing north dong Z 
wood road could have had but one meaning for two 
old fighters like Williams and Hendrick. It was 
probably at this time Hendrick said to Williams, 
"I smeU mdians." It was their last interview. 
When the advance was continued Williams was 
at the head of the main body and Hendrick at the 
head of the advance guard. Hendrick was a 
Mohegan who had been adopted into the Mohawk 
tribe. He had spent over forty years scouting and 
on Indian raids. That they had heard no mus- 
ketry from the direction of Fort Edwards, and 
that their outposts were rushed by frightened deer 
must have been notice to Williams and Hendrick 
that they were in close proximity to the enemy. 
Their meeting in the next half hoiur could not have 
come as a siurprise to either of them. 

It was proper that the Indians should form the 
advance guard. They were the trained scouts of 
the army. 

General Johnson said in his official report that 
after this halt, " Our party then marched forward, 
tiie indians leading the van. one of the enemy's 
muskets by accident went off, which alarmed our 
people and discovered the enemy, who immediately 
began their fire on our indians, who finding the 
enemy on all sides retreated to Colonel Williams 



16 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

who was at some small distance. The engagement 
then began on both sides. The Indians and the 
van of our people sustained the warmest fire and 
amongst them was the greatest slaughter. Whilst 
the rest of our troops were marching up to support 
them, the enemy who were much superior in num- 
ber began to spread themselves in order to sur- 
round us. Our officers then thought it prudent to 
retreat toward the camp and our men fled that 
way." 

It has been repeatedly said that Williams' ad- 
vance guard was not preceded by scouts. M. de 
Vaudreuil, the Governor of Canada, in his official 
report under date of September 25 said, in speak- 
ing of Baron Dieskau's advance, "When he was 
about a league from the enemy's camp, his scouts 
brought him in two Englishmen, who told him that 
a large body of English and Indians were follow- 
ing them." It would seem from this report that 
Williams' advance guard was preceded by some 
sort of a scouting party. Who, otherwise, were the 
captives who gave accurate information? It is not 
to be supposed that they were two Englishmen 
taking a casual morning stroll. Their position and 
information indicate they were members of a 
patrol. 

After reading all the contemporary literature 
bearing on this fight, it is evident Colonel Williams 
fell fighting like a gallant soldier. That he was 



AN APPRECIATION 17 

surprised is not justified in any narrative of the 
facts told by those who draw this conclusion. He 
knew the French were ten miles from Fort Wil- 
liam Henry the night before. His ears must have 
told him that nothing had occurred in the nature 
of an attack against Fort Edwards up to ten 
o'clock that morning. Therefore the French were 
moving against Fort William Henry. This was 
probably in his mind when he halted and reorgan- 
ized his force. It is quite impossible to accept the 
statement that the frightened deer roused no sus- 
picions among his two hundred Indians. 

Williams' plan must have been to use the Indians 
to beat up the French, and imder cover of this ad- 
vance guard use his main body as circumstances 
required. His formations were correct. If the 
Indians ran into an ambush that was their mission. 
Advanced guards are pushed forward to find such 
things. There can be no doubt Dieskau did plan 
an ambush, but, as will appear later from his re- 
port, it was imsuccessful either because discovered 
by the Mohawks or disclosed by the treachery of 
the Iroquois. 

In regard to Williams' leadership, the common 
estimate that he lacked military capacity is wrong. 
What he attempted was well planned. Its execu- 
tion depended upon the character of the sol- 
diers. They were mostly without military training. 
Those within the sphere of his personal influence 



18 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

responded to his example and fought bravely. 
These may have been the few he had trained in 
previous years at forts Coleraine, Vernon, and 
Massachusetts. If Pomroy's estimate is correct 
only about one hundred of our men were depend- 
able. After Williams was killed these fell back 
before the attack of the regulars. Considering the 
character of the country and the forces involved, 
Williams' plan of advance was superior to that of 
his opponent. Baron Dieskau. 

Baron Dieskau's order for his march and attack 
on the morning of September 8 reads: "When the 
army wiU march in three columns, the order of 
battle that has been laid down will be followed, and 
one column will be kept at least one hundred paces 
distant from the other, in order that the French 
battalions have room to form themselves into a 
line of battle — when so directed. 

" Should. the army march in three columns, and 
it be necessary to fight the enemy in that order, in 
the forest, then Mr. de Saint Pierre will make a 
most vigorous attack with the Indians and Mr. 
de Repentigny's corps. . . . He will be sustained 
by the three columns; that of the right marching 
Canadian fashion, will go beyond the enemy, in 
order to attack his flank. 

" The left colunm will do the same on its side, 
and the column consisting of the battalions of 



AN APPRECIATION 19 

France, will march directly against the enemy and 
attack in colunms, unless it be ordered to form a 
hne which wiU not fail to happen, if the gromid 
allow it; these battalions will make their attack 
as regular troops ought to do, without breaking 
and scattering." 

No mention is made of an advance guard. Un- 
doubtedly he made use of patrols, as he knew of 
Williams' approach and had captured two English 
scouts. 

M. de Vaudreuil, the Governor of Canada, com- 
menting upon this formation, says, " Each colunm 
was about thirty paces apart, so that the Canadians 
and Indians were obliged to advance through the 
woods and on the mountains to preserve that order 
of march which seriously fatigued them." 

The object of this formation was to facilitate a 
rapid deployment and to envelop the enemy's 
flanks before he could form line. This formation 
was tried by Greneral Abercromby in his advance 
against Ticonderoga, and resulted in great confu- 
sion. Forbes used it in his approach against Fort 
Duquesne. 

Up to the beginning of the battle the advantage 
of leadership was with the English. 

Just before meeting the enemy Dieskau halted 
his center column, which consisted of French regu- 
lars, and advanced his two flank columns. This 
constituted the ambush. 



20 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

We have two plans drawn soon after the battle. 
Reverend Samuel Chandler, who was a clergyman 
at Gloucester, Massachusetts, joined as chaplain 
the Essex County Regiment sent to the relief of 
General Johnson. In his diary under date of 
October 17, 1755, he says: "The position of the 
enemy when they met Colonel Williams 



• • • 






The regulars in a body and the Indians and the 
Canadians in the flank in two half moons." 

Samuel Blodget, who was a sutler at Fort Wil- 
liam Henry, published a pictorial representation 
of the Bloody Morning Scout and the attack upon 
Fort WilUam Henry. His accompanying narra- 
tive is interesting as a description of the ground. 
He describes the land on Williams' left as covered 
with a thatch growth descending to a ravine. On 
his right was an eminence covered with rocks, trees, 
and shrubs. The French formation was that of a 
hook, with their left farther advanced than their 
right. 

The impression given by these two drawings is 
that the French formed a cul de sac into which the 



AN APPRECIATION 21 

English advanced, whereupon the two flank col- 
umns closed m upon the English and opened fire. 
Such a proceeding would have been as dangerous 
to the French as to the English. There was noth- 
ing to prevent the fire of one French column de- 
stroying the other. 

Dr. Timothy Dwight, President of Yale Col- 
lege, went over this groimd. His description in 
"Travels in New England and New York" is 
probably more accurate. He says: " Colonel Wil- 
liams met the enemy at Rocky Brook, four miles 
from Lake George. Dieskau had been informed 
of his approach by his scouts; and arranged his 
men, . . . extending his line on both sides of the 
road in the form of a half moon." 

Dieskau's scheme was to catch Williams' main 
column before they had a chance to deploy. This 
half-moon formation would give him a superiority 
of fire. It was to guard against such tactics that 
Williams employed his Indians as an advance 
guard. 

John Burk, the captain lieutenant in Williams' 
own company, who was not in the fight, wrote to 
his wife under date of September 11: ** On the 7th 
inst. our Indians discovered the track of a large 
body of the enemy East of us. On the eighth Colonel 
Williams with a detachment of one thousand 
strong, marched in pursuit, or to make discovery. 
They marched in the road 8 miles south, and 



22 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

being discovered by the enemy, (as we are told by 
the French General who is taken by us) were way- 
laid by eighteen hundred French and Indians. The 
Frenilfy on one side of the ro«l on rising ground; 
the Indians on the other side in a swamp. Part of 
the French were regular troops: these lay south. 
Their scheme was to let our men march quite to 
the south end of the ambush, the regular troops to 
give the first fire, then all to fire and rush out ; which 
if they had done they would have cut our men all 
to pieces. But the general says that a beady In* 
dian, who was very eager, fired as soon as they 
entered the ambush.'* 

In his official report to the Minister of War, 
Dieskau describes what he intended and what oc- 
curred. " Before quitting Montreal, I had already 
various reasons for suspecting the fidelity of the 
domiciliated Iroquois both of Sault St. Louis 
and the Lake of the Two Mountains, whose 
number exceeded 800 composing half of the In- 
dians that had been given to me. I represented 
it repeatedly to M. de Vaudreuil, who would never 
admit it, but scarcely had I arrived at Fort St. 
Frederic, than I had occasion %o furnish him still 
stronger proofs thereof. 

" For more than fifteen days that I was encamped 
under that fort. I encountered nothing but dk- 
culties from the Indians ; those who were good, were 
spoiled by the Iroqxiois. Never was I able to ob- 



AN APPRECIATION 28 

tain from them a faithful scout; at one time they 
refused to make any; at another time, seeming to 
obey me, they set forth, but when a few leagues> 
from the camp, they sent back the Frenchmen I 
had associated with them, and used to return within 
a few days without bringing me any intelligence. 
Such has been the conduct of the Indians, caused 
by the Iroquois. My letters from Fort St. Fred- 
eric to M. de Vaudreuil and M. Bigot, suffi- 
ciently develop the particulars of their mischievous 
intrigues. 

" On the following day, the 8th of September, I 
commenced my march. About ten of the clock, 
after having proceeded five leagues, the scouts re- 
ported to me that they had seen a large body of 
troops on their way to the fort, which news was 
confirmed by a prisoner taken at the time. They 
consisted of one thousand men or more, that had 
left the camp to reinforce the fort. I immediately 
made my arrangement, ordered the Indians to 
throw themselves into the woods, to allow the 
enemy to pass, so as to attack them in the rear, 
whilst the Canadians took them on the flank, and 
I should wait for them in front with the regular 
troops. 

" This was the moment of treachery. The Iro- 
quois, who were on the left, showed themselves be- 
fore the time and did not fire. The Abenakis who 



24 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

occupied the right, seeing themselves discovered, 
alone with a few Canadians attacked the enemy in 
front and put them to flight. I inmiediately pre- 
pared to join them, in order to accompany the fugi- 
tives into their camp, though still more than a 
league off. 

" Meanwhile the Iroquois collected on a hill, un- 
willing to advance. Some of them even wanted to 
force the Abenakis to release three Mohocks whom 
they had captured at the first encoimter. I am 
ignorant of the result of that quarrel but the 
Abenakis, seeing the Iroquois immovable, halted 
also, and the Canadians seeing the retreat of the 
one and the other, were thereby intimidated." 

There is another version of the charge of Iro- 
quois treachery which was told by the Mohawks on 
their way home. I find two references to this story 
in contemporary correspondence. 

Pownall in a letter to the Lords of Trade, dated 
New York, September 20, says : '' There are many 
further accounts brought down from Albany by 
the Schippers of which the following is one. That 
when the French Indians were for standing aside 
and letting the English and French decide the 
quarrel, old Hendrick declared for war and fired 
the first shot." The other is in a news letter writ- 
ten by Daniel Dulaney at Annapolis, December 9. 
He says : " I am but just returned from New York, 
whither I went to accompany our Governor at his 



AN APPRECIATION 25 

request, and by all that I could collect there, the 
New England people did not behave so well as 
might have been wished, and nothing but the 
cowardice of the enemy saved them. Mr. Johnson 
having received intelligence that a large body of 
the enemy were in motion, sent out a party of one 
thousand or twelve hundred men under the com- 
mand of the Colonels Williams and Whiting to 
reconnoitre them. The enemy, also having intelli- 
gence of the march of this body of men, formed in 
an ambuscade, into which our people would have 
inevitably fallen, had it not been for the following 
extraordinary accident. Among this party under 
the command of Williams and Whiting were sev- 
eral of the Mohocks, as there were of the Potme- 
wagoes among the French. When oiu* Indians 
who were in front were within gunshot of the 
French Indians, they discovered themselves by ris- 
ing up, and discharging their pieces in the air in 
token of friendship to oiu* Indians, and imme- 
diately proposed to them to withdraw them- 
selves from the English and French troops, and 
leave it to them to decide their own quarrel. To 
this proposition many of the Mohocks began to 
listen, when old Hendrick, fearing the consequence, 
if this treaty was not interrupted, immediately shot 
one of the French Indians, and thus the engage- 
ment began." 

When a charge of treachery is made we look for 



26 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

an instigator and his motive. The reports of 
Pownall and Dulaney say that Hendrick broke up 
the parley and started the fighting. It is more 
likely the fighting was started by a French oflSicer, 
serving with the Indians. We would gain much 
by detaching the French Indians, who greatly out- 
nimibered ours. It is quite probable that Williams 
and Hendrick were the inrtigators of this plot, 
hoping thereby to discourage the remaining In- 
dians and Canadians and then surround the small 
body of French regulars and defeat them with their 
open-order skirmish formation. Dieskau seems to 
have run up against a modem trick like the Ger- 
man propaganda before the Italian debdcle. That 
the scheme was partially successful appears in 
Dieskau's report. Unfortunately Williams and 
Hendrick were shot. After their fall a panic en- 
sued, diu-ing which a few himdred regulars drove 
our force back to Fort William Henry. 

Pomroy told Dr. D wight that just before the 
Mohawks left Fort William Henry they were ha- 
rangued by Hendrick. He said he did not under- 
stand a word of the language but was more deeply 
affected by this speech than by any other he had 
ever heard. It is possible Hendrick was disclosing 
to his followers his plan of detaching the Iroquois. 
Both Mohawk and Iroquois were members of the 
same confederacy. They were never anxious to 
fight each other. The Iroquois occupied the ad- 



AN APPRECIATION 27 

vanced left of Dieskau's position and were the first 
enemy encountered by the Mohawks. Some sort 
of powwow preceded the fight. This seems to dis- 
pose of the story of a surprise and successful 
ambush. 

It is certain that something occurred between the 
Iroquois and the Mohawks which justified the let- 
ter of Dieskau to the Governor of Canada, in which 
he said: " I am defeated; my detachment is routed; 
a number of men are killed and thirty or forty are 
prisoners, as I am told. I and M. Bemier, my Aid 
de Camp, are among the latter, I have received for 
my share, f oiu* gunshot wounds, one of which is mor- 
tal. I owe this misfortune to the treachery of the 
Iroquois. Oiu* affair was well begun, but as soon 
as the Iroquois perceived some Mohawks, they 
came to a dead halt, the Abenakis and other In- 
dians continued some time, but disappeared also 
by degrees ; this disheartened the Canadians, so that 
I found myself with the French troops engaged 
almost alone. I bore the attack, beheving that I 
might rally the Canadians and perhaps the In- 
dians, in which I did not succeed. The Regulars 
received the whole of the enemy's fire, and were 
almost cut to pieces. I prophesied to you. Sir, that 
the Iroquois would play some scurvy trick; it is 
imf ortunate for me that I am such a good prophet.'* 

This charge of a "scurvy trick" implies some- 
thing more than that a crazy Indian disclosed the 



28 COLONEL EPHRAIM WILLIAMS 

ambush by shooting in a moment of excitement. 
What actually took place can never be known. It 
seems probable that Williams and Hendrick, who 
were friends at Stockbridge, formed some scheme 
which, although not thoroughly successful in the 
morning fight, did frustrate the plans of the enemy, 
and contributed materially to our victory later by 
sowing the seeds of distrust between the French 
and their Indian allies. 

It is unfortunate that those who shared Wil- 
liams' counsel fell beside him, and the reputation 
of a brave soldier has been dinamed by the tongues 
of those who were running away while he was in 
the midst of battle. 

A careful survey of what evidence remains seems 
to prove beyond question that Williams took every 
reasonable precaution to protect his march. His 
advance was regular and in proper form. He was 
not surprised and did not fall into an ambush. 
Whether the Iroquois succumbed to propaganda 
or were simply unwilling to fight, Williams was 
pushing forward to take advantage of the situation 
when he fell. With his death all energy disap- 
peared and hope of victory vanished. 

Ephraim Williams was one of New England's 
fine and sturdy sons. He was tall and well pro- 
portioned, in many ways resembling Washington, 
but handsomer and more at ease in society. An 



AN APPRECIATION 29 

ideal oflSicer, punctilious in dress and deportment, 
solicitous in his care for oflSicers and men (always 
struggling for a full complement of supplies which 
the General Court voted with reluctance and which 
were tardy in forthcoming), demanding much of 
subordinates, but bearing his full share in every 
hardship and privation. He served his country 
and his fellow men, feared God, and honored his 
king. Williams College is happy in bearing his 
name. When we speak it, let us remember the 
greatness of its founder was in service. As Phillips 
Brooks said in regard to Washington : " Let us cul- 
tivate reverence for greatness. Teach it to our 
children. Cultivate a perception of it. The double 
blessing of pattern and power." 



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