The Brink of Ruin
“Never was general in a more critical position than I was: God has delivered me; his be the praise! He gives me health, though I am worn out with labor, fatigue, and miserable dissensions that have determined me to ask for my recall. Heaven grant that I may get it!”
Thus wrote Montcalm to his mother after his triumph at Ticonderoga. That great exploit had entailed a train of vexations, for it stirred the envy of Vaudreuil, more especially as it was due to the troops of the line, with no help from Indians, and very little from Canadians. The Governor assured the Colonial Minister that the victory would have bad results, though he gives no hint what these might be; that Montcalm had mismanaged the whole affair; that he would have been beaten but for the manifest interposition of Heaven; and, finally, that he had failed to follow his (Vaudreuil’s) directions, and had therefore enabled the English to escape. The real directions of the Governor, dictated, perhaps, by dread lest his rival should reap laurels, were to avoid a general engagement; and it was only by setting them at nought that Abercromby had been routed. After the battle a sharp correspondence passed between the two chiefs. The Governor, who had left Montcalm to his own resources before the crisis, sent him Canadians and Indians in abundance after it was over; while he cautiously refrained from committing himself by positive orders, repeated again and again that if these reinforcements were used to harass Abercromby’s communications, the whole English army would fall back to the Hudson, and leave baggage and artillery a prey to the French. These preposterous assertions and tardy succors were thought by Montcalm to be a device for giving color to the charge that he had not only failed to deserve victory, but had failed also to make use of it. He did what was possible, and sent strong detachments to act in the English rear; which, though they did not, and could not, compel the enemy to fall back, caused no slight annoyance, till Rogers checked them by the defeat of Marin. Nevertheless Vaudreuil pretended on one hand that Montcalm had done nothing with the Canadians and Indians sent him, and on the other that these same Canadians and Indians had triumphed over the enemy by their mere presence at Ticonderoga. “It was my activity in sending these succors to Carillon [Ticonderoga] that forced the English to retreat. The Marquis de Montcalm might have made their retreat difficult; but it was in vain that I wrote to him, in vain that the colony troops, Canadians and Indians, begged him to pursue the enemy." The succors he speaks of were sent in July and August, while the English did not fall back till the first of November. Neither army left its position till the season was over, and Abercromby did so only when he learned that the French were setting the example.