To Vaudreuil came a repetition of the detested order that he should defer to Montcalm on all questions of war; and moreover that he should not take command in person except when the whole body of the militia was called out; nor, even then, without consulting his rival. His ire and vexation produced an access of jealous self-assertion, and drove him into something like revolt against the ministerial command. “If the English attack Quebec, I shall always hold myself free to go thither myself with most of the troops and all the militia and Indians I can assemble. On arriving I shall give battle to the enemy; and I shall do so again and again, till I have forced him to retire, or till he has entirely crushed me by excessive superiority of numbers. My obstinacy in opposing his landing will be the more a propos, as I have not the means of sustaining a siege. If I succeed as I wish, I shall next march to Carillon to arrest him there. You see, Monseigneur, that the slightest change in my arrangements would have the most unfortunate consequences."
[Footnote 694: Ordres du Roy et Depeches des Ministres, Lettre a Vaudreuil, 3 Fev. 1759.]
[Footnote 695: Vaudreuil au Ministre, 8 Avril, 1759.]
Whether he made good this valorous declaration will presently be seen.
* * * * *
NOTE. The Archives de la Guerre and the Archives de la Marine contain a mass of letters and documents on the subjects treated in the above chapter; these I have carefully read and collated. The other principal authorities are the correspondence of Montcalm with Bourlamaque and with his own family; the letters of Vaudreuil preserved in the Archives Nationales; and the letters of Bougainville and Doreil to Montcalm and Madame de Saint-Veran while on their mission to France. For copies of these last I am indebted to the present Marquis de Montcalm.
Captain John Knox, of the forty-third regiment, had spent the winter in garrison at Fort Cumberland, on the hill of Beausejour. For nearly two years he and his comrades had been exiles amid the wilds of Nova Scotia, and the monotonous inaction was becoming insupportable. The great marsh of Tantemar on the one side, and that of Missaguash on the other, two vast flat tracts of glaring snow, bounded by dark hills of spruce and fir, were hateful to their sight. Shooting, fishing, or skating were a dangerous relief; for the neighborhood was infested by “vermin,” as they called the Acadians and their Micmac allies. In January four soldiers and a ranger were waylaid not far from the fort, disabled by bullets, and then scalped alive. They were found the next morning on the snow, contorted in the agonies of death, and frozen like marble statues. St. Patrick’s Day brought more cheerful excitements. The Irish officers of the garrison gave their comrades a feast, having laid in during the autumn a stock of frozen provisions, that the festival of their saint might be duly honored. All was hilarity at Fort Cumberland, where it is recorded that punch to the value of twelve pounds sterling, with a corresponding supply of wine and beer, was consumed on this joyous occasion.