The War Chief of the Six Nations eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 84 pages of information about The War Chief of the Six Nations.

Johnson’s scouts, prowling to the southward, detected this move.  Back to the encampment they brought the news of Dieskau’s approach and the English leader at once made ready to defend his position.  Trees were felled; the wagons and bateaux were brought up; a strong breastwork was built across the new-cut roadway; cannon were put in position to play upon the advancing enemy.  Then discussion took place as to the advisability of making a sortie against the foe.  It was suggested that five hundred men would be sufficient, but at the mention of this number King Hendrick, the Indian leader, interposed.  What, indeed, could such a paltry handful do in the face of the oncoming Frenchmen?

‘If they are to fight,’ he said, ’they are too few; if they are to be killed, they are too many.’

In the early morning, September 8, 1755, a force of twelve hundred set forth, only to learn the wisdom of Hendrick’s advice.  Dieskau was proceeding cautiously, hoping to catch the English in a trap.  He sent out flying wings of Indians and Canadians, while his French regulars formed the centre of his force.  As the English advanced along the road, they found themselves suddenly attacked on both sides by the enemy.  A stiff struggle then took place in which Johnson’s men were badly worsted.  King Hendrick’s horse was shot down, and before he could free himself from his saddle he was slain by a bayonet thrust.  Retreat now became necessary, and by a steady movement the English fell back upon their camp.  There they determined to make a decisive stand.  Dieskau, emboldened by the success of his previous advance, led his troops towards the lake in battle array.  His progress, however, was stopped by the rude barricade which had been piled across the road, and by eleven o’clock the second engagement of the day was already being fought.

Brant has described his feelings when, as a mere boy, he received his baptism of fire upon this battle-ground.  When the clatter of the musketry fell upon his ears, his heart jumped and an indescribable fear seemed to take possession of him.  His limbs trembled, and in despair he looked for something to steady him in the ordeal.  Near by grew a slender sapling, and he clutched at this and held on tenaciously while the bullets went whizzing by.  After a few volleys had been fired he regained his natural poise and took his place beside the old fighters who were holding their own against a savage attack.  From this moment he acquitted himself with valour in the battle, and, youth though he was, he fulfilled his desire ’to support the character of a brave man of which he was exceedingly ambitious.’

At length the French troops began to recoil before the sweep of the English cannon.  Dieskau received a severe wound and the ardour of his followers was visibly cooled.  At four o’clock the English general thought the opportune moment had arrived to make a sortie, and his men climbed over the rampart and drove the French to flight in every direction.  The wounded Dieskau was made prisoner and borne to the camp of his enemy.  Johnson’s leg had been pierced by a bullet, and in this condition he was carried to his tent.

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The War Chief of the Six Nations from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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