Montcalm’s Crushing Blow - French and Indian Raids Along New York’s Oswego River 1756

Published: October 22nd, 2014     
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Author: René Chartrand; Illustrators: Peter Dennis Mark Stacey
Reviewed by: 
Al LaFleche, IPMS# 30337
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 9781472803306
Price: $15.00
Product / Stock #: Raid 46

Background

The French and Indian War as the Seven Years War is known in the United States has gotten short shrift. Having grown up in a bi-cultural setting, French-Canadian and American, this period was barely, if ever, mentioned. Even in my college years, there was little said of this war. Most of us are only familiar with this period through THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. PBS did do a good documentary on the F&IW a few years back called THE WAR THAT MADE AMERICA and this is a good primer on the war and its impact.

It was not a war for cities, but one for territory along the frontier of Canada/New France and the British colonies along the east coast. That frontier ran through central New York State and out to Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh.) The French allied themselves with the native populations and their fur trappers adopted many of the ways of the Indians which would serve the Military well. The British generally were not as open to alliances with the people they encountered in North America.

That this period gets so little study is somewhat surprising since the cost of the war to the Crown was the reason taxes were imposed on the British Colonists. Their belief that they were not being treated fairly as British citizens led directly to the Revolution and American independence from Britain.

The Book

This book, by Rene Chartrand, a regular contributor to the Osprey line of books and a historian of note in his own rite, covers a brief period in 1756 shortly after the arrival of Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran (the French did love their elaborate names!) in New France to lead the armies. Already here were the regiments La Reine, Bearn, and Guyenne along with the compagnies franches de la marine under Lieutenant Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry. The units had taken Fort Bull (near present day Rome NY) from the British and were accused of a massacre when many of the defenders died in an explosion of the powder magazine.

Montcalm arrived in New France supplementing the military with the regiments La Sarre, Languedoc and Royal Roussillon. Conjoining these regiments along with those already in Canada, along with his Iroquois allies, Montcalm had a foe some 3,000 strong. He led these forces surreptitiously to the area around Fort Oswego on the south shore of Lake Ontario, where, after a short siege the fort capitulated following the death of its commander, Lt.Col. James Mercer. The victory secured Lake Ontario and forced the Anglo-American forces to abandon their plans against Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga.) In the following year, Montcalm attacked and took Fort William Henry at the southern of lac du Saint Sacrement (Lake George), which is depicted somewhat historically incorrectly in The Last of the Mohegans. (Hint: Col. Monro did not die at the massacre.)

Eventually, however, with the British having overwhelming numbers of troops, Montcalm would die of wounds at the fall of Quebec in 1759, which defeat heralded the end of the French and Indian war.

The book has numerous maps and illustrations, both contemporary to the period and of recent vintage. There are several uniform studies, including the New Jersey Blues (New Jersey Provincial Regiment) and a couple illustrations of the Languedoc and La Reine uniforms. The author has a sidebar about Irish who left British service to fight with the French; however there is only a black and white illustration and little text describing their involvement. Two modern action gatefold illustrations depict the assault on Fort Bull and the death of Mercer at Oswego.

The book includes an extensive bibliography and on page two a list of source abbreviations the author uses and a conversion chart of the arcane French measurement to Imperial and metric distances.

In all, this is a good addition to a French and Indian War library.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this edition. 

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