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HOME > Short Stories > With Rogers on the Frontier > CHAPTER XVIII THE MASSACRE OF THE ENGLISH
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Seth was so close to the sentry who had discovered their approach, that with a single bound forward he was able to cut him down and silence him forever.

But his warning challenge had been heard by others of the guard, and they hurried out to investigate. Realizing that further concealment of their design was not possible, Colonel Frye, who was in command, called upon his men to fire, and they poured a volley into the French encampment that wakened every sleeper, and for the moment created lively confusion.

The well-disciplined soldiers soon regained order, however, and rushed to repel the attack in such numbers that Colonel Frye at once saw the hopelessness of withstanding them, and gave the command to retreat.

Reluctantly enough his men obeyed, for, although they could see for themselves how they were outnumbered, they did want to inflict some loss upon the enemy before retreating to the fort.

They accordingly gave back as slowly as possible, firing and reloading their muskets with such celerity that the French conceived their numbers to be much greater than they really were, and were more cautious in their pursuit than they would have been if they had known the truth.

Seth was one of the last to retreat, and his slowness nearly cost him his life, as an Iroquois scout, creeping serpent-like through the long grass, got near enough to hurl his tomahawk at him with deadly aim. But by a happy chance Seth at that moment threw up his gun, and the hatchet struck it instead of his head, glancing harmlessly off to one side.

In his rage at having missed, the Iroquois sprang upon Seth, and throwing his arms about him, strove to fasten his teeth in the Ranger's throat as though he were a wolf.

Now did Seth's skill in wrestling serve him in good stead. The redskin's onset was so sudden and unexpected that he had almost succeeded in his brutal purpose ere his intended victim could defend himself; but the next instant by a dexterous movement he evaded the cruel teeth, and then, dropping his gun, gripped his assailant around the neck, and flung him backward with such force that the savage's senses were knocked out of him, and he lay limp and harmless.

"It would serve you right if I put my knife into you," growled Seth, as he groped about for his gun. But he forebore to do it, and having picked up the gun, hurried after the others, who of course had not waited for him, and with them regained the protection of the fort.

The sortie having accomplished nothing, the situation seemed hopeless; and after again consulting with his subordinates, Colonel Monro with a heavy heart came to the conclusion that there was no alternative but to capitulate on the best terms obtainable.

Accordingly on the 9th of August a white flag was raised, a drum was beat, and Lieutenant-Colonel Young, mounted upon horseback, accompanied by a few soldiers, went to the tent of Montcalm.

As the result of his negotiations with the French commander it was agreed that the English troops should march out with the honors of war, and be escorted to Fort Edward by a detachment of French troops; all French prisoners captured in America since the war began should be given up within three months; and that all the stores, munitions, and artillery were to be the prize of the victors, with the exception of one field-piece which the garrison were to be permitted to retain in recognition of their brave defence.

These terms were fair and honorable to both parties; and if only Montcalm had taken such measures as would have insured their being carried out, the horrible proceedings of the following days, whereby what might otherwise have been considered a creditable achievement was turned into an appalling scandal, might have been prevented.

It is true that before signing the capitulation Montcalm held a council with the Indian chiefs and asked them to consent to the conditions and to promise to restrain their warriors from disorder, and that the chiefs approved of everything and promised everything.

But he should not have been content with this. Knowing the nature of his allies as he did, he ought to have used his regular troops upon whom he could depend as a guard for the English, who were in no position to defend themselves.

When the garrison evacuated Fort William Henry they marched over to join their comrades in the entrenched camp which was included in the surrender; and no sooner had they gone than a horde of yelling savages climbed through the enclosures in search of rum and plunder.

They found very little of either, and at once proceeded to vent their disappointment upon the unfortunate men, who, having been too sick to leave their beds, were awaiting removal later on.

These they butchered without remorse, and even cut off their heads, which they paraded proudly from the casements. It was a terrible scene, yet no attempt to check the fiends was made by the French, who seemed afraid to interfere with their savage allies.

Having looted the fort of what little there was in it, the Indians then turned their attention to the entrenched camp, where all the English were now collected. The French guard stationed there either could not or would not keep out the bloodthirsty rabble, and they roamed among the tents intrusive and insolent, their painted visages marked with sinister grins as they twitched the long hair of the terrified women in anticipation of the scalping knife.

Seth saw it all, and the witnessing of such indignities so filled him with fury that again and again he could scarce restrain himself from striking down one of the dusky demons. But of course any such act would have been utter folly, as it would certainly have precipitated the general massacre for which the Indians hankered.

At length through the earnest efforts of Montcalm and his officers something like order was obtained and the most of the Indians were persuaded to return to their own encampment for the night.

But there was little rest in the English camp, and as soon as day broke they made haste to set out for Fort Edward. They had their muskets, but they were without ammunition; and no sooner had they begun to move than the Indians, in spite of the presence of the French escort, began to plunder them............
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