Archiver > NEW-HAMPSHIRE > 2001-07 > 0995819630

Subject: [NEW-HAMPSHIRE-L] Rogers' Rangers 1757 Part 2
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2001 12:33:50 EDT

Rogers' Rangers 1757
Source: The History of Rogers' Rangers, Vol I, The Beginnings by B. G.
1946 Part 2


Rogers picked out eleven lame men as the column filed past.

In spite of protests Rogers sent them back to Fort William Henry, under the
charge of one of
their number, a corporal. Alarmed as he was at this loss of nearly fifteen
per cent of his
force, Rogers must have smiled as he watched them stumble back up the lake
muttering their
disappointment at not being allowed to stay, even though their halting steps
revealed their
total ineffectiveness as capable fighting men.

Rogers' detachment, now reduced to seventy four officers and men, started out
after small
reconnoitring parties had scouted around the encampment for any signs or
tracks of an enemy.
The Rangers marched in extended order, single file, keeping enough from each
other to pre-
vent one shot from killing two men in case of an ambush from the wooded
shore, keeping close
in against the shore the expedition was less likely to be seen from the hills
on eiither side
to Lake George. As long as the sun remained behind the crest of the eastern
ridge the
traveling was easy going and they had little difficulty in scanning
everything that lay
ahead on the frozen lake. But when the sun rose and topped the trees, its
slanting rays
beat down upon the smooth ice ricochetting up into the Rangers' eyes. An
advance guard
preceded the column and flanking parties skirted the main body on each side
at a distance of
about twenty yards.


Before the first narrows of Lake George with its island, had been traversed,
the expedition
had cut across to the western shore and encamped three miles south of
By this means, Rogers had conducted his second days' march under the
protective screen of
the narrow neck of the lake, and the shady side, thus minimizing the
possibility of the
French or Indians observing his party from a high mountain at the other end
of the lake.

The next morning they left the lake at Sabath-Day-Point. Taking the
snowshoes from their
backs they strapped them on their feet and plodded northwest through the
hills. According
to Rogers' official report they:

"encamped about eight miles from the lake. The 20th,continued our course
till night and
encamped opposite to Lake Champlain about three miles westward from it. The
21st, marched
East till we came on Lake Champlain about midway betwixt Crown Point and

Immediately upon their arrival, with Rogers calling a council of war with his
officers, the
scouts reported two sleighs coming towards them from Ticonderoga. This was
exactly what
Rogers wanted. It was at this very same spot that he had ambushed two
sleighs the pre-
ceding winter, and it did not look like his men would have to freeze any toes
waiting for
them now.

Lieutenant John Stark, with twenty men of Rogers' Company were sent through
the trees along
the shore, towards Crown Point, to head off the French sleighs. His orders
were to get at
far as he could down the lake, before the sleighs got opposite to Captain
Speakman, who was
to remain in the center with his men.


When the sleighs were opposite to Speakman, Stark "was to push on the lake to
head em."
Meanwhile Rogers, with about thirty men, hurried towards Ticonderoga to cut
off their
retreat. But for the shape of the shore line, Rogers' Rangers might have
effected a
brilliant surprise attack and captured ten sleighs, eight horses each and 30
men. Unfortunately
for Rogers' manoeuvre, the lake shore-line came to a point where Captain
Speakman's detach-
ment was poised in the center.

At this point the La Barbue Creek (Putnam's Creek), joined with the lake.
Because it was
almost exactly half-way between the French forts, Ticonderoga and Crown
Point, and five
miles from each, it was frequently called "Five Mile Point." Rogers and
Speakman could
see the sleighs coming down the lake but Stark's party, due to the point,
could not, until
they were directly opposite to Speakman. To this jutting point of land and
"it being a rainy
day" may be laid the blame for the initial factors that led to one of the
Rangers' bloodiest

The reason for the caravan of French sleighs on the lake is revealed in
French documents.
At 9 on the morning of January 21, De Rouilly, an officer of the Colony
Regulars, acting as
Major at Ticonderoga, received orders from De Lusignan, the Commandant, to
proceed to Crown
Point and have some brandy and forage loaded there on eight sleighs, under an
escort of
fifteen soldiers and one Sergeant, De Liebot, an officer of the Royal
Rousillon Regiment,
and Varennes, a Colonial Cadet.


Two other sleighs with ten men had gone ahead and these were the ones that
Rogers' Rangers
saw first while lying in ambush. The two advanced sleighs had passed Roger's
party and
were almost directly opposite to Captain Speakman's detachment when Rogers
saw De Rouilly's
other eight sleighs approaching from their cover of falling rain.

Rogers' thoughts must have raced exultant at the prospect of this more
promising coup. Well
might his fame be more elevated if he could turn in a report of ten sleighs
and more than
eighty horses captured and destroyed; thirty men captured, including three
probable officers;
and particularly since it would be executed five miles within the French
lines and between two
French forts. But weather and a jutting point of shore line had other plans.

As Rogers counted the strength of the caravan as it slowly emerged from the
blanket of rain
he must have cursed the weather for hiding the true state of things. His
exultant face
clouded as he thought of Lieut. Stark's party beyond the point at that very
moment ready to
swoop down upon the two advanced sleighs. From the excited murmurings of his
Rangers, Rogers
sprung into action. "and immediately dispatched two men to tell Lieut Stark
not to discover
himself and let the first sledges pass."


The two Rangers, picked for their agility on snowshoes, hurried through the
woods bordering
Lake Champlain. Passing Capt. Speakman, they gasped out Rogers' order and
clumped on to
warn Stark. But they were too late. Stark's unsuspecting party had waited
until the two
sleighs were opposite to Speakman when they dashed from the north side of
Five Mile Point
and spreading fan-wise headed the two sleighs. The die was now cast. There
was a blood
curdling shout as Rogers' Rangers cut loose with their terrifying war cry,
hardly discern-
able from that of an Indian war party.

Bolting from the lake's shores, Stark, then Speakman and Rogers surrounded
the two sleighs.
Seven of the ten men in charge of them were captured. The other three,
desperately cutting
the traces from three of the horses, leaped on their backs and broke through
to Ticonderoga.

Having removed their snowshoes while waiting to attack, Rogers Rangers raced
over the smooth
ice after the fleeing enemy. Major De Rouilly, with the main part of the
caravan had
approached opposite to Presqisle, a small isle near Ticonderoga, when,
witnessing Rogers'
and the Rangers bearing down on him, ordered his caravan to retreat to

Rogers wisely did not pursue when he saw that the unloaded sleighs were
outdistancing his
men. Gathering at their original position at Five Mile Point, an examination
of the prison-
ers was made. Kept separately and brought before Rogers singly, so that they
could not
get together on a story, the information from all revealed that 200 Canadians
and 45 Indians
had just arrived at Ticonderoga and were to be joined that evening or the
following morning
by fifty Indians from Crown Point.

To be continued Part 3 - p. 123
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth

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