Imagini ale paginilor


Death of Braddock.


brook.” It left Alexandria on the 20th April. On the 9th July Braddock, with half his army, was near the fort. There was as yet no evidence that resistance was intended. No enemy had been seen.

The troops marched on as to assured victory. So confident was their chief, that he refused to employ scouts, and did not deign to inquire what enemy might be lurking near.

The march was along a road twelve feet wide, in a ravine, with high ground in front and on both sides. Suddenly the Indian war-whoop burst from the woods. A murderous fire smote down the troops. The provincials, not unused to this description of warfare, sheltered themselves behind trees and fought with steady courage. Braddock, clinging to his old rules, strove to maintain his order of battle on the open ground. A carnage, most grim and lamentable, was the result. His undefended soldiers were shot down by an unseen foe. For three hours the struggle lasted. Then the men broke and filed in utter rout and panic. Braddock, vainly fighting, fell mortally wounded. He was carried off the field by some of his soldiers. The poor pedantic man never got over his astonishment at a defeat so inconsistent with the established rules of war.

“Who would have thought it?" he murmured, as they bore him from the field.

He scarcely spoke again, and died in two or three days. Nearly eight hundred men, killed and wounded, were lost in this disastrous encounter, - about one-half of the entire force engaged.

All the while England and France were nominally at peace. But now war was declared. The other European powers fell into their accustomed places in the strife, and the flames of war spread far and wide. On land and on sea the European people strove to shed blood and destroy property, and thus produce human misery to the largest possible extent. At the

outset every fight brought defeat and shame to England. English armies under incapable leaders were sent out to America and ignominiously routed by the French. On the continent of Europe the uniform course of disaster was scarcely broken by a single victory. Even at sea, England seemed to have fallen from her high estate, and her fleets were turned back from the presence of an enemy.

The rage of the people knew no bounds. The admiral who had not fought the enemy when he should have done so was hanged. The Prime Minister began to tremble for his neck. One or two disasters more, and the public indignation might demand a greater victim than an unfortunate admiral. The Ministry resigned, and William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, came into power.

Then, all at once, the scene changed, and there began a career of triumph more brilliant than even England had ever known. The French fleets were destroyed. French possessions all over the world were seized. French armies were defeated. Every post brought news of victory. For once the English people, greedy as they are of military glory, were satisfied.

One of the most splendid successes of Pitt's administration was gained in America. The colonists had begun to lose respect for the English army and the English government. But Pitt quickly regained their confidence. They raised an army of 50,000 men to help his schemes for the extinction of French power. A strong English force was sent out, and a formidable invasion of Canada was organized.

Most prominent among the strong points held by the French was the city of Quebec. Thither in the month of June came a powerful English fleet, with an army under the command of General Wolfe. Captain James Cook, the famous navigator, who discovered so many of the sunny islands of the Pacific, was master of one of the ships. Quebec stands

[graphic][merged small]
« ÎnapoiContinuați »