Century of Conflict: The Struggle Between the French and British in Colonial America

By Joseph Lister Rutledge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
YOU MUST CRUSH THE WASPS

The great army and the amazing good fortune that made its concentration possible. The indecisiveness that robbed it of much of its value. Fruitless negotiations ending in the awful night at Lachine. The rating of Fort Frontenac. Denonville's recall. The nadir of New France.

Never before had the continent seen anything like the army that Denonville was to lead against the Senecas. It was a cross section of a continent, and the names of its leaders are a roster of the great of New France. For once, and quite unjustly, considering the unnecessary treachery with which the campaign began, everything was working with the governor.

Modern war has made us familiar with the vast problems involved in planning for concerted action. "D-Day" is one vast miracle of movements of men and munitions. With every resource of modern science, military equipment, transport, and intelligence to co-ordinate an attack, it is a matter for almost superhuman ability. Denonville's ability was average at best. Problems of strategy and logistics were almost unknown to him. The forces he was to command were scattered about the four corners of a continent, hardly closer than a thousand miles at any point and frequently more distant. Thousands of miles of forest and not a foot of finished road anywhere except the uncertain and often treacherous roads of lake and river in a hostile country. There were no communications but the toilsome and unbelievably dangerous method of delivery by hand. There was no way of coordinating the movements of these scattered units that could not be planned six months in advance, and who was to say who would be the friends and followers at so distant a date?

-60-

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