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

By Joseph Lister Rutledge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS

The "magnificent conspiracy" in Europe brings war to America also. Montcalm is given command and meets the embittered antagonism of Governor Vaudreuil. Oswego's capture leads to the challenge to Fort William Henry; its tragic story a blot on Montcalm's great name. Pitt, coming to power in Britain, brings new vigor. Death of Lord Howe and Abercrombie's amazing stubbornness result in a great victory for Montcalm. It is France's last flash of glory, followed by the loss of Fort Frontenac and of Fort Duquesne. The only hope is peace.

The winter of 1755-56 was not a happy one, either in the New World or the Old. In New France harvests had been scant and the threat of famine hung over the land. This threat was always present in varying degrees. How could it be otherwise with a people so few in number and so indifferent to the cultivation of the soil? This year they had to hope for more generous treatment than usual from the homeland, though there was little evidence to justify the expectation.

The events of recent months, happening as they did in the piping days of peace, were certainly warlike enough to jeopardize the always uncertain friendships of Europe. If war didn't come immediately, it wasn't due to friendliness. Peace would last for a moment, until someone again rattled a saber in Europe, and neither England nor France was ready for such a gesture. But Europe had just the man for it in Frederick of Prussia. He would be known later, and with very good reason, as "The Great." though his greatness was a matter of earned power rather than of diplomacy.

Saber rattling from such a source was music to the cars of one sovereign of Europe. Maria Theresa of Austria had her own score to settle with Frederick, and this would offer the opportunity. At the moment she was busily and secretly us-

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