|Posted By:||Dot Drake|
|Subject:||PRISONERS AT FORT WILLIAM HENRY, 1757|
|Post Date:||February 23, 2002 at 08:42:36|
|Forum:||Seven Years War Forum|
One of my ancestors, Nathaniel Loomis of Southampton, MA, was a prisoner when the fort was surrendered to Montcalm in August 1757. He was rounded up along with all of the men, women and children who had been living there, except for the ill prisoners unable to travel, and marched out of the compound where they were held for a time, through the woods toward Fort Edward and freedom. This march was meant to have been a safe conduct promised by General Montcalm when surrender of the fort was negotiated. However, his Indian allies, agrieved at the loss of booty which they ordinarily would have been allowed, began stripping the prisoners of their possessions and dragging them off to sell in Quebec. Nathaniel was stripped down to his underwear and taken by two Native Americans, each by the wrist. Nate, however, being a blacksmith, managed to knock them into posts, stun them and get away. He ran 14 miles through the swamp to Fort Edward.
Exactly how many managed to escape I am not sure, but if you have ancestors who were at Fort William Henry, please write and share what happened to them.
If you don't know what happened to them you might enjoy reading accounts of those events from each side. The Jesuit Relations has accounts from the French-Canadian side and various accounts of the American side are widely available. As you might imagine, each side presents the story in a slightly different light. But all agree that the Native Americans did kill prisoners and take others to Quebec to sell to the French who knew they might be ransomed by their own people. (Not so very different from headline events today.) The famous scene in the recent film "Last of the Mohicans" which shows the prisoners from the fort being attacked is roughly comparable to what happened.