De Levi succeeded Montcalm in command of the French forces. Early in the spring of 1760, Vaudreuil, governor of Canada, sent him to recover Quebec. Murray, boastful and rash, marched out to meet him; and at Sillery, three miles above the city, they met and fought one of the most sanguinary battles of the war. De Levi led nearly ten thousand men; Murray was at the head of over six thousand men. The English were defeated with the loss of a fine train of artillery and a thousand soldiers, and fled back to the walled town. The French besieged the city, and the condition of the English was perilous, when, early in May, a British squadron with provisions and reinforcements, sent by the sagacious and provident Pitt, ascended the St. Lawrence. Two of the ships that arrived first at Quebec destroyed the French shipping there. De Levi supposed them to be the vanguard of a large armament, and at the middle of May he raised the siege, abandoned most of his artillery and stores, and fled with the greatest celerity toward Montreal. Murray pursued, but could not overtake the fugitives. Montreal was now the last remaining stronghold of the French on the continent; Amherst might have had possession of it before De Levi besieged Quebec, but he spent the whole spring and summer in preparations for a regular invasion of Canada. Meanwhile Vaudreuil had collected all of his available forces at Montreal for the final struggle.
Amherst, though slow, was sure. He moved three armies against Montreal with so much precision that they arrived there almost simultaneously. With about ten thousand men he marched to Oswego, where he was joined by a thousand warriors of the Six Nations, under Sir William Johnson. He went over Lake Ontario and down the St. Lawrence, and appeared before Montreal on the 6th of September, having taken Fort Presentation at Oswegatchie (now Ogdensburg) on the way. On the same day General Murray arrived there from Quebec with four thousand troops, and on the following day Colonel Haviland appeared on the St. Lawrence, opposite Montreal, with three thousand soldiers. He had marched from Crown Point, and had driven the French from Isle aux Noix. Within the space of thirty hours, over seventeen thousand English troops had gathered around the doomed city. Vaudreuil saw that resistance would be foolish and vain, and he surrendered. On the 8th day of September, 1760, all Canada passed under the dominion of Great Britain, with no stipulations for civil liberty. The pleasure of the king was the law of the land. That king-George the Second-died suddenly a few days after the glorious news of the conquest of Canada reached London, when he was seventy-seven years of age, and was growing blind and deaf. he left England the foremost nation of the world in military fame and moral grandeur.
General Gage was made military governor of Montreal, and General Murray was sent to garrison Quebec with four thousand men. Joy spread over the English-American colonies, for peace in the future seemed to be secured. The people everywhere assembled to utter public thanksgiving to Almighty God for the great deliverance. But there was something yet to be done to make the conquest complete. The flag of France yet waved over the fort at Detroit, and other places in the West. Amherst could not allow the French lilies, emblazoned on that flag, to be seen anywhere in the conquered domain. A few days after the surrender of Montreal, he sent Major Rogers, with two hundred Rangers, to plant the British standard at Detroit and elsewhere. They went by the way of Frontenac, and along the northern shores of Lake Ontario around to Niagara. At the latter place they furnished themselves with a costume suitable for the wilderness, and voyaged over Lake Erie in the chilly days of October and November. At the mouth of a river on its southern shore, they met a deputation of Ottawa chiefs, who told them to remain there until Pontiac, there emperor, should arrive, for he desired to see them with his own eyes.
Pontiac soon came. He was a fine specimen of a North American Indian, and was ruler over a magnificent domain in Ohio and Michigan. His people (the Ottawas) revered him, and the tribes over whom he reigned admired him for his wisdom and bravery. He met Rogers with a princely air, and demanded why he had entered his dominions without his leave. Rogers explained that the English had conquered Canada, and that he came only to drive out the French, their common enemy, and then gave the emperor a belt of peace. Pontiac returned it, saying: "I stand in the path until morning." Turning on his heel, he left Rogers in doubt concerning the chief's intentions. His men kept watch for treachery all night. In the morning, Pontiac sent them some food. He soon followed, and gave Rogers assurances of his friendship. He had been the ally of the French, but was too shrewd to adhere to a waning cause. He was willing to court the favor of the English; so he and Rogers sat upon a log and smoked the calumet. He sent word to the tribes south and west of Lake Erie that the strangers had his permission to cross his dominions. Rogers marched on, and on the 29th of December, 1760, he unfurled the British flag at Detroit. The garrison were made prisoners, but the French settlers were allowed to remain on the condition of taking the oath of allegiance to the British crown.
When Canada was falling prostrate at the feet of British power, the storm of war lowered darkly along the Carolina frontiers. There had been strife with the Indians there for years. The Cherokees, the treaty friends of the English, strove hard to maintain peace. They were the hardiest and most enlightened of the Indians in that region. These mountaineers, occupying the hill country of Georgia exerted a powerful influence over the surrounding tribes. But their patience was exhausted by wrongs which they and their friends had suffered at the hands of frontier Virginia Rangers, and the treachery of the royal governor of South Carolina, and in the spring of 1760, they flew to arms with the tribes of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia as allies. In the space of a few weeks the western frontiers of the Carolinas were swept with the fiery besom of desolation. French emissaries had worked powerfully upon the Indian mind, and military stores had been sent to the Cherokees from Louisiana. The smitten and menaced people called loudly for help. Amherst heeded their supplications, and early in April, he detached Colonel Montgomery (afterward Lord Eglintoun) from the army of Stanwix, with six hundred Highlanders and as many Royal Americans, to strike the Cherokees. He was accompanied by Colonel Grant, who had been assailed by the garrison of Fort Duquesnea few months before. In the western part of South Carolina, beyond the Saluda, they were joined by seven hundred Carolina Rangers, among whom was Moultrie, who afterward figured in the American war for independence.
On the first of June the English were ready to apply the scourge. They penetrated the beautiful Valley of the Keowee, on the western borders of Anderson District, in which well-built houses and cultivated fields gave tokens of a semi-civilization. That valley they plundered, and desolated it with fire, driving the families to the wooded hills, where they looked down upon their possessions utterly ruined. Onward the English marched over the hills and the headwaters of the Savannah to the Valley of the Little Tennessee. Down that valley they marched, compelled to fight almost every inch of their way in the heart of the Southern Alleghany Mountains. The whole country was aroused. The patriotism of the Cherokees gave intensity to their anger. The English were in serious peril, and Montgomery wisely retraced his steps. This movement left the English garrison at Fort Loudon, on the Tennessee, at the mercy of the Indians, who murdered a part of them after they had surrendered, and scattered the remainder, as prisoners of war, among the tribes. Montgomery hastened to Charleston, and regardless of the prayers of the people, who feared the ire of the exasperated Cherokees, he embarked for Halifax.
The Cherokees were not subdued, but were more fiercely inflamed against the English. They prepared for the war-path the next year, when Colonel Grant appeared with a stronger force, and compelled them to stand on the defensive. He burned their villages, desolated their fields, and killed many of their warriors. Finally, the nation, dispirited, humbly sued for peace in June, 1761, and a treaty to that effect was made.
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