Rare French & Indian War Battle Plan, showing the area from Lake Champlain to the Atlantic, focusing on the battle fought between General William Johnson and Baron Dieskau, from Heiden's Americanische urquelle derer innerlichen kriege des bedrängten Teutschlands. . .
William Johnson, who had recently been named the British agent to the Iroquois, arrived at the southern end of Lac Saint Sacrement on August 28, 1755 and renamed it Lake George. His intention was to advance via Lakes George and Champlain to attack French-held Fort St. Frédéric at Crown Point, which was a keystone in the defense of French Canada.
Dieskau had already left Crown Point for an encampment at Carillon, situated between the two lakes. On September 4, 1755 Dieskau launched a raid on Johnson's base, the recently-constructed Fort Edward (at the time called Fort Lyman) on the Hudson River. His aim was to destroy the boats, supplies and artillery that Johnson needed for his campaign. Leaving half his force at Carillon, he led the rest on an alternate route to the Hudson, landing his men at South Bay and marching them along Wood Creek. Dieskau arrived near Fort Edward on September 7, 1755.
Johnson, camped fourteen miles north of Fort Edward at Lake George, was alerted by scouts to the presence of the enemy forces to his south, and dispatched a messenger to warn the 500-man garrison at Fort Edward. The messenger was intercepted by the French, and soon afterward a rogue supply train was captured, with the result that the location of all of Johnson's forces became known to Dieskau. The Indians in the French party, after holding council, declined to assault the fort because they believed it to be defended with cannons; so in the morning Dieskau gave the order to march for the lake.
On September 8, Johnson sent Colonel Ephraim Williams with 1,000 troops from Williams' Massachusetts Regiment and Colonel Nathan Whiting's Connecticut Regiment and 200 Mohawk allies to reinforce Fort Edward. Warned by a deserter of Williams' approach, Dieskau blocked the portage road with his French grenadiers and sent his Canadians and Indians to ambush the Americans from both sides of the road. They lay in wait in a ravine three miles south of the present-day village of Lake George.
Williams' column marched straight into the trap. In an engagement known as "The Bloody Morning Scout", Williams and Hendrick were killed along with many of their troops. Most of the New Englanders fled toward Johnson's camp, while about 100 of their comrades under Whiting and Lt. Col. Seth Pomeroy and most of the surviving Mohawks covered their withdrawal with a fighting retreat. The American rearguard were able to inflict substantial casualties on their over-confident pursuers. Pomeroy noted that his men "killed great numbers of them; they were seen to drop like pigeons". One of those killed in this phase of the battle was Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, the highly-respected commander of Dieskau's Canadian and Indian forces.
Dieskau ordered his Canadians and Indians to attack Johnson's camp. However, the Caughnawagas "did not wish to attack an entrenched camp, the defenders of which included hundreds of their Mohawk kinsmen. The Abenakis would not go forward without the Caughnawagas, and neither would the Canadians". Hoping to shame the Indians into attacking, Dieskau formed his 222 French grenadiers into a column, 6 abreast, and led them in person along the Lake Road into the clearing against Johnson's camp, around which Sir William had hurriedly constructed defensive barricades of "wagons, overturned boats and hewn-down trees". Once the grenadiers were out in the open ground, the American gunners crewing Johnson's three cannons loaded up with grapeshot and cut "Lanes, Streets and Alleys"[ through the French ranks. When Johnson was wounded and forced to retire to his tent for treatment, Gen. Phineas Lyman took over command. When Dieskau went down with a serious wound, the French attack was abandoned.
Meanwhile, Col. Joseph Blanchard, commander of Fort Edward, saw the smoke from the battle in the distance and sent out Nathaniel Folsom's company of the New Hampshire Provincial Regiment and 40 New York Provincials under Capt. McGennis to investigate. Hearing the report of guns in the direction of the Lake, they pressed forward, and when within about two miles of it, fell in with the baggage of the French army protected by a guard, which they immediately attacked and dispersed. About four o'clock in the afternoon, some 300 of the French army appeared in sight. They had rallied, and retreating in tolerable order. Capt. Folsom posted his men among the trees, and as the enemy approached, they poured in upon them a well directed and galling fire. He continued the attack in this manner till prevented by darkness, killing many of the enemy, taking some of them prisoners, and finally driving them from the field. he next day the rest of the baggage was brought in, thus securing the entire baggage and ammunition of the French army. In this brilliant affair, Folsom lost only six men, but McGennis was mortally wounded, and died soon after. The bodies of the French troops who were killed in this engagement were thrown into the pool which is was namee Bloody Pond.
After the French withdrawal, the Americans found about 20 severely wounded Frenchmen who were lying too close to the field of fire of Johnson's artillery for their comrades to retrieve them. They included Baron Dieskau, who had paid the price of leading from the front.
Although the battle itself was inconclusive, and Johnson's expedition eventually stopped short of Fort St. Frédéric, the strategic result at Lake George was significant. Johnson was able to advance a considerable distance down the lake and consolidated his gains by building Fort William Henry. Historian Fred Anderson writes that had Dieskau succeeded in halting Johnson at Fort Edward, it would have not only ended the threat to Fort St. Frédéric but effected to "roll back New York's and New England's defenses to Albany itself".