Chapter Twelve

The Siege Begins


As soon as darkness settled in, Colonel Monro sent a message to General Webb at Fort Edward asking for reinforcements as quickly as possible.  Three of Rogers’ Rangers delivered the plea. If anyone could break through the enemy lines it was the Rangers.  Major Robert Rogers and his elite corps of mountain fighters had achieved a notoriety that extended to England and Europe for their incredible exploits.   Using Fort William Henry and Fort Edward as their bases of operation they had delivered more damaging blows to the French and Indians in the Champlain Valley than had the Colonial forces.

            All we have to do now is wait, thought Carver. The Rangers would be at Fort Edward before daybreak; reinforcements would reach them by dark. They had only one day of fighting to concern themselves with before they were rescued.  He had to survive only one day. One day stood between him and the return to his loved ones.  One very long day.  Then, the rescue and the return home to Montague, to his loving wife Abigail, his children, his baby Olive, only two weeks old. He had not yet seen her. He had left Montague with his Company of Regulars before she was born.

            He stood watch on the ramparts of the fort as the mist rose from the lake to ally itself with the enemy by shielding them from his view in their nocturnal enterprises.  They were digging. He couldn't see them, but he could hear them. They were digging something, somewhere out there. Captain Arbuthnot approached his position.

            "Can you hear it?" Carver asked him.

            "Yes, and I don’t like the way it sounds.”  Arbuthnot answered. "There must be hundreds of them out there digging.  My God, they’ll be dug clear up to the walls of the fort if we don't do something to stop them."

            "Shall we send them some grape?" Carver asked.

            "I'll confer with Colonel Monro,” he said, descending to the inner yard. "I shall not be long."

            Colonel Monro's quarters were directly beneath the northwest corner of the fort where Carver was positioned.  He listened to the digging while he awaited Arbuthnot's return. 

He was not concerned as much with the French as he was with the Indians.  His concern for his death and dying lie more in the manner and mode than in the fact.  That he would die was a certainty. That he would die here at Fort William Henry on the fifth day of August in the Year of our Lord Seventeen Hundred and Fifty-Seven appeared to be a possibility.  That he would die a civil death at the hands of a civil enemy was one matter. That he would die an unspeakable death at the hands of two thousand savages was another.  This was cause for fright.

His random thoughts on his mortality were interrupted for a moment.  He imagined the sound of the digging growing louder. Where the devil was the Captain?

                 Carver’s concern for survival was not limited to himself.  There were women and children at the fort also, families of those soldiers permanently stationed there.  He knew that the Indians would show no mercy in their treatment of them. Their savagery was best exemplified in the dispatching of the helpless and the innocent.  At least his family was safe at home. Where in blazes was the Captain?

            There was a commotion in the yard beneath him. Men were emerging from their sleeping quarters in haste and ascending the parapets. The alarm had apparently been given. Captain Arbuthnot climbed back up to Carver's position.

            "Give them the grape, Lieutenant," he ordered.

            "For how long, Sir?" Carver asked.

            "Until they stop digging - or dawn,” he said. "Whichever comes first."

            Carver gave the first order to aim and fire. His cannon crew aimed by ear and fired blind, reloaded and repeated firing their five-inch gun until the digging stopped. It was dawn.

Go to Chapter Thirteen.

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