Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

February 15, 2019

 

Bloody Morning Scout – the Start of Something Big!

        Before the Battle of Lake George officially began on the 8th of
September 1755, a major skirmish occurred between the British and the
French, today known as ‘The Bloody Morning Scout.’ The battle became
important for the history of the Lake George area due to the implications it had for future engagements between the French and the British. This Battle also served to be the first victory for the British during the French and Indian War.

        The French forces planned an invasion of British territory. Plans for
this invasion began when a soldier from New York was captured by the
French near Carillon (Ticonderoga) and was interrogated for information on the movements of British Commander Johnson around the Fort Lyman (Fort Edward) area.

        The soldier gave up information that Johnson was pulling forces from Fort Lyman and would be heading up to the south shore of Lake George to create another force. This move would leave a force of only 500 men in Fort Lyman.

        From this information, the leader of the French forces at Carillon,
Baron de Dieskrau, made the decision to send 1,500 men down to South
Bay from Carillon in hopes of raiding a weakened Fort Lyman.  As Dieskau headed towards Fort Lyman, he made sure to travel north of the route taken by Johnson’s army to avoid early conflict.

 

This map shows where the French forces moved after leaving Carillon (Ticonderoga) and moving toward Fort Lyman (Fort Edward).

 

 

 

 

 

        As Dieskau’s forces marched toward the Fort Lyman, a messenger from the British was found by the French.  Before the messenger was killed by the French, he told them the message he carried which told of plans for the British army to reinforce the garrison at Fort Lyman.

        Regardless of an impending battle, the French plan to raid was to
continue. However, the raid was further delayed by Caughnawaga Native
Americans. The raid was seen by many as an over extension into land that was simply not for the French. The Native Americans present believed the land was for the British, so instead, plans were made to attack Johnson as the British troops returned to Fort Lyman.

       While Dieskau traveled down to Fort Lyman, Mohawk Native
Americans who traveled with Johnson found traces of the French going
towards Lyman. This gave the British time to decide a course of action and send over a thousand soldiers back to Fort Lyman, along with the
messenger who was intercepted by the French. This set up the eventual
encounter between the French and British between Fort Lyman and
Johnson’s camp south of Lake George.

        To prepare for Johnson’s coming army, Dieskau placed soldiers in
front and on either side of the path. The British were marching into a trap where they would be surrounded on three sides by the French. As the British came down the path heading towards Fort Lyman, the French were to open fire once the British reached a point where they were surrounded.

Note that you are looking at this map ‘upside down’ from your normal perspective. The black line in the middle represents the British troops marching south from Lake George. The gray lines are the French and Indians surrounding the British on three sides.

 

      The actual occurrence of the plan went differently.  As the British
came down the path, some of the Caughnawaga natives were said to have
opened fire before they were told to do so.  Fighting then broke out between on both sides, gunfire came from within the forest disrupting the British forces.

        The British forces then retreated until they were able to group up with Whiting’s troops from Connecticut who came from Johnson’s camp. The combined British forces would retreat toward Lake George while continuously firing at the French.  This pattern continued until they reached a point 1.5 kilometers away from Johnson’s camp.  By this point, the French army began retreating.  Bloody Morning Scout was the beginning of the British successes in the French and Indian War.

        One casualty of the Bloody Morning Scout was Colonel Ephraim Williams of Massachusetts.  After his death, he had left money to establish Williams College.  the college erected a monument to Colonel Williams which can be seen on Route 9 just above the outlets.  On the east side of the road – down in the woods – is an obelisk the college erected on top of a large boulder, supposedly where the Colonel fell.  On the west side of the road is a pull-off where there is a marker commemorating Colonel Williams and is possible his grave site.

 

Sources:

 

 

 

        As a result of the battle, time was bought for the British army to
prepare for future French invasions.

 

This article was prepared for the Warren County Historical Society by Ethan Snowball, a senior at Queensbury High School and intern in the Warren County Historian’s office.

 

Warren County Historical Society // 50 Gurney Lane // Queensbury, NY 12804 // (518) 743-0734

 

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