Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Three Lessons from the Fort William-Henry Massacre

In 1757, as the Seven Years' War raged, French General Montcalm in Canada attacked the British fort named Fort William-Henry. With his cannons, he blew the walls to pieces until Lieutenant-Colonel Monro surrendered. Montcalm had all the British soldiers give a "parole", their word of honor that they would not fight again for a specified time, here 18 months. Private possessions were kept by the British, and the stores in the fort became French property. On August 9, the British set off on their march to nearby Fort George. The French-allied Indians ambushed and attacked them. After an hour, Montcalm and his officers were able to put a stop to the massacre. Most of the British returned to Fort George, but two hundred were not recovered, either killed or captured.

1. Treating Enemies Honorably

When Colonel Monro surrendered, Montcalm let him keep one brass six-pounder cannon (a cannon that threw a six-pound ball), his flags, and all private effects. This was a high mark of honor to a surrendering 18th Century commander.

2. Risking Life for Enemies

When the massacre began, Montcalm and his officers were in among the Indians, rescuing prisoners by force. Montcalm himself laid his chest bare and said to the Indians, "Kill your father, but spare the English who are under his protection!" Some French officers were wounded in their efforts to protect the English.

3. Noble Savages?

Fort William-Henry illustrates, perhaps better than any other battle of the French and Indian War, that, without the light of Christ's Gospel, men are savages. There was nothing noble about the Indians "in a state of nature" who massacred their surrendered enemies. There was no difference between the Indians and Montcalm's French regular soldiers, except that the Frenchmen came from a culture that was, however imperfectly, steeped in Christianity.

No comments:

Post a Comment