Friday, July 13, 2012

The Cross at Carillon

On July 8, 1758, the British army of General James Abercromby--16,000 strong--attacked the French defenses outside Fort Carillon during the French and Indian War (1754-62).  For the entire day, the British infantry struggled through the dense abbatis (sharpened logs) which the French had hurriedly constructed.  Every time, however, they were thrown back by General Montcalm's 3,000 French regulars.  Near the end of the day, the 42nd "Black Watch" Highlanders attacked.  A few penetrated the abbatis, climbed the wall, and fought hand-to-hand with the French until being bayoneted.  At c. 6:00, the British attempted one more attack, but were thrown back.  The rangers and provincial (colonial) troops covered the retreat of the British army.

This battle was Montcalm's greatest victory, and he knew who had given it to him.  When it became clear that the British had retreated, he erected a cross with this inscription:

"Quid dux? Quid miles?
Quid strata ingentia ligna?
En signum! En victor! Deus hic,
Deus ipse, truimphat!"

In 1911, William Charles Wood translated the Latin into English, while keeping the poetry:

"General, soldier, and
Ramparts are as naught!
Behold the conquering Cross!
'Tis God the triumph wrought!"

Oh, for more Christians and historians to see all of life as this general saw it!

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