The following account of the Battle of La Belle Famille was published in the Pennsylvania Gazette on August 9, 1759. This newspaper, Philadelphia’s second, was founded in 1728 and purchased a year later by Benjamin Franklin and his business partner, Hugh Meredith. The Gazette published what many consider America’s first political cartoon in 1754 urging union among the colonies to combat the French threat.  The paper continued to be published until 1800.

Philadelphia in 1761

Saturday Afternoon an Express arrived in Town from Albany, which Place he left about Six o’Clock on Thursday Morning, with the following agreeable News, which was brought to Albany a few Hours before, from Sir William Johnson, at Niagara, viz. That on the 24th of July, as Sir William Johnson lay before the Fort of Niagara, with the Forces under his Command, besieging it, he received Intelligence by a Party of his Indians that were sent out on a Scout, that there was a large Body of French and Indians coming from Venango, as a Reinforcement to the Garrison of Niagara.

General Johnson thereupon ordered 60 chosen Men from the 44th and 46th Regiments, 100 New York Provincials, and 600 Mohawks, Senecas &c. to march immediately, and Way-lay them, which they accordingly did, and threw up a Breast-work at a Place where they knew the French must pass by on their Way to the Fort, and sent a Battoe with 10 or 12 Men down the River a little Way, to fire when the Enemy were near at Hand, which would give them Warning to prepare themselves for the Reception, and in short Time  after their Breast-work was finished, they heard the Alarm given by the Battoe that was sent forward, on which they all prepared themselves to receive the Enemy, each Man having two Balls and three Buck-Shot in his Gun, and were squatted. However, the Enemy perceived them in their Intrenchment, and fired six Times on them before our People returned their Fire; but as soon as the Enemy came close, all the English rose up and discharged their Pieces, which made the utmost Slaughter imaginable among them, and repeated their Fire three Times, when the Enemy’s Indians that were left alive, left them; immediately upon which our People jumped over their Breast-work, and flew on the Enemy Sword in Hand, still continuing to make great Slaughter among them, & took 120 Prisoners, among which were 7 Officers some of which are of Distinction, with their chief commander.

The Havok we made at the End was great, 500 of the Enemy at least being left on the field of Battle. Those that could made their Escape, and went down the River. Upon the Return of our Troops to General Johnson with the Prisoners, he immediately sent a Flag of Truce in to the Commander of the Fort, and demanded a surrender, telling him of the Defeat of the Reinforcement he expected; but the French Commandant would not give Credit to what General Johnson said, till he had sent a Flag of Truce with a Drum, in to our Camp, and found it but too true; and immediately on the Officer’s Return to the Fort, the French Commander offered to capitulate, provided General Johnson would permit the Garrison to march out with all the Honours of War, which was agreed to; but that they must immediately, upon their coming out, lay down their Arms, and surrender themselves, which they accordingly did; and General Johnson took Possession of the Fort directly after.

The Garrison consisted of 607 Men, among which were 16 Officers, 7 of which were Captains, besides the Chief Commander, and we hear they were shortly, after their Surrender, embarked on board Battoes, and sent up to Oswego, and from thence were to be sent down to New-York, and may be expected here every Day.

The number of our killed and wounded in the Defeat of the Reinforcement from Venango, we cannot as yet justly ascertain, but there were five of the New-Yorkers among the Slain in that Affair. It is said we had not lost 40 Men in the Whole, since the Landing of the Troops at Niagara. The Indians were allowed all the Plunder in the Fort, and found a vast Quantity of it, some say to the Value of 300£ a Man.

The Fort, it is said, is large enough to contain 1000 fighting Men, without Inconvenience; all the Buildings in and about it are standing, and in good Order; and it is thought, had our Forces stormed the Place (which was intended) they would have met with a warm Reception; and beating the Venango Party, will undoubtedly crown with laurels the ever deserving Johnson.

Niagara, July 25, 1759

                Yesterday Morning a Party of French and Indians consisting of 1500, of which 400 were Indians, about Eight o’Clock came upon our right, where a Breast-work was thrown up, as we had Intelligence of their coming and as ten of our People were crossing the Lake above they began to fire on them, which gave our People time to get all their Pickets, the 46th Regiment, Part of the 44th, 100 New-Yorkers, and 600 Indians, ready to oppose them. We waited, and received their Fire five or six Times, before our People returned it, which they did at about 30 Yards Distance, then jumped over their Breast-Work, and closed in  with them, upon which they immediately gave Way and broke, their Indians left them and for a While we made a vast Slaughter. The Whole being defeated, the Prisoners were brought in, among which were about 16 or 17 Officers, several of Distinction, and about 60 or 70 Men; the whole Field was covered with their Dead. After the General took the Names of all the Officers taken, he sent Major Harvey, by the Desire of Mons. Aubrey, the Commanding Officer of the whole Party, to the Commanding Officer of the Fort, who disputed his having them, and kept Major Harvey in the Fort, and sent an Officer to the General; when they found it was true, and all their Succours cut off, they began to treat on Conditions of Surrender, which continued till near 8 o’Clock in the Evening before they were concluded; however our Grenadiers, with the Train, marched in this Morning, and the whole Garrison was surrendered to Sir WILLIAM JOHNSON, who succeeded to the Command after the Death of General PRIDEAUX.

                The Ordnance Store found in the fort at Niagara when General Johnson took Possession of it, were two 14 Pounders; nineteen 12 Pounders; one 11 Pounder; seven 8 Pounders; seven 6 Pounders; two 4 Pounders; five 2 Pounders; all Iron; 1500 Round 12 Pound Shot; 40,000 Pound of Musket Ball; 200 Weight of Match; 500 Hand Grenades; 2 Cohorns, and 2 Mortars, mounted; 300 Hand Bills; 500 Hand Hatchets; 100 Axes; 300 Shovels; 400 Pick Axes; 250 Mattocks [Hoes]; 54 Spades; 12 Whipsaws; and a considerable Number of Small Arms, Swords, Tomahawks, Scalping Knives, Cartouche-boxes, &c.

A Letter from Niagara, dated July 25, has the following particulars.

“Your old Friend, Sir William Johnson, has gained immortal Honour in this Affair. The Army have the highest Opinion of him, and the Indians adore him, as his conduct has been steady and judicious; he has carried on the Siege with Spirit. The Mohawks have done Wonders, serving in the Trenches and every Place where Sir William was.”

Extract of a Letter from Niagara, to a Gentleman in New-York, dated July 22, 1759.

                “On the 20th we lost a Man who had as good a Head, and as good a Heart, as any amongst us; one who was an Honour to his Country, and a Patron to our little Army for Honesty, Probity, and Spirit; I mean Colonel John Johnson—He was our principal Engineer, and was shot through the Heart in tracing our Approaches. He was every Night in the Trenches. The 750 Men of his Regiment here, Officers and Men, behaved, and do behave, incomparably well; How could they do otherwise, under such a Colonel? He was, in short, a noble Fellow, though of no exterior Show.”

                We are informed, that upon General Amherst’s receiving the News of the Death of Brigadier General Prideaux, he immediately appointed Brigadier General Gage, of the Light Infantry, Commander in Chief of the Forces before Niagara; and that General Gage was at Albany when the Orders from General Amherst came to him; but it was impossible for him to reach Niagara before it surrendered to Sir William Johnson.---Colonel Haldiman, we are told, embarked from Oswego for Niagara the very Day it surrendered, the 24th ult.

                All the Prisoners taken at Niagara, amounting in the Whole to about 800, are coming down to this City, and are on their Way; so that we may expect them every Day. ---the Women and Children taken in the Fort, General Johnson has sent down to Montreal, we are told.

               Saturday last, about Four in the Afternoon, the Royal Salute was fired from the Cannon of Fort George, many Loyal Health’s drank, and at Night, the City was handsomely illuminated, as a Publick Rejoicing shewn on the Occasion of the happy Reduction of the Fortress of Niagara by the Troops under the Command of Sir William Johnson.






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