Betrayals : Fort William Henry and the `Massacre'

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On the morning of August 9, 1757, British and colonial officers defending the besieged Fort William Henry surrendered to French forces, accepting the generous "parole of honor" offered by General Montcalm. As the column of British and colonials marched with their families and servants to Fort Edward some miles south, they were set upon by the Indian allies of the French. The resulting "massacre," thought to be one of the bloodiest days of the French and Indian War, became forever ingrained in American myth by James Fenimore Cooper's classic novel The Last of the Mohicans.
In Betrayals, historian Ian K. Steele gives us the true story behind Cooper's famous book, bringing to life men such as British commander of Fort William Henry George Monro, English General Webb, his French counterpart Montcalm, and the wild frontier world of Natty Bumppo. The Battle of Lake George and the building of the fort marked the return of European military involvement in intercolonial wars, producing an explosive mixture of the contending martial values of Indians, colonials, and European regulars. The Americans and British who were attacked after surrendering, as well as French officers and their Indian allies (the latter enraged by the small amount of English booty allowed them by the French), all felt deeply betrayed. Contemporary accounts of the victims--whose identities Steele has carefully reconstructed from newly discovered sources--helped to create a powerful, racist American folk memory that still resonates today. Survivors included men and women who were adopted into Indian tribes, sold to Canadians in a well-established white servant trade, or jailed in Canada or France as prisoners of war.
Explaining the motives for the most notorious massacre of the colonial period, Steele offers a gripping tale of a fledgling America, one which places the tragic events of the Seven Years' War in a fresh historical context. Anyone interested in the fact behind the fiction will find it fascinating reading.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 142.2 x 218.4 x 25.4mm | 476.28g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 12 halftones, 2 tables
  • 0195058933
  • 9780195058932

Review quote

A model case study of meticulous research....This well-written microcosm study opens a wide window on the times and is less military than cultural history. So it can be highly recommended for a variety of experts, average readers, and students alike. * Canadian Journal of History * Until now no one has written a careful, full-length study of a military engagement from a multicultural perspective. Ian K. Steele's Betrayals attempts to clarify the circumstances that made alliances between Indians and Europeans fragile and unpredictable....In many ways, the author succeeds admirably in his aims....Valuable reading for anyone interested in intercultural alliances in warfare; Steele has broken new ground with this book. * American Indian Quarterly * Extremely well documented from research on both sides of the Atlantic...Steele treats Europeans and American Indians fairly and is unafraid of presenting either side's warts and blemishes....This study, as with any good history, is multidimesional and thought provoking in its most positive sense. It is a superbly crafted, well-researched study of mid-eighteenth century North American military culture. * American Historical Review * [A] detailed and elegant history....Steele is an historian who takes great pains to discover, assemble, and present historical data; he is also a fine stylist. He writes in a straightforward way that captivates the reader by its deceptive simplicity. * The Canadian review of American Studies *
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About Ian K. Steele

Ian K. Steelei is Professor of History at the University of Western Ontario. He has written widely on early North American history and his books include Politics of Colonial Policy and the award-winning The English Atlantic, 16751740: An Exploration of Communication and Community, both published by Oxford.
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Rating details

50 ratings
3.36 out of 5 stars
5 12% (6)
4 30% (15)
3 42% (21)
2 14% (7)
1 2% (1)
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