Battle On Snowshoes

The 1758 Battle on Snowshoes occurred on March 13, 1758, during the French and Indian War.

It was fought by members of British Ranger companies led by Robert Rogers against French troops and Indians allied to France. The battle took place near Lake George, now in northern New York, but then in the frontier area between the British province of New York and the French province of Canada. The battle was given its name because the British combatants were wearing snowshoes.

The British failures in North America, combined with other failures in the European theater, led to the fall from power of Newcastle and his principal military advisor, the Duke of Cumberland. Newcastle and Pitt then joined in an uneasy coalition where Pitt dominated the military planning. He embarked on a plan for the 1758 campaign that was largely developed by Loudoun, who was replaced by Abercrombie as commander in chief, after the failures of 1757. Pitt's plan called for three major offensive actions involving large numbers of regular troops, supported by the provincial militias, aimed at capturing the heartlands of New France. Vaudreuil and Montcalm were only minimally resupplied in 1758, as the British blockade of the French coastline again limited French shipping. The situation in New France was further exacerbated by a poor harvest in 1757, a difficult winter, and the allegedly corrupt machinations of Fran├žois Bigot, the intendant of the territory, whose schemes to supply the colony inflated prices and were believed by Montcalm to line his pockets and those of his associates. A massive outbreak of smallpox among western tribes led many of them to stay away in 1758. While many parties to the conflict blamed others (the Indians critically blaming the French for bringing "bad medicine" as well as denying them prizes at Fort William Henry), the disease was probably spread through the crowded conditions at William Henry after the battle. In the light of these conditions, Montcalm focused his meager resources on the defense of the Saint Lawrence, with primary defenses at Carillon, Quebec, and Louisbourg, while Vaudreuil argued unsuccessfully for a continuation of the raiding tactics that had worked quite effectively in previous years.