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[320] America, Canada received scanty supplies of provi-
chap. XIV.} 1759.
sions from France. ‘The king,’ wrote the minister to Montcalm, ‘the king relies on your zeal and obstinacy of courage.’ But Montcalm informed Belle-Isle plainly, that, without unexpected good fortune, or great fault in the enemy, Canada must be taken this campaign, or certainly the next. Its census showed but a population of about eighty-two thousand, of whom not more than seven thousand men could serve as soldiers; the eight French battalions counted but thirty-two hundred; while the English were thought to have almost fifty thousand men in arms. There was a continuing scarcity in the land; the fields were hardly cultivated; the domestic animals were failing; the soldiers were unpaid; paper money had increased to thirty millions of livres, and would that year be increased twelve millions more; while the civil officers were making haste to enrich themselves before the surrender, which was to screen their frauds.

The western brigade, commanded by Prideaux, composed of two battalions from New York, a battalion of Royal Americans, and two British regiments, with a detachment of royal artillery, and reinforcements of Indian auxiliaries under Sir William Johnson, was the first to engage actively. Fort Niagara stood, as its ruins yet stand, on the fiat and narrow promontory round which the deep and rapid Niagara sweeps into the lower lake. There La Salle, first of Europeans, had driven a light palisade. There Denonville had constructed a fortress and left a garrison for a winter. It commanded the portage between Ontario and Erie, and gave the dominion of the western fur-trade. Leaving a detachment with

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