Our enthusiastic congratulations to Emerging Revolutionary War’s William Griffith on the release of his new book, The Battle of Lake George, England’s First Triumph in the French and Indian War. The book, published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, is now available for sale in books stores and online.
From the press release of the book,
“In the early morning of September 8, 1755, a force of French Regulars, Canadians and Indians crouched unseen in a ravine south of Lake George. Under the command of French general Jean-Armand, Baron de Dieskau, the men ambushed the approaching British forces, sparking a bloody conflict for control of the lake and its access to New York’s interior. Against all odds, British commander William Johnson rallied his men through the barrage of enemy fire to send the French retreating north to Ticonderoga. The stage was set for one of the most contested regions throughout the rest of the conflict. Historian William Griffith recounts the thrilling history behind the first major British battlefield victory of the French Indian War.”
Recently, ERW had the chance to sit down and talk with William about the book.
Q: This book fills an important gap in the French and Indian War, why has this campaign been overlooked for a publication like this?
W: I think that the Battle of Lake George has been overlooked for multiple reasons. When we think of the opening years of the French and Indian War we tend to immediately think of the events transpiring in western Pennsylvania (i.e. Jumonville Glen, Fort Necessity, and the Battle of the Monongahela), and do not really place Lake George at the forefront until the surrender of Fort William Henry in 1757. The significance of the Battle of Lake George has also been up for debate by historians, many whom believe it was a stalemate or inconsequential engagement, but in my opinion they are entirely incorrect. Because of these sentiments, when looking at the year 1755 the predominant focus has been placed on Braddock’s Defeat. Tragedy draws attention, and that is exactly what the Battle of the Monongahela was. Not only has scholarship relating to the Battle of Lake George been placed on the backburner to Edward Braddock, but it has also been pushed aside by the Siege of Fort William Henry and the subsequent “Massacre” – another tragic event. The Battle of Lake George is a prime example of history overshadowing history, and hopefully my book will be able to bring the event out of the darkness and into mainstream French and Indian War scholarship.
Q: Why did you choose the campaign to Lake George as your first book?
W: Even before I was born my family vacationed every year along the western shore of Lake George. When I was five years old my father brought me to my first historic site – Fort William Henry – and from then on my passion for history began to blossom. After that each trip to the lake during the summer caused my interest in upstate New York’s colonial history to grow and it soon became a big part of my life. There are some places on this earth that have the power to transport you to another time or place. Lake George is one of them. It truly forms a connection with people and for me, so did its history – especially the 1755 battle, which I could find no substantial work done on. In a quest for myself to learn more about the event, I determined in high school that when I was to write my first book it would be on the long neglected battle. I ended up writing it a lot sooner than I imagined I would.
Q:If there was only one thing a reader took away from this book, what would you want it to be?
W: An interest in the French and Indian War and a desire to learn more about this period in our history. If a visit to Amazon, the bookstore, or Lake George occurs after reading my work, then I succeeded.
Q:How accessible are the sites attributed to the campaign to visitation?
W:Extremely accessible. All three sites associated with the Battle of Lake George are preserved to some extent or at least enough so to interpret and visit. The battlefield of the main engagement fought during the afternoon is the largest and is preserved as the Lake George Battlefield Park at the southern end of the lake astride the reconstructed Fort William Henry and busy Lake George Village. Interpretation here is really bad though. Only one sign actually explains the 1755 battle although there is an impressive monument serving as the centerpiece of the site. Along present day Route 9 roughly three miles or so south of Lake George is the site of the morning engagement, the “Bloody Morning Scout,” and an obelisk dedicated to Colonel Ephraim Williams of the 3rd Massachusetts Regiment who was killed during the opening engagement. About a mile or so closer to the lake along Route 9 is a pond with signage interpreting it as “Bloody Pond,” the site of the final confrontation during the battle. It is possible that this could be the actual pond, but there is speculation that it was actually located several hundred yards further into the woods and is now dried up
Q:What is next book or publication you are working on?
W: I am currently not working on any publications. As I complete my master’s degree at Norwich University this next year and a half or so I plan on focusing on my studies, maybe doing a bit of research here and there when I am free. I do have aspirations to publish more, however, and would like to write a biography of George B. McClellan (my historical idol) focusing on his life from November 1862, when he was removed from command of the Army of the Potomac, to his death in 1885. I would also like to create some sort of guidebook for the Battle of Lake George, Siege of Fort William Henry, Battle of Carillon, and the 1759 British capture of Fort Ticonderoga.
Q:How does one get a copy?
W: The History Press usually distributes locally, so if you live in the upstate New York area near Albany/Lake George you can probably run down to your nearest bookstore and purchase one. If not, then it is available on Amazon and other major retailers online. If you happen to attend a signing or talk that I am doing then you can certainly also pick one up from me.