General James Abercromby

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Unsuccessful British commander in chief during French and Indian War. He replaced Lord Loudon in 1757, after Loudon was removed for timidity, but was himself known to be a timid commander. He had served in the War of the Austrian Succession, but had never held in independent command, although he was 52 in 1757, and his appointment was in part due to the insistance of George II and in part because he was present in North America, where few officers wished to serve, prefering to fight on the continent. The campaign planned by Pitt the elder for 1758 was ambitious, aimed at defeating the French in Canada in one year. Abercromby was to take direct command of a force that was to ascend the Hudson river, reach Lake George by portage, cross the lake and capture Fort Ticonderoga from the French and them march on to Montreal. Pitt attempted to compensate for Abercromby's timidity by appointing George Augustus Howe as his bridagier, described by James Wolfe as 'the best officer in the British Army', but then delayed the campaign by insisting that the colonies provide some troops, in whom Abercromby had little faith. The first part of the campaign went well, and the British reached Ticonderoga on 6 July, defended by the French commander in chief, Louis de Montcalm, after which everything went wrong. Howe was killed in the first skirmish of the day, a serious blow to the army. Two days later, Abercromby launched an unneccessary frontal assault on the French defences, which was beaten off after a day of fighting, after which Abercromby retreated to the other side of Lake George, and abandoned the entire campaign, despite still outnumbering the French. The only redeeming feature of the campaign was the capture of Fort Frontenac by Lieutenant Colonel Bradstreet on 26 August, despatched at his own insistance after the failure of the attack on Ticonderoga. When campaigning began again in 1759, the command had passed to General Amherst.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (12 November 2000), General James Abercromby, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_abercromby.html

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