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Day after day the weary roar of the distant cannonade fell on the ears of Webb in his camp at Fort Edward. "I have not yet received the least reinforcement," he writes to Loudon; "this is the 502 by the Historical Society of Montreal.
La Salle no sooner recovered than he embraced a resolution which could be the offspring only of a desperate necessity. He determined to make his way by the Mississippi and the Illinois to Canada, whence he might bring succor to the colonists, and send a report of their condition to France. The attempt was beset with uncertainties and dangers. The Mississippi was first to be found, then followed through all the perilous monotony of its interminable windings to a goal which was to be but the starting-point of a new and not less arduous journey. Cavelier his brother, Moranget his nephew, the friar Anastase Douay, and others to the number of twenty, were chosen to accompany him. Every corner of the magazine was ransacked for an outfit. Joutel generously gave up the better part of his wardrobe to La Salle and his two relatives. Duhaut, who had saved his baggage from the wreck of the "Aimable," was required to contribute to the necessities of the party; and the scantily-furnished chests of those who had died were used to supply the wants of the living. Each man labored with needle and awl to patch his failing garments, or supply their place with buffalo or deer skins. On the twenty-second of April, after [Pg 406] mass and prayers in the chapel, they issued from the gate, each bearing his pack and his weapons, some with kettles slung at their backs, some with axes, some with gifts for Indians. In this guise, they held their way in silence across the prairie; while anxious eyes followed them from the palisades of St. Louis, whose inmates, not excepting Joutel himself, seem to have been ignorant of the extent and difficulty of the undertaking.
"Il seroit difficile de trouver dans l'Histoire un courage plus intrepide et plus invincible que celuy du Sieur de la Salle dans les venemens contraires; il ne f?t jamais abatu, et il esproit toujours avec le secours du Ciel de venir bout de son entreprise malgr tous les obstacles qui se prsentoient."Douay in Le Clerc, ii. 327.
** Champigny au Ministre, 1688.
The French officers and men in the fort when it was taken were but two hundred and fifty-eight. Some of the soldiers and many of the armed inhabitants deserted during the siege, which, no doubt, hastened the surrender; for Subercase, a veteran of more than thirty years' service, had borne fair repute as a soldier.28
The bateaux lay ready by the shore, but could not carry the whole force; and Lvis received orders to march by the side of the lake with twenty-five hundred men, Canadians, regulars, and Iroquois. He set out at daybreak of the thirtieth of July, his men carrying nothing but their knapsacks, blankets, and weapons. Guided by the unerring Indians, they climbed the steep gorge at the side of Rogers Rock, gained the valley beyond, and marched southward along a Mohawk trail which threaded the forest in a course parallel to the lake. The way was of the roughest; many straggled from the line, and two officers completely broke down. The first destination of the party was the mouth of Ganouskie Bay, now called Northwest Bay, where they were to wait for Montcalm, and kindle three fires as a signal that they had reached the rendezvous.  Mmorial de Jean-Denis de Vitr au Trs-honorable William Pitt.