Excavated from private property adjoining a known battle area of Fort William Henry near Lake George, New York, this classic fighting ax could have been used by either the military forces involved or by Native Americans. The form, which dates from circa 1740 to 1760, is known but few surviving examples exist today. It is hand forged and considering the age, in excellent condition overall.
The Siege of Fort William Henry was conducted in August 1757 by French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm against the British-held Fort William Henry. The fort, located at the southern end of Lake George, on the frontier between the British Province of New York and the French Province of Canada, was garrisoned by a poorly supported force of British regulars and provincial militia led by Lieutenant Colonel George Monro. After several days of bombardment, Monro surrendered to Montcalm, whose force included nearly 2,000 Indians from various tribes. The terms of surrender included the withdrawal of the garrison to Fort Edward, with specific terms that the French military protect the British from the Indians as they withdrew from the area.
In one of the most notorious incidents of the French and Indian War, Montcalm’s Indian allies violated the agreed terms of surrender and attacked the British column, which had been deprived of ammunition, as it left the fort. They killed and scalped many soldiers, took as captives women, children, servants, and slaves and slaughtered sick and wounded prisoners. Early accounts of the events called it a massacre and implied that as many as 1,500 people were killed, although it is unlikely more than 200 people (less than 10% of the British fighting strength) were actually killed.