Battle for a Continent
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Battle for a Continent
Louis-Antoine de Bougainville's journal
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Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, General Montcalm's aide-de-camp, was diminutive, overweight, asthmatic and possessed a good military mind.
As he had already written two books on mathematics and was a keen observer, his journal is one of the most perceptive records of the war.

Though he held onto his European prejudices, Bougainville immersed himself in the local culture. He admired the courage of the Indians, though he questioned their cruelty. He was a pragmatist. He knew the French needed the Indians' skills, especially as trackers. "They see in the tracks the number that have passed, whether they are Indians or Europeans, if the tracks are fresh or old, if they are of healthy or of sick people, dragging feet or hurrying ones, marks of sticks used as supports. It is rarely that they are deceived or mistaken. They follow their prey for one hundred, two hundred, six hundred leagues with a constancy and a sureness which never loses courage or leads them astray."

Bougainville even attended council with the Nipissings, Algonquins and Iroquois.
When each chief stood up and sang a war song, Bougainville was implored to do the same. He adopted the listing cadence of the Indians' music and repeated the phrase, "Trample the English underfoot" until he was tired. The next night he was adopted by the Iroquois in a tribal ceremony and given the name Garionatsioga, which meant "Great Angry Sky." "Behold me then," he wrote in his journal, "an Iroquois war chief!"

Despite this status, Bougainville thought the natives were a necessary evil. Their alliance with the French was always freighted with difficulty and doubt.
There were dozens of Indian nations and in Bougainville's eyes they formed a frustrating bureaucracy. Decisions to wage war involved lengthy, and to the French mind, unnecessary meetings and consultations. The Indians also presented logistical problems. The crops had failed and food was scarce; feeding several thousand more men was a burden and Bougainville marvelled at the natives' extraordinary appetites. Occasionally, the natives killed French settlers as well. Bougainville feared that their ferocity would be contagious, that the Europeans would lose something of themselves in this association. "This country is dangerous for discipline," he wrote. "Pray God that it alone suffers from it."

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