Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DIESKAU, Jean Erdman, Baron, French soldier, born in Saxony in 1701; died in Surenne, near Paris, 8 September 1767. He was adjutant to Marshal Saxe, and visited St. Petersburg in that officer's interest in 1741. He also served under Saxe in the Netherlands, and in 1748 became brigadier general of infantry and commander of Brest. He was sent to Canada on 20 February 1755, with the rank of major general, at the head of French troops, to conduct the campaign against the English. With 600 savages, as many Canadians, and 200 regulars, he ascended Lake Champlain to its head, designing to attack Fort Edward; but the guides took the road to Lake George by mistake. On 8 September he was informed by scouts that a detachment of 1,000 men under Colonel Ephraim Williams, of Massachusetts, had been sent against him, and, disposing his men in ambush in the form of a horseshoe, he surprised the enemy and put them to flight. After pursuing their opponents to the British camp, the Indians halted, the Canadians became alarmed, and Dieskau, with his 200 regulars, was forced to sustain the fight. For five hours the New England militia "kept up the most violent fire that had yet been known in America." Almost all the French regulars perished, and Dieskau himself was thrice wounded; but he refused to retire, and seated himself on a stump, exposed to the bullets. Finally, seeing a soldier approaching as if to capture him, Dieskau put his hand into his pocket for his watch, which he intended to give to his captor; but the man, supposing that he was drawing a pistol, shot him, inflicting a wound that ultimately caused his death. Dieskau was kept a prisoner till 1763, when he was exchanged and returned to France, where he was given a pension.
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