This little-known British military victory along the Niagara River led to the French surrender of Fort Niagara, but historians are undecided about where it actually took place.
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The Battle of La Belle-Famille was fought on July 24, 1759 between French forces under the command of Col. François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery and British forces under the command of Lt. Col. Eyre Massey and their American Indian allies along the Niagara River during the French and Indian War. The battle ended in complete British and Iroquois victory over the French, and the surrender of Fort Niagara two days later.
Approximately 3,500 British and Iroquois lay siege to Fort Niagara at the confluence of Lake Ontario and the Niagara River from July 6 to July 26, 1759. Trapped inside were 520 French regulars, militia, and their American Indian allies under the command of Captain Pierre Pouchot. Pouchot appealed to Col. François-Marie Le Marchand de Lignery for help, and Lignery marched from Fort Machault with 800 French regulars and militia and 500 native allies to relieve Fort Niagra’s garrison.
Lignery sent messengers ahead to notify Pouchot that relief was on its way, but unfortunately for them, the British also had advanced warning. Approximately 450 British soldiers and an equal number of Iroquois warriors set up a carefully laid ambush. Lignery compounded his earlier mistake by failing to properly screen his movement and French forces walked right into an open field, triggering the ambush.