In 1758, the British prepared to launch three offensive operations in North America. In preparation, Prime Minister William Pitt continued to pour troops into the American colonies; by May 1758, 20,000 British regulars were in North America. The new British commander-in-chief, General Abercromby, ordered the assembly of three forces. The first army, commanded by Abercromby himself, was to move northward from New York. It would take Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) on Lake Champlain and then advance up the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence. The second expedition, led by General Amherst, would sail from Boston and besiege Louisbourg, on the northeast coast of Cape Breton Island. A third detachment would assemble in Virginia and then move into the Ohio Valley.
In late June, General Abercromby advanced toward Ticonderoga with 6,000 British regulars and 6,000 members of the colonial militia. General Montcalm, commanding the garrison of 3,000 French regulars, established a strong defensive position on a ridge in front of the fort. It consisted of earthen ramparts strengthened with a wooden palisade.
Abercromby began his frontal assault on the morning of 8 July 1758. The French regulars met the advancing British troops with concentrated volleys of musket fire. After repeated attempts to storm Montcalm's defences, Abercromby withdrew his army to the south. The French had inflicted over 2,000 casualties on the British force, and the majority of them were British regulars.
Ticonderoga was the first European-style battle fought between European troops in North America, and General Montcalm had shown himself to be master of these tactics. At the same time, Montcalm regretted that he did not have sufficient Canadian militia and Native warriors to pursue the retreating British force. In a letter to a friend, he wrote that if he had had 1,200 Canadians and "Indians" led by the Canadian militia officer, Chevalier de Lévis, few British would have escaped. This was high praise from a French officer who had openly condemned the Canadians as undisciplined "rabble" and the Native warriors as "savages."