Colonial Wars: France and England

The several wars which raged in Europe between France and England roused the colonies to invasions of one another's territory, in which the Indians gave full went to their savage instincts in murdering the helpless settlers. King William's War, which continued from 1689 to 1697, was marked by several such atrocities. At the very opening of the war, Dover, in New Hampshire, was attacked, and revenge taken upon Major Waldron, who had acted treacherously towards the Indians during King Philip's War. During the succeeding year occurred the massacre at Schenectady, which we have already described. Other settlements were assailed, and several of the English forts taken. In reprisal, an expedition under Sir William Phipps captured Port Royal, and essayed to conquer Quebec, but was driven off. At the same time a fruitless land-expedition was sent from New York against Montreal. The Indian depredations upon the English frontiers continued, the latest being an attack on Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1697, in which forty persons were killed or taken captive. Among these latter were a Mrs. Duston, her nurse, and a boy, who on their way to Canada attacked their captors while sleeping, killed ten out of twelve of them, and returned in safety to their friends. During this war the French attempted to punish the hostile Iroquois, and Frontenac marched into their territory, where he committed much damage. On his return, however, he was severely harassed by the Indians.

In 1702 another war broke out between France and England, which continued till 1713. In America it was marked by the same atrocities as the previous war. The Iroquois were neutrals during most of this war, and New York was preserved from danger, the weight of the war falling on the New England colonies. In 1704 the town of Deerfield was captured by a French and Indian force, forty of the inhabitants killed, and one hundred and twelve captured, who were marched through the winter snows to Canada. Throughout the war the frontier settlements were continually harassed by the savage foe. In 1707 the English attacked Port Royal, but were repulsed. In 1710 it was again assailed, and captured, its name being changed to Annapolis, in honor of Queen Anne, and the province of Acadia, or Nova Scotia, was permanently added to the English possessions. In the succeeding year an extensive invasion of Canada was projected, which met with an unfortunate termination. The story of this expedition we select from Andrew Bell's translation of Garneau's "L'Histoire du Canada."]

IN spring, 1711, an expedition was got up to act in conjunction with such forces as the plantations could supply for the invasion of Canada. The fleet, under the orders of Admiral Sir Hovenden Walker, had companies of seven regiments of regulars on board, drafted from the army Marlborough was leading from victory to victory. The force was put under the charge of Brigadier-General Hill.

Walker arrived in Boston harbor, June 25, where his presence was impatiently expected. The land-force was now augmented by the junction of the militias of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc., which raised it to a total of six thousand five hundred infantry. The fleet now consisted of eighty-eight ships and transports. The army which was intended to act simultaneously with the ascent to Quebec by an advance on Montreal, and was now reconstituted, got ready to act, under the orders of General Nicholson. It was composed of four thousand Massachusetts and other militia-men, and six hundred Iroquois. Having moved his corps to the banks of Lake George, Nicholson there awaited the event of the attack on Quebec. Meantime, the invading fleet sailed from Boston, July 30.

The opposing force of the Canadians was proportionally small, in number at least. It did not exceed five thousand men of all ages between fifteen and seventy, and included at the most five hundred savages. But Quebec was now in a better state for defence than ever it had been before, there being more than one hundred cannons mounted upon the works. The banks of the St. Lawrence immediately below the city were so well guarded that it would have been perilous to an enemy to land anywhere; above it the invaders would hardly adventure. The garrison was carefully marshalled, and every man assigned to an appointed place, with orders to repair to it as soon as the enemy's fleet appeared.

But the elements were now the best defenders of Canada, which Providence seemed to have taken under his special protection. During the night of August 22, a storm from the southwest arose, accompanied by a dense fog, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence; and the hostile fleet was put in imminent jeopardy for a time. The admiral's ship barely escaped wreck upon breakers. Eight of the transports were driven ashore on the Ile-aux-CEufs, one of the Seven Islands, and nine hundred out of seventeen hundred persons on board perished in the waves. Among the corpses strewed on the beach afterwards were found the bodies of a number of emigrants from Scotland, intended colonists for Anglicized Canada; and among other waifs found at the same time were copies of a proclamation to the Canadians, in Queen Anne's name, asserting the suzerainty of Britain, in right of the discovery of their country by Cabot.

Admiral Walker now altered his course, and rendezvoused with his scattered fleet, as soon as it could be collected, at Cape Breton, where he called a council of war, in which it was decided to renounce the enterprise. The British division of the fleet left for England, and the colonial vessels returned to Boston. But disasters ceased not to attend this ill-starred expedition; for the Feversham, an English frigate of thirty-six guns, and three transports, were lost when still in the Laurentian gulf; while the Edgar, of seventy guns, Walker's flag-ship, was blown up at Portsmouth, October 15, with four hundred men on board.

A strong Canadian force was now collected at Montreal, in preparation for Nicholson's advance. No advance was made, however, though the militia were kept under arms, on guard against a Canadian invasion. But the Canadians, just now, had work enough at home. The Outagamis, a warlike tribe from beyond Lake Michigan, had moved eastward to the locality of Detroit, under British instigation. It was their purpose to burn the settlement and kill all the French. In this they were joined by the Mascoutins. On the other hand, some six hundred warriors of friendly tribes were banded in defence of the French, and forced the hostiles to take a defensive attitude.

The Outagamis and Mascoutins took refuge in an intrenched camp they had formed near the French fort. M. Dubuisson, the governor, finding that they presented so imposing a front, was willing that they should retire peacefully to their villages on seeing that their hostile intents were anticipated and provided against; but his native allies would not allow of this, and proceeded to invest their fastness. This was so well defended, however, that the assailants became dispirited, and wished to retire from the contest; but Dubuisson, now encouraging them to remain, turned the siege into a blockade. In a short time provisions, even water, failed the besieged; and when any of them issued from the enclosure to procure the latter, they were set on by their foes, killed on the spot, or burnt alive to make a savage holiday.

The beleaguered tried, by every means, to detach the native auxiliaries present from the French interest; but all in vain. They then sent envoys to the governor to crave a truce of two days, to enable their foragers to procure food. This singular request was refused, but had better been accorded; for in revenge the Outagamis shot fire-arrows against the straw-roofed houses of the village, which were thereby entirely consumed. The cannon of the fort avenged this act of desperation. Already from three to four score of the besieged were dead of hunger and thirst, and the air was tainted with putrefaction. A third deputation came to implore quarter. Pemousa, a chief, who brought with him his wife and children as hostages, adjured the governor to "take pity on his flesh" and on the other women and children about to be put at French discretion. Some of the allied chiefs present at this piteous scene, instead of being moved by it, coolly proposed to Dubuisson to cut down four of the envoys, who, they alleged, were the chief defenders of the place. This much, at least, was refused.

The besieged, despairing of success, and hopeless of quarter if they surrendered, prepared to take advantage of any moment of relaxed vigilance in their besiegers, and try to escape. One stormy night they succeeded in this attempt, but, exhausted by the privations they had undergone, halted on peninsular ground near St. Clair, whither they were soon followed. They intrenched themselves again, stood a siege of four days more, and then gave in. Not one of the men escaped, and it is very doubtful whether any of the women were spared; but the contemporary reports of what passed at the time are in disaccord on this point.

[The remnant of the Outagami or Fox nation, however, long carried on a harassing warfare with the French, and rendered the routes between the posts in Canada and those on the Mississippi so dangerous as to be almost impassable. The peace of Utrecht, in 1713, put an end to this desolating war. During the succeeding thirty years but few events of importance occurred in the English colonies or in Canada. It was a much-needed era of tranquillity, during which the colonies grew rapidly in population and importance. The Canadian settlements were principally confined to the St. Lawrence region, from Quebec to Montreal. Farther west there were detached forts and stations, with a weak settlement at Detroit, but nothing which could properly be called a colony. Yet the spirit of exploration of the French continued. In 1731 an effort was made to reach the Pacific overland. M. Verendrye, a trader with the Indians, who had learned much from the Western tribes of the country that lay beyond, undertook an exploring expedition west-ward. He proceeded to Lake Superior, where his trading interests kept him till 1733. Meanwhile, some of his people made their way to the Lake of the Woods, and thence to Lake Winnipeg, extending their journey to the point of branching of the river Saskatchewan.

In 1738 the explorers reached the country of the Mandans, and in 1742 followed the upper Missouri as far as the Yellowstone. Finally, on January 1, 1743, two of the sons of M. Verendrye found themselves in front of the great range of the Rocky Mountains, sixty years in advance of the discovery of this mighty mountain-system by the American explorers Lewis and Clarke.

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