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Count Frontenac
Chapter XI Fire and Sword on the Border


THE departure of the New England fleet left X the French colony in a condition of great exhaustion, and, for a time, of poignant anxiety. Three vessels were on their way out from France laden with military and other supplies, and were due just about this time. Should Phipps encounter them in the lower St. Lawrence, they would assuredly become his prey, and what the country would do in that case it was painful to speculate. Frontenac writing after Phipps had left, and before he had news of the safety of the expected vessels, gives a vivid account of the situation. There had been a serious failure of the crops. Early in the season the grain had looked very promising; but cold and rainy weather during the harvest had almost ruined it. What made matters worse was that there, had been a short crop the year before, so that they were already, in November, consuming the little grain they had just harvested. Unless a supply is received by the ships, there will be hardly any to be got in the country for love or money. Everything else is at the lowest ebb, wine, brandy, goods of all kinds. The servants in the chateau have for some time had only water to drink, and in a week the governor himself will be brought to the same sad necessity. This letter was written on the 11th November; fortunately before the week expired the vessels had arrived; and the gallant count was not reduced to being an involuntary total abstainer. The quantity of provisions brought out, however, was very scanty, not exceeding a month's supply; and as the colony managed to struggle through the winter, and had a sufficiency of seed-grain for the following spring, perhaps things were not quite so bad as represented. The ships owed their escape from capture to measures wisely taken by the governor in sending boats down the river to advise them to slip into the Saguenay till Phipps should have passed down, which they did.

The arrival of Phipps in Boston with his shattered and diminished fleet, and shrunken and disheartened forces, produced a feeling almost of despair. The success of the expedition had been counted, on with the greatest certainty. Cotton Mather declares that he "never understood that any of the faithful did in their prayers arise to any assurance that the expedition should prosper in all respects; yet they sometimes in their devotions uttered their persuasion that Almighty God had heard them in this thing, that the English army should not fall by the hands of the French enemy." The higher criticism would probably detect in this declaration a large ex post facto element. The English army did not exactly fall by the hands of the French enemy; but between the French enemy, cold, tempest and sickness, the expedition had been a most disastrous failure, which "the faithful" had certainly been far from thinking was, or could be, in the designs of Providence. There was no money in the treasury with which to pay the troops, who soon began to be clamorous and threatened mutiny. Finally, an issue of paper money was decided on, and the difficulty was thus tided over; but it was long before this questionable currency, which was only receivable in payment of public debts, and which for a time circulated at a discount of from twenty-five to thirty per cent., was fully redeemed.

The period now opening was destined to be one of savage border warfare. The Iroquois—particularly the Mohawks—were still on the war-path, and were resuming all their ancient boldness in their attacks on the French settlements. In the spring of 1691 there were some informal and, as they turned out, futile negotiations for peace, brought on by the fact that a party of Mohawks who had captured ten mission Indians near Chambly, sent them back a few days later by three of their own people, who entered the fort at St. Louis unarmed, and began to talk of peace. Calli&res, the governor of Montreal, did not quite know what to make of it, and meantime kept his troops scouring the neigbourhood. It seems probable that the Mohawks were really more anxious to draw away their kinsmen of the Laprairie mission from the French than to make peace with the latter. On more than one occasion the mission Indians had shown reluctance in making war on their own people, and something of the same feeling existed on the side of the heathen warriors, who always hoped that they might some day reclaim their separated brethren. Meantime the raiding went on, but took the form chiefly of killing the cattle and burning the houses of the settlers, though now and again one or two of the latter would be killed or carried off. It was in the early summer of 1691 that a somewhat memorable incident in this wild warfare occurred. A party of forty or fifty Oneidas had in one of their forays taken possession of an abandoned house at Repentigny, a point on the north shore of the river St. Lawrence, just opposite the north-eastern end of the Island of Montreal. Possibly they had captured some brandy in their prowlings round the country; but whatever the reason was, they were not exercising their usual vigilance. They were observed by a certain Captain de Mine in charge of a detachment of soldiers, who succeeded in retreating from the spot and crossing over to some islands in the river without attracting their attention. Here he was joined by M. de Vaudreuil, at the head of a picked force of Canadians and some regular soldiers; and the combined force then crossed over to the main-shore, a little below the house which the savages were making their headquarters. Approaching with the greatest caution, they found some Indians asleep outside. These they killed with a volley at short range; then rushing forward they surrounded the house. The Indians within fired from the windows and killed four or five of the French, including M. de Bienville. Their fate, however, was sealed. The French fired in at the windows, and finally set fire to the house, when the unhappy savages, driven forth by the flames, were, all save one, either killed or captured. The sequel is not pleasant to relate. The captives numbered five. One was given to the Ottawa Indians, for what purpose does not appear; one, a lad of fourteen years, was spared, because his family had protected the Jesuit father, Millet; and the remaining three were distributed to the farmers of Pointe aux Trembles, Boucherville and Repentigny, who burnt them in retaliation, it is said, for lost relatives.

The attack on Quebec had awakened the French government to the necessity of strengthening the forces in Canada. On the 1st July a frigate, the Soleil (TAfrique, famous in her day as a very rapid sailer, arrived at Quebec, bringing much needed stores and supplies, and twelve days later a dozen more vessels, under the command of a M. du Tast, appeared in the harbour. Just about the same time a deputation of Ottawas had made their way to Quebec to discuss various matters, but particularly trade questions, with the governor. The one dream of the Ottawas was cheap goods. Probably had they been manufacturers their one dream would have been a high tariff. It was a bad time to ask for cheap goods—no time, indeed, in Canada was very good for that purpose—as the war between France and England was interfering considerably with trade, and such goods as there were in the country were held at exorbitant prices. Other gratifications, however, were afforded them : the sight of the fourteen vessels in the harbour, the drill of the soldiers and sailors, the firing of salutes, the illumination of the ships and of the town—for the arrival of the fleet was made an occasion for prolonged rejoicings and festivities—produced a powerful impression on minds unaccustomed to such wonders. They were also greatly charmed with an entertainment given at the chateau on the 22nd of July to which they were invited, and at which, according to the official narrative, "thirty beautiful ladies, entering very properly into the views of their host, paid them every attention." On the following day they were dismissed, laden with gifts, but not before they had been shown the large stores of war material that had been received from France, which it was hoped would give them a lively idea of the resources Canada possessed for making successful war upon her enemies. Early in the season Frontenac had despatched the Sieur de Courtemanche to Michilimackinac to convey to the tribes of that region the news of the defeat of the English before Quebec, and to inquire what they were doing against the Mohawks. The reply given was to the effect that a number of their bands had gone on the war-path, that others were about to start, and that the Miamis and Illinois had also moved against the enemy, and forced the Senecas to abandon some of their towns. As regards the Ottawas and Hurons the case was probably overstated; otherwise the deputation to Quebec, which started after Courtemanche had left Michilimackinac, would have laid no little stress on the sacrifices which their people were making.

The month of August of this year (1691) was marked by one of the most important and stubborn engagements which had yet taken place between the French of Canada and their English and Indian enemies. The Iroquois, who since the massacre at Schenectady had been doing a good deal of fighting at the instance of their English allies, began to get a little tired of the business, in which, as they thought, the parties most concerned were not taking their proper share. They spoke out so plainly on the subject that it was decided at Albany to organize an expedition of whites to act in concert with the Mohawks and Mohegans or Wolves. The entire force, the command of which was given to Major Peter Schuyler, consisted of two hundred and sixty men, one hundred and twenty being English or Dutch, and the rest Indians. Going by way of Lake Champlain they descended the Richelieu to within a few miles of Chambly, where they left a detachment to guard their canoes, and then pushed on towards La-prairie de la Madeleine, the scene of Captain John Schuyler's exploit of the year before. Here a force of seven or eight hundred men, under Callieres, was awaiting them, an English prisoner captured by an Indian party near Albany having given information of their approach. As it happened, however, Callieres had been smitten with a serious fever, and was not himself in active command. The regular troops were encamped to the left of the fort, which was close to the river, and the Canadians and Indians to the right. If a contemporary historian, Belmont,1 may be trusted, the Canadians were well supplied with brandy, and used it only too freely. However that may have been, Schuyler's men, about an hour before dawn, attacked the Canadian camp, and drove the enemy before them into the fort, killing two or three, and also six Ottawa Indians who were sleeping under their canoes. The firing roused the regulars who, rushing to the scene, were met by a deadly volley. They rallied, however, and Schuyler, finding himself greatly outnumbered, retreated to a ravine, where he made a stand, and, as he states, repulsed his assailants. What seems to be certain is that he made a deliberate retreat towards his base on the Richelieu without being pursued, notwithstanding the superiority of the enemy. Amongst those who were killed on the French side were M. de St. Cirque, second in command to M. de Calli&res, M. d'Hosta, a valuable officer who had accompanied Nicolas Perrot on his mission to the Ottawas the year before, Captain Desquerat, and Lieutenant Domergue.

This, however, was not the end. Could Schuyler have retired after having inflicted comparatively heavy loss on the enemy, and sustained but little himself, he might have boasted of a signal success as these things went. This, however, was a case in which recipere gradum was destined to be much the harder part of his task. There was an enemy posted on the line of his retreat, and a brave and determined one. Valrennes, an officer of birth and of tried ability, former commandant of Fort Frontenac, had been sent to Chambly with a force consisting of one hundred and sixty regulars and militia, together with thirty or forty Indians, his instructions being to defend that place if attacked; but, should the enemy take the road to Laprairie, then to post himself in their rear and cut them off from their canoes. It was hoped in this way to catch them between two fires. Had this scheme been fully carried out, Schuyler's whole force would indubitably have been killed or captured. Owing, however, to the unexplained inactivity of the main body at Laprairie, the brunt of the second fight had to be borne by the detachment under Valrennes, which was somewhat, though not much, inferior in number to Schuyler's command. Valrennes posted his men behind two large trees that had fallen across the road on an acclivity, and, from this position of vantage, inflicted considerable loss upon the invaders. The latter, however, exhibited great bravery, and finally fought their way through, but were compelled to leave their dead behind to the number of nearly forty. Schuyler, in his narrative of the expedition, admits that he was uncommonly glad to see the last of so obstinate a foe. Why the small band of about twenty-five men left in charge of the canoes was not first overpowered, as it might easily have been, and the canoes destroyed, does not appear. Schuyler on reaching the river found men and canoes safe, and, re-embarking with his diminished force, succeeded in regaining Albany.

The courage and address displayed by Valrennes in this encounter won him a great increase of reputation. As we have seen, the French lost a number of valuable officers in the fight at Laprairie. The English loss was almost entirely incurred in the second fight; in the first, Schuyler says he lost but one Christian and one Indian. The reason given in the French narrative for not pursuing the enemy is that, after an hour and a half's fighting and some previous heavy marching, neither French nor Indians had strength for any further exertion—that they could not even have defended themselves had the fight been prolonged. This rather tends to confirm Schuyler's statement that, after breaking through their position, he turned about and forced them to retreat. He and his men then effected their own retreat without molestation, carrying with them their wounded, who must have been numerous.

The news of the advance of the English had caused Frontenac to proceed to Three Rivers with such troops as could be spared from Quebec. He had not been there many days when news of the actual fighting came to hand. A couple of days later Valrennes himself arrived with fuller details; and gave so glowing an account of the valour of his troops and the losses inflicted on the enemy, that the depression which had at first been caused by the serious list of casualties amongst the officers, was in a large measure removed. He was accompanied by the famous Indian, Orehaoud, previously mentioned as having been brought out by Frontenac from France, and who during this summer had been rendering valuable service in different expeditions. This chieftain had with him an Onondaga Indian captured by him in the West, whom he presented to Frontenac. This was the day of reprisals, and Frontenac handed over the unfortunate to the Algonquins to be dealt with after their manner. The Algonquins were in due course proceeding to burn him, when a Huron gave him a coup de grace with his tomahawk, which the writer of the official narrative seems almost to think was a mistake, observing that "the Algonquins are better judges of these things."

Notwithstanding the decisive repulse of the Boston expedition, no small anxiety was felt lest there might be a renewal of attack from the same quarter. Phipps had "threatened to come back, and shortly after his arrival at Boston had sailed for England in the hope of engaging the king's interest and assistance in the matter. Frontenac thought it prudent, all things considered, to detain two of the ships which came out in July until the 3rd September. He then commissioned one of them to convey to Acadia M. de Villebon, whom he was sending to that province as lieutenant-governor. The New Englanders had taken no measures whatever for securing their control of the country; no officer of any kind, no garrison, however small, had been left there to represent English authority, so that all Villebon had to do was to haul down an English flag which he found peacefully flying, and run up a French one in its place. Reporting to the minister, M. de Pontchar-train, in a despatch dated 20th October 1691, the re-establishment of French control, Frontenac takes occasion to recommend that Boston should be attacked by sea. Not only would it make Canada more secure, but there would be a great satisfaction in destroying such a nest of hardened parliamentarians. Frontenac's sympathies, as may be supposed, were all with the Stuarts and the divine right of kings. Unfortunately for the realization of his wishes, neither Frontenac nor his master had any ships available for the suggested undertaking. All that was possible at the moment was to incite the Abenaquis to inflict as much damage as possible on the hated enemy. In a despatch written a few months earlier, Frontenac had given a very lively account of the services rendered by these faithful and bloodthirsty allies. " It is impossible," he says, " to describe the ravages these Indians commit for fifty leagues around Boston, capturing daily their forts and buildings, killing numbers of their people, and performing incredible deeds of bravery." A little discount must, perhaps, be taken off the "incredible bravery," as the Indian mode of warfare was rather stealthy than brave; but Frontenac in his despatches could always heighten the effect with a little judicious rhetoric. Villebon, too, after arriving in his government, wrote direct to the minister, eulogizing the same allies, and observing how dangerous it would have been to Canada, if the Boston people had succeeded in making a solid peace with them. In that case, instead of having to sail round by the gulf, they could at any time march direct from Pentagouet to Quebec in about twelve days. It was therefore of the utmost importance to cultivate the friendship of the savages by means of presents, and to keep them well supplied with arms. The idea of attacking Boston was also very close to Villebon's heart. There would be no difficulty about it, if only there were a few ships to spare, as its situation was a most exposed one; and no town could be more easily burnt, the streets being very narrow, and the houses all of wood.

Canada at this time, there is no doubt, was suffering from severe depression. Frontenac himself says that when the ships arrived in July, "the colony was reduced to the greatest extremities." He estimated that out of thirteen hundred soldiers maintained by the king at the date of the attack on Quebec more than half had been "killed on divers occasions or had died of disease." In all, he said, more than two thousand men, "militia, regulars and veterans," had been lost in Canada since the war, by which he probably means the war against the Iroquois commenced by his predecessor. He asks that one thousand effective men should be sent "to complete the twenty-eight companies his Majesty has hitherto maintained here." The ships that arrived in July had not brought out any additional troops. It must be confessed that it is a little difficult to understand the loss of so many soldiers as Frontenac reports. The losses of men at Quebec in repelling Phipps's attack—represented by the French accounts as being very light, and which even the enemy did not pretend were very heavy—fell chiefly on the militia; while, in the fights with Schuyler, described by the French annalist as " the most obstinate battle that has ever been fought in Canada since the foundation of the colony," the acknowledged losses were only forty killed and about the same number wounded. There is nothing on record to show that many perished in casual skirmishes with the Indians, whose custom was to avoid troops whenever possible.

An expedition that deserves to be recorded was undertaken in the month of February of the following year (1692), when some three hundred men were sent to attack a band of Iroquois, understood to be hunting somewhere between the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa. The leader of the party was M. Dorvilliers, an officer who had distinguished himself in the fight under Valrennes. At the very outset, however, Dorvilliers was accidentally disabled, and the command fell upon a youthful officer of engineers named Beaucour. The march through the forest was a terrible one : the cold was intense, and, accustomed as the men were to the rigours of the Canadian winter, they were rapidly losing heart, while some of the Indians were refusing to follow. Nothing but the indomitable spirit and courage of the leader saved the expedition from failure. He gathered the men round him and harangued them in terms and tones that gave new life to the whole party. Guided by the snowshoe tracks of the enemy, they followed on for four hours longer, when they caught up to and surprised them in their bivouac on an island in the St. Lawrence about a day's march below Cataraqui. Few of the savages escaped; most were killed in the first onset, but some, less fortunate, were captured and taken to Quebec, where three of them were tortured and burned. To avoid the same fate another killed himself in prison.

It was in the month of October of the same year that an incident occurred that has become the basis of what may be called one of the classic tales of Canadian history, the defence of the fort at Ver-cheres by Madeleine, the fourteen-year-old daughter of the seigneur of the place, then absent on duty at Quebec. The story is so fully and interestingly told by Parkman in his Count Frontenac and New Franceand is otherwise so well known, that it seems needless to repeat it here. A people may well be proud who know that the blood of such heroes and heroines as gave lustre to the early annals of Canada flows in their veins.

The conclusion to which Frontenac had come at this time was that the raising of large levies of men and organizing formal campaigns against so agile and elusive an enemy as the Iroquois was not a wise policy. He states so distinctly in a letter to Pontchartrain, dated in October 1692. Such expeditions, he says, " make great noise and do little harm"; he believes in "small detachments frequently renewed." There are some people, he continues, who think differently, and are always urging the Indians to entreat him to attempt something on a large scale. Who these are does not appear, but Frontenac says : "I put them off and endeavour to amuse them by always giving them hopes that I shall grant their desire." Possibly Callieres was the moving spirit. Strange to say, it was only three months after writing thus that Frontenac gave his sanction to an expedition of the very kind that he had objected to. According to Champigny, indeed, he not only sanctioned but ordered it. The campaign in question, like that undertaken by Courcelles twenty-seven years before, was a midwinter one. The force raised consisted of six hundred and twenty-five men, comprising over three hundred of the most active young men of the country, one hundred picked soldiers, and about two hundred Indians, chiefly mission Iroquois of the Saut and the Mountain, but partly Hurons, Algonquins, and Abenaquis from Three Rivers and the neighbourhood of Quebec. The expedition started from Laprairie on the 25th January 1693, spent a night at Chambly, and then pushed on for Lake Champlain, their destination being the country of the Mohawks, for some time past their most troublesome enemies. Some hunting was done by the Indians on the way, and it was not till the 16th of February that they arrived within sight of the first of the Mohawk forts. There was another fort less than a mile distant. Both were attacked and captured simultaneously. There were only five defenders, we are told, in the first and still fewer in the second. There was a more important fort, however, about eight miles further away. This was taken by surprise at night, though not without a skirmish in which one man was killed on the French side, while some twenty or thirty of the Mohawks were slaughtered; the rest, to the number of over three hundred, two-thirds beingwomen and children, surrendered.

Hereupon ensued a little misunderstanding between the French and their Indian allies. The former, wanted the latter to kill all the male prisoners of fighting age, appealing to a promise they had made before starting that they would do so. The Indians declined, and the French did not like to do the business themselves; possibly there would have been trouble had they attempted it. The only course that remained was to make the best of their way home, taking their prisoners with them. Their movements were hastened by learning that Peter Schuyler was on their track with a party of English and Indians. Immediately following on this news came the information that peace had been declared in Europe, and that Schuyler wished to hold a parley. The French leaders placed little faith in this statement, but their Indians insisted on waiting to see what Schuyler had to say. As the savages could not be moved, it was decided to fortify a position and wait. Schuyler arrived, and fortified a position of his own not far off. Some skirmishing followed, but no parleying; and after a few days' delay the French slipped away by night. Schuyler could not pursue them effectively for want of provisions. The retreat to Canada was marked by the greatest misery and suffering. Most of the prisoners had to be abandoned. Provisions that had been stored by the way were found on their return to have been totally destroyed by water. Several members of the party died of starvation, and others became perfectly helpless. News of their desperate condition was sent by special couriers to Callieres, who at once despatched one hundred and fifty men with provisions on their backs. "Never," says Champigny, "was there such distress. They were four or five days without food. About one hundred and twenty, overpowered and exhausted, remained behind till they should be somewhat restored by the provisions we sent them. Two or three died of hunger; many threw down their arms, and almost all arrived without blankets, and scarcely able to drag their feet after them." The general result might well have confirmed Frontenac in the opinion he had previously expressed of such expeditions.

The Ottawa River had been so infested by Iroquois war parties for the last three years that it had been impossible for the Indians or coureurs de bois to use it as a channel of commerce, and the trade of the country was consequently at a standstill. The financial situation was indeed so gloomy that Frontenac, whose courage never failed him in a crisis, determined to try heroic measures of relief. He accordingly despatched M. d'Argen-teuil with eighteen Canadians in four canoes to convey his orders to M. de Louvigny, commanding at Michilimackinac, to send down as large a party as he could of French and Indians with all the skins they could convey. The mission was a perilous one, and the men who engaged in it had to be well paid. With M. d'Argenteuil was sent another detachment of twenty men under M. de Lavaltrie to accompany him over what was considered the most dangerous part of the route. It does not appear at what point Argenteuil and Lavaltrie parted. The former reached his destination safely; the latter, on his return, was attacked by a party of Iroquois near the head of the Island of Montreal and killed with three of his men. This was not encouraging for the safe arrival of the men from the West. What was almost unhoped for, however, happened; and, to the immense joy and relief of the inhabitants, a flotilla of nearly two hundred canoes laden with goods arrived on the 4th August (1693) at Montreal. Frontenac heard the news at Quebec on the 17th. Three days later he set out for Montreal, arriving on the 28th. Seldom, if ever, had Montreal seen so much gaiety and good spirits; and, if we may trust the official narrative of events, profuse and unbounded were the expressions of praise and gratitude directed towards the head of the Canadian state, the brave old governor, who in the darkest days had never lost heart, nor allowed others to lose heart if he could help it, and whose prowess and resource the enemy was again being taught to respect.

That one at least of the Iroquois nations was prepared for peace was shown by the arrival at Montreal, in the month of June of this year, of an Oneida chief, bringing with him a French captive named Damour, whom he wished to exchange for a relative of his, own in captivity at the Saut. The main object of his visit, however, was evidently to talk about peace. He was accordingly sent on to Quebec, where he had an interview with the governor. He stated that the most influential of the Oneida cabins were anxious for peace, and that the other nations were aware that he had 324 come to speak about it. Frontenac's answer was very firm. If the nations wanted peace, he said, let them send duly authorized delegates, and he would treat with them. The present chance was, perhaps, the last they would have; and, if they did not seize it, he would prosecute the war against them till they were exterminated. The Oneida, Tareha by name, departed with this answer. In the month of October he returned. He and his own people were still anxious for peace, but the other nations wanted to have the negotiations carried on at Orange. To this the count vehemently refused to assent. Meantime several vessels had arrived from France with reinforcements and large supplies of war material. M. d'lberville also returned about the same time from Hudson's Bay, bringing with him a couple of English trading ships that he had picked up on the way, one being laden with a cargo of tobacco from Virginia. The crops throughout the country were this year very good,-and, owing to the diminished activity of the enemy, had been saved almost entire.

Following on the arrival of the western Indians, M. de Tonty, with a large body of coureurs de bois, had come down from the Illinois and lake country to discuss questions of trade and defence and receive the governor's orders for their future movements. After being well entertained and receiving all necessary instructions, they departed laden with fresh supplies and equipments, as well as with presents for the tribes amongst whom they were stationed. While New France was thus strengthened in its distant outposts its home defences had not been neglected. Extensive improvements had been made in the fortifications of Quebec, according to plans prepared by the celebrated French engineer Vauban, and carried out under the superintendence of M. de Beaucour, the officer already mentioned as having conducted a winter expedition against the Iroquois. A new and very strong palisade had been erected around Three Rivers ; and the forts at Sorel and Chambly, virtually outposts of Montreal, had been greatly strengthened. Taking everything into account, there was much to justify a more confident and hopeful feeling throughout the country.

Meantime Frontenac's trusty allies, the Abenaquis, incited by the governor of Acadia and their missionary priests, and led by M. de Portneuf, a brother of M. de Villebon, had been fighting Canada's battles on the New England frontier. In February 1692 a band of between two and three hundred fell on the small frontier settlement of York, situated on the Maine coast, not far from the New Hampshire border, and killed, according to the French accounts, about a hundred persons, chiefly women and children, taking at the same time about eighty captives. New England authorities place the number of killed at forty-eight, and that of the captives at seventy-three. Amongst the slain was the minister of the parish, Dummer by name, a graduate of Harvard, and a man greatly respected. His gown was carried off, and one of the Indians afterwards,, arraying himself in it, preached a mock sermon to his companions. As soon as spring opened a body of the warriors proceeded to carry the good news to Villebon, who had established himself in a fort at a place called Naxouat, on the river St. John, near the site of the present town of Fredericton, Port Royal, as he thought, being too open to attack. Villebon received them right royally. Speeches, drinking, and feasting were the order of the day, and presents were distributed with calculated generosity. They had done nobly, but there was more work of the same kind to be done. Their next venture, however, was not equally successful. The settlement of Wells was but a short distance from York, and thither they bent their steps in the early summer. Some of the houses at Wells were fortified; one in particular was defended by fifteen men under a militia captain named Convers. Fourteen more men with supplies arrived in two sloops on the 9th June, the very day on which the enemy made their appearance. The fourteen men managed to get into the fort, and the sloops, which were stranded in the bay by the ebbing tide, were left with no defenders save their crews. An unfortunate man named Diamond was captured in an attempt to pass from the fort to the sloops. The latter were first attacked, but the crew were well armed and shot two or three of the assailants, who then desisted. Turning their attention to the fort they fired some futile shots, and did not a little shouting and threatening. Enraged at their want of success, they wreaked their fury on their unfortunate captive, whom they mutilated horribly before putting him to death. Then, after butchering all the cattle they could see, and burning some empty houses, they departed. Some went to Naxouat to see Villebon, who mentions in his journal that he " gave them a prisoner to burn, and that it would be impossible to add anything to the tortures they made him endure." Such was the frontier warfare of the time, and such were the men who incited it and sanctioned its worst excesses.

The hostility of the Abenaquis to the English was largely a cultivated one. The French could not afford to let it die out, and the influence of the missionaries was exerted in the same direction. Left to themselves, these savages, who, like their western brethren, wanted English goods, which were still cheaper at Boston than at Albany, would doubtless have come to terms with their English neighbours. Two circumstances at this time were inclining them to a change of policy. One was their ill success at Wells, and the second the fact that Phipps, who had returned from England in May 1692 with a commission as governor of Massachusetts, had proceeded, in the summer of that year, to rebuild and render much stronger than before the fort at Pemaquid, opposite Pentagouet, which had been destroyed in 1689, and also to erect another at the falls of the Saco. The one at Pemaquid had scarcely been completed before two French vessels under the command of Iberville were sent against it by Frontenac; and why they did not capture it has never been satisfactorily explained. True, the government of Massachusetts had received word of the approach of the enemy, and had sent an armed vessel for its protection; but the advantage was still greatly on the side of the French, who were under the command, moreover, of a man noted both for daring and for capacity. Whatever the reason, the French vessels sailed away without accomplishing anything. In August of the following year, both forts being garrisoned and equipped, most of the chiefs, including Madocawando, father-in-law of the famous Saint-Castin,1 recognizing how seriously their own position had been weakened by the establishment of these outposts, negotiated a peace on behalf of their respective tribes. The French leaders, lay and clerical, alarmed at this abandonment of their cause, set to work at once to repair the mischief. Certain of the tribes were still disposed for war; and the final result of prolonged debate and a profuse distribution of presents, together with skilfully contrived appeals to the mutual jealousy of the different chieftains, was that the peace was repudiated by those who had signed it, and that all alike declared for hostilities.

This was in the month of June 1694. In July a force of over two hundred Indians, accompanied by two missionaries, and conducted by Villieu, successor to M. de Portneuf, who had been removed for peculation, attacked by night the settlement of Oyster River, now Durham, some twelve miles north-west of the present town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and murdered one hundred and four persons, chiefly women and children. A few days later a similar descent was made on the settlements near Groton, fifty or sixty miles inland, where some forty persons were killed. Then pushing on to Quebec, Villieu gratified Count Frontenac by the exhibition of thirteen English scalps. More could have been had, but these sufficed as samples. The scalps of many of the slain would have been too pitifully small to add much grace to a warrior's belt. Villebon himself says in his journal that "the slaughter did not stop even at infants in the cradle."

These deeds were wrought, in part at least, by men who, a short time before, had signed a peace with the English. Phipps, who had proclaimed the peace through the settlements, felt a measufe of responsibility for having, to that extent, induced a false sense of security among the inhabitants. He repaired to Pemaquid, and sent messengers to invite delegates of the tribes to meet him there. A number came. He reproached them for their bad faith, and secured from them expressions of regret and promises to keep the peace in future. It was in vain, however; his work was quickly undone by the same influences which had been active before in the perpetuation of strife.

Phipps, whose appointment as governor had not been well received at Boston, and who consequently found himself involved in constant wrangling with some of the leading men of the place, was recalled about this time to England, where he died in the following year (1695). His successor, Stoughton, wrote a peremptory letter to the Abenaquis, calling upon them to bring in the prisoners they had taken. Those on the Kennebec returned a haughty answer; but a band from Father Thury's mission approached Fort Pemaquid under a flag of truce, and entered into a parley with the commandant, Chubb by name. Whether they sincerely meant to treat for peace is uncertain ; Villebon says they were only pretending to do so. However this may have been, Chubb, without any positive knowledge of treachery on their part, opened fire on them, killed several, and made their chief, Egermet, a prisoner. A year later two French vessels under command of Iberville appeared before Pemaquid, landied cannon, and prepared to attack the place in concert with a large band of Indians led by Saint-Castin. Chubb at first put on a bold front; but scarcely had the firing begun before he offered to surrender, stipulating only that the lives of the garrison should be spared, and that they should be exchanged for French and Indian prisoners then at Boston. Iberville honourably observed the conditions, though his Indian allies, in their eagerness to be avenged on Chubb, were hard to restrain. Their vengeance, however, was only deferred. Chubb was accused at Boston of cowardice in surrendering the fort, and suffered imprisonment there for some months. After his release he retired to his home at Andover. Thither his relentless foes tracked him, and murdered both him and his wife at their own fireside.


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