French Raid

When Frontenac returned to Canada in 1689, he had instructions to attack the British wherever possible, and even to capture New York in the hope of restoring French prestige and hence, respect from the Native Indians.

One of the first campaigns he organized was against Albany. The force of 160 French and 140 supposedly Christian Indians (Mohawk nation, Sault and Algonquin warriors) was led by Nicolas de Manthet. His second-in-command was Sainte-Hélène Le Moyne, a member of what must be one of the most famous fighting families in Canadian history. His brother Pierre was also with the force.

The Native Indians could not believe that the French had become bold enough to attack Albany, but stayed with the force under terrible conditions, travelling for days in slush and bitter cold. By the time the forced reached the Hudson River, it had been reduced to 250. Manthet and Sainte-Hélène decided that they were not strong enough to attack Albany, but believed they would have a better chance against Schenectady, sixteen miles northwest.

Albany had been warned of the French plans and had notified Schenectady, although there was great jealousy between the two communities. Nevertheless, Schenectady was entirely unprepared for the early morning attack on February 9, 1690. There had been a party the evening before and even the soldiers were asleep. Two gates were wide open and sentries made of snow were posted on either side, facing Albany in derision! What force of Frenchmen would ever be able to make its way to Schenectady in such weather!

The slaughter was awful. Even women and children were hurled into the flames of their blazing homes, or dashed to pieces against the doors and window frames.

Sixty old men, women and little children were allowed to stay in Schenectady or escape. Manthet and Sainte-Hélène went back to Montreal with ninety prisoners, including a number of young boys. Fifty horses, the most valuable booty, were used to draw sleighs loaded with captured supplies.

English: Map of Albany and Schenectady countie...
Map of Albany and Schenectady counties in New York state from 1839 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To read more about this, I suggest starting at Wikipedia. There’s also the Internet Archives to read Symon Schermerhoorn’s Ride online, or even Why Schenectady was destroyed in 1690.


    • Yeah, I agree! You’d think that by now more people would learn to hold hands more than we actually do, eh? Still, you and I and our readers (at a minimum) recognize each other as neighbours! 🙂


  1. There sure has been some gruesome events on our continent. The more I find out about Canadian history the more I realize how eventful it really was. I’m surprised at how mellow Canadian culture is considering how feisty our background was…

    Blessings ~ Wendy


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