the Samson of New France

François Dollier de Casson, French priest and ...
François Dollier de Casson, French priest and explorer in New France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New York was taken over by Canada on October 15, 1666, but the New Yorkers knew nothing about it then, and refuse to recognize it now!

France was making a determined effort to defeat the Iroquois, and drive the English and Dutch out of North America.  The famous Carignan-Salière Regiment under the Marquis of Tracy was sent out to Quebec to do  the job.  Tracy and his soldiers, who had fought with distinction in the Turkish War, made a magnificent impression when they arrived at Quebec, their blue coats piped with white, plumed hats, long leather boots turned back half-way over the calves, muskets carried in slings over their shoulders.  People cheered when they marched from Lower Town to the summit of the cliff.

Yet these famous soldiers had to learn a new type of fighting.  They were taken on a winter expedition against the Iroquois by Governor Courcelles and it was a complete failure.  When they returned, Tracy had them trained in forest fighting, and taught them how to look after themselves on the long marches through Indian country.

By September 1666, Tracy decided that the regiment was ready to invade what is now New York State, home of the Iroquois.  One of the member of the invasion force was a Sulpician priest who had been given a  special name for the invasion:  Monsieur Colson.  Actually, he was François Dollier de Casson, who had been a well-known soldier in France.  He became a priest because he was disgusted with the cruelties of warfare.  De Casson was very strong, and often called “the Samson of New France.”  On one occasion two “Annies”, as the French called the Iroquois, tried to take him by surprise, stealing up from behind and attacking him.  He lifted them in the air, knocked their heads together till they were unconscious, and threw them aside.

It was a tough march to the Iroquois settlements but their conquest was easy; the troops burned them, and destroyed the crops.  Then, on October 15, 1666, Tracy raised a cross bearing the lilies of France, and proclaimed the territory as belonging to New France.

To learn more about today’s post, I suggest visiting the Regiment de Carignan-Salières, and History 101, and Micheline Walker (a fantastic blog; I suggest you look around at other posts there!), and finally, if you are interested in geneology, you might want to go to Members of the Carignan-Salieres Regiment who married Filles du Roi.


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