For the month of April, I’ll be continuing the series of “Indian wars in Canada,” this post will cover the 17th century. Now, I have to say that there were skirmishes, battles and wars. I can’t, obviously, cover every one. So with a broad pen stroke, let’s keep going.
Map of the location of major tribes involved in the Beaver Wars laid against a period map showing colonial settlements.
In the mid-17th century, the Beaver Wars began. They were also known as the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars. These battles were fought in eastern North America. Two of them were:
On June 19, 1610 the battle of Sorel began and continued intermittently for almost a century, and ended with the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701. It pitted the nations of the Iroquois confederation, led by the dominant Mohawks, against the Algonquian people of the Great Lakes region. They were supported by the Kingdom of France. Actually, the first deliberate battle in 1609 was fought at Champlain’s initiative. William Brandon, in his book, The American Heritage Book of Indians (1984), wrote that Champlain is said to have written, “I had come with no other intention than to make war.” Unfortunately, this battle created 150-years of mistrust that diminished any chances that French-Iroquois alliances would be durable and long-lived.
Another was the Lachine Massacre (present-day Montreal, Quebec) on the morning of August 5, 1689. 1,500 Mohawk warriors attacked 375 inhabitants. The event was precipitated by the Iroquois who wanted to avenge the 1,200,000 bushels of corn burned by the French. But since they were unable to reach the food stores in Montreal, they kidnapped and killed the Lachine crop producers instead. 3 Mohawks and 72 French settlers were killed. When one survivor reported to a local garrison, 4.8 km (3 miles) away, two hundred soldiers, along with 100 armed civilians and some soldiers from nearby, marched against the Iroquois. Numerous attacks from both sides followed, but the two groups quickly realized the futility of their attempts to drive the other out. The Montreal Treaty of 1701, concluded with the Iroquois promising to remain neutral in case of war between the French and English.
Map of King William’s War.
Another major war of the 17th century, besides the Beaver War, was King William’s War, from 1688 to 1697. It was also known as the Second Indian War, Father Baudoin’s War, as well as Castin’s War. This war had many battles. To offer a sense of the war, here is one of many battles in that war.
At Siege of Pemaquid, in 1696, New France and the tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy, led by St. Castine and Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, returned and fought a naval battle in the Bay of Fundy before moving on to raid Pemaquid (Maine). After the siege, d’Iberville led a force of 124 Canadians, Acadians, Mi’kmaq and Abanakis in the Avalon Peninsula Campaign. They destroyed almost every English settlement in Newfoundland, over 100 English were killed, many times that number captured, and almost 500 deported to England or France.
In retaliation, Church (Colonel Benjamin Church is considered to be the father of American ranging. He was the captain of the first Ranger force in America) went on his fourth expedition to Acadia and carried out a retaliatory raid against Acadian communities on the Isthmus of Chignecto and Fort Nashwack (now Fredericton, New Brunswick), which was then the capital of Acadia. He led his troops personally in killing inhabitants of Chignecto, looting their household goods, burning their houses and slaughtering the livestock.
My next post will cover the 18th century.